Tag: Gainesville FL

New VIdeo: Morningbell’s Travis Atria Releases a Quiet Storm-Inspired Meditation on Climate Change

From 2004-2013, Travis Atria was a member of acclaimed Gainesville, FL-based indie rock act Morningbell, which released six critically applauded albums of material, which includes songs featured in film and television. The band also played sets at Bonnaroo and SXSW and commissioned a custom star show at the Kika Silva Pia Planetarium while on tour to support 2013’s excellent album Boa Noite. Travis also had a side project The Slims, which released two albums and kept him pretty busy bon top of his Morningbell duties. In 2014, Morningbell went on indefinite hiatus when his brother Eric and his sister-in-law Stacie Thrushman-Atria started a family.

After spending a decade of recording and touring, Travis Atria turned to another lifelong dream of his — books. In 2016, Atria co-wrote Traveling Soul, the first biography of the legendary soul singer/songwriter and producer Curtis Mayfield — a major influence on Atria’s music — with Mayfield’s son Todd Mayfield. Traveling Soul received praise from Rolling Stone and Pitchfork. He then wrote Better Days Will Come Again, a biography of jazz trumpeter Arthur Briggs, who was among the greatest musicians of Paris’ Jazz Age — and who spent four years in a Nazi prison camp during World War II, where he conducted a classical orchestra of prisoners.

Adding to a rather productive period for the now-acclaimed musician and author, Atria had been writing new material, which would eventually become his soon-to-be released solo debut, Moonbrain, and at the tine he had started he was searching for the album’s heart. Of course, that process came about in stages: While working on his Arthur Briggs book, Atria went to Paris in August 2017 to see the site of Briggs’ prison camp. On the night he had visited Briggs’ prison camp, the Parisian news reported on the now-infamous Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, VA. For Atria, who was studying World War II history in Paris, it was a chilling to see his own countrymen staging what was a pro-Nazi rally.

The following year, the IPCC released their updated climate report, which said that we were maybe 20 years away from permanently damaging the environment as we know it. Atria, who had been involved in climate activism since 2004 began to fear the world the his niece and nephew would inherit, and decide that the album had to be more than the sensual rock ‘n’ soul he had been known for in Morningbell. Taking Curtis Mayfield’s “painless preaching” as a model fo this solo work, Atria focused on creating the material’s grove, initially steering clear of lyrical polemics — but while still trying to write about the truth about the world. “I felt too few artists were trying to deal with what we’re going through,” Atria says. “I owed it to these kids to try.” 

Unsurprisingly, Moonbrain’s material is a reflection of our time — and it pulls no punches about it, even if they sometimes seem like love taps. The album’s first single “Jazz Cigarette” is a shimmering Quiet Storm-like slow jam featuring shimmering guitars, twinkling keys, smooth horns, and a sinuous bass line paired with Atria’s plaintive crooning. But underneath the sultry, late night grooves, the song is focused on the dire state of the globe’s climate, suggesting that things are really even more fucked up than you think.

The accompanying video was shot primarily on the streets of New York — with most of the footage set in and around the 59th Street Bridge, Roosevelt Island and Long Island City. Throughout, the video reminds us all of the city’s constant activity and constant motion; but with the uneasy reminder that those beloved sites may at some point be in endangered, and real soon.

Moonbrain is slated for an April 2, 2021 release through Gold Robot Records.

New Video: The Dali-esque, Dire Straits “Money For Nothing” Inspired Visuals for Jordan Burchel’s “Coffee Breath”

Vowel Sounds’ latest single “Coffee Breath” will further cement the Gainesville, FL-based multi-instrumentalist and producer’s burgeoning reputation for carefully crated rock with deeply introspective lyrics that sonically draws from psych rock and dream pop — although in this case, “Coffee Breath” much like the work of Drakkar Nowhere sounds as though it also draws from 70s AM rock as Burchel’s crooning is paired with shuffling drumming and subtly bluesy psych rock guitar chords. But just underneath the surface is a subtly mischievous sense of irony.

Animated by Tristan Whitehall at Squiggle Dot, the recently released video for “Coffee Breath” playfully nods at Dire Straits’ legendary and envelope pushing “Money for Nothing” but with an insouciance to the proceedings as the video follows an anthropomorphic coffee cup as it journeys through a Dali-esque desert to a surrealist living room and back to the desert — and during the journey, the coffee cup encounters a snake seductively wrapping itself around an anthropomorphic apple, an hourglass with a skull from it as the coffee cup holds another coffee cup and later drinks from it. It’s surreal but with a gloriously mischievous glee.

Featuring Peter Bartsocas (vocals, guitar), Drew Demaio (guitar, vocals), David Diem (bass, vocals) and Jeff Gensterblum (drums, percussion), New York-based indie rock quartet Robes is comprised of a group of grizzled professional musicians, whose careers can be traced back to several different projects in the 90s. Demaio helped put Gainesville, FL on to the post hardcore map with stints in bands such as Gus, Strikeforce Diablo, Argentina, Asshole Parade and Floor — all before he decided to relocate to New York. Diem, was also a member of Gainesville, FL-based band Twelve Hour Turn. And after the band dissolved, Diem decided to pursue a career as a teacher before he also relocated to New York, where they caught up and began writing and sharing musical ideas through email. Gensterbaum was originally based in Michigan, where he was a member of Small Brown Fox, Able Baker Fox, Unwed, States and Kingdoms and Your Skull My Closet. As it turns out Gensterbaum was labelmates at No Idea Records with Diem and Demaio, with whom he had toured with quite a bit over the years. And when he relocated to New York, Gensterbaum called his old labelmates. Adding to the six degrees of musical separation at the heart of the band, Bartsocas also hailed from Florida and was a member of Pagan Girls, As Friends Rust and Bird of Ill Omen and — and as the story goes, Bartsocas and Demaio were good friends, who had talked about collaborating together before Bartsocas relocated to New York to finalize the new band’s lineup.

The band’s latest single “Unholy Moon” owes a major sonic debt to 90s alt rock — in particular Superunknown-era Soundgarden, Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam — as the band pairs layers of enormous power chords, thundering drumming, extremely downtuned and rumbling bass chords with an anthemic hook, an alternating quiet, loud, quiet structure and Bartsocas’ baritone crooning. And as a result, the quartet reveals that they can craft a moshpit and beer-raising worthy hook.

The band is opening for acclaimed synth rock/prog rock at Milemarker at Shea Stadium next Wednesday.