Austin, TX-based psych rock quartet, The Bright Light Social Hour can trace their formation to when the members were students at the University of Texas. And they quickly developed a reputation for an oft-described incendiary live show and for a sound that possessed elements of shoegaze rock, blues, Southern rock, blues, dance music and other genres.
After Curtis Rousch and Jack O’Brien finished graduate school, the band released their self-titled debut effort in 2010 to critical praise. In fact, their debut effort swept the 2011 SXSW Austin Music Awards in every category it was nominated for including Album of the Year, Band of the Year, and Song of the Year. And as a result, they embarked on an extraordinarily busy touring schedule, playing over 300 dates across North America including opening for Aerosmith at Plains of Abraham in Quebec City, Quebec; a 2013 Lollapalooza set; and sets at the 2013 Austin City Limits Festival.
Their forthcoming effort Space Is Still The Place was heavily influenced by the band’s experience while touring across the South. Instead of staying at hotels, the members of the band crashed with friends, fans and friendly strangers and it gave them a unique perspective into the plight of ordinary, young Southerners and their struggles to survive. What they saw were groups of young people desperately trying to stay afloat financially, working unfulfilling jobs that sapped at their dignity and souls. They also saw insidious and pervasive issues of widening inequality, race, gender and class – and yet, despite such depressing odds, they saw tremendous optimism. And as the members of the band admit in press notes, the material on the album takes a “lens to some of these gritty realities and espouses an optimistic, frontier-looking gaze into the future.” In fact, the album espouses an idea of a Future South that’s egalitarian as the material on the album possesses elements of traditional Southern genres such as the blues, soul, rock and others and pushes them forward with influences as diverse as Frankie Knuckles, Black Merda, Motown and others.
Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Infinite Cities” manages to sound like the contemporary shoegazer rock released by the likes of Saint Marie Records – in particular, I think of Lightfoils and others, because of the motorik-like groove created by four-on-the-floor drumming, swirling electronics and trembling synths paired with sinuous guitar lines fed through reverb and sinuous bass lines. However, you’ll also subtle nods to country and other Southern genres during an impressive and twangy guitar solo after the song’s bridge. And the song meshes all of those elements in a way that manages to be both ethereal and danceable while bearing an uncanny resemblance to My Morning Jacket.