By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
Red Animal War's debut long-player, Breaking in an Angel, isn't officially in stores yet, but that doesn't mean you can't buy a copy of it. Singer-guitarist Justin Wilson delivered a copy of the album last week and said the band had just received its first shipment from Deep Elm Records (the North Carolina-based label that's issuing the set), so the store is now open. You can pick up a copy, for now, at Red Animal War shows; when the band opens for Samiam at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios on March 15, for instance. Or if you can't wait until the album's official release date (believe it's sometime in April) and aren't planning on turning out for a RAW show anytime soon for whatever reason--and just what is that reason, may we ask?--you can order Breaking in an Angel via Deep Elm's Web site, www.deepelm.com. Really. We checked.
The album has been in the works for quite a while, according to Wilson. Just how long? Well... "It's a 2-year-old recording of 3-year-old songs," Wilson says, laughing a little. Wilson's overstating the case just a bit, but he's not far off. Breaking in an Angel began as an EP, five or six songs that should have, and probably would have, been released early last year. But after Deep Elm signed the band--Red Animal War had earlier appeared on An Ocean of Doubt, the fourth installment of Deep Elm's Emo Diaries series of compilations--the project turned into a full-length. Which means, fortunately, more songs. And unfortunately, more time to wait.
The disc was recorded by 41 Gorgeous Blocks guitarist Darrell "Deedle" LaCour at his studio, Deedle's Room in Arlington, where RAW guitarist Matt Pittman works as studio manager and engineer. LaCour also contributes backup vocals to a handful of songs on Breaking in an Angel, as do Amber Pevey and Doosu's Eric Shutt. Contrary to Wilson's assessment, the songs don't sound old, as the group--Wilson, Pittman, drummer Jeff Wilganoski, and bassist Brian Pho--spawns plenty of recommended-if-you-like comparisons (Jawbox, for one), but more than anything, proves that it's one of the best young bands in the Dallas-Denton-Fort Worth area. And as good as Breaking in an Angel is, Red Animal War has only gotten better since recording the album. Believe it...
Last week, rumors were being batted around via e-mail and gossipy Internet message boards that, surprisingly, Built to Spill was scheduled to perform at this year's Fry Street Fair, set for April 21 in Denton. Seems the band's name had turned up on "concert hotwire" Pollstar's Web site, www.pollstar.com, although checking the information on the site only served to raise more questions than it answered. For example: Built to Spill was going to appear in Denton on April 21 and be home in Idaho to play the Boise State Pavilion on April 22.
As it turns out, yes. Or, at least, the band will definitely be performing at Fry Street Fair, taking the stage at the end of the festival, just after The Polyphonic Spree's set. We'll admit to being caught off-guard (booking Bela Fleck and the Flecktones doesn't exactly set high expectations), but we won't complain. Especially since, word is, Doug Martsch and company are wrapping up a new album--due in July, last we heard--and this appearance will, more than likely, be the band's last in Texas this year. Last for a while anyway. Suddenly, $20 doesn't seem like too much of a price to pay...
We'll try to keep the hyperbole to a minimum, but we'd be remiss if we didn't point out what a big fucking deal it is that The Toadies and The Old 97's are releasing new albums (Hell Above/Stars Below and Satellite Rides, respectively) and playing in town (Trees and Gypsy Tea Room, again, respectively) on the same day, March 20. Really: The two biggest bands in Dallas releasing new records and playing the songs from them live on the same night? That hasn't happened since, well, never, as far as we can remember or tell. (For the record, yes, we know that neither Rhett Miller nor Murry Hammond of The Old 97's currently resides in Big D. But Ken Bethea and Philip Peeples do, so screw you.) It's such a good idea, you have to wonder why Mayor Ron Kirk hasn't figured out a way to crud it up. Of course, there's still time.
Among other special goodness in store for Toadies and 97's fans: in-store appearances. The Toadies will play a scaled-down set at Good Records earlier that night at 6 p.m., and while the 97's won't perform, they will show up at Tower Records at 4 p.m. to sign copies of Satellite Rides. And word around the campfire is that a handful of Dallas bands will be performing Toadies cover songs after the band finishes its set on March 20, though we weren't able to confirm exactly who or what songs. That is, after all, why they call 'em "surprises." If you're up for a long day/night, you can probably catch most of the goings-on, if not all of them. Just don't call us at 1 a.m. piss-drunk. It is, after all, a school night...