Chris McFarland

Beauty and Undertow (End Up Records)

Texas Platters

Chris McFarland

Beauty and Undertow (End Up Records)

Singer-songwriters are often heralded (or sneered at) for pinning their emotions to their chests in pursuit of a tune. Brooklyn-born/Austin-based Chris McFarland doesn't hide his feelings on this five-song EP, but the guitarist's approach is more measured than maudlin, with melody foregrounded and plainspoken vocals never pushed to hysteria. "Song for Every Girl" and the magnificent "Wild Abandon" charge forward on six-strings, loudly leading the way, like Bob Mould gone The atmospheric "Simple, Selfish Plan" drifts on a sea of feedback, as if they were radio waves errantly received following a thunderstorm. With a title like "Cancer" and the presence of emo trio Rainer Maria as backup, you'd think some wallowing and bombastic whine would be in order, but McFarland keeps the performances restrained, as the hurt simmers instead of boiling over. With a clear concept of what makes his gimmickless songs most effective, McFarland wears his heart on his sleeve, but doesn't let it bleed on the carpet.


A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 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 Michael Toland
Andrew Cyrille Lays His <i>Declaration of Musical Independence</i> on UT
Andrew Cyrille Lays His Declaration of Musical Independence on UT
Rarified improv comes to campus

Jan. 16, 2020

Books, Box Sets & Reviews
The Replacements
Dead Man's Pop (Record Review)

Dec. 6, 2019


Chris McFarland

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

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

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