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Graham Wilkinson Refines His Sound With "Cuts So Deep"

Graham Wilkinson has never been shy about exploring the antecedents and outer fringes of the AOR idiom. Wilkinson's 2009 “YEARBOOK” memorably ranged from ballads to heavy riffs to ska, snagging appearances from local luminaries Alejandro Escovedo and Hayes Carll for even more variety.  2016's effort “Because of You'' brought as much reggae to the table as rock.  

 

That early work was enjoyable, but it was also uneven. “Cuts So Deep,” which dropped on March 5, feels like Wilkinson finally found his own idiom. The title track finds a classic rock rhythm that, while liberally seasoned with twangy vocals and electric blues licks, sticks with straight ahead rock and heartbreak lyrics. 

 

Other tracks go further afield, but all of “Cuts So Deep” gives a sense of consistent, settled skill. Wilkinson is in full control of his powers here – his forays into reggae and blues feel less scattershot now – they're built on a solid foundation of chops, riffs and hummable hooks. “Cuts So Deep” may not have as much experimentation as earlier efforts, but what is here is consistently excellent.

 

A final note – Graham Wilkinson had more to overcome on this album than a shift in genre. “Cuts So Deep” is Wilkinson's first full album since suffering a severe hand fracture.

 

It does us old Austin heads good to have him back and at his best.

 

 

- Matt Salter

 

“Cuts So Deep” is available for digital download now. A vinyl is due out in July 2021.

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Reverence Meets Revision in Orodrim's "The Void Gazer" EP

Much of the story of American black metal involves mutations — bands taking the tropes of the largely European genre and recontextualizing them. Whether it means eschewing the more questionable politics of some of the genre’s forebears or just not writing so many songs about being cold, American black metal is constantly evolving. “The Void Gazer” is a refreshing release; it is black metal, but it eschews some of the form’s staler conventions (think impenetrable cassette production and overly linear song structure) in favor of originality. Though one can hear numerous sources of inspiration in the album’s roughly 27-minute runtime, the expansive and winding tracks remind me of Altar of Plagues, while some of the riffs would not sound out of place on Cobalt’s boundary-pushing “Gin.”

“The Void Gazer” immediately surprises the listener with its immaculate production. Starting with “The Void Gazer Part I,” the drums sound full, coupling with filthy arpeggios reminiscent of Genghis Tron circa “Board Up The House.” From there, the track unfolds into a chimeric behemoth in which chasmic, sludgy riffs quickly give way to clean, progressive-sounding guitar grooves and then to rapid-fire, tremolo-picked, blackened ferocity. Shrieked vocals mingle with low, deathly growls, giving the song the feeling of a beast that may very well swallow the listener up.

The second track, “A Citadel of Birch,” provides a necessary eye in the storm. The song is an intimate instrumental performed on classical guitar, with a fire crackling in the background — the sort of thing that might heighten suspense towards the end of a full-length release. On this EP however, the song functions as an interlude — if “The Void Gazer” is a journey, this track is a moment of respite by a campfire, steeling oneself for whatever trials lie ahead.

And “The Void Gazer Part II” does not hold back: it is a chugging continuation of Part I, with doom-metal guitars, punctuated by the type of rhythmic passages that would not be out of place on a brutal death metal album. Though the vocals are largely obscured, one can discern words like “wretched” and “wicked” creeping through the murkiness, adding to the track’s vitriol. The song builds on the beastial vivacity of the first part so well, that by the time the final lines have been shrieked it feels almost as if the EP has devoured itself.

All in all that’s gonna be a “kinda great” from me!

- Tín Rodriguez

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Zach Person Gets Loud at Geraldine’s for a Live Performance and New LP

There will be an outdoor, socially-distanced show at Empire Control Room on April 2, 2021 for Zach Person’s LP release. The LP features some tracks already available on the EP and special gems that he treated the audience to at Geraldine’s on March 10th. 

 

In the wake of Texas’ reopening and lifted mask mandate, BlackDenim Records hosts a safe, socially-distanced private showing at Geraldine’s for their premiere artist, Zach Person. For all of those who feel they are still on the bizarro side of reality, Zach Person’s uninhibited rock offers an assuring remedy. Yes, rock is alive and yes, life is strange. 

 

Doused in blue lights, the stage is set for Zach’s stellar vocals and handsome guitars with his impressive drummer, Jake Wyble, by his side. His vintage microphone projects his belting voice to fill the swanky venue. As he transitions to “Radio Man,” a new track from the LP, his crooning “ooh-ohs” and the catchy chorus capture the affection of the audience. The sound waves and sheer passion send the drapes flying and windows shaking. He moves into “How Long,” a song born from his quarantine experience  —  and a song worthy of bobbing, gyrating and romping about. Since the small group of invited guests are observing social distancing, dancing appears limited to clapping in rhythm and shoulder shaking for now… but the thunderous amplifiers — which are also retro — lead the imagination to wander, and crave the very near future of bodies dancing freely. 

 

Zach’s artistry is immediately apparent, and so is his humble, kind demeanor. Each guest received an EP and Zach made rounds to greet each table — mask on, of course — his charismatic scorpio presence beaming through. Laudable comparisons have already been made — Zach’s name has been mentioned next to Lenny Kravitz, The Black Keys and Gary Clark Jr. — but this youthful artist is carving out his own space for his own name. 

 

Back to the show — there is a walking disco ball and $200 martini on the menu. The experience paints an interesting contrast of a blaring rock band playing in an upscale cafe. It feels like we should be rowdy in the presence of rock and roll, and that day will come, but the event is organized, smooth and polished. Nearing the end of the set list, Zach plays a demo track that made it to the LP. It’s a softer tune without percussion that highlights his clean guitar and songwriting skills. He closes the performance with “Can’t Stop Running,” which will surely be a takeaway anthem from the album. Live, loud music is out there and making its safe way back to our city. 

 

- Mel Green

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Dayeater Drops New Single "Sweet Earth"

Psych rock trio, Dayeater, stay true to their roots with their latest single, “Sweet Earth.” The track pays homage to classic bands such as Black Sabbath and AC/DC while sprinkling in their own unique psychedelic twist. “Sweet Earth” features piercing vocals, bluesy guitar licks and bolstering drums, along with some very sharp production from Chris “Frenchie” Smith at the Bubble Studios.
 
Within the first thirty seconds of the song, they manage to transport you straight into the 1970’s with Jesse Lee’s vintage guitar sound and gritty vocals. Landry Jackson’s drums remain simple and understated — yet serve as a powerful driving force to the song. Complementing all of these parts perfectly are Christopher Brockett’s groovy bass lines and nuanced vocal harmonies that adds a polished layer to the track’s catchy hook.
 
As soon as you think you know the direction the song is going, they throw a curveball with multiple clever breakdowns.  The dynamics range from loud and thrashy to soft and sweet, with an outro reminiscent of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” The killer instrumentation is paired with thought-provoking lyrics that speak out against humanity’s inability to protect the earth and the environment.
 
It’s clear that Dayeater’s sound is locked-in and their artistic integrity never seems to waver. They are a true rock and roll band and their latest single perfectly embodies what they are all about. Listen to “Sweet Earth” on Bandcamp today!

- Quinn Donoghue

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The Automatic Sun Drop New Single "Away"

 

"Away," the new Automatic Sun single, is the song you didn't know you needed after living through the year 2020. And Lord Jeebus what a year that was. If you're anything like me, you've been waiting your little heart out for new music that possibly reflects how we all feel inside after what last year put us through. This is one of those very songs, my friends.

 

The title "Away" gives you a first glance into the full meaning of this song, because, yeah, we all sort of feel like we've been away. The lyrics tell the story of someone basically being forced to stay where they are, while all the while feeling a longing to break free from their personal prison. While it could be easy to see this song as your typical "I miss you" ballad, personally I feel like the meaning is more of an expression of feeling trapped in quarantine — and that all too familiar longing for the world to be back normal again. Even the lyrics "take a year" at the end of each chorus is a nod to the year that pretty much all of us lost.

 

With a sound reminiscent of the 60 acid pop vibe making its way through Austin, it's hard not to be taken into Mark Webb's emotional journey into the creation of this song. I can hear influences from The Beatles and even Cage The Elephant. It's easy to feel like you're basking in the sun on a mild spring afternoon when this song plays. 

 

These guys have an EP, and 2 singles released on their Bandcamp page, so there's enough music to wet your whistle. With the dark melancholy tone of "Away" and lyrics deep enough to rival anything out there right now, I'm certainly looking forward to any new music these guys have to offer.

 

- Michael Lee

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