Soulhat Experiment on a Flat Plane (Terminus)

Texas Platters

Record Reviews

Soulhat

Experiment on a Flat Plane (Terminus)

It's always Good to Be Gone, but six to seven years is way too long. Several music (r)evolutions have come and yawn since Soulhat's 1994 Sony debut proved a "Bonecrusher" on KLBJ only, but given the successful outcome of its rightful follow-up, Experiment on a Flat Plane, it's a fair conclusion that times have finally caught up to the long-shufflin' Austin musical institution. With critically revered Brits like Gomez paying local punk rock outfits major-label buck$ to import a sound once found flourishing on Sixth Street, Soulhat's sand-worn roots groove is finally the norm. Thanks in part to the alt.country movement of the past half-decade making Lone Star dust and twang chic again, the deep, rich tones alchemized by local production wizard Stuart Sullivan on Experiment on a Flat Plane not only sound like a million dollars, they provide the perfect launching pad for the local quartet's seamless musical interlocking. Combined with frontman/guitarist Kevin McKinney's prodigious gifts as a songwriter and drummer "Frosty" Smith's tasty percussive mulch, Soulhat's stone groove lends the album's 12 tunes a friendly familiarity. Sometimes, as on the wasted "Cash" or low-tempo "Skin," groove is all there is, but given a cornfield brimming with sweet kernels such as "Plastic," "Flat Plane," "Gone," and particularly "City," it's easy to overlook. "WNBA" is all net. Good to Be Gone, sure, but it's also Good to Be Back.

****

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