By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Rhett Miller nailed it when former Dallas Observer staff writer and London resident Christina Rees caught up with him ("The sound of Deep Ellum," June 22) at an open-mike-night performance at London's Kashmir Club earlier this year: "I mean, you get to England, and you expect the bands to be as good as the Beatles, as good as the Kinks, and that's just not the case. I mean, back home we all assume the bands are great over there. But when you think about it, this country isn't even as big as Texas." After two weeks, Miller's words came to resemble gospel, if not, in fact, a rarely discussed 11th commandment. But more to the point, not only are the bands not as good as you'd think--and we're talking about club bands here, not the ones with record labels and fan clubs and whatnot--but only a few of them bother picking up guitars anymore. Matt Kadane, late of Bedhead and currently of The New Year (whose fantastic debut album, Newness Ends, hits stores February 20 on Touch and Go Records), who recently spent a month in Manchester finishing up his dissertation, understands the problem all too well. "It's amazing how, in England and Germany, everything is dance music," he says. "One of the most shocking things about being back here last night was going into the store and hearing just rock. In a grocery store. It's totally frustrating. Vinyl is everywhere, but it's just for DJs." To make a short story long, we never thought we'd say it, but we couldn't wait to get back to Big D, the City of Hate, Yahoo!-dot-Broadcast-dot-Dallas-dot-com, even if that meant we find ourselves on Friday night at midnight at the Curtain Club instead of down in the tube station. Well, OK, we're only really talking about the music scene--you stand on a beach with France in front of you and rolling English hillsides that are a color of green you never thought existed behind you, and try being happy with Lower fucking Greenville. But still...
Anywho, the second round of Buzz-Oven shows wraps up on December 2, with a pair of gigs at Trees--one in the afternoon, one at night--featuring Baboon, Chomsky, and Lucy Loves Schroeder. And as it happens, all three bands are working on new records, or are about to. Or something like that. Lucy Loves Schroeder has been working at Last Beat Studio with John Congleton on a full-length, targeted for release on Vile Beat Records. Congleton has also been working with Baboon on its soon-to-be-released live disc, A Bum Note and a Bead of Sweat, and may work with them on their next studio record, both of which will be released by Last Beat Records. (Last Beat, incidentally, will put out the new joint by Vibrolux on December 5, a release we've publicly doubted in the past. Good on ya, guys. The band celebrates at XPO Lounge, with CHAO!, on December 2.) And from what we hear, Chomsky will begin recording with Barry Poynter in Little Rock shortly for an album that should hit stores next year sometime. There was talk of an EP to be released in the meantime, but that may have been scrapped in favor of the long player. Or maybe it hasn't. Maybe we were the only ones talking about it. It's a tricky bidness. You can also catch Chomsky, along with The Deathray Davies, at an acoustic gig at Borders (the Lovers-Greenville location, yo) on December 3. Or can you? We're sleepy...
Centro-matic will play at Dan's Bar in Denton on November 30 with Little Grizzly, the last area show by Will Johnson, Matt Pence, Mark Hedman, and Scott Danbom for a while. The band will spend a couple of weeks touring Europe, including a gig opening for J. Mascis (whose recent stop at the Gypsy Tea Room was plagued by faulty equipment) in Belgium, a stop in London, and a radio session at Studio Amstel for Dutch National Radio. Expect Hedman to deliver a humorous tour diary to the Centro-matic Web site (www.centro-matic.com) upon the group's return to the states. In an interesting bit of trivia, during our own recent tour of London, we came across a copy of Little Grizzly's "Spelunker" seven-inch single at a used-record shop in the "newly fashionable area of Notting Hill"--well, that's what the guide book called it anyway. Which prompted this thought: If Rees needs the money that desperately, we'll just send it to her. Only kidding. You know we'd never send anyone money...
While we're on the subject of record stores--and we sort of were, right?--Arlington's Laser Trax Records shut down on October 28, blaming slow sales over the past six months for its demise. Laser Trax's Web site (www.lasertrax.com) will remain open, however, in its new guise as OneMusicStop.com, serving as a CD and MP3 distribution site for independent musicians and bands. And as one closes, another opens: Johnny Law Records in Denton is up-and-running and doing its best to sate your appetite for Czech prog rock and other such hard-to-find musics. Just pull into town and ask where the record store is; there aren't many to choose from in li'l D...