Weekender (Fri., Nov. 20, 2009)
Though he’s not technically a Fort Worthian, RTB2 –– the nom de rock of Dentonite singer-songwriter Ryan Thomas Becker –– plays the 817 enough and has worked with enough 817 artists (Eaton Lake Tonics, The Missile Men) to earn the much sought-after distinction of Honorary Cowtowner and Occasional Subject of Steely, Poetic Fort Worth Weekly Critics’ Pens. RTB2 has a new album coming out –– via perhaps Dallas’ most experimental, progressive manufacturers and distributors of fine indie rock, Gutterth –– and based on a couple of tracks streamed here, Neighborhoof stands to go down as an incontestable contemporary of such regional gems as Dove Hunter’s The Southern Unknown, Centro-matic’s Fort Recovery, and Telegraph Canyon’s The Tide and The Current. Though the fickle mainstream consciousness has yet to render a verdict on Telegraph’s latest –– the album just came out –– Dove Hunter’s and Centro’s burned bright for a few minutes before vanishing in poofs of unintelligible metaphors, obscure references, and four-and-a-half stars. (Has there been any quantitative assessment of commercial response to the positive review of The Theater Fire’s most recent album in Pitchfork, that tastemaking media outlet to best all other tastemakers? Just curious.)
An equally ominous fate is hot on Neighborhoof’s, uh, heels –– there just might not be enough of a critical mass of Dentonites and other art history majors in North Texas to propel the LP out of the region, into the ears of national power brokers, and onto the iPods of hipsters in Brooklyn, Berkeley, and Seattle. Let’s hope I’m dead wrong. The blocky, fuzzed-out but jangly, Nirvana-esque riff that intros “Seek Fire, Anime Kids” tumbles out of an amp whose head no doubt has been punctured by a screwdriver or some other stabby implement. All angry riffage, splashy/stomping drums, treble, and Becker’s bullet-mic’d voice, “Seek Fire” is a ditty but a grungy, catchy one. Don’t ask me what it’s about. The creepily titled “Where Your Father Didn’t Go” is a swaying, “Earth Angel”-ic, 1950s-style let’s-not-dance-too-close-in-the-gym ballad erected upon plink-plink-plinking piano, rim shots, and moaning violin that alternates between accompanying the 88s in unison and responding to Becker’s plaintive calls. I don’t want to know what the song is about. Then there’s the trés Beck-ian “Praying Matas”: lots of squealing and wheezing synths, dainty Casio beats, and a chorus of oooh-OOOH-oooh. Sample some RTB2 on Sunday at Hailey’s (122 Mulberry St, Denton, 940-323-1160), when he with some backing musos shares a bill with Generationals and the F-Dub’s Burning Hotels.
Other immediate gigs of note: