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FLOWERHEAD (Buy CDs by this artist)
Turmoil in the Toybox EP [tape] (no label) 1990
ka-BLOOM! (Zoo) 1992
The People's Fuzz (Zoo) 1995

The six long songs on the self-released Turmoil in the Toybox find this Austin quartet toiling through the same bleary guitar-slog as retro bashers like Thee Hypnotics, only with no sense of style or evident enthusiasm for the form beyond its option of velvet-trousered indulgence, as well as a weak but obvious U2 imitation ("Star-Crossed Days"). Singer/bassist Eric Faust has the kind of voice designed to be heard from the 155th row, which makes the indie format a bit incongruous.

The band's major-league debut, ...ka-BLOOM!, isn't any better. Replete with too many long songs — most of them of the sterile, neo-psychedelia-cum-'70s-stadium-shaker variety — ...ka-BLOOM! is background music for the indiscriminate stoner, as common-sounding as a car horn. (The final line Faust utters in "Sunflower," the album's closing track: "Praise the Lord, and pass the goddamn bong.") The record contains exactly two decent tracks: "Snagglepuss" flows in a pleasant vintage pop vein, while "Everything Is Beautiful" is a determined, slightly grungified post-punk rip poisoned slightly by simplistic lyrics. Elsewhere, attempting to create vast aural landscapes within seven or eight minutes of recording time like some of its '70s idols, the slackjawed Flowerhead comes up with cliché-burdened tracks like "Oh Shane," "Acid Reign" (remade from Turmoil) and "Thunderjeff" to no real positive effect.

The People's Fuzz is even more overblown and pretentious. Where ...ka-BLOOM! was at least endurable, this bubbles the tritest, safest and most predictable late-'60s and early-'70s formulae into 73 minutes of unmitigated boredom (a third of it devoted to an untitled bonus track of Martian rainforest sound effects) that can't decide from one verse to the next whether to ape the Beatles, Flaming Lips, Bad Company, Marshall Tucker, Blue Cheer or Styx. The songs are shorter this time, but the band remains mired in its witless regression.

[Ian McCaleb]