The Austin Chronicle

Texas Platters

Reviewed by Doug Freeman, September 23, 2016, Music

Like 2014's For Sale, East Cameron Folkcore's fourth LP Better Off opens with a quote, this time from theorist Buckminster Fuller intoning a technological potential to move us toward a utopia. Lest they be mistaken for a brighter outlook on the future, the Austin septet quickly clarifies in a barrage of horns and hard rhythms that the trade-offs of these advancements only numb us to our destroying the world. ECF still rages unparalleled, for sheer catharsis if nothing else, but Better Off also demonstrates more versatility. The slinking, funky groove of "Who Do We Think We Are" and R&B burner "Darling What Went Wrong" mark steps forward from their usual stomp and holler aesthetic, even as the broil of "Einstein's Nightmare" and cacophony in "Dreams Deferred" incite uprising. Burdened pleas to "TCB" and soulful, oddly joyous dirge in closer "Born to Die" suggest evolution amid their frustrated revolution. Simultaneously released EP Fossils likewise expands previous range, cutting field recordings with acoustic tracks. "Son" slows to the mournful swell of "Nine-Six-Nine," while standout "Miss Liberty" strikes poignantly political and closer "Atlas Dug" dredges for meaning in the endless sweat and toil. (CD release: Sat., Sept. 24, Empire Control Room)

(Better Off) ***.5

(Fossils) ***

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