Killer or Filler?
Darrin Kobetich’s The Longest Winter
The title of guitarist Darrin Kobetich’s latest self-released album, The Longest Winter, suggests the musician might be applying his considerable powers of fretwork to the subject of despair. Indeed, a fair number of these 27 instrumental soundscapes –– “songs” is not necessarily an accurate word for this collection –– do find Kobetich using banjos, mandolins, and 12- and six-string guitars to capture a somber, reflective sound. But the bigger surprise is how often he cuts loose amid the ambient picking, plucking, and strumming. The results are sometimes thrilling, never boring, but occasionally frustrating, as Kobetich is often more interested in capturing moods and notions than in crafting full-fledged compositions.
As the liner notes indicate, the album’s spirit of mercurial experimentation is intended. The Longest Winter was recorded over many months, when Kobetich was experiencing some significant life changes, including getting laid off from his job as a graphic designer at the Star-Telegram. In Kobetich’s mind, the word “winter” doesn’t mean death so much as hibernation and a recharging of creative batteries. On many of these tunes and scraps of tunes, you can hear his musical mind wrestling with chords and melodies inspired by ragtime, folk country, Spaghetti Western soundtracks, and even postmodern composition.
The CD’s longest tune, “On a Cold Winter’s Morning,” begins with soft, evocative flourishes of notes that, after a couple of minutes, erupt into a confident strut. The gorgeous “The Shovel and the Tree” showcases Kobetich’s tender way of plucking at the strings like he’s flirting with the guitar. “Frontiers of Fallacies” charms and chills with an echoing, hauntingly Western David Lynchian guitar line loping across the void. The Longest Winter may suffer a bit from stylistic ADD, but you could do worse than being pulled in a thousand directions by Kobetich’s masterful talent. –– Jimmy Fowler
Dru B Shinin’s All American
Andrew McCollough, a.k.a. Dru B Shinin’, is like the Lil’ Wayne of Fort Worth’s hip-hop scene — the dude seems omnipresent, both on stage and in studio. The Topeka transplant has lent his voice to a variety of other projects and emceed on stages across town since the last time he dropped an album of his own, Dirty Money Painting, in late 2010. Then, late last month, the Texas Christian University alumnus finally completed his newest solo effort, All American. The 12-track album (plus two bonus songs) offers a convincing demonstration of his dizzying verbal talent and ear for catchy samples. It includes crazy hooks, from No Doubt to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Filter.
Not all of the samples hit the mark — Puddle of Mudd? — and a small handful of Dru’s lyrics ring slightly stale. (You know the formula/curse: money, weed, women.) But there’s no denying it: Dru’s spot-on spitting is strong enough to carry past a misstep or two. Or 10. He’s that talented, especially as he hits full stride toward the middle of the album.
Somewhere about six tracks in, beginning with the Chili Pepper-laden “Can’t Stop,” Dru’s wit rises to the level of his tongue, and both are in peak condition. If these joints — plus the album opener, “American Rap Verses” — are any indication of what we can expect from Dru’s newly opened label/studio SMG Sound, located near the Stockyards, then the Fort’s rap scene may have a new nerve center. — Matthew McGowan
Spacebeach’s The Dead Sea EP
Fort Worth is full of indie musicians, local bands that thrash and bash in blissful obscurity once or twice a month in front of 30 or 40 fans and friends. Spacebeach, in comparison to the bands that regularly play Lola’s Saloon, The Grotto, and Magnolia Motor Lounge, is pretty far underground. Between the band’s October EP The Dead Sea and a recording with Arlington crust-grinders Eccotone (released in December), Spacebeach is providing evidence that the underground comes up with the most interesting ideas.
The Dead Sea is a noisy, relentless attack, mixing brittle surf beats, frantic atonal downstrumming, and stony sludge scraped directly from the pages of Electric Wizard’s grimoire. Dead Sea packs a lot of musical ideas into short songs, seamlessly switching from creeping ambient noise to doomsday pounding and charging hardcore. The obvious comparison is a trippier version of Bleach-era Nirvana, but Spacebeach reaches for greater depths in shorter bursts. Amid the onslaught of guitarist Jingo and drummer Bingo, Lingo’s bass climbs up for fleeting moments, giving the rumbling morass of “High Tide (We All Fall Down)” some melodic color. In “Futurefish,” an Agent Orange-ish intro gets swallowed by a duo of riffs, one crushing and distorted, the other fuzzed and washy, like Dick Dale by way of Neurosis. The EP’s closer, “Signs You’ve Made it to the Middle Class/Song Bomb” pairs half-sung political polemic with a spiraling, hopelessly grimy riff that fades into ghostly delay. When you’re ready for a vacation from the bands you see all the time, take a trip to Spacebeach. –– Steve Steward