Houston Calling

Review: Wild Moccasins, Skin Collision Past

June 12th, 2010 · 3 Comments

Wild Moccasins, Skin Collision Past

Wild Moccasins
Skin Collision Past
Team Science Records

Anyone who listens to modern music knows that the 80s contains a goldmine of influences, especially for the “indie” realm. But where many bands are content to rehash the sounds of their influences, Houston’s Wild Moccasins instead draws upon the era to create songs that are more inventive. On its latest, the band–vocalist/guitarist Cody Swann, vocalist/keyboardist Zahira Gutierrez, bassist Nicholas Cody, guitarist Andrew Lee, and drummer John Baldwin–could have easily relied on heavy synths and overly jangly guitars, but Skin Collision Past mixes indie-pop with post-rock overtones that makes for an infectious collection of songs.

The band functions cohesively, and this solid interaction between bassist, drummer, and guitarists makes the songs much more memorable. That isn’t to say the vocals don’t deserve attention. One of Wild Moccasins’ signatures is the vocal inter-play between Swann and Gutierrez. While Swann sounds like any number of New Wave-era male vocalists (in a good way), Gutierrez’s voice is lodged somewhere between The B-52’s’ Kate Pierson and Bjork, and she reins it in on Skin Collision Past, choosing to complement rather than overshadow the vocal arrangements.

Lyrically, the songs range from ruminations on relationships (the captivating “Chapter Four”) and psychotherapy (“Psychic China”) to teenage diary entries (“Born Blonde”), and thankfully Wild Moccasins are secure enough to throw in some subtle humor (sample lyric: “I am what I eat, so I’ll try to make a man out of me”). Skin Collision Past‘s finest moments come on “Chapter Four,” the opening title track–which showcases the duo’s wordplay in a surprisingly catchy way–and “Its Health & My Own,” a catchy Britpop-inspired gem.

No other band in the Houston area sounds like Wild Moccasins, and the band’s danceable and poppy songs have captured some well-deserved local and national attention. Skin Collision Past will undoubtedly increase this visibility.

Skin Collision Past is available locally at most area independent record stores, including Cactus Music–where the band performs today (Saturday, 6.12.10) at 3pm–and online at Amazon.com and iTunes.

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