For a good solid indie rock album, one mustn’t look much further than Austin, Texas. In addition to being the home of one of the biggest rock festivals in the world, the city is an ever-growing petri dish of great rock bands. You probably can’t go ten feet in the city without running into a musician. Sure, Portland, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and New York all offer similar potential for high volume rock personas in any given locale, but with Austin, it’s almost a guarantee that any musician you run into is in a really good band. From psych-rockers like Black Angels, doom metallers like The Sword, gloomsters like I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness to longtime favorites such as Spoon, Okkervil River and And You W ill Know Us by the Trail of Dead, it’s a never-ending list of great acts. And with the recent introduction of new favorites such as Voxtrot and Sound Team, the latter who just released their third full-length Movie Monster, that list just keeps on growing.
Movie Monster, Sound Team’s first major label outing, finds them treading more solid indie rock territory than their previous DIY efforts, all of which varied from psych-pop to near alt-country sounds. With a new label, and one would assume a handsome advance, Sound Team cleans up their sound, yet avoid the dangerous trap of overdoing the polish, which some bands can’t avoid when presented with the green pastures of major label-dom. While Movie Monster may not necessarily be revisiting the sound of their prior, self-released records, it’s arguably the album that would have been made, regardless of label involvement. From brief, jangly opener “Get Out” to the dark, post-punk tones of “Born to Please” and the subdued, hypnotic title track, Movie Monster is an album of varying shades and hues, cohesion occurring strictly by the band’s refusal to remain stagnant.
With newfound potential for exposure, the band, of course, needs a couple of good singles. There’s a pretty good sampling here for those in need of a catchy chorus, and if they don’t become singles in the long run, it’d be a damn shame. “No More Birthdays”
is such a song, built on a bouncy rhythm and warm organ chords, and mentions “Kafka on the shore,” while “Back in Town” maintains a similar rhythm, yet earns a few more catchiness points for its familiar-sounding yet unique, instrumental chorus. And as frontman Matt Oliver sings “You don’t need to look for trouble/Trouble will find its way to you,” you can almost hear it being played on The OC.
As with most of their Austin contemporaries, Sound Team have successfully recorded a solid, minimal frills indie rock record, even at times sounding like Spoon or I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness. And really, that’s all I want it to be. With so much emphasis on genre mashing and genre avoidance, it’s nice, now and then, just to listen to a good, moody rock record. And I anticipate I will be doing just that with this record for some time.
Spoon – Girls Can Tell
Interpol – Turn on the Bright Lights
French Kicks – One Time Bells
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.