A lot of local bands can struggle for recognition outside the city limits, but Austin’s Black Books have the opposite problem. The five-piece is signed to UK label Believe Recordings, and they’ve developed a sizable following half-a-world away. Earlier this year, Black Books were whisked away to England for a series of headlining shows and a stint opening for the Flaming Lips. But back home, the group has struggled to gain a foothold–the vagaries of their record deal have left them doing things the DIY way. Yet that might all change with the release of their self-titled debut.
Black Books was recorded by guitarist Kevin Butler at his own Test Tube Audio, a studio in South Austin. The album takes its cues from psych-rock, building walls-of-sound that recall Pink Floyd’s spaciest moments. Emotions sit front-and-center; singer/guitarist Ross Gilfillan and keyboardist Meg Gilfillan wrote the songs right around the birth of their first child. The growing pains are evident, as songs pitch fitfully between quiet beauty and cathartic noise.
Black Books stopped by KUTX’s Studio 1A right before a trek up to CMJ, the annual music conference (and buzz band breaker) in New York. Songs like “The Big Idea” show why the band has caught on around the world. It won’t be long before the same thing happens locally.