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At Home on the Range 'Twixt Earthy R&B, Airy Pop

June 08, 1996|MIKE BOEHM

***

Tex-Twil

"This Is Stone Gas"

Jackpot!Records

This band from Costa Mesa's debut CD lives up to its title: It's a gas, a stone pleasure.

The sound is a smart hybrid of '60s-vintage R&B and pop; what makes it distinctive is the band's ability to achieve a measure of funk and garage-y grit (the "stone" part, one suspects) while also serving up a springy pop souffle.

Tex-Twil achieves its enticing merger of roots music and airy pop by overlaying a coolly percolating rhythm section with breezily strummed acoustic guitars and nimble electric lead playing by the pseudonymous Brian deEspana. The equally pseudonymous Barry Diamond provides ballast with a drawling, gruffly tuneful lead voice and basic R&B riffing on sax.

The savory results include such catchy confections as "Jet Plane," which sounds like what might have happened if Santana had done "Spooky" instead of the Classics IV. Much of the CD parallels Alex Chilton's work over the past decade, unpretentious R&B and vintage garage-pop played for the sheer fun of it, with an emphasis on groove and simplicity. When Diamond puts a wry whine into his delivery of "I Got You," it sounds as if Chilton himself had joined the act, and Chilton might enjoy covering the humorously randy "Let's Get Down."

A good chunk of the album's lyrics is given to lustful invitations, zestfully expressed, although more serious takes on romantic hopes and pitfalls do turn up. DeEspana seems to be the sensitive soul of the bunch, taking over in a reedy singing voice for the funky philosophizing of "Messed Up World" and the wistful folkie daydream "Aging Like Wine."

With its stylistic range, its two appealing voices and, especially, its light touch, Tex-Twil is a welcome addition on the scene for anyone who thinks a good time doesn't necessarily have to be slam-danceable.

(Available at Virgin Megastore and Tower Alternative stores or from Tex-Twil, (714) 640-1348).

Tex-Twil plays Saturday at Memphis, 2920 Bristol St., Costa Mesa. 10:30 p.m. Free. (714) 432-7685.

Albums are rated on a scale of * (poor) to **** (excellent), with *** denoting a solid recommendation.

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