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  The Murdocks  
  The Murdocks  
  Surprise Truck  
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I've become the resident go-to-person on Texas bands. This wasn't intentional on my part; rather I seem to have a natural affinity for the sort of garage rock that seems embedded in the Austin and Dallas music scenes. I mean, with bands like Black Lipstick, The Deathray Davies, and others running around, it's not surprising that Im particularly fond of Texas these days. I only point this out because with cohorts like those named above, The Murdocks (who recorded this self-titled EP in Austin) have some big shoes to fill.

From the beginning of Murdocks, however, I was a bit surprised by the output of this three piece band. For instance, the first song, Death of a French Whore, is a fairly poppy tune, but the production values as well as the musical construction were a little too clean to qualify as garage rock. There didn't seem to be many effects on either the guitars or the vocals, and, despite the thumping bass, I kept asking, "Where's my tremolo? What about my reverb?" So, in the end, this song reminded me more of Atlanta's Young Antiques as opposed to any of the Texas bands with which I'm familiar.

Likewise, My Scarlet Purpose, although slower than the previous tune, has a similar emphasis on the bass. Yet, I wasn't too impressed with this one, mainly because it didn't build and change. For instance, when a song begins slowly, you would expect the songs to speed up and grow, especially as the song builds into the chorus. Instead, in the case of My Scarlet Purpose, there is a slow-paced bridge, despite some slightly frenetic drumming in the background. This lack of change reminded me of a classic power ballad from some hard rock band. In fact, when I close my eyes, I can mentally see the fireworks and lighting effects on this one.

The third song, Dance the Vomit Shakes, is actually the nicest song on the EP, despite its somewhat off-putting title. Unlike the previous songs, this one has a vaguely summery retro feel, mainly because of the jangly guitars and nicely diminished vocal line of guitarist Franklin Morris. In fact, Dance the Vomit Shakes reminds me a bit of an early Paul Westerberg solo song with its happy little tune, complete with tambourine in the background. And, despite the atrocious song title, this song shows off The Murdocks in a better light because I can actually hear their song-writing skill.

Of course, by the time I hit the last song, I was expecting something relatively hard sounding, if only because of the song's title, Maidenhead. And that's exactly what I got - loud guitars and a speedy rhythm, including a nice drum part by Ryan Cano. With the slightly harder feel, this songs reminded me a little of Garagantua or Mastodon, who are hard-rocking Atlanta bands that still know how to construct a good head-bopping tune.

Taken in its own right, Murdocks isn't a particularly bad EP for a young band, although I do find it rather uninspiring. I wanted to like this EP more than I did. Still, when I listen beyond the occasionally flat production, I think I can hear something going on with this band that intrigues me. At times, it's clear that they know how to construct a solid tune. Likewise, at times, the band members managed to pull their individual pieces together and create something interesting. However, at this point in their career, I'm afraid they haven't quite brought it all together yet.

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