Tag: Austin

Currently comprised of founding members Clint Sargent (guitar, vocals) and Luke Strahota (drums), along with Colin Sheridan (bass) and Kaitlyn Ni Donovan (vocals, guitar), the Portland OR-based shoegaze quartet The High Violets can trace their origins to the breakup of The Bella Low, which featured Sargent, Strahota and another founding member Violet Bianca Grace (who left after a few early gigs). After a lineup change that resulted in their current lineup, the quartet released the their EP Dream Away, their full-length debut 44 Downin and their critically applauded third effort To Where You Are through Irish label Reverb Records. And as a result The High Violets saw a rapidly growing profile across North America as they played sets at NXNE in Toronto and SXSW in Austin, TX and then released a remix album, Satellite Remixes, which featured remixes from the renowned Ulrich Schnauss, Carmen Rizzo and others.  

Although the band is currently on hiatus from touring and live shows, they have remained active in the studio. The band’s fifth full-length effort, Heroes and Halos is slated for an April 1, 2016 release through Saint Marie Records and the album’s first single “Bells” has the band pairing layers of shimmering guitars and a propulsive and steady rhythm with Ni Donovan’s gorgeously ethereal and wistful vocals in a way that nods towards The SundaysHere’s Where The Story Ends” but with a cosmic glow that belies a subtly modern production.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Currently comprised of founding members Dabney Dwelle (guitar, vocals and Wurlitzer) and Tim O’Neill, formerly of Rhythm of Black Lines (drums) along with Jonathan Skaggs, formerly of Crime in Choir (bass) and John Hale (keyboards), Austin, TX-based indie rock/indie pop quartet My Golden Calf can actually trace their origins to when Dwelle was searching for a new songwriting approach after his previous band, Quien es, Boom had split up. Eventually Dwelle put his guitar down and began writing songs on an old, broken down Wurlitzer electric piano. Dwelle quickly recruited longtime friend O’Neill to assist him in fleshing out his early demos and ideas. And after a number of lineup changes Skaggs and Hale joined to complete the current lineup.

The quartet spent 2014 writing and demoing songs, and then testing the songs in live shows until the band felt that they had album-ready material, which they recorded during the early part of last year, at their newly-constructed Captain Douglas Studios. The end result is the band’s forthcoming debut full-length effort Perfume Brute, which is slated for a February 26, 2016 release. The album’s first single “Either” begins with a tight driving groove, angular burst of guitar, twisting and turning piano chords and big hooks paired with Dwelle’s plaintive crooning. Sonically the song sounds as though it draws from 70s AM radio rock — while subtly (and jauntily) pushing a familiar sound to the 21st Century.

 

If you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few months, you may recall that I’ve written about San Francisco, CA and Big Sur, CA-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and producer Jenny Gillespie. Gillespie can trace her musical career to he childhood — during drives to and from the Springfield, IL area, where she was born and raised, she spent quite a bit of time harmonizing in the backseat with her sister, who is a gifted and renowned pianist. When the San Francisco and Big Sur-based singer/songwriter was 13, she picked up her mother’s Martin guitar and began putting the poems she had been writing to her own original music. Gillespie’s life was further changed when a local record store clerk gave her album from three of the 90s most renowned singer/songwriters Tori AmosSarah McLachlan and Shawn Colvin — all of whom quickly became major influences on Gillespie’s music and songwriting.

After stints living in Virginia, Paris and Texas, Gillespie relocated to Chicago, where she self-produced and then released her sophomore album, Light Year, a folk and alt-country album that received quite a bit of praise. And as a result the attention Light Year received, Gillespie met Darwin Smith, an Austin, TX-based multi-instrumentalist, with whom she wrote her third full-length effort, Kindred, a sparse, experimental, electronica-based effort recorded in an old house in Wilmette, IL with contributions from Steve Moore, who has worked with Tift Merritt and Laura Veirs and Dony Wynn, who has worked with the legendary Robert Plant.

Inspired by a volunteer trip to Kenya that led her to an African fingerpicking class at the Old Town School of Folk Music and studying for an MFA in Poetry at North Carolina’s Warren Wilson College, Gillespie found her sound and songwriting approach expanding and becoming more refined. By the fall of 2011, she traveled to NYC to record the EP Belita with Shazard Ismaily, a multi-instrumentalist who has worked with Lou ReedBonnie Prince Billy, and St. Vincent. Interestingly, that effort possesses elements of pop, folk music, African and Asian rhythms and tones.

Featuring contributions from Emmett Kelly (Bonnie Prince Billy) on guitar and Joe Adamik (CalifoneIron and Wine) on drums, her last full-length effort Chamma was released to critical praise, including landing on Billboard Magazines Top 25 Albums of 2014 List. Naturally, that has seen Gillespie’s profile grow nationally — and continuing on that buzz, the singer/songwriter is set to release Chamma‘s follow-up, Cure for Dreaming through Narooma Records at the end of the month.  Recorded over the past couple of months and featuring contributions from Paul Bryan (Aimee Mann), drummer Jay Bellerose (Robert Plant and Allison Krauss’ Raising Sand), guitarist Chris Bruce (Meshell Ndgeocello), guitarist Gerry Leonard (David Bowie), and pedal steel player Greg Leisz (Lucinda WilliamsBon Iver), the album  reportedly possesses elements of folk, progressive jazz, and 60s and 70s AM pop.

The album’s first single “No Stone” paired Gillespie’s unhurried and husky vocals with a spacious and subtly jazz-like arrangement of keys, guitar, bass, gently buzzing electronics and hushed drumming in a song that felt as intimate as a lover whispering sweet nothings in your ear. And at the song’s core was a conversational lyricism that possessed a novelist’s attention to detail — both physical and psychological — as you can picture a woman who hides her face by the ocean, cherry blossoms in bloom, and someone peering through a keyhole to see a depressed woman struggling to just start her day. And as a result the song’s narrator feels like a fully-fleshed out person, desperately struggling to push forward.
The album’s second and latest single “Part Potawatomi” pairs Gillespie’s unhurried and ethereal vocals with a hummable melody, a deceptively simple arrangement of guitar, drums, bass and ambient electronics that sonically bears a resemblance to Junip — and their frontman, Jose Gonzalez‘s solo work.  And much like much like the album’s first single “No Stone,” “Part Potawatomi” reveals a Gillespie’s remarkable attention to detail, as the song frankly discusses the slow and seemingly inevitable dissolution of a romantic relationship metaphorically described as a storm brewing over the shore. The song’s narrator seems to evoke the sensation of being trapped in a relationship that’s going nowhere out of familial and moral obligation — and as a result, the song possesses a subtle yet increasing feeling of frustration and regret, while being one of the more beautiful songs I’ve heard in the past 10 days.

 

 

With the release of his 2013 full-length debut effort to critical acclaim, Ghosts In The Attic, Austin, TX-based indie folk singer/songwriter Reed Turner exploded on to the national map. As a result of the attention on the album, Turner wound up sharing stages with an impressive list of acclaimed artists including Gary Clark, Jr., Mark Broussard, Will Hoge and Jessica Lea Mayfield, among many others — and the album wound up on several “Best Of” lists that year.

After a year of solitude marked by health issues, Turner turned his backyard shed into a makeshift workspace and studio, compelled to create rather than wallow. Along with his backing band, Turner and company wrote and recorded material that would wind up comprising his forthcoming Native Tongue EP live to tape on an old Studer A827, much like  how they did during the Sun Records days.

As you’ll hear on Native Tongue‘s first single and EP opening track “I Got Love” possesses a bluesy, shuffling stomp and swing reminiscent of Johnny Cash, Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf   — in particular I think of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues,” and “Get Rhythm,” Howlin’ Wolf’s “Poor Boy (The London Sessions version),” Muddy Waters’ “Mean Ol’ Frisco Blues,” and Bo Diddley‘s “Who Do You Love” (although George Thorogood‘s version is infinitely better). And much like those songs, it feels as though it could have been recorded around that period, as it possesses the looseness of a band playing at a dirty whiskey bar or an old fashioned honky tonk. But interestingly enough the song balances an old-timey sweetness beneath the stomp and braggadocio; it’s the sort of song you’d can picture couples line dancing, swing dancing or blues dancing late into the night.

 

 

Born and reared in the Springfield, IL area and currently splitting her time between San Francisco, CA and Big Sur, CA singer/songwriter. guitarist and producer Jenny Gillespie can trace her musical career to her childhood — during drives to and from town, a young Gillespie spent quite a bit of time harmonizing in the backseat with her sister, who is a gifted pianist. When Gillespie was 13, she picked up her mother’s Martin guitar and began putting the poems she had started writing to music. A local record clerk changed the young singer/songwriter’s life by giving her albums from three of the 90s’ most renowned singer/songwriters — Tori Amos, Sarah McLachlan and Shawn Colvin.

After stints living in Virginia, Paris and Texas, Gillespie relocated to Chicago, where she self-produced and then released the folk and alt-country influenced sophomore effort Light Year to a fair amount of critical praise across the blogosphere. As a result of Light Year‘s exposure, Gillespie met Darwin Smith, an Austin, TX-based multi-instrumentalist, with whom she wrote her third full-length effort, Kindred, a sparse, experimental, electronica-based effort recorded in an old house in Wilmette, IL with contributions from Steve Moore, who has worked with Tift Merritt and Laura Veirs and Dony Wynn, who has worked with Robert Plant.

Inspired by a volunteer trip to Kenya that led her to an African fingerpicking class at the Old Town School of Folk Music and studying for an MFA in Poetry at North Carolina’s Warren Wilson College, Gillespie found her sound and songwriting approach expanding and becoming more refined. And by the fall of 2011, she traveled to NYC to record the EP Belita with Shazard Ismaily, a multi-instrumentalist who has worked with Lou Reed, Bonnie Prince Billy, and St. Vincent. Interestingly, that effort possesses elements of pop, folk music, African and Asian rhythms and tones.

Featuring contributions from Emmett Kelly (Bonnie Prince Billy) on guitar and Joe Adamik (Califone, Iron and Wine) on drums, her last full-length effort Chamma was released to critical praise, including landing on Billboard Magazines Top 25 Albums of 2014 List. Naturally, that has seen Gillespie’s profile grow nationally — and continuing on that buzz, the singer/songwriter is set to release Chamma‘s follow-up, Cure for Dreaming early next year through Narooma Records. Recorded over the past couple of months and featuring contributions from Paul Bryan (Aimee Mann), drummer Jay Bellerose (Robert Plant and Allison KraussRaising Sand), guitarist Chris Bruce (Meshell Ndgeocello), guitarist Gerry Leonard (David Bowie), and pedal steel player Greg Leisz (Lucinda Williams, Bon Iver), the album  reportedly possesses elements of folk, progressive jazz, and 60s and 70s AM pop.

“No Stone” Cure for Dreaming‘s first single pairs Gillespie’s husky and unhurried vocals with a spacious yet warm and subtly jazz-like arrangement of keys, guitar, bass, gently buzzing electronics and hushed drumming in a song that feels as intimate as a lover whispering sweet nothings in your ear. And at its core, is conversational lyricism that possesses a novelist’s attention to detail, as you can picture the woman who hides her face by the ocean, the cherry blossom trees in bloom, someone peering through a keyhole to see a depressed woman struggling to just starting her day — and a novelist’s attention to psychological detail. The song’s narrator feels like a fully-fleshed out person, desperately struggling to push on. Interestingly, each time I’ve played the song I’ve been reminded of how Gillespie sounds so much like Joni Mitchell — it’s incredibly uncanny.

Comprised of Rishi Dihr (lead vocals, sitar, bass), Jean-Gabriel Lambert (drums, backing vocals), and Miles Dupire (drums, backing vocals), the Montreal, QC-based trio Elephant Stone have become something of a mainstay on JOVM, as I’ve written about them quite a bit over the past couple of years.

Now, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the site or with the band, some back story is necessary: the band led by Dihr, a renowned sitar player, who’s formerly a member of The High Dials and has collaborated with members of the renowned, Austin, TX-based psych rock band The Black Angels, has developed a reputation for a psych rock sound that frequently employs elements of traditional Eastern instrumentation with Western songwriting in a way that’s reminiscent of the 60s psychedelic sound pioneered by The Beatles, The Kinks and others. With the release of Canadian trio’s third full-length effort, The Three Poisons last year, the band’s sound went through a major change in sonic direction in which the sitar wasn’t as much of a primary focus; in fact, sitar was retained here and there to add sonic coloring — and to retain the overall psychedelic feel.

The band’s latest single “The Devil’s Shelter” is a collaboration that features The Black Angels’ frontman Alex Maas. And as Dihr explained in press notes, I knew all along that the dark mood of this song needed something even darker. Lo and behold, a Black Angel came to my rescue. Alex Maas and I have been friends for well over 10 years and I try to collaborate with him as much as possible.  I sent him a bunch of my demos for our new album to get his feedback. Of all the songs, I felt this one was missing something. He offered to re-sing this whole song and I could do with it what I wanted. On the first playback of his vocals, I knew the song had what it needed. His voice can summon Tibetan monks, Nico and the devil all at once. He definitely brought the darkness to my light.”

Interestingly, the latest Elephant Stone single is a marked change in sonic direction as it begins with a tense, undulating synths, shimmering sitar chords, propulsive drumming paired with Dihr’s vocals on the song’s verses and Maas’ vocals on the chorus and hook to create a song that feels and sounds ominous and murky — and as though it channels The Black Angels “Don’t Play With Guns.”

The band will be embarking on a West Coast tour throughout November. Check out the tour dates and info below.

ELEPHANT STONE WEST COAST TOUR
11/06 – Montréal QC – Turbo Haüs (Info)
11/12 – San Diego CA – Whistle Stop (Info)
11/13 – Los Angeles CA – Hotel Cafe (Info)
11/14 – Santa Ana CA – Constellation Room (Info)
11/18 – Seattle WA – LoFi (Info)
11/19 – Vancouver BC – The Cobalt (Info)
11/20 – Portland OR – Bunk Bar (Info)
11/21 – Oakland CA – The New Parish for Echo Fest (Info)

Now, if you’ve been frequenting JOVM over the past 6-8 weeks, you may have come across a post or two about the Austin, TX-based quartet VIDEO. The band which features members Bad SportsWiccansRadioactivity and The Wax Museums have developed a local and national reputation for being pioneers of a genre that they’ve dubbed “Hate Wave,” which possesses elements of punk rock, hard rock and melodic dissonance. In other words, their sound is loud and absolutely furious.

The band’s latest full-length effort, The Entertainers is slated for an October 30 release through Jack White‘s Third Man Records, and the album’s first single “New Immortals,” was a scorching thrash punk song with a sneering, in-your-face because we don’t give a fuck about anything vibe. The album’s latest single “Shackles” sounds as though its drawing from The Sex Pistols Pretty Vacant” and Public Image, Ltd. as the song consist of slashing, angular guitar chords, propulsive drumming and shouted call and response vocals paired with the same we don’t give a fuck about anything vibe of the album’s first single, complete with a bitter, snarling irony. And if it doesn’t inspire a sweaty mosh pit in a dark club, there’s something deeply wrong with the world we live in.

If you’ve been frequenting over the past few days or follow me through Twitter or Instagram, the annual CMJ Festival, which presents new and emerging artists to music industry folks — namely, college radio programmers, bloggers, journalists, A&R and others, and the general public at a rather insane number of showcases and concerts across Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. For a music fan and journalist, it manages to simultaneously be the best thing in the entire world and a daunting and exhausting experience.

Last night, I walked out of my apartment at 12:40 to pick up credentials for the festival, saw seven — yes, that’s right, seven — different sets of music across three or four different genres and wound up walking into my door at 5:45 this morning. And I’m about to repeat some of that complete madness today. Fun times.

As you can imagine, as a result I just haven’t had a chance to post as much as I would have preferred over the past couple of days. But I’ll be back to more regular posting as we begin a new week. And yes, you can expect some CMJ-related coverage here shortly; however, in the meantime, let’s get to some necessary business  . . .

If you’ve been frequenting JOVM for a bit, you may be intimately familiar with the Austin, TX-based collective Grupo Fantasma. Since their formation 15 years ago, the collective has developed a reputation as being one of the US’s preeminent, independent Latin bands as the collective has been nominated for multiple Grammies and won a Grammy for their 2011 effort, El Existential, as well as praise from the likes The Wall Street JournalBillboard and USA Today, who once called the band “Latin funk masters.” Adding to an extensive national profile, the collective has had music placements in a wide array of film and TV shows including AMC‘s Breaking BadABC’Ugly BettyNBC‘s Law and OrderShowtime‘s Weeds and the John Sayles‘ film Casa de los Babys.  And the collective has also had a long-held reputation for being one of the best live funk bands in the country, and as a result they’ve backed Prince for The ALMA AwardsThe Golden Globes and CBS‘ Super Bowl Bash, Fania All-Stars‘ pianist Larry HarlowSheila E., The GZAGina Chavez, and renowned indie rock band (and fellow Austinites) Spoon.

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Groupo Fantasma. Perhaps because of the finances behind being a large band, the current lineup — now comprised of nine full-time members — has frequently split off into a variety of side projects and other musical concerns, including a Turkish pop-inspired project and the funk and heavy metal project Brownout, which has spent the better part of the past two years touring with a unique concept — Latin funk-based interpretations and reworking of Black Sabbath that the band dubbed Brown Sabbath. (Imagine some of your favorite Black Sabbath tunes with horns, congas and the like. Yeah, seriously. And it’s honestly pretty fucking awesome, as it adds an unexpected nuance and a different interpretation on songs that have long been familiar – without ruining the song’s intent and spirit.)

Grupo Fantasma’s soon-to-released  fifth full-length effort Problemas is slated for an October 30 release through Blue Corn Music and the album marks the first time that the band worked with an outside producer — in this case, Steve Berlin, who’s also a renowned horn player and keyboardist. As bassist Greg González explained in press notes, “We thought a new process would help us find a unique voice and create a story. It would’ve been easier and cheaper to record everything ourselves and reuse the same techniques which successfully garnered us a Grammy and two nominations for successive albums (Sonidos Gold and El Existential) but the desire was to push ourselves in new directions.”

During the writing and recording process, Berlin influenced the members of the band to streamline their music as much as possible so that the band’s songwriting and unique approach would come out to the forefront of their recorded sound — and to give voice to their experiences and influences without falling into being pigeonholed as merely a Latin, Texas or “World Music” album or be dismissed as a calculated attempt at crafting a crossover album. In fact, the album also reportedly draws from a variety of influences including heavy metal, indie rock, funk, hip-hop, jazz, African music, Eastern European music, gypsy music, South American. Cuban, Tex-Mex and others. Now you might have come across the album’s first single “Solo Un Sueno” revealed a stripped down songwriting approach, which naturally forces the listener’s attention to the song’s lyrics. Sonically, the song clearly draws from Latin music, funk and Eastern European music, as it possesses a twisting and turning song structure that’s spacious enough to allow for each section to do their thing.

The album’s latest single “Roto El Corazon” is a bit more of a straightforward-leaning percussive salsa song with elements of atmospheric psych rock towards the song’s coda, that sounds (for the most part) as though it could have been released during the Fania Records days. Obviously in this composition, the incredible horn and percussion sections are the heroes, pulling the heavy weight of the song’s muscle and melody throughout while being roomy enough for the vocalist and his lyrics to effortlessly flow through the mix. But interestingly enough the song manages to have a lot going on — while feeling unfussy and stripped down to nine guys sounding like they were jamming at a club.