Wednesday, March 30, 2011


GOBI, technically, hails from just south of Austin, San Marcos.  But 'cause they moved here back in 2008, bringing along their dance/trance grooves, we claim 'em as our own.
Here's GOBI in action:   
That's Chuco Phil (a.k.a. Phil Arciniega) on the left there, and though he's picking out a melody on his Korg at that particular point in time, he may be better known as the voice of GOBI.  On the far right is Justin Dillon, who doesn't just chop on that 6-string axe, but poinks on the Korg too.  That's Matthew Kevin Dunn behind the drumkit, and he does the multi-instrument thing too.

Their debut LP, "The Poltergeist Arcade", was released last July (2010), making a splash at the UT student-run station, KVRX, cracking the top 40.   And there's a good reason for that - This release showed off their knack for melding trance, dance, rap, jazz, and scorching guitar riffs into deft, accessible, hypnotic soundscapes.   Check out "Music Save Me"; see how many genres you can spot from the opening back beat, to the screeching guitar at 50 seconds in, to the climatic sinister synth lines at 5:30:

Their latest, "The Late Night", moves away from the lengthy instrumentals of "The Poltergeist Arcade" and breezes into more radio-friendly, lyrical territory; with Chuco's vox gracing every song. "She Moves it Right" and "Skyline" presents sweet dance-friendly grooves; while "Ain't Gonna Die" features some very nice melodic lines with the vocals following along, both atop a minimalistic chord progression. 
As you can tell from these pics, those Korgs play a central role in their sound; emanating nice arpeggios, saw-toothed melodic lines, 8-bit-ish stingers, fatty bass lines, and even the occasional perc patterns.  That guitar is a biggy too, with Justin's fiery solos grabbing central focus for some of their more sublime moments.  Lastly, Chuco's voice tops off their smooth, cool, unique sound:  A great sound, a blend of some of the last 10 years' better musical inventions, all in happy, pitch-perfect balance.  

You probably missed their SXSW gigs, but you can still enjoy their latest, "The Late Night":

Find out more about GOBI on Facebook, Bandcamp, and Home Base.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

BK & Mr. E

BK & Mr. E is another one of those "sounds bigger than they are" duos (like Killa Dilla or Before Dawn) that probably underwhelms on load out, but, by all reports, leaves the patrons in open-mouthed awe as they bring the house down.  
That's Jason Blanchette and Brandon Hegar in the marching band getup there.  That might get you some looks, showing up on 6th Street with that hat on, but we can assure you that stranger sights are there to be had.
These Austin born-bred-trained band-itos met, as you can imagine, in the high school marching band; and afterwards got college educated in classical performance.  (Don't know for sure, but we can guess that their degrees were NOT in funky electronic instrumentation; though it seems to have been their major.)  Seeing them today, we wonder if their old professors think they turned to the dark side, giving up their brass for synths, electric guitars, and drum machines.  
But don't let the outfits (and these tongue-in-cheek comments) fool you - These guys smoke with soul-powered vocals, pop-funky beats, and hearty harmonies that pull you, marching, right into their uniformed wake.  Check out the Motown influence (that pops up about a minute in) in "Enemy", from their "Under the Radar" LP, to see what we mean:

With two excellent releases under their belt ("Under the Radar" last year, and now the brand-new "Company Front") the guys have shown an absolute bent for cool, accessible pop numbers.  Though they claim inspiration from sources as far apart as Rachmaninoff and The Beatles, we wonder if maybe the hats are responsible for the genius behind the great melodic lines and danceable perc rhythms they pull off.  (We're perusing craigslist now for our own hats. Just to see.)

Compositionally, they put together a well-structured, ready-for-radio package; with fat electro bass lines and dance-friendly drum beats holding up keyboard and guitar-based melodies; the vocals topping it off, typically in chorus; encouraging sing-alongs or other random acts of karaoke.

Check out this well-written piece from the good folks at the Republic Of Austin, who mention, among other attributes, their great vocal chops.  

BK & Mr. E played a SXSW showcase at Republic LIVE, and have been seen at Club de Ville.  But until you get a chance to catch 'em live, get your Sousa on and give a listen to "Company Front"; see if it doesn't put a elbow-swinging, knee-popping march into your step:

You can find more about BK and Mr. E at Home Base, as well as Facebook, Twitter, and (appropriately enough) Bandcamp.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Synthetamine is the musical entity of one Robert Thayer, a Texas-born, classically-trained, street-wisened, battle-hardened veteran of the School of Indie.  He's been in several different bands (Lower Class Brats, JoeRockHead, Red Church), but now flies solo in electronica/dance/DJ venues such as Headhunters, Red-Eyed Fly, and Carousel Lounge.

Thayer started pounding the piano at 9, but nowadays his weapon of choice is the synthesizer (hence the title of his act), with the wont (and chops) to play more than one at a time:
Though the latest release, "Radio Ghost", is tucked away neatly into the electronica/dance corners of our genre-loving indie music world, it's something of an oddity there; occasionally veering away, Crystal Method-like, into guitar-riffing rock (give a listen to DNA, track 10, below), or funk grooves (Confinement, track 9); most of the tracks featuring dense melodic lines, full-on chord progressions, and blazing keyboard arpeggios.

But let's not misrepresent here:  Synthetamine's tracks are imminently danceable, and you'll find yourself bobbing your head, driving a little faster, and enjoying one of our more frenetic partners in indie.  

Find (and enjoy) Synthetamine on Facebook, ReverbNation, and at home base.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Officially, Knifight has been jamming for roughly 9 years; though 4 years of that was John Gable doing solo work in Tyler; eventually picking up Patrick Marshall, Nick Garrison, and John Hetherington along the way to Austin, landing circa 2010.  

Since then, they've seen the inside of many of the finer venues in the "warehouse district", playing The Mohawk, The Beauty Bar, et al, building up a solid wall of Knifers (if I may) with their pop-laden rock and signature vocals.

And why not? Check out the irresistible "Familiar Steps" to see what we're talking about:

Just to be clear:  When we say "pop-laden" here, we don't mean pop as in "pop culture", as in Super Bowl halftime or American Idol-ish pablum.  No, we mean "pop" in the more traditional sense of the word:  A blending of harmonic elements, oftimes in a major key, using vocals, chord progressions, and traditional structures to create a pleasing tonal (in the western sense) quality.  So even if their cuts don't sound all Top 40, don't be surprised if the band winds up there:  They have all the essentials in place; sans the high-dollar, studio-sheened mix. 

Knifight lures you in with a danceable BPM; seduces you with hook-laden guitar riffs and vocal harmonies; then shivs you clean through with Gable's emphatic, imposing, "voice of conviction" vociferications.  Built on a solid base of club-flavored rhythm, minimalistic instrumentation, and sing-along melodics, Knifight is a force of angular pop; inspiring a tribal intimacy with us and the rest of our DIY-indie clan.

We were tempted to leave you with this live vid of the guys at Clicks -

But really, you should listen to their new EP, '"Now We're Invisible".  Really.  In it's entirety.

You can find out more about Knifight on Facebook, ReverbNation, Bandcamp, and SonicBids.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Art Versus Industry

Though Art Versus Industry just released their first EP, "Movement I" -  
these fellas aren't new to the party.  By our (admittedly uninformed) count, they stand accused of something closer to 9 CD's worth of jams - You have to lump all of Avi Ghosh's work in there, which means dEFY too.  (And we're being conservative:  We haven't included any of Matt Gruber's pre-dEFY stuff, produced back when he was a math major in New Jersey.)  They are longtime members of the Austin Electronic Music Grid, and  continue to gig about town on a regular basis (Emo's, Stubb's, etc).  Looks like they'll be jamming at SXSW this year too.  
Though Avi, in his various forms and incarnations, has done some me-too-ish, accessible (some even downright danceable) tracks; this latest release is deeper, more sonically dense, and more compositionally complex, more so than even the excellent "All That's Left Of Us" LP.  In a word, Mature.
Taking your first tour through "Movement I", you'll be tempted to dump the guys into the NIN-knockoff bin (as you would the earlier releases).  But don't focus on the singing alone:  Though Avi's vocals do affect Reznor's breathy whispering, frenzied screeches, and melodic lines, this new release rushes past that industrial mold; bursting out with some solid harmonic voicing (ie., "Lapse"), fiendish post-New Wave-ish arpeggios, and the periodic departure from traditional ABA structure, sometimes flitting dangerously close to too-dissonant-for-your-own-good experimental.  But this is a Good Thing, defining this one as a breakthrough release, compositionally, even by their already-high standards.  Art Versus Industry has walked that fine, marketing-based line between "sounds like" and "just like"; that razor-sharp edge between being mistaken for a pre-existing legend, and being their own.  Legend, that is.

Find 'em, listen, love 'em on Tumbler, Facebook, and Bandcamp.