DJ Car Stereo (Wars)
‘Explains It All'
Chris Rose, known better as DJ Car Stereo (Wars), blankets the art of sophomore album "Explain It All" — to say nothing of the Clarissa-dropping title — with references to early '90s Nickelodeon, and appropriately so. The mashup maven crafts music for the attention-deficit disorder generation, assembling a 35-minute Frankenstein's monster of an album composed entirely of samples from decades of pop music, where track breaks are arbitrary and raps from "Who Is Mike Jones?" rest comfortably alongside the iconic guitar riff from the Toadies' "Tyler" and the foot stomps from Queen's "We Will Rock You."
You can't judge music like that by any conventional rubric. But by slice-and-dice standards "Explain It All" is a runaway success, evidencing that Rose might have finally eclipsed his contemporary — and genre pioneer — Girl Talk. "Explains It All" loads its 10 tracks with an astonishing density of samples, keeping its flow cohesive even as it wanders down unexpected back roads, like throwing Mya's sexualized vocals against keyboards from Vampire Weekend. Its utility as a party record — put it on and watch your kegger catch fire, undergraduates of Austin — can't be overstated. But just as importantly, it acts as a passionate love letter to popular music likely to trigger at least a few dozen nostalgic remembrances.
"Explains It All" can be downloaded for free at www.artifactworkshop.com.
— Patrick Caldwell
‘Songs For Staying In'
From soaring sing-along powerpop opener "How Do You Do It" to infatuated love ballad "The Biblical Sense of the Word," Quiet Company's "Songs For Staying In" might just be the most adorable EP about knocking boots ever recorded. "We'll be slightly pornographic but life is always better when you're fairly obscene," croons velvet-voiced frontman Taylor Muse on "Things You Already Know," a shining pop gem that piles on the horns, flute and kazoo in its densely layered paean to lifelong love.
But that unwavering focus on sex doesn't mean "Songs For Staying In" is juvenile. Instead, with insight and some sweetness, it trains its lyrical eye on the unique joys of adult sexuality and romance — despite cheeky titles like "Jezebel or A Song About My Friend and That Whore He Dated," a build-and-release anthem, which evidences substantially more maturity than its (admittedly awesome) title would suggest. That lyrical maturity is matched by the EP's expansive sound and mastery of the climax — from first to last track, Quiet Company ably demonstrate that the only thing bigger than their hearts is their sound.
Quiet Company is scheduled to play July 30 at the Parish.
‘Listen for the Clues'
Drew Patrizi penned the single best song Austin quartet What Made Milwaukee Famous ever played — the snappy melodic pop nugget "Selling Yourself Short," the highlight off buoyant debut album "Trying Never to Catch Up." So it's no surprise that this solo debut from Patrizi — now migrated to Brooklyn, like all the cool kids — chugs along with impressive energy and variety. Opener "Loose Lips," with its fetching dose of brass and hummable refrain, sounds like a continuation of What Made Milwaukee Famous at their most affecting. That holds just as true for the record's other rock-derived outings, including the powerpop barrage of "Won't Come Back" and "Fools Parade."
But Patrizi's also in full-on sonic experimentation mode on "Listen for the Clues," making time for cascading synths on "Acolyte" and "Greenbelt," slipping into piano balladry on closer "Forest Fire" and toying with heavy reverb on the spaced-out "Silent Film." And he pulls it off thanks to an impressive array of local luminaries — from engineers Erik Wofford and Danny Reisch to players from Voxtrot, the Lemurs and the Polyphonic Spree. At 53 minutes, "Listen for the Clues" wanders just a bit too much, but the worst you can accuse Patrizi of is overambition — and even then, only barely.
‘We Are One'
Austinites, if you weren't already, consider yourselves informed: Wendy Colonna has a serious set of pipes. During the course of three albums, the hometown singer has built a solid reputation with her sultry vocals, and her fourth release, "We Are One," fits nicely with her repertoire of '70s-inspired funk and soul. The blasting horns and bluesy organs throughout the album make it perfect for sweltering summer days — the kind of music best enjoyed at an outdoor venue with a cold, condensation-covered beer in hand.
But "We Are One" isn't entirely routine. From the slow-burning homesick blues of "Louisiana" to the gypsy jazz of "The One that You've Been Waiting For," Colonna masterfully blends a colorful variety of genres while staying true to her Cajun roots. Still, the most refreshing part of the album might be the wise, uplifting lyricism sprinkled throughout. "Rain to river/Sweat and steam of your body/Ocean to rain and then back again/We are one," the singer proclaims on the title track.
— Alex Daniel
‘Away We Go'
"Away We Go," the debut full-length album from Austin rockers Superlitebike, opens on a rambling note with "That's a Lot of Adhesive," a sprawling, spacey number that begins with a thumping drum and is accented with jazzy tempo changes and stoner lyrics such as "it's time to let go and just be." It continues on in a similar manner on "Raise the Colors," where a funky groove gives way to a tight, spooky conclusion. Lead singer/guitarist Patrick Husband displays a vocal versatility to match the band's mercurial nature, belting out Thom York-ish wails at one moment only to switch gears to a choppier, almost punk style the next. Highlights include "Home," where the rest of the band joins Husband in a playful stutter that recalls the Talking Heads.