Tag: Austin TX

Live Footage: JOVM Mainstays Black Pumas Perform “Colors” on “The Ellen Show”

Throughout the course of last year, I wrote quite a bit about the Grammy Award-nominated Austin, TX-based soul act, Black Pumas. The act which is led by Grammy Award-winning producer, songwriter and guitarist Adrian Quesada and 27 year old singer/songwriter Eric Burton can trace its origins to when Burton, a popular street performer in his native Los Angeles busked his way across country to Austin, where he met Quesada.

Last year, the Austin-based JOVM mainstays released their critically applauded, commercially successful, full-length debut, and since its release, album single “Colors” saw breakthrough success when a live version of the song managed to amass over 4 million YouTube views — with the song at one point being one of the most added songs to Adult Album Alternative (AAA) Radio. That shouldn’t be surprising:  “Colors” is a decidedly old-school singer/songwriter soul track centered around a looping 12 bar blues guitar line, twinkling Rhodes, some gospel-like backing vocals and Burton’s incredibly soulful and expressive vocals, which manage to express hurt, yearning, pride and awe simultaneously. As Burton, Quesada and company explained to The Fader by email, “‘Colors’ was written while the sun was going down on a rooftop in New Mexico. Finding inspiration in the multicolored hues of the night sky. The song is a message of togetherness, but there’s awareness of mortality mixed in . . .”

The band has developed a reputation for a a relentless tour schedule that has brought their incredible live show across North America and the European Union. Last year  alone, the band made three separate stops in New York: The Knitting Factory, last May; Mercury Lounge, last July; and Brooklyn Bowl last September. Additionally, during that same period of time the band has made begun to make the rounds across the nationally televised talk show circuit, playing  Jimmy Kimmel Live. 

The members of Black Pumas have continued on the massive momentum of last year with an extensive bit of touring that started off last night. Their tour finds them bouncing back and forth between North America, the UK and the European Union and it includes an October 22, 2020 stop at Brooklyn Steel. Feel free to check out the tour dates below, and if they’re stopping at a venue near you, get a couple of tickets and bring a friend. But in the meantime, the band played “Colors,” which is quickly becoming their signature song on The Ellen Show. 

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New Video: Vapor Caves’ 80s Inspired Video for Funky, Feminist Anthem “Bitch To The Boys”

With the release of their debut single “The Chase,” which was featured on Comedy Central‘s hit TV show Broad City and its follow-up “Hurry Up & Wait,” which landed on a Spotify‘s Ready for the Day playlist, the rapidly rising Austin, TX-based synth funk act The Vapor Caves — vocalist Yadira Brown and producer BoomBaptist — quickly emerged into the national scene. Deriving their name from a rare, naturally-found phenomenon: an underground cave that billows mineral-rich steam known for its healing properties, the duo pay homage to the phenomenon, by creating sonic medicine for those who enter.

Building upon a growing profile, the duo’s full-length debut, Feel Yourself, saw a limited vinyl-only release earlier this year that quickly sold out. The album further establishes their sound and approach with material that’s simultaneously dance floor friendly, funky and introspective. Interestingly, as a result of their growing profile, the act has opened for JOVM mainstay Dam-Funk.

Feel Yourself’s latest single, the slinky “Bitch To The Boys” is centered round shimmering synth arpeggios, Brown’s sultry and self-assured vocals, a sinuous dance floor friendly groove and an infectious hook, the track sonically reminds me of classic, 80s synth funk like Cherelle, I Feel For You-era Chaka Khan, Prince, etc., and of contemporary purveyors of the dance floor friendly sound like Dam Funk, Boulevards, Bruno Mars and the like. But more importantly, the song is a defiant, sashaying and strutting feminist anthem and tell off to wack ass fuckboys: the song’s narrator pretty much says “I don’t need your corny ass. I do it for myself anyway.” 

Directed and produced by Side Label, the recently released video is a fittingly 80s-inspired romp that features a crew of wack ass fuckboys, who get told off by the video’s protagonist and her crew. Disses are served — hot, cold and 24 hours a day in this one. 

Austin-based shoegaze/dream pop act ThunderStars, comprised of longtime Margot & the Nuclear So and Sos multi-instrumentalist Erik Klang (vocals, guitar), Sven Bjorkman (drums) and Omar Richardson (bass) can trace their origins back to when Bjorkman posted a random thought about a creating a band named ThunderStars, a term coined by his toddler daughter, during a stress-fueled trip to the hospital. And while marking Klang’s return to music, the band has had a art-out-of-chaos theme hanging over them since their inception back in 2018.

After their second-ever live show, Omar Richardson was assault by a vagrant outside of the venue, which resulted in a severe concussion and a subsequent trip to the ER. The incident was covered extensively by Austin-bass news outlets — and as a result the band’s profile rose unexpectedly. Additionally, their early demos were well received publicly with the band receiving radio and podcast airplay, as well as show bookings with a number of national touring acts.

Building upon a growing profile, the Austin-based shoegazers’ latest effort Number Stations is slated for a Friday release through Mariel Recording Company. Interestingly, the album’s latest single is the slow-burning and shimmering “Not That Far.” Centered around Klang’s plaintive vocals, shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, the track manages to recall 4AD-era shoegaze, as it possesses an ethereal and feverish quality.

 

The Brilliance is an orchestral pop duo comprised of lifelong friends, Marshfield, WI-born, New York-based David Gugnor (vocals, guitar) and Marshfield, WI-born, Chicago-based John Arndt (keys, vocals). While centered around the duo’s friendship, the act can trace its origins to when the then-Tulsa, OK-based Gungor and then-Austin-based Arndt started the band back in 2010. Since their formation, the duo’s music has evolved: they  stared with more liturgical art and moved to peacemaking protest music; but over the past handful of years have focused on music that inspires the listener toward empathy and kindness. (We need much more of that in our morally bankrupt world.)

The act’s more recent release The Dreamer Suite, a collection of songs in a series of “suites” — songs and pieces united by a central theme — found the duo teaming up with World Relief for the organization’s initiative to raise awareness of the plight of DACA dreamers has amassed millions of streams on Spotify and Apple Music — as an independent release.  Building upon a rapidly growing profile, the members of The Brilliance will be releasing The Dreamer Suite‘s highly anticipated follow-up, Suite No. 2 World Keeps Spinning: An Antidote to Modern Anxiety on January 10, 2020.

“How Do We Know,” the duo’s latest single off their soon-to-be released album is a sleek and slickly produced track featuring a song structure that alternates between shimmering and lilting verses and arena rock friendly choruses. And while bearing a bit of a resemblance to Death Cab for Cutie and U2, the song is emotionally centered around life’s biggest question — “why the fuck are we even here and what’s the point of all of this?”

 

 

 

 

 

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Still Corners Returns with Two from Abbey Road Studios Live Sessions

With the release of their 2012’s Creatures of an Hour, 2013’s Strange Pleasures and 2016’s Dead Blue the London-based dream pop act Still Corners — vocalist and keyboardist Tessa Murray and multi-instrumentalist, producer and songwriter Greg Hughes — have developed a shimmering and atmospheric take on dream pop, centered around Murray’s smoky vocals. 

Last year, the London-based JOVM mainstays released their fourth album, the critically applauded Slow Air. Deriving its name from the sultry Texas summer days and nights that they spent writing and recording the album in Austin, TX, the album found the band making a return to early form, with the band leaning heavily towards arrangements centered around electric and acoustic guitar, live drumming and a minimal use of synthesizers. Some of this may have been inspired by the studio Hughes designed and built for the recording sessions — and by a minimalist approach in which they consciously ensured that they didn’t overthink, while using a variety of old and new microphones. 

While in the past there may have been countless takes and overdubs in an attempt to make things absolutely perfect, Murray and Hughes kept the inevitable mistakes to remind the listener of the material’s emotionality — and also to remind the lister that living, breathing, feeling humans made it. 

Additionally, the band recorded and mixed the album in three months, the fastest they’ve ever done, and as a result, the material possesses a previously unheard urgency while retaining the shimmering and moody atmospherics that they’ve long been known for — especially on album single “Black Lagoon.” After completing what may arguably be the biggest world tour, including a memorable stop at Elsewhere, as well as across North America, Europe and Asia, the duo wanted to document their live sound with a live stood recording. As the band’s Tessa Murray says in press notes. “Abbey Road was the first studio we thought of when deciding where to record. It’s a beautiful and iconic place that we’ve always dreamed of. The sound and experimentation that happened there makes up much of the fabric of recording history.””Vintage consoles lined the corridors as we made our way to the Studio 3. We Could feel the weight of walking into the same studio where Pink Floyd recorded Dark Side of the Moon,” Greg Hughes adds. “We used microphones used on many Beatles’ recordings.” 

During their Abbey Road session, the band recorded a live version of one of my favorite tracks off the album, Black Lagoon — and while being a slightly stripped down rendition, the Abbey Road rendition retains the song’s gorgeous melody and shimmering atmospherics, while possessing a road-tested looseness. “We played this for a session at KUTX in Austin and a lot of people mentioned they would like an official audio recording, so we decided to that as well,” Murray says in press notes. 

The other track the JOVM mainstays recorded found the duo tackling Richard and Linda Thompson’s “The Calvary Cross.” As the band’s Greg Hughes explains in press notes, Richard and Linda Thompson’s I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight is a personal favorite of the duo — and they covered “The Calvary Cross” during their last tour. And while the original was more of a mid-tempo stomper reminiscent of Neil Young, the Still Corners version is a slow-burning and gorgeously atmospheric take, centered around shimmering country-like guitars and Murray’s smoky vocals.  

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Black Pumas Release an Intimate and Gorgeously Shot Visual for “Colors”

Over the course of this past year, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Grammy Award-nominated Austin, TX-based soul act, Black Pumas. And as you may recall, the JOVM mainstays released their self-titled, full-length debut earlier this year, and since its release the had has rapidly built up a national profile and following through a relentless touring schedule that has included three separate New York stops this year:   The Knitting Factory, back in May; Mercury Lounge, back in July; and Brooklyn Bowl in September. 

Album single “Colors” exploded nationally when a live version of the song amassed over 4 million YouTube views — and since then, the song has become the most added song to Adult Album Alternative (AAA) radio. None of that should be surprising as the song is a decidedly old school singer/songwriter soul-inspired track centered around a looping 12 bar blues guitar line, twinkling Rhodes, some gospel-like backing vocals and Burton’s incredibly soulful and expressive vocals, which manage to express hurt, yearning, pride and awe simultaneously. As Burton, Quesada and company explained to The Fader by email, “‘Colors’ was written while the sun was going down on a rooftop in New Mexico. Finding inspiration in the multicolored hues of the night sky. The song is a message of togetherness, but there’s awareness of mortality mixed in . . .”

Directed by Kristian Mercado, the recently released video for “Colors” is an intimate and profoundly empathetic look at a young and very beautiful Black family — mother, father and son — who hit hard times, and wind up homeless. It’s a heartbreaking and seemingly lived-in display of how easily and quickly one family can lose everything for no fault of their own but the main takeaway from the video is that while they’ve lost material things  and are struggling to survive, they have each other, their essential decency and their humanity.  

New Video: Dayglow’s Hook-Driven and Sincere Pop for Millennials

Sloan Struble is the 20 year-old, Aledo, TX-born, Austin, TX-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and creative mastermind behind the rapidly rising indie rock project Dayglow. The project, which is centered around a hard-fought, hard-won and palpably sincere optimism can trace its origins to Struble’s adolescence, growing up in a Fort Worth suburb that he has referred to as a “small football-crazed town,” where he felt irrevocably out of place — and as a result, he turned to music, as a escape from his surroundings. “I didn’t really feel connected to what everyone else in my school was into, so making music became an obsession for me, and sort of like therapy in a way,” Struble says in press notes. “I’d dream about it all day in class, and then come home and for on songs instead of doing homework. After a while I realized I’d made an album.” 

Working completely on his own with a minuscule collection of gear that included his guitar, his computer and some secondhand keyboards he picked up at Goodwill, Struble worked on transforming his privately kept outpouring into a batch of songs — often grandiose in scale. “Usually artists will have demos they’ll bounce off other people to get some feedback, but nobody except for my parents down the hall really heard much of the album until I put it out,” Struble says in press notes. After self-releasing Fuzzybrain last year, the Aledo-born, Austin-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer received widespread attention and an ardent online following — primarily as a result of the material’s overwhelming positivity.  “People have been really kind about getting in touch with me and telling me that the album makes them happy, or that it’s helped them through a rough time,” he says. “That was my greatest goal for it, so it’s amazing to hear that people feel that way.”

The recently re-released Fuzzybrain is a fully realized version of his full-length debut. And while featuring the attention grabbing “Can I Call You Tonight,” the new version of the album will include two previously unreleased singles “Nicknames” and “Listerine” — while further cementing his growing reputation for illuminating emotional pain in a way that not only resonates with listeners, but somehow manages to make that pain feel lighter. Both those songs were written around the same time as the rest of the album and very much exist in the Fuzzybrain universe,” Struble says. “Each is deeply intertwined into the conceptual universe and purpose of Fuzzybrain, and it just wouldn’t feel right releasing them in a separate body of work.”

“Listerine,” the album’s latest single is an infectious and sincere bit of pop centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, jagged post punk-like guitar, a sinuous bass line and Struble’s plaintive vocals — and while possessing a self-assuredness beyond the Aledo-born, Austin-based artist’s relative youth, the song’s narrator expresses a mix of confidence, anxiety, confusion and hope that’s beguiling and realistic, as it accurately captures the thoughts and feelings of 20 somethings, who have stumbled into adulthood and adult relationships — without fully realizing who they are and what they really  want. 

Directed  and edited by Jackson Ingraham and Sloan Struble, the recently released video for “Listerine” features Struble alternately walking, dancing and air guitar soloing on an empty stretch of road. Sure it’s a simple treatment but it also emphasizes the DIY nature of the project, while being simultaneously playful and sincere. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Neon Indian Releases an Absurdist and Politically- Charged Single and Visual

Alan Palomo is a Mexican-born, Denton, TX-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist, producer and film maker, who’s best known as the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed recording project Neon Indian. I’ve written quite a bit about Palomo and Neon Indian over the years, and as you may recall, with the release of four albums and an EP, 2009’s Psychic Chasms, 2013’s Era Extraña and  Errata Anex EP and 2015’s Vega Intl. Night School, Palomo firmly established a slickly produced synth pop sound indebted to Prince, Michael Jackson and others. 

Last year, Palomo released his first narrative short, 86’d, “a love letter to New York cinema and in a way, a final recapitulation of the Night School universe,” the JOVM mainstay explained in press notes at the time. “Shot on 16mm over the course of three nights, it was an ambitious undertaking for all parties involved but honestly making it was such a blast that at times felt like just that, a party. I’m eternally grateful to all the wonderful people that came together to realize this kooky project and proud to finally be able to share it with music and movie goers alike.”

Directed by Palomo, written by Palomo and Kai Flanders, edited by Pete Ohs and Dustin Reid, the film stars Buddy Duress (Good Time, Heaven Knows What), Lindsay Burdge (Easy, Thirst Street, The Midnight Swim), Seaton Smith (Top Five, Mulaney), Chase Williamson (John Dies at The End), Mitzi Akaha (Lowlives, Dark Side of The Moon) and musician Alex Frankel (Holy Ghost) as well as Palomo. Set in Ed Koch-era NYC, Max takes a mouthful of mescaline and desperately tries to make it home before it kicks in. On his way, he decided to stop at an all-night deli for a quick, late night meal. After numerous order delays and full-on trip stampeding into his psyche, he is made to pay witness to the colorful cast of Lower East Side weirdos, visualizing their stories through his newly altered lens: A Times Square dominatrix meets up with one of her regulars to reveal an answering message left by his wife. Two punks discuss an ultimatum as one reveals his connection to a pistol found in a drug bust. A recording engineer convinces an aspiring singer to re-record a destroyed vocal take from a canonic 80s group and attempts to pass it off as the original. Visually speaking, the short would remind a lot of viewers of Martin Scorcese’s After Hours as its centered round a New York and peculiarly New York characters that are sadly long gone — and situations that can’t possibly happen in a sanitized, suburban mall version of New York. 

Along with the film, Palomo wrote and recorded the short’s theme song “Heaven’s Basement,” an 80s inspired, synth pop, club banger centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, a sinuous bass line, scorching, distorted guitar solo and Palomo’s dreamy falsetto. And while continuing on the slickly produced club friendly sound of his previously released work, the song managed to possesses a lysergic buzz. 

Interestingly, Palomo’s first single of 2019 “Toyota Man” is a decided left turn for him and for Neon Indian, as the song is the first song written and sung in his native Spanish — and perhaps more important, finds the project leaning towards a seamless mesh of synth pop and psychedelic cumbia. Interestingly, “Toyota Man” may arguably be the most politically charged song, Palomo has even written and released, as he sings in Spanish “We came here to study, we want to work” as a protest, which is followed by mischievously dueling riffs of “La Cucaracha” and “The Star Spangled Banner.” In some way, it points out that the experience of the Mexican, Central American and South American migrants and immigrants are equally as American and as valid as yours or mine. 

Directed by Alan Palomo and starring Palomo Brian DeRan, Chris Silcox and Veronica Sanders, the recently released video is part a proud and defiant view of the border culture that Palomo grew up in and an absurdist comedy inspired by a wild melange of things that features a proud and defiant view of the culture of his people and a possessed Trump piñata that gets its deserved comeuppance. 

“’Toyota Man’ was filmed along the road map of what essentially was my path to American citizenship: Monterrey, the Nuevo Laredo border, San Antonio, and finally Austin. The process is a multiple decade commute known by many Latinos and other Americans,” Palomo says of the video. “Though my music has always been generally apolitical, I realized when recording this song that it was impossible to write biographically (in the rhetorical context of the Trump administration) without being entirely that: political. The story of my family, which before felt commonly American, was suddenly politicized. Recognizing the absurdity of it all, I thought it would be refreshing to address the social narrative around immigration through comedy – nods to Benny Hill, misremembered San Antonio car commercials, and School House Rock. My family and I had a ton of fun making this and I hope it’s equally as fun to watch. Enjoy!”