The Austin Chronicle

Record Reviews

Reviewed by David Lynch, January 19, 2001, Music

Drums & Tuba

Vinyl Killer (Righteous Babe)

Former Austinites and current New Yorkers, Drums & Tuba have always cut a wide experimental swath. On the hourlong Vinyl Killer, their debut on folk-punk singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco's Righteous Babe label, the band charts a more melodically melancholic and less frenetically freakish path. "Topolino" suggests the trio -- percussionist Anthony Nozero, double-guitarist Neal McKeeby, and multihornist Brian Wolff -- has been digesting a lot of Isotope 217/Tortoise recently, and it's a good thing; the song's orchestral execution is such that you don't want it to end. "No Accommodation for Buffalo" moves and shakes to a James Brown chicken-scratch rhythm guitar, which itself meshes with looped samples of the band's instruments. The song builds to a honestly organic jam, yet this tune and "The 10 Attacks of Dagger" suffer from a dull editing knife. Brevity has never been the group's strong suit, but DiFranco and fellow producer Goat Boy manage to rein in the band's improvisational juices enough to capture stellar performances on "Eli," "Prince Meets the Phantom," and "The Sauce Maker." Overall, Vinyl Killer is less kinetic two-fisted angular emoting and more weirdly orchestrated groove. While the trio needs practice in the editing department, overall Drums & Tuba get better with each turn, creating ear-catching instrumental vignettes that defy simple classification. Except good.


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