Verse of Truth Trash and Beauty
Sometime in the 1990s, the semi-sleazy cable channel, USA Network, got into the business of producing made-for-TV movies (sort of anti-After-School-Specials) starring some of the legendary teen TV stars of the day. But in 1997, USA created a true gem with Friends ’Til the End, starring 90210 “party-bitch” Shannen Doherty.
She was actually the good girl this time around, playing in a college rock band à la Mazzy Star and the Cranberries. Unfortunately for Doherty’s character, a childhood friend became obsessed with her singing and people started dying as the psycho vied for her spot on the stage.
Disregarding the violent plot twist, San Antonio’s own Ledaswan could have scored that small-screen sucker itself. On the group’s new seven-song EP, Verse of Truth Trash and Beauty, singer Erica Gutierrez, bassist Amanda Flores, drummer Delrick Colwell and brothers/guitarists Jaime and David Monzon induce the TV movie’s same sentiments of heartbreak, frustration, and missed chances. (Full disclosure: Jaime is the Current’s web coordinator.)
The songs are slow and swaying and they’re meant to be. The opener “U vs The City” is a possible ode to SA: “Everyday is not the same in the city (Everyday is the same).” While the song is beautiful in its brevity, tracks such as “Closure” and “The Art of Goodbye” meander off too far with one another. But the rock breaks the monotony as delivered on The Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Head On.” The song is probably best remembered as an iconic Pixies cover, but Ledaswan creates its own imaginative version with female harmonies and interesting TJMC radio feeds.
A comparison between anyone’s voice and Doherty’s should be taken with a grain of salt, but the Mazzy Star connection is apropos for Gutierrez, especially on the suicide-laden “.357.” Flores’s backup vocals bring some balance to Erica’s sharper voice while the Monzon brothers lay the guitar layers down thicker than a soupy fog.
With a lineup and collective personality eerily similar to Fleetwood Mac on Quaaludes, Ledaswan should only get better as it ventures on to the wider scope of a full-length album. And to the people at USA, Verse of Truth Trash and Beauty is a much better title than Friends ’Til the End.
— Ryan Markmann
I Want to Wake Up
A Kid Named Thompson
Nearly three years ago, San Antonio’s A Kid Named Thompson faced the most daunting kind of band challenge. With high-school graduation depleting their forces, they were left with nothing more than founding drummer Jon Harter, their oddball name, and a pop-punk manifesto.
Harter rebuilt the band with little brother Joshua on bass and lead vocals, and Marc Molina on guitar. The results, as heard on the sharply produced I Want to Wake Up, are direct, energetic, and unpretentious, if only sporadically inspired.
Part of the problem is the band’s chosen style. Pop-punk, as a rule, can be quick to annoy because it tries to have its demographic cake and eat it too. Inevitably featuring callow, reedy-voiced singers who spout embarrassing, lovelorn sentiments, it tries to innoculate itself against its own thematic sappiness by playing fast and loud. The obvious message: We’re sensitive, but we rock - but don’t forget we’re sensitive.
A Kid Named Thompson falls into this pit with “The Night I Learned to Dance,” with the innocent desperation of its lyrics (“I’d give anything to have one shot/to have this dance”) not quite squaring with its fierce musical drive.
The band achieves its best results when it calls an audible and veers away from its predictable playbook. The ringing guitar break in the middle of “For Now,” the dance-rock underpinnings of “It’s Just Way Too Artsy,” and, best of all, the slow burn of the title song, suggest a lineup still in the process of defining itself. And that’s a good thing.
— Gilbert Garcia