Reviewed by Christopher Gray, Fri., Nov. 1, 2002
Fluffers UnionSirens Disco (Chocolate Johnson)
By their very nature, roots are twisted. This is especially true in Austin, where Li'l Cap'n Travis' stoned grandeur can't quite cover up their Seventies singer-songwriter sensibilities, Okkervil River's anaerobic bluegrass barely keeps the demons at bay, and the Gourds just want to get drunk and debate H.L. Mencken. Crashing the party is this cheeky bunch of San Marcos reprobates who think nothing of splicing out-of-nowhere banjo rolls into math-rock riffs. By all rights, Sirens Disco should send people screaming from the room: The puns are atrocious (sample song titles: "Rock-a-Bye Baby Seals," "Tennesseeyanaked Waltz"); "Soundchicken" is spoken instead of sung; and, well, "Instrumenstrual" tells you pretty much everything you need to know about that. But it works. It works because it's tight and loose at the same time, owing as much to Centro-matic as Camper Van Beethoven, and because when they play it straight -- as on the Son Volt-ish "Burn Baby Burn" and "Beautiful Mess" -- the results are both savory and poignant. It also works because on the sixth or seventh listen, the lyrics actually start to make sense (just don't let the singer anywhere near your daughter). But most of all, it works because it sounds like nothing else out there right now, and it still rocks. "Beautiful Mess" is right.