Unlike the vast majority of the bands in Texas’ current psychedelic scene, Houston’s Indian Jewelry has an almost heretical aversion to guitars. Not that the group’s latest full-length, Totaled, doesn't incorporate the occasional six-string, but the ever-evolving outfit, which rotates around the duo of Erika Thrasher and Tex Kerschen, inundates its dreamscape soundtracks with synthesizers, digitized ambience, and chanted vocals that evoke much more doom than bliss. The differences, however, don’t end there. Totaled dives even further into the realm of the progressive—or at least post-punk’s idea of it—with songs like “Look Alive” and “Never Been Better,” dystopian downers that share more DNA with This Heat and Cabaret Voltaire than with Roky Erickson.
The best psychedelia, of course, has always had possessed this sort of darker side, but Thrasher and Kerschen lighten the drone slightly on the icy “Dog Days”—a cyborg version of Flying Saucer Attack’s spacious, fuzz-fried loops—and the brooding, lip-puckering new wave of “Moonlight.” Unlike its peers, Indian Jewelry doesn’t use the psychedelic tradition as license to wallow in some ’60s narcosis, but rather to fuel a brave, bleak trip into the future.