Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Texas Blog Exchange

Hey, guess what? WSJR has made some new friends. Over the past couple of weeks, we've been talking with some great people from two other Texas music blogs that are making some noise in their respective cities. The first is Austin Sound, a website that covers a wide variety of independent music in Austin and Texas at large, and the second is Skyline, a Houston based blog that covers just about everything you could imagine going on down in Houston.

Anyway, the three of us got to talking, and we decided that it might be interesting to do a monthly article exchange. Each month, we'll be taking turns posting an article from one another's sites, just to give our readers an idea of what is going on in various Texas locales. This month, we're featuring a Skyline review of an album by Houston's excellent Balaclavas, while Austin Sound will post a few of our "We Hate Your New Band Too" features, and Skyline will post an article from Austin Sound. Take a look below, and be sure to check out the other sites. -- SR


REVIEW: BALACLAVAS : INFERNO
The second circle of hell is reserved for the souls of those who, when in the flesh, could not tamp down their desire for the flesh of others. The lusty. Those who hid away the love all hearts are meant to experience for the quick kill; the fleeting romance; the adultery; the cheat. In this place, and in all the circles of hell, the condemned are punished not by having their acts held before their faces to eternally bemoan or suffer endless Groundhog Days where they are the victims of the same heart-crimes they committed. Rather, they are exposed to metaphoric punishments, exacting their toll in much the same way the consequences of their own actions haunted them while they were still living. In the kingdom of men, the lusty drift aimlessly, guided without sea chart and only the dumb zeal of their organs as helmsman. They can never find the arms of another to call home forever, and so come and go with the wind and the tides looking eagerly for land through their telescope. But for whatever cruel and secret missive written by a Commodore they do not understand and cannot mutiny away, they never drop anchor. So too, in the second circle, do they find their souls angrily blown about by a violent storm. Never finding stability or foundation or peace anymore than they could find a spouse with which to carry out Genesis 1:28.
We think alot about the second circle when we listen to Inferno.

It's a seductive record, one that catches you looking from across the gallery and is warmed by the attention. It doesn't run or shout so much as it slinks and coos its way not into your heart, but into your sweating back with its seething scarlet nails. There's nothing wholesome about it. Though you enjoy it instinctively, you can't help but feel like it's a little dirty. It has the sound of the darkness in a strange room where a familiar activity is about to take place - noises echoing and disturbing without a visual reference, like unfamiliar beltbuckles falling unseen onto unfamiliar floors.

The songwriting template that Balaclavas established in their first release has been honed, sharpened and intensified. Though they were already crafting some of the most unclassifiable and incomparable music in town, in this release we find them to be submariners at even greater depths. The bass is massive and formless, pendulating back and forth with such heavy subsonics that it sounds as if it should be bumping out of the trunk of a chopped 300M instead of cornering you in a dark parking garage of indie disquiet. It's the amorphous wrapper around what is still the most distinctive rock sound in the 713, 281 or 832 for that matter. The drums keep a sort of a time but are far more accentual than backbeat. The guitar is often punctuation to the vocals, a cranky and craggy friend that alone carries the sins of the melodies along in a cave lit by only a single candle. The vocals are the ghost of a fallen man, but one who knows it could have been much worse.

Even when these four relatively simple instruments momentarily lock into a groove together, such as in the refrain for "Ashes," the effect is a complex bouquet and more generally a reminder that, for most of the time, you simply can't believe these individual elements are happening in the same song at the same time and working so brilliantly together. Balaclavas, we would imagine, are easy for some to dismiss as just too weird for their taste. We can't really begrudge anyone who doesn't connect with what they're doing, because, frankly, we've never heard anything like it either. But it has most certainly sauntered up to the right sucker at the bar, because we're taking it home with us tonight, even though we shouldn't. We hope when we die, it'll be playing in the second circle. Highly Recommended.

20 Comments:

Anonymous Snuggles said...

Please....move along,nothing more to see here.

5:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

errrr

10:13 AM  
Anonymous yup said...

yup

10:17 AM  
Anonymous stonedranger said...

wow... there are some real idiots posting on here at 4 am.

10:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that Balaclavas band is pretty cool, which is odd since I'm totally over that "ghost of a fallen man" vocal style, whatever the fuck that means.

11:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ummm...WSJ needs a celebrity gossip column and a fashion column. I'm thinking stoned Ranger's Fashion Finds of the week. Oh, and a real estate section. Trendy apartments in the DFW area...rofl..

11:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BTW...SR are you guys going to get another photographer? Holding auditions or just taking photos from whomever?

11:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this band has a grandiose sense of 'minimalism.' sounds like mars volta with less talented musicians...

12:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

9:37 here: btw I do think this exchange idea is good. I'd like to see it happen with bands as well. The less than 1% of Texas that is cool should stick together.

1:04 PM  
Anonymous tim duncan said...

inbreeding is likely to result in retarded offspring.
hopefully inbred blogs will not. we'll see.

tim is back!

1:22 PM  
Anonymous mc said...

This is a GREAT idea. This is a good way to start building connections between the quality non-mainstream media friendly outfits from ATX HTX and NTX, and more importantly letting people (those who set up the shows AND those who attend them) know who they are so they don't travel to play to 5 people.

2:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes im happy to see this going on. Good jarb stonedflanger!

Because of this i just found out that spin did a spread on the houston rock scene just like they did one of dallas early this year (i think it was this year). Now I know where all the cool lil DIY spots are in the HTX.

3:25 PM  
Anonymous shane said...

this band is good!

3:43 PM  
Anonymous adr said...

@1:25 pm
The spin article was written by the Houston Press (our Observer) music editor and he did a pretty good job of highlighting places usually overlooked. When planning an HTX foray, be sure to also look for listings at the unmentioned Mink, Walter's on Washington, Caroline Collective and Artstorm. Here is where Houston's We Shot Jr-type commenter hang out and not work at work and the best place to find out about shows (aside from theskyline.net, of course): http://members.boardhost.com/hands_up

4:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1:25 here...

thanks adr. ill check them shits out when im down around that part of the 3rd coast. i new houston was more that just sippen on the sizzurp in regards to a scene i just didnt know where to start.

4:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

let's see the runners up to the WSJR awards!!!

4:54 PM  
Anonymous lame as fuck said...

ever notice most of the shitty comments occur first. everything else seems fairly constructive.

5:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

is SKYLINE mentioning this texas blogshare on their blog? I can't find any mention of Austin Sound.

5:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nah, never noticed...

6:56 PM  
Anonymous eurononymous said...

What about art-porn reviews?

8:35 PM  

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