Near the midpoint of Buxton’s fifth album, “Stay Out Late,” singer and songwriter Sergio Treviño sings, “Only when you turn me inside out / it’s when you get to see what I’m about.”
Those lines most clearly articulate a thematic through-line that unites the album. On “Half a Native” three years ago, Treviño touched on an inside/outside theme, though it was through a brighter filter. He touched on subjects like identity and home.
“Stay Out Late” has a darker and more ethereal tone, with more internalized reflection.
Some of the tenuous tone on the album arises from Treviño’s struggle to get words down for the songs. Buxton released “Half a Native” three years ago. He worked on songs for his other band, Ancient Cat Society, but when time came to start rolling the stone for a Buxton album, he came up empty.
“I wasn’t able to write music for a long time,” he says. “Or at least any music I liked. You have this filter going all the time if you’re a working musician. And you know you have to continue and push along, even if you’re not feeling good about what you’re doing. You do it until you feel good.”
Then the song “Haunt You” came along. It wasn’t the first “Stay Out Late” track to get done, but Treviño says, “It felt like it put us on the right track.”
The song touches on connections both felt and perceived, a haunting of sorts befitting the title.
Buxton marks 15 years as an entity next month, a passage of time that caught me off guard as a listener as much as it does the members of the band.
“We thought of ourselves as young bucks here,” Treviño says. “Now we have people tell us, ‘I saw you when I was 13.’ And they’re adults now. You wonder how that’s possible. Then you realize a lot of our lives have gone through this band.”
That span of time started in La Porte, where Treviño began making music with bassist Chris Wise and guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Jason Willis. They released “Red Follows Red” in 2005, an album that leaned toward folk, before adding drummer Justin Terrell and putting out “A Family Light” in 2009, which added some rougher edges to the mix.
To play all five albums in sequence is to notice a remarkable evolution. At times, the progress might seem like a reinvention, but “Each Horse With a Name” from “Family Light” feels like it has some shared fibers with the newer songs. Wise points out “Bones” does the same. The band added Austin Sepulvado, and its members all pushed any preconceived parameters as to what Buxton could sound like.
“‘Bones’ is like a synthy acoustic track,” Wise says. “We’ve been doing a version of that for a long time now. But a lot more on the new record.”
“There are things we do to keep it like Buxton and keep it consistent,” Treviño adds. “But I think I have a general inclination to progress, or evolve. It’s hard for me to do the same thing over and over again.”
Treviño mentions a trip to California where he bought the album “Laughing Stock” by Talk Talk, a British band that spanned 1981 to 1992. Talk Talk was born into the ’80s new wave and initially made fairly middle-of-the-road new wave music. The band pivoted on its last two albums into creating lush, almost symphonic song forms that unfolded over long spans of time.
“I got home and tried to do something like that,” Treviño says. “And I couldn’t create anything that made me feel that way it made me feel.”
While he blames those efforts to emulate “Laughing Stock” on initiating his writer’s block, it’s possible they jogged something loose because Buxton’s arc in some ways resembles Talk Talk’s. Both have vocalists with distinctive high voices that waver with beauty and eeriness. And both bands have made multiple albums with an identifiable sound, though the ground covered between the first and the most recent (in Talk Talk’s case, last) is vast.
Both bands have learned to use silence and quiet space to add mood, and grown savvy at punctuating the quiet with precise and intriguing sounds.
And both created inviting vibes that evoke nighttime. After putting a sun on the cover of its previous album cover, Buxton has a more interpretable piece of cover art for “Stay Out Late”: a sun-type orb sets while a pink moonlike orb rises. The image, as well as the music, carries a touch of Nick Drake’s mysterious progressive folk, a type of music in which nighttime can be both a haven and a source of anxiety. Buxton hits on that with the closing “Green of Endless Pines,” which captures the feeling that night rides home can be both comforting and ominous.
“That was me radiating while driving home from this experience I just had,” Treviño says. “So I was excited by the experience but also thinking about how you can lose it. So it’s almost a love song. It’s just a very somber love song.”
The Black Lillies are back! Known for their captivating blend of rock & roll and country, they have become one of Americana music’s biggest success stories: an internationally-renowned band of roots-rockers, armed with songs that blur the boundaries between genres. They are a mainstay on radio and album sales charts, with a sound that is as powerful in the quieter moments as it is explosive during the jubilant ones. The band’s pared down configuration has resulted in a bigger, deeper sound built on undeniable chemistry, lush three-part harmonies, and instrumental virtuosity with a funky edge.
Hail The Sun is a progressive post-hardcore quartet who met in Chico, CA, while studying music technology. The overlap of influences throughout the group has led them to become one of the most dynamic and intricate musical acts to come out of the scene in decades. Formed by drummer Donovan Melero and guitarist Aric Garcia (who played in a death metal band in high school), the original idea for the musical direction was to remain high-energy, while allowing melodies and harmonies to be a prominent feature, rather than just screaming to portray intense emotion. The addition of Shane Gann and John Stirrat brought additional flavors, and the group began to stretch its creative legs, allowing itself to write parts and songs that were much more heavily influenced by jazz, funk, blues, fusion, and Latin musical styles.
The group has toured extensively throughout its three-year existence, and has recently begun experiencing national exposure. They have one of the most high-energy live shows ever witnessed, and that’s all while playing amazingly difficult lines and rhythms. Their drummer is their singer, which is a show in and of itself, and the addition of the other three acting as visual “frontmen,” while not singing, lets the audience’s attention move from here to there seamlessly, and without feeling bored.
John Allen Stephens is an artist, producer and multi-instrumentalist from Houston, TX blending elements of pop, r&b and electronic music.
“Dolzani is a skilled songwriter with melodies that are eternally engaging…and even soothing and seductive.” – No Depression
“Brian Dolzani exists somewhere between the sawdust covered floors of Southern dance halls and the green fields of the best folk festivals” – Lonesome Noise
Brian Dolzani mines his personal life and experiences to create songs that cut deep upon first listen. Through his unique vocal tone (a ‘smoother Neil Young’) and individualistic writing style, you can tell Brian is putting himself on the ledge with every song and performance. His music reflects his heartache and perseverance through early life tragedy, as well as the daily complexities of family life and deep existential issues we all face (if we know how to look and feel). Despite the often confessional and weighty issues that he writes about, Brian’s music is inspiring, healing, and a testament to the human ability to engage life at a deep, spiritual level, and live to tell the tale.
Cactus Flowers is Jessica A.M., Matt Black, and Mark Carcamo. Based out of Houston, Texas, Jessica & Mark met in early 2017. After bonding over mutual psych bands, they started playing and recorded a live session at Steamboat Ampworks. Matt soon was added to build the heavy undertones of each song. With a full arsenal of rock, dream pop, shoe gaze and psych, Cactus Flowers wants to take you on a journey into the mystic of the natural and spiritual world, outside & within.
Rose Ette debuted their fresh take on indie-pop in 2015, and have since established themselves as one of Houston’s most exciting new bands. They captured their guitar driven sound on Jungle, their debut EP on Miss Champagne, by mixing the shoegaze influenced sounds of the Jesus and Mary Chain with a girl-group vocal style to create something lo-fi, melodic and unpretentious.
Velveteen Echo draws equally from indie rock and bedroom pop to create a sound that is reminiscent of bands like The Sundays and The Cranberries. The band deftly combines catchy vocal melodies, jangly guitar, precise bass lines, and endearing lyrics to offer something lovely and hard to dismiss.
Emo influenced Shoegaze from the southeast.
Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, Matt Mason knew from an early age that his home would one day be Nashville, Tennessee. His earliest memories of his musical aspirations are going the Grand Ole Opry with his family, and telling his Dad that he wanted to play there someday. So by the time he was eleven he was playing guitar and singing whenever he got a chance. Early on, his influences came from the gospel music of his family’s small church and the sounds of the late great Elvis Presley. Today those influences still hold true, along with the music of Waylon Jennings, Garth Brooks, Merle Haggard and other country greats.
Matt’s dream of being a singer became stone cold ambitions one summer on a family vacation in South Florida when he talked his father into letting him enter a talent show. In front of a crowd of strangers Matt sang one of his favorite country songs and the reaction was overwhelming and more proof that being a country music performer was what he was destined to do. After this experience in Florida, Matt began to hone his craft even further by playing locally in his home state, and regionally opening for acts like Charlie Daniels, Joe Diffie, Vern Gosdin, Brian McComas, and Mel McDaniel.
The spring of 2005 brought the moment Matt had been waiting and working to reach for many years. He graduated from high school, packed his bags, and made that promising move to Nashville. He learned quickly that Nashville is not a town that hands out free passes to stardom. It takes hard work and lots of paying your dues up and down the musical trail of bars lining Nashville’s most famous street, Broadway. Matt was ready for the challenge and quickly gained local fame at famous bars like Tootsies, The Stage, Legends Corner and others. It was humbling to play on the stage of Tootsies where many of his heroes had played in their youth, and to know behind Tootsies majestically stands the Ryman Auditorium, the mother church of country music, waiting to embrace a new generation of country stars. Matt wanted to lead that new generation of country stars while always paying homage to his heroes and their influence with his music.
His big break seemed to be on the horizon when in 2006 Matt auditioned at the Wild Horse Saloon for a television series called “Nashville Star” on USA network. From among 20,000 contestants Matt was chosen as one of the 10 contestants. Each week contestants competed for America’s vote and the judge’s approval. Matt’s strong willed, mysterious, and reserved demeanor lead him to be dubbed ‘The Quite Storm” by co-host Cowboy Troy. “You deserve a record deal,” proclaimed Anastasia after Matt sang David Allen Coe’s “The Ride,” and Phil Vassar and John Rich agreed that the young performer was “a certified badass.” Matt’s performance of the Georgia Satellites’ song “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” was a definite hit with the judges on an episode. Anastasia and Phil agreed that he showed range and ability, and Naomi gushed that it was Matt’s best performance to date. “You’ve got a quality,” she said. Placing fourth overall in the competition secured Matt a spot on the “Nashville Star” Tour that crossed the country and brought Matt a solid following and fan base.
Matt’s fan base has stood strong behind the performer over these past years as he has continued to play shows around the country and has spent a significant amount of time in Nashville writing and recording songs. Matt has used his songwriting as an outlet to tell the up and downs from his own life over the years following the show. While continuing to work hard to attain his goals, a friend at renown booking agency William Morris Endeavor Entertainment who Matt had known nearly ten years, recommended him for an opportunity to audition for a new show called CMT’s Next Superstar. Recognized from his Nashville Star days and for his amazing talent and perseverance in this industry Matt once again was chosen as one of the 10 contestants to compete for a major label record deal in Nashville. After each episode, would travel to different cities re-airing the show, playing an acoustic set and just hanging out with fans which soon paid off. He won “CMT Next Superstar.”
Since winning the show, Matt has recorded eight master sides. Four with producer James Stroud and four with producer Phil Odonnell. He has written upwards of one-hundred new songs, and played shows with Little Big Town and Blake Shelton. He also toured three months with Luke Bryan, Lee Brice, and Josh Thompson on the “CMT on Tour” tour. Matt is continously working, writing and touring to become a name that will go down in history.