Random acts

Of note

Introducing Unscathed: Fans of the Asheville-based metal group Unscathed can look forward to the upcoming release of the band’s debut EP. Members expect the album to be available for release by the end of summer. For more information, visit www.unscathed.net.

Down Break splits with bassist: Regional heavy-music act Down Break has parted ways with bassist Lee Buckner. Although there’s no word yet on the nature of the split, guitarist Gene Rice has confirmed that the group is currently seeking a replacement. Interested bass players can e-mail Gene at mean1downbreak@yahoo.com.

Front-row reviews

What: Glory Fountain

Where: Westville Pub

When: Saturday, Aug. 17

Bo’s top-three elements for creating a successful band:

1) Find a lead singer with an amazing voice

2) Back up that voice with talented musicians and good songs

3) Play a real pretty guitar

(It also doesn’t hurt to have Mitch Easter produce your CD)

Glory Fountain’s Lynn Blakey plays a real pretty guitar — a guitar that’s having trouble staying in tune on this August evening. “This is the last time I’m going to tune my guitar,” she promises. However, as she re-tunes one song later, she uses the opportunity for casual banter with the audience. This band is comfortable, casual and down-to-earth — qualities that endear the Chapel Hill-based four-piece to the Westville Pub crowd.

Blakey’s voice alone is worth the price of admission. There are traces of Liz Phair and Rickie Lee Jones in there — then again, I’m sure I can hear bits of Emmylou Harris and the Indigo Girls. If Stevie Nicks didn’t have that scratchy thing going on, her voice could have made a cameo appearance, as well. The list goes on … Blakey has an “every woman” voice, and she makes it sound so easy. Without a sign of strain, she sings with power and range — immediately after downing a quick, between-sets meal, to boot.

Her band is heavy on guitar, navigating the line between straight-ahead rock and a more-mellow, singer/songwriter feel. Live, they produce a big, full sound without the need for oversized amps or excessive accoutrements. The players work together — there’s no sense of competition between instruments, and each musician knows when not to play (a gift not bestowed on many of today’s performers).

Glory Fountain is well-rehearsed and professional. Somewhere along the way, though, their energy and excitement slip a bit. Don’t get me wrong — they seemed to be having a good time most of the time. They’re musicians, not wannabe rock stars, and I appreciate that.

The band’s recently released CD, The Beauty of 23, has a dash of Cowboy Junkies-meets-REM. The title track, I must confess, is driving me mad. Melancholy but not depressing, it has one of those choruses you’ll be humming for days, without even realizing it. Track three, “Rosary,” is equally enticing.

The Mitch Easter-as-co-producer-influence is obvious. Easter, a graduate of the ’80s music scene with the band Let’s Active, produced at least three REM albums and is one of the creators of the vintage Athens, Ga. sound. Track two is a page lifted directly from the early REM book, and there are times I could swear that John Chumbris, guitarist and co-producer, is Michael Stipe singing back-up.

The seventh track heads into the more-folky, singer/songwriter genre I find draining on my attention span. But, while Glory Fountain is not re-creating the musical wheel, they do make music that is intelligent, catchy and (WNCW) radio-friendly.

Top threes

Top-three CDs for cocktail hour (from my friend Martha):

Verve Remixed

Thomas Crown Affair soundtrack

• Van Morrison w/Georgie Fame & Friends, How Long Has This Been Going On

[Bo Post is a free-lance photographer and lover of opinions. She will be sharing hers with Mountain Xpress readers during the month of August as she writes Random Acts (giving Steve Shanafelt a much-deserved vacation). You can soon view some of Bo’s work at www.Onionmusic.com]

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