Coming soon (album previews)
After what seems like an unfairly long hibernation, the local-music scene is finally lumbering back to life. In the next few months, dozens of new albums will see release, many of them recorded during the winter by bands that seem ready for a breakout showing this spring and summer.
This week, Random Acts brings you a little taste of what’s to come.
Dark side of the dial
• The Lonely Sea, Wayne Robbins & The Hellsayers
This will be the first “official” release for The Hellsayers. Bandleader Robbins’ Neil Young-esque vocals coat ethereal noir-country dirges and haunted-sea ballads — and I’m basing that assessment only on the unmastered songs the band has released so far on its Web site. From these alone, the finished album already sounds like a masterpiece.
For more information and song downloads, visit www.GoodLuckCricket.com.
• Plastic Glass, George Glass
George Glass is a fantastically dark musician who’s long suffered from horrible recordings. Live, his songs evoke a down-filled pillow stuffed with jagged, colored shards of broken liquor bottles — at once comforting and painful. But his previous solo albums — the astoundingly badly produced I’m Okay and Tunnel of Wolf — never really captured the bleeding beauty of this sound: Unless you’d seen Glass’ intense live performances, you’d never know a genius lurked underneath all the muck. Now, with Plastic Glass, the singer/songwriter may finally get his due. Essentially a collaboration with Hellsayers Wayne Robbins and Jeff Whitworth, the album — a series of open-mic performances and home recordings — finds Glass in his element, bringing out an emotional richness unheard in earlier recordings. Here, songs like the booze-and-cigarettes poetry of “Birdchest” and the depressive hope of “Everyone Swallows” are shown as true labors of love.
Learn more at www.GoodLuckCricket.com.
• The Cut and Thrust of Clear Thinking, Secret Lives of the Freemasons
Boil down all the sticky remnants of Asheville’s hard-core and emo scenes from the last five years, mix in a batch of new ass-kicking songs and an intensely devoted fan base, and you get Secret Lives of the Freemasons. Featuring members of local heavyweight groups like Estedy and A Kiss Before Dying — and including aggressively talented vocalist Brien Worsham — Secret Lives has already become known for unstoppable live shows, and the group’s early demos hint that their sound will translate faithfully to tape. For local hard-core addicts, this will be the CD to watch in 2004.
Get more at www.secretlivesofthefreemasons.com.
• Jascha Ephraim, Jascha Ephraim
As a songwriter, he’s at least as clever in his wordplay as any acoustic folkie, and even performing alone, he’s more fun to listen to than any local indie-rock band. Jascha Ephraim‘s music also provokes more excited stomping than anything on the hard-core/punk front. And, man, the guy can dance. On the surface, Ephraim’s style is firmly based in the catchiest of post-disco ’80s synth-pop — and yet his awesomely funny lyrics deliver his music beyond that realm. His songs explore such twisted subjects — riding around on the back of a dinosaur, or the Columbia space-shuttle disaster — that it’s hard not to find something to enjoy. Look for the disc to be dropped sometime before summer.
• Double Live, The SexPatriates
According to front man Joey “Dirty” Martini, this CD set should be ready for release in the next few months. Given the raucous, chaotic nature of the SexPatriates’ live shows, it’s impossible to tell how a live double-CD will ultimately turn out — expect either a horrid mess of crowd noise and bad sound levels or an awesome document of the band’s on-stage prowess. Either way, as the debut release from one of downtown Asheville’s most well-known acts, it’s definitely an album to get worked up about.
• Also be on the lookout for new records from Mad Tea Party, Stephanie’s Id and Sugar & The Plums.)