Out Here

Rock hard

Aqua Vita
One Ton Records

Let's just get this out on the table: I'm no fan of Doosu's genre. Heavy-heavy riffs of the X-chromosome variety, a tight-throttle blend of metal, bile, and clenched jaws. No, not the quasi-funk froth of Hellafied Funk Crew and Pimpadelic (that's even worse), but tighter and sharper, more convincingly antagonistic. You know, the guys who take off their shirts to perform some David Yow-Dave Navarro hybrid act, tattoos and anemia in tow. And don't forget the guitars. Man, these boys brandish their guitars like combination mouthpieces-arms-dicks, backed by a look that says, Don't you look away, you pussy, or we'll leap off this stage and smash your face in with this thing.

Dallas breeds this species like ferrets in the springtime--and ever since Denton lost its Fraternity of Noise status (mostly with the demise of Brutal Juice), one of the area's prime homes for rock-hard Hard Rock is the One Ton label. And going by the massive attendance of One Ton shows, sometimes I wonder if I'm the only kid in town who skips out; I may not dig it, but seems everyone else does. And in the One Ton corner, Doosu's crowd is one of the most established of the lot.

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But for the life of me, I can't dismiss this band or its newest full-length, Aqua Vita. It's too smart, too thoughtful and complex for even an indie-irony fan like me to overlook. The band, long co-fronted by Casey Hess and Eric Shutt, has grown up and beyond (by about a hundred miles) its contemporaries--both musically and lyrically--and the results make for the most surprising of One Ton's offerings in ages.

You know how you can always tell when a guy isn't getting laid? His lyrics are bitter cliches hurled against chicks, a genre swamp Doosu never buys into; instead, the band projects its rage or longing or resentment through poetic abstraction. And you know how so many rock frontmen make the mistake of using operatic vibrato to signify "singing"? Not so Doosu. Hess and Shutt manage their roars and melodic turns with cut-through-the-drama, stylistic restraint. In fact, Aqua Vita sidesteps just about every hard-rock pitfall without ever losing sight of its foundations. This CD's 12 songs pack more ballsy intensity than most bands in this town could ever hope to conjure, but instead of making the band stupid, drunk on noise and anger, it just makes Doosu more insightful and efficient, like a war general who strategizes best under fire.

From the dense and punchy kick-off of "Louisiana House Fire, Mid 1950s" (a cathartic meditation on a family tragedy) to the layered staccato of "Bachelor Lungs" and beyond, Aqua Vita displays impressive range, at once explosive, then pop-hook laden, then winsome and dreamy. Still, the whole hangs together with dark, glossy, well-crafted distinction, the sure sign that a band embraces and flaunts its strengths and weaknesses--in other words, a band that knows itself, at last.

--Christina Rees

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