The Strange Attractors

By Ken Shimamoto

Looking at the lineup for The Strange Attractors, an Austin-based outfit including three Fort Worth expats, whose just-released debut CD arrived in my mailbox this afternoon, you might think it was 2002 all over again. Or at least, that you were looking at the nevah-happened sophomore CD by late, lamented Denton-via-Como glam-punks Dead Sexy (whose And Now You Know… disc still gets a fair amount of time under the laser at mi casa). Frontman Kevin Pearce is on board, following stints in the Sunday Drunks and the Hot Rails, as is bassist and onstage visual fulcrum Jen Tran, whose jettisoning the rawk life for more domestic pursuits spelled the beginning of the end for Dead Sexy, although no one realized it at the time.

Guitarist Jeremy Diaz, the artist formerly known as Jesus De La Cruz, is on hand as well. Myself, I always thought he was underutilized in A Capital Affair (just a silly band, if you wanna know the truth) and This Damn Town (too rootsy, although still worthy on their own terms). Yes, I do get a shout-out on the slick; I sold Mr. Diaz my last guitar and amp (Epiphone Les Paul Jr. clone and reissue Twin Reverb) a few years back, although he’s long since played ‘em into the ground. I’ve always considered him one of the three now-30something Fort Worth dudes with the best knowledge and understanding of ‘60s/’70s rawk musics (the other two being The Great Tyrant’s Jon Teague and Blood of the Sun’s Richard Hurley).

Drummer Trey Robles completes the quartet and he’s a worthy four-on-the-floor basher (replaced since these recordings by Baldomero Valdez).

While the Strange Attractors share Dead Sexy’s concern with rawk fundamentals (i.e., big beat and loud electric guitars), what’s been toned down here is the earlier band’s pop sense (although “Revolutionary Suicide” could pass for an acidulated cousin to the aforementioned band’s Bolanesque “Dead Sexy Girl”), in favor of a penchant for messy garage psychedelia that’s more like hallucinations from a bad strychnine or belladonna trip than groovy mellow San Fran hipi acid vibes (the song title “Dark Star Serenade” notwithstanding). Drones, feedback, distortion, and wall-of-noise rifferama predominate; Kevin Pearce stands up and shouts away into the maw of this electric tsunami, his voice smothered under clouds of reverb.

The fuzzed-out guitar damage on “Under the Gun” recalls what the late Michael Knust was laying down with classic ‘60s Houston psychsters Fever Tree. “Top of the World” takes its pulse from a crunchy tremelo-laden guitar in much the same way as the Velvet Underground’s original live approach to Loaded’s “Oh Sweet Nuthin’” did. “Chakra Behemoth” gets my early vote for song title of the year and lumbers along like Godzilla soundtrack music recast as arena rock, with dueling wah-wah guitars conjuring up the shade of Eddie Hazel from the very first Funkadelic album. Pick to click at my house: the closing rave-up “Day of Illumination.” All in all, a must for spacey late-night listening; fans of “Sister Ray”-era Velvets, early Stooges, My Bloody Valentine and the Jesus and Mary Chain will dig this murk muchly.

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