SLEEP AND YOU WILL SEE – The Strange Attractors (Past/Futures Records)
Coed, multiracial Austin-based quintet The Strange Attractors are really the reincarnation of Dead Sexy, whose Detroit-infused take on glammy punk germinated in sleepy Fort Worth around the dawn of the millennium. That band fizzled out after the departure of bassist and primary onstage visual vector Jen Tran, but they regrouped in 2006 in the more conducive environs of America’s Live Music Capital ®. “It’s really the same band,” said guitarist-synthesist-singer Kevin Pearce, “with a different drummer and one more girl” (that’d be Penny Gonzalez on synth). “The way the songs are written is even the same.” Their self-titled debut disc was a morass of murky garage-psych that I dug real much, but this sophomore outing, released on “haze colored” vinyl and high definition MP3 (demonstrating, I think, a pretty astute understanding of the way folks consume music nowadays), represents a quantum leap on the recording front.

My band recently shared a Fort Worth date with the Attractors as they began a whirlwind assault on the Midwest and East Coast. Live, their sound is a lot more straightforward, without the ocean of reverb and F/X they use to cloak it on record. Pearce and his longtime partner in crime Jeremy Diaz split the guitar and vocal duties, with Diaz the most animated band member onstage. While Jen Tran has toned down her stage trip a bit since Dead Sexy daze, she’s still a strong and striking presence, and drummer Eric McFrazier’s a propulsive power puncher who never lets his impulses get in the way of the song. The Attractors play solid riffs and hammer them home with the abandon of true believers. Medium tempos predominate – this band’s natch’l pulse falls midway between the gallop of punk and the crawl of stoner sludge. Diaz’s Ashetonesque fuzz-wah rides are the icing on the cake.

Sleep and You Will See is an ethereal, head-spinning experience. Interspersed between the songs are four tracks of Krautrock-inspahrd atmospheric drone and noise. (Sample titles: “Bong of Cthulu” and “The Beast Most Evil”; you get the idea.) Pierce takes six songwriting credits, Diaz three. An inspection of the lyric sheet -- available only with the digital version, but the vinyl LP comes with a download card – reveals the writers’ respective concerns with matters existential and introspective, but if you’re like me, you’ll appreciate this record most as a pure sonic bath.

Of Pearce’s offerings, “Between the Lines” is a mutant garage pounder with lysergic guitar licks that recall San Fran legend John Cippolina, while his “Déjà Vu” overlays acrid slide guitar over a tribal beat borrowed from the Hoodoo Gurus’ “Leilani.” “Endgame” is a waltz for a bulldozer, interspersed with scorching solos. The Diaz-penned title track is a lumbering arena-rock behemoth, while his “Headfull of Devils” and “Skincrawl” feature the Attractors at their most Jesus and Mary Chain shoegazy.

With this album, the Strange Attractors approach the exalted level of modern day psychsters like Boris and Dungen (with whom they’ll share an Austin bill later this summer), and support Thurston Moore’s assertion that “the best pure bands” are in Texas. Cop via pastfuturesrecords.com. - Ken Shimamoto

 

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