Wednesday 16 Apr
 
 
CD reviews

Dustin Prinz - Eleven

Few musicians take the time to master their instrument in the way that Oklahoma City singer-songwriter Dustin Prinz has; he’s a guitar virtuoso in every sense of the word, and Eleven gives him the chance to show just how far he can push that skill.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

Horse Thief – Fear in Bliss

Listening to Horse Thief’s previous release — the haphazardly melodramatic Grow Deep, Grow Wild — felt like a chore. Whatever potential the Oklahoma City folk-pop act demonstrated on the EP was obscured behind a formulaic, contrived and ultimately hollow cloud. But it at least offered a glimmer of promise for a band consisting of, frankly, five pretty talented dudes. Critics saw it; the band’s management saw it; its current label, Bella Union, saw it; and its increasingly fervid fan base saw it.
04/08/2014 | Comments 0

Colourmusic — May You Marry Rich

There’s always a sense of danger when debuting songs in a live setting and playing them well. Without having heard the studio versions, expectations are set according to the live incarnations. But capturing the breadth of free-flowing atmosphere and sheer volume on a disc, vinyl or digital file isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially for a band as vociferous as Colourmusic.
04/01/2014 | Comments 0

Em and the MotherSuperiors — Churches into Theaters

As titles go, Churches into Theaters is an apt descriptor for the debut album from Oklahoma City rockers Em and the MotherSuperiors. It’s a reverential record, one that shares the gospel of classic rock, blues and soul but embraces the need to refashion it for modern times, channeling The Dead Weather, Grace Potter and Cage the Elephant along the way.
03/25/2014 | Comments 0

Rachel Brashear — Revolution

Rachel Brashear’s second EP, Revolution, starts with a kick to the shins.
03/18/2014 | Comments 0
 

SXSW: Little Scream / Barr Brothers


Orchestral indie and harp-led folk gloriousness

By Stephen Carradini March 16th, 2012
Seeing a set at St. David's Episcopal Church is a must at SXSW; the atmosphere is wonderful, and the sound is glorious. I was excited that one of my must-sees, The Barr Brothers, had a set there, so I rushed over after Avalanche City.

I got their early enough to catch the end of Little Scream's set. I saw them last year at Swan Dive (another of my favorite venues, but admittedly heavy on the back half of the name), so this constitutes a step up for the band. Their orchestral indie features a bass flute (!) and is versatile enough to appropriate various disparate sounds. I walked in during a reverent, slow-moving, resonant tune, then witnessed them rock out the next one with distortion, drums and power. Their final tune was a mash-up of two of Mary Margaret O'Hara's songs, and the band treated both with a deferential, affecting awe that filled the chapel. Little Scream's unique sound fit very well with the space; fans of dynamic female vocalists and complex arrangements would find much to love.

The Barr Brothers
Credits: Stephen Carradini

The Barr Brothers took the stage and immediately stole the audience's heart. The sound's basis is the folky, wry strum of Josh Ritter with a harp added, but The Barr Brothers took this palate and expanded it, adding pump organ, rock-outs, and glorious guitar tricks. The last element there constituted a spool of thread: in certain tunes, the lead singer/guitarist would loop a piece of thread under a guitar string, then hand the string to a band member (or guest, as Richard Reed Parry of Little Scream/The Arcade Fire helped) and ask them to pull it. The vibration of the thread across the guitar string created a ghostly, warbling sound out the guitar that was mesmerizing. It was an incredible visual effect, as well.

But to not mention the harpist would be to short the band: she blew me away. Her cascading, emotive work gave The Barr Brothers' music a dimension that I hadn't yet heard at SXSW; her sounds tied all the elements of the band's sound together beautifully. She left the harp to sing back-ups on the band's final song, which was a whole song composed out of the guitar style with the string. It was a powerful, moving piece about death that ended with a surprising twist: the lead singer pulled out a lighter and burned the threads that were making the noise, ending the song with two concluding notes. It was a perfect end to an absolutely incredible set: the band received a rightfully-earned standing ovation.

 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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