Better Know an Artist (Vol 36): Stephen Beatty (of Un Chien)

Un Chien is a Fort Worth band with a sound owing debts to 90’s alt rock (a la Smashing Pumpkins) and modern psych rock (think Black Angels or Tame Impala). Bandleader Stephen Beatty (formerly of Stella Rose) assembled a talented band of respected local musicians (Rachel Gollay, Kris Knight, Jerrett Lyday, and Taylor Craig Mills), and set out to attain a more experimental sound with his music. After a self released EP in early 2013, they signed to Hand Drawn Records and issued an impressive self-titled debut album later that year. Their sophomore effort will be released later in 2016, but Stephen sat down to answer some questions while we wait.

Me: For starters, tell us a little about yourself. How did you first get into music? And when did you know this is what you want to do for a living (money be damned)?

SB: I first got into music around 4th grade when we could join the school band. I played saxophone. Marty McFly was probably my main reason for wanting to play guitar (I watched Back to the Future at least once a day when I was a kid). Begged my mom to get me a guitar around 11 years old, got one for Christmas, and never stopped playing (or buying) them.

Me: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?

SB: I usually just tell people, “Alt Rock” because I hate trying to describe my own music.

Me: Who are some of your biggest musical influences, and why?

SB: Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins were my gateway bands which opened me up to bands like Sonic Youth, Pixies, and Jesus Lizard. I love bands that balance chaos and noise with a good melody. I also respect the underground/punk mentality of bands like those. Brian Jonestown Massacre is another huge influence musically.

Me: Which of your songs means the most ot you, and if you don’t mind me asking, why?

SB: We have a song called “Amarillo” that’s going to be on our new record.  We’ve played it live a few times.  I was in a long-distance relationship (she live in Amarillo) that ended badly.  It’s about that.  Writing that song was my way of coping and closing that chapter of my life

Me: If you could open for any act, dead or alive, who would it be, and why?

SB: Dead: Nirvana, so I could see a Nirvana show
Alive: Queens of the Stone Age

Me: Any favorite new musical acts, local or otherwise?

SB: Jetta in the Ghost Tree

Me: What’s your “stranded on an island” record?

SB: Smashing Pumpkins “Gish”

Me: Moving onto the home front, what are your favorite (and least favorite) things about the DFW music scene?

SB: I love that everyone knows each other, I hate that everyone knows each other’s business. It feels like a big dysfunctional family.

Me: Favorite DFW venue to play (or see a show). Why?

SB: Lola’s, because I’m OG.

Me: Any favorite local acts people should be looking out for?

SB: umm, Un Chien, *wink wink

Me: And for shits and giggle, what’s a fun fact that most people don’t know about you?

SB: I’m much, much nerdier than you’d probably think. I’ll leave it at that.

Many thanks to Stephen Beatty of Un Chien. I’m really looking forward to hearing new music from this talented batch of musicians with a pretty unique sound for the area. Check out Un Chien’s debut album below, and look out for the sophomore record later this year.

Photo Credit: Ronnie Jackson Photography

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New Music: Pageantry “Vicious Wishes”

Check out this groovy new track from Denton’s Pageantry. It’s called “Vicious Wishes” and it’s like Flaming Lips meet New Wave. Pretty freaking cool. It’s the lead track off of their upcoming EP, set for release on July 11 on Southern Heaven Records. The official release show will be at Dan’s Silver Leaf on July 16.

 

Better Know an Artist (Vol 31): Kris Knight (Un Chien)

Un Chien is a fantastic psychedelic band out of Fort Worth, led by singer-songwriter Stephen Beatty, formerly of Stella Rose. The band also includes Kris Knight on keys, Jerrett Lyday on drums, Rachel Gollay on guitar and Taylor Craig Mills on bass. Their sophomore release, Where We Belong, is due later in the summer, but the debut single off of that record, “Amarillo”, drops tomorrow. I had keyboardist Kris knock out our usual slate of questions. If you haven’t voted yet, Un Chien is nominated for Best Rock Band in the Fort Worth Weekly Music Awards.

Me: For starters, tell us a little about yourself. How did you first get into music? And when did you know this is what you want to do for a living (money be damned)?

KK: When I was 16, I saw the band, Ozma, open for Weezer on a national tour. They were maybe 17-18 years old at the time and I remember saying to my friends, “we could do that.” So we started a crappy high school band.

I got started with Un Chien when Beatty called me on a random Sunday morning and asked if I want to play keys.

Me: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?

KK: For people in my parent’s generation or older, I describe it as a cross between Pink Floyd and when the Beatles started doing drugs and playing experimental songs. For the people my age or younger, I would compare us with the Black Angels or Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.

Me: Who are some of your biggest musical influences, and why?

KK: Ozma and Weezer got me started. Beach Boys, the Beatles and the Zombies for just great pop rock writing and vocals. Radiohead, for their ability to adapt and always make beautiful creative songs.

Me: Which of your songs means the most ot you, and if you don’t mind me asking, why?

KK: On our first record, “A Heavy Hand”, is probably my favorite because playing it live , we all kind of let loose and really get into the emotions of the song at the end. On our upcoming record, “Where we Belong”, for really the same reasons.

Me: If you could open for any act, dead or alive, who would it be, and why?

KK: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. I think our music is similar enough to where we could gain a ton of fans.

Me: Any favorite new musical acts, local or otherwise?

KK: Locally, Quaker City Night Hawks, Whiskey Folk Ramblers, Holy Moly, and Jetta in the Ghost Tree are my favorites. I know those bands aren’t new, but I’ve been friends with their members forever and love listening to their music and seeing their success. Gollay and Mills & Co aren’t too shabby either. Also, check out Bear Ghost! Not local, but incredible.

Me: What’s your “stranded on an island” record?

KK: [Radiohead’s] OK Computer

Me: Moving onto the home front, what are your favorite (and least favorite) things about the DFW music scene?

KK: Favorite would have to be the people. We are all working to do the same thing. My least favorite would have to be the middle man “booking”, taking money off the top, and doing zero promoting or trying to promote competing shows for the same night.

Me: Favorite DFW venue to play (or see a show). Why?

KK: The Grotto or the Chat Room are my favorite places to play. No booking agent, just a hand shake with Carney or Cody. Everyone gets paid, gets drunk and has a great time.

Me: Any favorite local acts people should be looking out for?

KK: Un Chien (duh)

Me: And for shits and giggle, what’s a fun fact that most people don’t know about you?

KK: I’m completely self taught and play by ear. I don’t know what chords I am playing. I just play what sounds good.

Many, many, thanks to Kris for taking the time. Honestly, he popped this sucker out fast for me, so much appreciated. I really look forward to hearing the new material from one of my favorite Funkytown bands. You can catch up with them live at the Crown & Harp on June 27 with Cutthroat Finches, the Hollow Ends and Tawaine Noah. The new album drops later this summer, but for now, you can check out the first one and today’s new single, “Amarillo”, below.

Photo Credit: Ronnie Jackson Photography

Better Know an Artist (Vol 22): VVOES

VVOES is a Fort Worth based band made up of lead vocalist/guitarist Elijah Wichryk, lead guitarist Rene Floyd, drummer Ricky Williford and bass player Tyler Moore. The band started as kind of a joke band called ill smiths, but when people started taking them seriously and then expecting them to play sets of Smiths covers, they decided to go with a proper name. Anyways, their debut EP drops soon, and they’re playing around town pretty regularly, so get out and say hi to them. The guys sat down for the usual questions and this is how it went down.

Me: For starters, tell us a little about yourself. How did you first get into music? And when did you know this is what you want to do for a living (money be damned)?

RW: I used to sing with my mom all the time, but by the time I was in Junior High, it was decided.

RF: I started playing guitar because I broke my finger and needed an outlet for my boredom. I was also a band nerd. I played trombone and was a drum major. I have learned that no matter what I do – I will always play music. I found that out about 5 years ago.

EW: I played around on piano and keyboards as a kid and got my first guitar at age 16. Music is my drug and I want to be in and around it until I’m dead.

TM: I started by playing upright bass in jazz band in high school. Once I had gone on my first tour I was hooked and immediately knew I would always play music in some aspect for the rest of my life.

Me: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?

RW: Uhhh, dreamy Cheap Trick?

RF: We are calling it scuzz-pop or surf-gaze. It’s shoegaze inspired pop.

EW: Happy melodies with sad lyrics, with the reverb on 10.

TM: “Yes sir, you in the back. What’s that? You said you like being sad and listening to bands from 25 years ago? Well, this song’s for you.”

Me: Who are some of your biggest musical influences, and why?

RW: Nirvana and the Melvins. Something about those bands always stuck with me. Best drummers of my generation.

RF: Nirvana is the reason I play guitar. My influences are wide ranging, but for this project, I like to listen to Wavves, Best Coast, and My Bloody Valentine for inspiration.

EW: the Smiths, the National, Beach House, Vivian Girls, Tame Impala, Stax Records.

TM: Joe Lally for showing how to not overplay. Dave Brubeck’s arrangements. Paul Westerberg’s songs about other musicians, for a good dose of awareness as a musician. Peter Hook’s chops and melody. Mike Watt’s vision.

Me: Which of your songs means the most ot you, and if you don’t mind me asking, why?

RW: I really like “Arsonist of Hearts”. Has all the elements of a pop song, without coming off as corny.

RF: I really like when we play “Who Do You Know” Besides being a great song, it’s chill enough for us to listen to one another and create a nice dreamy soundscape.

EW: They are all personal in some way, but I like lyrics that are vague and open enough to apply to different situations. My favorites to play will depend on how I’m feeling at any given moment. “Who Do You Know” always feels good. I’m most into two new ones that we haven’t recorded yet.

TM: “Arsonist of Hearts”, ’cause it’s real fun to play.

Me: If you could open for any act, dead or alive, who would it be, and why?

RW: Thin Lizzy. No explanation necessary.

RF: Probably Nirvana – We may not have been an even match, but I was too young to attend a Nirvana show when they were playing.

EW: Tame Impala, the National, Alvvays, BRONCHO, the Smiths

TM: Cheap Trick, Richard Pryor, Harry Houdini triple bill. You like showbiz, right? Well, you got three generations in one night at the Staples Center right there, buddy.

Me: Any favorite new musical acts, local or otherwise?

RW: UMO is pretty new to me, and sick as hell. I wouldn’t call teenagesexxx local, but these boys from Waco are killin it.

RF: Whitney out of the Chicago area is my new favorite band. Local – Pearl Earl

EW: I’ve mostly been listening to a bunch of trap, rap and slow/dark/hazy electronic, and then favorites that aren’t new, but Spooky Black, Girls’ Names, Dawn Golden are a few.

TM: Protomartyr is going to be huge. My dudes in Pujol from Nashville are great. My buddies Andy Pickett and Jake Paleschic from the neighborhood both have just come out with superb new records.

Me: What’s your “stranded on an island” record?

RW: QOTSA’s Songs for the Deaf

RF: Bloc Party’s Silent Alarm

EW: I’m bad at decisions… The National’s High Violet

TM: Miles Davis’ Bitches’ Brew

Me: Moving onto the home front, what are your favorite (and least favorite) things about the DFW music scene?

RW: The way bands really support one another. It’s a network of really good hearted individuals.

RF: Favorite: the fact that any given night you can see world class bands without really trying. Fort Worth has some of the best bands around and hardly anyone knows. Least Favorite: Fort Worth has some of the best bands around hardly anyone knows. (Editor’s Note: I see what you did there.)

EW: I focus on the positives. The good energy and encouragement from local musicians and that there are so many venues to play at. There’s no hate in my blood.

TM: Favs: my friends. Least favorite: my friends

Me: Favorite DFW venue to play (or see a show). Why?

RW: Really stoked about the Under Where. It’s the sequel to the Wherehouse that touched all of our hearts the last couple years.

RF: Doublewide – Yoohoo Yeehaw

EW: I’m still bad at decisions… I’ve seen so many great shows at Trees and Three Links. 1912 in Ft Worth because it feels like being in a Nicolas Winding Refn movie. The Boiled Owl, because it feels like home.

TM: Three Links Deep Ellum. Best staff, best sound.

Me: Any favorite local acts people should be looking out for?

RW: Teenagesexxx and the Loafers have new albums out on Dreamylife! As well as Andy Pickett! Damn fine music.

RF: If you are into the blues, catch John Zaskoda whenever you can. He’s one of the best guitar players I have ever seen. I also really like Sealion, War Party, and Pearl Earl.

EW: Field Guide rules. I really feel Honor System, War Party and Rat Rios too. Pageantry is moving into a new level, definitely catch them if you can.

TM: Loafers and Teenage Sexx. Both Waco ex-patriates. I’m still bummed they moved to Dallas and not Fort Worth.

Me: And for shits and giggle, what’s a fun fact that most people don’t know about you?

RW: I haven’t seen any of the Star Wars movies.

RF: I lived in Alaska for 4 years.

EW: I just learned something about Rene. Thanks, Asa’s Records! I lived in Japan for 4 years. Ante up.

TM: I can’t stop watching Air Disasters on Netflix.

Much thanks to VVOES for taking the time. You can catch them laying down grooves for all your chilling needs around town. Their new EP will be available soon, but for now, here’s some of their demo tracks from their time under the ill smiths moniker.

 

 

Top Records for January 2016

New year, new me, and all that jazz. Look, I managed to compile a top 20 list again this month. A few days, late, but whatever, back up off me. No further delay, here are my top records (with scores) for January 2016.

1 Savages “Adore Life” 8.6
2 David Bowie “Blackstar” 8.5
3 Milk Teeth “Vile Child” 8.4
4 Shearwater “Jet Plane and Oxbox” 8.3
5 Emily Wells “Promise” 8.3
6 Anderson .Paak “Malibu” 8.3
7 Jacob Metcalf “Fjord” 8.2
8 Tindersticks “the Waiting Room” 8.2
9 Eleanor Friedberger “New View” 8.2
10 Cactus Blossoms “You’re Dreaming” 8.1
11 Tedeschi Trucks Band “Let Me Get By” 8.0
12 Adrian Younge “Something About April II” 7.9
13 Saul Williams “MartyrLoserKing” 7.9
14 Night Beats “Who Sold My Generation” 7.8
15 Sea Pinks “Soft Days” 7.8
16 War Party “To Love and Fear It” 7.8
17 Half Japanese “Perfect” 7.7
18 Ron Pope and the Nighthawks “Ron Pope and the Nighthawks” 7.7
19 MONEY “Suicide Songs” 7.7
20 De Rosa “Weem” 7.7

 

Better Know an Artist (Vol 13): Matthew Gray (Matthew and the Arrogant Sea)

When I first started this series, one of the first big supporters I got in the local scene was Matthew Gray, which was super cool to me, because when I started venturing out and listening to more music, his band, Matthew and the Arrogant Sea, were just starting to get buzz and a lot of airplay on the Local Show and in the local rags. All these years later, and Matt’s taking appreciation to what I’m doing. Kinda cool. So, I reached out to Matt to see if he wanted to play along, so here we are, lucky #13.

Me: For starters, tell us a little about yourself. How did you first get into music? And when did you know this is what you want to do for a living (money be damned)?

MG: I started playing music with my little brother and nephews in Broken Arrow, OK, back in the late 90’s. I grew up in a house full of singers (and pickers). Not a’ one of us had ever been classically or traditionally trained, but that didn’t stop us from trying. Most of my sisters and my mother were wedding singers. I remember at an early age seeing my mother perform at a wedding using only an Omnichord as her backing band. Even then, I remember being astounded at her confidence. It was in that moment that I knew I wanted to be that person on stage taking chances.

Me: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?

MG: I believe that the only true form of time travel, and exploration of the mind and heart, is through songwriting. It’s an arduous and extraordinary journey. I would say, listen with an open heart. Listen with a head full of stars, flat on your back in the grass. That’s when it all makes sense.

Me: Who are some of your biggest musical influences, and why?

MG: My hero will forever remain with the words of Eef Barzleay. He’s rather underrated, and terribly under-appreciated, but he has a kill shot like no other songwriter I have ever heard.

Me: Which of your songs means the most ot you, and if you don’t mind me asking, why?

MG: When I first moved to Denton, TX, I was pretty confused about myself, and the direction of my life. I spent a great deal of time damning the stars above me. I was a most unique anomaly to myself. Then one day, I dreamt in great detail, a wild and unashamed young man in a pink suit, appearing before my very eyes. He told me: “There is a science to your heart, a science to your eyes, your soul, and every spec of your existence.” I immediately woke up with a bang, and a song in my heart. To me, one of the most important songs I have ever written is a song called, “My Science Fiction Daydream”. The song truly saved my life. I haven’t written a song without the help of my dreams, since.

Me: If you could open for any act, dead or alive, who would it be, and why?

MG: A duet with Ozzy Osbourne. Maybe Neil Young would join us for a solo or two? And after I nail the vocal solo on our duet of “Goodbye to Romance,” Ringo Starr would high five me, and I would wake up. Because….it would be awesome.

Me: Any favorite new musical acts, local or otherwise?

MG: Oh, man. I am enthralled by the talented friends (musical family) that I  have the pleasure of being surrounded by. I recently had the pleasure of peeping the new Cantina album, which of course is AMAZING. I’m a nut for uke-pop songs, and killer harmonies. Listen to Cantina!

Me: What’s your “stranded on an island” record?

MG: It’s a tie between Diary of a Madman and In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. Hey, let’s do a mashup!

Me: Moving onto the home front, what are your favorite (and least favorite) things about the DFW music scene?

MG: Favorite thing will always be the community aspect of the scene. It really is a big family. Where we love and support one another. That love far outweighs anything I would dislike.

Me: Favorite DFW venue to play (or see a show). Why?

MG: My favorite DFW venue will always be Dan’s Silverleaf. Dan Mojica and his incredible staff will always have 100% of my love, support, and respect. It’s a magical place. That has housed many of my own dream come true performances.

Me: Any favorite local acts people should be looking out for?

MG: Listen to: Felt & Fur, Charley Crockett, Vincent Neil Emerson, Andy Pickett, Cliffs of Insanity, Nicholas Altobelli, Cameron Matthew Ray. I could go on for days. Listen to and support local music.

Me: And for shits and giggle, what’s a fun fact that most people don’t know about you?

MG: I am obsessed with time travel, alien abductions, and David Lynch. I love to write and direct short films, and music videos. I am currently writing and producing a play for the Arrogant Sea. Oh yeah…, I’m actually a certified Sonographer, and full time Cat Dad. Love you guys! Thanks for asking, and for reading along!

Thanks so much to my fellow Matthew for taking time out to hang with us. He truly is an ambassador to our local scene, and look forward to hearing new MATAS output. You can catch Matthew (and Friends) performing a live “reinvention” of his fan favorite album Family Family Family Meets the Magic Christian on Jan 30 at Opening Bell Coffee in Dallas. John Dufilho opens. Refresh yourself on the record below.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1254843107865044/

Discovery of the Day (11/14)

I’m not really sure what to say about this track from London band, Saltwater Sun. “Wild” is a somewhat modern take on the Jefferson Airplane-era 60’s psych sound. Vocalist Jenn Stearnes doesn’t quite have Grace Slick’s power, but her voice definitely has the right qualities to front a real throwback psychedelic sound.

Saltwater Sun “Wild”