The Wrong Ones (Houston, TX)
“The end of the world has been on people’s minds lately, what with the Mayans apparently penciling in the apocalypse next year and the Rapture rain-checked for October of this ‘un. That preoccupation with the end of the world is why we skipped straight to ‘Doomsday Transmission” on the Wrongs Ones’ new album, Deceiver (Cutthroat Records).
In most of their moments, the Wrong Ones are a textbook punk band. That’s not meant as a knock against them, but what expectations you hold in your head when you’re told that an album is a punk album will be met within standard parameters when you throw on Deceiver. True, it’s a bit angrier than modern punk, and there is a curious lack of artistic difference in that sung vitriol.” – Houston Press
(Sorry, no verifiable information On-line at this time)
(Sorry, no verifiable information On-line at this time)
(Sorry, no verifiable information On-line at this time)
Pure X (Austin, TX)
Pure X is the latest incarnation of a long-standing collaboration between Austin, Texas musicians and long-term friends Nate Grace, Jesse Jenkins and Austin Youngblood. Acephale is proud to present their debut album, Pleasure, released July 5th in the US and worldwide August.
Looseness is a key concept for the band, and all songs were recorded live without overdubbing. The aspiration was to capture songs in their purest… form, mistakes and all, as they were being written. Chasing a vibe in the studio allowed the songs to form themselves; structure and formula lost their rigidity as the songwriting process became more about meditative evolution than meticulous intent.
Patient, sparse and never any less than heartbreaking, the clutch of songs making up Pleasure has a sonic originality that many artists spend entire careers trying to cultivate. That’s not to be mistaken – Pure X are a Rock ‘n’ Roll band in the tradition’s truest sense. There are clear influences here: the snarl and nonchalant bombast of the Jesus and Mary Chain, the wistful, lonesome croon of Hank Williams and the pure, lovesick melodies of 1960s soul music can all be easily perceived within the group’s work to date. Crucially, however, Pure X do not let their reverence for such precedents overwhelm them. So where other lo-fi fetishists currently garnering attention tend to produce a facsimile of their inspirations, Grace, Jenkins and Youngblood dissect, invert and damage them.
Bound to its influences only by its golden melody and bruised sentiment, the music of Pure X is a genuine, unafraid and honest foray into the emotive and redemptive potential of pop music; an endeavor that captures perfectly its indefinable ability to captivate and devastate in equal measure.
Melissa Ferrick (Boston, MA)
Melissa Ferrick has a great deal to show for two decades in the music industry. There is the expansive body of work, mapped out over the sixteen albums that comprise her career to date, nearly all of which she distributed herself. There are the stories of the crisscrossed world and the things she has both gained and lost in her wake. There is the fervent fan-base that has grown with Ferrick, whic…h has waited patiently for her latest opus for the preceding three years. Above all there is the sound, a voice burnished by breakdowns and breakthroughs, refined over the twenty years she has been doing this.
And now, there is Still Right Here, the sum of these hard-earned parts set to music, Ferrick’s gorgeous purpose unspooling over the ten tracks that comprise the album. “This is the record I’ve wanted to make for a long time,” explains Ferrick. “The sound of it – the songwriting is definitely a step above where I was a few years ago.”
The growth reflected on Still Right Here is a direct result of the emotional topography of Ferrick’s life, shaped by the events of the past few years. After touring in support of 2008’s critically acclaimed Goodbye Youth, Ferrick found herself back in her Massachusetts base, home for the longest time in nearly two decades. “After [that album] came out I think I just needed to stop and figure out what I needed to do.” Shortly after returning home, Ferrick embarked on a professional and personal reckoning that would find her better off three years later, with the emotional travelogue of Still Right Here to show for it.
In the three years between albums, much changed in Ferrick’s life. In addition to falling in and out of love with her partner, she made the difficult decision to end the business relationship she’d built with her best friend over the course of her career. At the same time, Ferrick decided to sign to MPress Records after years of self-distributing her albums, which at first proved a difficult to decision to make. Ultimately, however, Ferrick realized she would only gain from the decision. As Ferrick sorted through all these issues, she found her most consistent outlet absent: writing. It wasn’t until she took a position teaching songwriting at Berklee College of Music that she began to set the contents of her life to music. After assigning the class the task of writing a song about something they didn’t want to explore, one of Ferrick’s students asked her where her song was. “I said that I didn’t write one, and one of my students said, ‘That’s kind of hypocritical of you.’ So I wrote the song ‘Checking In.”
Given the intensity with which Ferrick has been engaged in the emotional components of her life over the past several years, it was of chief importance that the record sound alive. “I really tried to sing my ass off,” Ferrick says. “I wanted it to sound like it was all happening in the room at the same time.” Indeed, there’s a living, breathing quality to the songs comprising Still Right Here. “Seconds Like These” lurches into action, Ferrick’s vocals are incandescent with gratitude, gliding over a chugging acoustic. “Headphones On” features help from guitar virtuoso Kaki King. “When I was in Williamsburg with [producer] Alex [Wong], I said I wanted something like what Kaki King does [for ‘Headphones On’]. He was like, ‘You know what’s so weird – she lives around the corner.’ I had my computer and saw she was online, so I asked her to come over and bring her guitar.”
Album namesake “Still Right Here” serves as the record’s mission statement, inspired by a friend who walked away from a terrible car accident. “That song is really important to me, because no matter how hard you try to run away from your stuff, it doesn’t matter. It’s always going to knock on the door for you to deal with.” “Weightless And Slow” showcases two of Ferrick’s strengths; the incredible guitar work that she’s known for which perfectly complements her soulful vocals as she spins a tale of love and hope. Another of Ferrick’s strengths lies in her ability to mine the contents of her life and set them to music – “You Let Me Be” is lo-fi balladry at its best, going deep into the romantic territory of Ferrick’s life with guest vocals from friend and tour mate Ani DiFranco.
The song also speaks to Ferrick’s own career longevity, and the catalog, fans and songs that she has to show for it. “I’m glad I’ve gotten as far as I have. I’m glad I’ve survived the industry and its changes, that I can still make a living playing shows and making records. And whenever I start to think maybe I shouldn’t do this, I try to remember that it’s no accident that I’ve written 150 songs, and people are still coming to shows,” says Ferrick. “I’ll just keep doing this until I’m not doing it anymore.”
Vandaveer (Washington, DC)
VANDAVEER is the song-singing, record-making, globetrotting project penned and put forth by alt-folk tunesmith Mark Charles Heidinger. Born in Ohio, raised in Kentucky, and currently camped out in the nation’s capital, Vandaveer offers up melodic Americana that is both haunting and easy, forlorn and welcoming, with stories as universal as the songs they inhabit. Vandaveer shapeshifts from studio to stage and back with a revolving cast of characters, most prominent among them Rose Guerin, offering up the loveliest harmonies heard this side of Eden.
What started as a solo side project for Heidinger in 2007 blossomed into something more dimensional a year later, with Guerin adding new depth and color to Vandaveer’s sound. The two were integral members of DC’s Federal Reserve collective, a ramshackle group of folk and not-so-folk types alike curating monthly musical happenings throughout the DC area. Informal collaborations in that environment soon galvanized, with Guerin’s voice becoming a reliable fixture in Vandaveer. The band has toured regularly on both sides of the Atlantic since, playing nearly 500 shows, steadily building a diverse fan base from the ground up.
Vandaveer’s third full length, Dig Down Deep, offers a collage of churning rhythms, steady guitar and ringing piano beneath tales of war and impermanence, loss and love. The music serves as both mirror and platform for Vandaveer’s stories—booming bass drum during moments of turmoil and conquest, throaty cello in moments of peace and predation, trembling keys in moments of uncertainty and hope. Out of the mosaic rise two voices in perfect harmony narrating and navigating the lives of Vandaveer’s characters with confidence and grace. With rich lyrical imagery and lush, spectral production courtesy of long-time collaborator Duane Lundy, Dig Down Deep is Vandaveer’s finest effort to date — a record both dense and direct, for and from the heart.
Dig Down Deep was released on April 18, 2011 in France (Alter K) and April 26, 2011 in North America (Supply & Demand Music).
Join us Thursday, October 27th at 7pm for 5 Halloween-themed beers paired with 5 courses featuring autumnal artisanal foods by Chef Joe Apa. Costume contest and scary fun. Sign up at the bar or over the phone (713-521-0521). Reservations required as seating is limited. $40 per person before 10/24; $45 afterwards.
Ahh, the cool weather has finally arrived, along with ghosts and ghouls! Join us for a hilarious time on Thursday, October 27th at 7 pm for the 48th Monthly Beer Dinner. This month we compile ghously delicious offerings from: Rogue (Dead Guy Ale), No Label (Black Widow), Victory (Hop Devil), Dixie (Blackened Voodoo) and a Pumpkin Ale (details to follow).
Yes, we are hosting a costume contest. Prizes include free passes to upcoming beer dinners and other swag. And yes, you can come as your scary normal self, if you’d like.
All Hallow’s Brews:
Alexis Marceaux & the Samurai (New Orleans, LA)
From the ‘Orange Moon’ press release:
“It’s fitting you might have caught a glimpse of Alexis Marceaux on Treme, HBO’s pantheon to New Orleans musicians. The soulful young artist is a lifelong New Orleanian, with credentials that best that of the cast. Her father is a local musician, and Alexis not only grew up surrounded by artists via rehearsals and sessions in the house; she also attended New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts (alumni include Harry Connick Jr. and Wynton Marsalis), and sang in the St Bernard Parish Choir. Now, the 22-year old is releasing her second album, Orange Moon on August 23, 2011. Under the tutelage of Polyphonic Spree’s Rick Nelson and producer Sam Craft, Alexis drew an all-star cast, 25 of NOLA’s finest musicians of every genre, for an album that is big and lush — yet finessed with restraint and space.
This is the second album for Alexis, who also keeps a spot as a touring musician and vocalist with Susan Cowsill, playing guitar, piano and harmonica, and is part of the local indie-rock band Glasgow. She released Dandelion in 09, and its songs were picked up by various television shows, but with Orange Moon, she’s elevated from a singer/songwriter — to an artist that pulls more wholly from her city and life experiences. “I was really green, I had just started writing songs at age 13, and recorded the first album at the age of 18. The material was very song-writerly and folky, before I began to turn to metaphor,” says Alexis. “With that, the instrumentation naturally progressed and got more a bit more complicated.” She makes that clear with the cinematic title track, a testimony to her friend Leila Foret’s battle with cancer. Alexis’ richly expressive and classically trained alto soars and dips with a brass section featuring Bonerama’s Craig Klein, Big Sam’s Funky Nation’s Sam Williams, and a host of other New Orleans horns, making it one part jazz, one part funk and indie rock. The brooding storm of disquiet that the combined textures create, parallel not only Leila’s fight to overcome her illness, but also the battle New Orleans waged to recover from the perils of Katrina.
Alexis’ family had long been ensconced in St Bernard Parish and lost everything in the floodwaters, sending Alexis further afield to SLU for vocal studies. Not long after she came back, St. Bernard’s and many other parishes’ prolific fisheries were crippled as oil from the 2010 spill washed ashore. The tale in “Wishing Well” is told from that heartbreaking perspective, but from the point of view of Louisiana’s state bird, the Pelican. “I just want to spread my wings and sing like a songbird sings, but suddenly I’m overcome with fear,” the Cajun descendant sings before caustically biting into, “Those suckers will be lucky if I ever come back.” The song’s message is translated into an indie-rock song, only slightly disguising its Cajun undertone complete with frottoir (Cajun washboard) by Russ Broussard (Terrance Simien, Zachery Richard and basically every major Cajun/Zydeco band of the 80′s/90s). The last 60 seconds or so of the song features an anthemic chorus made up of a sizable chunk of the New Orleans music establishment (including Paul Sanchez, Susan Cowsill, and about a dozen others), banded together like an angered and militant crowd.
On “Fox,” a song that would fit snugly into a Decemberists album, she sings of the dangers of making hasty generalizations in an Aesop-meets-Orwell parable of clandestine love with a poppy guitar and whistles before swirling into a frenzy.”
Elaine Greer (Austin, TX)
Elaine Greer’s interest in music stemmed from a variety of influences, ranging from her love for Broadway musicals as a child to her numerous attempts at punk rock bands as a teenager. Although she began writing songs at a young age, she was secretive about it for years before starting her first active band in 2005, The Bluebirds. The Bluebirds didn’t last long though, and thus Elaine Greer the solo artist was born. Years (and several line up changes) later, Elaine was playing regularly around Houston, where she drummed up quite a bit of local interest and opened for such celebrated acts as The Fiery Furnaces, Tilly and the Wall, and Tim Barry. At the end of 2008, Elaine realized that her lo-fi home recordings could only take her so far, and headed to Master Bedroom Studios to record her first legitimate EP, “Making Plans and Going Places.” The 6-song EP, described as a “distractingly pretty collection of folk pop songs”, was released in May of 2009. The EP featured a number of guest musicians and was mixed by Steve Christensen from Houston’s SugarHill Studios. Later on in 2009, Greer reunited with Christensen (who soon after won a Grammy for Steve Earle’s “Townes”) to begin recording her first full length album. The recording of this album stretched through 2010, taking place at Steve’s apartment, SugarHill Studios, and Elaine’s apartment in Austin (where she had decided to move at some point in all of this). A little over a year later, the album, to be entitled “Annotations”, was complete and sent to The Lodge in New York to be mastered. Set to be released in early 2011, this album melds the genuine feel of Elaine’s early recordings with that of a studio album throughout 9 intricately composed songs that are layered in vocal harmonies. Greer, now 22 years old, is currently still living in Austin, Texas and playing with a new band of talented individuals.
-Won “Favorite Solo Artist” in the 2008 Skyline Sammy Awards.
-Nominated for Best Female Vocalist in the 2009 Houston Press Music Awards.
Day Sailor – (Houston, TX)