Earful

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.

Smashing Pumpkins’ Gish, loved by Wayne Robbins of the Hellsayers

“I was in a dorm room when I first heard Gish, the new album by the Smashing Pumpkins. Even though I didn’t understand what the hell Billy Corgan was singing about (I still don’t), I thought it was the heaviest, loudest album I had ever heard. I listened to it over and over and over, immersing myself in the distorted power of the relentless sounds of self-pity. I didn’t know anything about Nirvana (Nevermind was, at least to me, a few months behind), but for a while there I thought the Smashing Pumpkins were the greatest feel-sorry-for-itself band in America, if not the world.”

CD review

Cheeksters, 1965 (Caterina Sounds): Three Stars

Genre(s): Rock, Britpop, Motown

You’ll like it if: You can keep your cynicism at bay while grooving to sugary ’60s pop

Defining song: “Big Star”– The inclusion of a banjo on this bubblegum tune gives an Appalachian twist to the heavy Brit influence.

Forty years later, the Brit invasion has finally hit Asheville. Thanks to local band the Cheeksters and their new album, 1965, one can avoid jaunts across the ocean to hear authentic British pop. Husband-and-wife team Mark Casson and Shannon Hines Casson, along with multi-instrumentalist Brent Little, retread gracefully back to the same year of their album’s title. Even the recording equipment (e.g., 2-inch analog tapes, vintage tube gear) was antiquated to make 1965 an honest throwback. Some of the resemblances border on uncanny. Mark Casson channels David Bowie so well on “Tiger and Monkey” that I double-checked the credits for a guest-artist reference. Add a dollop of Motown on the silky track “Slide,” and you can forgive the lyrics’ occasional teetering into saccharine territory.

Show review

Pierce Edens at Harvest Records, as part of The Retarded Coyote Rock and Roll Show and Art Opening; Friday, July 1: Three Stars

Genre(s): Singer/songwriter; bottleneck blues

Be glad you stayed home if: You need more musical meat than a man and a guitar

Defining moment: “Hallelujah” — An original blues drencher so good I swore it was an old classic.

I fear the singer/songwriter stereotype. When I hear the label, I think of a whiny eulogy for a lost cat or spilled coffee on a fresh cardigan. Luckily, Pierce Edens epitomizes neither. With a growling voice, aggressive harmonica, and a percussive guitar sound, Edens (backed by a drummer for the first set) has the presence to hold one’s attention for more than an obligatory song. The music is still raw, the mistakes visible (one of the few covers, “Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” ended abruptly), but he’s a performer with a lot of well-written originals, a monster picking hand, and a bucketful of intention. However, this was a small, informal setting packed with many of his friends. I’m curious how he would fare in a bigger, more neutral venue.

[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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