The Show: Wednesday, February 23, 2005
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Smart artsy-fartsy sludge-rock: Autolux
PHOTOS: 1
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
The Show

Autolux

By Anthony Mariani

Talk about hipster cachet.

The L.A.-based trio Autolux is not only one of the first bands to sign with DMZ, the label founded by the filmmaking Coen brothers (of O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Fargo fame), it’s also one of the few art-rock outfits to have been touched by the golden knob-twiddling fingers of

T Bone Burnett, producer extraordinaire and Fort Worth native. His addition-by-subtraction approach keeps Future Perfect, Autolux’s recently released major label debut, from fulfilling its apparent destiny as an endless trudge through fields of muddy, brown, putrid emo-grunge. Extra-sludgy open-chord riffs cranked to 11 are hard animals to herd. Burnett manages brilliantly, chiefly by limiting songs’ lengths and by making the band record in what sounds like a huge, echoey tin box.

The immediate reference is Sonic Youth, though Autolux is more willing to settle down into those quiet, lazily strummed acoustic numbers in which (the perennially somber) lyrics are delivered in crackling, plaintive whispers, à la Elliot Smith or Sea Change-era Beck. Autolux is also more comfortable rocking the radio. The melancholy mid-tempo trip “Here Comes Everybody” shares with the best PJ Harvey tune a rampant fuzziness juxtaposed against super-sexy girly vocals, everything poised to either suddenly dip into minor-chord territory or surface into the mainstream ether, where similar bands like Death Cab For Cutie and Modest Mouse rest on their laurels. There’s even a touch of Stereolab’s warm dissonance laced throughout, typically heightened by the vocals of drummer Carla Azar.

Autolux is simply an artist’s band, and it’s one artsy-fartsy group whose acclaim has been well-deserved. For more information, go to www.autolux.net. — Anthony Mariani

With Secret Machines and Moving Units, Fri at Trees, 2709 Elm St, Dallas. 214-748-5009.


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