CLAY PENDERGRASS - "East Dallas Mix Tape"
As I sit listening to this disc for the third time now I can't help but notice how much it has grown on me. The first time through I actually pre-empted a few cuts, hitting the skip button to travel to the next a bit quicker. But now, with the earphones on, I am hearing things that didn't translate to me that first time. Grooves and percussive noodling, moments of sheer musical goodness. Gemlike. Shiny and attractive. It's like Elvis Costello had grown up right here in the metroplex during the eighties and early nineties. You want to handle this disc carefully as it's full of so many hooks. This is a collection of songs that is sure to fuel a lot of local song writers for a while to come. For one thing it plays like a pick-and-choose single where you choose the A-side and then marvel at the B-side. Just pop it in and try it. Randomly pick a track and follow it with another picked at random as well. You'll quickly see what I mean. And the production... well, it's so lush and verdant. If you don't have a first rate sound system in the housing or transport arenas of your day-to-day existence then be sure that you experience this collection of songs via the straight-to-heart via headphones route. It's a narcotic. Clay Pendergrass has unleashed his pop demon and we are all invited to the sacrifice. There are alt-country inflected ditties like "Contracting" and "Front Porch", two tracks that evoke some of that good old Byrd's vibe. You've also got tracks like "Spanish Style Guitars" and "At 29" that have a very modern Bowie tint to them. There are even hints of funk and reggae. It"s all here spicing up this song stew. One of my very favorite numbers would have to be "Ever 2 Old", reminding me that Mark E. Smith sounded best when he was happy and that the first three Fall albums will always be this reviewers favorite. East Dallas Mix Tape is an amusement park of audio murals. It tells one musician's story in song. Clay goes a long way to preserve his histories within the matrix of this work having, himself, been a part of the musical happenings in D/FW over the last few years. I hope every record he puts out in the future is as 'all over the place' as this one. It*s like Joe Jackson and Bryan Ferry had started Guided By Voices over a few beers at some dive bar in Deep Ellum while listening to Stevie Wonder. At several points the disc feels a bit like a paean to tavern life in Dallas, which is completely understandable to anyone who's ever lifted glass to lip in the big D. All said this is by no means a work without flaws. Depending on your musical leanings the number of missteps you find may be far greater than those few I personally encountered. It is, after all, a pop record. It suffers from lightweight lyricism on a few songs, but those are the kind of songs that get stuck in your head and the ones you sing to yourself when you*re alone at night. This is the kind of disc that both you and your significant other will agree on and, if I'm not mistaken, there's quite a bit of 'make out' tunage on this record. So if you grew up listening to 80s pop (the good, mostly overseas, stuff - not that FM radio shit) or if you'd like to experience a fresh take on music from the metroplex then you must acquire this record, give it three spins, close your eyes and watch the story unfold.
-- J. Manriquez, SAMPLE Press