Random acts

Of note

• Aggressively funny local pop-punkers Code Adam have announced plans to begin recording their debut. Although no release date for the CD is available, it’s doubtful the currently untitled project will be out before fall. For more information, visit www.codeadamstar.com.

• Local hip-hop heroes H. Brycon and DJ Equal have announced plans for the release of The World’s Deadliest Assassin, to be released in two parts later this year. For more information, visit www.topshelfmusic.biz.

Front-row reviews

What: The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players w/Langhorne Slim

Where: The Orange Peel

When: Sunday, June 15

Jason Trachtenburg is a spaz — a charming, funny, amazingly clever one, and the kind of quirky guy you’d love to invite ’round to a party, but a spaz all the same.

“We’ve come up with a concept that can potentially change the future — and the past — of music,” he explained in a stilted, stuttering, startlingly self-effacing speech before his band’s recent show at the Orange Peel.

The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players perform catchy, jingle-like pop songs inspired by other people’s vacation slides (purchased at estate sales). But the gimmickry doesn’t end there. They’re also a true family band, a Gen-X Partridge Family of sorts, with 9-year-old daughter Rachel playing drums and singing backup, and her mom, Tina, helming the slide projector.

Most songs are based around sight gags. Consider the Trachtenburgs’ opening number: “Mountain Trip to Japan 1959,” follows a family’s vacation, chronicling vast landscapes, great works of religious art, cemeteries, a possible public execution and … a cocker spaniel ranch.

Fundamentally, that’s the joke. Culture, culture, culture … yappy little dogs.

“Vietnam, Watergate and Eggs” is similarly skewed, mixing images of the late-1960s with pictures of … eggs. It’s so silly you really have to try hard not to enjoy yourself.

And as a performance style, it falls quickly into a “funny once” kind of shtick — good for a few songs, perhaps, but hardly a whole concert.

That’s where Jason comes in. The Trachtenburg paterfamilias is such a strangely entertaining person — all twitchy stage presence and self-conscious, non-sequitur-laden banter — that he adds a kind of stand-up-comedy quality to the proceedings.

“What kind of a band is this?” Trachtenburg queried the audience in a fit of self-mockery midway into the show. “Is this a band? This is ridiculous.”

Combine this with the precocious calls of “Dad! Hey, Dad!” from young Rachel (leading to more than one off-microphone discussion), plus her slightly loose drumming (not unexpected from a preadolescent), and, viola — you’ve created a bizarre, decidedly non-aggressive indie-rock vibe.

From the outset, with Jason’s pre-concert, reverse-Q&A session (he asked the crowd where the best thrift stores might be found, and inquired into the merits of local peculiarities like The Asheville Disclaimer), the show was incredibly humanizing. No rock-star, ego-preening moments. No pretension.

Sure, the music is just an excuse for the oddity. And yet the band has received write-ups in The New York Post, Spin (where Rachel was favorably compared to White Stripes drummer Meg White) and The Village Voice. The family has played sold-out shows all over their current home base in New York, been named one of the most important acts at Austin’s annual SXSW Festival and, just prior to their Asheville show, performed a set at the massive Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tenn.

They’ve even been featured on Late Night With Conan O’Brien — where, Jason has admitted, he and his family were branded “more difficult to work with than Sir Elton John.”

And yet they made even the cavernous Orange Peel feel intimate.


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