Watch: Artist of the Month Megafauna’s new video for “Desire”

Earlier this week, Noisey premiered “Desire” the new video from our June Artist of the Month, Megafauna.

The song is the lead track on the group’s new album “Welcome Home,” and unlike most of her songs that come to her through hard labor, frontwoman Dani Neff says she channeled this one.

“‘Desire’ was one of those weird things where it just kind of happened,” she said when we met last month. “It just came out of me almost exactly as is.”

Neff told Noisey that the video, directed by Robert Weiss, is a metaphor for “various levels of entrapment that we create in our minds and the desire to break through those barriers.” It revolves around a bizarre relationship with an ambiguous but volatile undertone between Neff and bandmate Zach Humphrey.

We’re just in it for the part where Neff bursts out of the tunnel covered in mud and makes the very “Mad Max-ian” move of picking up her guitar and starting to shred.

Austin360 Artist of the Month Megafauna plays Solstice Fest this weekend

The tension between front woman Dani Neff’s airy vocals and her vicious guitar licks spin magic for Megafauna, Austin360’s June Artist of the Month.  

“I just happen to have a soft voice and I happen to want to play gnarly guitar,” Neff said when we talked to her shortly after the band returned from a tour of the Western U.S. last year. But even without the electric shredding, the band has a mystical appeal, as evidenced by this acoustic take on “It’s So Simple” they played last month in the Austin360 studio.

 » RELATED: Austin360 2016 Artists of the Month

The track is the least aggressive on Megafauna’s new album “Welcome Home” by a long shot.

It’s a song about heartbreak. I almost thought it had to be a solo project or something because it’s so different,” Neff said.

Her band convinced her it needed to be on the album. To make it work live, Megafauna normally programs the track as a quiet interlude between two very hard-driving tracks. Crowds might be a bit confused, but they respond to the dramatic dynamic shifts. 

“I think people do like the contrast between the heavy and the soft,” Neff said. 

You can catch Megafauna live, alongside an excellent lineup of Austin artists at Saturday’s Solstice Festival in Pan Am Park.

Propelled by the magnetism of front woman Dani Neff, psych metal/prog rock outfit Megafauna is on the rise. Left to right, Will Krause, Dani Neff, Zack Humphrey, Winston Barrett Kelly West/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Propelled by the magnetism of front woman Dani Neff, psych metal/prog rock outfit Megafauna is on the rise.
Left to right, Will Krause, Dani Neff, Zack Humphrey, Winston Barrett
Kelly West/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

 

Austin360 Artist of the Month check-in: Jeremy Nail’s first album

Our Austin360 Artist of the Month feature story on Jeremy Nail two weeks ago — along with the video above, shot in our American-Statesman studio — focused on Nail’s new album “The Mountain,” and the journey Nail faced in making the record happen.

Jeremy Nail's "Letter," released in 2007.
Jeremy Nail’s “Letter,” released in 2007.

It’s an inspirational story and an excellent record, but it wasn’t Nail’s first release. In our interview, Nail seemed to downplay his 2007 debut “Letter.” It’s common for artists to seek out new horizons as they get older, and sometimes they look back at their earlier work as underdeveloped.

Listening back to “Letter” almost a decade after it came out, though, I was struck by just how good of a song-based rock/pop album it is. While it’s true that Nail’s shift toward acoustic-focused Americana on “My Mountain” drew him to an even closer focus on his writing, there’s an immediacy and spirit in the songs on “Letter” that make it worth going back to.

You won’t find the album on Nail’s own Bandcamp page, where he’s streaming “My Mountain.” But it does show up on Spotify. With a tight band that included producer/bassist Mark Addison and Fastball drummer Joey Shuffield, Nail put together a dozen songs that ring out with strong melodies and engaging vocals. Check it out below and judge for yourself; it’s also available from cdbaby.com.

Austin360 Artist of the Month check-in: Jeremy Nail record release show

We caught our Austin360 Artist of the Month for May, Jeremy Nail, last weekend at Strange Brew as he celebrated the release of his new album “My Mountain” with a backing band that featured some of Austin’s most accomplished Americana instrumentalists.

Nail’s set comprised the entire record, in a different song sequence. Our Statesman video above combines abbreviated clips of the tracks “Heroes,” “My Mountain,” “Tell Me What Else You Got,” “Dreams” and “Survive.” The album, Nail told the crowd, “is about resilience. And we’re all resilient, no matter what hand we’re dealt.”

Joining him were violinist Eleanor Whitmore and guitarist Chris Masterson (members of  Steve Earle’s band who also tour themselves as the Mastersons), plus drummer Chris Searles and bassist Bobby Daniel. They also backed Nail recently on a live version of “Survive” recorded in our Statesman studio.

Record release show for "My Mountain" at Strange Brew, May 6, 2016: (from left) Eleanor Whitmore, Chris Masterson, Jeremy Nail, Chris Searles, Bobby Daniel. Photo by Peter Blackstock
Record release show for “My Mountain” at Strange Brew, May 6, 2016: (from left) Eleanor Whitmore, Chris Masterson, Jeremy Nail, Chris Searles, Bobby Daniel. Photo by Peter Blackstock

Austin360 On The Record: Jeremy Nail, A Giant Dog

12IN_GATEFOLD_JKT_2PKTJeremy Nail, “My Mountain.” The bluesy opening track of Jeremy Nail’s new album “My Mountain” references natural forces, a recurring theme on the record. Tides and waves gently propel the rhythm of “Down to the Ocean”; a river flows to the sea in tranquil tones of “The Great Mystery”; trails and pastures dot the dreamlike journey to the “New Frontier.” But that mountain in the first song is more than just a metaphor. Read the full story in our Austin360 Artist of the Month feature. Release show 10 p.m. Friday, May 6, at Strange Brew; also catch Nail and his band earlier Friday on KUTX for a 2 p.m. live-in-studio broadcast. Seeour Statesman live video for the track “Survive” above.

AGiantDogAlbumCoverA Giant Dog, “Pile” (Merge). In an American-Statesman feature on the band, writer Chad Swiatecki says that A Giant Dog’s new album “finds the 8-year-old band pushing itself beyond the fast and loud snarl of its earlier work and adding surprising compositional elements throughout its 15 tracks. There are touches like the raucous barrelhouse piano on first single ‘Sex And Drugs,’ ’60s-era girl group pop on ‘Jizzney,’ and the restrained and elegiac ‘Get With You and Get High’ that features vocals from Spoon frontman Britt Daniel, who’s been a longtime supporter of the band.” Release show Saturday, May 7, at Barracuda. Here’s the track ‘Get With You and Get High’:

Also: Beth Lee & the Breakups, “Keep Your Mouth Shut,” release show Thursday, May 5, at One-2-One Bar; Sam Baker, “Live at the Folly,” release show 8 p.m. Friday, May 6, at Strange Brew.

COMING SOON

MAY 13: John Evans, “Polyester,” release show May 13 at Continental Club, in-store May 19 at Waterloo Records.

MAY 13: A. Sinclair, “Get Out of the City,” release show May 14 at ABGB.

MAY 13: Migrant Kids, “Primordial Soup” EP (Pure Joy).

MAY 13: Star Parks, “Don’t Dwell” (Paper Trail).

MAY 13: Aaron Einhouse, “It Ain’t Pretty (Vision), playing May 28 at Rebels Saloon.

MAY 14: The Deer, “Tempest & Rapture,” release show May 14 at the Parish.

MAY 27: Boyfrndz, “Impulse” (Brutal Panda), release show May 27 at Sidewinder.

MAY 27: Megafauna, “Welcome Home.”

MAY: Cotton Mather, “Songs From the I Ching,” first in a series of vinyl releases collecting 64 digital tracks.

MAY: Emily Gimble, title TBA.

JUNE 5: Kidlat Punch, “If Only We Could Hear Them” (We’re Trying).

JUNE 10: Shawn Colvin & Steve Earle, “Colvin & Earle” (Fantasy).

JUNE 10: Charlie Faye & the Fayettes, self-titled, release show May 6 at Strange Brew.

JUNE: Jack Ingram, “Midnight Motel” (Rounder).

JULY 15: Nightowls, “Royal Sessions” EP, release show July 15 at Scoot Inn.

Austin360 Artist of the Month check-in: Dana Falconberry on touring national parks

Dana Falconberry & Medicine Bow playing a full moon show at White Sands National Monument in 2015. Photo by Becky Burghart
Dana Falconberry & Medicine Bow playing a full moon show at White Sands National Monument in 2015. Photo by Becky Burghart/White Sands

In our Austin360 Artist of the Month feature story on Dana Falconberry & Medicine Bow, we talked about her plans to play shows this summer in a variety of national parks, which seems an especially appropriate way to celebrate the 2016 centennial of the National Park Service.

We checked back in with Falconberry to see how the bookings have been going. Here’s what’s on tap so far, with more possibly in the works:

With Medicine Bow:
June 19: Guadalupe Mountains National Park (Texas)
June 20: White Sands National Monument (New Mexico)
June 22: Saguaro National Park (Arizona)
July 1: Sequoia National Park (California)
Solo:
July 2-15: Artist-in-Residence at Sequoia National Park (California)
July 16: Crater Lake National Park (Oregon)
July 28 Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore (Michigan)
Aug. 2: Isle Royale National Park (Michigan)

Booking the tour has been an adventure, Falconberry says. White Sands, which they played last year, was an easy first step. “They have a full stage with a sound guy and everything; it’s incredible,” she says. “But there’s other parks that I’d just cold-email them and say, ‘We want to play a show in your park.’ And they’re like, ‘Whaaat are you talking about?’

“Rangers are a very specific crew of people. They’re so good-hearted and hard-working, but they’re rule followers too, largely. So to present a new concept to these people — some of them are really willing to work with you and really want it to work out. Others are terrified of what you’re talking about.

There’s just lots of rules that you have to get through to make it work out. At the end of the day, even if it goes the worst it can possibly go, who cares? I’m in a national park. It’s still going to be totally amazing.”

Check out more of our Artist of the Month updates, and here’s our American-Statesman studio video of Falconberry & Medicine Bow’s song “Calling Mountain”:

Austin360 Artist of the Month check-in: Dana Falconberry talks about Medicine Bow

Our Austin360 Artist of the Month for April is Dana Falconberry & Medicine Bow, and the latter half of that designation is a significant part of the act. Falconberry’s 2012 record “Leelanau” came out under her name only, but her five-member backing crew shares billing on the new “From the Forest Came the Fire.”

We asked Falconberry to tell us about each of them when we interviewed her last month. Here’s a deeper look at the Medicine Bow roster:

Dana Falconberry & Medicine Bow, from left: Matthew Shepard, Karla Manzur, Dana Falconberry, Gina Dvorak, Lindsey Verrill, Christopher Cox. Photo by Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon and Dana Falconberry
Dana Falconberry & Medicine Bow, from left: Matthew Shepherd, Karla Manzur, Dana Falconberry, Gina Dvorak, Lindsey Verrill, Christopher Cox. Photo by Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon and Dana Falconberry

Gina Dvorak, multi-instrumentalist/vocalist

“Gina and I have been singing together since 2005, or maybe 2006. A person I was working with referred me to her to sing backup on a track of mine. I like totally fell in love with her voice, and am still head over heels for her voice. She’s been evolving musically in the band; she now plays electric guitar and banjo. It’s been really cool to watch her progression instrumentally. … [With] everybody else, I got this band together for one show at the Parish about five years ago, so that was everybody else’s start date.”

Karla Manzur, keyboardist/vocalist

“Karla actually started a little bit before that (Parish show). I auditioned her because another singer had dropped off. It’s really funny to think of me like auditioning her at this point, because she knows so much more about singing than I do. I’d be like, ‘OK, this is a really hard part, are you going to get it?’ And she’d be like, ‘Yeah, I totally get it, it’s not hard.’ Her voice is insane and totally beautiful. And she plays a lot more of the keyboard stuff now than she used to. That’s starting to add a lot more textures, which is really cool.”

Christopher Cox, bassist
“He started playing in the band at the same time everyone else did, and he played keys originally. He and Grant Johnson have a production company called Fat Fuse, and they produced ‘Leelanau.’ I had just a totally magical experience with them, so they also produced half of this record as well. [The other half was produced by Spoon’s Jim Eno.] Chris did all of the string arrangements on Leelanau. He’s a musical genius, and he’s a really valuable. I look at him a lot for musical advice; when we’re working something out, I’ll be like, ‘Is this stupid?’ And he’ll tell me if it’s stupid or not. … Now he plays bass, and he’ll just come up with these crazy bass lines. Sometimes his lines will be so confusing to me at the beginning, and then he’ll like change one thing, or even NOT change one thing, but it’ll just click in my head and I’m like, oh my god, that’s the whole point of the song at this part.”

Matthew Shepherd, drummer

“Chris brought Matt on. He had a mohawk when I first met him (laughs). Matt and I have gone through a really interesting progression. When I brought him on, I didn’t want a real drum kit; I wanted like percussion-type stuff. I didn’t want any cymbals, and very little kick drum. But now, I’m just like, ‘Hit it harder! Make it louder!’ We work together really well on different drum beats. I have specific rhythms in my head, and he will be able to execute that and then also bring other ideas to the table that I hadn’t thought of.”

Lindsey Verrill, cellist

“Lindsey started playing upright bass, on ‘Leelanau.’ Now she plays cello, and she is the astronaut that takes us to space. She makes the craziest noises on her cello and really elevates the song to another dimension. That sounds maybe cheesy, but it’s totally what I feel her role is in the band.”

Method to Medicine Bow’s madness

“Everybody’s role has definitely shifted some and morphed throughout our time together. But I think we’ve worked together really well. We’ve been playing music together for five years, and it’s funny because everybody has a role as well in touring life. Matt’s the driver, Karla’s like the mom with all the napkins to give everybody, Gina makes all the food — people have their roles in the band, and also offstage too. And it just clicks.”

 

Austin360 Artist of the Month: Dana Falconberry & Medicine Bow album release show

“I stood between mountains,” Dana Falconberry sang midway through “Alamogordo” on Saturday night at Stateside at the Paramount, and the lyric fit the scene perfectly. Onstage, Falconberry and the five members of her band Medicine Bow were surrounded by makeshift miniature snowcapped peaks, a low-budget prop made of translucent gauze.

If it wasn’t quite the majestic natural backdrop Falconberry & Medicine Bow will have this summer when they play a string of shows in national parks, it was enough to push forward the notion of these songs being performed in such a setting. The mystical songs on the band’s new album, “From the Forest Came the Fire,” got a terrific showcase treatment in this quiet and comfortable room with a sizable stage and excellent lighting.

Dana Falconberry & Medicine Bow at Stateside at the Paramount, Saturday, April 2, 2016. Photo by Peter Blackstock
Dana Falconberry & Medicine Bow at Stateside at the Paramount, Saturday, April 2, 2016. Photo by Peter Blackstock

Falconberry and her bandmates — multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Gina Dvorak, keyboardist/vocalist Karla Manzur, bassist Christopher Cox, drummer Matthew Shepherd and cellist Lindsey Verrill — played up the evening’s album-release theme, playing the the first half of the album almost in sequence to start the show. They dipped back to 2012’s “Leelanau” for the charming “Lake Charlevoix” and also looked forward with a fascinating new tune, with Falconberry poking fun at her deliberate working pace: “That one’s on the next record. It’ll be out in seven years!”

The group saved its most ambitious moments for the end, with “Alamogordo” closing the main set and the seven-minute title track from “Leelanau” finishing a two-song encore. In between, all members came forward for an uncharacteristically lullaby-like number, complete with a standout whistling solo from Shepherd. Perhaps this summer, somewhere out in the wilds of Crater Lake in Oregon or Isle Royale in Michigan, songbirds will join him in perfect harmony.

Also check out our exclusive video of the band performing their song “Calling Mountian” in our Statesman studio. Allso check out our new recap of all 2016 Austin360 Artists of the Month to date.

On The Record: Austin360 Artist of the Month Dana Falconberry & Medicine Bow

Dana Falconberry & Medicine Bow, “From the Forest Came the Fire” (Modern Outsider). Check our new Austin360 Artist of the Month feature for April for more about this Austin indie songwriter and her five-piece band.

DanaFalconberryAlbumCoverA revealing observation about this new album in comparison to Falconberry’s last release, 2012’s “Leelanau”: Five of its nine songs are more than five minutes long and nothing is under three minutes, whereas “Leelanau” had only two songs over five minutes and included six “songlets” of less than two minutes. What prompted the change?

“I just have been fascinated by like a totally different mold for a song,” Falconberry says. “And thematically it feels really different from the last album, which was more based on natural landscapes and my history. This one is more based on supernatural phenomenon and really deep things that are going on within me — not so much surface-level things.”

Watch our Statesman studio video of “Calling Mountain” above. And catch the band’s record-release show Saturday, April 2, at Stateside at the Paramount.

Explosions in the Sky, “The Wilderness” (Temporary Residence). American-Statesman/Austin360 writer Deborah Sengupta Stith notes that although this is “their first new album in five years, the atmospheric soundscape masters have stayed busy in the half decade since ‘Take Care, Take Care, Take Care’ was released, doing soundtracks for three films and touring the globe. They’re now hitting the road for an extensive U.S. and European tour” after last weekend’s triumphant record-release shows at the Paramount. Perhaps they’ll be back for ACL Fest or Fun Fun Fun? Here’s the track “Logic of a Dream”:

Haberdashers, self-titled EP. Traditional country-folk stylings and instrumentation mark this six-song debut from the new quintet, with guitar, mandolin, banjo and upright bass mixing behind a four-part vocal blend. The songs tend toward energetic and upbeat tempos, from minor-key bluesy (the opening “No Way Out”) and to major-key bright (the bouncy “That’s the Way”), though they take it down a notch with almost whispery vocals on “The World Remains.” Release show April 2 at Continental Club.

RECENTLY RELEASED

Jeff Plankenhorn, “SoulSlide.” An in-demand sideman with a rich, resonant singing voice, Plankenhorn steps out with a dozen tracks of rootsy material, mostly his own compositions. Guest-vocalist ringers Malford Milligan and Ruthie Foster turn up on a couple of tracks, but the spotlight stays on Plankenhorn’s own intuition for a good soul groove. Playing April 15 at Strange Brew.

COMING SOON

APRIL 8: Hayes Carll, “Lovers and Leavers” (Hwy 87/Thirty Tigers), in-store April 8 at Waterloo Records, playing April 15 at Old Settler’s Music Festival.

APRIL 8: Michael Fracasso, “Here Come the Savages,” release show April 9 at Strange Brew.

APRIL 8: Residual Kid, “Salsa” EP (Sire/Warner Bros.).

APRIL 15: Taylor & the Wild Now, “Tides” EP, release show April 14 at Stubb’s indoor.

APRIL 15: Calliope Musicals, “Time Owes You Nothing,” release show April 15 at Central Presbyterian Church.

APRIL 15: Don Leady & His Rockin’ Revue, “Poppy Toppy Gone,” release show April 16 at C-Boy’s Heart & Soul, in-store April 17 at Antone’s Record Shop.

APRIL 22: Sharks in the Deep End, “Killin Machine.”

APRIL 22: Ducharme-Jones, “Strangest Things” (Blissed Out), release show April 22 at One-2-One Bar.

APRIL 29: Greyhounds, “Change of Pace” (Ardent), playing March 25-26 at C-Boy’s Heart & Soul.

APRIL 29: Dave Insley, “Just the Way That I Am,” release show April 23 at White Horse.

MAY 3: Jeremy Nail, “My Mountain,” release show May 6 at Strange Brew.

MAY 6: A Giant Dog, “Pile” (Merge), release show May 7 at Barracuda.

MAY 13: Migrant Kids, “Primordial Soup” EP (Pure Joy).

MAY 14: The Deer, “Tempest & Rapture,” release show May 14 at the Parish.

MAY: Cotton Mather, “Songs From the I Ching,” first in a series of vinyl releases collecting 64 digital tracks.

MAY: Emily Gimble, Title TBA.

JUNE 10: Shawn Colvin & Steve Earle, “Colvin & Earle” (Fantasy).

JUNE 10: Charlie Faye & the Fayettes, self-titled.

JUNE: Jack Ingram, “Midnight Motel” (Rounder).

Watch: Austin360 Artist of the Month Mama K and the Shades plays ‘Good Things’

Wait, is it really the end of March? As it always does in Austin, the month went by in a blur of free booze, musical mayhem and tossed-away promotional swag. Before the South by Southwest madness set in, our March Artist of the Month, ten-piece funk band Mama K and the Shades, crammed into the Statesman Studio to record this live performance of the song “Good Things” from their excellent debut album.

Mama K & the Shades perform at Red 7 on Friday, August 14, 2015 during a benefit show for the family of David McKnight, the band's saxophone player who died in July of 2015. Kelly West/American-Statesman
Mama K & the Shades perform at Red 7 on Friday, August 14, 2015 during a benefit show for the family of David McKnight, the band’s saxophone player who died in July of 2015. Kelly West/American-Statesman