Rex Tycoon (not to be confused with Rex Kwon Do or Rex Orange County or RollerCoaster Tycoon) are a Pittsburgh indie rock act whose recently released 2020 demo has that wonderfully raw, iPhone-voice-memo quality.
Amid pixelated guitar strums that alternately scorch and caress, Rex Tycoon frontman Austin Reesman waxes bored and exhausted about bad habits, fading youth, milky coffee, and mind-numbing jobs. “Birthday Cake” is one of the quieter tracks on the demo, featuring grainy acoustic guitar that seems to cascade from an aeroplane and into the sea below. When Reesman starts off with, “The year without summer, I wondered what you were doing in your room, all bundled up,” you may think you’re in for some magical realist fable-weaving (a la early Arcade Fire); instead of yelped tales of police disco lights and children swinging from power lines, though, we get a spoken/sung retelling of a cold July day spent shopping for birthday cake ingredients while wondering what the eventual recipient is watching on TV. It’s the happiest that Rex Tycoon gets on the demo, a vivid memory of day(s) past pushing aside the lassitude of already-encroached Real Person status, if only for a minute and a half. Even without flights of fancy, there’s some magic in that.