What is it about Austin, Texas, that creates such fertile musical soil? It's Texas, yet bands sprout out of the ground like buffelgrass in the desert. The recent crop has yielded the unsigned Oh No! Oh My!, who are currently listed on Insound.com's main page as a top seller. Can yet another band from Austin really be that good? (Earlier this year, the band relocated to Nashville, Tenn., but still ...)
Despite my harrowing memories of the elementary school band instructor putting his old lips on my flute, I have retained a love for the sound of the instrument, especially in a pop song. Oh No! Oh My! not only employ flutes in two songs ("Walk in the Park" and "Lisa, Make Love! (It's OK!)", but also dance beats, synthesizers and guitars both acoustic and electrified. "Skip the Foreplay" escalates from do-do-do-dos into la-las that raise their hands to the sky in reverence, and then just when you think the melody--reminiscent of Modest Mouse via Bishop Allen--at the beginning of "Reeks and Seeks" won't go anywhere, a guitar starts emitting showers of sparks.
While "I Have No Sister" and "I Love You All the Time" are a little too Interpol, every song has at least one moment, that surprises and excites, like the sustained low-then-high vocals in the chorus of "The Backseat," which wanders into meadows filled with recorders, glockenspiels and horns. Oh No! Oh My! may not be the Shins, but they've got the pop-song-with-flutes thing down. Whatever it is Austin's got, it just keeps delivering.