Wednesday, July 27, 2011

MoTel Aviv

We've focused on more "primitive" rock lately, so let's fast-forward a bit. Not all the way to the present day; lets just move about 20+ clicks up the timeline, to a place of parachute pants and Member's Only Jackets; the birthplace of New Wave music, the kind that MoTel Aviv does so well.
Maybe it doesn't look like it because of those clothes, but Yep, that's a fresh picture (by Scott David Gordon) of MoTel Aviv. From left to right, we've got Cole Hanson on guitar, Rodney Connell behind the mic, Jayson Altman manning the drum kit, and Misti Watkins on the bass. They've been together since 2009, and have graced Beauty Bar, The Parish, and the other usual venues; making fans and converting the press all along the way (check out this piece in The Austinist and this one on The Squawker) with their synth-light, 80-ish pop-rock.

We call their sound "80-ish" partly because of Connell's vox, which could easily be mistaken for The Smiths' Morrissey.
But the guitar riffs backing up Connell's vox do the 80's clang thang too; flavored a bit high in EQ, they shimmer with the reverberated depth that The Police used to have. So if The Police and The Smiths are alright with you, then yeah, you're gonna need to put some MoTel Aviv on that iPod: Check out "The Unknown", track #1 below, for a really good taste of their ready-for-radio sound.
They can do the radio-friendly thing with apparent ease, and are not afraid to embrace their inner A Flock of Seagulls - First chance you get, check out the mondo sci-fi references in "Raise Your Love", or try out "Suffering Eyes" (#3, below).

Let's just call MoTel Aviv contemporary 80s; pop-structured, well-produced numbers; with a rock-solid rhythm section supporting Hanson's lightning guitar work, all upholding Connell's excellent vocals.

With a new music video due out soon, and the plethora of dynamite reviews populating the interwebs, expect to hear and see more of MoTel Aviv in the coming months. And not just at our local venues either.

Here's a few of the tracks you'll find on the Post Modern Nation LP. But do yourself a favor - go ahead and get ALL the tracks, from either Amazon or iTunes. You decide.

Find out more about MoTel Aviv on FaceBook, ReverbNation, and MySpace.

[Photos by Scott David Gordon.]

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Not In The Face

Here in the Live Music Capital of the World, we've got a disproportionate ratio of two-man acts burning up stages. We've mentioned Before Dawn, Killa Dilla, and BK and Mr. E; now it's time to behold the wonder of Not In The Face:
That's Jonathan Terrell on the left and Wes Cargal on the right. Terrell does the sangin', guitarin', and harmonica-in' whilest Cargal pounds on the drums. They've been around since '09, burning up local venues Momo's, Club DeVille, Ghost Room, Beerland, etc. with their hot-as-hades live act - Check out this article or this one to see the scuttlebutt pervading the interwebs - The rep following these fellas around is that they put on a helluva show. And again, we're talking about just two guys and their instruments.
We managed to catch their magic at Antone's July 9th, and sure enough, Terrell and Cargal brought it in and set it down on the crowd; turning us into fanatical believers in the process. Terrell scrapes on his guitar, dances, wiggles, shakes, and belts it out in a fervor of rock, daring the listeners to keep up. Meanwhile, Cargal beats the rhythm out with a machinist's precision. Together, they nail changeups, bridges, and climactic windups with a tightness that's a wonder to behold, aurally. We heartily bestow two thumbs up.
Terrell's guitar has a nice, warm, crunchy sound; and when you mix that with his voice, you end up with their sound being called "southern rock", or even "country flavored". But it's primarily the voice that creates that impression - The compositions, production, and attitude are pretty much In Your Face (ahem) Rock. It's the primitive, easily-understood structure normally called rockabilly or punk: Straight ahead chord progressions, highlighted with catchy riffs and solid drum fills, presided over by growling voice or warm harmonica; instantly recognizable even though it's new; singalong headbanging at it's finest.

Sounds good, eh? Go check out their latest release, Bikini, for a raucous good time.

Now about that live performance thing we're talking about - Enjoy this clip of these guys doing there rockin' thang at Beerland in the not-too-distant past, to get a mere taste of what they do:

Find out more about Not In The Face on FaceBook, Twitter, and Home Base.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Beat Dolls

We're calling The Beat Dolls Austin's better-looking version of the Stray Cats.
That's them there. Left to right, we've got drummer Mike Reisch, bassist Barry John Anderson, and guitarist Felix Castillo. The chick on the far right isn't a groupie, oh no - That's none other than Angie Munsey; singer, guitarist, founder, and arguably the "face" of The Beat Dolls:
Angie used to play with with Dallas-based SkateAroundChippy, then formed The Beat Dolls here in Austin back in '09. Seems music is in her veins - Angie's dad is Jack Starr, who's "Born Petrified" LP was released by Norton Records.

She carries on the family fun rockabilly tradition, only with a more punk/ska flavor: Check out the familiar bedrocking sound of "Demons Inside Me" (track #2 below) to see what we mean.

Up top we compared these guys to The Stray Cats, but that's a pretty shallow comparison (The Beat Dolls are more fun and punk), but this was only for a frame of reference - Both bands generate a primitive rock sound, associated with a time period that's come and gone. But because that particular rockin' style is the bedrock (ahem) of the music you listen to today, it's All Good, and you'll like it. Give "In The Blood" (below) a listen, see if we're not steering you right. Then you gotta give "Walking Dead" a try, just to see where they're capable of going.

The Beat Dolls give you solid, sometimes frenetic, rock numbers; familiar enough in instrumentation and song construction to warm your jaded heart; skilled enough to slam dunk the rock-steady picking and drum pounding required for these kinds of numbers. Overall though, it's Munsey's vocals that push The Beat Dolls into unique territory - The juxtaposition of sweetly crooned feminine sounds with the electronic crunch normally associated with masculine bellowing will get, and keep, your attention (ask the One Eyed Doll's many fans if it ain't so).

They've been to lotsa Texas places; Houston, San Angelo, San Antonio, and, of course, our local establishments, having done The Dirty Dog, Red 7, and Flamingo Cantina, to name a few. You can catch 'em sometime soon at Emo's (July 18th), Trophy's (August 13th), and Hole in the Wall (August 19th).

But before you do, be sure to bone up on their latest cuts here, via their ReverbNation player:

Find out more about The Beat Dolls on FaceBook, MySpace, Twitter, and ReverbNation.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

No Such Thing

Every year The Recording Conservatory of Austin holds it's Unsigned Artist Competition, with the winning group dragging home a truckload of goodies (studio hours at Stinson Studios, ProTools gear, Apple gear, photography and CD design work, etc, etc.). Lots of folks try to grab that brass ring (The Clouds Are Ghosts competed, for instance, making it all the way to the finals); the prizes are sweet and specifically tailored to tempt the most stoic indie musician.

These are the fellas that walked away with the prize this year, No Such Thing:
That guy in the center is Ryan Hegefeld; he does the singing and plays guitar. The guy to the left of him is the other guitarist, Johnny Mike, and to the far left we've got bassist Corbin Lanmon. That's keyboardist Dan Snell on the far right, and to the left of him is drummer Michael Alexander.

The current incarnation of No Such Thing has been doing their rockin' thang since 2008, and like most of our local indies, they ain't from these parts - They hail from Hamilton and Evant, two towns in central Texas, not previously known to be hotbeds of their brand of harder rock.

So your band is hot, but your town is not, musically speaking: What do you do? "...we knew that if we were going to be serious about our music we would need to be in a city that is just as serious about it's music. What better place than the live music capital of the world?!"
What the guys bring to their new hometown is a venue-friendly, almost Breaking Benjamin brand of metallic alt. rock. Give the title track from "This One's For You" a listen (below) to hear that chugging, bellowing metallic style we're talking about.

That said, they're fully capable of steering clear of the extremities when necessary - Give a few moments to the nicely-constructed "If Only" (below) for proof that these guys can pull off some emotive piano-led pieces with conviction.

Overall, we'll call it radio-friendly metallic; well-constructed numbers accentuated with barbed solos and tempered with chugging guitars; extreme yet melodically-true vox in well-formed verses; metal without the belligerence, screaming without the screamo.
Our vision is to bring specific aspects of the metal/hardcore genre to radio friendly alternative rock. Formerly being a "hardcore" band our roots are still planted in the genre but maturity brought us into the alternative scene.
-- No Such Thing
Winning the TRCOA's Unsigned contest could be considered The Breakout Event for any indie, instantly lending credibility to your act. And reportedly, it has -
The TRCOA Austin's Unsigned Artist Competition was all around an incredible experience. It really was the perfect opportunity at the perfect time. We got the chance to not only win some awesome prizes...but also play in-front of a couple A&R reps who judged the event...and hear their thoughts on the direction we were heading, what we were doing right and wrong, and a bit about the industry and what it is exactly labels are looking for nowadays... it was really a very enlightening experience. And now we don't have to sell our bodies to raise money for our next album.
-- No Such Thing
They've been around town a bit, having played Red Eyed Fly, Emo's, and The Parish; One of their last gigs in Austin was a showcase at Stubb's for some A & R folks. Still, they don't confine themselves to our warehouse district, and have melted faces in San Antonio, Waco, and even Temple, Texas (where they had the CD release party for "This One's For You" at The Epicenter).
Pretty much if there are electric outlets and people are willing to come out, we will be there!
-- No Such Thing
On that note - don't leave until you give a listen to the outstanding rock in "This One's For You":

Find out more about No Such Thing on FaceBook, Twitter, and Home Base.