Listen Up!

Local Rotation: Muhammad Ali & Black Congress' Split Cassette (That's Right, Cassette)

Yesterday afternoon, Rocks Off bought his first new cassette tape since 1996. The last tape we bought was the Schoolhouse Rocks soundtrack that came out the year before. It was a collection of 90's indie rockers like Pavement and Daniel Johnston doing covers of tunes from the classic Saturday morning children's educational series. It got us into a whole mess of music we didn't know about before and introduced us to the genius that is Lou Barlow, alienating us in junior high completely.

This tape purchase is no different than the last. Except with no alienation. And I'm not a defensive lineman anymore. With an additional run of about 30, the Muhammad Ali/Black Congress split tape won't last long at Sound Exchange, where it hit the shelves Tuesday afternoon. Hell, the store was only given five to sell. When Rocks Off showed up at 4 p.m., there were only two left. Jump on the Hands Up message board to plead for more, I guess. The right people will hear ya.

We had to go back to Mom's house to find a suitable tape player to listen to the release. But as those 20 or so minutes spooled by in a tiny boom box in the garage, we got a twinge of excitement. It takes the balls of Zeus to do a tape-only split in an age when folks are ditching discs and picking up vinyl sides or downloading files from a Web site. It's like buying a Sony Discman instead of an iPod.

The files are available for download with purchase of the tape with a web address included in the packaging. Black Congress and Muhammad Ali are two newer Houston bands, made up of music scene veterans. BC has been around for about a year, playing a sparse amount of shows between people either being busy in other bands or straight-up not living in Houston. They came together to create a skuzzed-out screamy collection of songs that sound like Walter's being set on fire. "Floater" begins with an electric drumbeat that you feel in your throat and then it's lost in a Jesus Lizard grind.

Muhammad Ali pretty much just showed up on the Houston radar about a month back, and already have a few SXSW day shows and parties lined up. Their side begins with "I Believe" that sounds like hope. Not "Obama" hope but mid-morning coffee hope. It's hard to explain but it fits. Helmet could sound optimistic while still thrashing. So can Muhammad Ali, like on "Here To Go."

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Craig Hlavaty
Contact: Craig Hlavaty