Infernal Bridegroom Productions
Songs From the Meat/BAR
Anyone who wants to be an intelligent contributor to an artistic community has got to know where things stand and how they got there. For someone who lives in a glamour capital, that's no big deal, because what you want to know is written into the history of pop culture. But here in Houston, the history of the town is an open secret, especially in the music world. Because musicians in Houston are usually hobbyists or underachievers, they often fail to make records at all. And because we receive basically no attention from anyone -- although sometimes it seems that's starting to change -- what music is recorded becomes extremely difficult to locate after a few years. And so, to an extent, each generation of musicians reinvents the Houston sound.
For these reasons, projects like the Infernal Bridegroom Productions' soundtrack to Jason Nodler's play Songs From the Meat/BAR are valuable. For people like me, late arrivals to the scene, they provide an explanation. Though I've heard the names, I've never seen de Schmog, Middlefinger, JW Americana, or Sprawl, and Meat/BAR gives me the opportunity to understand what these bands were about...
...in theory. In practice, I find that each song has been radically rearranged by Infernal Bridegroom Productions' cast of musicians. The result, I think, is a largely original work that is probably more of a nostalgia trip for the people who loved these bands to begin with. That isn't a bad thing -- it's probably what IBP was aiming for anyway -- but it means that its quality as a time capsule is a bit diminished.
This is a sweet album. It's easy to see that there are a lot of good memories that these people have for their time with this music. But as someone who wasn't there to begin with, it doesn't speak to me as much as I'd like. Yes, the Seximals' "eventually: no tsu oh" is quite pretty, and Carolyn Wonderland's "No Really, I Can Drive" is quite amusing. And Anthony Barilla's "You Got It Good" surely touches Nodler. But is the processed dub of "Dog Rape" what Middlefinger was all about? Is the noodly jam "Infantile Beggar/Big Ass Jewel" really a Sprawl song? I know it's not. It's only good for what it is, though that's a valuable thing: an adventurous but grown-up re-imagining of a youthful art form, a sort of urban folk music. (DM)
(Infernal Bridegroom Productions -- P.O. Box 131004, Houston, TX. 77219-1004; http://www.infernalbridegroom.com/)
I love metal, but I am extremely finicky about it. It's a genre where most new groups end up sounding like their predecessors and the band members are often not concerned with good musicianship, but rather being on stage and kicking everyone's ass. It is often depicted as being a "juvenile" form of music. Good metal has all the aspects of other types of music -- talented players, depth of both music and lyrics, and the ability to evoke an emotional response from the listener. "Eh" metal lacks in one or more of these core areas and, in my opinion, is the basis for the juvenile stereotype.
With Irene's Demo 2003, more often than not, I thought I was hearing Limp Bizkit's latest offering of hip-hop mixed with metal mish-mash. Ugh. If there's one thing I wish I had never heard, it's Fred Durst faux-rapping over loud guitar and drums that can't seem to keep a steady beat. Unfortunately, Irene sounds very much like Limp Bizkit, which is neither original nor particularly attractive. Now, I don't like comparisons to other bodies of work (i.e., "if you like Tomb Raider...") because they usually aren't true ("...you'll love Dora the Explorer!"). In this case, however, I think the comparison is warranted.
It's always a shame to see a band try for originality but end up sounding exactly like something else. That's the feeling I got from Irene. I like the name of the band, at least, but as for the music, there's an underlying feeling that they really, honestly strived for uniqueness, and after all the lyrics were written and arrangements finalized, sadly, they ended up a clone. As I listened, I didn't feel any sort of emotion. It was just there. It's like they tried too hard, and they lost the connection in the end.
If this is all there is to Irene, I'm sad to say that I'm unimpressed. The band seems to have good fuel for their fire (their dead grandmother, who is the namesake of the band), but they need to figure out how to channel that fire into something more moving, more unique, more layered. (CM)
(self-released; Irene -- "irenemusic" at "mail dot com")