Out Here

Who pulled the plug?
SuperLectric
Adam's Farm
Rainmaker Records

In Dallas radio stations' race to make and break local bands they ignored the first and last go-'round, here's another obvious addition to their playlists--a group with enough sincerity, smarts, and honest talent to convince even the cynics there's something there even when there isn't. So here's introducing for the 100th time the band that would be, could be, and should be if only they could ever figure out what they are.

Things have got to be a little confusing for a band that started out playing sloppy, lo-fi country-rock and discovered pristine pop along the way. Either way, Adam's Farm (singer-guitarist Jeff Whittington, drummer Matt Pence, and bassist Mark Hedman) are "professionals" now: The frayed parts have been trimmed away, the loose performances have been reigned in, and the rough edges have all been polished off to further the cause. If the band that made 1994's Rock Music Machine sounded like a garage band that just learned its fourth, fifth, and sixth chords--which means it was unhinged enough to sound sincere and messy, but well-done enough to warrant its Crazy-Horse-enrolls-at-North-Texas ideal--then this year's model substitutes urgency for knowledge and experience.

They've graduated from the garage to the studio, but you don't find passion in a diploma. The amateur's spark of Rock Music Machine has been slyly replaced by an almost unidentifiable blandness that permeates even the loudest moments and the better hooks. There's nothing wrong with "There's Nothing That Rhymes with Racine" (which first appeared on Rock Music), but somehow this version lacks the subtle punch that made the original a standout, thus rendering this take a disappointment; and there's nothing wrong with "Sellin'" until you realize it sounds like Spin Doctors. SuperLectric has the familiar sound of a band playing it safe where they once had nothing to lose, so many of the songs bleeding into each other because there's nothing to separate the lot except the silence between them. (At 19 songs, including the six previously released tracks at the end, SuperLectric is too long.)

More than that, it's a surprisingly dour record, save for the misplaced (and highly enjoyable) Hawaii-by-way-of-Vegas throwaway called "Tiki Tiki" that sounds just like its name--and I bet Poi Dog Pondering wants it back. Then there's "High," which includes an in reference to Funland's Clark Vogeler and this baffling lyric: "Michael Stipe's such a fag/I want to kick his ass/I want to beat him senseless/And all that stuff about being a fag, well, I'm not talking about his homosexuality/'Cause when I call somebody a fag, it's just a figure of speech." I have no idea what it means, and from the way he sings it, I bet Jeff Whittington doesn't either.

--Robert Wilonsky

 
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