Knife in the Water

Record Review

Phases and Stages

Knife in the Water

Crosspross Bells EP (Peek-a-Boo) In a town brimming with a dizzying number of alt.country/Western/folk permutations, Austin's Knife in the Water have managed to mark their own dusty territory. They're spiritual cousins of Tucson's Calexico, crossing that band's 3am desert hallucinations with the Lone Star yearning for a good twangy tune. Nowhere have Knife in the Water merged the two more effectively than on "Exploding Seagulls," the standout track on the new Crosspross Bells EP. A whammy-bar jab, a desolate march, and ethereal harmonies from Aaron Blount and Laura Krause set the stage for Blount's intimate vignettes about sleeping near landfills and throwing bottles at trees, all delivered with the subconscious clarity one only finds as the murky tail end of the night meets the pale shade of dawn. The low, rumbling organ of "Crosshair Chapel" oozes a dark Southern gothic psychedelia, with Blount's uplifting, spiritual chorus lending a silver lining to the dark clouds. Knife in the Water does show off a bit of the rock on opener "From the Catbird Seat," one of their more successful organ-and-harmony pop turns to date. Still, the breezy ditties don't play to the band's strength. The EP's other four songs stick to what Knife in the Water does best: sketch modern portraits of alienation and epiphany as the tumbleweeds blow by in the rustic Western night.

***

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