Listen Up: Wednesday, April 11, 2002
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Various Artists

Independence: An Austin Sampler

(Austin Music Community Records)

Independence strives for indie cred. Rah-rah for the effort, but bad news for us, if this sampler truly represents Austin’s current scene. The disc showcases 19 Austin bands, all of which — goes the flak boast — miraculously own their own songs. The saddest thing is that the independent bands here, given free rein, with no corporate pressure to follow formula, have suppressed all impulses of adventure or experimentation and lockstepped right into the same ol’ played-out routines.

Some of these outfits play punk, except that it’s not really Punk but that insidious marketing term called “alternative.” Next. Others offer heavy metal (or nu-metal or whatever the hell it’s called this week), which, you got it, means tired-ass speed-metal riffs over guys screaming unintelligible idiotic nonsense in lieu of singing . Oh, for innovation and variety. Likewise, Powersquid’s rap-metal cut, “Profound,” sounds too much like every other rap-metal song (an idea that grew tired before it even began) to possibly generate any interest. Offensive band names and song titles such as Electric Cock and “WorkEatSleepShitDie” feel positively scandalous. After all, it’s not like, oh, I don’t know, Black Flag and the Dead Kennedys didn’t do the same bit and better 20-odd years ago.

One “innovation” is Hobble’s “Boxes,” which incorporates (read: steals) Nirvana’s trademark slow-fast-slow style. How original. Creeperweed’s “Sick” contains nine (!) minutes of the prog-rock guitar doodling that the punk class of ’76 tried, apparently without success, to kill off. But thanks to the law of averages, there are a couple of worthwhile tunes here. School Trauma Flashback’s surf punk-raga flavored “Pop Quizzes” and Blood Burnin’s frenetic “Psychic” are two gems.

Celebrating independent scenes is commendable and vital, given the mainstream music industry’s current allergic reaction to experimentation (the supposed “stuff” of indie rock), but if Independence is the cream of Austin’s crop, then avowed music lovers will have to dig a little deeper for a fix.—Matthew Smith



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