Random acts

Of note

Splitsville: Members of local heavy band Unscathed have officially parted ways; vocalist Matthew Robinson and bassist Christopher Gorglione have left to pursue other interests. The group had planned to record their first full-length album later this year. According to the band’s Web site, the band’s remaining members, Ryan Dodd and Stephen Fesperman, are currently looking for replacements. For more information, visit www.unscathed.net.

A new collaboration: Asheville-based up-and-coming singer/songwriter Hannah Curtis will sing the sole vocal track, “Inventing Venus,” on the upcoming Robert DiMaio album Deepin the Mystery. DiMaio, a Bele Chere alumnus, plans to release the otherwise instrumental album later this year. For more information, visit www.robertdimaio.com.

Front-row reviews

Who: The High Strung, w/3d5spd and Alessandra Maria

When: Saturday, Oct. 12

Where: Vincent’s Ear

Vaguely alt-country singer/songwriter Alessandra Maria doesn’t exactly have an electric stage presence — and I’m not talking about her choice of instruments.

Following her forgettable act at Vincent’s Ear on Oct. 12 was Atlanta-based rock group 3d5spd. They were entertaining enough, playing a combination of Hendrix-styled guitar with hard-driving, up-tempo jazz-rock, but they didn’t seem to really get going till the very end of their set.

Vocalist Chris Hoke has a memorable voice that, at times, sounded like a surprisingly effective mixture of Dave Matthews, a Police-era Sting and Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell. Unfortunately, Hoke and the group’s drummer tended to take their extended solos at the same time, the result being a runny musical pudding that was more distracting than enjoyable. For a band with such obvious potential, they never really reached the small Saturday-night crowd.

If Alessandra Maria suffered from a lack of stage presence and 3d5spd a deficiency of focus, then both could take a few pointers from headlining act The High Strung. Their music — a combination of elements including Detroit rock, early-’60s pop, late-’70s garage, surf rock and even a hint of New York pre-punk — is often compared by critics to the music (though not the performance style) of The Beatles, which isn’t wholly inaccurate.

Like The Beatles, The High Strung has two vocalists, Josh Malerman and Mark Owen, who seem to enjoy taking on vocal roles — like the whiny-voiced narrator who shows up in many of their songs. There was a good deal of jumping, climbing and rocking-out all around — of all the acts on the bill that night, they were the only ones who managed to connect with the Vincent’s Ear crowd.

Listening room (album reviews)

Next Exit — Holiday Rd.

Listening to Holiday Rd.‘s debut release, I found myself hearing not what they were, but rather what they could become.

Next Exit isn’t a great document of what the “melodic punk” group is like today, but rather what they were like when the disc was recorded late last year (at which point the band had just formed). A total of six engineers recorded and mixed the album’s 11 songs, and drummer Matt Ring was right in the middle of a bout of mono.

But for all its idiosyncrasies and imperfections, Next Exit often borders on being incredible. Traditional punk arrangements combine with deft guitar playing and extremely flexible rhythms. Pop-punk slides cleverly into an angst-ridden memoir in “3 Minute Hate,” and old-school hardcore punk gets an upbeat reworking on the group’s cover of The Balowski Family’s song “Zero Code.”

But neither of those songs shows the band’s punk-revisionist potential. For that, you’d have to go to the very end and hear “Sin Stained,” an acoustic powerhouse performed on piano and Spanish guitar. Rating: 5 out of 5.


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