The Barkers

Burn Your Piano

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These people are lyrically clever with musical and art references. You're not even out of the second song yet, and they've slyly worked in nods to Peggy Lee's "Hey Big Spender," Roy Orbison's "Only the Lonely," the indie band Cropduster, and the 15th century Italian painter Sandro Botticelli. The humor matches the awareness: The Austin four turn the country-rock song "Brother" into a veiled sendup of Southern rednecks, their satiric tongues so high in their cheek, the reference to "queer bashing" is not-so-latent sneering. The music ranges from bar-band rock to folk, to oom-pah, to alt-country, to seductive piano-only, post-Judy Collins/Joni Mitchell stuff. ("October Trains" in this style is the best thing here; singer Alice Spencer should do more of these solo turns. It's the most original and heartfelt, though she does a good Loretta Lynn on the preponderance of countryish turns.) It's a lot of tinkering in commercial forms past, no longer in fashion, but like, say, los Lobos, it's never too sappy. The wit is what one appreciates. Typical love-song lyric: "You state it like natural law, like gravity/You sit beneath that tree holding the apple out to me." Woah, Isaac Newton too? (c/o Will Walden, 709 Rio Grande Ave., Austin, TX 78701;