Victrola

Texas Platters

Victrola

Former Barkers bite Alice Spencer has a howl on her, no doubt about it. Her finger-wagging delivery of ale hall standards "Puttin' on the Ritz," Kurt Weil's "Alabama Song," and Cole Porter closer "In the Still of the Night" have Spencer's hair smelling of a long evening down at the speakeasy. Unfortunately, ol' timey Austin already has Christina Marrs and the Asylum Street Spankers for bawdy laughs and a raunchy good time. Empanada Parlour staple Victrola, led by Spencer's pipes and featuring Ben Saffer on the clarinet, and on disc, bassist Mark Rubin, are up to the genre, but not the stageshow. "I'm Confessing" is sung with all the conviction of an afternoon sound check, while the remainder of this eight-song debut -- recorded live at the Empanada Parlour, where else? -- is asleep somewhere down among the sawdust and tables. In these warring times, local saloons need all the Marlene Dietrich they can muster, but beware those who attempt it. It's a genre used to competing with the roaring nightlife. Belt it out like the bar was made for your high heels or stay at home in your slippers.

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