Benko

The Civil Service

Texas Platters

In a town saturated with marching guitars, the vibraphonic strains of this sideways power trio make for extra refreshing tonic. Benko's craft mixture of cocktail jazz and indie pop stretches horizons even as it soothes the senses. The locals' third overall effort and first since 2008 offers the most pristine summation of their charms yet. Instrumental opener "American Writer" girds its adhesive melody and pleasant rhythm with a sinister undertone, and "Consul" furthers the intrigue with shadowy allusions to diplomatic back channels. Understated vocal harmony between bassist Erik Grostic and vibraphonist Sarah Norris serves this telegraphed opacity well. Richard Nixon enlivens the bridge of the pensive title track with his career-saving "Checkers" speech, but Tosca String Quartet violist Ames Asbell injects even more gravity into the climax of "Beside Yourself." Like a quirky aural novella, The Civil Service resonates long after the last bar is struck.

***.5

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 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  

READ MORE
More Benko
Texas Platters
Benko
Welcome to the Follow Through (Record Review)

Audra Schroeder, Nov. 7, 2008

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Spray Paint
Into the Country (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Dec. 13, 2019

Texas Platters
Graham Reynolds
Marfa: A Country & Western Big Band Suite (Record Review)

Rick Weaver, Nov. 22, 2019

More by Greg Beets
Our Music Critics Pick Their Top 10 Austin Albums of 2018
Our Music Critics Pick Their Top 10 Austin Albums of 2018
80 local picks from Molly Burch to Brownout

Dec. 28, 2018

Our Music Critics Pick Their Top 10 Austin Albums of 2018
Our Music Critics Pick Their Top 10 Austin Albums of 2018
80 local picks from Molly Burch to Brownout

Dec. 28, 2018

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Benko

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
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

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

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