A bicycle crash left a young Sweeney with his jaw wired shut for six weeks, and in recovering, his sustenance was on an acoustic guitar. What was he chasing? Perhaps something in a progression that led to the acquisition of a Yamaha MT-50 4-track recorder, seclusion in empty piano rooms on the campus of UC Berkeley, and hosting cassette release parties in his co-op, all while logging enough California-psych gold on tape to get a stretch of Highway 1 named for him. Branching out from celebrated San Francisco bands VOWS & Montra for the release of his 2013 solo debut ‘Ether Ore’, Luke Sweeney swung out on a limb with a stripped-down approach that garnered blossoms of critical praise for its “distinctly handcrafted feel” and “melodies that feel like opiates for the soul” (SF Chronicle).
Yet the surface has only been scratched in revealing Sweeney’s full portrait. Due for release in 2014 is a whole new sound from the troubadour’s ever-spinning reels: ‘Adventure:Us’, a matchbox collection of electric psych-soul gems cut over two sessions in the autumns of 2011 and 2012 in Brooklyn with producer Robin MacMillan (Persephone’s Bees, Shalants). Now with a cast of accomplished players Brett Eastman (x-Girls), Zach Ryan (x-Stone Foxes) and Rohini Moradi, Sweeney’s band whips up the vast spectrum of his songs into a magnetic force, drawing ears who hear something familiar yet mysteriously new, as if plucked from an Earth-like planet just barely detectable on our Doppler. It’s a sound that’s hard to come by, thrilling to chase, and comforting to know.
– Tanner P Grey, Brontosonix
Deep Cuts is a band with a story to tell on their debut EP, and the story is one of their homeland: The Greater Houston-Galveston Coastal Corridor. Excepting a certain zillionaire R&B diva, this is not an area known for its musical offerings. With the zesty Latin sounds of Love Grows, Deep Cuts changes that. Their songs are bursts of pop energy fueled by Latin syncopations and earworm choruses, each with its own small slice of the greater story. Never had a minor panic attack dodging the hordes of daytrippers bustling along 61st and Seawall? Listen to the frenzied hits that open “Causeway” and you’ll know. Never sat in midday beach traffic heading south on I-45, the AC out and Tres Hombres stuck in the CD player? Listen to the woozy guitar that permeates “Serpents” and you’ll know. Never made the drunken trip from the island back into the city, your wallet empty and your love life lacking? Listen to Love Grows and you’ll know.
Featured on the summer 2013 cover of Texas Music magazine, Soul Track Mind has made a name for themselves by blending ’60s and ’70s era soul and R&B with flares of jazz, blues, funk and dance rhythms and a sound deeply rooted in retro convictions that still manages to feel fresh and modern. Over the last few years, whirlwind frontman Donovan Keith and the dapper disciples of Soul Track Mind have become synonymous with raucously entertaining shows. Since releasing their debut album, Ghost of Soul, Soul Track Mind has become a force to reckon with in the modern soul genre.
“They come out of a gritty melting pot that includes seasonings from Booker T and the MGs, Otis Redding, Billy Preston, the later works of Ray Charles, and more contemporary influences like the Black Keys and John Legend.” – Huffington Post
A country boy with a punk-rock heart, Cory Branan fires twin barrels of barroom boogie woogie and honky-tonk twang. –Rolling Stone
The No-Hit Wonder – song and album – is both a celebratory anthem of the world-weary, undefeated underdogs of the world, and a coming to terms with the cards life has dealt you. While the title track may sound autobiographical, it was written for fellow troubadours living blood to string/hand to mouth. And when the Hold Steady s Craig Finn and Steve Selvidge join in singing it is what it is/blood to string, it becomes everybody s fight.
Lyrically, there s plenty of Branan s trademark rakish humor (in The Only You : Got me another girl/she looks like you… at 23/but while she sleeps I trace the places where your tattoos used to be ) and unforced Southern imagery (in You Make Me : Now I m happy as a bluebird in a bottle tree ). Not that it s all sunshine and honeysuckle; in All I Got and Gone, the singer ransacks his decaying house in search of a missing note, while lamenting The heart has four darkened drawers and secrets from itself.
For his fourth album Branan called on a who s who cast of heroes and no-hit-wonder peers to flash up the proceedings. Finn and Selvidge of the Hold Steady, Isbell, Caitlin Rose and Austin Lucas ( All the Rivers in Colorado ), and Tim Easton ( Sour Mash ) all lend their voices to the cause, while some of Nashville s finest players – Audley Freed (The Black Crowes), John Radford (Justin Townes Earle, Luella and The Sun), Sadler Vaden (The 400 Unit, Drivin and Cryin), and Robbie The Man of Steel Turner (Waylon Jennings, Charlie Rich) – hammer the damn thing home.
The Ugly Beats have been making a glorious, 60s garage-fueled racket for 11 years in their hometown of Austin, Texas and throughout the U.S., Mexico, Canada and Spain. The band wound the clock all the way back to 1966 before striking their first note in 2003 and has left it there ever since. A force to be reckoned with live, they have also released three terrific records on Get Hip Recordings: Bring on the Beats, Take a Stand with the Ugly Beats and MOTOR! Their new record Brand New Day will also be out on Get Hip in June 2014. You MUST obey the Beats!
“Tomten is a trio from Seattle, Washington. Often described as Baroque or Dream Pop for their prominent use of organ/electric piano/ and analog synthesizers, they share a wide influence from early power-pop to electric folk.
The band formed in 2008 when Singer/Keyboardist Brian Noyeswatkins met Bassist Lena Simon at art school. The two began recording demos in the practice rooms, and started performing regularly in 2010 after drummer Jake Brady joined. The previous record Wednesday’s Children was released in June of 2012. Recorded on an old 16-track Tascam in a small Seward Park studio over the course of July the year prior, Wednesday’s Children is a keen plate-reverbed excursion over a soundbed of leslie organs, rhodes, chiming guitars, and 3-part harmonies. Following the release of Wednesday’s Children, Tomten began work on what would be their newest release, The Farewell Party, recording with engineer/producer Jason Quever (Papercuts) during the summer of 2013 in Sacramento, and San Francisco.
The singles off The Farewell Party display a stronger focus on songwriting as well as production, from the somber mellotron of “Pipe Dream Boy” to the shimmering 12 string, and bouncing hammond sound of “Mother Minnow.” Other notable moments from the LP include “Thomasina”, a vivacious toe-tapper that employs the splendor of brass to delectable effect, and the lonesome piano ballad “Nothin’ Like Bein’ No One”, with its mournful strings sounding out as if from limbo. The Farewell Party will be released August 19th 2014 on Seattle label Versicolor, with a US tour to follow. Tomten’s live set now features Brian Noyeswatkins, Jake Brady, and Dillon Sturtevant. You may expect to hear songs old and new, as well as a few covers pulled from the dusty shelf.”
– Don Mignon (The Musician’s Musician)
Come hear the soundtrack to the new movie God Help The Girl a new musical feature film, written and directed by Stuart Murdoch, lead singer of the group Belle and Sebastian. Enter to win tickets to see the movie 9/12 at Alamo Drafthouse Houston.
Stuart aspired to tell the story of “a better summer, or at least a summer when something happened. It happened to a boy and a girl and a girl in a city roughly the same size and population of Glasgow. Perhaps the canals were a bit grimier, the high-rise buildings taller, the streets emptier when you needed them to be, and the beat clubs busier than the ones around here. But on the whole the city was this one.”
Johnny may be gone, but he left us some remarkable music including a completed new album that was readied for release just as he passed. Step Back features may of JW’s friends and fellow guitar players. Cactus will have the new CD on sale for only $9 for a short time as well as a limited edition (1,000 pieces), Indie-store only edition on white vinyl. Fans can hear the new album at a listening party in the record ranch on Tuesday, September 2nd and enter to win a numbered test pressing that is as valuable as it is cool. Cool, refreshing beverages from the Saint Arnold brewery will be provided.
Eric + Erica is a duo making music with two voices, an autoharp, keyboards, drums and a sampler. Their songs are pop music at their core, dressed up with the shimmer of autoharp; haunting, chiming keyboard melodies; and beats that are as strong and simple as they are surprising. Erica’s naturally sweet and soaring vocals lead the way, floating dreamily above the music and delivering lyrics that are part tender confession and part bold abstraction, while Eric’s low, gentle voice provides a complementary undertone. They make intimate music, and invite you in to it. The project was born in Oakland, CA, and currently resides in Durham, NC. On record a layered, dreamy swirl of the above mentioned elements, the live band has recently evolved in to a sleek, energetic duo, with Erica singing and playing electric Autoharp, and Eric providing accompaniment simultaneously on drums, foot pedal synthesizer, keys and vocals. The effect is as tender and carefully crafted as ever, but with an extra dynamic intensity and danceable energy.
” “Dream Pop” is the perfect descriptor for Eric + Erica’s sound…The ambient, twinkling aura created by the musicians’ tools of the trade — Eric on piano and Erica strumming an autoharp — warmly embraces Fink’s goosebump-worthy vocals and intimate, bewitching melodies, with Kuhn providing perfectly placed low-register harmonies.” —City Beat
Def Perception Music formed in late 2012 to create a carefully crafted mix of golden era and contemporary hip-hop. Rapid-fire true-to-life lyrics are accompanied by live instrumentation from the hands of heavy hitters in Houston’s music scene. Although Def Perception’s sound is familiar to hip-hop fans across the globe, the band remains loyal to components of Houston hip-hop that led to the city’s recognition as an integral part of popular music. At all corners, Def Perception is comprised of musicians with a knack for composing and producing hip-hop, soul and gospel music. During the creative process, Def Perception provides a platform from which each member can contribute outside of their expertise. The result is music played with the precision of an expert and the heart of a hip-hop lover.