I hope you checked out the video above already. If not, go ahead and do it now. You probably won’t even need to read anything below this once you have. It’s a great film made of footage from a CD release show featuring one of the state’s great rising talents. Jessie Frye.
The quality of female talent that has been gracing the stages of North texas in recent years continues to grow. Not that it’s even been a wasteland for the fairer sex, musically speaking. It’s just that people beyond our state’s borders are taking notice too.
Sarah Jaffe and former Dallasite Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) are easily the most notable names to be bandied about these days. But one would be missing a ton if they were to forget about Amber Farris (the powerfully doulful lead singer of Somebody’s Darling) and relative newcomer Madison King, who might be the indie-heir to Miranda Lambert’s tough, Texas country throne.
While the list could continue for a while, for now, we’ll stop with Denton’s Jessie Frye. Having just released her second EP, Fireworks Child, Frye’s sweet voice seems to suit any style, but especially the eclectic indie-pop that her and super-producer John Congleton have dreamed up for this release. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Congleton has produced the much-lauded recent works of two ladies we previously mentioned, St. Vincent and Sarah Jaffe. Either way, the EP is a pleasing listen that impresses with each track.
Male or female, it really doesn’t matter. What matters is the way in which you’ll find yourself either leaving the disc in your CD player, or how you’ll likely be smashing the repeat button time after time, once the record ends.
A couple of weeks back, we went on and on - and rightfully so – about Austin-based instrumental rock heroes, Explosions in the Sky. Now, please allow us to go on and on about another Texas-based act that thrives in the realm of instrumental and post-rock. This Will Destroy You is back with Tunnel Blanket (Suicide Squeeze Records), a ferocious, brooding and moody album that really hammers you over the head in the best way possible – if you just let it.
The four-piece band that originated in San Marcos and has a couple of Dallas-based members has actually become quite the stars in the post-rock-or-whatever-you-want-to-call-it world. Drawing crowds not only around the US, but sizable throngs overseas, it’s fair to say that the new album was indeed eagerly anticipated by more than a few. Tunnel Blanket does represent a dynamic shift for the band’s overall sonic vibe. Opting to move away from the soaring, catchy and melodic climaxes that recall that one group from Austin, and into a bleaker, tension-filled terrain have created a textured variety that rewards those who allow the waves to roll towards them, then over them entirely. There aren’t any easy, quick escapes to be found on this dense, and richly manipulated album.
TWDY is kicking off their tour to support the release of Tunnel Blanket, and we were recently able to catch up with Chris King, one of the group’s founders and guitarists. Below, we discuss a few of the variables that makes the band, their sound and their new album so remarkable (my words, not King’s).
After listening to the new record a couple of times, it’s pretty impossible to miss the difference in overall tone, compared to your previous work. There seems to be an added emphasis on building tension and creating drama.
On the last record, we had a different approach to building each song. Now, it’s more of a slow burn than an immediate send-off. We wanted to create tension in more subtle ways and not be so obvious about it.
You must get tired of being asked this, but I can’t help myself, because I’m just really curious. Do you consider yourself “Post-Rock,” or do you have a different definition for what it is that your band does?
With this new record, we did intentionally want to avoid easy genre-labeling, but we made the record that came naturally to us. That’s why I don’t get into trying to name different types of music. People are always going to try to categorize music in specific terms. I mean, people could say that we make polka music for all I really care. Those titles and categories have no standing with me at all.
John Congleton produced this record, and has produced many other instrumental bands, such as Explosions in the Sky and Dallas’ Shapes Stars Make (not to mention St. Vincent, The Walkmen and Sarah Jaffe). Why is he such a talent when it comes to this brand of music?
I have a lot of respect for john. He has a real unique sensibility for sound manipulation and engineering. There are techniques he uses that I would never think of and he finds really creative ways to utilize them. His records have a dark, angry grit to them and that’s always stood out to me.
Your band has had some really large crowds in Europe and you’re about to head back that way for some shows soon. Do you think European music fans “get” what is you do, more than American fans?
I do see that sensibility in Europe. In America, many people are really into things that are so immediate. In Europe, I feel like there’s more patience, and less concern for what’s trendy. It seems to be a more consistent market over there, and there’s a very high respect for art.
Another thing I can’t escape when listening to Tunnel Blanket is the feeling of being rewarded for my patience and letting each song unfold in its own time. Do you think that keeps people from grasping your sound?
You know, people have different approaches when listening to music, so, to each their own. For us, this record wasn’t about hooks and melodies as much as it was about moods and creating environment.