Self-Indulgent Musical Memories: UFOFUJuly 7, 2006
[This post is one in a series of posts in which I chronicle various bands from Dallas in the mid-90’s, approximately the time I was in high school and the beginning of college, and therefore greatly influenced my current musical tastes. In a ddition to be self-indulgent, hopefully it will expose you to some great bands you might not otherwise have heard.]
Hailing from Dallas, Texas, UFOFU was formed in 1993. Unfortuately for the world, they put out only one album, 1997’s magnificent UFOFU, and a few singles, before they disbanded in 1997. It’s unfortunate because they were a great, if unknown, powerpop/punk band from Dallas. The band consisted of Joe Butcher on vocals and guitar, Brandon Curtis on bass and vocals, and Brandon’s brother, Ben, on drums. Butcher was around 30, while Ben and Brandon were both under 20 when the album was recorded; Ben may not have even had his driver’s license when the band was formed. After the band broke up, the brothers Curtis went on to form The Secret Machines (after pitstops in Captain Audio and Tripping Daisy), and Butcher went on to perform with the Polyphonic Spree.
The band’s music was powerpop, to be sure, but songs like “King of Sex,” “Pincushion Boy” and “The Thing of It Is” also embraced jazz in a way most blissfully poppy bands could never pull off. I have tried many times to come up with a good musical analogy for the band’s music, and the best I could come up with is “Built to Spill meets the Buzzcocks.” Brilliantly original, I know, but I do think it captures the essence of the band’s music – caffeinated buzzsaw distortion combined with a willingness to embrace multi-part song structures (even in the context of a three-minute pop song) and guitar solos. The band even released a 7″ of their version of Built to Spill’s “Car” in 1996.
UFOFU starts of with “Legendary Microwave”, which establishes Butcher as a great lyricist, who can make seemingly nonsensical lyrics somehow have a very sensible, logical meaning. You hear this again in the acrobatic lyrical roundabouts of “Nothing Always” and “A Chair In A Room.” Brandon steps up for lead vocal duties on “Pincushion Boy”, “3 Months Gone Bad”, and the coda of Nothing Always and the band reveals its trippier, psychedelic side in the codas of “Nothing Always” and “The Skies Magnify Me.”
I was fortunate enough to see the band’s final show (or the show that was billed as their last show, anyway) at the Galaxy Club in Dallas. They played every song they knew, which at the time, and despite having only released one full length album, was around 30 songs. It was a great show by a great band. UFOFU is an album that I still consistently listen to, and is a CD that I can listen to from beginning to end without ever wanting to skip a song. Here a few songs for you… but do yourself a favor and go out and buy the whole CD.