C’mon. You’ve got to admit: There’s a part of you that thinks sonic art is bullshit. The thought has to have crossed your mind that that guy “playing” his guitar with a pencil and a movie ticket stub is pulling your leg. Not saying sonic art isn’t valid. I like a lot of it, though I lean more toward the Sun Ra side o’ things, perhaps because the Saturn resident from Alabama also wrote, arranged, and performed swinging Ellingtonian vamps. Knowing that he did serves as a security blanket of sorts for me. Because he knew the rules, because he knew how to play in the traditional, musical sense of the term, I can trust why and how he was breaking said rules. But there’s definitely a difference between good and bad sonic art.
On the positive side of the ledger is The Shortwave Death System, a North Texas outfit that knows that without mood, without color, sonic art is just plain uninteresting, no matter how intellectual you think you are. SDS’s mood du jour is spookiness. Some of the songs sound like broadcasts from the Great Beyond. Most of the tunes on the MySpace page are perforated by static, wavy, and couched in echo. In one track, a melancholy sitar phrase runs on a loop, as if a listener had dozed off –– or, without warning, entered the Great Beyond –– as a Bollywood record spun on a phonograph nearby and begun to skip. In another, a B-movie laser gun cuts across a quiet siren and ghost voices. In yet another, a metallic, oscillating figure repeats itself before dissolving into a symphony of sandpaperists. Killer stuff.
SDS rarely gigs anymore. However, the band is playing tonight at The Firehouse Gallery (4147 Meadowbrook Dr., Fort Worth), with Norman’s rockish, Sonic Youth-y Anvil Salute; a collaboration among Fort Worthian Everythingist visual artist Nevada Hill, fusionista/bassist Aaron Gonzalez (Yells at Eels), and angelic experimental pianist/vocalist Sarah Alexander; and New Zealand/L.A.’s heavily droning and way too serious Metal Rouge, whose MySpace page oh-so-helpfully informs us that the members originally got together “with no aim but to open [themselves] to the spontaneous psych tonalism running through the underbelly of popular music like a pure vein of lightning.” They also “opened” themselves “to the river” (?), and now their “only aim is to let that river (free)flow.” Alrighty then!
(Conversely, in Anvil Salute’s “About” section, the members plainly –– and wryly –– state, “Hello. We are anvil salute. Genres and styles are meaningless, but, if you must, call us loosely structured, semi-improvized, droning, fractured-folk, freakbeat, jazzy, country, raga hullabaloo. Do we, in fact, sound anything like that? Sometimes. We’re clap-happy. You should buy some of our stuff.”)
Tix are $5. Show starts at 8 p.m. Brought to you by The Metrognome Collective.
Here’s your chance to win free tickets to two shows at the Longhorn Saloon (121 W. Exchange Ave., in the Stockyards, 817-740-9477): boot-scooter Junior Brown with old-timey Fort Worthians 100 Damned Guns tonight (Friday) and C&W’er and holy roller Billy Joe Shaver on Saturday. Just e-mail Weekly associate editor Anthony Mariani at firstname.lastname@example.org. Put “tickets” in the subject line, please. First come, first served. A valid ID will be required to pick up the tix at the door.
JEWELL SHOW RESCHEDULED
Old-timey chanteuse Eilen Jewell’s Fairmount show has been rescheduled for Tues., May 19, at Keys Lounge (5677 Westcreek Ct., Fort Worth, 817-292-8627). (The Fairmount closed about a month ago.) Bostonian Jewell is touring in support of her recently released, third album, Sea of Tears, whose title track finds her marshaling twangy/Telecaster-ish guitarwork, upright bass, and splashy, mid-tempo drums in the service of a heartbroken yarn. “It’s gonna be a sea of tears for me / It’s gonna be a life of misery.” Another decent track is “Rich Man’s World,” its shuffling rhythm a dead ringer for “Ring of Fire”’s and lyrics coming straight from the Book of Johnny. Honky-tonk, Sun Records-influenced rock ‘n’ roll, and some jazzy vamping all figure into young lady’s sound.