The Houston Music Blog section of the Free Press Houston.

Friday, July 10, 2009

7 Inches of Buxton

posted by Ramon Medina - LP4 @ 4:58 AM


Saturday night at Mangos Buxton will deliver a 7" slice of prime USDA Grade HPOP - on Vinyl no less. If you haven't already heard Feathers or Flint yet, you're in for a treat. Feathers alone is my call for song of the year. The intro is better than any cup of coffee with Justin Terrel's drums pounding your skull as guitarist Jason Willis does more with one note on the guitar than most guitarists do with a whole fretboard before leading into a lovely guitar line that ebbs into Sergio Trevino's soft spoken and emotive voice as bassist Chris Wise rolls softly in back. The song continues through soft quiet breezes and hurricane like furies. It's a shining example of HPOP at it's best. Great dynamics, smart instrumentation, addictive hooks, and the bright upbeat shit we love here in Houston. It's the stuff that will get you dancing and will take your darkest days and make them bright and joyous. I cann't speak any higher of a band who can do that. So pick up your dancing shoes as tomorrow night they play with the Wild Moccasins (triumphantly returning from tour) and Ghost Mountain. Because we're so excited, we asked the guys a few questions this week and here's what they had to say...


FPH: Why is vinyl relevant?


Justin: Vinyl is relevant because it's stylish and sounds the best. If your band doesn't have at least one vinyl then you're not a real band. We're almost a real band.


Jason: Putting out an actual vinyl record was something we had always wanted to do. We were excited about these two songs in particular, and wanted to get them out in a tangible form one way or another. We could have just put them in the internet and that be the end of it, but we were excited about the songs and wanted other people to get excited about them as well. That, and the idea that a CD with 2 songs on it is just ridiculous.


Sergio: In my opinion, it kinda it's just kind of a milestone. Like 4 years ago we were happy to have written an album. 2 years ago we were happy to get on a label. 1 year ago we were happy to get a nod with the Houston press. This year ...vinyl.


FPH: Why were these songs not held back for a full album and how did you come to select these two as 7" worthy?


Sergio: These are meant to be fun songs, Sometimes we write something with the intention of sticking it within a "bigger picture" not so much the case with these songs.


Jason: These songs didn't exactly fit in with a lot of our newer material we had been working on. There was a lot of debating about what to do with all of these different songs and in the end we decided to put out a series of EPs. The first is the 7" Feathers / Flint. After the 7" we're going to focus more on a very stripped down acoustic gospel / folk EP com

prised of songs written by Sergio and his wife, Amanda, that will be called Morning Saints. Then we plan to put out another EP of the songs by Bjork that we covered at the Twotenany. As for why we decided to put Feathers and Flint on a 7", .... why not?


Justin: We wrote both of these songs after I joined the band and they were a result of Buxton getting a full time drummer, I suppose... rather than just adding drums after the song was written. These songs are very energetic and fit really well together because they were written at the same time but it wasn't necessarily the direction we were going in for a full length, i think. It just makes sense on a 7".


FPH: Feathers brings in a lot of HPOP to your sound. How much have bands like Young Mammals and Wild Moccasins bored their way into your skulls and affected your songwriting or general approach to music?


Jason: They've bored the hell out of us. Those two bands have to be the most boring bands in Houston, if not Texas. Actually it was our drummer, Justin, who has made the biggest impact on our songwriting. Before he joined, we always wrote songs acoustically, then added drums later, if any. So we never really had the option of dynamics while writing. Now that he has joined, we can experiment with those dynamics and apply them to the writing process. It's been fun. But just for the hell of it, I'll go ahead and say that Cody from Wild Moccasins' mustache, and the curly hair of all of the Young Mammals, have been the ultimate influence on us when it comes to songwriting, playing tennis, and overall being a good human being.


Justin: Musically, i haven't let either of those silly bands affect my writing style. I'm just kidding about the silly part, I love both of those bands and every member in them.


Sergio: HPOP!!! Yeah, you know that song does feel communal with the likes of the Mam's and the Moc's. Nice to be a part of that.


FPH: How did the songs progress from raw idea to final arrangement? Where was the 7" recorded? Who engineered it? How much did the studio environment come to play in the arrangement and writing of the song?


Jason: Both songs started off with us goofing around and jamming. Usually Sergio will write the basic structure of the song and the rest of us will add to it but we wrote these two together from the ground up. We also had a set practice space with a nice setup, so that helps as well.


Sergio: They were really the 1st songs we wrote with a drummer, and actually allowing the drums to shape the songs. The songs before that we would write, and then add drums to it.


Justin: The songs were pretty much written [before the studio] but we had a few ideas for an intro to feathers that Jason pretty much made up on the spot. We also had some basic horn ideas that we sort of let our two friends, Aaron and Nicholas, sort of build on.


Jason: We were lucky enough to record the 7" at Sugar Hill Studios with John Griffin. Recording in that studio was a dream come true. We have never recorded anything that went so smooth. A lot of that has to be credited to John who was very professional and a great guy. We were usually on the same page when it came to what we each wanted so it was easy and quick to get things set up and over with. Not only that, but they had some great studio equipment that we had no hesitation to take advantage of. Hammond B3, a Fender P-Bass from the 60's, a grand piano, things like that which we all used on Feathers.


Justin: It was really chill working with John and the whole experience was super relaxed. We all loved it.


FPH: Y'all have had these tracks completed for quite some time. Was there any strategic reason for waiting until July to release it?


Sergio: Yeah Chris!?


Justin: We recorded the two songs much later than we wrote them and after we recorded them it took time for Chris to figure out exactly who we were going to use to press and all of that. And of course, it took a while for everything to actually be pressed. I think that's all true.


OH, we were shooting for a March release but it took a while to get everything figured out and then we wanted to find a good weekend where nothing else was going on. And THEN, of course, our dear friends The Young Mammals decided to have their tour kickoff at the same place two days before so we hate them now.


Jason: We really just wanted to give ourselves plenty of time and not rush a release. We've learned the hard way that if you set a date for a release show too early, it can be lame. With our last full length, 'A Family Light', we had received the CDs a week before the release show and the artwork and text was blurry and pixilated. There was nothing we could do. So this time around, we tried to give ourselves plenty of time in case something like that were to happen again. The weird thing is, we still got the final copies of the 7" in about a week ago as well, so it's a good thing we did set the release for a later date. Getting vinyls pressed is a lengthy process. We're also just really lazy.


FPH: Why do those publicity shots of you guys dressed like orderlies freak me out so much? Also, is it true that those same shots are stills for a remake of the Fat Boys' 1987 classic film Disorderlies?


Justin: I don't know; I love them. Don't you, too? And yes.


Sergio: I saw that movie at my cousin’s house when I was 7...Going on the queue.


Jason: Ramon, they freak you out because they turn you on and you're just not used to it yet. As for a remake of Disorderlies, I herein am not able, with legal representation or authorized liberty, through a clause of exclusivity, to disclose of any such information of any progression or contractual obligation of said production, herein known as "Disorderlies". Sorry :(.




Buxton on Myspace ( Link )
Buxton Orderlies photo by James Dillon

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Spring 2008 Westheimer Survives Yet Another Block Party

posted by Ramon Medina - LP4 @ 10:45 PM

No Beer or Jameson fueled review this week folks. This week I'm keepin' it straight edge. But even if you weren't abstaining, I hope you were able to make it out yesterday to the Block Party! I kicked around until 5pm and had to leave due to some other obligations but five hours was still quite the overdose of music. In those five hours I caught 20 acts and the stupid thing is, when I had to leave, I was bummed about having to miss Elaine Greer, The Papermoons, Oh Pioneers, Young Mammals, Rusted Shut and a whole host of other bands. Is that crazy? You'd think I'd have been sick of it all and ready to leave but the day was too beautiful and everywhere you looked you kept running into cool people and cool music. So here are some highlights:

The McKenzies drew me in with their upbeat drums, organ, and poppy melodies. For me, they were my happy pop "discovery" of the day complete with bubble machine. What can I say, I'm a sucker for the well executed pop song. Sadly, no releases yet but they say they are working on it. Highly recommended!

Defenestration Unit were missing a guitarist yet, no offense to Jim Otterson's skills, you never missed him. The band filled in the gaps beautifully and Charlie Ebersbaker's work on the Korg was a great addition to the band's palate.

Come See My Dead Person were a complete surprise. I walked in and there was this big dude with a small-scale acoustic guitar, a mandolin player, and a violinist, atop the usual drums, bass, and guitar. The singer was singing like some gypsy Tom Waits while the whole place was whooping it up. It's probably the only time I've seen a band have this infectious a "drag you in" live performance since the last time I saw the Sideshow Tramps.

Antarctica Starts Here played one of the best sets I saw on Saturday. Oh, this is a band that loves a wash of echo, reverb, and delay ON EVERYTHING. Add the shimmering guitars and their patient buildups leading to some gorgeous crescendos and I'm mainlining.

Sideshow Tramps make it look so easy! I caught a bit of their set and there is the drummer throwing his stick around like some Bennihanna chef, the washboard bassist is taking a solo to hoots and hollers from the audience, the cigar box guitarist is sashaying across the stage like he's Jimi Page, and the singer is making you buy whatever they are selling. Now, that's all fine and dandy but I'd gone to see Perseph One and that stage running late so I headed back to Avant Garden then, sure enough, when I get back, the goddamn stage is filled with people dancing and singing along! Goddamn it, I can't leave those Sideshow Tramps alone for five minutes!

Basses Loaded also fall under the category of bands that make it look easy with their cool bass lines, clever arrangements, and unstoppable skills. Fine cool I can deal with that and the fact that the whole American Sharks thing is also kickin' but I didn't know until later that day that 1/2 of the band was in The Fucking Transmissions. Fuck that! That's Bullshit! Attention Basses Loaded members, you have exceeded your cool band quota! Cut that shit out!

Buxton is a band I'd been curious to hear live since hearing them on Myspace and they did not disappoint. There's a lot to like about them, strong songs, engaging vocals etc. but for me the thing that put it over the top was the lead guitarist. Here was one of those bastards that had an insane control over what he was doing - it was enviable. He'd constantly punctuate the songs with these little guitar lines and phrasing that added texture, nuance, and weight to an already heady brew. One of the best performances of the day!

The Fucking Transmissions' set was hip hop at it's most musically witty. Ben (he of too much talent and too many cool bands) played guitar and bass simultaneously while the vocalists played off each other like droll school kids trying to outdo each other. Jovial and sharp, The Fucking Transmissions should quiet any naysayers who claim Houston Hip Hop is all out of tricks.

The Wild Moccasins got everyone in a tizzy. John Sears turned to me and said "Oh Shit they're the new De Schmog!" We'll, maybe if De Schmog was a bit more rootsy but, yeah, in terms of being upbeat, fun, and getting the crowd all nutters, they had it in spades.

I closed it off with Austin's Death Hell Battle Tank upstairs at Avant Garden. The singer (is this the dude from Fuck Emos by the way?) sure had sass. He got on the balcony and began, with his voice running through an octave divider, to taunt the people below to come upstairs all the while addressing the Houston crowd as "Hey Dallas" and telling them how much they sucked. The band - dressed in military headgear, fully in character, and with fog machine in hand - then charged through a really fucked-up version of The Immigrant Song. It was refreshing to see someone just be purely stupid and silly. Now I'll grant you, the shtick may get old but it was worth rolling this one at least once.

The Punk's Not Dead Award though for the day has to go to Cop Warmth and Blackie's guerrilla performance outside the bike shop. If you missed it like I did don't feel to bad; it was thrown together on a whim after the band's performance at Numbers . Cop Warmth are like excitable chimps and - fuck stages and set times - it was time to have some fun and fling some poo: get the equipment, set up by the bike shop, play, make some noise with Blackie, and hope it's all done before the cops shut you down. Just looking at these pictures by Brent (Link) and listening to what people said, Cop Warmth may just have topped everyone else and brought some much needed real chaos to an otherwise orderly event. Amen!

Here are some snapshots:




The McKenzies - awesome pop goodness!


The Defenestration Unit's Mike Switzer
has come to kick ass and chew bubblegum
and he's all out of bubblegum!


Generation Landslide
plays an exclusive set for Indian Jewelry


Skyblue72


Team Death Trap


Come See My Dead Person rips up Mango's
and that's without their entire line-up.


Swans Will Attack


Antarctica Starts Here lay down shoegazer

shit that makes your hair stand on end!

News On the March


Sideshow Tramps!!

I left for five minutes.
When I get back everyone was on stage.
Typical!

Mistress Green


Ill Advisory - the one man supergroup!


Basses Loaded!

Asses Kicked!
Mission Accomplished!

Lovie


Buxton! Holy shit they are good!


The Fucking Transmissions dropping some cognitive
dissonance on that one dude who writes-off Houston as
"a talentless hip hop sewer of uncreative ass clowns "


The Wild Moccasins
wowing an enthusiastic crown outside Mango's


Piano Vines you got that one dude dancin'!!


Death Hell Battle Tank!

Because sometimes you need to get your stupid on!

Cop Warmth & Blackie
proof that punk's not dead!



And Finally!
Best swag of the day was from Johnathan Welch!

He was dutifully workin' it for his spiritual guru,
& handing out the most bad-ass bookmark ever.
(Yes, Johnathan, I linked the pictures to the site.)







More:

Blog Reviews:

Breakfast On Tour review and pictures by Cereal (Link)

Handstamp (Chronicle) review and Pictures (Link), more pictures (Link), and Video (Link) by Sara Cress

Houston Calling
Review By David Cobb (Link)

Houston Press
review by Chris Gray (with link to a slide show Link)

Impose Magazine
review and photos by David deLeon (Link)


Pictures:

My Pictures (Link)

Brent's Pictures (
Link)

Groovehouse's Pictures (
Link)

William Cordray's Picture's (Link)


Send me you Flickr and other related links so I can add them, eh?

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