Blackbird Blackbird at Empire Control Room July 22

Come vibe on the densely textured, head-spinning synth pop of Blackbird Blackbird on July 22 at Empire Control Room.

Blackbird Blackbird is the moniker of San Francisco-based wünderkind Mikey Maramag. His unique style of dreamy folktronica recalls influences from all ends of the musical spectrum; deeply textured, hypnotic songs pay homage to psychedelic pop the likes of Caribou and Washed Out, while the warmth of analogue instrumentation spliced with digital artifacts hints at contemporaries James Blake, Four Tet and Mount Kimbie.

Anthemic, dream-driven themes inspire Blackbird Blackbird’s work, where layers of electronic texture drape over organic sounds and ghostly vocals. Within elongated song structures, Blackbird Blackbird harnesses thematic elements of dynamism and composition to create depth and complexity, while never losing sight of his pop sensibilities.

For tickets and additional information visit:

Matthew Logan Vasquez Shows His Fatherly Pride, In Latest Music Video ‘Fatherhood’

Matthew Logan Vasquez is a proud new dad, and congratulations are in order. Not only for the birth of his son, Thor, last year but also for the release of his video to ‘Fatherhood’. The Californian-Texan is known for his eloquently meaningful vocals and heart-wrenching melodies and didn’t disappoint with this touching video, initially released on his latest album ‘Does What He Wants’.

The album, released by Dine Alone Records Worldwide, hit the airwaves on April 21st of this year with a cornucopia of complex lyrical dynamics that subtly told a story of the ups and downs of life and the beauty that weaves within them.

Fatherhood is the song I wrote in the weeks leading up to my son Thor’s birth.  This song reminds me of sitting on the couch watching The Wire with my very pregnant wife Marthe waiting to meet who would become the 2nd love of my life. It’s been a fun almost 2 years.” Vasquez said, of the track.

He sings “We ain’t got the money to pay the hospital,” a vaguely dystopian line that confirms the difficulty of day-to-day living, in a money-driven world. It depicts an image of monetary monsters grabbing and ripping at the happiness of new fatherhood, something typically utopic; truly acting as a summit of the conflict in Vasquez’ mind as he stepped closer to the potential hardship coming his way, perfectly captured by the juxtaposition of optimism portrayed through negativity.

While it may seem that this is a sad song, his beautifully expressive vocals – reminiscent of 1986 Morrissey, coincide with the heart-warming scenes in this video. Home-video style shots tug at heart strings and promise nostalgia with the low resolution and hints of un-cut gushes from the shots, leaving the viewer reaching for the phone to call their parents.

It ends with a clip of a young boy having his tooth pulled out via string and a slamming door – we’ve all been there. Whether by intention or not though, it encompasses this song, and Vasquez’ struggle and hopefulness entirely. It begins with the realization that you’re growing up – you’ve outgrown your milk teeth, but that’s met with uncertainty – will it hurt, am I ready? But in the end, happiness and optimism outweighs the negative and there are toothless grins all round.

Join Vasquez on his US tour this fall with American country-punk band, Lucero.

Matthew Logan Vasquez – 2017 Tour Dates
09/10 Pensacola, FL Vinyl Music Hall
09/11 Houston, TX White Oak Music Hall – Downstairs
09/13 Dallas, TX The Rustic
09/14 Albuquerque, NM Launchpad
09/16 Long Beach, CA Long Beach Folk Revival Festival
09/17 Reno, NV Whitney Peak Hotel
09/19 Ft. Collins, CO Aggie Theatre
09/20 Lincoln, NE The Bourbon
09/21 Maquoketa, IA Codfish Hollow Barnstormers
09/23 Utopia, TX Utopia Festival
Insta: MatthewLoganVasquez

Author: Megan Matthews
Photo credit: Marthe Vasquez

Sam Lao’s ‘Grenade’ Explodes Across The Dallas Music Scene

A rookie in the rap game but Sam Lao isn’t making any errors here; the video of her latest release, ‘Grenade’, is bred from her undeniable artistry, perfectly engineered with Jeremy Biggers’ impeccable insight. The Dallas musician built her flair through drawing, painting, and sculpting; visually creating the beauty that her virtuosity later channeled.

I turned to music when my other creative outlets ceased to be satisfying anymore. I had always sang just for fun but rapping was something new for me and I really took to it.” She said, of her progress.

Describing herself as an ‘artist’ first, she truly is an inspired wordsmith; obvious in this tune, and with two SXSW showcases and multiple festivals under her belt, her music videos ravenously feed off of the alchemy of her practiced creativity. A hip-hop front-runner in Dallas, she’s climbing her way to the top with almost transcendent speed.

The video holds a comic-book feel from the beginning, dramatic and bright but quickly meets high angle shots that scream of the 90’s music scene, featuring the orange camo and a faultless but indisputable Missy Elliot homage. This, twisted with the fast transitions into darker shots accomplish a polished, contemporary spin on something that is so quintessentially 90’s.

Lao’s work, while definitively being some of the most aesthetically pleasing visuals to come out of Dallas in quite some time, is most importantly rooted in a deep belief in her feminism and her strength. This is what makes her such a stronghold, not only just in Dallas but one to watch across the nation.

Catch Sam Lao at her next appearances;
Saturday, July 29
Babes Fest
7 p.m.
Femina-X, Sam Lao, Magna Carda, Sailor Poon, Alesia Lani, Melat, Francine Thirteen, The Reputations, Chulita Vinyl Club, Polly Anna, Triplets, Signy, Amea, Darja
Empire Control Room
Austin, TX

Friday, Nov. 10 to Sunday, Nov. 12
Sound On Sound Fest
12 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Grizzly Bear, Iggy Pop, The Shins, Blood Orange, Kehlani, Washed Out, Hot Chip, Charles Bradley, Sam Lao
Sherwood Forest
Austin, TX
Twitter: TheSamLao
Insta: SamWithTheHair

Author: Megan Matthews

The Historic Longhorn Ballroom Re-Opens Its Doors on September 9

Local charity Love For Kids hosts 7th annual fundraising event with a tribute to Bob Wills in mind and an impressive line-up of Texas’ musicians to grace its stage

The new owners of “America’s most unique ballroom” are proud to open its doors for an inaugural celebration of Texan music, culinary delights, visual arts and, most of all, disadvantaged children across the Metroplex.

Taking place on Saturday, September 9 from 7 p.m. to midnight at the newly renovated Longhorn Ballroom, Love for Kids’ fundraising event Palette to Palate will serve as the historic venue’s first event since changing hands to the LaFrance family in February of this year. Featuring a fantastic line-up of Texas’ music legends, up-and-coming red dirt country artists, local chefs and live visual artists, this year’s event theme is “Stetsons and Stilettos.”

We’re honored to have Love For Kids help us re-open the Ballroom,” said LaFrance. “It will be a wonderful opportunity to give back to our community while enjoying live music by Texas country legends.”

This year’s fundraiser has a ‘western twist’ with traditional food, wine, art and showcasing a slew of top Texas red dirt country western talent during the tasting hours of the evening. A night full of 12 artist exhibit areas and wine tasting booths, “Stetsons and Stilettos” will also offer cowboys and cowgirls a chance to bid on over 150 silent and live auction items and sample dishes to taste from Dallas’ best restaurants.

We can’t wait to announce the culinary partners and visual artists for this year’s event,” said Carolyn Hrncir, vice president of Love For Kids and event chair for Palette to Palate. “The combination of outstanding wineries, alongside the best in Dallas’ culinary and visual arts, will be a wonderful complement to our stellar music lineup.”

Decades since country music legends like Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys, Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn and Merle Haggard performed, The Longhorn Ballroom welcomes Love For Kids with open arms and an open stage. The first live music performance at the historic venue in at least ten years will not disappoint, with Love For Kids corralling the best in country music for the over-the-top western glam event this September. Stefani Little Lynes, Shawnda Rains, former Ballroom house band player from the 1980’s Charlie Shearer and Ginny Hix will take the stage that evening with special performances by up-and-coming country stars like Cori Lynn and Erin Kinsey. More Texas talent will also perform during the tasting event, including Tommy Joe Wilson, Jason Ashley, Bradley Banning and more to be announced.

As a celebration of Bob Wills, who the Ballroom was built for in 1950, an impressive band will also grace the stage, comprised of two of the original Texas Playboys, with Dale Morris Junior on fiddle and Junior Knight on steel guitar. Last but not least, a plaque is to be presented by Shearer and Rains to Jay LaFrance, owner of The Longhorn Ballroom, in honor of the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame artist.

Love For Kids held three of our senior events at The Longhorn in the ’80s and ’90s,” said Sandy Huffman, president of Love For Kids and chair advisor for Palette to Palate. “What a great remembrance of the past and a celebration for the future growth of our signature events and programs at this year’s event.

90 percent of all funds raised on September 9 at the 7th Palette to Palate event will go towards its yearly events and community-based programs providing for underserved and high-risk children and for the chronically ill and in need senior community.

The inaugural fundraiser will also act as a celebration of the local charity’s 42nd anniversary. Tickets to the event are $80 in advance here or $90 at the door. The Longhorn Ballroom is located at 216 Corinth St., Dallas, Texas 75207

For more information about Palette to Palate and to purchase tickets to this year’s event “Stetsons and Stilettos,” visit


Forever Starts Today and their latest single ‘Optimist’

Soaring vocals? Check. Screaming guitar solo? Check. Power-pop melodies that won’t leave your head? Triple check. Austin-based, Forever Starts Today has unveiled a video, filled with drama, to match their latest single: “Optimist.” This music video comes with the band’s announcement for their upcoming album, Always Hope, to be released on August 25 via Third String Records.

Optimist” has generated high hopes for the upcoming album, especially considering the producing power of Joseph Milligan (Anberlin). The female-fronted quintet released their debut album Limitless in the spring of 2016, which opened the door for them to play alongside acts like The Ready Set, Myka Relocate, Jonny Craig, and Set It Off.

Don’t be fooled by the idealist name, the song’s lyrics tell a story that breaks hearts. We open on Nathan Dunn teasing a riff, ultimately giving way to the band’s powerful introduction. The video starts off in a playful way, showing us a group of young men as they run out to an old pickup truck. As the music thickens the screen transitions to another side of the story: the girl’s. At this point, something is obviously wrong, but it’s not quite clear what it is yet.

Christina Murphy’s vocals come hailing in, displaying both power and vulnerability within a couple of bars, offering a reminiscent sound of Cassadee Pope’s days in Hey Monday. “I can’t help you if you won’t help yourselfMurphy sings, giving away what a large part of the story is about. Typical relationship drama plays through the video; ignored phone calls, arguing, storming off. At some point the title almost seems to be a mere dream, hinting that the perfect relationship is far ahead of the couple. The two face more tribulations and it soon becomes clear that reality is a million miles away from that optimism.

Troy Hirschhorn throws down a tasty guitar lick just before the bridge, proving the group is more than just a few power chords. Similarly, Nick Turner shows off mad chops from behind the drum-set, grabbing attention with every fill. The video endorses the same surprising dynamic as the band, ending on a rather ominous note, showing the boy jumping from a building. At this point, an extended chorus hits and the wall of sound gives a sense of importance to the already stated chorus. The girl arrives just as the boy jumps, and desperately reaches her hand out to help. A few inches separate their fingers, leaving the couple miles apart emotionally and the audience in a state of confusion as to how it all ended.

The group is still young and has a promising amount of talent. With too many bands to count being introduced weekly, it’s become rather easy to get lost in the mix, leaving the quintet in a critical time-crunch to prove themselves. Always Hope is their chance to do just that. Stereotypical pop-punk themes follow the track, leading the assumption that the album will have similar lyrical content.

If the group can find a way to break out of generalized lyrics and song structures and instead utilize their musical endowment to the fullest quality, they would instantly break away and put themselves into a different league. It’s a well- produced track coming from a band that is well on their way to the major circuit.

Pop-punk is very much alive, and “Optimist” is here to attest to that.
Twitter: @FSTBand

Author: Saywer Click

Sam Houston’s ‘APRIL’ And Who He Is

Sam Houston is not a household name. Yet. But he’s laying all of the tracks to quickly become one. With 963 followers drooling over every soul-filled beat on the mere four tracks he’s posted to his Soundcloud, he’s hard to find much else on, but those who do find him devour every 90’s-R&B inspired note.

‘APRIL’, released early this year, entwines all that you miss about Ne-Yo’s kinda slow, kinda romantic tracks but with a whole new ballpark in terms of vocals. His effortlessly fervent tones reverberate against the innocent laughter and electric guitars that bring this track into a different dimension; an intergalactic twist on old school R&B mixed with Houston’s signature sound.

Soul can often have a misconception placed on it, that it has to be sad and it has to make your heart yearn. Houston does an incredible job of containing the feel of soul in his music, without the heartbreaking overtone. ‘Can we leave this Earth, girl? Take a trip to the Moon?’ he sings, virtuous and honest, compiling all romantic connotations of the moon and using them to his advantage; there’s no bitter to his sweet.

The New Jersey native prides himself on blending his own immersive genre of music; ingredients of rock, pop, jazz, R&B and soul fill his melting pot to become ‘feel good music’. Designed to paint watercolor scenes of late night drives and intimate moments for two, Houston mimics your happiest memories and the haze of summer in this lustful tune.

Twitter: @SamHoustonMusic

Author: Megan Matthews