By: Sarah Hagerman
This album is fuckin' murky, hip shakey and a little bit dirty, and I like it.
Topaz McGarrigle and his sax (among other instrumental) chops has returned to his Texas roots and his band Topaz & Mudphonic is assembled from veterans of some of Austin's finest, with Bobby Perkins (bass, Carolyn Wonderland), Alex Marrero (drums, lead singer of Ghandaia) and John Branch (guitar). Together they have cooked a down-home record, Music for Dorothy (released August 26 by MOWO Inc.), that will easily appeal to fans of Galactic, NMAS or even Robert Randolph, all possible entry points. But, this comes from the dangerous side, looting various stops on the border of Southern gothic rock and heavy NYC psycho funk, with untamed saxophone outbursts and Branch's soaring bottleneck guitar aftershocks.
Whiskey-induced evils and salvation's light figure as heavily in the lyrics as drinking a "six pack and a bottle of Jack" (in the summery party anthem "Euclid") and screwing ("Take Yer Clothes Off"). Amidst the bluesy harmonica and guitar shuffle of "Dirty Water," Topaz's muddied vocals intone, "Devil's got a hand on me/ Why won't you just let me be?" - someone's about to get what's coming to them, in the Al Swearengen sense of the word. Contrast this to the pastoral tranquility of the slinky ode to Dripping Springs, Texas, "Twin Oaks," where a childhood on a farm meant, "Times were tough/ But they sure felt good to me." The album was recorded in a barn on the Colorado River over the period of a month and that rural idealism is joyfully injected throughout. It is so lovingly crafted here that it makes me want to bust out of my cubicle, grab a sixer and go fishing. And I don't eat fish.
Not every number reflects that tight songwriting, but these looser tracks – particularly "Fly w/ Me" and "Yonder Funk" - seem built rough and ready for their enormous potential to explode into a living frenzy. Meanwhile, the last track, "Brothers," consists of cicadas, frogs and a lonely slide guitar in a nerve-soothing comedown. A meaty debut from a sweet sounding outfit that's already been smoking ‘em out on the dance floor. Load up and ride.
JamBase | Southern Part of Texas
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