Health is the New Drug / Better Daze, Conquest, Sucker / Big Branch, Weigh Me Down / The Puddington Snoodge Rag, Human Bodies EP, Premiere, Fake Fur, Just the Two of Us
Boxing Lesson, Band of Mercy, the Grasshopper Lies Heavy, God Townes, Hellow Wheels, Whiskey Shivers, Love Collector, Hollywood Revue, Pillow Talk, and Churchwood
Reviewed by Kevin Curtin, Fri., May 25, 2012
"Health Is the New Drug" is a fine song once you get past the jerk-off guitar intro, plus the locals' social commentary makes it good for driving around suburbia with your windows up. Our suggestion for the new Boxing Lesson 7-inch (New Fortune Records): enjoy the catchy flipside, "Better Daze," Trent Reznor enslaved by Billy Joel. Band of Mercy's baby-shit brown vinyl Conquest (Metastasis Records) requires a strong tolerance for righteousness. Lyrically, the Houston-based animal activists are so serious they seem like a joke: "Meat at every meal? You must hate yourself. Cheese on everything? You must hate yourself. Your wife keeps gaining weight – you must hate her too. Well, it's no surprise because she eats just like you." Punk rock proof that vegans too can have a meathead mentality. We love splits, the "In Love" 45 on Texas Is Funny Recording Co. pairing San Antone's the Grasshopper Lies Heavy and its unformattable instrumental "Sucker," which sounds like a fax machine plugged into a Sunn Beta head, with the war drum post-grunge of "Big Branch" by God Townes. Also splitting seven inches (pictured) are two local roots hootenanies, Hello Wheels with harp-'n'-chug callback "Weigh Me Down" and Whiskey Shivers going uncharacteristically midtempo with "The Puddington Snoodge Rag," which employs clever avoidance of the obvious rhyme: porn. While the nude-dude album art and tie-dye vinyl are compelling, Love Collector's Human Bodies EP is lyrically inane and musically stock. For your next upscale dinner party spin the vintage sounds of Austin's the Hollywood Revue. The band's ebony-and-ivory double-disc debut, Premiere, features Hollywood standards so stylistically legit they teleport you back to the golden age. Pillow Talk's Faux Fur single (on Texas Is Funny) is neo-classic country with haunting melodies of heartaches and the warm voice of Jerid Reed Morris underscored with triplet banjo rolls and steel guitar. Perhaps the best of the stack is Churchwood's "Just the Two of Us" (Saustex), a freak-blues assault on every soulless bar band playing passable Stevie Ray covers. Poison 13 survivor Bill Anderson and Billysteve Korpi of the Crack Pipes are guitarists at odds, yielding triumph and counterpoint in perfectly measured bursts of manic backing for Joe Doerr's inimitable turns of phrase.