Austin, Texas still is a mystery to me as a Northerner. I’m always somewhat skeptical of American indie bands, as for years I’ve found them stumbling behind their British counterparts, and it’s even harder not to have a biased view on those with roots in Austin (or Chapel Hill) given my North Eastern provincialism. But time and time again, Austin rightly lays claim to being an oddly positioned music Mecca; from the South By Southwest schedules to the adopted home it has become for cultfaves Daniel Johnston, Jad Fair, and Curt Kirkwood, I have to give the city its due.
So again to my pleasant surprise, I find Austin natives Silver Scooter. Regardless of the impression the Goodbye EP leaves as a whole, the title-track is an unquestionably great pop song and leaves me eagerly awaiting Silver Scooter’s forthcoming third LP, The Blue Law. It is the kind of song where even if you never play the record in its entirety again, you’ll feel compelled to place “Goodbye” on a million mix tapes for friends. “Goodbye” is just simple, precise pop of the finest rank. Singer Scott Garred has some golden vocal cords, even the verses punctuated by “uh huhs” prove delectable. Garred gives an uncomplicated guitar performance; bassist John Hunt and drummer Tom Hudson form a rhythm of lockbox tightness while new member Shawn Camp gracefully trims the track with New Order-influenced keyboards (more on that soon). Because of the essentiality of “Goodbye”, “Amateur Actors” and “It’s Not Real” are forced into the function of window dressings whereas on a full-length they would certainly stand as worthy tracks in their own right. The four songs end with a minor bungle in the form of straight cover of New Order’s “Run”. Garred’s Americana-laced vocals contrasted with Sumner’s Mancunian tones can only go so far as to give the cover its own feel. The keyboards and drum programming differ so little from the New Order version that all emphasis moves to the bass which becomes problematic. While Hunt is otherwise a competent bassist, indeed his lines on “Goodbye” and “It’s Not Real” are excellent, he can’t compete with Peter Hook’s bizarre style of playing the bass like a lead guitar. In the end, the uneven cover is entirely inconsequential as the excitement of adding “Goodbye” to that mix tape behind a New Order original is fulfilling enough.