Austin five-piece releases their debut album
by Jeff McCord
So You Think You’ve Found Love?, the first full-length from Austin’s Sasha and the Valentines, eludes your usual indie-rock expectations. Lead singer and principal songwriter Sarah Addi might cite the Cranberries, Beach House, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra as influences, but the lived-in pop that spills out of the album seems more akin to a bygone era. Think Brenda Lee’s “I’m Sorry”, Dusty Springfield’s “Just One Smile”, or Nancy Sinatra’s “Some Velvet Morning” (which Addi admits is a favorite, along with her grandmother’s copy of the Moody Blues “Nights In White Satin”). This is an album that betrays some serious contextual planning. “I think that subconsciously came out of my like, well, love” Addi confesses, “of the movie musicals like West Side Story and The Sound of Music. And the kind of dramatic, beautiful, melodic songs that come out of those things.”
Their debut won’t remind you of these chestnuts, though, at least not directly. Co-produced by Erik Wofford (“He knew exactly what we were looking for production-wise”), the love concerns are quite modern, the balance between synths and guitars well maintained. Tracks like “Tears for Mars” and “Don’t You Love Me” border on psych-rock, but it’s also easy to imagine the keys on “Cry All the Time” and the mysterious “Witches” as a stand-in for a swelling string section. These tracks manage the trick of sounding both unique and timeless. “[That] is probably just from the long process of marinating that we give to all the songs,” says Addi,” taking our time writing things and absorbing and editing them.”
While Sasha and the Valentines is only three years old, the musicians all played together in college bands at UMass Amherst before discovering and converging in Austin, once they all decided to give music a serious go. “We had money to buy a tour van and we had this tour of Mexico planned. We were going to do another West Coast tour. And then [the pandemic] happened and we were like, ‘This doesn’t really have an end in sight. So let’s just spend the band money and actually work with Erik [Wofford] full on.” The result, So You Think You’ve Found Love, is an ambitious release that Addi promises will be taken on the road when possible. In the meantime, it’s ours to enjoy.
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Calliope Musicals is the KUTX Artist of the Month for April 2021. Photo by Kate Blaising.
It’s hard to describe or pin down Calliope Musicals. The Austin band is creatively unconstrained, exploding with ideas both on record and at their psychedelic, joyous live shows. Between Us, the group’s new EP out April 23, is yet another new direction, drawing on showy art-rock and bright electro-pop. Frontwoman Carrie Fussell is a magnetic presence and the band follows her every move with a dramatic flourish.
This week on My KUTX, Carrie guest DJs with some help from Calliope Musicals bandmates Jerry, Ryan, and Josh. They play an hour of favorites and talk about what keeps them going as musicians, from Madonna’s robotic glamour and Laurie Anderson’s absurd humor to MF DOOM’s food-obsessed storytelling and more. Hear Calliope Musicals’ My KUTX on Saturday, April 10 at 6 p.m. or listen anytime in the player above.
–Art Levy // producer, My KUTX
1. Poe – “Another World”
2. Madonna – “Ray Of Light”
3. MF DOOM – “Deep Friend Frenz”
4. Laurie Anderson – “Example #22”
5. The Chemical Brothers & The Flaming Lips – “The Golden Path”
6. David Byrne & St. Vincent – “I Should Watch TV”
7. Radiant Children – “Mariposa”
8. Sparks – “Falling In Love With Myself Again”
9. Black Marble – “A Great Design”
10. Queen – “Play The Game”
11. Aesop Rock – “Long Legged Larry”
12. Sam Gendel & Sam Wilkes – “Theem And Variations”
13. Roberto Cacciapaglia – “My Time”
Photo By Kate Blaising
Calliope Musicals Build Something New
Their new EP ‘Between Us’ is out 4/23
by Jeff McCord
Austin’s Calliope Musicals often call their music psychedelic, but don’t expect fuzz drones and sitars. They’re psychedelic only to the extent that their wild technicolor pop feels mind-expanding. Over the years their songs have exploded with ideas, pushing the limits of what three minutes could constrain. Yet on their new EP Between US, out April 23 on Spaceflight Records, something new takes over – call it rhythmic purpose.
“Moonchaser” is a hooky pop-rocker that sticks to a hard driving blueprint. And the single, “Can You Tell Me”, beats an incessant pulse to a joyous finish. Production is still crazy, but everything feels more in service to the songs. Frontwoman Carrie Fussell says her favorite thing about the band is that “it never gets too hung up on staying within the boxes we have built in the past. Describing the new EP (four new songs and a remix of Color/Sweat’s “Fear This Body”), Fussell describes it as “filled with features from so many people we love and played with over the years. It’s really an amalgamation of a couple of time periods and that’s a new thing for us.” It’s also resulted in some of their most powerful music to date.
KUTX Artist of the Month April 2021
Carrie Fussell of Calliope Musicals performs “Moonchaser” and “Can You Tell Me” for KUTX Pop-Up Session.
Cameras and Edit: Michael Minasi, Audio Mix: Jake Perlman, Producer: Deidre Gott
Michael Bain and Laura Caldwell of Sun June
Our March 2021 Artist of the Month started dabbling in what they’ve dubbed “regret pop” right around this same time of year in 2018 with their debut single “Young”. Fast forward to 2021, where Sun June‘s decidedly become wiser and more mature in their songwriting over time, culminating most recently with the quintet’s sophomore album, Somewhere.
At just shy of a dozen originals, Somewhere makes for a solid contribution both to the Austin music experience on the whole and to the still-dawning discography for this five-piece. You definitely won’t regret letting Somewhere transport you from whatever monotonies Tuesday may hold, but in case you need an extra-sensory shove to get you there, sink into Sun June’s three-song Pop-Up set, which includes Somewhere standout “Everything I Had” “Singing” and “Everywhere.” –Jack Anderson
Musicians: Laura Colwell, vocals, keys and rhythm guitar; Michael Bain, lead guitar;
Cameras: Michael Minasi; Edit: Michael Minasi; Audio Mix/Master: Jake Perlman; Producer: Deidre Gott
Shot in North Austin at a safe distance in March 2021.
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