Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Texas Microphone Massacre

Nowadays, the current thought is that social media is the must-have instrument of choice for "getting the word out".  It replaces the persistent sore of marketing, is cheaper, and also works as the play-field leveller between the Rolling Stones' and the Jonathon Coultons of the world.  But as the wall betwixt artist and fan falls (even if just virtually), the "rock star mystique" is in danger of being shorn away - familiarity breeds contempt, goes the old saw.

Maybe this is a good thing, maybe not - Someone should ask Kiss.  As for us, we'll just take a look at local boys 
Texas Microphone Massacre:  
All we got on these guys is initials - That's V on the right, T on the left, and G in the middle there. We'll hypothesize that V = Chris Veden, T = Heath Tull, and G = Gilbert Sanchez, but there's no conclusive proof either way:  TMM stays mysterious, even in private emails.  We do know that V does the vocals, T the programming, and G does duty on strings, then gets behind the drumkit at their live performances.  We also know they're card-carrying members of the Austin Electronic Music Grid, which adds credulity, but probably not enough to eliminate our doubts - The moniker and the masks draw an obvious association with another Texas Massacre.

Not pictured, but credited (by full name no less) is Tim Gerron:  Tim handles production (both studio and live), songwriting, and carries the title "Consiglieri".  We think that's a useful guy to have around, your own consiglieri; but that also carries a certain connotation, and we'll leave it to the reader to draw their own conclusions.

Though the cool music vid for "Last December" (embedded below) does offer a few provocative clues as to their identity, diving into their bio we find this intriguing comment:
An ever-evolving music experiment now in its 3rd incarnation, Texas Microphone Massacre is the brainchild of Chris Veden and Heath Tull. In the summer of 2010, the group added accomplished stringed instrumentalist Gilbert Sanchez to the fold and began production on its newest album, Fantasy Rolodex, with respected producers/engineers Mark Dufour and Tim Gerron.
Yep, that's the same Mark Dufour who's worked with Ghostland Observatory.  Allegedly TMM has been making and playing music, in some guise or another, over 10+ years; in genres as divergent as hip hop, southern rock, and metal; and in venues from as far north as Chicago to as far south as our own 6th Street.  (The scuttlebutt is they're revamping their live act yet again, to matchstep with the new CD they're currently recording.)
With names and faces concealed (along with any damning history that accompanies), we're forced to draw clues from the music.  Turns out that's an inconclusive source, for the masked trio cooks a mean pot of some very nicely produced musical stew; tossing in everything from 60's era Turtles' classics to more modern spoken word pieces; and all of it simmers with an understated confidence - the kind that only comes with maturity.  

Their latest release, "Fantasy Rolodex", bubbles nicely with bits of hip hop, electro-sonic pop, screechy synths, and guitars; all slathered with V's unique, near-psychosis vocals.
At the time of this writing, the LP's a freebie, so you should chase it down and snatch it up with the conviction of an pickax-wielding psychopath.  (It ain't hard, the link to a ZIP file is right there on TMM's website.)

Enough talk, let's jam:  Take in their nice styling of 
"You Showed Me", a cover from the aforementioned Turtles:

Now check out one from the same period, but a completely different genre; an equally-nice cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity":

First - You notice the "big", well-produced sound of these numbers?  That's the tell-tale mark of post-production geniuses Dufour and Gerron.  But welcome to the 2010s - TMM reports that these were recorded on a used Dell Optiplex they found on Craigslist.  The specs on that box are horrific (1 gig of RAM?), but 200 bucks later and they have the centerpiece for their studio.

Secondly - You notice the modern voicing on these tracks?  Notice the fatter-sounding bass, the electro drums, and supporting synths (sawtoothed, boxy, and outright trip-hoppish), all blended into a well-laid production.

Lastly - You notice the vocal stylings of V on these tracks?  Especially mark the contemporary insinuations he was able to inject, breathing new relevance into these now 40+ year old lyrics; marking him as a master with that microphone.

Compositionally, the rest of the tracks on Fantasy Rolodex fit into this (admittedly loose) mold:  Pop-structured ABA numbers, built on varied synths, hip-trippy drumkits, G's electric guitars, and plump bass lines; all supporting V's dominating vocals.

And we'll call that TMM's sonic makeup - Cool, genre-bastardizing compositions, highlighted by front-man V's vox.  Familiar enough to get your attention, quirky enough to keep it, powerful enough to be memorable, and hook-laden enough to bring you back for more.

Typically at this point we embed a CD's worth of content and call it a day.  Instead, we'll recommend a precision strike to TMM's home base for that download, and leave you with the spot-on, excellent music vid for "Last December", produced by the crack team at Strike Anywhere Productions:

Find out more about Texas Microphone Massacre on Facebook, SoundCloud, Twitter, and Home Base.


  1. I'd love to remix Last December - How about an acapella release -

  2. I'm sure they're game for that. Hit those microphone killers up at