Austin’s Mount Pressmore ain’t your average indie-rock garage band. “I write out every note of music,” said group leader (and keyboardist and vocalist) Thomas Shaw on the band’s bio. That dedication to craft comes through in the group’s intriguing and imminently listenable fusion of jazz, rock, and pop.
Growing up, Shaw had a bit of a head start. His father was Robert Shaw, a famed conductor with 14 Grammy Awards under his belt. The younger Shaw went into the family business, so to speak, and went on to study music, but he found himself drawn to more popular fare. “I heard Oscar Peterson and I was blown away,” said Shaw on Mount Pressmore’s bio. “Then I listened to B.B. King, James Brown, Led Zeppelin, and Fela Kuti.” Shaw moved to Austin after school, and in 2011, he hooked up with an old music school classmate named Kris Studebaker, and they formed Mount Pressmore. Joining the pair are bassist Alexei Sefchick and guitarist Danny Anderson.
Today (Dec. 3) the band issues their debut full-length Enjoy. The quartet (local songstress Erin Ivey also joined on backing vocals) recorded the album’s 10 tracks in a speedy three days, but you’d never know it. Take “Trampoline,” for instance. It’s virtuosic, but it feels familiar. Zappa fans will hear a little bit of Frank in the song’s genetic makeup–especially in Shaw’s (pardon the pun) bouncy keyboard work and expressive croon. The dreamy backing harmonies also add a certain dreaminess to the song. Anderson’s guitar dances over a complex–almost martial–beat. The instrumental stretch around the two-thirds mark doesn’t have that cerebral, over-intellectualized quality that one might expect from such erudite musos. Even if Shaw wrote it out note for note, it feels natural and organic, because you can hear musicians feeling it for themselves.
You can see Mount Pressmore live this Saturday (Dec. 7) at the Parish Underground for the Enjoy album-release show.