Earful

CD reviews

Rating system

No stars: Excellent beer coaster
1 star: An even better beer coaster
2 stars: Scant moments of grace
3 stars: Flawed excellence
4 stars: Gun it past the soccer moms and get to the record store

Reigning Sound, Too Much Guitar (In the Red Records): Four stars

Kind of music: Rock ‘n’ roll
You’ll like it if: Ear bleeding is your thing
Defining song: “Medication.” The unearthly snarl of the album’s final song will induce nightmares.

This 2004 offering from broken-glass-throated Greg Cartwright (former front man of the Oblivians and the Compulsive Gamblers) is reminiscent of hearing the Stones in their barroom days. Each song exhibits the primal anger of a caged gorilla, and even the lone ballad (the excellent “Funny Thing”) shows its teeth. Stripped-down rock is chic right now, but Reigning Sound’s minimalist overtures would be cool in any age. The album is a year old, but Cartwright is new to the area from Memphis. Asheville may not be big enough for this beast of a sound.

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Rating system

No stars: Did the real band show up?
1 star: I want my three hours back
2 stars: Great background music
3 stars: Warrants serious attention
4 stars: Became a groupie on the spot

Black Keys with opening band The Hentchmen at the Orange Peel on Friday the 13th: Four stars

Kind of music: Gut-bucket blues
Be glad you stayed home if: You’re a jealous-prone guitarist.
Defining moment: The whole show. The short event (maybe an hour long) packed a wallop. Guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney played like the world was coming to an end.

The “opening opening” band (unbeknownst to the public or the Black Keys) was local duo Cannibal Unicorn. Their impromptu parking-lot set consisted of fireworks from Brian Flik’s guitar, and Justin Whitlow drumming from the claustrophobic confines of a beat-up van. The five-song meltdown ended right before the cops came to pay their respects.

Inside, the Akron-based Black Keys took their two-man act and shoved it down the crowd’s throat. Carney never lifted his head, his body melding into the drums. Birthday boy Auerbach responded in kind, playing with feedback and sonic splendor that left the crowd with their collective mouths ajar. No frills, no catering to the audience — just two men in love with their music. Perfect deep, dark blues for Friday the 13th.

Skeletons in the jukebox

Local DJ Jordan Bates notes that “the songwriting team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David wrote some of the most melancholic yet sexy songs. Remember those parties your parents threw, the hi-fi soothing their friends with that groovy vibe of someone doing a version of a Bacharach tune? “What they responded to, consciously or not, was the genius of super-solid songwriting,” according to Bates. “Burt used Dionne Warwick as a vocalist to record these great songs: Her four-octave voice [was] well suited for those difficult reaches. There are plenty of compilations on CD available, but my poison is vinyl. You may have to dig, but my guiltiest pleasure is Go With Love: Dionne Warwick Sings the Songs of Burt Bacharach and Hal David (Scepter Records, DS727).”

[When he’s not bending readers to his will, Hunter Pope cooks, gardens, hikes and spends his mortgage money on CDs he’s never heard.]

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