One couldn’t begin to talk about Austin’s music scene and not mention the wonderful contributions of Jennifer Moore. I was immediately charmed by her voice when I first heard the now defunct Voxtrot’s “Dirty Version” five years ago. Later I discussed the greatness of her 50’s style girl group The Carrots with K Records founder Calvin Johnson and saw Yellow Fever perform as many times as possible during the years I lived in “the lone star state.” Yellow Fever was the group Moore started with drummer Adam Jones, the two playing quirky and infectious pop music that it seemed all of Austin, and beyond, adored. In 2011 the group had to change their name due to legal reasons. They settled on Deep Time (coming from the concept of the geological time scale), which for them means shedding old baggage and burying it below.
The group continues to release their unique brand of offbeat post punk, using melodies that sound familiar and simple and then tweaking them to incorporate choppy interludes and off-kilter harmonies. The difference isn’t only that this time they come approved by Weird War’s Ian Svenonius and the wonderful Hardly Art label- the 9 songs on Deep Time are delivered with a force and focus we always knew the pair had in them. “Burn the old one down,” Moore sings unrepentantly on the shipwreck-themed “Gilligan.”
As the album unfolds, each new song offers some new edge that builds on the preceding framework. At the end, we have an impressive collection of odd pop songs that are as infectious as anything on the market, yet sound like no one else making music. Album opener “Bermuda Triangle” is a simple, repetitive tune featuring a catchy bass line and angular guitars. The snappy drums and spirited organ line of “Coleman” compete with its infectious chorus and circus-y intermission while “Horse” is hallmarked by punchy guitar and operatic vocals. The driving rhythm of “Gold” reminds me of the beginning of The Talking Heads “Crosseyed and Painless.” “Homebody” is perhaps the most lush and voluminous song on the album. While most of Moore’s lyrics lean toward the abstract, “Homebody” has her baring her emotions in a more linear way, singing, “I’m leaving home and I want you to notice… all through the summer and longer. I’m feeling awful, awkward.” Many of Deep Time’s songs seem to have her singing to some geographically distant “you” (on “Clouds” she sings, “you got bigger while I was away”).
It wouldn’t be fair, however, to give Moore all the credit. While she may very well be one of the most distinct voices in indie music today, it’s worth noting that Adam Jones is one of the most interesting drummers. While perfectly capable of swirling and crashing, Jones is at his best when he keeps things quiet and unobtrusive. It’s difficult not to think of Deep Time exactly as I remember Yellow Fever—a hidden gem, playing weird songs about cats and rats in the sticky summer heat of the South—but something tells me that won’t be the case for much longer. Deep Time is proof they’ve evolved into something bigger and better.