The Crack Pipes, Friday, April 22 at Beerland
Reviewed by Greg Beets, Fri., April 22, 2005
Friday, April 22
The Crack Pipes
Beauty School (Emperor Jones)
While the gristly heart of the Crack Pipes' sound still beats out a liberating testimonial of chicken scratch boogie punk, Beauty School finds the veteran Austin quartet trying on a slew of additional idioms as well. The Pipes' fourth LP kicks off with the shuffling, country blues title track, which transforms into electric, harp-fueled mayhem midway through. In the church of vocalizing Right Rev. Ray Pride, "Beauty School" is where the Almighty power washes sinners of earthly hang-ups and lets love flow unimpeded. You can hear the love start gushing in the garage soul grooves of "Sexy Pepsy" and "Make-Out Party." "Rewind My Mind" is the sound of a broken heart unable to contain its longing within the construct of an indie-pop torch song, while "Let My Heart (Rest in Peace)" breaks it down like James Brown at the Apollo circa 1962. The cinematic warble of "East Side Injections" and the elegiac dirge of "I Was So Worried About You" reveal the Pipes' penchant for overcast experimentalism. The dark mood continues through "Greensboro," a blues-based account of the 1979 Greensboro Massacre. Finally, the exquisitely stringed reprisal of the title track, arranged by Chris Black, delivers us back to the light. Beauty, indeed.