Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Sweet Dreams Are Made of These

By Brendan Doherty

MARCH 9, 1998:  Bedhead Dares You to Disagree

From the world of dreams come Bedhead, hair tousled, cheeks worn with the whorl of the sheets and heads filled with the heat of re-entry into the waking state. This Dallas-based quintet carefully constructs three guitar's worth of shining and patient movements into sonic sheets on isolated coils of tasteful rhythm-come rest your weary head. The band rarely tours.

"We play Dallas, where we live, like, twice a year, almost," says Bedhead guitarist Bubba Kadane, taking a break from rewiring the practice space behind his house. The circuits were blown not by high voltage, but by too many plugged-in heaters and amps. "We take music very seriously, quite seriously in fact, but I don't think that means you have to play shows all of the time. There are a lot of bands where we're from that are focused on getting signed to a major label and making money and using music to transport them out. Not us."

The band's previous Albuquerque show was an exercise in the musical power of restraint and a lesson in elegant pop/rock construction. The band wowed a small audience that had come mostly by word of mouth. They are still a remarkably well-kept secret, despite high-profile reviews in Salon.com and critical chest-beating in their hometown. What all of their fans see is this--a precious musical commodity. Because they don't course through your town every day, each of their performances has a feeling of precious vitality.

Members of the band are house painters, teachers and students.

"We're a weird case," says Kadane. "It's hard to explain the contradictions inherent in this intense love of music. That's sometimes the reason not to tour six months out of the year. We don't want to burn out of what would turn into a job. There are people who don't quite understand why we don't play more. We have more responsibilities as people than we did 10 years ago. I, for one, am married to a band and a woman at the same time. On the one hand, the band is a priority, and we all care more about it than anything else, but our lives aren't such total drudgery that we would need something better to come along and take us away."

Bedhead are singular artists whose genius has yet to be fully appreciated--but often lies in restraint and craft that are rare gifts, indeed. "We've never had problems in the band with ego things," Kadane says. "We just deal with what the songs are. None of us has ever felt the need to show off, not like we'd have anything to show. We're interested in guitars."

Modesty notwithstanding, Bedhead's songs over several CDs explore misery and the existence of God to swooping and crashing guitars and patient, tasteful rhythm. Their latest, Transaction de Novo (Trance) is their most effective release yet. "The Present," perhaps a response to the Velvet Underground's "The Gift," is a spare tone poem. The whispered vocals provide the crucial text for brothers and guitarists Matt and Bubba Kadane and T. Coxe to lay tangled, melodic guitar textures. Matt Kadane's hope-worn existentialist manifestos hit with the same clean punk fury, and the band expresses as much depth in dynamics as the VU.

So many try to have the same understated cool, and Bedhead are among the very few who have done it over a handful of albums and rare tours. In lesser hands, their songs might be dumpy, morose--even sappy, these songs of longing and quiet desperation. They are at their finest when they slow down to a quiet whisper, and the band reveals in its spaces the fleshy, substantive emotional depth.

"The lyrics are harder for us than the music," says Kadane. "We could say what the songs are about, but it would dilute their effect. If the effect is there, it's there in those words, and they are the best way to say what's said."

Why should you bother? Because in their philosophical approach and their execution, they produce beautiful, meaningful music. They haven't stretched themselves thin, and they care about what they're doing enough to be careful with it. In a rock world that's built for speed, Bedhead are--surprisingly, elegantly--the ones who are moving faster and seeing farther.


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