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Album Review

Austin trio the Faceless Werewolves recall a more innocent time in indie rock, when a generation of bands raised on Sonic Youth's string of classic-'80s albums decided to adapt that brand of art-cool noise and fuzz onto more traditional pop song structures, complete with SY's adherence to the concept of having multiple singer/songwriters to keep things interesting. Superchunk, Antietam and sadly forgotten outfits like Sleepyhead and the Melting Hopefuls all come to mind on the Faceless Werewolves' second album, for (mostly) good and (occasionally) ill. All three — guitarist Baldomero Valdez, drummer Erica Barton, and guitarist Kelsey Wickliffe — write and sing, and all three seem to have varied influences. The trio is least successful on sloppy indie blues efforts like "Phoenix Rose" and "Couldn't Believe It Blues," which evince little particular facility for the style, almost sounding like they were written and recorded solely so maybe they could get gigs at some of Austin's many roots-oriented bars. Much better are snotty punk rockers like the sneering "Money (You Ain't Got Enough)" and "Write It Down Before You Speak." Even the unexpected blast of woozy psychedelia "Ofelia" works surprisingly well. But the heart of Pardon Me, Are Those Your Claws on My Back? is in good, old-fashioned scrappy boy-girl indie rockers like "Big City Sound," "Classy Lady," and the exhilarating "Abracadabra." Variety is a virtue, and with exceptions, it's one that serves the Faceless Werewolves well, but there's also something to be said for playing to one's strengths.


Formed: Austin, TX

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

The Faceless Werewolves are a Texas three-piece whose music grafts the primal groove of classic boogie rock with the thick, buzzy guitar attack of post-punk acts like Sonic Youth and Royal Trux. The Faceless Werewolves first came together in Denton, TX, in late 2001, where guitarist Baldomero Valdez was teaching school. Teaming up with guitarist Kelsey Wickliffe and drummer Erica Barton, they called the new group the Faceless Werewolves, with all three members trading off on lead vocals and generating...
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Pardon Me, Are Those Your Claws On My Back?, Faceless Werewolves
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