Texas Platters

Phases and Stages


Comedy Horn (Post-Parlo) Make room next to ZZ Top on the CD racks; Zykos has arrived. The young Austin fivepiece's sound is far-reaching on its debut, the driving piano and lush keyboard tableaus of Catherine Davis setting the mood for a series of tight grooves and gray-sky dynamics that emanate from a meridian halfway between Chicago and Manchester. Bursting through the clouds are the compelling cries of Michael Booher, his nasal, gritty voice carrying a peculiar cadence that writhes and wavers Michael Stipe-style under the weight of everyday worry. "Somebody told you you're overthinking it all," Booher struggles to utter on "Understanding Fire," clearly beat down by a Promethian pressure. Behind him, Davis' player piano-sounding line cuts in and out behind a tidal wave of high-density distortion. Other times, Zykos' ambitious arrangements don't fare as well. "Listening Pills" finds Booher doing his best Conor Oberst with an acoustic guitar, making for a high-viscosity opening minute before an abrupt electric cut-in. The tangents that follow never quite measure up to the stripped-down opening. A drone-and-drum intro inaugurates Zykos' other shining moment, a steamer called "Kodiak" filled with shimmering guitar textures that whisper the name of Interpol, yet somehow avoid Joy Division's icy grave. In baseball terms, Zykos is a hot prospect just coming into its own. Talent shines through in brilliant flashes, though the pieces of the puzzle don't quite fit snugly at all times. When they do, watch out. (Zykos opens for the Deathray Davies, Friday, May 16, at the Mercury.)


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