Out Here

Don't fence me in

Lift to Experience
Lift to Experience
Random-Precision Records

Smoothie
Sandwich
Lung Cookie Records

One of the bastard children of music criticism is labels, the stifling shorthand used to sum up any hard-to-define band's work in two or three words: sweater rock, alternative country, blues punk, etc. One of the most ubiquitous and insidious of these labels is space rock. The space-rock tag is basically applied to any band that uses effects-laden guitar sounds or feedback in its songs--or comes from Denton. In many cases, the term is a misnomer; in almost all cases, bands shy away from it as if asked to identify John Gotti in a police lineup.

Denton's Lift to Experience is a band that will undoubtedly be pigeonholed as "space rock," and in this instance the term is again misapplied. The four songs on the band's debut EP do contain some of the things characteristic to the genre: swirling guitars a la My Bloody Valentine, bursts of feedback, and vocals low in the mix. The way these things are employed, however, creates a unique sound that defies any sort of superficial tag. The guitars on "Falling From Cloud 9" do not sound otherworldly; rather, they give you the feeling that you are on this planet--in the ocean--and waves are crashing down upon your head, trapping you in the water. Although at times the songs run a bit too long (the four-song disc clocks in at 23 minutes), Lift to Experience has delivered a nice calling card that shows it is one of the up-and-coming bands on the Denton scene.

Sandwich is another band that doesn't really fit into a particular slot. At its best, the band is a competent and, at times, entertaining power-pop band with catchy choruses and hummable melodies. At its worst, it is a novelty act, not quite as funny as "Weird" Al Yankovic, but not as grating as The Presidents of the USA, Nada Surf, and their brethren. The trouble is, the band never really sticks to one or the other. It's almost like watching a "special" episode of a sitcom: half-funny, half-serious, and never completely satisfying. Even when Sandwich isn't caught up in its own cuteness, the songs still have a smugness about them that undercuts whatever it is that the band is trying to get across.

A few songs on Smoothie ("Laser Boy," "Party") show that Sandwich is a very good pop-rock band that may eventually put out a good record. But for now, listening to Sandwich is kind of like running into that friend you had in high school who still lives with his parents and gets baked on the weekends: It's fun for a while, but after about 15 minutes, the joke gets old. No thanks.

--Zac Crain

 
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