By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Attack of the killer indies
They come in all colors: purple, yellow, blue, orange, even black vinyl. An assortment of moods and aspirations, these five 7" singles paint a big part of the local music picture as it expands within the here and now while drawing influences from there and then.
With Car Crash (Direct Hit Records), Fury III tries to balance arty leanings with poppy hooks. Guess what: Art wins. "Peep Show" has more atmosphere than catchy hooks, and the lyrics of "Car Crash" are more engaging than the song itself. "Kickstand" sounds like the Jam with the amps turned down backing Bob Dylan; singer Stephen Nutt has a good grip on words, which, at the least, makes the band one of the most literate in town. They even quote Samuel Beckett on the inserted merchandise order form. Which means you get pop and culture for a measly four bucks.
Flux is the most confused of the lot. On Plains at Ground Zero (Man's Ruin Records), Bucky Buchanen sounds like he's a member of the Ozzy fan club, but he also wishes that Jane's Addiction would headline this year's Lollapalooza. Both cuts ("Plains" and "Following Nothing") sound like intros to heavy metal songs that never break out to the fast part. Maybe they're trying to be a gothic version of Porno For Pyros.
Nervous tension and fear are encapsulated perfectly in a split disc from Last Beat Records. rubberbullet's harrowing "The Kissing Song" has hints of Sonic Youth and a busy arrangement, with jagged edges enough to throw the needle off the grooves; this unsettling mood follows you well into the night. Flip the disc over, and Denton's Baboon will ease the tension with the entertaining punk silliness of "King of the Damned Laser Gag!" What do they put in the water over there?
Houston's schrasj know all about lo-fi. Lo-fi as in Low and Codeine, not Pavement. On "Guns and Galveston" (the A side of a split disc from Sandwhich Records) they are quiet and wistful, but not quite there. Partly because of the sloppy mix, this particular gun shoots blanks. Our own Transona Five, with "Nick" on the other side, do it one better, paying more attention to melody, mood and song structure. So, Dallas 1, Houston 0.
Finally, Transona Five's blue seven-incher (also on Sandwhich) is the winner. Not only does it have the best sleeve, it also feels more like the traditional single--the kind you'd put in a jukebox. Although "Mariposa" is good, catching the Velvet Underground at their most contemplative, "Reconstitute"--recorded live at the Argo in Denton, a venue with superb acoustics--is better; a piece of sublime pop. With its fragile ba-ba-ba-bas and subtle guitars, it seems like it disappears in thin air until you realize that it still echoes inside your head.