Alice Texas – Gold

Alice Texas is the project of Alice Schneider, and with her throaty, bluesy, and expressive voice and pension for writing dark and textured rock songs, Schneider absolutely takes over this album. Despite taking her inspiration from New York City, these songs leave images of a dark midwest, perhaps taken from a modern film-noir, or rolling plains that never quite see the sun and shady characters with storied pasts. As much of those images are taken from the lyrics of these songs as from the mood this band creates, and to be able to convey such a sense is incredible.

These songs are thick with an audible atmosphere. These songs flow nicely, but with thick guitar lines, often harsh rhythm, and the use of the occasional synthesizer, they take on the desired tone. Now add Schneider’s vocals, often telling stories of heartbreak and desperation in her thick, textured voice.

The album starts off so strong, with Schneider’s bluesy and angsty voice on a slower and darker track, “Poison.” I can’t help but immediately draw comparisons to Throwing Muses, especially because of the dark nature of this track. And on “Forsake,” the tone gets even darker. “Lord help this stubborn mind,” Schneider sings with slightly distorted vocals behind a blistering guitar line. On “My Love,” the band acquires more of a western feel, with a slower and more emotional tone and some slightly drawly guitar. And “Big Black Motorcycle” has a very large sound, reminiscent of the mid-90’s Pixies/Throwing Muses feel. The very dark and heavy atmosphere comes back on the drawling “Dream Time,” which reminds me quite a bit of PJ Harvey. But then comes the most haunting song here, oddly enough, “Chase the Rabbits.” This song appears to be about the futility of dog races, but this one constantly gets stuck in my head, with Schneider repeating the image of the dogs chasing the mechanical rabbit to no avail. Wow. There’s even more emotion and intensity in Schneider’s voice on the more acoustic and nicely rocking “Guardian Angel,” and “Lullaby” again has a more western feel, with a drum beat straight out of a dark western movie. The closer, “Gold,” is even quieter and darker, with some lovely instrumentation to back up the lyrics. It’s a perfect ending for this deep and dark album.

The first time listening to this album, I was unsure. But this is the kind of album that takes time to sink in. And when I woke in the middle of the night with “Chase the Rabbit” stuck in my head and provoking all kinds of horrid dreams and images, I knew this album had sunk in sufficiently. Because this is all about the power of this band and the ability of Schneider to convey the feeling of her songs. And she does it beautifully.