Killer or Filler?
By the time you reach the end of Pinkish Black’s self-titled LP, your brain feels like it’s been forced to take a journey perilously close to the event horizon of a black hole, as if skirting its edge is the only way to make it through to the other side. The record’s pulsating gravity is so thick that when the final synthesizer note swirls into nothingness, it practically reduces the air pressure in the room.
The long-awaited full-length from Daron Beck and Jon Teague’s post-Great Tyrant doom machine is even heavier than you imagined, a masterpiece of creeping electronic sludge and hypnotic rhythmic thunder that mesmerizes before opening up cosmic oblivion. Teague’s drums rumble and slither beneath Beck’s monstrous synthesizer assault, as arpeggiated keyboards and spaced-out vocals climb toward the ionosphere, only to be sucked into relentless, elemental heaviness.
In other words, this is one of the best records, heavy or otherwise, to come out of Fort Worth. Ever. While the concept (sludgy, synth-centric doom metal) and tone might be too outré for a lot of listeners (“Tell Her I’m Dead” and “Tastes Like Blood” will never find their way onto KXT), Pinkish Black should be on everyone’s must-listen list, because beneath the weight of all this darkness and between the dying circuits lurk the ghosts of hooky melodies. Finding them is Pinkish Black’s greatest challenge and one of its biggest rewards, at least if getting crushed beneath the album’s massiveness isn’t satisfying enough. –– Steve Steward
If Fontanelle’s debut album, ONE, has anything, it’s charm. Heaps of it. Each of these 12 tracks brims with quirk and, often, deep — almost alarming — sadness drenched in whiskey and shrouded in cigarette smoke.
The new brainchild of veteran Fort Worth singer-songwriters James Michael Taylor and Weekly staff writer Jeff Prince, Fontanelle serves up a blue-collar effort ranging from the jaunty, seemingly light-hearted tone of a tune like “Diggin’ a Hole” to less sing-song, more emotive offerings such as “I Just Need a Girlfriend ’til My Baby Comes Back” and “The Table.”
And somewhere in that mix, Fontanelle pulls off a tricky feat: ONE seamlessly blends toe-tapping blues rock with the heartfelt lyricism of outlaw country, but it does so without all the kitsch and contrivances that often accompany crossover attempts.
Check out the album’s ninth track, “The Girl Here in My Heart,” for a healthy dose of Texas twang and woebegone hangups. It’s the sort of stuff that needs crafty songwriting to come off as authentic, which it does.
“Everybody Looking (Nobody Looking Back)” hoists Fontanelle to its peak of cleverness. The slow jaunt, ostensibly about the absurdity (futility?) of barroom courtship, is a perfect example of the album’s trademark bittersweet quality. Everybody’s eyeing somebody who’s eyeing someone else, heightening the thrill of the chase near a jukebox and the dull ache of unrequited advances.
Then there’s the downright playful ones, like “Half as Much as My Wife,” a ditty to drinking –– and to failing to imbibe as much as the missus. “She drinks more than George Jones on a bender,” Prince sings. “She’s got three mail boxes on her fender, return to sender.” Witty, no?
Prince and Taylor flirt with the morose without devolving into pathological self-loathing, all while poking fun at themselves. The result is trademark Texan and hopelessly enchanting. — Matthew McGowan
The Breakfast Machine’s A Pitch to the Wind
The Breakfast Machine’s Facebook page lists the band as psychedelic. The category fits but only sort of, because tucked behind all that shoe-gazing on the Arlington quartet’s debut album is a folksy soul.
A Pitch to the Wind, the eight-track album released this year, features plenty of frenzied electro-popping and all of that pedal magic, but sometimes the group subdues the sound to something you might hear in a Jason Reitman movie.
Driving the whole thing is Meghann Moore’s vocals. Her voice is absolutely stunning throughout, and she never misses the mark. The album opener, “Cloudy with a Chance of the Mondays,” dares you to not get up and dance. That eventually gives way to the album’s daydreamy second track, “Meanwhile in the Cherry Fields,” a song almost as whimsical as it sounds, showcasing the band’s unmistakable knack for melody. Later in the album, “Taylor Made” serves up a tinny and understated little joint that almost seems to make time an instrument unto itself before Moore’s voice steals center-stage back and moves the song toward the conclusion.
On the final track, “Madmartigan,” The Breakfast Machine cuts loose, delivering a full-blown toe-tapper. Drummer Zach Mayo’s kit is glowing red hot behind Moore’s lyrics before the whole thing comes to an all-too-quick end.
Psychedelic is one word for it. Or psych-folk might work. But, hell, let’s just tag this one badass batch of tunes. — M.M.