In which the Austin musician (and member of The Dead Space) comes back quickly, hot on the heels of his 2016 double album My Life in Steel and Concrete (I still need to hear his 2011 solo debut Should Have Known). This record is poppier and more song-oriented record as My Life In was much darker and more experimental…not that The Battery Line isn’t dark at times, it certainly has its moments, but overall its more of a rock/pop record “Garden Wall” is a perfect opener, showing that the guy means business with a blast of raucous guitars (at first I thought Galavis played everything but no, he’s got a band on the record) while “No Return” shows that he might have been listening to some of that folk rock that was coming out of Los Angeles in the late 60’s (maybe The Byrds or Love). It’s obvious that the guy’s got a big musical palette and wants to expand and expound. The moody “Paul’s Phone is Dead” seems to take a page or two out of the Velvet Underground songbook while “Bleed With Me” is a low-key chamber pop number and definitely one of Galavis’ best songs yet. Side two kicks off with the 90’s alt pop of “Faces in the Crowd” (dig those backing vocals) while “Question’ has a sweet little groove to it that you want to play all day and “Any Head” spits and kicks like the best melodic garage punk does. From where I’m standing (actually sitting) I see a guy like Galavis with ideas bursting in his head that need to get out. He seems fearless and will try anything. Hell, he may make a straight country record next time out and if he does it, I’ll still be listening. www.supersecretrecords.com
The first instrument Lindsey Verrill learned was cello. And the classical training, on occasion, still seeps into her current performances, despite those happenings frequently including the wavering moans of a bowed saw and an accompanying light show.
Verrill’s time playing cello, though, resulted in a sort of codified language on the stringed instrument; sometimes it makes it tough to get free. And really, she said, vocals seem to be the best way to be emotive, anyway.
Banjo, then, is a suitable go-between, allowing for freewheelin’ calamity while still denoting at least a bit of tradition.
“People have asked me to teach banjo. And I was just thinking about it yesterday. … In reality, I probably could,” Verrill, a Austin, Texas-based multi-instrumentalist, began. “What the banjo means to me: it’s my musical Id. I’d like to stay in the dark about the mechanics of it, so I can be my true self playing it. If I were to teach banjo, I’d have to make some concrete understanding of it. I kind of did that with cello. I really used to go to those unique places with cello before I started teaching it. … It’s become less exploratory.”
For Verrill, codifying her approach to banjo — or any other instrument she might pick up — could snatch away the irreverence of instantaneous performance or the non-traditional way she might approach the musical tools at hand. And while the idea of “jamming” comes along with some heavy baggage, it’s still an enjoyable pursuit — one that should be shorn of expectations and also count as entertainment for the performers, as opposed to some rote repetition of compositions.
“It’s going to the other world,” she said. “One of my friends who I play music with — he plays guitar. And sometimes we jam. He talks about us trading off time in the musical Id. So, one person is telling the rational story. And the other person is going into another world with their instrument. You can’t both go to the other world; one of us has to stay in the human world. We can’t go off into space.”
At her Thursday show performing as Little Mazarn, she’s set to be joined by Jess Johnston on saw and vocalist Kendra Kinsey. But the avant-folksy trio hardly is Verrill’s lone musical outlet. Last year, Moonsicles, a quartet Verrill contributes bass to, issued its second disc, “Bay of Seething,” on Massachusetts’ Feeding Tube Records The compositions come off as pretty concrete, even as there’s a levitating European sci-fi-vibe casting a creepy pallor over each of the six instrumental tracks.
Verrill’s also done stints in the Weird Weeds, a post-rocky psych band, and contributed to Dana Falconberry and Medicine Bow, an Obama-era folk and pop act. But she draws comics, too, a practice the banjo player differentiates from her various other pursuits by commenting on the absurdities in life, in opposition to the serious composerly tack Verrill’s music has been aiming for.
“Why does creativity spin in all these different ways for me,” she asked, comparing her compartmentalized practices to a leaky boat, with each spouting hole representing a different artistic pursuit. “Most musicians are like that; I don’t know why.”
There’re walls divvying up those endeavors, but there’s nothing obstructing the vision Verrill has for Little Mazarn, which, despite covering folk-world standards like “The Grey Funnel Line” or “Rain and Snow,” does so with ghostly harmonies and new music’s adventurousness.
“I kind of learned how to sing because of those songs and from being taught banjo. It’s a folk instrument, so when you learn it and you’re looking to people who play it, you end up finding your voice through that. … Same thing as if you’re learning to play guitar and you learn ‘Blackbird,’ ” Verrill said about gaining confidence in her vocals. “On the banjo, I think it’s the same; the canon is so strong. For me, I also kind of have an aesthetic in my mind that I, outside of writing songs, think of as my voice. I just play the songs in my own voice and that’s what they sound like.”
by Dan Goldin (@post_trash_)
For all of Austin’s new condos and gentrification, the triumphant layer of filth that seems to permeate Austin’s punk scene can’t be stopped. The live music capital spends a lot of time in the gutter, with a never ending stream of reckless punk bands that mine tingling aggression with a flat out contempt for the culture springing up around them. With so many great bands in a relatively small scene, collaboration is inevitable, and rising up from the grime like a dirty punk phoenix comes Plax, a new band formed from members of Spray Paint, OBN IIIs, and Skeleton (among others). The band’s debut album Clean Feeling is anything but; a hard wound and bruising rush of seasick proto-punk and lo-fi brawn.
Built around staggering post-punk rhythms that twist and turn in tight zig-zagging shifts, Plax’s debut is a rallying call, a brash and unforgiving record of scathing distortion and bleak sentiment. Forgoing nuance in favor of impenetrable outsider intensity, the band balance brainy tangled chord progressions with near spoken shouts. The music of Clean Feeling is convulsive if not hypnotic on songs like “Night Watch” and the primal dirge of “1X1”. Plax shift toward the combustible and propulsive on “What A Waste” and “Location,” a venomous song that urges you to “choose a side” amid a stampeding rhythm and steadily melting tempos. Clean Feeling is post-punk’s rotten core, a record that spits and shouts in the name of all that’s disdainful.
Plax’s Clean Feeling is out August 11th via Super Secret Records.
I’m hoping it rains today, as this track from Adam Ostrar is perfect for watching the rain stream down your windows. It has that magical touch that Nick Drake had, airy vocals draping themselves atop careful little trickling guitar lines while percussion keys and percussive elements add depth to the background. Some balladry is so intimate you won’t want to share it with anyone else, and Ostrar is giving us precisely that. Look for his new record Brawls in the Briar on October 13th via Super Secret Records.
Austin, Texas today is more synonymous with condos, trendy eateries and tech bros than with the bustling live music scene that put it on the map in the first place. Yet, if you can look past the skyline you will still find cultural sparks flying at clubs along the city’s Red River Street. Formed just over a year ago during a wild house show in Austin, PLAX features a lineup of Austin musicians responsible for keeping rock and roll and punk alive and well in the capital city. The “outsider punk band” features members of venerable local acts like the OBN III’s, Spray Paint, Skeleton and more. In other words, veterans of a music scene that prides itself on blasting ear drums in beer-soaked clubs and giving zero fucks. PLAX is a clear product of the collective experience of its members, all of whom are on a mission to defy conventional expectations on their new album Clean Feeling, which is out August 11th on Super Secret Records.
Today Glide Magazine is presenting an exclusive first listen to the new album from PLAX. From the explosive chug of album opener “Boring Story”, we are thrown into a beautiful fire of punk mayhem. The songs here are raw and serrated as the members careen back and forth with the kind of intensity that is rarely captured in the studio. This is the kind of music that needs to be cranked up loud and accompanied by a case of Lone Star Beer. Mostly, Clean Feeling is a signal that the gritty punk rock spirit is alive and well in Austin.
In a recent interview with Culture Creature, PLAX bassist Michael Goodwin shared a bit of the story behind the album:
“We released a demo and Chris (guitar) and I added a weird analog synth track we did years prior to PLAX, at the end of the tape and called it ‘Clean Feeling’. When Chris and I made that synth track years prior I was in the midst of a pretty weird time in my life and I liked the juxtaposition of a clean feeling when I was lacking clarity. Also a bit of a logophile and really like the way those 2 words look and sound together.”
Hear a new song from PLAX and read an interview with bassist Michael Goodwin
PLAX is an Austin band featuring members of Skeleton, Nosferatu, Spray Paint, Glassss and OBN IIIs. The band will release its debut LP, Clean Feeling, on Super Secret Records on August 11th. PLAX brings lo-fi grit to its Wire-influenced post-punk growl. PLAX is Victor Ziolkowski (vocals), Marley Jones (drums), Samantha Wendel (guitar), and Michael Goodwin (bass).
Today we’re premiering the Clean Feeling track ‘Not For You.’ Listen here and read an interview with Plax bassist Michael Goodwin below:
Culture Creature: What can you tell me about the inspiration and/or recording process of ‘Not For You’?
Michael Goodwin: Inspiration for the instrumental idea of the song came from Marley (drums) and I listening to Bobby Soxx and Butthole Surfers at practice and wanting to write a mid-tempo song. We all are huge fans of the amazingly weird punk bands that have come from Texas and I feel like that “sound” comes out in this one. The recording was engineered by Ian Rundell and recorded live with the same set up as the other songs on the LP.
How would you describe the Austin music scene?
The music scene is a wide array of genres, which is nice because it isn’t all the same, but “scenes” do fall into a rut sometimes and bands start to sound too similar. However, I do feel fortunate to live in a city where I’ve been able to see some amazing projects and feel inspired.
What was the inspiration for the title ‘Clean Feeling’?
We released a demo and Chris (guitar) and I added a weird analog synth track we did years prior to PLAX at the end of the tape and called it ‘Clean Feeling.’ When Chris and I made that synth track years prior I was in the midst of a pretty weird time in my life and I liked the juxtaposition of a clean feeling when I was lacking clarity. Also a bit of a logophile and really like the way those 2 words look and sound together.
How is PLAX different from other bands you’ve performed in?
PLAX is more of a rhythm-based band that allows the guitar a chance to breathe and change if it chooses to do so and I like that feeling. I’ve never had a band where each performance sounds different up there to me, which makes it more exciting to play.