(The Rock Garage)
By 2011, only a music fan doing an ostrich imitation would still think of Austin, Texas as a music town devoted only to roots music – blues, outlaw country, etc. The punk and alternative rock scenes have long poked holes in the Armadillo World Headquarters fantasy, with everyone from Spoon to Fastball to the Butthole Surfers earning as much (or more) notoriety as Willie Nelson and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
So there’s no real thematic punch to the first volume in Austin website The Rock Garage’s series of recordings from local clubs. But there doesn’t need to be, either, other than to showcase the down-and-dirty doin’s that hit the River City’s club scene on any given night. Producer/writer Michael Crawford took his mid-fi equipment into a variety of joints (listed in the liners, but not specific to the performances) to capture a diverse group of artists on their home turf.
Hard rock seems to get the most play here, with standout cuts from the irreverent Honky (“Just a Man”,) the thrashy High Watt Crucifixers (“Concubine”) and the unabashedly heavy Lions (“Screaming Out”) and Brutal Juice (“Waxing Gibbons”). But there are plenty of other wares on display here. The Ugly Beats blast out a perfect piece of garage pop with “I’ll Make You Happy.” Churchwood does its Captain Beefheartian blues thang on the ferocious “Vendide Fumar,” while Amplified Heat takes the form into distorted grunge territory on “Strong Arm ‘Shut Yer Face’.” Pong takes postpunk out in the alley and beats it up with “Click OK.” The Dirty Charley Band and Pureluck kick country & western’s ass all around the barroom floor on “Should Killed My Baby” and “Your Face or Mine,” respectively, while the Texas Sapphires showcase a (slightly) more traditional spirit on “The New World.” The Pocket FishRMen and the Hickoids (whose cheerfully smutty spirit seems to saturate the whole project) give punk rock their own good-natured thrashings on “We Kill Evil” and “Stop It You’re Killing Me.”
The collection also finds space for a couple of out-of-town guests, specifically Nashville Pussy (whose drummer got his start in the Austin scene) and its staple “Good Night For a Heart Attack” and longtime Austin favorite Dash Rip Rock and its snarky satire “New Orleans Needs Stronger Dikes.” They may not be from Texas’ capitol, but they both fit right in to the profane, rocked-out scene celebrated by The Rock Garage. Here’s hoping for volume 2.