Frank Smith was recently in Studio 1A to perform music from their new album, Nineties. Of course, leave to your friendly neighborhood Austin Music Minute maven to recall an interview I did with front man Aaron Sinclair back in 2011, in which I inquired about the somewhat bleaker aspects of his songwriting. He’d admitted finding more inspiration “in darker places,” and had never been known for writing chipper, sunshine-y songs. But, at that particular time, he had hit a mental block; life was good, things were going well for Sinclair, and it was sort of hard to dig up demons when there were happy vibes all around.
I asked him if the same held true today: Is it difficult to write dark songs if life isn’t all…dark? Sinclair grinned. “I did try to write a happy song.” Pause. “Once.”
This will not be a ramble about how moody or morbid Frank Smith sounds, even though the songwriting does tend to come from those darker places. But Nineties is further proof of Sinclair’s abilities as a great songwriter. The songs go in several directions while remaining Frank Smith, ambient and intense, and no shortage of potent guitars and addictive choruses. You still do get a sense of their folk-rock roots, more prominent on their earlier albums, but these days Frank Smith is decidedly harder-edged, more rock than Americana.
You’ll get to hear Frank Smith’s new music at their album release show tonight at Holy Mountain, 617 E. 7th St. This is a triple-bill treat with folk-pop rockers The Preservation, who are releasing two new tracks via digital download, and folk-rock outfit East Cameron Folkcore. Doors open at 9 p.m. Highly recommended.