By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
The next best thing
Live at the Vortex
Rotten Rubber Band
Few local bands do as good a job of transporting an audience into the sweaty, smoky heart of a weekend night as the Rotten Rubber Band. Passing out percussion instruments and encouraging the crowd to participate, they invoke that beery sense of anarchy and abandon that is rock and roll. Pass the Winedale Tavern when they're playing, and it's hard to resist pressing your nose to the glass (although you may want to wipe the glass off first) and thinking, "That looks like a helluva good time."
Live at the Vortex does a good job of capturing the tongue-in-cheek dance-boogie of these Lower Greenville stalwarts at their best, but it can't avoid a basic truth: A good time is best when it's being lived. Memory may lend events a golden glow, but that pales next to the sharpness of actual experience.
It was a problem that dogged Austin's satirical Uranium Savages: Their recorded work never lived up to their bite live. Such obstacles haunt this release as well, and the album's live format raises another philosophical point: Why buy a live album of an act you could just go see in a few days? There's nothing wrong with acquiring a momento of a favorite act, but the Rotten Rubber virgin might find the rambunctious Live at the Vortex about as much fun as a tape recording of a party.
The devil don't surf
Hail Satan, Dude: Music From My Goddamn Movies and More!!!
Joe Christ/Bigger Than God
Soundtracks usually serve to remind you of a favorite film, but if you're unfamiliar with the movie, they can often prove interesting simply in the way the assumptions of the music meet with the listener's expectations. Or is it meat with? With Joe Christ--the New York-by-way-of-Dallas avant-weird filmmaker fascinated with blood, body mutilation, and sex in no particular order--you can never be too sure.
Those familiar with Christ's oeuvre--dark, nearly unwatchable short films like Speed Freaks with Guns--won't be surprised by this collection of his soundtracks. They're loaded with sinister, reverb-heavy instrumentals that slide along oilily like surf music from a witch's coven, a couple of warped covers (including "Some Velvet Morning"), and black rants from demented narrators.
The instrumentals are eerily atmospheric, but those unfamiliar with Christ's work--including his current project, Satan's Whore, whose entire score appears here--may well be put off by the paranoid ravings of his protagonists, who are usually quite insane. Those desiring a Joe Christ artifact will find every expectation met with the demon-biker vibe of Hail Satan, Dude; others can fire up the grill, put in this CD, and watch guests scatter like frightened cockroaches.