Killer or Filler?
Music Awards has just come and gone (well, since late July), and look at all the dynamite new recordings that have already popped up in Le Fort: Ice Eater’s Don’t Care, Rivercrest Yacht Club’s Aqua Naughty, Beauxregard’s Ghosts of the Gaslamp and Tableau Mecanique, Joey Green Band’s Lo 5, Raging Boner’s To the Root, Spoonfed Tribe’s Enjoy the Ride, The Breakfast Machine’s Electric 2033, Killa MC’s OGK, and The Unlikely Candidates’ Follow My Feet, an EP that was recorded here but put out by Atlantic Records. And though they weren’t recorded here, we’ll also claim Pinkish Black’s Razed to the Ground (recorded in Argyle), Son of Stan’s Divorce Pop (L.A.) and Green River Ordinance’s Chasing Down the Wind (Tennessee).
The remaining 270 days until next year’s Music Awards are going to be even more kickass, with new platters from some of the biggest, most progressive rock outfits in North Texas, including The Orbans, Quaker City Night Hawks, Telegraph Canyon, Calhoun, and War Party, on the way.
Just as recently as ’09, you had to beat the bushes for Fort Worth records. Now, apparently, all you’ve got to do is look around. Not that anyone’s complaining. — A.M.
Shadows of Jets’ Shadows of Jets
Producer-guitarist Taylor Tatsch cut his teeth twiddling the knobs at Todd and Toby Pipes’ now-shuttered Dallas studio Bass Propulsion Laboratories, where he wrote most of the songs for his melancholy pop-rock ensemble Shadows of Jets. Although Tatsch recorded SOJ’s eponymous debut album with bassist Graham Smith and drummers Jared Shotwell and Brandon Lozano at AudioStyles, Tatsch’s new studio in Colleyville (“Shadows of Jets: Time for Them to Fly,” Oct. 2), Shadows of Jets boasts the trademark layered vocals and sing-along melodies of a Pipes brothers’ production. Tatsch has mastered a soft-edged grunge quality of interlaced acoustic and electric guitars that makes his songs oddly gentle and urgent at the same time.
Indeed, the album’s sonic palette is pretty much locked in with the opener “Coldest Summer” –– Tatsch’s nasal sing-talking voice is multiplied into feathery banks across a strangely poignant backdrop of guitars and half-buried percussion. Those interwoven guitar lines turn a little more insistent with “What You Don’t Know,” grounded in a repetitive swaying beat that’d be positively thrashy if turned up louder. Those Beach Boys-influenced ooh-ing and aah-ing background vocals come to the foreground on “San Antonio,” in which Tatsch explains, “It’s the kind words in the morning / The sympathetic lies that keep me going” against Smith’s propulsive bass. “Looking Backward” has that same Brian Wilson-esque sweetness but is tricked up with a jumpy garage-rock beat during the chorus.
Shadows of Jets doesn’t offer a buffet of diverse styles and effects, just a streamlined showcase for dreamy guitar-pop musings that soothe like summertime memories recalled. — J.F.
Ohm’s Antiphone ad Introitum
From 1995 to 2001, no North Texas band was as baffling as Ohm — or, if you got what was going on, as creative and beautiful. An experimental improv group inspired by krautrock, Ohm never played songs as much as they created exploratory atmospherics. The original quartet –– clarinetist Chris Forrest, multi-instrumentalist Nathan Brown (the very same Nathan Brown of smooth R&B and TCU cheers fame), multi-instrumentalist S. Forest Ward, and on keyboards the late Doug Ferguson –– produced several studio recordings, but the real way to experience Ohm, the best way, was to hear these guys live. Recently uploaded to Soundcloud.com by Brown, Antiphona Ad Introitum is 25 minutes of a live recording of a show at the dearly departed Wreck Room that would turn out to be a prelude to the band’s demise. The next year, Ferguson died of diabetic ketoacidosis. His body stopped producing insulin, though he had never been diagnosed with diabetes. He was 31, and his death still haunts his family and the Fort Worth music scene (“The Ghost of Frankie Teardrop,” Aug. 27, 2003).
In many ways, Antiphona is an artifact from a different era, a time before MP3s were the dominant music medium and when fear was the dominant national mood. But more than that, it’s hard to imagine a band like Ohm existing in Fort Worth in 2013, when singer-songwriters and rawk-oriented acts largely fill clubs. Brown apparently has lots of this type of stuff, an archive of aural journeys begun from whatever interpersonal vibes developed at a given session. In contrast to even the most esoteric Fort Worth bands today, Antiphone sounds completely alien, a series of foreboding, rippling textures that warble and vibrate like the engine room of a space freighter. You could say it’s Joe Meek by way of John Carpenter, but that doesn’t do justice to Ohm’s improvisational quotient. What was it about that particular night that led to these particular sounds? Forrest’s effects-saturated clarinet and the reverberating drone of Brown’s de-tuned bass rumble under Ferguson’s paranoiac synthesizer doodling and the percolating anxiety of newcomer Kenneth Jones’ programmed drum tracks, hinting at an unspoken narrative that unfolds like an eerie dream. The mood drifts from nervous to ominous to an almost sardonic movement near the end, when the synthesizer practically sounds like it’s farting against a clarinet part that wouldn’t be out of place in a Disney forest, picking at a melody the way you might worry a nearly healed scab. — S.S.