by Joan Hiller

Sound Team

Fri March 12


1033 NW 16th

When I was booking clubsâ I got about 30 unsolicited demo packages a week, about 48% of which were guaranteed to contain embarrassing sonic snapshots of some suburban teen's nu-metal angst dream. Another good 30% of the submissions are of the open-mic, latte café-circuit variety, replete with glossy head shots and performer bios promising the crooner in question "even plays original tunes" and is "sure to impress at your next gig!" The next 20% were passable local garage-as-recording-studio projects; kids who were already playing all-ages pizza parlor shows and want to step it up a notch.

One day, after hours of feeling waaaay too Simon Cowell while filling up a gunmetal-grey hefty bag with the aforementioned unmentionables, there it was--shining majestically. The remaining 2%. Austin, Texas' Sound Team had sent in a gloriously crapulent, three-song CD version of their limited-edition (and now, in record store geekmonster fashion, super-sought-after) cassette release, Yes. They'd also typed--typewriter typed--a three-page-long avowal about who they were and how their day was going. The whole package's doodled-on, Xeroxed aesthetic was way Texas circa '96, when Daniel Johnston was still selling his tapes at the front counter of Austin's Sound Exchange, right next to the overpopulated zine rack. The six-piece's sloppy, whimsical take on Moose Lodge/VFW Hall pop has just as much of a punk-mantra underbelly, but minus the snotty pomp.

Petite, fair-haired Bill Baird and his brother Michael converted an unused record-pressing plant into their studio in 2003, and began recording songs that are affected by the same fuzzy, canned mixes as Texan garage and indie pop releases by bands like Junior Varsity, the Primadonnas and Sugar Shack were in the mid-'90s. The result's got such a ghetto-cool honesty that it's nearly impossible not to feel every weird groove, every Barlow-ish chorus and every tinny keyboard flourish. While Sound Team's nearly OCD-style DIY ethic is by no means groundbreaking, the fact that a band with H-I-T-S is earnestly working their butts off to have a hands-on approach to every tiny aspect of their rock lives deserves a hi-five in my book.