Random acts

Of note

Tastes like jam: Asheville jazzsters Delicious have just released their self-titled debut. With just three songs running to a total of 30 minutes, some serious jamming is surely involved. Yet coming from a band known for running toy laser guns through their guitar pick-ups (and putting on otherwise unforgettable live shows), this improvisation begs a listen (even if you’re a typically only a three-minute kind of listener).

For more information, visit the Delicious homepage (www.faroutfreakyshit.com).

Listening room (album reviews)

The 2003 Asheville All-Local Music Sampler, Various Artists (Collapseable Studios)

If albums were judged solely on production quality, Collapseable Studio’s 2003 sampler would rank among the best records ever to come out of Asheville.

As a collection of local music, it’s not bad either, representing a whole community of players who thrive on the nostalgic air the West Asheville studio so excellently creates.

Every track — from the mint-condition, ’80s-bubblegum-pop of Paperboy‘s “Only on the Outside” to the R&B-meets-mellow-fuzz-rock of Hollywood Red‘s “Hold Your Tongue” — exhibits a masterful consistency of musical texture. Apart from a few power chords and a hint of grunge, the casual listener might never know that these recordings don’t hail from the heydays of the respective eras they reference.

Vendetta Cream smolders with a breathy, Latin-guitar-stoked “Besame Mucho.” While the track doesn’t play into the near-operatic side of her stage show, it’s a highly convincing presentation of Vendetta’s smoky, vibrato-heavy, whispery voice, and a truly captivating song.

Even on-again-off-again country-fried notables The Unholy Trio are given new treatment by Collapseable: The band’s already bluesy, rock-spewing country is filled out with electric organ on “Love Looks Like a Master” to create an altogether-deeper sound. It’s by far the band’s best recording yet — and a testament to Collapseable’s ability to shunt time and space through studio magic, creating something that wouldn’t be at all out of place in a mid-’60s collection of Memphis-music nuggets.

Also included are classic Collapseable tracks from the last few years, from Piedmont Charisma‘s Devo-ishly addictive “Don’t Ever Surrender” to the busted-out-guitar charm of geeky-girl anthem “Never Was a Cool One,” by Ami Worthen’s Mad Tea Party.

Jr. James & The Late Guitar also make an appearance with the aptly chosen tune “Soundproof Room.” (Not a surprising addition: Collapseable Studio heads Aaron Price and Bill Reynolds play in The Late Guitar, as well as in ROBOT, which closes the album with “The Next Time”.)

This collection begins with its most riveting song, Scrappy Hamilton‘s live performance of “All Along the Way,” which captures the band at their best. Its soulful vocals hail not from the heart but from the marrow — while there are enough nostalgia-bringing hooks here to keep almost anyone listening (if only to hear what reference the band will drop next). Though not as edgy as some later tracks, the song’s passion makes it stand out.

For all the good songs, however, there’s also an awful lot of mediocrity here. And yet Collapseable has ensured that no songs sound outright awful; even Eddie Cane’s completely forgettable “Leather Seats,” arriving around mid-album, is listenable enough.

But the studio’s two ventures into rap — The Ville Boyz‘s “Reality” and GFE punk side-project Medicine‘s “Burn Down My Apartment” — remain dubious experiments. Both have their merits, but neither song ever quite ignites.

But overall, the Collapseable sampler is completely respectable, ranking right alongside the much-ignored Asheville Homegrown and the Decline of WNC series as a document of this region’s musical diversity. More importantly, as a showcase of Collapseable’s abilities, the album is nearly flawless.

My voice, your song

ET’s Bar and Grill in Arden, an official host for Karaoke World Championship U.S.A. competitions, held its local finals last weekend. Six singers — three male, three female — move on to the next round.

• Female winners, in order: Rhonda Hill, Arden, first place; Cindy Shields, Middletown, Del.; and Jamie Price, Fletcher.

• Male: Carl Leach, Arden; Tom Glenn, Morristown, Tenn.; and Bill Hull, King (near Winston-Salem).

ET’s will host not only the KWCUSA state finals (March 6), but also the Region 8 Finals (April 3, facing state champs from Tennessee).

The ultimate goal: The second-annual Karaoke World Championships in Heinola, Finland (July 28-31).

— Frank Rabey

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