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DIVIDE AND CONQUER

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If it's fall, it must be time for a new ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead album. And so it is: The local noisemakers' fifth full-length, So Divided (Interscope), hits stores Oct. 20, less than two years since 2005's Worlds Apart. Although Worlds was generally well-reviewed and did well in Europe, it wasn't the stateside success the band envisioned. "I think on Worlds Apart we were hoping that this was what the mainstream would grab onto; there was so much depth and substance to it," says drummer and occasional vocalist Jason Reece. That led them to conclude, he continues, that "we're not going to be a commercially viable band, so we might as well make what we make and not give a shit about mainstream audiences." Thus, Divided's lyrics "come from the heart instead of being more conceptual," Reece says. Musically, the album sounds as eclectic as its predecessor, with "powerful epic moments" sharing space with quieter fare (countryish ballad "Witches Web") and a beefed-up cover of Guided by Voices' "Gold Heart Mountain Top Queen Directory." "There's a lot of melodies and harmonies on the record," says Reece. "More so than ever, which is going to make it interesting to do live." Besides its political overtones, So Divided is an apt title for the album, as frontman Conrad Keely and bassist Danny Wood both relocated to New York this year; Reece, guitarist Kevin Allen, and the band's Mob House studio remain in Austin. "They live in both places in a really weird way," Reece explains, adding that the pair returns often to rehearse. "I think they just needed a break from Austin." Trail of Dead reunites this month for a six-week, family-style U.S. tour with Seattle's Blood Brothers and locals Brothers and Sisters (stopping at Emo's on Nov. 22 and 23), foreshadowing a busy 2007 that will pull Reece away from his other job as part-owner of Austin's Beauty Bar. "You won't see me there very often," he affirms.


THORN TREE IN AUSTIN

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Photo By Felicia Graham
In what shall henceforth be known as the "Ian McLagan effect," former Derek & the Dominos keyboardist Bobby Whitlock is a hairbreadth away from relocating to Austin. Monday night, he and wife CoCo Carmel gave their future neighbors a taste of their upcoming Saxon Pub residency, wherein the duo played half of the Dominos' lone studio album, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, including Eric Clapton/Whitlock co-writes "Keep on Growing," "Anyday," "I Looked Away," "Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad?", and album closer, "Thorn Tree in the Garden." Whitlock had barely performed the songs since Clapton's struggles with heroin forced a de facto end to the Dominos in the early Seventies, but had a "lightbulb moment" after seeing the 20th anniversary box set at an Alabama record store. "I realized, 'Wow! It's like these songs are brand new,'" says the Memphis native. "All anyone knows [from the album] are 'Layla' and 'Bell Bottom Blues.' Before hooking up with Clapton, Whitlock played with Delaney & Bonnie and was the first white artist signed to Stax Records in the 1960s; house guitarist Steve Cropper appears on his 2000 solo CD, It's About Time. Whitlock and Carmel have been playing as a duo for five years, dubbing their nonexistent rhythm section the Invisible Souls. "The bass player's never drunk, and the drummer's always on time," he says. "I don't miss a band, but we will play with other players."


IT'S OVER NOW?

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Carl Normal, frontman of popular Nineties punk-poppers Stretford, was determined to avoid the reunion bug at all costs after the band called it quits in late 2000. "I was the most resistant, but every time I'd go out, people would say, 'We want to see Stretford again,'" he says. "Recently, a lot of my band members started bugging me, and I kind of felt like there was a bit of a conspiracy going on." Even then, Normal held out until Chris Burton of the also-reuniting Friendly Truckers suggested making the show a benefit, and Normal suggested ALS, aka Lou Gehrig's Disease, which claimed his mother several years ago. "All of a sudden, I was into it," he affirms. "I'm having fun with it now." So Stretford, alongside the Truckers and Richard Head, will bring Buzzcocks-style blasts like "Zerox Love" and "It's Over Now" back for one night only Saturday night at the Longbranch. After that, Normal, who got his graphic-design degree after Stretford disbanded, says no more. He's not entirely convincing, though. "I was trying to better myself and make a bit more money, but all I've done is incurred a bunch of college-loan debt," he says. "I kind of wish I stayed a starving musician."


GRATUITOUS DUDITY

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Photo By John Anderson

Austin's newest singing-and-dancing sensation, Cedar Fever, blew the doors off the Mohawk last Thursday at the new Red River club's Boy Band Hoot Night. Although Southpaw Jones offered a poignant solo acoustic version of the Backstreet Boys' "Larger Than Life," and Golden Bear scored old-school points with NKOTB's "The Right Stuff" and the Dirty Hearts with Bell Biv DeVoe's "Poison," Cedar Fever left them in the dust with suggestive choreography, a panty-moistening cover of Backstreet's "I Want It That Way," and adorable jailbird outfits for their breakout single "Prison Bitch." The quartet's debut, Gratuitous Dudity, is primed to lead another generation of local tweens down the primrose path of notebook-decorating, clothes-rending, and incessant shrieking.


BULLET THE BLUE SKY

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Photo By Todd V. Wolfson
Don't forget about this weekend's Biscuitfest, the now-annual tribute to late artist/rocker/collector/
eccentric Randy "Biscuit" Turner. Music runs 2pm-2am at Emo's inside Saturday and Sunday, with Punkaroos, Honky, D-Day, Standing Waves, Jesus Christ Superfly, Texacala Jones, and a Biscuit tribute band with John Claude Axberg. Also a confession booth, barbecue, sweets, arts & crafts, and "general mayhem." See BiscuitFest.org for more.

Serial recorders Voxtrot have a disc due next month, but like this spring's Mothers, Sisters, Daughters & Wives EP, it's not the local pop savants' first proper album. Instead, it's three-song "mini-EP" Your Biggest Fan, recorded in Austin and London. Pre-order the EP, available on CD and vinyl, at www.voxtrot.net. Meanwhile, the band plays Emo's Oct. 28 and swears it's taking November and December off to record that LP.

Momos hosts a rock & roll garage sale Oct. 12 to benefit breast-cancer research, with live music, body painting, $3 cosmos, and more. Drop off donations – old CDs, music memorabilia, whatever – after 7:30pm tonight (Thursday) at the club. The money goes to help local Tito's Texas Vodka rep Beth Bellanti meet her fundraising goal for the Oct. 27-29 "3-Day" charity walk in Dallas.

South Congress' center of fabulosity, Pink Salon, celebrates its lucky seventh birthday during First Thursday tonight. Artist David Ohlerking's portraits of the lovely Pink ladies will be on display, as Lila's Medicine and the Public Offenders provide music by which to enjoy the free cake and champagne. 6pm.

High-flying punk rockers the Riverboat Gamblers lost almost all of their guitars when their trailer was broken into Saturday night. The band was able to borrow enough instruments to leave on tour Monday but obviously still want its stuff back. Send any tips to freddycastro@hotmail.com.

After all of the funerals this year, it was TCB's distinct pleasure to attend the nuptials of "Lady of Luxury" Juliana Gilchrist and Kit Morris at Mercury Hall Friday night, capped by Morris spiriting Gilchrist away on his Vespa. The K-Tel Hit Machine rocked the reception, and K-Tel's Trish Murphy promised that the Seventies specialists will soon undergo an "Eighties explosion," previewed with a glamtastic medley of the bride's favorite band, Duran Duran.

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