Bedhead Transaction de Novo

Transaction de Novo
Trance Syndicate

A SLOW, SAD, three-guitar rock band from Texas, the appropriately named Bedhead established its modus operandi early on. "The bed at night is a life raft, in the ocean of the dark," went the opening line of the first song from their 1993 debut, WhatFunLifeWas. They crystallized this vision with 1995's follow-up single, "The Dark Ages." Singer Matt Kadane summarized the emotional paralysis of a breakup with one perfect couplet: "I can't stand the way I was that day/Speechless, with so much to say." Then, in time-honored rock & roll fashion, the world of ordinary language began to reach its limits, and the guitars rose up in a torrent that drove his feeling home. If a record this obscure can be considered a classic, "The Dark Ages" certainly was one.

Though Transaction de Novo, like 1996's Beheaded, contains nothing as great as "The Dark Ages," it still utilizes the same deliberate strategy. The most remarkable thing about Bedhead may be their ability to make loud music that comes across as quiet and intimate. These are not the "whisper to a scream" dynamics that have become cliché in so much alt-rock, but a stream of electric noise whose calmness belies a sense of emotional shock. In the vein of bands like Seam and Codeine, Bedhead play indie rock as a sort of cerebral soul music for shy white kids. It should go without saying that this is hyper-specialized stuff. You know you've got a college band when their record comes with song titles such as "Lepidoptera" and "Psychosomatica."

And you know they're an art band because they insist on prizing sound over sentiment. Why else would anyone obscure such smart lyrics with whispered vocals and an avalanche of coiling, precise guitars?

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