One of the most popular, progressive, and critically acclaimed 817 indie-rock bands of the past decade, Tame … Tame and Quiet never really broke up, according to frontman/guitarist Aaron Bartz. Rather, the band went into “hibernation,” he said, after bassist Pat Ferguson got called into active duty in June 2009 but not after work had begun on a forthcoming full-length TT&Q album, Fight in Words.
The band –– Bartz, Ferguson, guitarist Darren Miller, and drummer Boyd Dixon, with help from Arlingtonian Thomas Horton (The Ways And Means) and producer Matt Barnhart (The New Year, The Polyphonic Spree) –– wrapped up recording in December 2010. Tracks were laid down in multiple North Texas ’hoods, including the Cultural District, west of downtown Arlington, and Lowry Crossing, and the record was fine-tuned in Argyle, specifically in Barnhart’s studio, The Echo Lab. The result is a rich, dense, knotty tapestry of sharp, gritty, often bouncy guitars and Bartz’ trademarked oddball lyrics. One of the strongest tracks is the rumbling, moody “With a Finger,” with its Ravi Shankar-meets-Jeff Beck riffage and arena-rock crunch. “The Kinds” is another strong track, a light, trebly jaunt that’s reminiscent of Pavement and The Lemonheads. And if there’s a weirder, more intriguing voice than Bartz’, I’ve yet to hear it. It’s piercing but smooth and always sounds quadruple-duple-tracked. As fantastic as Fight in Words is, however, there’s no telling when it will come out. A release date has not been set. The band also intends on playing a CD release show at some point, but since drummer Dixon and the band have parted ways, no shows will be scheduled until his replacement is found. Fight in Words will be released primarily digitally. Hard copies will be available but only on a limited basis.
Speaking of awesome digital downloads: Calhoun’s long-awaited Heavy Sugar will be available on Tue., Apr. 19, coinciding with the airing of the song “Knife Fight” on the CW33 hot-girl drama One Tree Hill. Hard copies of Heavy Sugar will hit the streets on Tue., May 17, everything courtesy of Dallas-based Idol Records (Little Black Dress, The O’s, Trey Johnson). I’m a big Calhoun fan, and while I dig pretty much everything that comes out of the mouths of co-songwriters Tim Locke and Jordan Roberts (except Roberts’ Dallas Cowboys fanaticism), Heavy Sugar is the band’s best work to date. The songs are mostly short, to-the-point, traditionally structured, and catchy as hell. Guitars drive the album, though there are synth flourishes here and there. Lyrically, Locke has never been more idiosyncratic and pithy. And resourceful. The title track’s lyrics consist mostly of ’20s-era catchphrases. (“Heavy sugar” translates, roughly, as “a lot of cash.”)
Joe and the Sonic Dirt From Madagascar, the nom de musique of multi-instrumentalist Matt Hickey (Hentai Improvising Orchestra), has just released another album, his 90th in 20 days, a collabo with Funkytown producer/composer Phil Ford, a badass whom I never knew existed until Facebook told me. Academician Drifts in Fjords is indeed sort of academic, a mix of glitchwerks, hip-hop, and New Age (no, I’m not kidding), a mix that demands –– and rewards –– deep listening. Colorful synth washes, occasionally snappy, more often ponderous but airy beats, and some DJ wizardry (chopping, screwing, scratching, found sampling) combine to form a massive head trip.
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