Revisiting Deep Time – Band to Appear at Bill Ball 2 (10.8)

deepThis Saturday is Bill Ball 2…and while that’s important in and of itself, I think it’s high time someone devoted the proper attention to Deep Time‘s 2012 self-titled album on Hardly Art. I mean, the band is playing this weekend, and they’ll likely play a good amount of these songs there…which is all the more reason for you to attend.

I’ll throw in a little bit of my history with the album, as well as a track by track discussion of each tune! I’m making a declarative statement in saying this is the best album to come out of Austin in the last decade.

I’ve been generically covering the Austin music scene for over a decade, but I’ve also been witnessing the comings and goings for over two decades, so I feel that I’m fairly justified to call Deep Time the best record to come out of Austin in the last decade. I’ve ridden the pine for years, watching as we clamored to this band or that, this genre or that one, but the one thing that’s stayed with me is the entirety of this record. From start to finish, there’s not a single bad song on here, and the fact that there’s still a few vinyl copies left out there baffles me to this day. If you agree with my sentiment, or are remotely curious, be sure to grab a copy from Hardly Art.

I went back and looked at our Austin Albums of the Year in 2012, and I had this as the Number 3 record that year, just being beaten out by Literature and Letting Up Despite Great Faults. Now, I love both of those records, but looking at my listening (the perks of iTunes am I right?), it seems I’ve clearly played these tracks at least 200 times more than any of the previously mentioned tracks. So I’m moving Literature down a spot, and putting Deep Time in my #1 slot for the Austin Arbitrary Top Ten of 2012…in case that still matters.

Track 1 – Bermuda Triangle – An angular riff chugs in here, a bubbling bass working just beneath. It was here I first truly fell in love with Jennifer Moore’s voice. Just listen to the way she rolls her voice along with the bass and drum work. Move forward to the chorus with Adam filling in some cymbal work as the guitar’s ring…accented by Moore’s “ooh ooh ooh.” It’s an opening statement that you can’t look turn away from, emphatically leaving you with the band’s creative intentions.

Track 2 – Sgt. Sierra – Not a band to stick in one place, even within a song, the group starts here with a little bit of keyboard/synth and minimal bit of percussion. Jennifer’s entrance here takes on a deeper tone, but I think you’d be surprised at how well she can carry a note; each keyboard/bell note accents each note she hits too. I like the little vocal turn at the 1.21 mark, but the exceptional piece in this minimal performance comes in the vocal play that begins around the 2.10 minute mark, lasting just about 30 seconds of perfect playfulness before settling back into the groove to close the song.

Track 3 – Coleman – If you haven’t listened to this track, you’re missing one of the great Austin hits…if such a thing exists. Electronics squawk atop the rhythmic pacing, Moore hits her notes in poetic fashion. Her vocal twist and croon before the 1 minute mark is spot on, and probably one of my favorite mini clips from the record. Cue the upbeat “eh eh eh eh” at the 1.10 minute mark, cementing the band’s appeal by mixing up pace and melody within the confines of a singular tune. There’s almost a Doors-ian bounce to the plodding keyboard that matches Moore’s voice near the end. And…the video looks like they’re having a blast, only making them more endearing.

Track 4 – Clouds – When I first played this record back in the day, “Clouds” set off a three track run of infectious pop music that was undeniable. I love the way the vocals work atop each other, almost crashinginto each other, much as the band does throughout each track. I like the way the song picks up pace, seemingly, pushing forward a touch more quickly, then reverting back with a quick little bass bump. Even now, I get the chills just knowing that greatness awaits in the songs that follow.

Track 5 – Homebody – “I’m leaving home, and I want you to no—-tice.” It was here where I really focused on the band’s word play…turning I want you to “know” into “notice.” But, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the momentary chorus of “who cares if you never go home” is possibly my favorite bit of music, period. I love the tone, and its quick switch into another area with “king kong.” Perhaps in seclusion it’s all nonsensical, but in the scheme of the song it’s special poetry. I suppose if you needed a statement song, this would be my pick…perfect in every single way.

Track 6 – Gilligan – After “Homebody,” I always come back to this track. Listening today, it amazes me how much I’ve overlooked Jennifer’s vocal performance. This isn’t to say I haven’t always loved it, but it almost served as an added instrument in the way she delivers each note. Here, however, she’s all over the map, as far as pitch and tone go; I mean that as a compliment…she can seemingly hit any note. And I mean, is she singing “too late too late too late?” I’m still not entirely sure without looking at lyrics, and I like the ambiguous little side of the duo that shines through.

Track 7 – Gold Rush – When this came out as a video, I thought it was a surprising choice. It’s driven much more by the electronic pulsation than some of the album’s earlier guitar driven tunes…or so you’d think. There’s some careful riffs lurking in there, but I think this is one of the numbers where I actually thought Adam was able to steal the show; it sounds so simple so often, yet you’ve got to listen to the precision and restraint he employs…not to mention the quick time changes.

Track 8 – Marathon – During my first review of this album long ago, I think I probably dismissed this track. It’s not that it was bad, but it was the one song, up until this point in the album that lacked that natural energy. Now I look at it as a celebration of everything Deep Time, especially their musicianship. There’s some great studio work in here, featuring backing vocals, whether or not they’re Moore just being looped atop. But, it also has that slight hint of Texas, both in its lyrical manner and the style of the guitar that you’ve got hear. There’s also this crazy bit of R&B inflection coming through in the album’s latter half: I think this is the sort of song that made Dirty Projectors jealous at the time…and today for that matter.

Track 9 – Horse – Closing the album out is one of the longest tunes, but also one where I think the band’s at their best. Moore jumps in and out with her vocals, there’s a slight chug to the guitar, muted carefully, leaving space for the vocals to roll in, with a rapidly spoken word. I love the rattle of the bass, before Jennifer sing-chants. Surely the title comes from the similarities, in bits, where the song almost has a galloping sensation; it might even be said to have this dynamic post-punk attitude and flare too. They jam it out till the end; it’s a lasting impression deserved listeners will be rewarded with as they make their way though the album’s entirety.

A few years on, and I think it’s possible I’m in love with the group more now than I was then. There’s probably not a month that goes by where I don’t think to myself, “I should listen to Deep Time today.” The last year has seen the band playing out a bit more, which makes me thirst for more tunes. But, that being said, I’d almost respect them more if they just walked away (recording wise) and left us with what I think might be one of the quintessential pieces of Austin music.

Sure, you’re doubting me. You’re thinking of all the great records you’ve listened to throughout the last few years…and you can come to only one conclusion; I’m right, for once. I can’t think of a record that employs elements of punk, indie rock, art rock and pop, then combines it with such style and flare…still making you think what the fuck was that…and then pressing play all over again. It’s weird enough for Austin, but accessible enough to make you love it.

Now…not convinced? Catch the band playing Bill Ball 2 this Saturday night over at the Sidewinder.

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