Austin, TX? I've never visited the city, but that doesn't mean I can't make assumptions about the place. For the friends I may or may not have from the Lone Star State, please take any generalizations with a sip of Shiner Bock and a forkful of juicy steak. If my perceptions on the quirky college town were 100% truthful, I'd be on the next Amtrak departing from the Bad Newz terminal. Off the train, here's what I noticed during my imagined trip. Barbecue beef brisket is consumed for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. Every person you meet is in a band of some merit. The ratio of record stores to Walgreens locations is 15:1. All street signs are adorned with "Keep Austin Weird" bumper stickers. Every person you meet has taken a ride in one of Billy Gibbons' classic cars. There's a taping of "Austin City Limits" around the clock. Every person you meet has experienced one of Daniel Johnston's freakouts in the flesh. Police officers here are much friendlier than in other parts of the state. Every person you meet claims to have attended every SXSW Festival and whines about it being cooler when there was less hype. More than twenty must-see shows happen nightly. Girls wearing long dresses and multiple bracelets exclaim, "I bet you're wondering how someone can be a vegan in a state where beef is what's for dinner!" Every person you meet has a story about eating dinner at Roky Erickson's house and taking bong hits with him afterwards.
Dreams and glass pipes extinguished, The Ugly Beats REALLY are a prime cut of contemporary garage rock 'n' roll from the same butcher's rack as earlier Get Hip beef slabs like The Cynics, Sons Of Hercules, Stump Wizards, Steel Miners on down. A suit holding a snifter might accuse the menu that's the liner notes of being self-serving, but those who lament the closing of The Grate Steak in Nawfuck wish they could still cook their own meat. With dry rubs from the early Beatles, Byrds and a host of seasonings found on the Nuggets box set, TUB are a well-done hunk of heifer that's grilled to my satisfaction. "Through You" and "Bee Line" sear like the Lyres' Mono Mann at his most manic, courtesy of the uptempo, organ-driven beats and howling vocals. "Don't Go" tenderizes a la the Fab Four's "Love Me Do" with the same plea for affection, but the sweet intones of a female accompanist hasten the USDA stamp of approval. "All Comes Back" simmers in the jangle that Peter Buck borrowed from Roger McGuinn, while the voice liberally blends in the unique style of another REM member. "You'll Forget" is a regional take on an old Neil Diamond B-side recipe, and the heavier approach raises the temperature just a tad. "Funny Girl" brings Babs to mind in a titular sense, but her Noo Yawk ass ain't anywhere near the kitchen. Someone should check to see if Linda Ronstadt is back there. She's one hot pepper, and if there's one thing that Texas loves...
Oh, all taxi cabs in Austin are Cadillac Eldorado convertibles with "Hook 'em, Horns!" hood ornaments.