Tag Archives: the calm blue sea

The Preservation, The Calm Blue Sea (Jennifer)

May 1, 2013


Austin’s The Preservation are celebrating spring with the release of their new single, Hugs/Drugs.  It brings to mind sunny, lazy, and carefree days with its breezy harmonies, organ swirls, and twang meets jangle guitars.  This double single is an excellent follow up to their 2011 album, Two Sisters. I also highly recommend checking out their live show, which you have the chance to do this Friday at Scoot Inn. They’re part of a stellar lineup with The Couch, Burgess Meredith, and Holiday. Check out the clip of Happiness from their Good Music Club taping last year; those sweet harmonies and killer guitar hooks definitely make me happy.

Another excellent local band performing on Friday night is The Calm Blue Sea. Although they’re an Austin-based band, their gigs are infrequent. The chance to see and hear them play a headlining show at a top notch venue like The Parish is hard to pass up. The band recently posted the remaining two videos from their Aberrations And Departures series; these performances were recorded and filmed live on location in Austin with different filmmakers and no overdubs or edits. Tesoro and To Approach The Vivian Girls are two of my favorite songs from their 2012 album, Arrivals And Departures; they have a blissful yet powerful shiver up the spine quality that you can’t deny.

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SXSW 2013 Picks (Jennifer)

March 6, 2013


Even though I’m a 16 year veteran of attending SXSW, I’m reluctant to do much in-depth research for fear that my head will cave in from information overload. The festival is certainly no longer limited to the latest buzz bands. I admit I’m looking forward to seeing bands that are festival veterans and maybe even a rock n’ roll legend or two. I also willingly break the unofficial rule for Austinities by checking out local band showcases. I know I can see them throughout the year, but why is it so wrong to support them during SXSW?

I’ve selected five Austin bands and five non-Austin acts worth checking out next week.

Don’t forget your earplugs, wear comfortable shoes, and drink plenty of water.

Hundred Visions

I had heard of Austin’s Hundred Visions a couple of years ago, but I didn’t become a fan until seeing one of their Austin Free Week performances in January. It was full of energy, passion, and fun. Their sound is an irresistible blend of late 70s power pop and early 80s British post punk. You can catch their official showcase on Friday, March at Metal And Lace. They’re also part of the lineup for SOTO’s day party, DC vs Austin, on the same day. Just in time for the festival, the band has released a video for the track Where Do I Sign?.

The Ugly Beats

A longtime Austin favorite of mine is The Ugly Beats. Their sound combines 60s British invasion, garage rock, surf, punk, and psych, and their shows turn into instant dance party. They’re a total blast and one of the best bands in town. They play their official showcase as part of the Get Hip Records lineup at the Parish Underground on March 16.

The Calm Blue Sea

Local quintet The Calm Blue Sea create a powerful sound that (pardon the oceanic reference here) washes over you – at once it can be gentle and calming but it can also take your breath away as it crashes over you. They’re part of an excellent label showcase by Austin based label Modern Outsider that includes other quality Austin bands such as Ume, The Black and White Years, My Jerusalem, and Mirror Travel (formerly Follow That Bird!).

Residual Kid

Don’t call them a kid band and don’t call them a novelty band. The members of Austin trio Residual Kid may be young, but I’ve been to shows where older bands that play after them have asked aloud onstage, “How do we follow that?” They’re loud, brash, and maybe even a bit messy. They’re not afraid to just go for it and have a lot of fun onstage while melting faces of all ages in the audience. They’re playing plenty of day shows and you can check out their official showcase on March 16 at The Palm Door.

Grape St

Grape St are about to release their debut album, A Date With You, on the local start up label Austin Town Hall Records. Their infectious garage rock stompers make for a raucous live show. They have two festival showcases – March 13 at Cedar Street Courtyard, followed by another showcase later that night on the Hotel Vegas patio.

Robyn Hitchcock

Robyn Hitchcock is a longtime SXSW veteran, but this is not an artist who repeats himself. I’m always intrigued to see him perform live. His lyrics and stage banter have a stream of consciousness quality that range from thought provoking and biting to humorous and flirtatious. I’m sure that “quirky” and “odd” have been used to describe him and his songs, but those words don’t do him justice. Just listen and dig a little deeper to appreciate the enigma that is Robyn. His official showcase is on March 14 at the Continental Club. He’s also part of the all star tribute to the late Brent Grulke at the Austin Music Awards.


I’m pretty sure I did a little happy dance when I learned that the Ireland band Ash was returning to SXSW. I have a fond memory of watching them play a day party from a far distance in 2006; the band could see the far off crowd watching and dedicated Renegade Cavalcade to us. In the past couple of years, the band has played some limited tour dates in the US, but it’s been seven years since they’ve played in Austin. In late 2012, the band marked its 20th Anniversary with the release of the Ash A-Z Series, and they’re playing additional US dates in support of that release. They have skillfully combined hard, crunchy guitars and infectious, singalong worthy pop hooks that have won over listeners and allowed them to maintain a devoted fan following. Their official showcase is at Buffalo Billiards on March 13, and they’re also playing the Irish Full Breakfast showcase.

The Zombies

You don’t have to be a scholar or hardcore fan to appreciate The Zombies, who are in their 52nd year of being a band. Two original members remain – lead singer Colin Blunstone and songwriter/keyboardist Rod Argent. As one of the most influential bands from the 60s British Invasion, you’re probably familiar with some of their classic hits, including Time Of The Season, She’s Not There and Tell Her No. I’m not familiar with their 2011 release, Breathe Out, Breathe In, but I’m sure that they won’t leave SXSW without playing their classic hits and fan favorites. Their popularity and influence on contemporary bands endures for past, present, and future fans. Their official showcase is on March 16, and they’re also a featured interview on March 15 at the Austin Convention Center.

Free Energy

Philadelphia based quintet Free Energy never fail to make me smile. It’s feel good music that’s ridiculously catchy; think classic rock meets power pop. Even the cool kids who usually keep their hands in their pockets will start clapping, dancing, and singing along. They’re supporting the release of their second album, Love Sign, and I’ve been looking forward to their return to Austin since their SXSW showcase last year. The band genuinely enjoys what they do and it shows during their live performances. They’re playing several day shows and their official showcase is on March 16.

Frightened Rabbit

I first saw Scottish quintet Frightened Rabbit at a small SXSW day party in 2008. It was a short set, but they definitely made an impression on me. The band is celebrating their return to this year’s festival with the release of their fourth album, Pedestrian Verse. Their songs have a persistent sadness, but they also convey a sense of hope and resilience which strikes a familiar chords in many of their fans and listeners.  This is not a band that stares at their shoes; their live shows are passionate, sweaty, and satisfying affairs. Their official showcase is at The Belmont on March 14. Even if you have a badge, get there early as The Flaming Lips, The Joy Formidable, Alt-J, and Surfer Blood are part of that night’s lineup.

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Jennifer’s Top 11 Austin Albums Of 2012

December 14, 2012


When I sat down to list my favorite songs and albums from 2012, Austin bands were all over it. I’m going to take that as a sign and share the local favorites that I listened to repeatedly. There’s no special ranking or order here. It was harder than I expected to narrow it down to the Top 11. These are the bands that made an impression on me this year and give me reasons to be a music fan. I hope you’ll discover new favorites and check them out in 2013.

JC & Co – Music By

This band’s debut album kicked off my 2012 with blissful, dreamy 60s influenced pop. Led by songwriter and guitarist, Jason Chronis, this album is filled  with plenty of jangly guitar hooks and stick in your head melodies.

Belaire – Resonating Symphony

The members of JC & Co had a busy year because most of the band is also part of Belaire. Resonating Symphony was released this spring after having been worked on for three years. It was definitely worth the wait, as it’s a breezy, infectious pop delight with a range of influences that hint of bossa nova, folk, and electropop.

Dana Falconberry – Leelanau

I had heard of Dana from the Echotone music documentary, but I didn’t check out her songs until her album release show a couple of months ago. You could say I had a “what took me so long to pay attention?” moment, but needless to say, I was enchanted by the eloquent, emotive songs filled with the nature inspired sounds of her home state, Michigan. Just close your eyes, listen carefully, and you can imagine yourself transported to the woods and lakes of her childhood.

The Eastern Sea – Plague

The Eastern sea is a name that I first heard a couple of years ago, but I didn’t follow through on checking out their tunes. Thank goodness for second chances! Despite the foreboding album title, the songs on Plague also convey a sense of joy, hope, and overcoming the odds despite what might be against you. A triumphant, gorgeous record worth repeated listens.

Good Field – Good Field

I first heard their self titled debut album about seven months ago, and I’m still completely head over heels for it. The LP is full of undeniable guitar pop hooks that get into your head and never leave. I highly recommend seeing them play live so you can also witness just how great they are as musicians. A new album is in the works and more touring, so keep your eyes and ears open in 2013 for this band. I promise you that they measure up to all my fangirl gushing.

She Sir – You Could Be Tiger/Condensedindents

Their next album, Go Guitars, is slated for a 2013 release. To appease the appetite of fans, the band made two new songs available for download and/or streaming. I can’t get enough of their lush, shimmery sound that floats and swirls in a melodic haze.

The Calm Blue Sea – Arrivals And Departures

This is the year I finally enjoyed a (mostly) instrumental rock album. This is a surprising revelation for a (mostly) power pop, hook loving music fan. Maybe that’s why I love this album, it blew my own expectations away. At one moment you can close your eyes and drift away and at another moment, you can’t resist pulling out some air guitar and/or drumming. This music isn’t just for bedroom listening. Their album release show this fall was one of the shows you brag to your friends about how you were there. I also highly recommend checking out their video performance series, Aberrations And Departures, which was shot at various Austin locations ranging from a neighborhood bar, a vintage store, and a playground. Each setting seamlessly fits into the personality of the songs.

The Couch – The Couch

Early this year, I saw The Couch perform as part of The Good Music Club, and I finally became a Couch convert. They have the advantage of having two talented songwriters and lead singers (I’m such a sucker for great dual male/female vocals), and a solid, top notch rhythm section. It’s a fun, sweaty rock and roll with a melodic, pop heart beating underneath.

Bobby Jealousy- A Little Death

Their debut album is a delicious mix of rock, pop, glam, soul, and punk. The band is a great combination of solid songwriting and infectious, engaging live performances. There have been lineup changes since the album’s release, but that is not slowing the band down from starting work on the next release. I’m excited to hear more from tthem.

The Zoltars – Should I Try Once More?

This album was instantly in the running to be a year end favorite. I became a fan of their less is more, stripped back sound and songwriting. The winning factor is that they’re able to make it catchy, infectious, and worthy of repeated listens. They make the sad songs feels so good.  A 7″ EP is slated for release in January or February, and a new album is set for a summer 2013 release.

Leatherbag – Ditto Time

In 2012, they re-branded themselves briefly as No Future before calling it a day. This past spring, this trio released Ditto Time, which hinted at the band’s change in direction described as “flag wave.” I’m still not quite sure what that is but at the end of the day, the results were killer, no BS songwriting from Randy Reynolds and a badass rhythm section of Daniel Blanchard and Drew Emmons. They were a live favorite that I never tired of seeing. I’m really going to miss this band – good tunes from good people.

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