Kick around long enough and you’ve heard it all. Or so you think. At this point I’d be a jaded old showgirl if not for the fact that I’m neither jaded nor a showgirl. I’m old is my point, but with age comes–if one looks and listens carefully–discrimination and taste. Nobody advertises fresh Scotch or day-old wine, for example. The spirits need time in the barrel to develop their complexity and sophistication, and the more time the better. That goes for both the taster and the tasted.
It’s true, young brothers and sisters. Hang in there long enough and you become impervious to the hype of pretty labels and heavy promotion. Experience inoculates us against empty suits and distracting light shows. We’ve lived through big budget punk, major label alternative, multi-million selling “indie,” and rapcore. We’ve been burned so many times that us old dogs have our musical bullshit detectors set to high. That’s not to say that younger folks can’t sniff out the real deal, but listen: There was a time that I swore Frankie Goes To Hollywood were geniuses. With experience comes wisdom.
Where am I going with this? I think I’m congratulating myself for loving “Flightplan,” the latest track from Alien Knife Fight. Chances are that unless you live in the Austin area you’ve never heard of this duo from Creedmoor, Texas, a town that enjoys a population of an even 200 when bandmates Monique Ortiz and Michael Howard are on the road, but you’ve heard of them now and that’s all that matters. Plus, you get bragging rights: When you finish this little post you can tell your friends about the cool band that you’re into that they haven’t even heard of yet.
Well, maybe not. They might already know singer/bassist Monique Ortiz. That name may ring a bell for Morphine fans by way of Bourbon Princess or A.K.A.C.O.D., or maybe not. And even if they do, Alien Knife Fight’s music is entirely its own thing, anyway. Ortiz’s unique approach to bass coupled with Howard’s primitive percussion results in a distinctive sound that is half heard, half felt. “Flightplan” feels like a prayer, an incantation. Without considering a single word, one recognizes that something holy is going on here, but listen to those lyrics closely and your reward is a statement of artistic purpose: strong, defiant, assured. Ortiz explains:
‘Flightplan’ is really about how much of my creative life has been a very steep uphill climb. In many ways it’s my ‘fuck you’ to everyone who has written me off, been dismissive of me and my work, and for all those who have and continue to ignore me altogether (“too bad you’re late to the party”).
Since childhood I’ve always been kind of an outsider, never really fitting in, never quite cool enough, never invited to the parties. I was the one girl who worked at the rock club and could never get a gig there, while all my shoe gaze, noise band coworkers gigged regularly. That sort of thing. I was always a bit awkward and nerdy.
At some point in my teens I just kinda said ‘screw it. I’ll just do what I want to do, and if no one ever gets it, fine because I don’t need anyone’s approval.’ It’s probably the closest thing I’ve come to writing about female empowerment. Now I’ve taken flight, and I’m leaving all the naysayers behind.
That is the moment that the real work can begin. That is the moment that the wine emerges from the barrel aged, beautiful, complex, and delicious, and thanks to YouTube you can drink it all in for free.
Alien Knife Fight are on the road as we speak. If you’re in or near any of the following cities, make it happen. They’re working on an album, too, which I’ll be sure to give some quality time on my turntable when the day comes.
03/28 @ Urban Lounge – Salt Lake City, UT
03/29 @ Neurolux – Boise, ID
03/31 @ Tractor Tavern – Seattle, WA
04/01 @ Dante’s – Portland, OR
04/04 @ Catalyst – Santa Cruz, CA
04/05 @ Bottom Of The Hill – San Francisco, CA
04/06 @ Alex’s Bar – Long Beach, CA
04/07 @ Pappy & Harriet’s – Pioneertown, CA
04/08 @ Rhythm Room – Phoenix, AR
04/13 @ Three Links – Dallas, TX
04/14 @ Antone’s – Austin, TX
04/15 @ Continental Club – Houston, TX