Brad Barry

November 9, 2009

Music Monday – Caleb Coy

Filed under: Music Monday — Tags: — Brad Barry @ 9:30 am

The Daily Texan, Life & Arts: 11/09/09

Caleb Coy

Though Headdress often disappears to record their sprawling albums, the band calls Austin home for now.

The duo’s music swings back and forth between acoustic campfire ruminations and dense psychedelic drone, filtering classic Americana through peyote-tinged desert nights.

After touring in support of Lunes — the dense, swirling album the band released this summer — the nomadic group plans to find a location to craft a set of new songs. But, before they do, we asked guitarist Caleb Coy to answer our Music Monday questions.

01) What album have you listened to the most in the last week?

Our Mother the Mountain by Townes Van Zandt.

02) If you could collaborate with any musician in the world, who would it be?

La Monte Young.

03) What was the best show you’ve ever played?

Ballroom Marfa with Psychic Ills. It was a huge room with a great sound, a good vibe and lots of friends drinking tequila in the desert. Not to mention it was a full moon. It was far out.

04) What was the worst show you’ve ever played?

Maxwell’s in Hoboken, N.J. with Dungen. It was the first gig of that tour, and we just didn’t have our shit together. My pedal board kept cutting out, and there was feedback all over the vocals. It just wasn’t our night.

05) What is your favorite song to play live?

“My Enemy, I Come After Your Good White Horse.” It’s a new jam.

06) When you were forming the band, were there any alternate band names you didn’t pick?

Our first EP was [released] under the moniker Worship, but we didn’t want to be mistaken for the infamous German doom outfit by the same name. So we went with Headdress.

07) Where is your favorite place to eat in Austin?

Las Cazuelas on the East Side.

08) Do you have a day job?

I sling hot dogs and cold beer at a joint called Frank on Colorado and Fourth.

09) What is your favorite Web site?

Soakersbible.com.

10) What is a perfect day for you?

Waking up in a tent, making fresh yerba maté over a fire, going for a morning swim in the river. That would be followed by a soak in the hot springs and an afternoon spirit walk with fresh coca leaves, watching the sun set behind the mountain. Then, cooking dinner over an evening fire and staring at the stars until I fall asleep.

October 12, 2009

Music Monday – Celeste Griffin

Filed under: Interviews, Music Monday — Tags: — Brad Barry @ 5:23 am

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Celeste Griffin’s thick, Southern voice is the soul of Monarchs. Straddling the line between vintage soul and folky Americana, her bittersweet songs are fleshed out by a rotating cast of musicians – one group for her hometown, Birmingham, and one band for her new home, Austin. Griffin, a graduate student at UT, took some time to tell the Texan about her life and her music.

01) What album have you listened to the most in the last week?

I’ve keep listening to Neil Young’s On the Beach and Human Highway’s Moody Motorcycle.

02) If you could collaborate with any musician in the world, who would it be?

Lauryn Hill.

03) What was the best show you’ve ever played?

I recently played at this gritty rock club in Birmingham, Alabama called The Nick.  The sound, my band, the crowd, the vibe – it all just felt right.

04) What was the worst show you’ve ever played?

I played at holiday party/concert called “Spike the Nog” at a little independent bookstore. The idea was for everyone to be tipsy and wearing tacky christmas attire. The PA stopped working and my band and I were the only tipsy ones looking ridiculous. It sounded horrible and I was rocking some serious mom jeans.

05) What is your favorite song to play live?

My Austin band and I love playing a song called “It’s Not Me” so much that we’ve renamed it “Love Feast.”

06) When you were forming the band were there any alternate band names you didn’t pick?

Nope. I knew I wanted to name the band Monarchs. Sometimes I wonder if it would have been easier to call the project “Celeste,” but I usually end up deciding that I’m glad I went with Monarchs. The name holds a lot of meaning related to family. It is not about butterflies.

07) Where is your favorite place to eat in Austin?

For brunch: Enoteca Vespaio. For Mexican: El Meson. For a sandwich: Fricano’s Deli. For Pizza: House. For dinner: Parkside. For Drinks: East Side Show Room

08) Do you have a day job?

I’m getting my masters in Community and Regional Planning and I work for a City Council member. I’m too busy.

09) What is your favorite website?

I’m not a big website lover.

10) What is a perfect day for you?

A dreamy Saturday would be: Sleeping in with my man. Eating brunch. Biking to Barton Springs. Eating cookies and drinking horchata. Drinking wine and cooking dinner. Then, hanging out on a porch with a few friends, dogs, beers, guitars, and singing.

October 5, 2009

Music Monday – Ray Benson

Filed under: Interviews, Music Monday — Tags: , — Brad Barry @ 7:43 am

The Daily Texan, Life & Arts: 10/05/09

Ray Benson

Ray Benson is a huge figure in the Texas music scene. Besides his imposing 6′ 7″ frame, his band Asleep at the Wheel has been playing their brand of western swing music in Austin since the early 70’s. The group has won nine Grammy awards, toured extensively, and recently released an album a critically-acclaimed album with Willie Nelson. Before the band’s performance at the ACL Festival this weekend, Benson told the Texan a little about himself.

01) What album have you listened to the most in the last week?

This record called Take to the Sky by [Austin’s] Kat Edmonson.

02) If you could collaborate with any musician in the world, who would it be?

That’s easy, Tony Bennett.

03) What was the best show you’ve ever played?

Last year’s ACL Festival was fantastic – we’re really looking forward to this weekend, too.

04) What was the worst show you’ve ever played?

Last month we played in Branson, MO for a bunch of retired couples. There was just no energy at all.

05) What is your favorite song to play live?

It’s definitely “(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66.”

06) When you were forming the band were there any alternate band names you didn’t pick?

For a while we were going to be Ray Benson and his Laughing Cowboys.

07) Where is your favorite place to eat in Austin?

Either this diner-type place called Ranch 616 or Vespaio on South Congress.

08) Do you have a day job?

No no no!

09) What is your favorite website?

I guess Google? I don’t really know.

10) What is a perfect day for you?

I would wake up, watch channel 8, cook breakfast at home, and tune into as many morning shows as I can. Then I’d play a round of golf with Willie Nelson, eat bar-b-que at any of Austin’s great bar-b-que spots for lunch, take a walk on the hike and bike trail, and swim in Deep Eddy. For dinner I’d cook at home, then catch a movie at Alamo Drafthouse and go on a date with [girlfriend and KXAN news anchor] Michelle Valles.

October 1, 2009

The Intelligence

Filed under: Interviews, Show Previews — Tags: — Brad Barry @ 11:38 am

The Daily Texan, DT Weekend: 10/01/09

No matter how boisterous and skewed The Intelligence’s music may sound, frontman Lars Finberg wants you to know that it’s really not so strange.

“To be honest, the sentiment is the same as any Buddy Holly song. It’s just more interesting to convey those emotions in a way you’ve never heard before.”

And it’s true; the way Finberg and his band present their ideas is nothing if not unorthodox. Each of the Portland band’s tracks is wrapped in the detritus of analog recording and laced with disorienting keyboard plunks, warped tape loops, and distorted vocals. Their dark, drum machine dirges and sunny, careening pop are catchy in an almost counter-intuitive way. With a mess of effects and sprawling guitar parts colliding with the stubborn rhythm sections of the songs, it’s a wonder that much of the Intelligence’s music doesn’t completely spin out of control.

It’s only Finberg’s musical vision that keeps the songs from careening off course. For him, what seems like borderline chaos is simply “a catchy drum beat that’s not super obvious, kind of simple guitars, weird keyboards, and words you don’t normally hear.”

Though normally this would be classified as a gross understatement, Finberg really has the uncanny ability to focus on the basics of even the most raucous song. When the tracks are overflowing with the chaotic experimentation that defines the band’s music, he somehow keeps them punchy, powerful and moving forward.

This dedication to solid songwriting distances The Intelligence from a lot of the other groups associated with the recent lo-fi punk revival. Where other bands seem more concerned with the aesthetics and posturing of punk, The Intelligence are more interested in applying the genre’s spirit to a wide range of sounds. Finberg grew up listening to bands like the Misfits, Minor Threat and Bad Brains, and recognizes the original diversity of the genre. “All of that quintessential punk rock really sounds completely different,” he explained. “It has that punk energy, but those bands stand out because of their songs and their melodies.”

The Intelligence’s music retains the rambunctious, whirlwind energy that punk music was founded on, but also doesn’t forget the importance of diversity and solid songwriting. For Finberg, applying a certain intensity can turn even the strangest tracks into what he begrudgingly calls “pump-up jams.”

“Music can be weird and lo-fi, but if it’s a great song it’s a pump-up jam. We’re trying to be a little weird or off-center with our music, but still elicit that ‘Oh man, turn the volume up’ response.”

Luckily, The Intelligence will be happy to do just that for you. Their youthful exuberance leads to songs that should really be too loud and too strange to fall in love with. Maybe it’s Finberg’s deft songwriting or the Buddy Holly themes hiding underneath the experimentation, but when the trio stops through Austin it will be hard not to.

September 29, 2009

Music Monday – Will Courtney

Filed under: Interviews, Music Monday — Tags: — Brad Barry @ 9:15 am

The Daily Texan, Life & Arts: 09/28/09

Will Courtney

Austin’s Brothers and Sisters have a knack for making songs that sound timeless. Their golden country rock has the same worn-in feeling as classic records by Neil Young or The Byrds, full of wailing steel guitar and the harmonies of real life brother and sister Will and Lily Courtney. The group, which at times can reach up to ten members, recently released a new album of sun-drenched folk rock ballads called Fortunately. This week on Music Monday, principle songwriter and frontman Will Courtney tells us a little about himself.

01) What album have you listened to the most in the last week?

The re-mastered mono version of The Beatles’ Rubber Soul.

02) If you could collaborate with any musician in the world, who would it be?

I’d like to produce Paul McCartney or Bob Dylan. Maybe you can have their managers give me a call – I have some ideas for their next record.

03) What was the best show you’ve ever played?

I really enjoyed playing at the Fillmore in San Francisco.

04) What was the worst show you’ve ever played?

Attendance wise, it was this show in Iowa last Fall. By the time we got onto the stage, there were two people in the whole club not including the bar tender, doorman or sound guy. The crazy thing is that the the two audience guys bought us all two rounds of whisky and bought one of everything we had for sale. Nice guys, dull town.

05) What is your favorite song to play live?

I like the song “Lonely Man”.

06) When you were forming the band were there any alternate band names you didn’t pick?

Not really. At first, [sister and bandmate] Lily and I thought about Brother and Sister, but we quickly had to pluralize it when we found the whole band.

07) Where is your favorite place to eat in Austin?

My girlfriend and I like sushi. I probably eat it twice a week. We like Maru and this place on I-35 called Japon.

08) Do you have a day job?

Making music and trying to run the family record label, The Calla Lily Company.

09) What is your favorite website?

Craigslist

10) What is a perfect day for you?

Waking up around 11am and drinking lots of coffee and then going into the recording studio and making a record until I fall asleep with my headphones on.

September 21, 2009

Music Monday – Josh Lambert

Filed under: Interviews, Music Monday — Tags: — Brad Barry @ 12:03 pm

The Daily Texan, Life & Arts: 09/14/09

Octopus Project

Austin’s Octopus Project have been playing their mélange of instrumental indie rock and bouncing electronica for almost ten years now. While their music, which combines a battery of drum machines and synthesizers with bass guitar and the other-worldly sounds of the Theremin, has always been a hit in Austin, they’ve arrived on the national scene more recently. Though the group just returned from touring the country in support of their new EP, Golden Beds, multi-instrumentalist and founding member Josh Lambert took a break to tell the Texan a little about himself.

01) What album have you listened to the most in the last week?

Obaa Sima by Ata Kak. I found this on a blog that only posts obscure tapes from Africa. Our drummer Toto best described it as a cross between Bobby Brown and Wesley Willis, but really, it sounds like nothing you’ve ever heard before. It’s super-weird and totally infectious. One of the choruses sounds like they’re saying, “Put me on the dog!”

02) If you could collaborate with any musician in the world, who would it be?

[Current band-mates] Yvonne, Toto and Ryan. I’m sure that sounds like a cop out, but it’s true. I can’t imagine being in a band with anyone else.

03) What was the best show you’ve ever played?

It’s hard to pick my favorite show. I really love playing super-huge festivals. There’s just an amazing energy between us and the crowd that’s impossible to explain, but it feels amazing.

04) What was the worst show you’ve ever played?

Easily the worst show we’ve ever played was in Norman, OK in March of 2006. It was the first show of a tour that started a couple of days after SXSW. We were all completely wiped out – both physically and emotionally – from SXSW week, and as a result, we were all incredibly sick – I actually ended up going to the hospital the next day. To top it all off, Wayne Coyne [of the Flaming Lips] came out to see us play, and we played horribly. Songs fell apart, equipment broke, drumsticks were dropped, our energy level was at 0. That was the worst I’ve ever felt in my life. Everything has been a breeze after that.

05) What is your favorite song to play live?

They’re all really fun, but I usually get excited about whatever new stuff we’re playing. “Wet Gold” has been super awesome. We sing on it, and I’m pretty excited about that.

06) When you were forming the band were there any alternate band names you didn’t pick?

We never had any alternate names for this band, but our name came about while we were trying to name another band which ended up being called Hidden Speaker. So, there were a few alternates in the running that I suppose we could have drawn from – Quarterly Porpoise is the only one that stuck in my mind. Man, I’m glad we didn’t pick that.

07) Where is your favorite place to eat in Austin?

Hands down, Uchi.

08) Do you have a day job?

Thankfully, being in this band takes up just about every second of my time.

09) What is your favorite website?

I’ve been looking at awesometapesfromafrica.blogspot.com and awkwardfamilyphotos.com quite a bit lately.

10) What is a perfect day for you?

Waking up late, floating in an anti-gravity machine for a while, listening to some kind of music that hasn’t been invented yet, espresso, riding bikes, swimming in Barton Springs, hanging out with Werner Herzog, dinner at Uchi, watching a movie at the Drafthouse, then singing karaoke with friends.

September 14, 2009

Music Monday – Jonathan Meiburg

Filed under: Interviews, Music Monday — Tags: , — Brad Barry @ 12:11 pm

The Daily Texan, Life & Arts: 09/14/09

Along with being songwriter and vocalist behind the acclaimed indie rock of Shearwater, Jonathan Meiburg is really into birds. It was UT’s graduate program in ornithology that brought him to Austin where he first joined Okkervil River and then moved on to Shearwater full time. Currently his band is playing their music, which fluidly oscillates between the intimate and the majestic, in Europe as part of an international tour, but Meiburg took some time to tell us a little about himself.

01) What album have you listened to the most in the last week?

We’ve been in the studio finishing our new album over the last week, so that’s probably the most truthful answer. Also Ege Bamyasi by Can.

02) If you could collaborate with any musician in the world, who would it be?

Roger Waters.

03) What was the best show you’ve ever played?

Maybe the Bataclan in Paris, last year.

04) What was the worst show you’ve ever played?

Cafe Mundi, solo, many years ago. No one came. I thought the kind lady behind the counter was cute, though, so maybe it wasn’t the worst. I think she felt sorry for me.

05) What is your favorite song to play live?

Hard to say. I still like “Hail Mary” a lot, and “Rooks”.  But I’m really looking forward to playing new songs.

06) When you were forming the band were there any alternate band names you didn’t pick?

I had the name in my head before the band got together.

07) Where is your favorite place to eat in Austin?

Hai Ky. And my own kitchen.

08) Do you have a day job?

No. Who would hire you when you’re on tour half the year?

09) What is your favorite website?

10000birds.com

10) What is a perfect day for you?

A day that doesn’t involve travel by car, van, or airplane.

August 31, 2009

Music Monday – Neiliyo

Filed under: Interviews, Music Monday — Tags: — Brad Barry @ 10:16 am

The Daily Texan, Life & Arts: 08/31/09

Neiliyo

This week we caught up with Neil Petty, the man behind Neiliyo. Combining chunky, Day-Glo beats from his laptop with funk guitar and an infectious energy, Petty is a constant force in the downtown dance club scene.

01) What album have you listened to the most in the last week?

Dâm-Funk’s Boogie-Funk 2008 Podcast

02) If you could collaborate with any musician in the world, who would it be?

Lil’ Wayne – I’d be all over the radio.

03) What was the best show you’ve ever played?

Probably my first. It was a boat party full of everyone I worked with. Two things were proven: 1) Neiliyo can successfully move people. 2) Neiliyo can successfully make all of his co-workers move with each other.

04) What was the worst show you’ve ever played?

Probably my third. I just booked it for practice in a live situation. There were 3 people there. I basically replaced my song lyrics with freestyle drink orders.

05) What is your favorite song to play live?

Right now, there’s this new one I haven’t given a name yet, but it seems to get people grooving more quickly. It’s got this really cool breakdown that I like to call the “mutant funk attack” part. That may end up being the name.

06) When you were forming the band were there any alternate band names you didn’t pick?

Not really. I thought about having that obscure name that was 2-3 words long, but I decided on something quick and easy – something that was already me and a nickname. I was done with the iconic band name search.

07) Where is your favorite place to eat in Austin?

Kebabalicious. I really like good felafel and they hit it on the head. I would eat there every night if I could.

08) Do you have a day job?

Yes, I am an interactive copywriter and content strategist at a digital marketing agency.

09) What is your favorite website?

RIght now, I’m into BLDGBLOG. It’s an architecture blog by a guy based out in LA. He’s a terrific writer and covers some interesting things that relate to macro-scale sociological movements. It’s amazing to analyze how we build our habitat as humans and how it relates to our current lifestyle.

10) What is a perfect day for you?

A perfect day is a new song fixed and completed, a run by the shop for a fresh new aqua blue oxford and new two-tone style boat shoes. Then a hop on a 25 ft. Catalina sailboat stocked with my 5 best friends and a ice chest full of vegan snacks.

August 27, 2009

Monahans

Filed under: Interviews, Show Previews — Tags: — Brad Barry @ 9:59 am

The Daily Texan, Life & Arts: 08/27/09

In reality, Monahans is a small city in the center of the Permian Basin. But for Greg Vanderpool, it means something more abstract. When he decided to name his band Monahans, he was more interested in the flat, desert landscape and big skies of West Texas than any particular town.

While the name conjures imagery that perfectly matches the alternately soaring and world-weary music found on the band’s recent releases, it’s not the only name they have recorded under. Since 1999, the now Austin-based quartet had played as Milton Mapes. But, with that name, the band struggled to not be pigeonholed based on their more traditional country music sound.

“I like a lot of Texas music and country music and we incorporated some country elements into the Milton Mapes records,” Vanderpool explained, “but we’ve never been a party band. Unfortunately that association seemed to put walls around the type of project we were interested in creating. So we decided to redefine what we were about and present our songs in a different way.”

The result was Monahans. And though there is now less emphasis on country music as a form, the band retains an intense dedication to the feelings of longing and desire that the genre specializes in. For this reason, Vanderpool, who has been the group’s principle songwriter since the Milton Mapes days, is wary of a simple genre-switch narrative. “I’m uncomfortable with the notion that we changed genres – to me, we’ve always been about ambience, rhythms and songs. I think Monahans just puts a greater emphasis on ambience and rhythms, and that has changed some people’s perception of what we’re doing.”

This change in emphasis certainly comes through on the latest Monahans album, this year’s Dim the Aurora. Though mandolins, acoustic guitar strums, and brushed percussion are still featured in abundance, they’re now augmented by electronic drums, droning electric guitars, and more varied production. The album brims with energy and esoteric sounds – but one still feels the open skies, plaintiveness, and raw emotion of folk and country music.

For Vanderpool, the renovations to the band’s sound are part of a constant musical evolution. He points out that African spirituals and Irish hymns were transformed into the old folk and blues songs that were, in turn, the basis of rock and roll music. He went on to say that he “like[s] to think of our stuff as a continuation of that tradition.”

Spreading their updated take on these age-old musical traditions, Monahans has begun to play more live shows. Vanderpool told the Texan that the group is “stripping the songs down a bit, but trying to create a big sound with only three people.”

If the goal is to bring the feelings conjured by the large, cinematic landscape of West Texas to Austin, the music of Monahans – earthy and wide-open, but with melancholy undertones – has as good a shot as any.

August 25, 2009

Destroyer – Bay of Pigs

Filed under: Album Reviews — Tags: — Brad Barry @ 1:28 pm

The Daily Texan, Life & Arts: 08/25/09

Bay of Pigs

Destroyer

Bay of Pigs

Merge

While, traditionally, EPs are tossed-off collections of mediocre B-sides and halfhearted remixes, there is no doubt that Dan Bejar, the lone musician behind the Destroyer moniker, put more thought into Bay of Pigs’ 21 minutes that most bands do entire albums.

Instead of the power pop of his work in The New Pornographers or the densely orchestrated folk of past Destroyer releases, here Bejar aims to recreate what he refers to as “ambient disco.” This means light, swirling tones and gauzy synth pads create a listless soundscape before various movements of electronic pings, handclaps, disco beats, and heavily effected guitar move in and out of focus.

As demonstrated on his 2004 release Your Blues, which heavily featured kitschy MIDI keyboard sounds, Bejar can make even the most cheesy, cold electronics feel poignant. But, with Bay of Pigs, one gets the feeling that the drifting soundscapes mainly serve as a canvas.

The real star here are Bejar’s dense, elegiac lyrics. Instead of his usual head-scratching tangles of literary and musical allusions, Bay of Pigs is supposedly based on its 1961 military namesake. But, in reality, Bay of Pigs is about a secret invasion of Cuba in the same way that Terry Gilliam’s film Brazil is about South America – it’s merely a nostalgic jumping-off point for Bejar’s bizarre poetry.

Though people are quick to use poetic terms to describe lyrics of varying quality, Bejar’s twisted sentences are really best referred to as couplets. Lines like “you travel light, all night, every night, to arrive at the conclusion of the world’s inutterable secret” are filled with a difficult to place sentimentality.

Though lines like this read like the musings of an English literature major with a penchant for Flaubert, they beg to be thought about. Instead of singing along with mindless “la la la’s” the listener is left to ponder statements like “love is a political beast with jaws for a mouth, I don’t care.”

Sure, the two tracks here, clocking in at over 13 and 7 minutes respectively, are overblown and pretentious, but they leave you with something to chew on. And for an EP, that kind of substantive core is all one can ask for.

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