Telling Stories (Austin Town Hall Records)
Reviewed by Rick Weaver, Fri., Dec. 13, 2019
Like a Gen X dramedy, the slackers of Telling Stories shamble into cycles of poor mental hygiene – nothing prescription pills couldn't solve. On "I'm Stressed," an overtaxed employee lost in the doldrums admits, "I keep my headphones on because I have nothing to say." During the mild paranoia of "My Fragile Mind," a reluctant user and his dealer "stared at screensavers to pass the time." The Zoltars' chunky, garden-variety combo of surf rock clumps and garage rock lumber suit the scrapyard imperfections of songwriter Jared Zoltar's uneven characters, who tell themselves stories in order to avoid living. As they slowly stir Coffee-mate into instant indie, the Austin-centered guitars-and-drum-kit fourpiece occasionally alchemizes sublime flavor into the Styrofoam blend. The chorus of "You Do It to Yourself" wags its high finger in heaven's echo chamber, while "In Denial" licks spring reverb raw as it lifts depressive angel wings toward a mantric reality check.