Skeletons in the jukebox

“Skeletons” provides a forum for local musicians, artists, record-store owners, etc., to erase cool points by expressing their unseemly affection for an unhip album from their past.

Alabama, Closer You Get, by Laura Blackley

“Pique-polo shirts, Panama hats, muscle tees, and mullets adorn the bright and cheery pastel cover. It was 1981, after all.

“The title and lead-off track were typical rootsy and catchy stuff for the band, but whoever programmed the drum machine made the snare sound like a guy clanging on an electrical cable with a dinner fork.

“Don’t get me wrong; I still LOVE this record. I can even forgive the producer for the aforementioned drum machine (although they had a perfectly capable live drummer already in the band), as well as the over-glossified production and cheesy synthesizers. It was 1981, after all.”

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

The Poles, Arrive EP (Myriapod Recordings): Two Stars

Kind of music: Punk, prog, indie, classic rock

You’ll like it if: You love bands that elude labels

Defining song: “We Can Breathe in Water” (the opening track shows the band’s adeptness at genre jumping)

The great thing about the Asheville music scene is its diversity. (Really.) In due fashion, local rockers the Poles cover the musical map like wide-eyed troubadours. However, the almost year-old band has yet to find itself — “We have no idea what the hell we are all about,” they say in their own press release. Reaching further for edginess, they add: ” … Make up your own damn mind.”

OK, then: Each song features enough changes to sustain interest (i.e., sludge-rock wails melting into space-rock introspections), but the snippets of each genre don’t have enough staying power to warrant infectious listening … yet. Hopefully, this band will continue to elude labels and create their own sound. The potential is there.

Show review

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

Reductio Ad Absurdum with Blisterfist at the Emerald Lounge, May 27: Three Stars

Kind of music: Math, prog, jazz, and specks of death metal

Be glad you stayed home if: Mixing of modalities jams your mental circuits

Defining moment: When Reductio’s Ben Shirley busted out the Theremin, creating a spooky funk that moved the crowd out of shoe-gazing mode

Rapper Al Blisterfist has guts. Lily-white and sporting a collared polo, he sputtered smooth rhymes behind the hippified backdrop of the Emerald Lounge. Somehow, it worked. Smart, self-effacing lyrics got the crowd lathered up for the main attraction — Reductio Ad Absurdum.

Reductio is one of the more imaginative bands in Asheville — think Slayer (minus the lyrics) meets Miles Davis (in the Dark Magus period). Justin Whitlow’s drumbeats suggest years of percussive pilgrimage to the altar of death metal. Along with his mates — Ben Shirley (sax, Theremin, samples, flute) and Adon Wallace (bass, keyboards, samples) — the trio leapt from one tangent to the next, without ever losing direction.

[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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