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  Pardon Me, Are Those Your Claws On My Back?  
  Faceless Werewolves  
  Super Secret Records  
Release Date:
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Austin's Faceless Werewolves are a memorable band. We first ran into them back at a SxSW on the recommendation of a native Austinite, and I was immediately taken by this 3 piece's raunchy, give and take, reverb happy, 60s garage rock sound. They were so charged and over the top that I thought no recording could ever capture their frenetic live energy.

Having heard both their debut record, 2006's Medium Happy, as well as their 2008 release, Pardon Me, Are Those Your Claws On My Back?, I have to admit that my original supposition is quite true. Still, despite the album's relatively restrained nature, Pardon Me, Are Those Your Claws On My Back? is a mightily fun and enjoyable listen that is in many ways more musically accessible than its predecessor.

The best songs on Pardon Me, Are Those Your Claws On My Back? feature the dueling reverb-heavy guitar work of Baldomero Valdez III and Kelsey Wickliffe backed by the tom-centric drumming of Erica Barton. For instance, the title track, which opens the album, begins with the two guitar parts working against each other, with one in a higher register than the other. Over this, all three members of Faceless Werewolves sing-yelp their way through this musical introduction of the group. Likewise, Abracadabra features the same guitar interplay, while the drums feel both heavier and more driving. On this tune, Valdez sings the "lead" roll, which makes the entire tune come across as like a lost track by a band like The High Strung.

Later on, Get Me Howlin' has a beat and melody that sounds a little like a raunchy take on Joy Division's Warsaw. Furthermore, the sublime Money (You Ain't Got Enough) is quick-paced jaunt that combines a Billy Zoom-esque guitar riff with a defiantly confident female vocal which acts as both a come on and put off to the "you" of the lyrics. Similarly, the record concludes with Big City Sound, a nice tune that shows off both thumping drums and reverbed guitars to great advantage and where the dueling male/female vocals bring to mind the late, great Austin band The Kiss Offs.

However, there are a few songs on this record that don't quite fit in or come off as well as others. For example, Couldn't Believe It Blues is a little too, well, bluesy for my tastes, especially with the female vocals that move from the petulant to the positively squeally. Likewise, despite some really nice interactions between the guitars and the drums, Phoenix Rose features another female vocal part that falls flat in both the literal and figurative sense. Finally, Write It Down Before You Speak is just a bit too straight-forward, as if Faceless Werewolves were trying to channel The Donnas.

Nevertheless, Pardon Me, Are Those Your Claws On My Back? is a solid album. At 11 songs, the good and interesting, despite the few throwaway tracks. Furthermore, I honestly can't resist any record whose title references one of my favorite films (Roman Polanski's 1967 rather hysterical flick, The Fearless Vampire Killers or: Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are in My Neck). So, although Faceless Werewolves haven't quite capture the intensity of their live performances, this record still shows flashes of their uncontrolled almost-raunchy garage sound and is an enjoyable listen to boot.

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Also on EvilSponge:
     Festival Performance: SXSW06 on Sat.18.Mar
     Festival Appearance: SxSW07 on Wed.14.Mar.07


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