Houston Music


So there's this hardworking band around town. It has won some awards in its day. The kids love 'em. Heck, even some of the "older" folks who still manage to make it out at night sing the band's praises. Is Middlefinger going somewhere? Mainstream? No one seems to know. But with a sound as pointedly asymmetrical as what the band has produced on Digitus Impudicus, commercial success doesn't seem like the primary mission anyway.

Rooted in ska-punk, Middlefinger also incorporates hefty chunks of agit-punk, heavy metal and just about everything else, from swing to power drills to, yes, the kitchen sink. Each of these styles is abundantly available on Digitus Impudicus, and yet no one song falls fully into any of them. "Vulture" starts off in a bouncy, welcoming sort of way before it turns into staccato hammer tactics, while "Weltshmertz" begins with the sort of speed blast usually confined to death metal before it's coerced into sunny territory.

Digitus Impudicus works best, however, on the longish, middle-of-the-road numbers such as "Les Saucy Pantz," "Carburetor Idolatry" and "Freudian Cot." It's all eclectic with some fairly traditional hooks thrown in and with enough space for the new listener to maintain his bearings. The jumps from style to style are used as seasoning.

Much of what keeps Middlefinger from simply becoming another genre-bending band is the lyrical work of lead singer Matt Kelly. Simultaneously absurd and meaningful, his lyrics penetrate the gut before the brain. His words might not make sense, but his meanings do. On the aforementioned "Les Saucy Pantz," Kelly reflects on the perils of following the path of least resistance (or something). He relies on symbolism and reference to make a point you can feel, not necessarily understand: "If you safety dance, then I'll send your ass to France / If you hokey poke, then you'll end up like Ren Hoek."

Pulling off this sort of thing without turning it into utter shit takes a significant level of proficiency. Middlefinger -- completed by Jay Brooks (bass), David Cummings (guitar), Brian Davis (drums, also in 30footFALL) and Jason Davis (guitar) -- can. The CD's only weakness is in its one-dimensional production value.