Record Review: Chapel Hill's Texoma Streches Its Sound on The Prospect | Record Review | Indy Week

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Record Review: Chapel Hill's Texoma Streches Its Sound on The Prospect

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For much of its three years as a band, the Chapel Hill quintet Texoma has dubbed its music "dust rock," a term that conjures sparse stretches of reflective heartland twang. That image held for the desolate moods of the outfit's 2014 EP. But for its full-length debut, The Prospect, Texoma seems hell-bent on turning the self-made subgenre upside down—or, at the very least—broadening its borders.

Take the bright and buoyant "Be Always," the endearingly ragged LP's opener and highlight: over a bed of warm organ and winding electric guitars, Zach Terry and Linus Owen-Garni harmonize on pleas for a lover to "stay with me always." A wild piano run breaks the smooth motion, suggesting Mark Simonsen has been studying up on the barrelhouse bent of Lynyrd Skynyrd's Billy Powell. Tellingly, Texoma revisits "Riverside," a smoldering ballad it cut for that early EP. But here, in the final position of The Prospect, it's a true toe-tapper, its melancholy given a freewheeling sense of mayhem.

Much of The Prospect shares a feeling of vintage power pop, at times redolent of Chapel Hill's defunct Drughorse Collective, thanks to easygoing melodies. The breezy "Mary Anne" rises above its status as a fine, middle-of-the-road jangle with a sharp hook lodged in the chorus. In "Apple Butter," homemade delights like pickled squash, plum brandy, and the spread made by "friends across the way" inspire more ringing harmonies, which lace across the loping, down-home country rock.

Texoma hasn't completely forgone its dusty ways. "Salt" is a lonesome, ambling shuffle, and "Rearranged" is a gentle ballad. But it's telling that the latter number slowly shifts into a shouted coda, indicative of a band growing into volume and steadily inhabiting more sonic territory than it initially envisioned.

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