Random acts

Listening room

So there you are, sitting alone in your room on another post-break-up night. The love of your life and yourself are — how to put this gently? — splitsville. You don’t want to go out, which would mean leaving the pool of romantic self-pity you’re wallowing in. No, it’s far too soon for that. Instead, you’d rather sit around and sulk.

Don’t shy away from it; it’s a natural response. But to do it properly — to really get the best out of the experience — you need to be pulled by the tattered ends of your heartstrings into the other side of your solitary sorrow.

You need some good break-up tunes.

Below are the top-five Random Acts picks for the best local heartbreak songs. Not all of them are guaranteed to solve your personal moments of woe — but perhaps one, at least, will connect with you in that resonant tone of sorrow and loss (you know, in a good way).

• “Distance Inbetween” — Black Eyed Dog, distance inbetween (Hero, 2001)

If Big Star and Uncle Tupelo were swapping sob stories at a lonely-hearts-club bar, crying quietly into their fourth pitcher of lament, they still wouldn’t reach the same heartbroken place where goes the title track to Black Eyed Dog‘s second album. Front man Brian Landrum’s softly mourning refrain, “I think about her all the time,” gets you right where it hurts — on those still-tender bruises stomped into your soul. (But if you’re past that point, and would rather hear a song about acceptance of loss, check out the equally powerful and slightly more upbeat track “Jolee.”)

Listen to a few Black Eyed Dog’s tunes, including “Jolee,” at www.blackeyeddog.com

• “Low Point” — Holiday Rd., Next Exit (Celibate Records, 2002)

It isn’t every song that can survive the transition from a Spanish-guitar-and-piano memoir of love-gone-wrong to outright mosh-pit fodder for the pop-punk set and lose nothing substantial in the translation — but Holiday Rd.‘s angst anthem does all this and more. The acoustic version, available on the band’s full-length album Next Exit, is a powerfully somber piece of songwriting, but their outstanding live, electric version is everything you could want to kick out the heart pains, old-school style. A close second on the same album is the fast-paced, please-stop-stalking-me anger of “Zero Code.”

Hear offerings from Holiday Rd. (including the amped-up, electric version of “Low Point”) at www.mp3.com/Holiday_Road

• “Tryin’ Not to Love You” — Brian Flik, 4 Song Demo (Brian Flik, 2002)

There’s a true shortage of original country music in this town, and newly arrived, twang-talking Northerner Brian Flik is a welcome addition to the scene. His four-song demo, recently recorded at Onion Music, contains one of the best songs about getting over an ex you could ever want. In fact, the content of the song’s chorus is so graphic, the images so painful and so true, they can’t even be printed here. “Tryin’ Not to Love You” tends to evoke a wave of cathartic laughter in audiences, mostly because we’ve all been where Flik is, imagining all manner of depraved things someone we once loved is up to now — with another partner. It’s a great example of solo acoustic country with just the right amount of heartbreak stirred in to render a completely ruthless edge.

• “Any Other Way” — The Unholy Trio, The Unholy Trio (The Unholy Trio, 2002)

The flip side of woe-is-me is “I’ll be fine” — and few songs convey that sentiment more clearly than The Unholy Trio‘s “Any Other Way.” Since parting ways earlier this year (more or less — they still pop up for an occasional show), the band has been a sorely missed presence on the local country scene. Listening to their twangy, wickedly-polite-yet-utterly-spiteful cheating-heart song, it’s easy to see why. Front man Chris Geer’s voice oozes a nonchalant bitterness that plays against the kind of hard-driving darkness you’ll never find on today’s pop-country charts.

Find out more about outlaw-country heroes The Unholy Trio at www.unholytrio.com

• “All Your Best Laid Plans” — The Port Huron Statement, Tory (PHS, 2002)

A heartbreaking album all the way through, Tory is the Boone-based Port Huron Statement‘s homage to the concept album. A symphony of lovesick regret, the record achieves its climax with “All Your Best Laid Plans,” wherein simple piano chords mingle with the electric-orchestral backing and Chip Taylor’s sentimental singing, making this easily one of the most memorable heartbreak songs ever to come out of WNC.

Add context — the album is an electronic-garage-rock exploration of a doomed relationship between a stripper and a soldier set during a highly anachronistic Revolutionary War — and you get a whiff of just how groundbreaking Tory is.

Learn more about PHS at www.porthuronstatement.cjb.net

Honorable mentions

• “Care and Bleed” — Gavra Lynn, Gavra Lynn EP (Bloodspill Records, 2002)

• “Questions I Cannot Answer” — Joel Hathaway, Poetica Violencia Compilation (Poetica Violencia, 2002)

• “beauty of song” — George R. Martin, i’m okay (George R. Martin, 2002)

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