Blue October

Art-rock was never my cup of noise—so much so that I never even realized it had practically disappeared until this Houston quintet, currently based in San Marcos, sought to bring it back. With lyrics supremely neurotic and music nicely melodic, the band sounds both skeptical and outraged and uncharacteristically visceral, which effectively compensates for its embrace of several of the genre's clichés. Lead singer Justin Furstenfeld cuts some Michael Stipe moves (good) into his Genesis-era Phil Collins style (bad) shaded with Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson (worse). Lead guitarist Brant Coulter provides the requisite jagged-edged fuzz lines, but his fillips and filigrees on tracks like "James" are more interesting. On songs like "Libby, I'm Listening" Ryan Delahoussaye's violin adds warmth to lines that would normally be played on art-rock's cold, mechanistic synth. There's even a possible hit single in "Holler." If the group doesn't get too big too fast, Blue October should pump life into a dinosaur.

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