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Hidden Speaker

The May Collection E.P. (Seventy-Seven/Robitussin)

Houston-bred Evan Dickson, founder of Hidden Speaker, is back in town, at least some of the time. His schedule finds him shuttling back and forth between Houston, Austin (where his band is rehearsing) and Los Angeles, where Dickson hopes to put the screenwriting skills he learned at UT to good use.

Along the way, he's managed to release this very short EP, which clocks in at 26 minutes and change. That's not too short for an EP, but a good chunk of this disc is demo versions of the same songs presented earlier on the EP. Track five on the disc is labeled "Intermission," and everything after that is just filler.

But the first four tracks are very intriguing. (Of these, only the forgettable "Other Side of Fake" is below par.) Dickson's deadpan vocal delivery, complete with faux English accent, reminds one of the Psychedelic Furs' Richard Butler, even if Dickson is less hoarse. And the music on The May Collection seems to date from the Furs' early-'80s heyday, too, or maybe a little before, at the advent of glam rock's arty David Bowie/Roxy Music faction. Like those acts, Hidden Speaker has a tendency toward sweep and splendor, as on the buzz-saw twin electric guitar lines on the sterling "If You're Bleeding" and the tantalizingly short instrumental break in the middle of the rainy day-sounding "Beyond Me." It's all quite unusual for a Houston and/or Texas band. Hidden Speaker seems to have slipped through a warp in the space-time continuum from some art school in pre-Thatcherite London.

The May Collection: 12 minutes of splendid glitterati sweep, 14 minutes of filler.
The May Collection: 12 minutes of splendid glitterati sweep, 14 minutes of filler.

The lyrics are frustratingly opaque but generally hummable; on "Beyond Me," they're downright sing-alongable, even if you don't have a clue what Dickson's on about. Drummer Tripp Wiggins provides an exceptionally crisp, finger-tapping snare sound throughout, while Dickson and co-producer John Croslin's super-textured production rewards attentive ears even on multiple listens.

 
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