By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
The following are excerpts from reviews and stories that appeared in the Dallas Observer during the past year, a few sentences that did their best to explain just why these bands and albums are good enough that they need not be graded on the local curve, given points based on their ZIP code rather than their talent. But you can't just talk about music; you have to hear it for yourself, with headphones wrapped tight around your head or with your windows down on the highway. You have to feel the kick drum knock the wind out of you and hold your ground while overdriven amplifiers blow your hair back. In short, you have to get out there and listen to these albums, these bands, yourself. These brief descriptions are mere starting points, potential catalysts to force you into action.
Captain Audio, LUXURY or whether it is better to be loved than feared (Last Beat Records): (March 9) In a way, LUXURY almost feels like a side project, a step to the left instead of straight ahead. Actually, it's a step in every direction, from machine-music instrumentals ("Piano Robotico I") to piano-bar slow burns ("Velvet," complete with saxophone accompaniment lifted from a Glenn Frey solo album) to what-the-fuck? new wave (the too short "Presentame a Tu Novio," which features something resembling a chorus of kazoos). Last year's My ears are ringing..., it appears, was only the shallow end. --Z.C.
Centro-matic, All the Falsest Hearts Can Try (Quality Park Records); South San Gabriel Songs/Music (Idol Records): (April 13) Not only do Will Johnson and company (bassist Mark Hedman, drummer Matt Pence, and piano and fiddle player Scott Danbom) crank new deliveries out quicker than a traditional Irish-Catholic mother, but there's never any filler--every song's a winner. Johnson never repeats himself, treading the same territory without retracing a single step. Each song stands on its own. When you consider Johnson's impressive back catalog, you don't ask yourself, "Can he keep it up?"--you only think of how special each album would be (and how much you'd miss the steady stream of near-brilliant melodies) if Centro-matic released only one a year. --Z.C.
Corn Mo, I Hope You Win! (Hot Link Records): (November 2) To Corn Mo, it's all worth a shot at least once, whether it's power ballads played on an accordion, or magic tricks that only slightly work, or jokes without punch lines. He is at once the worst entertainer in the world and the best because of it. Of course, while it's all very whimsical, it's not played for laughs--there are no wink-winks or conspiratorial tones. Sure, the looks-like-Tommy-Shaw, sounds-like-Dennis-DeYoung bit might Styx in your throat (not mine), but it ain't no joke. Fact is, Corn Mo has a great voice, and he's not afraid to use it, even though his style of singing largely went out around the time of Betamax. --Z.C.
[DARYL], Communication: Duration (Urinine Records): (June 15) It's obvious to compare [DARYL] to the Rentals, one of the few modern bands to weld keyboards onto a full-on rock band. Of course, that's not completely accurate; the differences lie in the background. The members of the Rentals come from the pop and poppier bands Weezer and That Dog, while [DARYL]'s come from punk and indie-rock backgrounds. (Singer-guitarist Dylan Silvers has also done time with the Strafers, the Fitz, Mess, and, now, The Deathray Davies.) Rentals frontman Matt Sharp might be able to write songs like the ones on Communication: Duration if he stopped searching for answers in Spain or another galaxy; Silvers' lyrics hit from experience in the here and now. His voice is both familiar and unplaceable, walking the thin line between speaking, singing, and screaming. There's a rise here, a drop there, but never it falls into monotony or forced emotion. The band is tight and in tune: The four musicians (Communication: Duration was completed before keyboard player Chad Ferman joined) sound like a single instrument. New wave has never sounded so progressive. --Shannon Sutlief