Reviewed by Rachel Rascoe, Fri., Aug. 10, 2018
Alt-folk quartet Batty Jr. captured its debut long-player at a friend's abode outside of Marfa. Through spoken-word narration by producer Nick Hurt and scene-setting sonics (distant thunder and rolling train whistles), Wormholes welcomes a captive listener under the tin roof of a studio and inducts them as an official member of the Austin crew's off-kilter universe. The choose-your-own-adventure story begins with spaghetti Western instrumental "Sound Check," beckoned forward by founding Wild Child member Sadie Wolfe's haunting, elastic cello. The quartet's traveling circus/orchestra energy then rolls into "Blue," introducing Zeke Jarmon's suave, lackadaisical vocal theatrics. In the style of Todd Rundgren's "Intro" message from Something/Anything?, Hurt drops in for a playful disclaimer on tuning. Jazz-trained, Taylor Turner's bluesy bass and former White Denim drummer Jeff Olson's pattering march rounds out the recording's spontaneous live sound, "Move Along" and "Wake Up" proving especially sprightly. The seven tracks are dedicated to recently passed Austin accordion great Ponty Bone, who let Jarmon play washboard in his band as a youngster. Descending from Bone's spunk, Wormholes teems with improvised life and Texan ingenuity.