In a city awash in talent of every conceivable stripe, the brandishing of a good vocal hook or using the voice as an instrument is surprisingly as rare as finding a spot in central Austin that won’t leave you with an empty stomach and an even emptier wallet.
Then again, I’ve only been here a year. I won’t pretend to have a definitive understanding of the landscape’s music offerings except to say that they are vast and that we can only hope that for the scene’s sake that the city’s Red River region is spared the blight of tapas bars and the irritable vowel syndrome of trendy restaurants gripping Austin as gentrification continues to march through the capitol.
Where was I?
Back to the talent: fronting a tight five-piece that goes by the songwriter’s last name, Mike Booher is compelling in heartfelt authority minus the conspicuous heartache. When I first caught the band as part of a Fun Fun Fun Fest night concert, my first impression was Springsteen. Given the lack of references to unions or automobiles that comparison doesn’t hold up under repeat listens, although the uncontrived honesty and at times infectious song currents does.
The song “Autographed Bibles” is a wonderful exercise in using the voice as an instrument, planting hooks that recall a Dinosaur Jr. or Pavement while tapping an earnestness that splits the difference between Paul Westerberg (on a good day) and the gravelly declarative qualities of your favorite 1993 or earlier U2 album.
Currently putting the finishing touches on an album produced by Mike McCarthy (Spoon, And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, Patty Griffin, Heartless Bastards), this is a band that can lay claim to a couple of the best songs in Austin and is well worth your time.
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