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First Up: The City of Murphy Bats with the Big Hitters of Big Texas Beer Fest 2016

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Some might call it the rookie of beer festivals considering the other two cities in the Big Texas Beer Fest 2016 series were Dallas earlier in March and Houston later in May, but The City of Murphy and Texas Brewvolution (a co-partner) is promising a major player of craft beer at this year’s Tunes, Tails, and Ales: Murphy’s 1st Annual Beer Fest this Saturday May 14th at Murphy Central Park. Continue reading

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The Foreign Resort and The American Depression

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Photo Credit: Tom Gilmore, Foundwaves

Almost a year and a half since the release of their latest album, New Frontier (October 28th, 2014), produced by heavyweight John Fryer (Nine Inch Nails, Cocteau Twins, Depeche Mode), The Foreign Resort is still gracing the shelves of buzzing record stores like Josey Records on buzzing record store days like Record Store Day (April 16th, 2016). The band was also spotted, live flesh and blood, playing last month (March 15th) at The Double Wide for the Moon Sounds Records: An Evening of Shoegaze showcase. The clan from Coppenhagen, a drip away from The Cure for their forlorn fog rock, most recently released a five song EP as of October 23rd, 2015 romanticizing the American Dream. Luckily touring American music festivals like CMJ and SXSW since 2010 with bands like DIIV and A Place to Bury Strangers, they’ve witnessed an American way of life less fictionalized and idolized than perhaps taught to them in their Danish tongue. Now, members Mikkel Borbjerg Jakobsen – Vocals/Guitar/Bass, Morten Hansen – Drums/Vocals, and Steffan Petersen – Guitar/Bass are hyping their latest music video for “Suburban Depression”, a nouveau take on the lives of American housewives through the eyes of…well…foreigners. As the uppers kick in and the lights dim, the ladies of suburbia turn into each their own sinner. With regret, remorse, and a sinister craving for likability and attention, the ordinary housewife primped with pearls and a serving tray spins upside down, around, and against the pole of her “own private hell”.

 

Upcoming Shows

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Anxious Utopia: The Hansel and Gretel of My Gold Mask

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Chicago-based Gretta Rochelle and Jack Armondo are the goth overlords behind experimental outfit, My Gold Mask. With a sound dauntlessly steeped in a fantastical nightmare much like The Brothers Grimm’s Hansel and Gretel or Jim Henson’s Mirror Mask, My Gold Mask premieres their new album, Anxious Utopia via Moon Sounds Records. Produced and mixed by metal producer Sanford Parker (Pelican, Zoroaster) and Balthazar de Ley (Iron & Wine, Margot & The Nuclear So and So’s)  over a period of two years in and out of the Chicago area, Anxious Utopia refers to MGM’s most energetic, upbeat tracks to date. Given the delicate nature of singer/self-taught drummer Rochelle’s emotional state, the title of the new LP suggests a maturing band that has come to terms with the anxiety yet cathartic bliss that often accompanies creative enlightenment. Spokesperson, guitarist/vocalist Jack Armondo has graciously played diplomat for the band assuring interested parties that the momentum of MGM has not been lost. Third member, drummer James Andrew deputized for his electronic ear,  seems to be the perfect go-between electronic antidote for a band so markedly defined by two of its musically headstrong leaders.

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Credit: Jason Creps 

The focal point to her own fairytale, Gretta Rochelle’s (what has been deemed) “primal physicality” embodies a tribal convalescence. Her chipper vocals channel the crisp, ethereal pop of acts like Grimes, Zambri, Alex Winston, and Cyndi Lauper.

The first awarded single goes to “Battles” with its a party-girl hook, “break my hands, losing battles, giving up the devil I know”,  loosley reminiscent of Aqua’s “Barbie Girl”.   In the music video, Rochelle suspends us with voyeuristic goggles whilst seducing us, not with overplayed, overt sexuality but with an arresting vulnerability.

As one of her power anthems of a cleansing origin, “Connect” tickles an 80s aerobicise era with the modernity and edge of Haim. The momentous lyrics “I know we want it, we want it, we want it yeah” utilizes a syncopated call-and-response with cavernous reverb and synth mastering by Balthazar de Ley.

 

*Guest synth by Toph McNeil

 

 

Order the new album ‘ANXIOUS UTOPIA’ now on Moon Sounds Records.

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Vagabond: First EP

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Having only recently converged in a natural forest in the south of Paris at a Desert Session-esque jam session famed by Josh Homme, the members of French group Vagabond veritably echo the brooding sounds of music like Russian Circles and The Kills, two of their major influences. Combine the voices of PJ Harvey and Grace Slick and meet Vagabond’s lead vocals/keys, Elisabeth Fauquert. Other members include Florent Mathieu (bass/vocals), Matthieu Vitse (guitar/vocals), and Maxence Wangermez. With the release of their first EP Hiraeth , a term which loosely defined in Welsh means a wistfulness or longing for one’s home country, the band’s plan is to simply keep playing live shows. Thus far a Paris/Angers band playing french venues such as Supersonic, Buzz de Bellville, and Track’n Art, Vagabond looks forward to a small (local) tour in the summer.

The four track EP was recorded in the summer of 2015 by Issy les Moulineaux of 7ème Ciel Studios. Its apocalyptic tone begs BRMC (Black Rebel MotorCycle Club) with a yearning, lulling drone potentially befitting for Levitation 2017, a premiere pscyh rock festival (hitting as close to DFW as Carson Creek Ranch April 29th – May 1st in Austin, TX !).  As per their press kit,

The tracks are richly textured, they explore varied atmospheres and emotions.

I have a heavy notion though that theres’ more talent and mystery yet to be revealed from behind Vagabond’s intricate shroud.

Vagabond logo HQ

Dabulga Design

 

For more on the band, visit their Soundcloud.

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Atlantis Aquarius – SUPERGROUP

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Recently weened off of an Austin, TX nightlife high where rock ‘n rollers in stetsons and cowboy boots strut the streets and saloons like honkey-tonk nightclub, The White Horse, I am pleased to have found my new live, urban-cowboy watering hole in Dallas supergroup, Atlantis Aquarius:

Vocals/Guitar- Jordan Cain (Rise and Shine), Lead Guitarist – Alexis Sanchez (The Van Sanchez), Vocals – Taylor Lumby (The Affections/Larry g(EE)), Keys – Daniel Creamer (The Texas Gentlemen/ Natural Anthem), Drums – Ryan Ake (Natural Anthem/The Texas Gentlemen), and Bass – Scott Lee (Rise & Shine)

The men and woman of the hour rollicked a patchwork of musical influences Friday night at Three Links Deep Ellum, combining the fellowship of The Band with the rebel-rousing licks of ZZ Top. “I’m used to drumming” admitted Jordan Cain, whose additional chops included harmonica during “Workin on a Building”, but either it was the few shots and beer chaser he pitched back, Kurt Vile tresses, or more likely, the wherewithal with which he commanded the stage that buoyed the group through a set deemed by an audience member as “too good to be original songs”. Of notable mention are members Daniel Creamer who has collaborated with and played keys for Leon Bridges, Alexis Sanchez who fronts The Van Sanchez (playing a free show at The Foundry on February 19th), and Taylor Limby, the ardently led vocals for “Workin on a Building”.

12736990_995136880567832_884639134_oAll songs were written by Jordan Cain except “Shoot Out on the Plantation” (Leon Russel 1971), “Wade in the Water” (Originally a slave spiritual covered by artists such as Ramsey Lewis, Judy Henske, and Ella Jenkins, and The Staple Singers), “Crazy Mama” (J.J. Cale 1971), and “Rock Me, Baby” (B.B. King 1964).

 

When in Texas on a stage with talent that traverses a mono-genre, collaborations run deep as does the superiority of the predecessors that came before (who I will now refer to as) The Magnificent 6. Watch and listen to some of Atlantis Aquarius’s influences:

 

 

 

(STRT 30:24, STOP 42:42)

 

Future show dates and appearances will be posted here.

 

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New Kid on the Block: Sofar Sounds Ft. Worth

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After recent news of the expansion of unplugged living room shows across a mind-fogging 200 cities, Ft. Worth added to the ink in the waters of Sofar Sounds with its first (organized) “Songs from a Room” show. Organizers and audience members filled a sunlit room of Trey Mark Vodka Distillery @TreyMarkVodka Saturday afternoon, January 23rd with grinning eagerness for a bill toting acts like The Effinays @theeffinays, Von Strantz @VonStrantz, James Caronna @Jamescaronna, and a prime-time celebrity from NBC’s The Voice, Blaine Mitchell @blaine_mithchell of Treeside @treesidemusic.

The Effinays from Dallas hypnotized us with a quixotic twist of Funk/Latin/Hip-Hop and an ephemeral New Orleans lilt. The multifarious bunch consists of Joe “Big Spook” Martinez – Lead Vocals, Jeremy “Pan Blanco” Piering – Bass Guitar, Valenti “Funk” Thomas- Drums/Keys, Alex “Cave Man” Rivera De Jesús – Guitars, and Jimmy “Bang Bang” Gutierrez – Percussion. “Welcome to the effin-show!” opened our ears to a band that should be billed with Late Night with Jimmy Fallon’s The Roots. Kindred characters, all five members blended together funk and harmony from Valenti Thomas’ dual rhythms from keys to drums to Alex Rivera De Jesús’ Pantene curls and balmy Spanish riffs. The band must have been entertaining for one of their most reserved performances to date.

The EffinaysMatthew J. Sanchez | Wild Wonderment

Following was a brand of Sofar to which we are most accustomed. Indiana duo VON Strantz is an upright bass and violin playing Kelly Horton and guitarist/vocalist Jess Strantz with a brand of folk n’ roll fashioned for brandying the soul. “Cigarette Smoke” was a faint reminder of “What If God Was One of Us”, via 90s angel Joan Osborne, while “Dying Flower” channeled early (2010’s Suburban Nature) Sarah Jaffe. My proudest compliment is for “Sailor’s Tune” for which Strantz pined “Wondering if you ever loved me at all” in the style of a ranchera canción.   

VONStrantzMatthew J. Sanchez | Wild Wonderment

James Caronna traveled from Houston to share his songs about Mexican girls and lost hope. The frail, Father John Misty shadow of a man had a quiet, almost elusive countenance that drove home the importance of humility in a world full of excess and greed. His songs mirrored a singer-songwriter who has lost in love but has gained an audience with ballsy lyrics like “A job ain’t the highest virtue a man can hold”. “Losing Hope”, what he called an “attempt to write a political folk song”, was my personal favorite about the apathy and disconnect of an entire generation whose “eyes and souls are tied to our phones”. I tried to wash away the resounding irony of those words before laying down my own phone during the set.

IMG_8123Matthew J. Sanchez | Wild Wonderment

Lastly, a man whose recent past had been consumed by spotlight and fame uttered no truer words than, “They own everything you write” in reference to the honchos at The Voice. Blaine Mitchell of Treeside eventually shed that tiresome seal of silence and since then has been sharing a list of love songs meant to be preached by a gaping church mouth. Mitchell may have been trained by TV, but his lyrics,vocals, and sweet, soulful head shakes are all his own with songs like “Contagious”, “Wilderness”,and “Handful”. He ended the afternoon lineup with our stamp of approval to his new musical rediscovery.

Blaine MitchellMatthew J. Sanchez | Wild Wonderment

Find out more about the featured artists on their webpages:

The Effinays

Von Strantz

James Caronna

Blaine Mitchell of Treeside
Look for more Sofar Sounds in and around your home city and sign up to be a guest at Sofarsounds.com. The next shows in the DFW area will be February 14th (Ft. Worth), February 20th (Denton) and February 27th (East Dallas). 

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Sofar Sounds: Local and Global Chapters Celebrate 200 Cities

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The organization that gives precedence to the private concert experience just hit 200 cities on January 6th, 2016. Sofar Sounds Global started with the vision that the more intimate a space for live music, the more appreciated the artists’ creativity and passion for their art. Like many riddles and patchwork labyrinths of the mind, the most fascinating phenomena about it all is the one big SECRET local… up until the very last minute when the guest list trickles into the venue with the final line-up reveal, much like that of the hare out of the magic hat.

Now sustaining 200 cities from North America to Europe, Africa, Oceania, and Asia as its living room, the organization spends plenty of time on social media streaming live, unplugged music to a global community of smart devices. Founder and envisioneer Rafe Offer began Sofar Sounds in London in 2009 in spite of the common frustrations of loud talking and the clanking of beer bottles at the bars where musicians often set-up shop. Today to counteract these unwanted distractions, cities everywhere are expanding their Sofar chapters by getting organized, recruiting the best sound and video crews to share living room performances, and attracting an increasingly higher standard of talent through their doors.

Dallas is one such city currently celebrating its own break-away from its initial conglomerate DFW chapter (Dallas, Ft. Worth, Denton combined), added just five years prior in September 2011. City leader Joanna Jurgens eventually became Global Project Manager, and Chris Gonzales now co-leads Dallas with JoAnna Ferguson. They have hosted an impressive number of shows simply out of love for the music. Gonzales states, ”I don’t think I ever wanted an unpaid job so bad; although it doesn’t pay monetarily, it is certainly rewarding in many other ways.” The effects of the movement have captivated others like local Music Producer/Engineer/Entrepreneur Jose Sanchez. After learning of Sofar through artists who had recorded at his studios, Jose offered not only his artist/artist management and A/V contacts and expertise, but also his studio for future set-ups.

Sofar Sounds Dallas’ last gig on January 8, 2016 in Carrollton, TX at Jose Sanchez’s studio showcased some stand-out performances by local and traveling acts:

The Demigs (@thedemigs) from Denton, TX opened the night with news of their recently released new album, Welcome to Hard Times. Stand out track “Melamine” hints Death Cab-esque lyrics like “There’s no design or reason or rhyme”. “Mr. Timer” featured the mandolin by guest musician Nicholas Morgan. Kelly Upshaw joined the band on keys adding to the mix a funkier flavor to an already substantial 4-piece.     

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Members: Alex Hastings – guitar, Matthew Morin – drums, Nicholas Morgan – mandolin, Chris Demiglio – vocals & guitar, Jason Bacchus – bass, Kelly Upshaw – keys. Credit William@WJNPhoto.com

Visiting Sofar Dallas all the way from Tuscon, AZ was enigmatic duo Ryanhood (@ryanhood). Cameron Hood and Ryan Green aka “Maestro” (for his riddling guitar and mandolin facility) together lead an amusing back-and-forth banter in between songs and during harmonies. Their candor and witticisms are affirmed and romanticised with songs like “I Didn’t Put Anything Into Your Place” and instrumental “Appy Jam”. The personal standout, during which Hood invited audience involvement, is “Sickbed Symphony” taken from Hood’s father’s advice, “Make your lives a song, a simple symphony.”

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Ryan Green – guitar and mandolin, Cameron Hood – vocals and guitar. Credit William@WJNPhoto.com

Austinite Jaimee Harris (@jaimeeharris) offered us tales from San Antonio, a set list ripe with depressive spirit and characteristic of open-book singer-songwriters. Before the song “Imposters”, Harris reminded us of the insincerity that comes with the human necessity for acceptance and gently heeded the advice, “No matter what you do, be honest.” Her stand-out track “Catch it Now” breathes unburdened humility with lyrics like “Maybe I was just too tired to fight.” Jaimee Harris is looking forward to her debut album coming soon. Pledge a donation at www.pledgejaimee.com.

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Brian Patterson – guitar, Jaimee Harris – guitar and vocals, BettySoo – vocals. Credit William@WJNPhoto.com

The Vanity (@thevanity), another Austin band closing the Sofar night, has opened for the likes of Cold War Kids and Børns. Members Alex Dugan, Mic Vredenburgh, Augie Gmitter and David Grayson are a fun-sized package with caliber written all over; if it was wearing a suit, the band would fall nothing short of aficionados with singer Alex Dungan’s intricately carved vocals and Mic Vredenburgh’s Masters in Cello rendering songs with depth and sophistication like “Black & Blue” and single, “Stay”. At a halfway point in the set, Dungan makes the boldest statement of the night, “We’re actually a really loud rock band,” given the raw, acoustic environment and nature of a Sofar show.

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Alex Dungan – guitar and vocals. Credit William@WJNPhoto.com

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Mic Vredenburgh (guitar), David Grayson (drums), Alex Dugan (vocals), Augie Gmitter (bass). Credit William@WJNPhoto.com

For more @Sofarsounds news visit the website, browse cities like Dallas/Fort Worth, and signup to attend a show near you.

The next local Sofar Sounds secret event will be held on Saturday, January 23rd in Ft. Worth. See you there!

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Credit William@WJNPhoto.com


Teacher Preacher

As wary and aged as 4 months of “Teacher” and “Miss” could make a first year teacher, I am still here and well. One thing I’ve already learned is that there isn’t time for much else except the grind and wind of drill, drill, drill. Starting from the beginning with some is hard, but pushing the rest to be as good, nay better, than Highland Park – Dallas’ premiere academic heavy weights, wheedles at my core-nerd to mold confidence and precision.
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Past the Land of a Gazey, Swirly-Sounding Noise Band: A Kurt Loder Delivery on Revamped Denton Trio

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Pale Dīan’s Dallas debut was at the Double Wide in Deep Ellum on July 25th. The band, formerly known as Blackstone Rangers from Denton, TX,  has not only changed names but also replaced drummer Dan Bornhorst with the industrial machine. They added bassist Ben Fleming with original members, guitarist/peddlist Derek Kutzer and ‘phenom voz’/keyboardist Ruth Smith rounding out the trio.

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With a sneer towards the music writer(s) of DO (Dallas Observer), Kutzer retorts to me in a statement that the magazine hadn’t even bothered to listen to the music before nominating Blackstone Rangers for an Americana award.

Kutzer explains the name change and the DO’s “ugh-oh”:

So our name was Blackstone Rngrs. This is a reference to the 1960s Chicago street gang. Today, they function as a community outreach organization in Chicago and call themselves Black P. Stone Nation. We changed our name for a few reasons. On the Chicago gang side of things, we decided that it was insensitive to appropriate that name for our own use. Simple as that. On the a[e]sthetics of the name, we decided the name sucked for a gazey, swirlie sounding noise band. I can’t prove it, but I believe it’s the reason the DO nominated us in the Americana category in 2014.[]. Just assumed we were some box-car-rambler-whiskey-picker blah blah music. So, Pale Dīan better represents the emotions and feelings we feel and want you to feel. Flickers of light and the beauty of night and the moon. So yea.

Reasons for the talent change-up were purely “exploratory”, says Kutzer. I’m venturing that the recent decision to relocate to Austin also relieves that restless creative spirit, which so often makes the best musicians slip away to cities with the promise of success or at least, never-ending adolescence. Treat them well, Austin.

Long live Pale Dīan.

Pale Dīan at Double Wide