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Levitation Fest: Jonathan Bree Swanks the Scene at Empire

 Each bar of Levitation Fest ostensibly has its own scene given the night’s set, and as the weekend went on the scenes became more apparent. Thursday night at Empire listed dark wave dance artists, Jonathan Bree headlining. The humid hazy room was a relief from the damp cold outside. Jonathan Bree and his masked band elegantly entered the stage. The women in powdered wigs and ruffled collars and petticoats, the men with suspenders and black bowl haircuts. The dark dulcitone sounds danced with the light illustrations on the backlit wall. Jonathan Bree crooned and swayed, breaking into and out of synchronized choreography with the ladies.

 

When the band began “Waiting on the Moment,” everyone joined in and seemed to know the choreography. The light output reflected the women dancing on stage creating double vision on top of the already amorphous crowd in rhythm. The scenes will vary slightly each night at Empire, but on Thursday the scene was destined to dance.

 

The female mannequin froze Jonathan while she broke with the opening lines of “Say You Love Me Too.” The bass skips on top of their whispered lyrics. The steady, looped tempo challenges the building tension of the song, reflected in the fevered back and forth chassés on stage. Each suave detail contributed to a masterfully rehearsed performance and darkly curated dance wave that bewitches everyone into grooves and boogies. Bree’s “You’re So Cool” must be the spellbinding song that wins souls into his cult following. The song itself will leave you insatiable for it on repeat, but the live performance and magic that is Levitation fest has left Austin as fertile ground for his next church.

 

Photo: Casey Holder

Article: Mel Green

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Glasshealer Exudes Energy with New Single "Empty Bottles"

 

It’s hard to pin down exactly what you’re hearing when listening to Glasshealer. With a mix of electronica, noise rock, and a twist of pop-punk, the band’s high energy vibes and emotional lyrics certainly deliver excitement and intrigue. Their latest single “Empty Bottles” is no different. 

 

“Empty Bottles” feels like a more manic, less centered type of new wave. It has the same electronic waves and steady beats, but the vocals are more reminiscent of early 2000’s Brendon Urie; emotional and frequently veering towards sarcastic. The biggest impact from the song comes from its sense of urgency. It pushes you to get on your feet and do something, do anything other than staying stagnant. It’s difficult to maintain such an intense pace without overwhelming the listener, but thanks to how synced in the band is, the song keeps the tempo high and exudes good vibes simultaneously.

 

-Avril Carrillo

 

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Waldo Witt Debuts Video for Goth-Synth Track "Carteret"

Waldo Witt knows how to make a video. The electronic pop singer and songwriter understands the power of images, and he knows how to underscore and amplify the emotional intensity of his songs through visual storytelling. So far, his clips have been beautifully shot, dramatically acted, and as compelling to follow as any motion picture is. "Crystal Ball," his last video, was practically a love letter to '80s cinema: it featured the Chapel Hill artist in a succession of scenes and poses deeply reminiscent of the best-loved and most emotionally provocative movies of the first synthpop era. (Even the titles looked vintage!) "Carteret," the latest Waldo Witt video, ups the ante with a gripping story-line that borrows equally from dystopian and gangster cinema. He's an artist who understands the camera – one with a knack for making film-historical tropes his own. 

 

Nobody who knows the artist will be shocked. His music does something very similar: it alludes to prior electronic pop models and juxtaposes them, boldly, with contemporary approaches. Waldo Witt's music is gorgeously appointed, texturally sophisticated, harmonically rich, and sonically arresting. Once heard, it's not easily forgotten. Witt makes songs that cry out for video treatments – songs that feel like soundtracks to unforgettable moments. Call it psychedelia, or dream pop, or electronic soul, and he won't mind; what matters is the profound effect these cuts have on those who listen to them. "Carteret," for instance, is quintessential Waldo Witt: it's a waking reverie, a swim in a deep river with dangerous undercurrents. 

 

Sefárdico's "Carteret" enhances the dreamlike quality of Waldo Witt's music. The director presents a magic realism treatment on the United States – one populated by a desperate and passionate multicultural youth defined by its opposition to the dominant power group, in this case the Kadabros gang.  This is a needle-drop into a deep groove: a look at a subculture struggling, and celebrating, and adapting to a hostile society. But a closer look at the cosmetics suggests a division. The different clown face paint worn by the Kadabros and the minority gangs signify the differing ideology they present to the world. Narratively speaking, the clown face is also a device to lighten up the very stark situation in which we found ourselves as a country - that we are ultimately divided. Our hero is a young woman with a butterfly chest tattoo whose innocent appearance belies her dedication – and her determination to overthrow the current corrupt and obsolete order.  Only by symbolically killing the societal ideal we have of those in power we will be able to celebrate underrepresented voices and move forward as a society.

 

 

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Sofi Tukker Fires Up Stubbs On A Cold Night

 

“I dare you not to dance! I dare you not to dance!” Haiku Hands has a next-level understanding of how to get a crowd to start moving, and that sometimes means using reverse psychology.  The Aussie power-dance quartet asked the crowd to lose control while they danced, and a large Stubbs crowd was willing to oblige since most of them were their to shake their ‘rumbas’ to Sofi Tukker anyway. Haiku Hands served as a perfect opener to Sofi Tukker, stirring up the crowd’s willingness to dance on a chilly October Austin night.

 

Sofi Tukker exploded onto the stage with sexual physicality that was emphasized by pulsating rhythms and primitive percussion. If it was Sofi Tukker’s intention to coax the animalistic tendencies out of the crowd, they succeeded all too well. The throng of dancers in the crowd had created an amorphous vibrating organism of bliss.  Songs like “Fuck They” and “Mi Rumba” continued to level-up the energy with each consecutive track.

 

The beauty of a Sofi Tukker set is their song quality is strong enough to sprinkle in hits at the outset but still have enough to backload the end of the set and encore. “Swing”, “Best Friend”, “Batshit” and “Purple Hat”  all rapid-fired with out regard to the physical limitations of endurance for those who were dancing. The set would end with the duo’s most romanticized track “Fantasy” which allayed the crowd with beautiful deep house odyssey. A one-song encore would ensue in which they would play “Drinkee” and send the sweaty crowd smiling into the Austin night.

 

 

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Rye Mountain Revelry Teases Upcoming Debut Album

 

In just seven tracks, Rye Mountain Revelry firmly plant their musical roots and sonic identity. Their self-entitled debut weaves together a cross-country pattern of folk, country, and bluegrass. Summoning back the Alternative Country movement of the 90’s, RMR, leaning more Son Volt than Wilco, use this borrowed nostalgia to springboard their work into the modern landscape. A slew of instrumentation envelops the grounded songwriting to create a feeling that the listener is just as much a part of the musical experience as the musicians. “Holler Siren Serenade” finds itself in Dwight Yoakam’s wheelhouse, while the close inter-gendered harmonies on “Whiskey Moon” hearken to an Appalachian Fleetwood Mac. 

 

    The union of Eric and Anna Madden forms the beating heart of group. Meeting in Nashville in 2014 and marrying in the same church as Johnny Cash and June Carter in Franklin, Kentucky, the couple’s musical prowess grew and developed with their life partnership. Originally only playing lead fiddle on Eric’s songs, Anna began to collaborate lyrically until beginning to write on her own songs like “(Take Me Back to) Turquoise Mountain.” With difficulty finding like-minded bandmates in Nashville, the Madden’s ended up in Austin in 2017. Producer and multi-instrumentalist Eric McKinney of Wonderland Studios helped Anna and Eric track and overdub the EP before finding bassist Barret O'Donnell and drummer David Pearson via Craigslist. RMR now write and arrange with a full a full band in mind.

 

    Imagery of human connection and moon-lit desert landscapes fill the songs with a wistful yearning to get out of the confines of city life. “Without the distractions and isolation-effect of big city life,'' Eric explains, “it allows people to draw closer together and look to each other to see the value each of us has, as well as the inherent value and beauty of nature. Walking up the mountains at night and seeing the stars without any light pollution to the soundtrack of a lonesome train whistle in the distance was something I was extremely blessed to have as part of my raising and development.” These sentiments are not only reflected in the recordings, but also in the band’s future plans. As much as they love Austin, they hear the calls of “honkytonks and dance halls” from all over Texas. 

 

    With an upcoming show in San Marcos on November 9th at Tantra Coffee and plans to begin production on a full length record this winter, keep up with Rye Mountain Revelry on their website ryemountainrevelry.com and Facebook page. 


- Hayden Steckel

 

 

 

 

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