Balmorhea (pronounced Bal-more-ay) is a six-piece instrumental group from Austin, TX. Founded by Rob Lowe and Michael Muller in 2006, the band has produced five full-length albums, including Stranger, which was released in October 2012.
Inceptually influenced by the band’s namesake, a tiny West Texas town of 500 people, Balmorhea’s early work reflected motifs of the American Southwest: the folklore of Texas settlers, the emotive proclamations of the mountainous setting, and intimate studies on solitude, nature, and night. Slowly adding more members to the band over the years, including a string section and full percussion, Balmorhea’s rich and layered music continues to be simultaneously concise and complex, uniting a collection of ideas, textures, and sounds into one genre-defying landscape.
Balmorhea, called “an exemplary experiment in restraint” by The New Yorker, has toured the US and Europe six times each, including shows with Tortoise, Fleet Foxes, Mono, Bear in Heaven, Sharon Van Etten, Damien Jurado, Efterklang, and others. Additionally the band has performed at Austin City Limits Music Festival, SXSW, Fun Fun Fun Fest, and the Hopscotch Festival. Their music has been featured and reviewed by Pitchfork, BBC, MOJO, NME, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, and many more.
SPINDRIFT‘s fascination with the surreal qualities and legendary mythos of the Wild West, the album is described as a “sonic western exploration into the Great Unknown” and” an homage to “everything Western.” The record was inspired by the group’s 2012 “Ghost Town Tour”, a five week, self-guided tour through more than 20 of America’s western ghost towns. During the trip, many landmarks, tourist attractions (Deadwood, South Dakota), western museums and monuments (such as Cathedral Gorge State Park and Arizona’s Sonoran National Desert) were reached and at every stop along the way, SPINDRIFT made field recordings and performed live, putting their “spin” on classic, Golden Era cowboy songs of the old West.
SPINDRIFT: Ghost of the West is not only a new SPINDRIFT album; it is also a Motion Picture Soundtrack that is being released prior to the feature film companion of the same name (slated for a 2014 release). Eccentric underground film director Burke Roberts and Cinematographers JT Gurzi and Rich Ragsdale were hired to film and document the ghostly five week journey, which brought forgotten history back to life and mimicked the days when Cowboys, Native Americans, Pioneers and Gunfighters ruled the land! SPINDRIFT: Ghost of the West contains more of the signature elements that SPINDRIFT has grown to make their own; singer-songwriter-composer-producer-actor Kirpatrick Thomas’ twangy Spaghetti Western style guitar and heroic baritone is more present and defined than ever before. Pedal steels soar while high sopranos hauntingly bounce through lost cavernous gold mines. Bullfighting music? Check. Campfire Ballads? Check. Native American chants? Check. Awesome plays on cowboy classics like “When I Was A Cowboy” (1934), “Cool Water” (1936), “Buffalo Dream” (1953), “Gunfighter” (1962) and even an amped-up version of “Ghost Riders in the Sky” (which the band recently performed with Dead Kennedy’s Jello Biafra in San Francisco) ride sidesaddle with new SPINDRIFT originals on this one-of-a-kind release. SPINDRIFT: Ghost of the West promises to be the most quintessential psychedelic western crossover album ever made!
Since the release of the band’s 2011 recording Classic Soundtracks Vol. 1, SPINDRIFT has been hard at work crafting an album — and film — about their fascination with the Wild West. The origins of the Ghost of the West album started when Kirpatrick Thomas and bassist David Koenig (ex-The Brian Jonestown Massacre) would entertain remaining stragglers with old acoustic campfire ballads after SPINDRIFT shows in Joshua Tree, California. Pioneertown, CA to be exact (the birthplace of Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and The Sons of the Pioneers).
While SPINDRIFT‘s previous album and film combo The Legend of God’s Gun (2008) was a Grindhouse Psychedelic Spaghetti Western Rock ‘N’ Roll masterpiece, Ghost of the West picks up on the more factual “real” forgotten past of the old West, bringing that ghostly history back to life!
Patrolled By Radar
Put on Cool Your Jets (released May 1), the new album from under-sung Los Angeles club veterans Patrolled By Radar, and the longer it spins the more it casts a spell, the ideal band for an imaginary saloon where Highway 61 Revisited-era Dylan hobnobs with a fresh faced Doug Sahm and a gaggle of curious night dwellers shuffling contentedly as they try to make sense of this wicked world.
Patrolled By Radar moves with barroom honed muscle, a group that’s earned their stripes fighting for attention over clinking glasses, cell phone tapping, and post-work chatter. And PBR’s songs really do snag one’s focus, though often in sly ways, the fun and skip of them in the foreground with all sorts of cool, thoughtful bits bouncing around in the background. This band swings hard but backs up their punches with brains and a well-seasoned perspective on the ways of men.
Patrolled By Radar
Patrolled By Radar
That their latest release ends with a pitch perfect rendition of Randy Newman’s “Ghosts” just signals songwriter-singer-guitarist Jay Souza’s kinship with that insightfully jaundiced, perversely romantic American treasure. Souza uses language with the same humor dipped scalpel sharpness as Newman with occasional flashes of genuine good humor – “Rally” on the new album is a shit-day mood-enhancer of the highest order. And the whole band – Bosco Sheff (guitar), Preston Mann (organ, piano), Ben Johnsen (drums, vocals) and Peter Curry (bass) – serves the songs in an integrated way that’s short on solos and long on a warmly enveloping group dynamic.
Cool Your Jets reminds one of Americana’s first great flowering, an album that sits comfortably next to Wilco’s A.M., The Jayhawks’ Hollywood Town Hall and Son Volt’s Trace – all worthy descendents of the roots-influenced, energized, off-handedly skillful rock tributary stemming from The Band. Like the best children of Levon, Robbie, et al. Patrolled By Radar possesses a unique, hard to pin down individual spark, extenders of a tradition rather than mimics, where something heartfelt and quietly moving wanders the curved roads and smoky haunts of their tunes. Heck, even ol’ Lawrence Welk makes a champagne cameo so you know it’s good!
DI asked PBR’s Jay Souza to ponder DI’s quasi-philosophical questions, and here’s what he had to say.
What’s the first thing that springs to mind when you see the word “God”?
Which has the better cosmology, Star Wars or Star Trek? Why?
Difficult to choose. The make-up was so well done in both, especially as each series progressed. But I’m no Carl Sagan.
Name one album that has spiritual resonance for you.
Revisited and was reminded of my feelings for the Vic Chesnutt debut, Little, recently. Astonishing.
Woody Allen once said, “I don’t know the question but sex is definitely the answer.” So, what’s the question?
What do you hope to get out of becoming a stand up comic?
You can have a dinner party with any three people throughout human history. Who do you invite, what’s on the menu and what intoxicant do you share for dessert?
My mother and father six months into their relationship and myself at age 7…Jeez. Good present day Cali-weed, and Powers Irish Whiskey. Cake, ice cream and enlightenment for the boy…to be shared.