Independence: An Austin Sampler

Texas Platters

Phases and Stages

Independence: An Austin Sampler

Not since the Rock Opera soundtrack has a local compilation rallied Austin's teeming minions of freak-rockers with such screeching vengeance. This warbling, 19-song mishmash of punk, metal, twang, and otherwise unclassifiable weirdness leads off with the Spiders' hard rock opus, "Argument," followed in quick succession by Powersquid's irresistibly disturbing "Profound" and the screaming sadomasochism of Hobble's "Boxes." The one-two-three punch hits like a bag of rocks. The slow, spiraling introduction to Pong's "Bubble Jungle" calms things down somewhat, but then ornery Austin guitar anti-hero Jimmy Bradshaw shows up for the first of three appearances on Sniffy's "Puniatsi" (Bradshaw also plays in Squat Thrust and U.S.S. Friendship). Twang is in ample supply on the Free Range Bastards' "Burned a lot of Bridges," which is undeniably meritorious if only for the great lyric, "I burned a lot of bridges and sank the only goddamn boat." Brown Whörnet's "Inbred" takes us on an incestuous barnyard romp, while U.S.S. Friendship's "Spiro's Coke Conspiracy" is a snide reference to a certain local nightspot rather than a former vice-president. Even with all that, Independence's most twisted revelation is the Tuna Helpers' fairy tale gone shithouse, "Restraining Order." Singer Adrienne the Anemone has a beautiful voice, and here she uses it to sing about herself in the third person as a stalker taping feces to her ex-boyfriend's door. Though you miss out on the Helpers' awesome stage props, the song is still bound to leave you gape-mouthed, and Creeperweed's album-ending marathon flu hallucination, "Sick," does nothing to restore order. Much like an evening at Red River freak-rock haven Room 710, which produced Independence Day, the album ends in a roiling bath of feedback that leaves your ears ringing.

***.5

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