Random acts

Bargain bin

During a recent quest for used books and albums, I found myself in that greatest of pop-culture equalizers, the second-hand shop.

At Goodwill Industries on Tunnel Road, N’Sync consorts with Rush, and Beethoven with The B-52s. The store’s makeshift shelves — little more than neatly arranged plastic tubs — aren’t stocked by the organized prejudices of a local rock snob. No, this is a musical experiment in egalitarianism.

In the Goodwill staff’s eyes, all CDs are created equal. Each, regardless of the talent it contains, costs a mere $3.

And here, in the throbbing center of it all — amid the jetsam of discarded C&C Music Factory singles, Dan Fogelberg collections and seemingly endless heavy-metal records evidencing astoundingly bad art direction — I spy something truly disturbing to a follower of the Asheville music scene.

Stuff by local bands. Lots of stuff.

This week, Random Acts brings you a handful of reviews — not of hot new discs, but of those that other listeners before you have already seen fit to dismiss.

Album: under the sun, Unscathed (Independent Records, 2003)

Condition: Good. A little worn from the constant shuffling of CDs in its bin, but otherwise in fine shape.

Possible reasons for abandonment: In-fighting. The local metal scene is often a fractious and splintered thing, and all it takes is a slight snub at a show or a mean-spirited chat-room posting for a diehard fan to turn traitor.

Even with well-regarded regional metal master Jamie King at the production boards, Unscathed didn’t exactly break fresh ground with this nu-metal-meets-God-rock release — a fact their fans and foes alike have yet to let them forget.

Worth rummaging for?: Not unless you’re really hard up for a post-post-post grunge-metal fix.

Album: demo, SunTribe (SunTribe, 2002)

Condition: Poor. Heavy surface damage to the disc, with multiple deep scratches and lots of wear on the label. No inner packaging, just a battered jewel case.

Possible reasons for abandonment: Physically unplayable. This five-song album has seen an awful lot of use. Either that, or it’s been run over a few times with a power sander.

My best guess is that it was deeply enjoyed by someone — or else it was so bad it compelled its owner to batter the CD on any rough surface that presented itself along the way to the Goodwill drop-off box. Sadly, there’s no way to tell.

Worth rummaging for?: Almost certainly not.

Album: Fallen Angels, Dan Reiser (Dan Reiser, 2002)

Condition: Very good. Only a few slight scuffle marks mar the surface of the CD case.

Possible reasons for abandonment: Boredom. The songs sound basically the same — a mixture of love-life regrets and reluctant religious callings perched atop noodling keyboards that carry no-surprise melodies.

After about three songs filled with distractingly non-rhyming lyrics sung in a strongly impassive voice, you get the message, but you don’t much care.

Worth rummaging for?: The lyrics to the title track heavily imply that aliens are actually fallen angels who’ve been sent here to take over the Earth — and who have even kidnapped our narrator on multiple occasions. On novelty alone, it might be worth three bucks.

Album: Ghost Tracks, Valorie Miller (Redhead Records, 2001)

Condition: Near mint. Still in the original shrink-wrap, and seemingly in excellent shape.

Possible reasons for abandonment: A spurned admirer? A mistakenly deposited donation from a record store? A $10 (cheap!) tax write-off from Valorie herself? I’ll never know. Still, I was totally prepared to slap down $3 for this seemingly unused album — but it was not meant to be.

I strayed briefly from the bin, and another patron snagged the CD.

Having never heard this particular Valorie offering, I was a little disappointed. Here, ripped from my hands by fate, was a potential masterpiece by a local musician whose voice sounds like Victoria and Lucinda had an all-night screaming match over who should get to be the one-and-only alt-country Williams woman, and they finally settled the whole thing by seeing who could drink more bourbon out of an industrial-sized ashtray.

Worth rummaging for?: Too late, chum. A woman with a huge smile and a head of curly hair (no, it wasn’t Valorie) beat us both to it.


Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.