The Uplifting Harmonies of Beth // James and “Jewels”

Austin indie-folk duo Beth // James have made quite the name for themselves in the local scene since the release of their standout 2017 debut EP, All In Life. The most recent video for the group’s single off the EP, “Jewels“, is a perfect showcase of their warm aesthetic and uplifting tone. The song’s lyrics appear and fade left and right as the track progresses with added indie-pop elements. As the duo stare into the camera and harmonize over their acoustic driven and piano backed track, one can’t help but feel like a jewel on the inside. The 45 second outro of the video is both colorful and dreamy, and will leave the listener in a trance until the very end.

Beth // James is currently writing for their next project and can be seen live at the Austin Arboretum on Nov. 1 and The Saxon Pub on Nov. 28. Check out the video for “Jewels” below.

For additional information visit https://www.bethjamesband.com/.

 

Written by: Matthew Masepohl

Photo Credit: Alexandra Celia

Lexi & The Bleached Roses Reinventing the Texas Music Scene with Sweet Desire

Who said violins were exclusively for classical music? Certainly not Lexi Cardenas. Lexi and The Bleached Roses have been reinventing the central Texas music scene by proving that classical instruments can do it better.

The Austin-based band started challenging the norms of indie rock music after Lexi, lead vocalist and violinist, decided that forming a band was the perfect idea. Initially starting to record their debut album, Sweet Desire, as a solo artist, Lexi soon realized that creating an entire album by herself was extremely hard work. She enlisted the help of Cello player, Mario Salas, and by the end of the album recording had an entire band to help her out. Lexi admits she’s learned a lot of important lessons during the recording process, saying “I’ve learned I cant do everything myself, and that’s okay”.

After being classically trained in music for 21 years, Frontwoman Lexi sure has a lot to give. Starting her training aged seven, she progressed to play in her first band, The Texas Fiddlers, during high school. This stage during her music career was clearly a defining moment, as she describes, “that’s where I first learned about amplifying my violin and a completely different kind of audience.” After continuing to learn more about pushing the boundaries of music at college, the band is where she really let her creativity shine, saying “This group is a culmination of all the styles I’ve learned.”

The band’s debut album, Sweet Desire, takes a real twist from the classical instrument stereotype. With the music ‘driven more by layers and instrumentation’ the group truly broaden the horizons of indie rock, country, and Americana vibes. The band’s inspirations are plentiful, counting Arcade Fire as one of their top influences. Mo from the band describes, “Bands like that make me want to work harder to be a better musician.”

The album’s title is based around the featuring track, ‘Sweet Desire’. It’s a completely honest track, based around Lexi’s “road to self discovery”. A song about accepting yourself and embracing self confidence, the country twang is pure, her vocals are authentic and the hint of indie gives it that courageous vibe. The song is truly representative of Lexi coming into her own, as she states “This song describes a pivotal point of my life where I decided to stand up and just be myself.” Other tracks on the album include ‘Not Your Girl‘, a stripped back, tough, girl power song. It begins with just Lexi’s strong vocals and her violin, before the songs depth bulks up as it progresses.

Beside the album’s success and popularity, Mo offers his advice to aspiring musicians, encouraging “Don’t let anyone get in your way or tell you, you can’t do something or that your dreams and goals are unrealistic. I’m a true believer that hard work pays off”.

With their debut album released and under their belts, the band is already looking well into the future and beginning plans on album number two. Mo says “I’ve really been diving into songwriting right now anticipating our next album” Mo anticipates it’ll be even better as they look to ‘challenge themselves as a band’. After reflecting on her past experiences, Lexi predicts a fruitful future for the band, as she says “I’ve played in so many projects over the years, but this one I feel has the greatest potential.” As well as a new album, the band promises a stage tour too. Mo assures us, “it’s going to be a lot of fun”.

 

https://bleachedroses.com/

 

Written by: Beth Judge

 

Photo by: Andrew Bennett

https://www.andrewbennettphoto.com/

Kublai Khan Slams With “The Hammer”

Heavy metal has always had a home in the Lone Star State, and the recent generation has begun to prove their worth. Conquering the scene as of late, Kublai Khan has unleashed “The Hammer,” a single taken from their upcoming album Nomad, to be released September 29 through Rise Records. The track highlights the band’s distorted groove-centric sound, but also shows a step in a new direction for the group.

Syncopation has always been Kublai Khan’s specialty, and “The Hammer” slams and grooves in every possible nook and cranny. The oddly-placed accents incite a masterfully-planned riot between the ears, which may be why the group’s live shows have a reputation for being aggressive, loud, and above all, fun. Instrumentals weave in and out of the time-space continuum in “The Hammer” as Matt Honeycutt’s raw vocals push a chaotic truth.

“You will never cease to seek validation” screams Honeycutt as a wall of sound erupts from the back. A riff playfully wraps around the lyrics, giving a sense of urgency to every beat. A pattern of staccato and legato follows the versus, making the song rather easy to head-bang to. Aggression is what the group has come to be adored for, and this track is more than enough to tide us over until we get the whole album.

The quartet is currently supporting Vanna on their farewell tour, and is set to headline a tour in support of Nomad with No Zodiac, Left Behind, I AM, and Great American Ghost later this fall.

 

Written by: Sawyer Click

Feature photo courtesy of Atom Splitter PR

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Polyphia Announces “The Most Hated” EP with Single, ‘Icronic’

Fast like lightning, guitarists Tim Henson and Scott LePage move their fingers to a groove-infused beat, creating riffs so powerful that they could part the sea. Polyphia has become known around the world for just that: their incredible talent. They specialize in wrapping a highly technical and purely instrumental sound with a mixture of influences, creating a bridge between genres that has yet to be explored. ‘Icronic’ is a step in a new direction for the group, leaning towards a more electronic-imbued noisescape. With ‘Icronic’ acting as a single, Polyphia has also announced “The Most Hated” EP, to be out July 21 via self-release.

In the beginning, Polyphia was as an instrumental djent band that explored technical music, but with every release, they’ve managed to evolve into a new version of themselves. “Resurrect” (2011) and “Inspire” (2013) both featured breakdowns and pure grit, showing a very promising group of musicians that focused on technical playing in a heavy setting. It was “Muse” (2014) that truly set the group apart, focusing less on breakdowns and more on bringing in influences that helped expand the band’s vocabulary.

Notable singles like Champagne and James Franco highlight the impressive jump in songwriting and general musicality. Latin, jazz, hip-hop, and classical influences put the finishing touch on the albums. “Renaissance” (2016) built on this, offering a more serious and vulnerable approach with Nightmare and Euphoria. In 2017, the band released a remix of their song “Light”, titling the version “Lit.” Teaming up with the skills of Lophiile, this track marked the group’s transition to a more produced sound, throwing in electronica highlights to accentuate key parts of the song.

Icronic uses this same method, yet harnesses the power much more effectively. With an introduction that is both dazzling and ethereal, the foundation is based upon rhythmic movements across a fretboard. At the helm of the drums, Clay Aeschliman demonstrates restrained talent, choosing to illuminate the guitar melodies when appropriate and let loose when opportunity strikes. Aeschliman’s punctuations amalgamate with Lophiile’s fiery beats and Clay Gober’s ocean-deep bass lines, creating an unrivaled rhythm and groove.

The chorus approaches with a subtlety but immediately explodes with flavor, offering a full wall of sound. With this change brings in a distorted sound rather than the clean-cut tapping that is found in the beginning. The chorus focuses on the melodic guitars that climax with a staccato harmonic note. The shortness of the note creates an intense yearning to experience the riff all over again, leading to the inevitable press of the ‘replay’ button. At the halfway mark, the bridge hits. This is where the quartet truly shows off their talent, unleashing extremely technical and exploratory playing. Guitars, drums, and the bass are all given their moment in the spotlight with full support from the rest of the band.

Polyphia is wrapping up a tour with Jason Richardson and Luke Holland; in other words, a true tour of monstrous musical proportions. The group will be touring with Between the Buried and Me following the release of “The Most Hated.” The reinvigorated sound is a delightful change from the normalcies of the group. The radio-friendly aspect of it will open many doorways for the group, whether it be airplay, tours alongside accomplished electronic artists, or whatever else may lay in Polyphia’s masterplan.

Exploring the gap between instruments and electronics is not something easily done, and the group’s successful mixture defines the four as pioneers. With four virtuosos under the same moniker and on the same page, they can dominate and define the next stage of the modern noisescape, bringing musicality to prominence once again.

Twitter: @Polyphia
http://www.polyphiasound.com/

Author: Sawyer Click

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

http://matthewloganvasquez.bigcartel.com/
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

http://www.thesamlao.com/
Twitter: TheSamLao
Insta: SamWithTheHair

Author: Megan Matthews

Austin’s Favorite Rapper Omenihu Drops Ruminating “Dream Killer”

Nostalgic vibes with a forward-thinking and unifying message, Omenihu is a name to look out for in the years to come. His sophomore single, Dream Killers, highlights the struggles of a young black artist as he faces criticism and discrimination. He’s only been in the game for 9-months, but his vision and talent transcend experience and place him on the top of the leaderboards. He’s a creative mastermind with a hellacious flow; a double threat with a heart.

With a crafty backing track from Rascal that samples TLC’s No Scrubs and a meditative flow, Omenihu debuts an introspective look into his life. He even makes a nod towards TLC’s Left Eye during a verse. The video focuses on Omenihu as he appears to be in a state of distress outside of a corner store. His anticipation swells, leading to the breaking point in his second verse, where he trades his calm-and-collective flow in for an aggressive and uninhibited one. The video takes place in front of the store but the conflict is a worldwide phenomenon, attributing to the empathy that pulls you to the screen. Co-directed by Jessie Rodriguez and Omenihu himself the video’s coloration is vibrant; yellow highlights of the video lure a state of anxiety, but the cool-blue eases. The colors contrast beautifully against the night sky, offering amplification for every movement and emotion.

Omenihu performs for the camera brandishing a shirt from his company, Human Influence, a collaborative creative media agency that was co-founded by Omenihu and fellow UT-grad Henry Smith. The company encourages individuals to connect with their full potential through various mediums. Omenihu took heed of this when he first began his musical career, releasing the catchy and potent, All Vibes Matter ft. Mickey in September of 2016. The track was playful and fun, focusing on empowering individualism through a relaxed vibe. Austin has an up-and-coming soldier that’s gunning for the lead. A breath of fresh air comes with every track, throwing new blood into a genre that’s constantly being reinvented. His charismatic blend of past and future makes him an exception to the rules of the game, and have put him in the position to create his own.

 

http://www.omenihu.com/

 

Written By: Sawyer Click

Fruit & Flowers Frolicking Video ‘Out Of Touch’

Brooklyn-based “surf noir” garage psych band Fruit & Flower recently debuted their video for ‘Out Of Touch’, the first single from their upcoming EP, Drug Tax, due out June 30. Dubbed one of “NYC’s Hardest Working Bands,” Fruit and Flowers have earned a large local following from their exuberant electric performances.

Ana Becker’s angular, expressive guitar style and Lyzi Wakefield’s gritty rhythmic backbone merge a post-punk heaviness with psychedelic warmth. Committed and charismatic front woman Caroline Yoder summons a fervent energy, surrounded by distinct, warm and refreshing three-part harmonies, the bedrock of Fruit and Flowers’ sound.

Conceived in a Bushwick loft with broken AC during the summer of 2015 by Yoder on bass and Shaw Walters on drums, the band was soon joined by Wakefield and Becker on guitars and vocals. The band agreed to play its first show at Northside festival just weeks after formation and wrote the record in a furious fit of hot nights and inspired mornings. The band became fully realized when Shaw handed the role of drummer to Jose Berrio (drummer-cum-art director), whose inimitable style elevates the strong rhythmic character of the band.

Drug Tax was born out of necessity, capturing the grit and rush of New York City summer and the newfound chemistry between the bandmates. Weaving together the perspectives and expressions of the band’s multiple songwriters, Drug Tax unfolds to present the unique and varied voice of Fruit & Flowers. Lead single “Out Of Touch” is about the ennui of a missed love opportunity, with soaring, sultry vocals, beachy surf rock riffs and fuzzy bass. The video features the DIY band frolicking on the beach in what appears to be the ‘best day ever.’ The joyous video and catchy tune will have you craving for summer days in the sun and sand.

http://www.fruitxflowers.com/

 

Post-Rock Virtuosos Mogwai Return With ‘Coolverine’

With eight studio albums of boundless post-rock instrumental epics in which you can practically see the Scottish-based band teasing the melancholy from their six strings, it is very easy to take Mogwai for granted. ‘Coolverine’, the group’s first taster of upcoming record, Every Country’s Sun, follows in a long line of Mogwai slow burners with cataclysmic climaxes that feature ridiculous monikers (see ‘I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead’, ‘Glasgow Mega Snake’ & ‘I Love You, I’m Going to Blow Up Your School’). Yet to write them off as one trick would be to take away from their years of well-honed dexterity; it’s better to view the band as soundtrack artists with each LP scoring music for a film that never was.

From the opening echoes of ‘Coolverine’ you can almost envision a camera sweeping across an ice-encased Siberian landscape before settling on a lone individual trudging through the unforgiving mass of snow, the biting cold nipping at his face through the fur of his parka’s hood. The track is practically structured like a storm, calming down midway to make way for some 8-bit style keys before an icy blizzard envelopes the white plains, drums slicing through the choral hum of the synths before balance is restored and the guitars fade into the clouds.

Arriving at the start of winter, Every Country’s Sun promises to soundtrack those cold lonely evenings in front of a roaring fire. Mogwai may not evolve on ‘Coolverine’ but they do lay the ground work for their next adventure.

Every Country’s Sun is released 1st September.

http://www.mogwai.co.uk/

 

Written by: Matthew Barnard

Brother Ali Debuts Transcendental ‘Never Learn’

Brother Ali has never shied away from expressing his spirituality through music. The divine Minneapolis rapper and devout Muslim has earned wide critical acclaim for his deeply personal and socially conscious style of hip-hop. Ali’s latest album, and first in five years, All The Beauty In This Whole Life, represents the most recent chapter in the rapper’s celebrated journey.

Ali recently debuted an enlightening and metaphysical video for the album’s second single, ‘Never Learn’. The Kron-produced video was shot in New Mexico at Muslim-built worship and healing center Dar Al Islam. You may recognize some of the imagery as Dar Al Islam also served as the location of Tupac’s posthumous ‘Wonder If Heaven Got a Ghetto’ some twenty years ago. ‘Never Learn’ finds Ali in deep reflection illuminated by an omnipotent spiritual light. The video also features the synchronized choreography of Al Taw’am, twin dancers from Minneapolis whom Ali refers to as “royalty.” “Their movement speaks of their family legacy of dignified regality,” Ali said in a statement (via NPR) of the dancing duo.

https://rhymesayers.com/artists/brotherali

 

Photo by: Shelly Mosman