Slo-mo psych squad Indian Jewelry are reppin’ H-town hard.
POSTER SHOW III featuring INDIAN JEWELRY and AIDS WOLF at Whippersnapper Gallery (587A College), Saturday (September 13), 6 pm doors. $10. 416-887-7483.
Distorted, droning and dead slow, the deranged sonic steez of Indian Jewelry is the complete antithesis of the bouncy bah-baddah-dahing that currently makes the indie rock world go round. It should come as no surprise that the group's recent Free Gold! (We Are Free) disc, the wilfully oblique follow-up to 2006's enjoyably bent Invasive Exotics (Monitor), has been greeted with a resounding chorus of "What the frig?" from online music authorities in basement rec rooms all over the northeastern States.
Certainly, the members of Indian Jewelry must've realized the sort of critical backlash they could be facing for refusing to add the requisite glockenspiel and ukulele embellishments to their recording. But to their credit, they've kept on following their own crooked path, whether or not anyone from outside of their Houston home base was feelin' their twisted take on slow jams.
"We wanted to make a more expressive and all-inclusive record," explains guitarist Tex Kerschen, "something that could incorporate a lot of the music we wrote but left behind in favour of more demanding pieces.
"In a sense, Free Gold! might be considered a collection of our more conventional songs, or maybe I should say songs with more conventional elements. In the past we were pretty merciless about culling any piece that had an obvious folk origin or even anything with definitive changes. This time we just left things hanging out, although most people probably think we were having a band competition to see who could write the slowest songs."
Where Indian Jewelry are coming from will make a lot more sense if you know something about music trends in Texas. For decades, H-Town has been all about the downtempo sound, from the first blue notes picked by Sam "Lightnin'" Hopkins and the beatific folk poetry of Townes Van Zandt right on through to the chopped 'n' screwed bump popularized by the late hip-hop producer Robert Earl Davis Jr., aka DJ Screw. Indian Jewelry are just carrying on the long-standing Houston musical tradition of taking it easy.
"Yeah, I can see that," concurs singer/keyboardist Erika Thrasher. "DJ Screw, with his idea of ‘Let's slow it down a little bit,' was definitely an influence - really, that whole slowed- down atmospheric and distorted sound that he pioneered.
"We all have a lot of love for our hometown hero, DJ Screw," continues Kerschen. "The other part is that I've been listening to the music of Willie Nelson and Leonard Cohen for most of my life. Those were the records my parents played when I was a child, and I find myself being drawn to that music more and more. And you know neither one of those guys is in a hurry."
Selling vinyl singles at shows has proven to be a great hedge against rising gas prices for Indian Jewelry according to keyboardist Erika Thrasher.
Evidently the members of Indian Jewelry have enough unreleased material stock piled to crank out singles for years to come.