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The Damnations TX

Half Mad Moon – 1999 (Sire/Watermelon)

Reviewed by Eric Zehnbauer

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CDs by The Damnations TX

Already a favorite in their hometown of Austin, the newly renamed Damnations TX (formerly The Damnations) combined ingredients from across the spectrum of popular music to form a tasty musical stew.

While half-sisters Amy Boone and Deborah Kelly cite influences as diverse as the Louvin Brothers to Kiss, one can also detect bluegrass, punk and folk leanings. Shining throughout, in the sibling tradition of the Louvins, the Everly Brothers, et al., are the sisters' strong vocal harmonies.

The opening "Things I Once Adored" gets things off with a bang, punctuated by a rocking drum track reminiscent of the best of the cowpunk bands. Immediately switching gears, "No Sign of Water" is a slow lament which recalls Crazy Horse. "Spit and Tears" and "Kansas" are folk-bluegrass numbers featuring standout banjo picking by Rob Bernard. There's a waltz ("Jack's Waltz") and blues ("Commercial Zone Blues"), while "Finger the Pie" could easily fit into alterna-rock radio's playlists. The standout track, though, is "Unholy Train" (also a favorite at the band's live sets).

With strong songwriting and vocal skills and a diversity of influences, The Damnations TX delivered a solid debut, which brings a fresh, new sound to the alt.-country genre. Highly recommended.