Texas platters

Phases and Stages


Porcelain (Geffen) Earlier this year, Sparta – three-fifths of El Paso's At the Drive-In – changed its logo from an abstract symbol to a swan. Has the ugly duckling become a beautiful creature of grace and impeccability? Has Jim Ward emerged from the shadow of ATDI belter Cedric Bixler, now fronting proggy Mars Volta? Well, no. And Sparta's sophomore release, Porcelain, ain't so perfect. The Wiretap Scars left after ATDI's premature breakup left fans hoping Sparta would continue with ragged edges and complicated time changes, but instead, they've become a white fowl. Porcelain's angry opener "Guns of Memorial Park" sets the stage for a shoot-out, but as soon as "Hiss the Villain" bears its teeth, it's clear the fire has left Ward's belly. "Breaking the Broken" is an apt description, Ward opining, "Well, I can't explain how we made it this far." You said it, brother. Paul Hinojos' staccato picking and strumming dominate the album with chicken pecking, while the emotive "Lines in Sand" finds Ward delving into Dashboard Confessional lyrics. Bless the man who isn't afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve, but damn the one who uses superglue to secure it. Closing with "Splinters," Porcelain has shattered. Mars Volta, keep that orbit.


A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
X: The Godless Void and Other Stories (Record Review)

Alejandra Ramirez, Feb. 21, 2020

Texas Platters
Daniel Johnston
Chicago 2017 (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Feb. 21, 2020

More by Darcie Stevens
Phases & Stages
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
It's Blitz! (Record Review)

April 3, 2009

Spotlight: The Wooden Birds
Spotlight: The Wooden Birds
9pm, the Parish

March 20, 2009

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle