Adult Rodeo Texxxas (Shimmy Disc)

Texas Platters

Record Reviews

Adult Rodeo

Texxxas (Shimmy Disc)

It can be difficult keeping up with Adult Rodeo, but it sure is fun trying. The wickedly convoluted course of a single song -- layered and delayed warbling of dense and scattered lyrics, banjos dancing with Casios, hidden echoes and sudden time changes -- makes digesting an entire album's worth of music feel like a feeble attempt at speed-reading Gravity's Rainbow. Guitarist Rob Erickson's goofy enunciations and Stephanie Mankins' unsteady twang are odd vocal complements, but through both alternating leads and harmonizing, the combination works. Where this local quartet's Shimmy Disc debut The Kissyface hinted at and danced around Mankins' Texan inflections and an occasionally implied jug-beat, Texxxas spreads its country tailfeathers and shakes them in proud flourish. But the feeling fades: This is not a country album. Texxxas is an album that is coherent in its disjointedness: the dour "Jesus, He Loves LSD and Me" a tether for the parallel acceleration of "Beliablo"; "Bamtourine" holding ground between the bouncy "Top Shelf Gin" and the gorgeous "Isaiah." The intellectual tone of Adult Rodeo's songs cuts across the mood of each individual tune, tying together the humor and the dissonance into a package of experimental pop as enjoyable as it is confusing. The lyrics are disturbing and arcane poetry, the melodies lively echoes of not only country ditties, but also reggae rhythms and dub grooves, all tied together by a smirkingly hickish sensibility and a knack for pasting sounds together. Of course, it can't hurt that Shimmy Disc main man Kramer mixed the album, but songs as fun as "Charlie Hack" or as smart as "Laketown" could only come from far beyond the studio. Same goes for "Oh Blue." And "Loretta Lynn." The mix of the organic and the synthetic is so seamless as to make it all one and the same. With very few missteps and more than a few moments of brilliance, Texxxas gets beyond its self-consciousness and engrosses from start to finish. The cover art is really cool, too.

***.5

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