Blue Houston

An enigma never tasted sweeter than Blue October. A titillating jumble of alternative rock and trancelike mood music, wounded-child vulnerability and gut-wrenching misery, Blue October's sound gnashes at anyone who'll listen.

After all, been-there, done-that front man Justin Furstenfeld has got an angst-y tale for every Gen-Xer: addiction, family woes, pleasure, pain. And his exploratory and revealing yarn is backed by the furious musicianship of his brother, Jeremy, on drums, Ryan Delahoussaye on bright blue violin and mandolin, Matt Novesky on bass, and Brant Coulter on guitar.

Fortunately for this four-year-old pack of musicians, the bigwigs at Universal Records are grippingly bemused with Blue October's dark, puzzling cadre of 230 songs and then some. The band was eventually signed, and then it set to the arduous task of narrowing its bulky repertoire to 13 tracks for its first major-label CD, which is forthcoming.

With the help of Nick Launay, the English producer for Midnight Oil and INXS, the group just finished recording Consent to Treatment. While its independently produced debut, The Answer, sold more than 5,000 copies locally, some tracks from Consent are already getting radio play, and the album is expected to sell big.

Both before and since recording Treatment, Blue October has been on a rigorous regimen of national tours. The band has opened up for the likes of Stone Temple Pilots, 311 and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Its current tour will continue through the album release, which is scheduled for the second week in August. While record store owners may have some trouble categorizing the band's blend of sounds, expect a long line for a copy wherever they eventually display it.

Blue October performs Friday, July 21, at Fitzgerald's, 2706 White Oak. For more information, call (713)862-7580.

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Jennifer Freytag