Brass Tax, I Am The Albatross, Hibris; Sky Bar, Saturday, Oct. 18 

Tucson two-piece Hibris, who to the best of my knowledge don't play live very often, offer an interesting premise: One electric guitar, looping in real time over itself into rhythms driving into each other at every angle like each car on a long train amplified, with explosive and syncopated drumming. But that sounds like every underground German rock 'n' roll band from the late '60s and early '70s. The unpredictable element that changes this is in the drumming—unlike Neu! or other Krautrock bands, its the guitar that's mostly static, while the beats evolve abnormally, from half-time diversions into stop-start bully-rock. Hibris played about three songs, none of which were distinguishable from each other. Which was beside the point—this band is sometimes textural and sometimes a battering ram, but not an exercise in the art of songcraft, but it seems that would've diluted its power had it been.

While I Am The Albatross, on tour from Austin, Texas, displayed elements of the "Heavy Americana" described on their Facebook page, and they were perfectly fine, if not extraordinary, playing their instruments and with each other, they were distressingly most reminiscent of that pseudo-groovy, pseudo-grungy, pseudo U2-y '90s sensation, Live. And to be fair, there is a perfectly acceptable chance that only I felt this way, because the bass solos weren't inspiring any booing from the audience.

After a brief detour down the block to Che's Lounge, where Justin Valdez y Los Guapos were performing, and showcasing their leader's ability to move on from punk to rockabilly to what Valdez currently calls "fiesta rock" over the course of his career--and it was impressive to see him hold on to the same spirit no matter what style he finds himself in—I walked back to Sky Bar where Brass Tax were tuning their marimba or something, should marimbas need to be tuned.

Like Hibris, Tucson's Brass Tax isn't really about songs. When the synth and marimba textures do reach a certain number of repetitions, it is obvious that jazz-metal will be kicking in imminently. But there is enough strangeness about Brass Tax that a surprise attack or non-linear song structures would take away the last bastion of accessibility the band has, which is the juxtaposition of bulldozer metal and space-age bachelor prog music. And while Brass Tax's tunes aren't ones you'll be whistling, they do put on quite a show.

More by Joshua Levine


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