Austin breeds the mysterious; we breathe in the uncanny; our city motto is ‘Keep Austin Weird.’ It goes without saying then that the city’s oddness has crept into the music scene. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, look toward Futon Blonde. Why, the very name of the band itself brings up a variety of questions. Is it referring to a blonde that owns futons or simply referencing a blonde on top of a futon? Maybe the futon itself is blonde. The answers to these absurd questions are not contained in Futon Blonde’s latest album Uppercut. However, it does contain eight tight, mellow-rhythmic rock tracks.
Futon Blonde could be a straight-up self indulgent jam band if they wanted. They’ve got the groove and the chemistry, but instead they take an indie bent to the music. The songs in Uppercut are swathed in a melancholy atmosphere. Even the quick hit “No One’s Going Home,” which clocks in at just under three minutes, carries a spooky, energetic feel. The music throughout Uppercut is chill but technical. There is a pervasive groove throughout all these tracks, simply because the band is so together. The instruments take up as much space as the lyrical and vocal content. A far cry for sure from what’s mostly being produced and hitting the top 40 these days.
It’s impossible to overstate the bass on Uppercut. Loud and driving, the minimal yet imaginative bass lines throughout the album really hold everything together. It works especially well on tracks like “Breathe Deep,” and “Let Ya Back,” which also showcase the band’s interplay of deft lyricism and intriguing legato flow. Singers Mark Webb and Janson Sommers spit lines that are at once sophomoric and sexy:
“Let’s not break a sweat, my little Percocet/You could live a life like a comedown cigarette/ Quite rightly you suggest that the real men come correct”
Even when Uppercut kicks it up a gear like on “Home in This,” it never gets loud. The pace picks up and the groove gets tight and fast, but there’s never a sharpness to the rock. At Futon Blonde’s most frenzied, they still keep a level head of chill. A technicality in the music keeps things on the rails. But a bit of gauziness does leak in here and there. “Is this real life? Am I stoned?” they muse on “Look Alive.” You can actually even see a theme throughout Uppercut about searching for the real or wondering what is real. Hey. I’ve been wondering about that stuff as well lately…
What better soundtrack to traverse this scorching summer with than the liminal, technically astute, haunting Uppercut? If you still can’t get enough of Futon Blonde through your speakers, breathe deep. You can check them out July 11th at Hotel Vegas.