The Paper Shapes, La Guerrilla, Gentlemen Rogues, Dead Black Hearts, Chronolung, and Codename Boris
Reviewed by Austin Powell, Fri., Sept. 9, 2011
A working definition of the Paper Shapes: Paper Chase neurosis shredded with the post-punk delinquency of At the Drive-In's "One Armed Scissor." The Austin quintet's six-song sophomore effort, Be Vigilant, offers a caterwauling juggernaut that ventures into math rock ("Castles") and Mars Volta ("Dead Kids From Mars") territory. A big-band caravan led by transcontinental hustler Enrique Rumiche, La Guerrilla's combat rock en Español takes a subtle turn on second EP Adios Lala Land?. "Erika" busks with the simple sincerity of Jack Johnson's Brushfire Records, not unlike the ballad "Blueprint." Upbeat popper "High (Lilliput Mix)" gets a dance remix, but La Guerrilla knows when to break out the piñata, as evidenced by the three-quarter turn in "En Cualquier Momento," a gypsy ska number with a South American twist. Gentlemen Rogues, featuring former members of the Fall Collection, emerges fully loaded with three songs of jaded guitar pop. Standout "Persistence Is Futile" suggests Lou Barlow fronting Weezer, earnest but never emo, while "Is Tomorrow Worth Tonight?" swells behind Leah Nelson's strings. Released digitally last year, Dead Black Hearts' exceptionally recorded The Southern Front boasts a shifting front reminiscent of a particular strain of Canadian indie rock (Wolf Parade, the Dears, Stars). The quartet has the sound and the chops but few hooks in seven tracks, "How To Win an Argument" being a possible exception. Looks prove deceiving for Chronolung, a young and clean-cut local power trio led by the Fish brothers that hammers out British heavy metal in three minutes or fewer on its four-song debut. "Breakdown" and "Harpy" both conjure Blizzard of Ozz-era Osbourne, though guitarist Collin Fish might be wise to skew more toward Randy Rhoads than Zakk Wylde in the future. Conversely, the most notable aspect of Codename Boris, another brotherly trio, might be Andy (guitar) and Davy (bass) Pasternak's distant relation to Russian author Boris Pasternak. The trio's eponymous five-song debut shows promise in the Queens of the Stone Age-esque "The Fire," but they haven't even scratched the surface of their potential.