austin

VALE explores playful sentiments in their new release En El Pecho

Two young sister-goddesses of VALE release their new single and music video “En El Pecho.” The musicians are twins, Valeria and Valentina Perez, who not only wrote the lyrics and music, but also served as creative directors for the music video project.

 

 

With enchanting guitar and Colombian flavored sounds, the release showcases their angelic voices and songwriting. The spanish song is not limited to spanish-speakers because the chorus is mellifluous and memorable: “Canta, canta! Siente, siente! Que el corazón nunca nos miente. Baila baila, a tu manera. Llevame a donde tu quieras.” You could put it in google translate or maybe you took enough spanish in school to know they’re saying: Sing, sing, feel, feel that the heart never lies to us. Dance, dance in your own way. Take me wherever you want.”  


Their songwriting skills extend beyond a catchy chorus as their lyrics speak of exploring hidden landscapes in a lover’s chest (pecho), and the value of letting go as a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly. 


Check out the music video to see manifested joy and purity in two young artists frolicking amongst blue skies and bounding in a green meadow. Their outfits are hip with sheek sunglasses and their coordinated colors complement the nature that surrounds them. The video conveys youthfulness in the sweetest way as bare feet kick at the sky. VALE brings us this uplifting tune, En El Pecho, just in time as a summer soundtrack for music lovers to sing, feel and dance with.

   

Seven Spires Finds Clarity in Chaos

 Seven Spires’ This God Is Dead feat. Roy Khan properly puts “symphonic” in “symphonic metal.” In places the 10 minute track is almost theatrical, showing as much DNA from Andrew Lloyd Webber and neoclassical experiments like Trans-Siberian Orchestra as Nightwish and Maiden, particularly in the harmonies early in the song. Any number of metal bands have tried to bring that heavy Handel energy, but the clean vocals on “This God Is Dead” genuinely recall a classical choir, not just 6 people with a combined 20 feet of hair trying to sound like one.

The heavy stuff isn’t quite as accomplished, less for lack of quality than a glass-smooth mix that takes some edge off the harsh vocals and thudding rhythm. Riffs and beats come fast and heavy, but the production is so clean and the melody so prominent that we lose any At the Gates-style snarl. The result recalls anime and videogame soundtracks, for good and ill: screams are screamed, heavy guitars happen, but the melody is so prominent and the mix so smooth it’s not quite music to mosh to.

That said, a few missteps in songwriting and production aren’t nearly enough to write off this beautiful beast. The track finds its footing in the second half, delivering demonic snarls, elliptic spoken word and soaring harmonies with equal aplomb. There’s nothing tongue in cheek here, thank God – we’re a little over metal bands that think metal is hilarious – just musicians who love the genre giving everything they’ve got. Respect. The lyrics deserve a special shoutout: the delivery may not be perfect, but the text achieves the rare goal in high-concept metal of interesting the listener as much in its righteously Gothic plot of remorseful ghost, raging daughter and rising demon as the music backing it.

In short, “This God is Dead” by Seven Spires is big, smart, fun and heavy, a righteous blast of epic scope in spite of a mistake or three. This is music to swordfight your possessed brother atop a burning cathedral to. Light some candles, crank headphones to 11 and bang your head. We certainly did.


-- Matt Salter

 

   

Heartless Bastards Rock First Encore at Mohawk’s Reopening

 On Thursday, May 27th, Heartless Bastards kicked off Mohawk’s first sold out show since the apocalypse. Demand was high enough for Mohawk to add a second performance to the weekend’s roster. The venue’s capacity was set at 50%, approximately 450 people, so the sold-out show felt comfortable and spacious (and wow, wait until you see the renovated bathrooms at Mohawk). 


Tender Things opens the show with country, hippie charm. From Northern Kentucky, they toted their 6-piece to Austin including a fiddle player and a cowboy on a pedal steel guitar. The Austin crowd receives this country folk getup with open hearts and roaring applause. They play songs from their new album, How to Make a Fool, most notable was “I Don’t Know How to Love You.” The atmosphere is pure elation and joy as this is the first live show for most folks, especially at a venue that feels like home.

 

Everything feels new but with a familiar air. Austin has been home to Heartless Bastards since 2007, and it feels poignant and right that they play one of the christening shows of live music’s return. Energy climbs as Heartless Bastards take the stage with lead singer, Erika Wennerstrom in a black-velvet-fringe romper with rainbow stripes. Wennerstrom announces that their new album will be released this fall 2021. They play new songs from the upcoming album, songs drenched in rock and marked by Wennerstrom’s throaty voice and lyrical talent and featuring sublime guitar moments by Lauren Gurgiolo, another Austin treasure. Wennerstrom sings, “it’s a beautiful life if you let it be,” from the new album’s namesake track, “A Beautiful Life.” 

 

Among the new sounds, old favorites are mixed in like “Only For You,” and “The Mountain,” as well as “Extraordinary Love” from Wennerstrom’s solo album, Sweet Unknown. They gracefully and appropriately close with “Revolution,” their 2020 release, before the audience beckons them for a mutually deserved encore. 

 


The bands continually pronounce and pour out their gratitude to play music, the crowd showers the musicians with cheers and hollers, the full moon rises in the Eastern sky. Half way through the set, Wennerstrom seals the moment by saying we should never take these times together for granted. Both bands will be performing at Austin City Limits this fall season.

 

-- Mel Green

Photo credit: David Brendan Hall

   

I Am A Working Woman, Hear Me Roar

 There are record albums and songs that resonate to an unexpectedly great extent, not only because these songs are musically excellent but also because they clearly possess timeliness in regard to social change. In 1972, when Title IX’s educational protections for young women became the law of the land, Helen Ready roared out with her ubiquitous hit song, “I Am Woman”. 


In 1980 and 1984 respectively, as more women took careers seriously wearing dress-for-success suit outfits to work and more women were the sole breadwinner, two very popular tunes were “9 to 5” and “Manic Monday”. 

 

Austin singer-songwriter Grace Pettis just may hit similar musical gold this year with a timely societal  message. 

 

The title track of her latest album called “Working Woman”, released two days before Mother’s Day but which was written and produced last summer, addresses the pandemic re-realization that women’s work for corporations and for their own families not only remains undervalued but disproportionate to the amount shouldered by many men. Last year, homeschooling while working remotely often fell to the moms! So did covid safety, for example negotiating adult friendship “pods” and the children’s playdates, revealing lingering stereotypes that mothers should and do possess more social skills and more responsibility for familial caution than dad. 

 

With a rocking beat that sounds like an army of one almost ominously march-marching to speak up at the office about her work load on Monday morning, the title track “Working Woman” sets the tone for an album that motivates and entertains. 

 

In the vein of “9 to 5” and “Manic Monday”, Pettis’s empathic, mischievous and even rueful humor delightfully sustains the tradition here of consciousness-raising through self-recognition lightened by gentle sarcasm. 

 

“I Ain’t Your Mother” is the most all-out example of Pettis’ funny sense of humor that stings its target, in this case a spouse thinking every domestic responsibility belongs to his wife. 

 

Grace Pettis’ voice, an exquisitely soulful voice that brings to mind Mickey Guyton, Ann Wilson, Pat Benatar (and on “Tin Can”, Sia’s Chandelier”!) rather than a typical folk or country singer’s voice, makes the listener sit up and take notice. 

 

The warmth and strength of her pipes conceivably could make sympathetic listeners feel less isolated as they struggle with injustice. Male allies will feel good about Pettis’ music too. 

 

Her ample use of background vocals and esteemed folk colleagues including The Indigo Girls,  creates a sense of community. There are just so many great, appealing voices here. Women (and allies), you are not alone.

 

That a new phase of the woman’s movement has been taking place since March 2020 seems to resonate throughout this album. 

 

With only 2% of music producers being female, her non-binary band and team speaks volumes for Pettis’ commitment to feminist needs in the wake of this new phase of activism. Her band consists of: Ellen Angelico – Electric Guitar + Pedal Steel

, Megan Coleman – Drums, Ryan Madora – Bass Guitar, Kira Small – Organ + BGVs, 

Mary Bragg – BGVs and producer, and Rachael Moore, engineer.


-- Jill Blardinelli

 

   

Danilo Melds Thick Electronica, Smooth R&B On 'All I Want' EP

Danilo’s “All I Want” EP is classic late-night makeout music, and there’s not a damn thing wrong with that. Bedroom R&B in all senses of the term, every track is carefully constructed, showcases Danilo Riggs’s lovely tenor and righteous songwriting chops, and has every intention of getting in your pants.

As for the actual music, if the lyrics are a bit one-note on the subject of horizontal samba, the composition more than makes up for it. There’s true thick funk on “Liberty,” dense, almost synthwave production backing “Bringing it Back” and churchy organ and a slowdance ballad rhythm on “So In Love Master.” Danilo shows real understanding of all those forms, keeping them tied together tight in service of the EP’s overall vibe rather than getting lost in the details. 

At the heart of it all is Danilo’s voice. A clean, soulful tenor capable of soaring to Raphael Saddiq-level heights, it sets clear, sweet melodies for the eclectic songwriting to build around. It’s a voice to make even a lonely listener smile as it ranges across the register without missing a note.

 

Between the superb vocals, interesting songwriting and righteous commitment to makeouts past and future, we’re happy to recommend “All I Want” to anyone who has romantic aspirations this summer, or for that matter just feels like a sweet groove of an evening. “All I Want” is Danilo’s first EP, and we at The Deli are excited to see what comes next.

 

-- Matt Salter