Paris, Texas

So, You Think It's Hot Here?

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"Cadillac of High Hair," the first song on So, You Think It's Hot Here?, starts so abruptly that it seems the engineer was a bit tardy hitting the "record" button on the 24-track machine. Then again, maybe it was Paris Texas' way of infusing a little punk-inspired slop into the proceedings. Regardless, the Wisconsin quintet's first album is an intriguingly messy bit of pop/rock, with strong inclinations toward the indie-rock aesthetic of jangly guitars, pulsating basslines, and drums pounded senseless. There really is a strong element of punk on the album, particularly in the way Matt Mangan and Mick Zinkgraf approach their guitars, which is, to say, aggressively. Their alternately glassy and tinny guitar riffs are new-wave thin, and there is plenty of pent-up attitude in Scott Sherpe's singing, if not in the subject matter of the band's songs. The songs, however, are not punk, and neither really is the band's sound. They spray angular shrapnel everywhere and play their songs into a cacophonous storm, but there is distinct evidence of downtown no-wave and post-rock influences. Instead of settling on three chords, Paris Texas craft warped, open-tuned chords that fall on the melancholy side of the line. And although Sherpe doesn't sound like Lou Reed, his strained vocals slow to almost speak-singing on occasion, particularly on the ballads. Though those comparisons are obviously stretches, the remnants of those styles remain, and that, perhaps, undoes the album as a whole. So, You Think It's Hot Here? is decidedly song-based and accessible, and Paris Texas is far more indie rock than theoretical rock. Yet the music never quite goes pop, and, as such, it remains disappointingly one-note through the length of the album.

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