Howling at the Moon
Before I took over this column about five years ago, I decided not to be negative. Spewing vitriol about local/struggling bands, clubs, and events only riles readers up and imbues the writer with a false sense of importance. I thought my time could be more fruitfully spent creating audiences for excellent bands, clubs, and events that are grossly overlooked. For the most part, and hopefully y’all would agree, I think my policy has had more positive effects than negative.
Only on a couple of occasions have I made snarky remarks based solely on my opinion. But several weeks ago, I received a full-length album by a band originally from Denton and now residing in Austin that is causing me to reconsider the very foundation on which my column rests. Allow me to preface what I’m about to say by letting y’all know how deeply I appreciate local musicians. All of the hours put into recording, all the time spent on the road, all the bullshit — it’s enough to break a heart in two. The last thing a starving local artist or band needs is some asshole from a free rag coming down on ’em. But while I agree that most music is a matter of opinion, sometimes there’s stuff that’s so good it’s beyond reproach, and stuff so bad, there’s no way it can possibly be perceived as “good.”
The album in question is Medium Freaky by The Faceless Werewolves. Other than the fact that the instruments and singing are in tune, there’s absolutely nothing even remotely redeeming about the record, so I’m simply going to condense my criticism into two or three broad strokes and levy them in the kindest way possible. As I’ve said, I applaud the Werewolves, for their chutzpah, hard work, and obvious love of music. But based on this single recording, the three young musicians who make up the band should either put down their instruments for good or play in different groups. Granted, part of my distress comes from knowing that The Faceless Werewolves aren’t just a bunch of high-school kids fooling around in their parents’ garages.
The Werewolves are adults, and they’re being taken seriously by promoters, booking agents, club owners, “critics,” fans, everyone. The band played frickin SXSW last year! Did Nuwamba? No. Legends of the South? No. The Color of May? Netizen? Modico? No, no, no. The problem: Good local bands, from here, Denton, Austin, Big D, Albuquerque, wherever, now not only have to combat cronyism, nepotism, rascalism in The Industry, they have to outshine yet another band, one whose profile is getting bigger and one that I would be distraught to learn got another gig, even the fifth stage at a Kabul street corner as part of Osama bin Laden’s Jihadapalooza tour.
While we can’t stop the Werewolves’ growing success, I hope that by speaking frankly about it, I will encourage good local bands everywhere to become more inspired than ever to work harder and practice longer, and do whatever it takes to cripple The Industry; to persuade bands like the Werewolves to step aside graciously. If the ’Wolves and their kind really love music, as it seems most of them do, they would.
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