There are smart-aleck rock bands, and then there is Fishboy – which is a smart smart-aleck rock band.
The Denton quartet has just released what may be the world’s shortest rock opera with the longest title – the 33-minute Albatross: How We Failed to Save the Lone Star State With the Power of Rock and Roll. Leader Eric Michener has described it as a concept album about riding shotgun in a tour bus with the ghost of Buddy Holly in an attempt to discover the song that will save Texas. But the key to any concept album is whether it holds up on shuffle play, and Albatross stands as one of the finest rock albums to come out of Texas this year, loaded with loud guitars, catchy melodies, and fun verses like “I’m so broke, it makes me sick/ I use cut-up credit cards for guitar picks.”
At their quirkiest, Fishboy resembles “Don’t Let’s Start”-era They Might Be Giants. But Michener and his bandmates add a ragged garage-band energy that makes the songs work beyond their clever lyrics. “Minus Two” may have been conceived as a setup for Michener’s wacky opera plotline, but it’s also a passionate anthem about literally being born to play music. And love songs set in fast-food restaurants have never been as bouncy or endearing as the rollicking “Taqueria Girl.”