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Pele / Paris, Texas | The Nudes / Brazilliant! (Polyvinyl)
Sharing a label and one member, bassist Matt Tennessen, Pele and Paris, Texas have little else in common. The former trio take the instrumental route, all busy percussion and noodly Five Style guitar figures. The home-made ethic (from the living rooms and basements that doubled-up as studios to guitarist Chris Rosenau's recording, mixing and photographic skills) keeps Pele away from the trickery of the 24-track studio equivalent. Instead they rely on such archaic values as dextrous musicianship and, goddamit, heart to create the eight compositions that make up The Nudes. The non-processed textures of the free-flowing and funky rhythm section (Jon Mueller's agile percussion, Tennessen's flexible bass) and the bright ring of Rosenau's ever-morphing guitar wizardry mean that the album retains a live feel, but giving ample space to highlight the trio's individual strengths. And there's a wide-range of colours derived from the simple instrumentation too, the Sea and Cake undercurrent of Therapists, the jazzy piano/vibes urgency of Total Hut and infectious groove of closer Monkey Monkey Las Vegas all notable highlights. Labelmates Paris, Texas are playing to the kids. Feisty punk-pop with the ubiquitous Anglo influence - befitting a band who opened their very first show with The Psychedelic Furs' Pretty in Pink - this Madison quintet don't hold back on their current five-track mini, a taster of what's to come, I suspect, from their second album. Fourteen minutes of driving, pulsating, one-louder stylings, vocalist Scott Sherpe's delivery (part Chris Leo, part John Lydon) the focal point against a less-than-restrained backdrop of meshed guitars and cymbal-heavy percussion. There's a brief respite on Future Scars, when - for the opening thirty seconds - the rhythmic territory of Pele is rekindled, and closer 400.000 does hint at a more spacious pop sensibility but, clearly, Paris, Texas need to play it and say it loud.

Matt Dornan
CWAS #7 - Spring 2001