Silver Pines, Single Frame, the Frontier Brothers, The Soldier Thread, Eliot Fitzgerald, the Rite Flyers, and Joel Laviolette's Rattletree Marimba
Reviewed by Austin Powell, Fri., Feb. 8, 2008
San Marcos' Silver Pines harvest serene, twilight folk on its 20-minute debut, Fort Walnut. Atop an achingly beautiful canopy of reverb-drenched slide guitar, sparse percussion, and banjo, occasionally lilted by a ghostly saw, Stefanie Franciotti lets her golden voice drip honey, like Hope Sandoval backed by Great Lake Swimmers. Act quickly; the EP is limited to 400 copies. The first in a string of proposed digital-only releases, Single Frame comes alive on its four-song, self-titled EP, scaling back its electronic convulsions to the bare essentials, a clash of drums and synthesizers approximating the audio equivalent of bipolar disorder. The Frontier Brothers, meanwhile, venture toward intergalactic indie rock, a cacophonous combination of jarring guitar, jingly piano pop, and weird science lyricism. The local trio's sophomore showing, Solar Power Struggle!, boots up like the Who's abandoned sci-fi rock opera Lifehouse as interpreted by Harry & the Potters: playfully anthemic. The Soldier Thread's shimmering Fevers and Fireworks attempts to confine Explosions in the Sky's post-rock dynamics to four-minute indie pop songs in the vein of Death Cab for Cutie. In doing so, the young Austin quartet undercuts the emotional and epic qualities that make their reference points so gut-wrenching and grandiose. Considering Eliot Fitzgerald takes its name from two of America's most celebrated authors, the band's debut, Icarus the Philistine, is a bit generic, an emo wasteland of quasi-religious rock. The Rite Flyers' long overdue follow-up to their eponymous 2004 debut, Suffer Fools Gladly, finds the local power-pop vets treading familiar territory, with starry-eyed sing-alongs that are instantly familiar but easily forgotten. Always the odd one out, Joel Laviolette's Rattletree Marimba fuses traditional Zimbabwean dance music with American rock & roll. The circular and polyrhythmic grooves on the group's Live EP are intended for spirit-possession ceremonies and are guaranteed to move you.