Random acts

Spring cleaning

CDs for review tend to pile up fast around here. And like so many other winter-cluttered places, Xpress‘ local-music desk has lately been getting hard to see. So, in the spirit of spring-cleaning, this week’s Random Acts is all about finally getting around to those belated record reviews of 2003.

Debut, Boojum Tribe (Boojum Tribe, 2003)

Imagine the typical hippie jam band having an occasional (and seemingly uncontrollable) urge to rock out in NYC-punk-circa-1977 style. That’s Boojum Tribe, and their amateurishly recorded album contains good songs and horrible ones, and a great deal of filler. Interesting, if irreparably flawed.

(Rating: 1.5 out of 5.)

The Rib Tips Play Five Songs for You!, The Rib Tips (Greasy Coat Productions, 2003)

Live, The Rib Tips are an enrapturing, inspiring, hell-raising, old-time/hokum jug band. As recorded in this demo, though, something fundamentally kinetic is missing. Barring the closing track, “Sylva & Bryson,” the group’s demented rawness (particularly the joyous rage of vocalist/fiddler Ian Moore) is simply lost. (Rating: 2.5 out of 5.)

Deepin the Mystery, Robert DiMaio (Robert DiMaio, 2003)

Robert DiMaio is an undeniably talented, versatile guitarist, but except for “Inventing Venus” (with standout singer Hannah Curtis), this CD lacks catchy songcraft. It’s more a collection of guitar-oriented studio jams than a truly listener-oriented effort. (Rating: 2.5 out of 5.)

The Ol’ Hotfoot, J. Tomas Band (Jaimee Tomas, 2003)

The J. Tomas Band is not untalented; however, for their debut album, they’ve resigned themselves to playing nothing but uninspired bar music. Tomas herself possesses a killer voice, and her band is filled with sturdy players able to conquer country, blues and rock. And yet there’s little here that leaps from the box. (Rating: 2.5 out of 5.)

Heading Home, Vince Junior (Vince Junior, 2003)

A handful of genuinely good songs and an album filled with all-around-excellent playing can’t overcome the drawbacks inherent in having the white man’s blues — specifically, that aspect of the condition that compels you to tell everybody about it. Either way, though, Vince Junior‘s tunes — including the title cut and “Oh the Moon Daddy” — show moments of true poetry. (Rating: 3 out of 5.)

What Goes Around, Josh Jourdan (Josh Jourdan, 2003)

Refreshingly unpretentious, Josh Jourdan is only to be faulted for subjecting his songs to some awkward, seam-revealing studio trickery and a few ’70s-era folk cliches. Nevertheless, this debut successfully captures Jourdan’s old-school-troubadour elegance. (Rating: 3.5 out of 5.)

Live at The Cabin, County Farm (County Farm, 2003)

County Farm doesn’t promise what it can’t deliver. Boot-stompin’ traditional tunes and blistering bluegrass and country covers, such as “Coal Tattoo,” dominate the album; what the CD lacks is original material to set it apart from the throwback pack. (Rating: 3.5 out of 5.)

The Movement, Lovechilde, Jemiah & Kormelo (PROtainment, 2003)

Professional, expertly produced, big-city R&B from Asheville? Yup — and it’s good, too. Fueled by Kormelo‘s graveled urban edge, Lovechilde‘s post-gospel soulfulness and Jemiah‘s easy-flowing vanilla and honey, the trio’s debut release runs consistently smooth. Their mass-market-friendly sound won’t endear them to the local indie crowd, but their combined talents are irrefutable. (Rating: 4 out of 5.)

Bigger Than It Really Is …, GFE (GFE, 2003)

It took the better part of a decade, but GFE finally produced a killer studio album. Part sociopolitical epistle, part mountain rapper’s proclamation, Bigger Than It Really Is … takes a giant toke from a fat blunt of genre-spanning funk spiked with the angst-dust of urban hippie-hop. And the smoky track “Everybody Get High” rolled straight from the hands of George Clinton himself. (Rating: 4 out of 5.)

waiting, Count Clovis (Upstream Records, 2003)

On Count Clovis’ sophomore release, Latin throbbing collides with the thumping of stolen Afrobeat, while dark urban-lounge grinds against explosive astro-rock. Through it all burns the soul of a gypsy symphony. Better yet, the playing’s so tight that you won’t mind asking for more. (Rating: 4.5 out of 5.)

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