We are a rock n roll band based in Austin, TX that formed in 2008.
"Never short on hooks or ambition, The Sour Notes play brittle pop for star-crossed post-grads…on rising tides of lonesome guitars and glimmering synths, the band patiently builds its postmillennial laments, making the occasional nod to Krautrock and frequent concessions to soundtrack-worthy mood." - Erik Adams, The Onion AV Club
"Sparkly, vibrant pop from the South” is how the Sour Notes describe themselves. The Austin quintet certainly fills all those descriptors: their latest album, Last Looks, is dreamy in all the right places but with a sly edge that’s refreshing to hear from a pop band. - Art Levy, KUT Austin's Song of The Day
‘Fourth LP Last Looks is a grand pop album that manages to expand in all directions at once. Like 2009's Received in Bitterness, guitarist Chris Page lends serious edge to heavy, sinister opener “Nothing’s More Contagious Than Evil” and chaser “Hot Pink Flares,” which closes with a slow, Phil Spector-influenced swoon…The Wall of Sound treatment continues in the buoyant flourish of “Big Dreams,” which, like most of Last Looks, gets embellished with horns and strings courtesy of Mother Falcon.’ – Austin Powell, The Austin Chronicle (http://bit.ly/AusChronLL)
'Fourth LP Last Looks is a grand pop album that manages to expand in all directions at once. Like 2009's Received in Bitterness, guitarist Chris Page lends serious edge to heavy, sinister opener "Nothing's More Contagious Than Evil" and chaser "Hot Pink Flares," which closes with a slow, Phil Spector-influenced swoon...The Wall of Sound treatment continues in the buoyant flourish of "Big Dreams," which, like most of Last Looks, gets embellished with horns and strings courtesy of Mother Falcon.' - Austin Powell, The Austin Chronicle (http://bit.ly/AusChronLL)
"I caught these Austin/ex-Houston folks at last year’s Summerfest, and I have to say, they ended up being one of the best bands I caught throughout the festival. I’d seen them previously at The Mink with just three members, playing subdued, melancholy-yet-melodic, electronics-heavy indie-pop, so I wasn’t expecting the full-on indie-rock roar they cut loose with up on the stage. Hell, I didn’t even realize it was the same damn band ’til partway through their set. Since then I’ve been able to check out their most recent full-length, Last Looks, and was extremely impressed — they come near to the New Pornographers in terms of being able to stack layer upon layer of lush, power-pop-y sound to create these damn-near-perfect gems of songs. They throw in everything but the kitchen sink, and holy crap, it works." - Jeremy Hart
"For an unsigned band based in Austin, TX, the Sour Notes has big aspirations for its music. Aside from having five releases in a little over three years, the release show for its fourth full-length album (that the band is currently seeking funding for via Kickstarter) is going to include Mother Falcon, a 20-piece orchestra, in the biggest event the group has ever attempted." - CMJ
"Somewhere between Fountains of Wayne's Teflon hooks and the Shins' minor-key reveries, The Sour Notes... emote anything but the same ol’ song and dance, especially here in cow town.” – Raoul Hernandez, The Austin Chronicle http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/Issue/story?oid=oid:977600
Jared Boulanger - Guitar & Vocals
Courtney Howell - Synth & Vocals
Erin Howel - Drums
Jessica June Kim - Synth
Amarah Ulghani - Bass
*NEW LP* Do What May (Fall 2013)
In The Meanwhile Cassingle (June 2013)
Last Looks LP on vinyl (July 2012)
7-inch Split w/ Marmalakes (February 2012)
Last Looks LP (February 2011)
Hot Pink Flares 7-inch (December 2010)
It's Not Gonna Be Pretty LP (January 2010)
Never Mix, Never Worry 7-inch (September 2009)
Received in Bitterness LP (January 2009)
Accident Prone Single (Jawbreaker Cover, December 2008)
Live at KVRX - Local Live (August 2008)
The Meat of Fruit LP (May 2008)
Two Hands Wait
Hot Pink Flares
Do-ers & Say-ers
One Fell Swoop
Harvest Moon (Neil Young Cover)
Accident Prone (Jawbreaker Cover)
New Austin Cassettes (8/2013)
[+ Show ]
The Sour Notes enclosed a tiny toy hamburger with this tape containing both sides of their new singl...The Sour Notes enclosed a tiny toy hamburger with this tape containing both sides of their new single and four previously released recordings. Side one stars a title track drenched in ethereal Cocteau Twins juice, a poppy cover of early Wire classic "Mannequin," and "Two Hands Wait," a track in love with the Saints' Prehistoric Sounds era.
Local indie troupe cruises NXNE and all points between (6/2013)
[+ Show ]
In his seminal 1994 memoir, Get in the Van: On the Road with Black Flag, Henry Rollins writes about ...In his seminal 1994 memoir, Get in the Van: On the Road with Black Flag, Henry Rollins writes about being 18 and going nowhere fast – managing a H&#228;agen-Dazs and playing in a dissolving hardcore band in DC.
Obsessed with Black Flag, he catches the band every time they come to town, screaming along to every word. After finally getting invited onstage to join them for a song, Rollins finds himself on a plane to Los Angeles and crowned the band’s new singer just one week later.
Despite being one of the most popular hardcore bands at the time, Black Flag lived in absolute poverty, all while under the constant threat of having their DIY shows shut down. They faced constamt animosity from bands and promoters, but the connections they made on tour made it all worthwhile.
However you feel about Henry Rollins or the Flag, you can’t deny the fact that throwing caution to the wind and going on tour is one of the most exciting and thrilling things a band can do. My band the Sour Notes have gone on seven different tours, and despite the obvious sonic differences betwixt us and the Flag, there are certainly similarities.
Unless you have a trust fund, come from “very $upportive parents,” or hold a magic job, chances are that being in a “micro-indie” band means you’re very poor. You probably don’t have health insurance, much less get to go on “vacation” outside of touring. You’ve probably come to embrace the dollar deals at Taco Bell; maybe at work you eat soup out of a can.
Your car, if you’re lucky to have one, is probably always on the verge of death, so you have to keep your bike tuned up and know the bus routes. All your time and money goes towards gear and gear upkeep, plus printing posters, booking shows, promoting shows, going to shows, practice, recording, writing songs, and doing whatever else is needed to keep your band plugged in.
I’m not complaining because this lifestyle fucking rules. People fill their lives with all sorts of things, and there’s nothing more fulfilling than filling your time with something creative that you find worthwhile.
In our seven Sour Notes tours, there has yet to be a situation where someone doesn’t break. Back home in Austin, we’re comfortable enough to play to a decent size crowd most nights, mostly because Austin is rad and also very alcoholic – so people are going to see shows and stay until the last band plays. On the road it’s another story. It’s always worth it, but it’s also grueling.
We recently returned from a tour up the country, finishing with Toronto’s annual North by Northeast Festivals &amp; Conference. We took some notes from the road.
It’s Side One Track One blogger John Laird’s birthday, and our tour kickoff at Holy Mountain. We’ve released a cassette single with new songs from our upcoming LP and a cover of Wire’s “Mannequin.” I wear a two-piece suit for the first time in 10 years, and our send off turns into a dance party that ends way too late for anyone to want to drive the first van shift the next morning.
Fuzzy and filled with what feels like excitement, Amarah [Ulghani, bass], Rene [Chavez, guitar], Courtney [Howell, keys], Erin [Howell, drums], Jessica [June Kim, keys], and I hightail it out of Austin in a brand new 15-passenger van that we rented from Balmorhea’s live sound engineer at a fraction of the cost. Our 1986 Dodge van ‘Jacque’ just ain’t what he used to be, and given that his windshield wipers don’t work and the inspection sticker has been out since 2011, we’re grateful to have air-conditioning and live in a community where like-minded people can help us along the way.
We’re bound for New Orleans, and eight hours later, we arrive at the Howlin’ Wolf Den. Houston rap legends the Geto Boys are playing next door and their turnout makes ours look sparse. We eat for half-price, play an energetic set to a handful of people, and drink cheap beer with the door girl. This is what we deem the warm-up show. The door girl says she liked the set, and finds us on Facebook later. Could’ve been worse!
We wake up early at a friend’s cousin’s house and set out for breakfast in the French Quarter at the beautifully affordable Camellia Grill. We catch a New Orleans-style wedding parade in the street before hitting the road again. On the way out, we duck into a fancy hotel near Bourbon Street to inhale some coffee and use their free wi-fi. Even when a tour’s in motion, there’s always work to be done.
The five-hour drive to Birmingham is quiet until we eventually show up at the Bottletree Cafe, which we are told is run by someone from the Polyphonic Spree. If that’s in fact true, it shows.
The Bottletree turns out to be the most charismatically staffed venue we’ve ever played. We arrive just before our stage time and play a sweaty set to a packed house of enthusiastic locals. The staff talks us up all night after the show and offers us more than what we’re guaranteed for playing, even offering to reopen the kitchen to feed us for free after we miss the deadline for ordering. Who does that?
We party the night away with the trustworthy and genuine locals and sleep like babies in the venue’s two hospitality airstream trailers. So fun lingering around a club after it closes. It made me feel like I was in that Eighties movie Mannequin.
It’s 5am when the alarm goes off. We played band heaven last night, yet face a 12-hour drive to Washington DC. None of us are working on more than two hours of sleep. We cautiously drive in rotating shifts.
A long drive like this can be dangerous, especially on a time crunch, but we make it to DC in time for load-in at Comet Ping Pong for a show put on by promoter Sasha Oh My Lord. After the show, everyone’s in great spirits and I get into a beer-spraying fight with Erin outside of the club. Amarah has a few friends that live in the area, so the band splits up into two separate sleeping groups to make it easier for our hosts in their tiny DC apartments.
Past tours have proven that too much downtime can really kill a band’s rhythm, so we usually shoot to play every night. There’s something special about having only two things to do every day on tour. You show up, then you play the best you can.
If only life were always that simple.
We’re on our way to New York City now, a place we usually like to hit as early as possible, because it’s the most fun city in the United States for a group of vagabonds to wander around in. Something about New York always feels like it’s some kind of halfway-point of the tour.
We play a great show. The crowd is super fun despite the fact that the promoter at Public Assembly dropped the ball on confirming the headliner we set up for the evening after weeks of correspondence. In retrospect, we didn’t actually know the show was going to happen until four days prior and felt it tacky to cancel. They still force us to cough up the $30 left to make the room fee. No one gets paid; not even gas money.
After a 12-hour drive to the Canadian border, we’re detained for three more. We’re set to play the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern that night for Dave Bookman’s Nu Music Nite in downtown Toronto, one of our favorite places to play. That stage has seen the likes of the Rolling Stones, Talking Heads, Ramones, Police, and Wilco.
The border patrol is kind enough to note our 12am appearance on the detainment forms and lovelier still to expedite the paperwork Rene needs to get past the border. As a foreign visitor, you normally cannot get into Canada if you have a conviction on your record, even if it was a DWI from having your headlights turned off in a Jack- in-the-Box drive-through – out of courtesy, mind you!
Rene announced before we left that this tour would be his last run with the band, so we’re willing to risk the Canadian border issue and really be adamant about him getting by. Thanks to the immigration paperwork and guidance North by Northeast provided us, three hours whizzed by knowing we’d make it to our show that night.
The Horseshoe show is great and surprisingly buzzing for a Tuesday night. Turns out that just as SXSW has hundreds of volunteers to stuff tote bags full of goodies for its attendees, NXNE does too! Many of those volunteers are ready to party after a hard day’s work.
We run into the original NXNE Volunteer Coordinator, a friendly lady who chats with us about how NXNE started out with the SXSW staff coaching them for five years, and how the NXNE folks have a condo in Austin just for SXSW purposes. It’s an educational experience. Among the great Canadian bands we play with that night, Austin’s own Quiet Company ends up playing after us as a surprise late addition to the bill. Funny how you travel all the way to Toronto and end up sharing the stage with a band from back home.
Today’s our day to act as tourists, so we split up into different directions for a few hours. I wander into June Records to buy the new Boards of Canada album and end up walking out with the first OMD album instead. When the band meets back up later in the day, Jessica has a new pair of maroon Dr. Martens boots on.
After a buzz-killing day off, we head to Waterloo-Kitchener, a suburb of Toronto where our friends Trap Tiger live. The dudes in that band run a music collective called Thought-Pop, which has helped us set up additional shows and housing the last three years we’ve come to Canada on tour, and they’ve set up another one this round.
We play on the edge of town in a cafe called the Little Bean. The Thought-Pop dudes bring the PA, run sound, and even book the bands we play with, which can be very helpful when you’re trying to book an entire tour yourself. After our show, we all caravan back to their spacious 1920s home a few blocks away from downtown and get drunk on the porch.
We head back to Toronto as the NXNE festivities are now in full-swing, catching Merchandise in front of a packed crowd in a room so small I could reach up and touch the ceiling! Later, we catch the National play a lethargic set to thousands in Dundas Square, before witnessing a fun, late-night set by Why? back at the Horseshoe Tavern. That night we buy four small bottles of various booze and mixers, grab some takeout pizza, and stay in the cheapest hotel we can, Priceline. We end up watching Halloween in the hotel room until we pass out.
Today is the day of our official NXNE showcase, and traffic is thick on our way back into Toronto proper. We spend a good two hours in the van, pay the parking meter near the venue, then eat what turns out to be the first of three consecutive cheeseburger meals – for me, at least. Oddly enough, another Austin band, the Boxing Lesson, opens our showcase at Sneaky Dee’s that night!
Thanks to NXNE and the rad shoutout by Toronto music blog Chromewaves, our NXNE showcase quickly fills with people. Playing to a room of rad peeps who are probably seeing you for the first time is the best! By the time we hit our stride, the audience is fully captive.
We hit the road at 6am, headed for Chicago. Back at the border, we get detained once again, but luckily the van inspector recognizes our daunting, Tetris-like arrangement of gear and decides not to inspect the entire van – choosing instead to hassle us about our outdated Wikipedia entry for a bit.
That night we play at Quenchers in Logan Square with my favorite bands on tour, the Uglies and Evacuate the Earth. Our friends Josh and Heather from Chicago band Bring Your Ray Gun come out to see us and we all go back to their house right under the L. There’s a house party waiting for us when we arrive, and these friendly Chicagoans are projecting Dazed and Confused on a big screen in the backyard.
Seeing those dated shots of Austin feels kinda perfect at that moment and makes me miss home a little. Some of us sleep in the van that night. By now, we’re one with that van.
I wake up around 6:30am, slightly sad knowing that tonight will be the last show of the tour. We get on the road and I pass out for most of the long drive to Lawrence, Ks., where we are show-swapping with a local band called Brain Food. They’ll be coming to Austin over the Fourth of July weekend for some shows we’re helping them schedule. I’ve never been to Lawrence before and am so glad we end up playing there.
The town has a killer record store called Love Garden Records that’s got an amazing selection of vinyl and a friendly, talkative staff. I end up buying the new Japandroids album Celebration Rock for Amarah since I ate her burger earlier, and Blonde Redhead’s 23 for Jessica, since it’s her birthday.
The 11-hour drive back to Austin is quiet and reflective. I try and think about how we tried our best to accomplish what we tried to do, and in the end how that’s all that matters to me. It just so happens that the tour is fun on top of it all, and all the seemingly exhausting work that went into it doesn’t compare to those musical moments we shared. Things get tricky sometimes, and you might question what you did this all for. You might, but I don’t.
When we arrive home around 8pm, we take the van for a vacuum and wash before returning it to our friend. Erin, Amarah, and I order takeout Thai food, crack open a fresh bottle of Whiskey, and watch The Goonies.
Watch The Sour Notes' New Video 'In The Meanwhile' (6/2013)
[+ Show ]
The Austin rock band loves throwing food at people's faces, as they reveal in this video pre...The Austin rock band loves throwing food at people's faces, as they reveal in this video premiere.
Jared Boulanger, the singer/guitarist of Austin band the Sour Notes, recently told us how much he loves the movies of Ingmar Bergman, Jean-Luc Godard, Frederico Fellini, and other film directors. He actually went to school to be a screenwriter, but decided to be in a rock 'n' roll band instead.
His love for movies and screenwriting, however, comes across loud and clear in the Sour Notes' playful new video for 'In The Meanwhile,' the second single from the band's upcoming album, 'Do What May.' The video was shot in Austin, by Paul Avellino, and shows several friends of the band getting slammed in the face with flying food.
“It just sorta happened after a few daytime beers were opened,” says Boulanger about the video. “It was shot on a super-high speed camera that was able to capture the intricacies of various facial expressions. We even fired off an air horn to unexpectedly startle people -- all friends of ours willing to be demoralized and have food thrown at them. But who doesn't want to throw food at someone's face at least once?”
On July 27, the Sour Notes play a Red Bull Sound Select show in Austin with Gentleman Rogues, Theophilus London, and the Dandy Warhols. Warning: Don't let the Sour Notes get their hands on any food, or else...
Follow The Sour Notes at Red Bull Sound Select for more music, news and show information.
Welcome Home The Sour Notes (6/2013)
[+ Show ]
One of Austin’s hardest working bands, The Sour Notes, have just returned from a good little tour, s...One of Austin’s hardest working bands, The Sour Notes, have just returned from a good little tour, so we’d like to celebrate that first of all; I’m glad they were able to successfully hit the road. But, in honor of their return, they’ll be playing at The Blackheart this Friday night (it’s free), so you should all head out in order to welcome them. In other SN related news, they just released a cassette single, which includes the below cover of “Mannequin,” originally one of the hits on Wire’s Pink Flag (one of my favorite LPs, period). They do a dreamier take, but they definitely do the original justice. Plus, the band has a video for their new single, which you can watch HERE! So many good things happening for these guys. Cheers; see you friday!
The Sour Notes Single Premiere (6/2013)
[+ Show ]
Austin’s The Sour Notes have long been a favorite of mine. So much so in fact that they were the fi...Austin’s The Sour Notes have long been a favorite of mine. So much so in fact that they were the first band I reached out to when I decided to put together a 30th birthday show for myself. They said yes, and this Thursday at Holy Mountain they’ll be playing at 11pm.
The progressive pop act won’t just be celebrating some blogger getting another year older, though, they’ll also be releasing a cassingle. The effort features a brand new song (which is premiering here at SOTO today), a Wire cover, and a few of their fan favorites just for good measure. Make a note to snatch one up! It’ll be just $3, and you’ll get a download code with it. Enjoy.
:The Sour Notes – In The Meanwhile: Ethereal is not a word I would ever think to use while describing The Sour Notes, but that’s what’s at play here, and the band really makes it work. This is easily one of their better crafted efforts, and I think the inclusion of guest vocalist Sara Houser (from The Couch) was a smart move. She gives the track an almost Beach House-like quality. More please.
Cassingle Track Listing:
1) In The Meanwhile
2) Mannequin (Wire Cover)
3) Two Hands Wait
4) Last Looks
5) One Fell Swoop
6) Do-Ers & Say-Ers
By the way, for those of you outside of Austin who would like to experience The Sour Notes live, they’re heading out on tour!
Mixed Media: The Sour Notes (5/2013)
[+ Show ]
Musicians find inspiration in artists, artforms and works of art outside of music. We asked the Sour...Musicians find inspiration in artists, artforms and works of art outside of music. We asked the Sour Notes's Jared Boulanger to tell us about some of those things that have inspired him.
Jared Boulanger of the Sour Notes went to film school and says that studying to be a TV and film editor was what got him into making music. “Before I had song ideas, I wanted to be a screenwriter. When I first started writing songs, I'd watch some of my favorite films with the sound off, and just strum along on a guitar to whatever was happening in the movie. Lyrics, and song ideas, would come out that way. So what influences me the most are film directors.”
“I studied him for a long time. I've written more songs about his work than any other director. A lot of his films question life and mortality and what you do on this Earth. His movies are emotionally heavy with lots of psychological drama, and they make me question things. I also respect his rate of productivity — he's been able to do so many movies in his life. Most of the songs on our last album were influenced by Bergman's movies.”
“I like his perspective on the humor between people in a relationship — he's good at trivializing the things that happen between people. He's very satirical, but also poetic. I sampled one of his movies, 'Alphaville,' for one of our songs once. That's my favorite movie of his. We have a new video coming out soon that's actually a spoof on a scene from his movie 'A Woman Is A Woman.'"
“I'm really inspired by the visual aspect of his movies, especially 'L'Avventura,' which is one of my favorites by him. Of all these directors, his movies are the most calm and peaceful.”
“Our last album was called 'Last Looks,' and that's something that David Carradine's character, Bill, says in 'Kill Bill.' When Uma Thurman is at her wedding rehearsal, out in Texas, she hears Bill playing the flute outside. She asks him what he's doing there, and he says he's taking 'last looks.' That's where the name of our album comes from.”
“He, more so than any other director, seems like he lived the same way his characters did. Like with '8 ½,' it's a struggle to try to say anything at all. He has people wanting him to make a movie, and pressuring him to do it. It's the same with musicians — everyone's always asking when the next album is coming out. But if you don't have anything to say, you don't want to say anything. When people get lots of money behind them to make a big movie, it's normally their worst one, and '8 ½' explores those ideas. Being in a band that doesn't make any money, this movie reminds me that I'm probably gonna do better work if I'm struggling.”
The Sour Notes played TKAAFest, play again tonight after Grizzly Bear (4/2013)
[+ Show ]
The Sour Notes like to keep busy, and 2013 has already seen them play SXSW and many other shows. The...The Sour Notes like to keep busy, and 2013 has already seen them play SXSW and many other shows. They're also going to play NXNE and will release a new album (Do What May) before Summer is through. No rest for the weary...
They played the inside stage at Mohawk for The Kids Are Alright Fest on 4/6, and I was able to catch them before Marmalakes (pics HERE) (and before I went to Beerland for Feral Future and White Lung). Some pictures from their set are in this post.
You can see next them play the inside stage at Stubb's for FREE tonight (4/8) immediately following the Grizzly Bear show.
SXSW Saturday Picks and Sleepers (3/2013)
[+ Show ]
THE SOUR NOTES 7:30pm, Soho Lounge The Sour Notes' indelible pop hooks curling around Jared Bou...THE SOUR NOTES
7:30pm, Soho Lounge The Sour Notes' indelible pop hooks curling around Jared Boulanger's angst-edged vocals build a tension in the sextet's continually expanding sound that's led them to the top of Austin's indie scene. Fourth LP Last Looks courses with even more elaborate arrangements, balancing female vocals that offer deeper shades to the heavier guitars and more robust grooves. – Doug Freeman
Top 25 Austin Albums of 2011 (1/2012)
[+ Show ]
#10 Last Looks by The Sour Notes One of the more prolific rock bands in town, the Sour Notes cont...#10 Last Looks by The Sour Notes
One of the more prolific rock bands in town, the Sour Notes continue to evolve with Last Looks. Though they are a traditional four-piece rock band, the Sour Notes find fresh approaches and sounds. “Big Dreams” churns forward relentlessly like a bulldozer, “The Moment You Feel It” is a touching acoustic ballad with a spine, “Nothing’s More Contagious Than Evil” combines ominous arpeggios with a rocking backbeat that help the song live up to its name. And then there’s “Hot Pink Flares,” which like other tracks on the album shifts from one section to another to keep the listener guessing while sounding as epic as anything. After multiple spins, this is an album that continues to fascinate.
Austin Chronicle: Critics Poll (1/2012)
[+ Show ]
Local Act You Saw the Most Dikes of Holland (Greg Beets) Suzanna Choffel (Jim Caligiuri) Ocote ...Local Act You Saw the Most
Dikes of Holland (Greg Beets)
Suzanna Choffel (Jim Caligiuri)
Ocote Soul Sounds (Thomas Fawcett)
The Sour Notes (Doug Freeman)
The Gourds (Melanie Haupt)
Butch Hancock (Raoul Hernandez)
White Denim (Chase Hoffberger)
The Bright Light Social Hour (Margaret Moser)
OBN III's (Austin Powell)
Black Red Black (Jay Trachtenberg)
Top 5 Albums of 2011 – #4 Last Looks by The Sour Notes (1/2012)
[+ Show ]
The Sour Notes were one of the first local bands that I looked up after moving to Austin in 2009, ba...The Sour Notes were one of the first local bands that I looked up after moving to Austin in 2009, based on what I believe was a review in the Chronicle that fall. At the time they had released The Meat of the Fruit EP and the Received in Bitterness LP. I ended up acquiring the former and while I enjoyed it, didn’t think too much about them afterwards. Fast-forward to early 2011 and one night while browsing Waterloo Records for something else entirely I come across Last Looks, the latest release by The Sour Notes. Not having been offended by their debut EP and having come up empty handed in my primary record search, I decided to pick it up. What followed was a month-long love affair with this record and a desire to consume everything else the band had recorded in the interim.
Last Looks is a featherweight powerhouse of an album that all at once evokes thoughts of early Radiohead, a less European Blonde Redhead, a less pretentious Arcade Fire, Spoon without the swagger, and Death Cab for Cutie with bigger balls and louder guitars. From Nothing More Contagious Than Evil’s anxious and ominous opening through the subtle (but massive) build of As Crude as Watercolor, and on to Particularly Shrill’s airy adieu, Last Looks is a collection of catchy and competent tunes that finishes all too quickly, but begs to be replayed. The production and mix leave little to be desired as subtle textures and delicate flourishes accent and enhance each track and ultimately make for a homegrown recording that many bigger bands could learn a thing or two from.
With three LPs in as many years, a split with Austin up-and-comers Marmalakes dropping later this month, and a fourth full-length planned for later this year, there is no stopping The Sour Notes and I couldn’t be more pleased for that fact. The only thing I could hope for is that more people check out The Sour Notes and get these guys the recognition they deserve both in and outside of Austin in 2012 and beyond.
Key Tracks: Hot Pink Flares, As Crude as Watercolor, Particularly Shrill
Last Looks by The Sour Notes
Spotify: The Sour Notes – Last Looks
Band Website: www.thesournotes.com
- Brian J. Audette, Plenty For All
Deli sponsored NYE show - 9 Austin bands: Ringo DeathStarr, TV Torso, The Sour Notes + more (12/2011)
[+ Show ]
If you live in or around Austin and during New Year's Eve celebrations you intend to escape that ubi...If you live in or around Austin and during New Year's Eve celebrations you intend to escape that ubiquitous aural cheese also known as "generic party music," we recommend you spend the last few hours of 2011 at the Deli sponsored, 3 stage indie show at Cheer Up Charlie, featuring 9 indie Austin based artists, including Ringo DeathStarr, TV Torso, and The Sour Notes. In the best indie/DIY tradition, tickets are very affordable (only $5) and quite unbelievably also include free champagne for a proper year end toast.
Check out all the bands playing in the compilation embedded below. And may 2012 be a very indie year indeed!
- The Deli Austin
Best of 2011: Austin Music (12/2011)
[+ Show ]
I cannot recall a single calendar year in which Austin was privy to a deep well of varied, talented ...I cannot recall a single calendar year in which Austin was privy to a deep well of varied, talented musicians. If 2011 was not the best year for our local, independent music scene here in Austin, it came damn close.
What I came to appreciate the most about the independent music scene here in Austin is how supportive the bands are of each other. (I have played in enough bands to know how cutthroat local music scenes can be.) Even though most of the bands that appear on the list below do not necessarily sound all that similar to each other, most of them are friends and they often play on the same bills.
Now, about this list… So, to qualify for this list, the artist/band must be based in Austin and their album had to be released in 2011. From there, I chose the ten albums that I have enjoyed listening to the most. I intentionally use the word “favorite” rather than “best” because I really hate to pit albums against each other in that manner; that is also the reason I am opting for an alphabetical listing rather than a numerical ranking. It is also worth noting that this list features only four bands (The Lovely Sparrows, Ringo Deathstarr, The Sour Notes and The Wooden Birds) whom I had heard of prior to January 2011; the other six bands are brand spanking new to me.
If you have been following my weekly posts, you can probably close your eyes and guess who made this list. (Hint: I have featured most of them in previous posts.) If your eyes are still open, here is an alphabetical listing my ten favorite albums released by Austin-based artists in 2011.
Black Joe Lewis and the Honey Bears – Scandalous
Elaine Greer – Annotations
Gold Beach – Habibti
Little Lo – A Poison Tree
The Lovely Sparrows – Tall Cedars of Lebanon
Marmalakes – Even Clothed
Mother Falcon – Alhambra
Ringo Deathstarr – Colour Trip
The Sour Notes – Last Looks
The Wooden Birds – Two Matchsticks
- Don Simpson, Adobe Airstream
Top 50 Austin Songs of 2011 (12/2011)
[+ Show ]
#32 - Hot Pink Flares by The Sour Notes Last Looks was an awesome album, and we were torn between...#32 - Hot Pink Flares by The Sour Notes
Last Looks was an awesome album, and we were torn between recognizing this song or the emotional ballad “The Moment You Feel It.” But “Hot Pink Flares” rocks that much harder, while not sacrificing any of the emotional punch. When you hear the wailing strings under the “aaahhh” chorus midway through the song, it’s hard not to feel something stirring in your heart. The song ably balances the vocals between Jared Boulanger and (who I can only assume is) Elaine Greer, while the band shifts to arpeggiated ballad from grand alt-pop rocker. “Hot Pink Flares” is a journey that never feels overwrought through its grandeur.
Side One, Track One: Year End List (12/2011)
[+ Show ]
The Sour Notes: Their latest album, Last Looks, quickly got its hooks into me. Well written, infect...The Sour Notes: Their latest album, Last Looks, quickly got its hooks into me. Well written, infectious tunes with an eclectic range of sounds. It's much more than indie pop. I love the killer horn section in Big Dreams.
- Jennifer Leduc, Side One Track One
Do512's 35 Most Popular Austin Bands of 2011 (12/2011)
[+ Show ]
#23 - The Sour Notes The Sour Notes orchestrate a pop sound with heavy doses of synth, strings, a...#23 - The Sour Notes
The Sour Notes orchestrate a pop sound with heavy doses of synth, strings, and guitar. The band often borrows players from Mother Falcon (#24 band on our list) to add another layer of lush to their music.
Top 15 Texas Albums of 2011 (12/2011)
[+ Show ]
12. The Sour Notes – Last Looks This little group just keeps getting better and better with time....12. The Sour Notes – Last Looks
This little group just keeps getting better and better with time. Several years into their career in Austin, the band keeps putting out song after album after song, never really seeming to falter. This year, they seemed to hit their stride, releasing this excellent gem amidst a busy schedule on the road and in the real world. If you’re looking for quality tracks that take hold of you, then burst and bloom, you’ll want to start here.
- Ryan Ray, Austin Town Hall
Future Islands, Ed Schrader’s Music Beat, and The Sour Notes at The Mohawk (11/2011)
[+ Show ]
Last Tuesday, a friend invited me to go to a show at The Mohawk featuring Future Islands with Ed Sch...Last Tuesday, a friend invited me to go to a show at The Mohawk featuring Future Islands with Ed Schrader’s Music Beat and The Sour Notes (Knifight was also there, but we missed ‘em). Now, I had never heard any of these bands and I’ll be the first to admit my own biases; I’ve never really been big into ‘hip’ music like this, the majority of what I listen to comes from more traditional, acoustic instruments. I’ve always had to defend the majority of my musical affection to my sister who goes to art school — who also happens to be insanely jealous that I went to this show. But this isn’t to say that I’m stuck in my ways, or close-minded in the least.
The Sour Notes were up first, there was something so familiar and real about them. Teetering between rough and velvety smooth female refrains with plenty of blues riffs, power chords and masculine edge. Ed Schrader’s Music Beat were next, which consisted of two guys, a tom-tom drum, and bass. A lot of screaming ensued. The stage was ornamented by industrial lights they purchased from Home-Depot that they used for dramatic effect. For me, it conjured up images of monks chanting in a Gregorian fashion except way angrier, I almost get the screaming thing… almost.
When Future Islands came out they appeared to be three archetypical substitute teachers… but then out came the edgy synth-pop that they’re becoming more and more well-known for. The lead singer got way more into his performance than anyone else I’ve ever seen, interpretive dancing and sweating buckets on the small stage with the most intense expressions. The entire place went absolutely bananas for them.
Basically, I threw myself out of my comfort-zone, and ended up diggin’ it. It was my first time at the Mohawk and it had a very distinct vibe that even my usually oblivious self could identify immediately. I met some awesome people and listened to some strange new tunes, I’d count it as a productive Tuesday night.
Transmission Entertainment Weekly Mojo: The Sour Notes at The Mohawk (10/2011)
[+ Show ]
Hey, rock and rollers—Mojo here with Transmission Entertainment for your weekly dose of what thrills...Hey, rock and rollers—Mojo here with Transmission Entertainment for your weekly dose of what thrills me from our calendar! There’s a show tonight at The Mohawk that you should know about. If you’re a Mohawk frequenter (or you just roll with our homegirl, Fiesta), it’s possible that you’ve already seen this band, but if you haven’t, it’s imperative that you check out The Sour Notes right this minute. These kids are not only the delight to work with that every music industry head hauncho hopes for, they’re fresh and transformative for their genre. They’re recently back from NYC, where they performed in the (incidentally longest-named showcase EVER) KXSC/KXLU/KVRX/KTRU Official CMJ 2011 College Radio Showcase, so we’re stoked to welcome them back to ATX! The band was also a SXSW showcasing act as well, and they’ve opened up for bands like We Are Scientists, so they’ve certainly got plenty of street cred. If you need more convincing, give The Sour Notes’ ALBUMS a once over, with particular attention to their most recent record, “Last Looks,” which is their most cohesive effort, boasting thoughtfully wandering jams and delightfully unexpected changes, all held together by a driving pop sensibility.
If you woke up this morning thinking Ugghhh, Tuesdaaayyy just come to this show and feel better about the world!
If you’ve got an affinity for catchy two-and-a-half minute songs, The Sour Notes will not disappoint! Their tendency to hit it and quit it, as it were, makes for a refreshing live set that really keeps you on your toes. As a bass player, I have to pay my respects; the rhythm players are prototypically feely and really facilitate the continuity of the songs, holding it down while synth, violin and plenty of distorted guitars explore the wild blue yonder. The songs that are sticking with me presently are “Hot Pink Flares,” “The Moment You Feel It,” and “Big Dreams,” which you can hear in the YouTube video below. Some older tracks I dig include “It’s Easier to be a Hypocrite,” “Psychological Thriller,” and “Beyond Recognition.” Doors are tonight at 9pm and the cover is $6 (minors $8), so there’s pretty much no excuse not to show up for a bit! Plus, if you haven’t heard Shakey Graves, you definitely want to be there to see him kick off the night because he’s an obscenely great musician. Let’s take Tuesdays to the next level!
- Transmission Entertainment
Austin Music Minute: The Sour Notes Play Tonight at The Mohawk (10/2011)
[+ Show ]
The last time I’d checked in with Austin band The Sour Notes was last week, via an email from frontm...The last time I’d checked in with Austin band The Sour Notes was last week, via an email from frontman Jared Boulanger. They were just returning from the CMJ Music Marathon & Film Festival in New York City, and had stopped briefly in Alabama for a quick break.
Nobody in the band could afford to take any more time off from their day jobs for touring, since they had just toured for an extended period during the summer, so they drove non-stop from Austin to New York City, with only a brief stint in Tennessee for a show beforehand. The long hours on the road are exhausting, but Boulanger and the rest of the band were thrilled with the opportunity.
This is the second time The Sour Notes were invited to the fest. CMJ teamed up with college radio stations from across the country to put on a special showcase at Shea Stadium (UT student-run station KVRX was one of the participating stations).
The Sour Notes recently formed a new DIY collective with fellow Austin band Marmalakes, called No Play Music, through which both are collaborating on a split 7-inch vinyl, Wait//White – White\\Wait. Meanwhile, the band is working on their upcoming album, Do What May, due for release next year.
The Sour Notes are playing a show tonight at the Mohawk, 912 Red River, on the inside stage. The line-up includes songwriter Alejandro Rose-Garcia‘s project Shakey Graves, New Orleans-based artist Alexis Marceaux & The Samurai, and new local band Gold Spine. Doors open at 9 p.m.
- Laurie Gallardo, KUT 90.5 FM
Austin Independent Music Noise: The Sour Notes (8/2011)
[+ Show ]
Don't let the name they chose, The Sour Notes, keep you away from their music. It sure hasn't stoppe...Don't let the name they chose, The Sour Notes, keep you away from their music. It sure hasn't stopped anyone else.
Here at Austin Independent Music we typically don't cover bands you've heard of, but this band you've heard about already. Probably - their website's Press page has a litany of links to reviews and other coverage. In the midst of our rummaging about the social media-ized world, we couldn't help but bump up against them, virtually, and be impressed: They're not like us, they're actually nice people.
Boulanger started the group in Houston back in '08, but then moved it here, where he lured Page and some other folks to the project, whereupon they commenced to record and gig and carve fans out of the Austin populace and realms beyond. The staff has undergone the inevitable changes, with Travis Hackett, Brandi Dipietro, Kelly DeWitt, Erin Mikulenka, and Taylor Steinberg moving in and moving on. But 2010 saw the formation of the band as you see 'em here.
They sit snugly in the "Alternative Indie Pop" category, and their sound is guitars + singing + solid rhythm + occasional vocal harmonies + occasional keyboards, so the designation sticks. But spend some time going through their recordings and you'll find a pattern of too-diverse-for-pop, too-bold-for-alternative, too-experimental-for-the-labels. If you're determined not to like them, just say they are too audaciously inventive.
There are 6 releases in The Sour Notes' discography (that we know about), with 2010's "It's Not Gonna Be Pretty" getting mucho kudos. You've got to check out track 1, with it's easy-to-love melodic construction and harmonies.
They've just gotten back into town from their summer tour (Houston, Denton, Chicago, New York, Atlanta, etc), and were the band de jour at the Paper Cuts showcase hosted by The Chronicle.
You might have missed them before, but you've got a chance to catch them at the Ditch The Fest Fest on September 17th, or the week after (9/25/11) at the Pecan Street Festival (4PM, Trinity Stage). After that, they've booked shows at the Mohawk, the Highball, Frank, and other venues we're not privy to at this point. You can make it to one of these shows, and you should.
- Scott E. Osborne, Austin Independent Music
The Moment You Feel It: Talking Shop with the Sour Notes (8/2011)
[+ Show ]
Leaning back in his chair at the Black Sheep Lodge, Jared Boulanger reflected on the meaning behind ...Leaning back in his chair at the Black Sheep Lodge, Jared Boulanger reflected on the meaning behind the title of his band's most recent LP, February's Last Looks.
"Before you make a big change in your life, where you are currently, you always take a last look," says the lead singer and songwriter of the recently surging Sour Notes. "Whether it's moving apartments or jumping into a swimming pool: Where you are currently, you always take a last look."
In many ways, Boulanger and his band have spent the better part of this year taking their last looks. Born as a collaborative effort between Boulanger and fellow guitarist Chris Page in 2008, The Sour Notes have always teetered in band purgatory: hailed by the press but without the massively devoted fan base that all bands crave.
"It's been a slow rise," admits Boulanger. "We'll get a lot of favorable reviews, but at the same time, one of the downfalls is that when people hear about us they think that we're around and that they can hear us any time."
Expect that to change in the coming months. With Last Looks, the band's sixth album in only three years, The Sour Notes have put together their most comprehensive, complex, and cohesive effort to date. Boulanger considers the album to be his favorite of the bunch, and likely his favorite that The Sour Notes will record in their time making music together.
"This album has the best songs; no synths, just standard rock and roll. It's got a different sound [than the previous albums], something much more organic."
Still, despite his affinity for the project, it's safe to say that Boulanger's last look came quite shortly after its release. With the album still hot off the presses, The Sour Notes quickly got started on a follow-up, Do What May, set for release later this year. Boulanger says the band's seventh album will finally round out the wealth of material he'd accumulated in his songbook over the past few years.
Piled on top of their oncoming adventure into the unknown songwriting abyss, The Sour Notes have a lot to be excited about, and Boulanger expects this next year to be one of either productivity or chaos. Whichever of the two comes to form, Boulanger's confident that the longstanding revolving door that is The Sour Notes' membership has finally settled on a lineup he thinks can prosper. In fact, things are going so well between the band that all five members - Boulanger, Page, drummer Andrew Stevens, keyboardist Elaine Greer, and bassist Amarah Ulghani - are set to move into a house together. They'll share a roof and piece together new material in their off hours.
"We don't ever stop," says Boulanger. "All of us have nine-to-fives, and some of us work three jobs. All the show money goes towards the band. It's really what all of us want to do. Where the band is right now just feels right. This band has never felt right to me, but now with this group of people it finally does."
[The Sour Notes' next show will be August 16, 7pm at the Palm Door for The Austin Chronicle’s Paper Cuts series. For more information and to see where you can purchase Last Looks, visit www.thesournotes.com.]
- Andrew Bennett, Austin Music Weekly
Show Preview: The Sour Notes at The Palm Door (8/2011)
[+ Show ]
Those looking for good times to be had should head on over the The Palm Door on Tuesday night for a ...Those looking for good times to be had should head on over the The Palm Door on Tuesday night for a show by local kids the Sour Notes brought to you by Austin Chronicle. The show features a ton of free goodies brought to you by Tito’s Vodka, Dos Equis, Neuro, and Opal Devines. With some great music, free food, and a free door fee, I see no reason why you wouldn’t want to make it out to this show/party.
- Ryan Ray, Austin Town Hall
The Sour Notes on "All New Yorks A Venue" series (8/2011)
[+ Show ]
Jump into a day in the life of the Sour Notes and prepare for a little humor a lot of music. They re...Jump into a day in the life of the Sour Notes and prepare for a little humor a lot of music. They recently added a live performance video to their website, as a part of the YouTube collection All New York?s A Venue. The new video is surprisingly enchanting for a live performance filmed for YouTube; their full sound and mystifying harmony is breathtaking from the start. Yet, they still exude a feeling of comfort?after all, they?re sitting in someone?s living room, and you?re along for the ride. Take a look.
- The Music Playground
Song of the Day – The Sour Notes: “Particularly Shrill” (7/2011)
[+ Show ]
“Sparkly, vibrant pop from the South” is how the Sour Notes describe themselves. The Austin quintet ...“Sparkly, vibrant pop from the South” is how the Sour Notes describe themselves. The Austin quintet certainly fills all those descriptors: their latest album, Last Looks, is dreamy in all the right places but with a sly edge that’s refreshing to hear from a pop band.
Originating as a solo project for Jared Boulanger, the Sour Notes became a full-band effort after his move from Houston in 2008. Since then, the group has released four albums in three years, and each one has shown subtle stylistic shifts. Past releases have found the band experimenting with electronics or straight-ahead psych-rock, but unifying the disparate sounds is Boulanger’s brainy songwriting and the band’s solid melodic chops. New LP Last Looks is as varying as ever, even drawing on the talents of several members of Mother Falcon to flesh out some of the more orchestral numbers.
The Sour Notes just wrapped up a small East Coast tour, arriving back in Austin over the weekend (they performed last Friday at the Cactus Cafe). Take a listen to this particularly good cut from Last Looks:“Particularly Shrill,” by the Sour Notes.
- Art Levy, KUT Austin
The Sour Notes, Elaine Greer @ Cactus Cafe (7/2011)
[+ Show ]
Just because Elaine Greer has a new solo CD out doesn’t mean the Sour Notes are on hiatus without he...Just because Elaine Greer has a new solo CD out doesn’t mean the Sour Notes are on hiatus without her. Instead, she’s both supporting and headlining, highlighting the effervescent pop of her Annotations disc while also gilding the Sour Notes’ most recent Last Looks, layers of lush melodies with muscle and character. No need to start a game of where’s Waldo & the Naturals – they’re opening.
- Margaret Moser, Austin Chronicle
This weekend’s non-Animal Collective shows (7/2011)
[+ Show ]
The Sour Notes, Venice is Sinking, Lille, Elaine Greer - Friday, July 8th – Highland Inn Ballroom ...The Sour Notes, Venice is Sinking, Lille, Elaine Greer - Friday, July 8th – Highland Inn Ballroom
Austin’s The Sour Notes will be in town to support Last Looks, their recently released fourth full length. The self-released album is packed with expressive pop songs built on male/female vocals, bright keyboards, and nervy DIY energy. Sometimes the guitars swoon; at others they chug along with a tense folk-punk momentum. The dependably wonderful Venice is Sinking opens, along with Lille and Elaine Greer.
- Little Advances
Artist of the Week INTERVIEW: The Sour Notes Are Not Going To Save The World, It Seems (7/2011)
[+ Show ]
The Sour Notes are a quirky, exciting, thoughtful indie-rock group that makes interesting, layered m...The Sour Notes are a quirky, exciting, thoughtful indie-rock group that makes interesting, layered music and, as we’ve been told, are adept in concert. They’re also, for the most part, Austinites. Generally, that’d be reason enough for us to point the Artist of the Week starship in the opposite direction.
But that “for the most part” thing, that qualifier is there because super-talented former Houstonians Jared Boulanger (who founded the Sour Notes as a solo project while still here) and Elaine Greer are in the band, and as Moses foretold*: Thou shalt not ignoreth bands that Elaineth Greereth doth partake in.
*Moses might not have actually foretold that. It’s been a bit since we’ve been to church. He probably did, though. Who really knows?
So we called up The Sour Notes, who play at Fitzgerald’s Sunday, as they drove into New York to bother them for a few minutes about Neil Young, the Devil and Lil’ Flip. Keep it moving.
Rocks Off: First up, tell everyone everything they need to know about The Sour Notes in exactly six words.
The Sour Notes: Sparkly, vibrant pop from the South.
RO: If you played your Neil Young “Harvest Moon” cover for Neil Young, would he be pissed or amped with what you guys did to it?
TSN: He would probably not recognize it for the first four minutes, but he would probably think there was some life breathed into it after that.
RO: How’d you all end up on that song?
TSN: We were asked to play it at a tribute show in Austin with a bunch of other bands. We had like three months to work on it. We wanted to do something different. That one offered the most opportunity to change it up. We wanted to do something space rock-y. Plus, we changed all the cords, which we were really proud of.
RO: Better question: Is Neil Young pissed or amped with Jared stealing his haircut?
TSN: [laughs] He grew it just for the cover. He says he wanted to really get into the spirit of Neil Young.
RO: You know what song we really like? “Never Mix, Never Worry.” We guess that’s not really a question, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t need to be said.
TSN: Thanks. That song is actually based on Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf*.
*Generally, we would’ve followed up on this with something clever, but we have no idea who Virginia Woolf is or why anyone would be afraid of her, so we just acted like it didn’t get said. It’s the same thing we do when one of our sons asks us a question we don’t know the answer to, like “Where is my red car?” or “What’s the capital of California?”
RO: Let’s say the rapture was here and you guys, the sparkly, vibrant pop rockers from the South, were tasked with convincing the Devil not to upend everything entirely. He tells you that you can play him one song, and if it’s good enough, he’ll hold off on destroying humanity -something about music taming the beast or whatever. What song do you pick?
TSN: Hmmm… we’re going to play “Last Looks.”
TSN: Because it’s the end and we’re not gonna save anyone.
RO: What about if you could pick any song in all of music?
TSN: We wanna say “We Are the World.” The other one we might pick is “Don’t Stop Believin’.”
RO: Oh, man. The Devil is definitely a Journey fan. You should go with that one. How are you all able to pump out so much music? I mean, it seems like there’s a new tape each week. You guys are like indie-rock’s Lil Flip.
TSN: We just kind of do this stuff everyday. It’s the only thing we want to do. We’re not getting any younger so we want to do as much as possible. It’s a point of pride for the band to do as much as possible. It’s something that all of our efforts go into. There’s no point in doing it if you’re not going to put out six albums. [laughs]
RO: Anything you want to make sure gets mentioned?
TSN: We’re having a great time on tour. We’re touring with Elaine’s band, so we’re all in the van together being smelly. We haven’t showered in three days. We’re hard in the game [laughs]. And we’re excited about our Houston show.
The Sour Notes play Sunday at Fitzgerald’s downstairs with Ancient Cat Society (a three-piece folk group made from pieces of Buxton), Elaine Greer and her five-piece band and Austin’s Marmalakes. Follow The Sour Notes on Twitter at @thesournotes.
- Shea Serrano, Houston Press
The Basement Tapes: The Sour Notes (6/2011)
[+ Show ]
Local indie American band The Sour Notes are touring the country this summer to promote their latest...Local indie American band The Sour Notes are touring the country this summer to promote their latest album, Last Looks. Laced with singer-guitarist Jared Boulanger’s low-fi voice and somber lyrics, Last Looks is the middle ground between what the band is best known for (catchy bridges and female vocals) and inspirations from collaborations with fellow local artists, such as Mother Falcon. The band will be playing at keyboardist Elaine Greer’s release party for her new album, Annotations, tonight at Spider House.
The Daily Texan spoke with the band during Basement Tapes about their upcoming tour, inspiration behind Last Looks and the ideal world of music.
Harvest Moon (Neil Young Cover) by thesournotes
Daily Texan: You were mentioning the disaster of your last tour when there was no air conditioning — have you prepared anything beforehand for this upcoming tour?
Jared Boulanger: I guess we’re gonna have a tour meeting in the coming week and talk about everyone’s expectations of the tour.
DT: What do you think is going to be the highlight of that meeting?
JB: It’s probably not going to be pleasant.
Elaine Greer: No farting in the van.
JB: Yes, no farting in the van, which actually, someone in the band has a problem with. And also the shower thing. After you play a show and you get paid and out of the venue at 2 a.m., there’s not time for eight people to take showers and go to bed, so half of the band is going to take showers at night and half of the band is going to take showers in the morning.
DT: [laughs] So the band is showcasing the latest album on tour. What was the inspiration behind Last Looks?
JB: Last Looks is a scene from “Kill Bill: Vol. 2” where David Carradine is seeing Uma Thurman at their wedding dress rehearsal and she goes outside and she sees him sitting down playing his flute and she’s really shocked and scared because she thinks something’s about to go down and she’s like, “What are you doing here?” And he’s like, “Last looks, I guess.” That whole scene, that five minutes of black and white footage, is I think some of the best dialogue in the last eight or 10 years of filmmaking, for sure. The whole scene, you hold your breath through it and that’s the theme behind Last Looks. Not a massacre so much, but I really like how cool that scene is.
DT: How do the songs correlate to that moment?
JB: They actually don’t correlate that much, but the whole album has a theme. Like, there is only one synthesizer in the entire album, which is different from our other albums. And Mother Falcon played on all of the songs. They did string arrangements and horns and stuff like that, so it has a really different feeling than our other albums, especially with the synth parts. And Chris and I got a lot more into playing guitar on this album.
DT: So what is the theme, then?
JB: It’s the stripped-down rock album, I think. Just the time and place the band was in at the time and us making friends with Mother Falcon while we were recording just kind of defined the sound of the album. A lot of the other albums have direct correlation to scenes from movies and stuff like that. But for this one I can tell you a lot of the songs, I don’t know what I was thinking at the time — they just came about really fast. A lot of the songs do have to do with my distaste with the way the music industry is going; bands that are rising to the top and bands that are falling to the underground.
DT: In your perfect world, what would music be like and what would artists do?
JB: As this album was coming about, garage rock was really getting a lot of attention. Garage rock and I guess you would call it chill wave. Those two genres were skyrocketing to the top. And there are a lot of bands that I like that are really spaced out and ethereal, with girl vocals that are drowned in reverbs and there’s just only synths and drum machines and I like that stuff. One of my favorite albums from last year was that Beach House album Teen Dream and I think that album was amazing — but I wouldn’t consider it chill wave or anything.
DT: You said “Hot Pink Flare” summarizes the whole album and is your favorite song?
JB: I would say the lyrics on that song… even the opening line, “How quickly you confuse the thought,” that’s sort of me talking to a listener of music and being like, “You don’t know what you’re listening to, you’re confused.” Like, you are like, “Yeah! This is great,” but you haven’t asked yourself why it’s great. That song starts like that, with a little bit of hatred, and then ends with “this lonely little life is all you really deserve.”
DT: So did you write the lyrics yourself or was it a collaboration?
JB: I guess most of the lyrics came from when I was unemployed and had nothing to do. I couldn’t find a job for six months. As I was writing these lyrics I kind of had nothing to do but wake up and do that. I just sat around a lot and watched movies and it came to me.
- Julie Tran, The Daily Texan
Show Spotlight: The Sour Notes (6/2011)
[+ Show ]
The Sour Notes are a hard working, talented group that has churned out a few releases, each improvin...The Sour Notes are a hard working, talented group that has churned out a few releases, each improving upon the last. They’re mostly known as an indie pop act that’s drawn comparisons to the Shins and the New Pornographers, but the Sour Notes are much more than your standard indie band. Their sound is ever evolving, transforming, and surprising listeners. I arrived late to their bandwagon, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed exploring their discography, especially their latest record, Last Looks. Plus, lead singer Jared Boulanger has the most glorious mustache in Austin, which has to count for something.
- Dan Corbin, Side One Track One
The Sour Notes at NXNE (6/2011)
[+ Show ]
Austin band the Sour Notes, who return from tour tomorrow night with a show at the Cactus Cafe, made...Austin band the Sour Notes, who return from tour tomorrow night with a show at the Cactus Cafe, made a video diary of their experience at NXNE 2011 in Toronto. It kind of looks like SXSW with less drunk people: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7c5khMQLvg.
- Peter Mongilo, Austin American Statesman
Free Press Summer Fest preview: The Sour Notes (6/2011)
[+ Show ]
Before heading out for a summer tour in support of its latest album, the infectious Last Looks–which...Before heading out for a summer tour in support of its latest album, the infectious Last Looks–which you can stream here–Austin’s The Sour Notes plays this weekend’s Free Press Summer Fest, which is held on the edge of downtown in Eleanor Tinsley Park.
The Sour Notes plays Free Press Summer Fest this Saturday (6.4.11) at 6:45pm on the Warehouse Live stage.
The band will be touring with Houston musician Elaine Greer, who will be promoting her new album, Annotations.
Buy passes to Summer Fest at www.freepresssummerfest.com.
- David A. Cobb, Houston Calling
Free Press Summerfest 2011 Rundown, Pt. 1: The Sour Notes (6/2011)
[+ Show ]
I caught these Austin/ex-Houston folks at last year’s Summerfest, and I have to say, they ended up b...I caught these Austin/ex-Houston folks at last year’s Summerfest, and I have to say, they ended up being one of the best bands I caught throughout the festival. I’d seen them previously at The Mink with just three members, playing subdued, melancholy-yet-melodic, electronics-heavy indie-pop, so I wasn’t expecting the full-on indie-rock roar they cut loose with up on the stage. Hell, I didn’t even realize it was the same damn band ’til partway through their set. Since then I’ve been able to check out their most recent full-length, Last Looks, and was extremely impressed — they come near to the New Pornographers in terms of being able to stack layer upon layer of lush, power-pop-y sound to create these damn-near-perfect gems of songs. They throw in everything but the kitchen sink, and holy crap, it works.
[The Sour Notes play at 6:45PM on Sat., June 4th, at the Warehouse Live Stage.]
- Jeremy Hart, Space City Rock
Texas Platters: The Sour Notes - Last Looks REVIEW (4/2011)
[+ Show ]
The Sour Notes could be the indie equivalent of the Little Engine That Could. Over the past two year...The Sour Notes could be the indie equivalent of the Little Engine That Could. Over the past two years, the local pop outfit has issued a relentless array of full-length releases and singles, each slowly but surely gaining momentum behind frontman Jared Boulanger's cinematic lyricism and Shinsian sensibilities. Fourth LP Last Looks is a grand pop album that manages to expand in all directions at once. Like 2009's Received in Bitterness, guitarist Chris Page lends serious edge to heavy, sinister opener "Nothing's More Contagious Than Evil" and chaser "Hot Pink Flares," which closes with a slow, Phil Spector-influenced swoon behind keyboardist Kelly DeWitt's crystalline vocals. The Wall of Sound treatment continues in the buoyant flourish of "Big Dreams," which, like most of Last Looks, gets embellished with horns and strings courtesy of Mother Falcon. Side two plays out impressively as a minisuite, "More Contour" building instrumentally to the Pinkerton-esque title track. It's proof the Sour Notes keep moving up the proverbial mountain.
- Austin Powell, Austin Chronicle
New Music From Sour Notes (2/2011)
[+ Show ]
The Sour Notes have slowly become one of the most talked about bands in Austin as they continue to p...The Sour Notes have slowly become one of the most talked about bands in Austin as they continue to pump out solid tunes and play the local scene. Well now the guys are prepping the release of their upcoming album Last Looks on February 17th with a release show at the Mohawk, which we’ll tell you more about closer to the date. For now we’d like to share this new song with you called “Hot Pink Flares”. The catchy new number recently appeared on a 7? self-released by the Sour Notes and will also be track #2 on the new album. Also for a limited time, the band is offering up their entire discography for free download on their bandcamp page. Keep up the rock guys.
- Ryan Ray, Austin Town Hall
The Sour Notes, Missions, and For Hours and Ours @ The Mohawk (2/2011)
[+ Show ]
Three local bands are teaming up for a show and official CD release (The Sour Notes, “Last Looks”) ...Three local bands are teaming up for a show and official CD release (The Sour Notes, “Last Looks”) that is going to be out of control fun. These kids, though young they may be, know how to put on a killer show. Try to find a bad review on any of the these groups and you will be hard pressed. They’ve got local fans ready to take a bullet for them especially if it means jumping on the stage with the band. These bands and their generation X-handed fans are ready to rock out and party hard. February 17th, join The Sour Notes, Missions and For Ours and Hours at Mohawk for a show that despite their young age is going to be BIG and bad, in a good way.
Just to give you a taste of what these groups have in store here’s what other people are saying about them: The Sour Notes, perhaps not so aptly named, are revered as an eclectic quartet who “put out consistently catchy pop-rock that manages to be at once quirky and accessible”. They will be accompanied by the strings of Mother Falcon who will add a poppy orchestral texture to their already great sound. Missions “takes the best part of the elite and respected 80's new wave bands” such as Tubeway Army, Human League, New Order and adds layers upon layers of new electronic technology. Last but not least, For Ours and Hours, will quite literally get everyone up off their feet and quite possibly on the stage. This “high-energy, anthemic, and inclusive, the five-piece” emulates the sounds of Cap’n Jazz, Fugazi, Rites of Spring.
Don’t say we didn’t tell you you’re going to be missing out if you stay home. Click “I like it” for the chance to win two free tickets.
- Kristen Owen, Do512
Stream the Sour Notes New “Last Looks” LP (2/2011)
[+ Show ]
Next week the Sour Notes will be releasing their fourth LP (in as many years!), titled Last Looks. W...Next week the Sour Notes will be releasing their fourth LP (in as many years!), titled Last Looks. We’ve been following, and fans of, the quintet over that time, with the band proving to be impressively aggressive in their evolution. Last Looks, which was actually recorded on the heels of last year’s It’s Not Gonna Be Pretty, was held onto for release until now as the band upped their touring profile, and we’re excited to finally get to hear their new material and share it with you via the streams they’ve offered up below. The quintet now features drummer Taylor Steinberg, pianist Kelly DeWitt and bassist Amarah Ulghani joining founding Notes Chris Page and Jared Boulanger, but perhaps even more exciting is the additional strings and brass added across Last Looks courtesy of Mother Falcon, who will be joining the Sour Notes live for the CD release show next Thursday at the Mohawk. Also on the bill are For Hours And Hours and Missions. If you can’t wait until then to get a taste of the band’s latest sound, you can catch them tomorrow, February 12, as they participate in the free “Rehearsal at the Astoria” series at Atrhouse, and wet your palette with the full album stream of Last Looks below.
- Doug Freeman, Austin Sound
CMJ Sonicbids Spotlight: The Sour Notes (1/2011)
[+ Show ]
For an unsigned band based in Austin, TX, the Sour Notes has big aspirations for its music. Aside fr...For an unsigned band based in Austin, TX, the Sour Notes has big aspirations for its music. Aside from having five releases in a little over three years, the release show for its fourth full-length album (that the band is currently seeking funding for via Kickstarter) is going to include Mother Falcon, a 20-piece orchestra, in the biggest event the group has ever attempted.
“It’s gonna be the closest thing to Spiritualized as I can get,” explains lead singer/guitarist Jared Paul Boulanger to CMJ, who counts the UK band as one of his influences along with Elliott Smith and Radiohead. The group’s newest album, Last Looks, takes its name from a line in Kill Bill Vol. Two, and isn’t the first display of Boulanger’s love for cinema.
“I used to be a manager of an indie movie theater, so I used to watch a lot of ’50s and ’60s movies,” said Boulanger. “Sometimes, in my head, I would just kind of score certain scenes of the movie.” Having moved to Austin on his own three years ago, Boulanger spent most of his time writing and recording songs until he created a full catalog. Now with the Sour Notes, he’s trying to catch up on all the material.
“Our music might sound really poppy and catchy, but there’s definitely a really trippy, psychedelic theme,” said Boulanger. Most of the group’s songs don’t exceed three minutes, but each takes unexpected turns in hopes of presenting unconventional music in a pop setting. Keeping an open mind in terms of style, the Sour Notes have incorporated elements of ’50s doo wop, ’60s surf themes, and have covered other artists such as ’90s punk band Jawbreaker and pop superstar Beyonce.
Sharing stages with We Are Scientists, Daniel Johnston (during his only show in Austin), Marnie Stern and High Places, the Sour Notes has begun to build its touring reputation on the brink of its newest release due out in February. Backed by Mother Falcon and its newly revolved cast of characters, Last Looks is a milestone for the band as it departs from using heavy synths and cool sounds for filler, and move onto what Boulanger describes as a more “songwriter-y” sound.
- Brianne Galli, CMJ
The Sour Notes: Release and Tour! (12/2010)
[+ Show ]
Austin sweethearts and Rock Science Radio alumnus, The Sour Notes, are preparing to hit the road on ...Austin sweethearts and Rock Science Radio alumnus, The Sour Notes, are preparing to hit the road on their first tour of 2011! But before they do, they’re releasing a special 7-inch just for you in anticipation of their upcoming full length, Hot Pink Flares, due to drop in February. On this tasty little vinyl is not only an alternate folk version of their tune ‘Psych Thrill’ from their second EP ‘Received in Bitterness’, but also a very rockin’ version of themselves wrapped up in the title track ‘Hot Pink Flares’! This is sure to be a collectors item in no time, so make sure to grab your copy here and grab it fast. And if you order this goody from The Sour Notes via the interwebs, you’ll get a free MP3 of their take on Beyonce’s ‘Halo’! It’s quite fantastic so you’d be silly not to take them up on the offer. Also, if you like what you hear and are thinking to yourself ‘Hey, I’d really like to help these folks pay for their upcoming album pressing!’, well look no further. You can! Just hop on over to their Kickstarter page and donate whatever your little heart desires. Don’t be shy. The season to give is still very much upon us and I know these lads and lasses would appreciate it more than you’d imagine.
We think The Sour Notes are sweet and wonderful and truly believe you should check them out when they hit your town this January. If you’re in Atlanta you’re scoring big! Not only do we get to soak up some live jams from these Texans, but they’ll be sharing a stage with two of our hometown favorites, Tealights and Lille on January 10th at the Earl! We’d all be nutty to miss it and what a fantastic way to start off the new year!
Check the dates below for your hometown and drop by their show to wish them luck and a happy new year! And of course remember to get your copy of the very fresh 7-inch while you’re there! That is if you haven’t already, of course.
Best of luck and safe travels to The Sour Notes and we’ll see you soon!
1/1 – Fayetteville, AR – Smoke and Barrel
1/2 – Carbondale, IL – Tres Hombres
1/3 – Newport, KY – Southgate House
1/4 – Toronto, ON – The Horseshoe Tavern
1/5 – Cambridge, MA – The Middle East
1/6 – TBA
1/7 – Providence, RI – AS220
1/8 – NYC, NY – Bruar Falls
1/9 – TBA
1/10 – Atlanta, GA – The Earl
1/11 – Gainesville, FL – The Atlantic
1/12 – TBA
1/13 – TBA
1/14 – New Orleans, LA – One Eyed Jacks
- Tracey Anderson, We Are Rock Science
MUSIC: The Sour Notes embark on January tour (12/2010)
[+ Show ]
Independent rock bands like The Sour Notes — the kind of rock bands that can make intoxicating, slow...Independent rock bands like The Sour Notes — the kind of rock bands that can make intoxicating, slow-burning jams that carve out your soul — are few and far between.
The Austin-based quintet makes shimmering, brooding indie rock brimming with naked introspection, ecstatic highs, and heartbreaking lows. Frontman Jared Boulanger and keyboardist Kelly DeWitt trade vocal duty — his voice lovesick and soaring, her voice cozy and crushing — anchored by multi-instrumentalist Chris Page, bassist Amarah Ulghani, and drummer Taylor Steinberg.
Their fourth full-length, Last Looks, is set to be released in February, and with a little monetary help from you for their Kickstarter project, you can get in on treats like silk-screened T-shirts, advance downloads, and band buttons.
Below, listen to “Hot Pink Flares”, arguably one of the sexiest and darkest jams out of the group’s catalog yet, and check out the tour dates for a show near you.
The Sour Notes // January 2011 tour
12/31/10 @ Cheer Up Charlies, Austin TX
Tour Kickoff featuring Follow That Bird!, Zorch, Marmalakes, Mermaid Blonde, No Mas Bodas, Missions, Cartright, & Bodytronix
1/1/11 @ Smoke & Barrel Tavern, Fayetteville AR
featuring Messy Sparkles, & NIALL
1/2/11 @ Tres Hombres, Carbondale IL
featuring The Black Forty’s & more
1/3/11 @ Southgate House, Newport KY
featuring Sacred Spirits, The Harlequins, & Shadowraptr
1/4/11 @ Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON
1/5/11 @ Middle East, Boston MA
featuring St. Claire, Eksi Ekso, & Tonybear
1/7/11 @ AS220, Providence RI
featuring Panther Moderns, & Liz Isenberg
1/8/11 @ Bruar Falls, Brooklyn NY
featuring Waking Lights, So L’il, & Glory Girls
1/10/11 @ The Earl, Atlanta GA
featuring Lille & Tealights
1/11/11 @ The Atlantic, Gainesville FL
featuring Hear Hums, Boswellians & Far Away Plane
1/14/11 @ One Eyed Jack’s, New Orleans LA
featuring Lovie Dovies, Smiley with a Knife, & Royal Teeth
- Francisco Marin, Sick of the Radio
New Year’s Steez (12/2010)
[+ Show ]
New Year’s Eve in Austin has a lot of options if you are wanting get out and ring in midnight in st...New Year’s Eve in Austin has a lot of options if you are wanting get out and ring in midnight in style. If you see me I’ll be making ‘Balloon Boy’ jokes… poorly. “How ABOUT that 2010 we just had- am I right- or am I right?!”
There is music from every decade at the Highball, the Sword is at the Mohawk, NASA at Seaholm and there is a crazy-big show on the East Side.Big, as in 10 bands and for free Big. New Years Eve at Cheer Up Charlies will be celebrating the arrival of 2011, but also the birthday of the owner, and perhaps most excitingly- the release of a new 7inch from local pop genre pushers the Sour Notes. Side-A will be the first single off their next long player album featuring strings performed by Austin’s U21 torchbearers Mother Falcon and Side-B is an acoustic take on one of their “hits.” The design and packaging is being handled by the creative folks over at Underbelly Printing. If you can’t wait and order the 7-inch NOW, you will receive a free bonus mp3 of The Sour Notes covering Beyonce’s Halo – that is one of her “hits.”
The Sour Notes don’t have a gimmick- they just make solidly innovative pop songs. The songs can sometime be so intricate- they seem mellowly simple. That’s what makes good clean pop. If nothing else they are easily one of the Austin acts to keep an eye on in 2011- a marriage of poetic love songs and love gone wrong songs resulting in earnest angst & sentiment.
If that rant doesn’t do the trick for you – how about the promise of free food, booze and prizes?
Here is the breakdown:
FRONT STAGE (OUTSIDE):
1115-12am Follow That Bird!
1030-1100 the Sour Notes
900-930 cari p. (of FANCY FEAST & BELAIRE!)
BACK STAGE (OUTSIDE):
1100-12am CARTRIGHT vs. ZORCH - -
900-945 Mermaid Blonde
1am No Mas Bodas
12am The Mole People
VID KIDZ are doing projections all night long- don’t come or even click that link if you suffer from epilepsy.
It will be about 20 degrees out, and the swarm of youth will still be wearing jorts. Some might even have pairs of trill 1950’s glasses like those pictured above.
Download MP3s from all of the artists playing from a Soundcloud playlist HERE!
What else is happening this New Year’s Eve? Can we come over to your house and drink all of your champagne?
- John Luther, Party Ends
The Sour Notes, Hot Pink Flares (12/2010)
[+ Show ]
It seems like every time I see or hear Austinites The Sour Notes, they’re a different band. Okay, th...It seems like every time I see or hear Austinites The Sour Notes, they’re a different band. Okay, that’s not exactly true — they’re always the same “band,” but said band seems to be doing something at least slightly different each damn time. The first time I saw ‘em live, they were a quiet, keyboards-and-samples trio, all gentle beeps and bloops and DNTEL-style beats, and the album of theirs that I got right around the same time, this year’s It’s Not Gonna Be Pretty, reflected that somewhat.
Then, the next time I saw them, I didn’t even realize ’til halfway through the set who in the hell I was watching; when it finally did click, my jaw dropped. Different members, different haircuts, and (most importantly) a much more “band”-like, power-pop-y sound, a far cry from the tentative gentleness I’d seen the previous time.
And that second incarnation is pretty much where the band’s Hot Pink Flares 7? picks up. The title track is immediately more brash and guitar-heavy than anything I’d heard from the band before now, with the band trading in the delicate synths for OK Go-ish fuzzed-out guitars, sweeping melodies, and dense orchestration. Frontman Jared Paul Boulanger sounds less like a kid crooning to a laptop in his darkened bedroom, too, and more like, well, a real-live frontman — he and keyboardist Kelly Dewitt’s vocals are refreshingly confident this time out.
The funny thing is that on “Hot Pink Flares,” the retooled Sour Notes, with their new-ish, in-your-face, sweet-yet-loud indie-pop roar, sounds more like The Wild Moccasins than anything else, at least to me. There’s the same stately feel, the same lush, layered instrumentation, and the same great boy/girl interplay with the vocals.
B-side “Psych Thrill” is a bit more like the band’s older stuff, to my ears, which makes sense, as it’s apparently a new version of a track from the band’s 2009 EP, Received in Bitterness. The track relies a lot more on Dewitt’s angelically pure vocals, which is no bad thing, and combines skittering DNTEL beats with tinkly xylophone, shimmery backing-vocal curtains, jangly guitar, and accordion (sweet!), and in the end, it works great as a counterpoint to the previous track’s pedal-down roar.
If you order the 7? from the Notes themselves, by the way, you can also snag a bonus MP3, a cover of Beyoncé’s “Halo.” I’ll admit that I’m not super-familiar with the original, but the Sour Notes’ version of the song is nicely done, glacially distant and melancholy, electronics-tinged and otherworldly like an early Goldfrapp song. It may be a bonus, but it’s well worth a listen all on its own.
[The Sour Notes are playing 12/16/10 at Mango’s, along with Muhammad Ali, Zorch, & Hiss & Hum.]
(self-released; The Sour Notes -- http://thesournotes.com/)
- Jeremy Hart, Space City Rock
It's All About the Parts (9/2010)
[+ Show ]
The first time I saw The Sour Notes their new bassist and keyboardist were only a couple of shows in...The first time I saw The Sour Notes their new bassist and keyboardist were only a couple of shows into their tenure in the band. I never would have guessed it if they hadn’t told me themselves. They’re a band with bright, basic melodies to spare, but structurally their tunes are sneaky-smart. They never seem to end up in the places you would expect, yet they make perfect sense. I’d liked their recordings very much but I was really impressed by how much more they brought to the songs as a live band, playing arrangements that alternately rocked up and stripped down the original versions. And with two-fifths new members! Obviously there was both exceptional talent and prodigious hard work in effect here.
Both begin with Sour Notes mastermind Jared Boulanger, a quietly driven music obsessive on a mission. He’s seen his project get stronger and stronger with every release despite a lineup that’s in flux by design. “Anyone who’s with me is with me,” Jared says. “I’m going to do this no matter what.” For those who join up, “it doesn’t have to be a lifelong choice.” Jared is the sort of writer who hears every part of the finished song in his head before presenting it to his bandmates, which is not uncommon among true pop craftsmen. What is unusual about the Sour Notes is that their leader has a rare sense of what matters and what doesn’t, allowing the rest of the group to contribute their own sounds and styles.
“The craft of songwriting is in the forefront,” Jared says. From the beginning, “I didn’t care if we sounded like a rock band or a pop band. I’m not going to try and direct it. It’s all about the parts.” This liberated attitude is the secret to the band’s surprising range and chemistry on stage. A tune that was mostly synths and loops on CD might be reimagined with accordion, cajon, and melodica. A delicate ballad could become a rocker, if that’s how the band is feeling it. Those unmistakable parts aren’t getting lost either way.
I’m talking to Jared the day after drum tracking began for what will be the fourth Sour Notes CD at SugarHill Studios in Houston. Although he’s on the record as saying their last release, It’s Not Going to Be Pretty, is the best thing he’ll ever do, Jared is eager to go in a completely opposite direction for the next one. “I don’t want to ever repeat myself, so I will not ever make another record like that.”
To be entitled Last Looks, the next Sour Notes release is all about turning points: “Before major changes in life you take a last look the life the way it is in the present.” Jared is teaching the songs to the band as they record them. He’s particularly excited to employ the vocal talents of keyboardist Kelly DeWitt, who judging by the live show has integrated into the band with alacrity. “It’s not important that I sing all the songs just because I wrote them!” Jared says.
The Sour Notes have a history of putting out records on New Year’s Eve, so there’s a good chance Last Looks will enter the world on the final day of 2010. Received in Bitterness came out on 12/31, and then the band began a tour on January 1st, as auspicious a time to set out as any. Rather than recognize the flip of a calendar page, Jared would just as soon “celebrate something I accomplished.” Touring has been a growth experience. “On the first tour, we were expecting people to show up just because we sent fliers to the venue. [In time] we saw how much work successful bands did.” There’s a huge amount of prep work involved with hitting the road, from finding the right local bands (“Appreciate those who try, because in a few weeks, I may need the same help”) to becoming a borderline nuisance to area media. “Create your own success! Nobody has time to pay attention to your little band. Unless....”
Playing good shows in our hometown can be tricky as well. “I feel like in Austin there’s less sense of community than there could be,” Jared reflects. “If you want to set up a show, there need to be more chances taken on bands that aren’t established.” One opinion we share is that bands and bookers alike could be more aware of Austin’s musical diversity. “Every show should have men & women represented,” and it’d be nice to see more of a balance between guitar rock bands and electronic or “other” acts, rather than drawing invisible lines and putting three similar-looking, identical-sounding acts on every bill. Asked to name his favorite other Austin bands, Jared’s eclecticism and fondness for female singers is reflected: White Dress, Ume, No Mas Bodas.
The Sour Notes have earned their fair share of accolades. They’ve made some good records, and with the current lineup they’re well on their way to being a great live band. They could afford to be aloof, to ignore the hundreds of bands in Austin envious of the success they’ve had. But they don’t choose to play it that way. I think that might be their secret weapon: as serious and driven as he is about his music, Jared is humble and easygoing. He’s genuinely grateful for every compliment paid him, never seeming as if he takes his band’s fans or positive reviews for granted. It seems like he’d be a pleasure to work with, and that’s true of too few songwriters in his class. As much as some musicians want to get totally lost in their own work to the exclusion of all else, it’s easy to forget that there’s so many potential allies in town fighting the same instinct. Other bands aren’t your competitors! Jared: “People who are like-minded or on the same paths of life will get along together.”
Many of the Sour Notes’ songs are inspired by old films. Here’s three of Jared Boulanger’s go-to classics:
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, 1966, Mike Nichols: “The feeling sticks with you a long time.”
A Woman Is a Woman, 1961, Jean-Luc Godard: “All Godard, really. The back and forth struggles.”
Winter Light, 1963, Ingmar Bergman: “Even if you’re not spiritual, dealing with the complications of belief.”
- Western Holmes, Big Western Flavor
Indie-pop band gets perspective with gender mix (6/2010)
[+ Show ]
Jared Boulanger believes in gender equality. Of that, he is sure. When I ask Boulanger, lead voca...Jared Boulanger believes in gender equality. Of that, he is sure.
When I ask Boulanger, lead vocalist and multi-instrumentalist for indie-pop band The Sour Notes, if groups such as Radiohead or The Beatles would have benefited from having a female vocalist, he chooses his next words carefully.
“But then they wouldn’t be The Beatles in that case. They wouldn’t be Radiohead,” he says. “It would be different. That’s not to say they would be any better or any worse — but it would be different. I’m not sure what that would be like.”
Taylor Steinberg, The Sour Notes’ drummer and most outspoken member, pipes in.
“Having a female vocalist provides us with perspective,” Steinberg says. “Gender aside, for the amount of people in this band, I think people would be surprised at how agreeable and nonconfrontational our personalities are. I’ve done a tour with just guys before, and it’s a completely different experience. Still fun, but it’s changed now that I’m in The Sour Notes.”
I’m sitting at a table inside Spider House Cafe with Steinberg, as well as band co-founders Boulanger and guitarist Chris Page. There are glasses of Lone Star on the table and Kelly DeWitt, the chanteuse currently in question, will join us after she gets off work at American Apparel. Bassist Amarah Ulghani is also working, but we’ll interview two days later.
“So, you’re saying Kelly provides balance?” I ask.
“Definitely,” Boulanger says. “My favorite singers are female. Of course, everybody needs to be equal. But you have to realize there’s going to be a different vibe, depending on who’s playing the part. There’s different approaches. In order to be a good band, you have to appeal to everybody; it’s more well-rounded that way. Having a female element in the band forces me to think about what I’m doing and how I [perceive music].”
Fresh off a North American tour, The Sour Notes know a lot about balancing gender in their band. That tour, Ulghani says, was awkward because it was essentially “a van full of people that didn’t know each other.” At first, their revolving door of musicians might seem off-putting to the casual or new listener — they’ve gone through “at least three incarnations” of the band, by Steinberg’s count — but Boulanger affirms it’s finally reached a stasis they can all agree upon.
“It’s definitely the strongest it’s ever been,” he says with genuine conviction in his voice. “If people look at a band’s history on paper and they see lots of changes, [the band] might be [perceived] negatively. It sort of insinuates there might be disorder. But the band’s [musical output] has been brilliant, which is different from other bands’ histories. Those bands will break up after half a year or a year, but we’ve kept going.”
“The rest of us, Jared’s still kind of molding,” Ulghani says in reference to herself, DeWitt and Steinberg, the latest additions to the band. “That’s the hardest part about new members — trying to force this connection to hurry up.”
We spend the next 15 minutes discussing the bandmates’ shared love of Warp Records, a label that has produced bands such as Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada and Autechre, while qualifying its taste for warm electronic music, such as that of Flying Lotus and Prefuse 73. But between all the name-dropping and genre discussion, the band is insistent on one thing: None of the members really listen to anything that reflects The Sour Notes’ sound to the extent that they would want to emulate it.
“I like Velvet Underground’s stuff … Brian Eno,” says Page, the group’s designated music guru, as he offhandedly bites down on a BLT sandwich. He seems relatively reserved tonight, but the understood assumption is that there really isn’t anything that represents The Sour Notes’ sound, so there would be no influence to make mention of anyway.
I ask DeWitt who she thinks she may be influenced by. She’s sipping a Diet Coke and whiskey and becomes wildly enthusiastic.
“Do you know who Janelle Monáe is? You need to know who she is. She’s amazing,” DeWitt says. “She calls herself an android and writes these really badass songs. And I didn’t really realize I was influenced by The Animals for a while. I like that vein of sort of classic rock. I’ve always looked up to ‘60s female vocalists, like Dusty Springfield.”
At a recent, all-ages show at the United States Art Authority, the band played a slew of new songs set to appear on an upcoming album. This month, the band will begin recording its fourth album, entitled Last Looks.
“Playing new, unrecorded material is exciting for me, but scary,” Ulghani says. “It takes a while to beat it into shape without a reference point.”
Boulanger offers an explanation for the album title, saying it isn’t nearly as gloomy as it might appear.
“The album title sort of insinuates that this is going to be our last album, but it isn’t,” Boulanger says. “It’s like, if you’re in a relationship or you’re about to jump over the edge, you see someone’s last look. And I feel like the majority of the songs deal with that sort of theme. And, more importantly, it will feature the current lineup of the band.”
DeWitt is excited about that prospect.
“Taylor, Amarah and I are finally going to be on an album, and we’re excited for the entire writing process,” she says, referencing a song she’s especially eager to record called “Hot Pink Flares.”
“It’s kind of about the state of music and burning out, and people riding the waves of hype,” Boulanger adds.
DeWitt is surprisingly committed to the band, considering she didn’t want to join at first. It took, in her words, a few drinks at Shangri-La and a little coaxing from Ulghani before she was convinced it was the right decision.
“A friend of mine asked if I wanted to join a band called The Sour Notes. I listened to their music for, like, five seconds and said, ‘No,’” DeWitt says with a nervous laugh. “And Amarah, who I’ve never met before, sent me a Facebook message and was really sweet about it. A couple of days later, I went to a going-away party for a friend, and I overheard someone say Amarah’s name. She was there, and we decided to be best friends. I said, ‘I want to be in your band now!’ She gave Jared my number and he called me the next day.”
Ulghani echoes DeWitt’s sentiments a few days later. She originally started her foray into music as a disc jockey for local radio station KVRX and wasn’t keen on anything except mainstream-accessible indie pop.
“But as time went on and I really got into the station, I got exposed to a lot of cool, non-mainstream stuff,” she says. “So I wasn’t into The Sour Notes at all, to be honest, and Kelly said the same thing at the time. [But] I started looking back at the old greats, especially stuff from the ‘70s, and really started to appreciate good songwriting and compositon. That made me think Jared was doing something special. He was into putting pieces of a song together in a perfect way so it was melodic and harmonic.”
Boulanger likes the idea of being accessible, though.
“I like doing two- or three-minute pop songs. Someone reviewed our show the other day and said we make pop music in an adult sort of way, and I sort of liked that,” he says with a soft smile.
Tonight, potential audiences will get a chance to see what this rollicking indie band is all about as The Sour Notes will play a show tonight at Hole in the Wall — “the only legit bar in West Campus,” by Steinberg’s assertion.
- Francisco Marin, The Daily Texan
Record Review: The Sour Notes - It's Not Gonna Be Pretty (6/2010)
[+ Show ]
Whenever I eat sweet and sour bean curd, I vacillate between wanting to drink Thai iced tea and, wel...Whenever I eat sweet and sour bean curd, I vacillate between wanting to drink Thai iced tea and, well, beer. I usually end up going for the sweet, creamy taste of a cool Thai iced tea. So, I guess it is no surprise that I find myself attracted to the pretty pop sound of The Sour Notes, band name notwithstanding.
In their current incarnation, The Sour Notes are a six-piece from Austin Texas. It’s Not Gonna Be Pretty, is their third self-released, full-length album.
The album is essentially a mix tape of musical impulses, and, although the band has garage/punk roots, their playful pop tunes ring the most true. The first track “Beyond Recognition” starts off in Postal Service territory with the computerized drums tingling and thumping behind the Shinsy male lead vocal and crystalline female harmonies. But the sound quickly goes a-rockin’ with “Do-ers and Say-ers,” somehow melding Sonic Youth energy with the accessibility of Versus. The album slides along this continuum—sometimes dabbling with a taste of Band of Horses, like in the track “It’s the Hair That Makes the Dress Chic!,” and throwing in more than a sprinkle of locals The Goldest, like in the track “Familiar Presence”—without establishing a clear sonic home base.
It’s all good, but the drum machine and simple lyricism enlivened by wacky dissonant keys of “One Word Emotions” and the pleasantly emotive “The Distant Knell” are pure pop dessert.
Let’s call it sweet and sour. Pick your pleasure.
- Rebekah Goode-Peoples, Atlanta's A-List
The Sour Notes with Daniel Johnston at Mohawk (6/2010)
[+ Show ]
Welcome back to Texas the Sour Notes from your cross country tour! Good luck playing before the Flam...Welcome back to Texas the Sour Notes from your cross country tour! Good luck playing before the Flaming Lips at that big festival in Houston on Sunday!
Ok- time to stop talking directly to a band that doesn’t know me. How about I switch to talking to a whole internet that doesn’t know me. Ahem… The Sour Notes have been in different incarnations since 2008 but now they are primed take over. Need some one to co-sign that statement? How’s about Daniel Johnston who they are opening for at Mohawk June 19th? Apparently he is only playing on Austin show all of 2010 and they will be setting the tone for him. Not too shabby for a bunch of shoe gaze and keyboard fans… They are currently working on their fourth album Write What You Know expected to be released in December 2010.
- John Luther, Party Ends
Music Monday Pick: Jared Paul Boulanger of the Sour Notes (6/2010)
[+ Show ]
Welcome to Music Monday Picks, where once a week we talk to an Austin musician and find out what’s b...Welcome to Music Monday Picks, where once a week we talk to an Austin musician and find out what’s been burning up their CD player, turntable or iPod lately. Looking for a good musical recommendation? Take some advice from someone in the local music trenches who knows their stuff. Recommendations can be local, national or international, new or old. They only need to fit two criteria: 1) the musician in question needs to have just discovered them, and 2) it has to be fantastic.
This week: We chat up Jared Paul Boulanger, the front man for winningly prolific indie pop outfit the Sour Notes, who have recently added a bevy of new members, including vocalist and keyboardist Kelly Dewitt, drummer Taylor Steinberg, bassist Amarah Ulghani and synth player Erin Mikulenka, of Austin fashionista duo Team Fabrication. The sextet (who won best local album honors from an Austin360 poll for “It’s Not Gonna Be Pretty”) opens for Austin lo-fi janglepop legend Daniel Johnston Saturday night — his only Austin show this year. Doors open at 8 p.m., and $15 gets you in.
Jared Paul Boulanger recommends: “Super Hits,” the greatest-hits collection from English New Wave rocker Adam Ant, including both solo songs and songs from his band Adam and the Ants.
Jared Paul Boulanger says: “You know how at a random gas station they’ll have a rack of CDs for four dollars? This particular gas station we found on tour had Adam Ant’s ‘Super Hits.’ I’d never listened to him before but the cover looked pretty interesting. He was all done up like a bullfighter. I’ve heard people talk about Adam Ant before and that he was a little crazy and his music was pretty creative and kind of bridged the gap between mainstream and glam-pop. So we decided to buy it and jam it on the road, and I haven’t stopped listening to it. It’s just amazing. There’s a song called ‘Stand and Deliver’ that has some Brian Eno moments and some Talking Heads kind of quirkiness. All the songs on that compilation really rock in a really cool way. The songs kind of make me think of Ariel Pink. After I heard Adam Ant, I was like ‘Ariel Pink is totally ripping off Adam Ant!’ It’s just a more produced, little more mainstream version of Ariel Pink. I think it’s really brilliant. I know he had some really weird moments in his life, and once I started listening to the music on repeat I started investigating him more as a person. He’s been arrested, and he was hospitalized in a psychiatric ward. I think he found a car alternator in a street once and threw it through a pub window and injured some people. It’s super-creative. A lot of it comes from a time when music instruments were starting to change and more electronic synthesizers and stuff were coming into play. So the people who weren’t embracing that technological change were trying to experiment with the instruments they had. So there’s a lot of cool drums and percussion. It blew my mind the first time I heard it.”
Check out the video for Adam and the Ants’ “Stand and Deliver” below. Photo of Jared Paul Boulanger by Katie G. Jones.
- Patrick Caldwell, Austin 360
The Sour Notes were tonight's positive note (5/2010)
[+ Show ]
I scoped out that Sour Notes show I posted about earlier tonight at The Earl, and I'm glad I gave th...I scoped out that Sour Notes show I posted about earlier tonight at The Earl, and I'm glad I gave them and The Tealights a chance.
Little Tybee opened, but since The Earl starts weekday shows at a decent hour, I sadly missed their whole set.
When I got there, the band that invited me, The Sour Notes, was already setting up. Before I talk about their music, do they not have the coolest band name? Anyways, Jared Boulanger has brought this Austin-based band back with a new lineup. He is now joined by three girls and another guy behind the drum kit, and collectively they are more than capable of adding a harder edge when needed to their electronic indiepop soundscapes. This band is definitely worth catching if their summer tour passes through your town.
Closing out the night The Tealights, a local band that cranks out beautiful, pofessionally-played songs that are more classy and polished than what I am used to hearing.
As you can probably imagine, I did not recognize anyone at The Earl aside from the door guy and bartender because these bands draw a different crowd than, say, The Barreracudas. That's okay, though, because it was kind of fun to go to a familiar place and feel sort of like a visitor instead of a participant (At home, he's a tourist).
- Bobby Moore, 7" Atlanta
Your A List: Best Local Album from the Past Year (5/2010)
[+ Show ]
Regular readers of this column know that my favorite local album of late was Alpha Rev’s “New Mornin...Regular readers of this column know that my favorite local album of late was Alpha Rev’s “New Morning.” But I could make arguments for almost all these fine entries in the A List readers poll for Best Local Album from the Past Year.
The Sour Notes won with “It’s Not Gonna Be Pretty,” reaping 42 percent of the vote.
Shearwater skimmed into second place with “The Golden Archipelago” at 25 percent.
Veteran Bob Schneider held his own with “Lovely Creatures” at 11 percent.
Critics’ darling White Denim squeezed in 6 percent for “Fits.”
Roky Erickson and Okkervill River — a killer combo — was not far behind for “True Love Cast Out All Evil.”
Taking 4 percent or less were Harlem (“Hippies”); Brownout (“Aguilas y Cobras”); Balmorhea (“Constellations”); Brazos (“Phosphorescent Blues”) and Strange Boys (“Be Brave”).
- Michael Barnes, Austin 360
The Sour Notes hold down a cheap show at the Parish tomorrow (4/2010)
[+ Show ]
The Sour Notes are the local rock band that just keep on giving — with three releases (most recent a...The Sour Notes are the local rock band that just keep on giving — with three releases (most recent album “It’s Not Gonna Be Pretty,” 7-inch vinyl “Never Mix, Never Worry,” and 2009’s “Received in Bitterness”) in one year and a rock-solid record of great live shows.
Tomorrow night, they’ll play a show at the Parish — their first — with a stacked group of great local bands for the low, low price of $5. The Sour Notes headline at midnight, but the show kicks off at 9 p.m. with buzzworthy, critically acclaimed young indie classical outfit Mother Falcon, followed by the hooky electrorock of the Authors at 10 p.m. and the wistful shoegaze pop of She Sir at 11 p.m. That’s a pretty mean lineup of sterling Austin bands for a mere Abraham Lincoln.
- Patrick Caldwell, Austin 360
REVIEW: The Sour Notes - It’s Not Gonna Be Pretty (4/2010)
[+ Show ]
The Sour Notes may have started out as essentially a bedroom project, but over the past two years th...The Sour Notes may have started out as essentially a bedroom project, but over the past two years they’ve blown out in every direction, adding members and tossing off more than two releases per year. Up till now, the albums have lagged behind the singles, little blow-offs that have gone in interesting directions, but that only hinted at what the band was tru;y capable of. It’s Not Gonna Be Pretty pulls everything The Sour Notes have ever done and synthesizes it into an album that is incredibly good. Pretty is spacey, catchy, lyrically complex, and deep as a well. Songs like “Do-Ers and Say-Ers” and “Familiar Presence” sound like nothing the band has done before, but more definitively Sour Notes than they’ve even been. With Pretty, The Sour Notes have finally found a sound that’s entirely theirs, and they are at the top of their game. Grab it now before their next album drops. Word is that it’s already in the can.
- Loco Nunca
The Sour Notes, It’s Not Gonna Be Pretty (4/2010)
[+ Show ]
When The Sour Notes’ fourth release, “It’s Not Gonna Be Pretty”, arrived in my mailbox, I honestly d...When The Sour Notes’ fourth release, “It’s Not Gonna Be Pretty”, arrived in my mailbox, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. Just reading the title of their band made me chuckle, but as I popped the CD into my walkman (yes, I still own one, and it’s a more than 10-year-old Sony), I was pleasantly surprised by their sound.
The Sour Notes formed in 2007 in Austin, TX, spearheaded by lead vocalist and guitarist Jared Boulanger, and has released three other albums to date: “The Meat of the Fruit” (2008), “Received in Bitterness” (2009) and “Never Mix, Never Worry” (2009, short EP). Since their formation, the band, which also includes Chris Page (who seems to play everything from guitar, keyboard, organ and synthesizer – talents shared also by Boulanger himself), Travis Hackett (drums) and Brandi DiPietro (bass), has toured all over Texas, as well as major cities such as Baltimore, Philly, New York, Boston and Nashville. The group also played at last month’s SXSW 2010 festival in Austin, which is an annual event that includes media, film and music artists.
“Beyond Recognition”, the first track off their current release definitely caught my ears, as Boulanger’s calm, gentle voice seemed almost soothing after a hard day’s work. It’s a voice that seems hard to believe would ever turn angry (but of course, we’re all human). The spoken-word-like song features a cool synthesizer beat in the background, while Boulanger belts “…it was your cold dim basement, it’s my flooded home. It was the look that I thought you reminded me of…”
What’s great about music is that it’s left to interpretation by the listener. Anyone that writes a song knows that the meaning to them is personal (and at times can be universal in translation), however, the listener can take it as they hear it. This is true for “Familiar Presence”, as it sounds like a song about cheating: “…This time it’s no surprise that there’s somebody else cuz you run your mouth like it suits you well, like its life or death.”
Don’t let the name fool you, there’s nothing sour about this band.
- Erika Gradecki, Skope Magazine
The Sour Notes Interview: SXSW 2010 (3/2010)
[+ Show ]
The Sour Notes formed in Austin three years ago. Since then, they have released three full albums, a...The Sour Notes formed in Austin three years ago. Since then, they have released three full albums, an EP and a 45. Spinner caught up with vocalist/guitarist Jared Boulanger to discuss their sound, and the upcoming SXSW festival.
Describe your sound in your own words.
We try to have a dancey, rock kind of sound that's really pop sensible, really catchy. We're really focused on the craft of songwriting. I think that we're writing pop songs that have a really experimental or outside-the-box approach to it, but I would call it pop music definitely.
How did your band form?
We formed almost three years ago, when I moved to Austin from Houston. I moved here to start the band and I recorded our first album, 'The Meat of the Fruit,' by myself alone. It was just kind of a solo project. Then I moved to Austin and moved in with my friend Chris (Page), who plays keyboards in the band. So, we started the band and started recording the next album, added two new members and kept recording. We're working on our fifth release in three years. We're really feeling productive and really like the pace we've set so far.
What are your musical influences?
I have a real punk rock background. The real defining moments in my musical life and getting interested in music would be bands like Jawbreaker and Chisel, mid-90s punk bands. That doesn't translate at all to our sounds, but when I think about writing songs I get focused on the arrangement and things like that. I try to do that Beach Boys, Beatles kind of production value, only with a Brian Eno or Velvet Underground kind of twist. A refined polished sound with a little seediness to it.
How did you come up with the name The Sour Notes?
I used to have a journal that I would write myself little notes in all the time to try and tell myself to be a better person or not to do this or that and I used to call them my sour notes. I also thought the name was funny because it's a play on words. Nobody wants to hit a sour note or hear a sour note.
What is your biggest vice?
I definitely don't have a drinking problem. I think my biggest vice is eating myself into drunkenness.I get really excited about food.
Being from Austin, what do you love about SXSW?
I don't know any other cities that are that dedicated to shutting down for a couple of weeks and just totally promoting itself to music, film and the interactive festival. I don't know any other city that does it on this large of a scale. It's a one-of-a-kind thing. When people think about Austin, they think about SXSW, and to be a part of that is a real honor. This is our first year being accepted by SXSW, so just having the official title next to our name is really rewarding, and to be able to play with some of the best bands that come to Texas from other states.
What are your musical guilty pleasures?
I like a lot of French pop stars. Even new French pop stars. I really like that girl Yell. Old sixties French pop like Francoise Hardy and France Gall. I think a lot of those songs are really larger than life, and they all have that 60's catchiness to it. Everyone was super cool in the 60's and wore their sunglasses at night and their hip dresses. They were really chic. I have a real weakness especially for girls who dress like that.
Beatles or Stones?
I would put them both equally, although I would say that I'm always in the mood for the Stones. The Stones, you can just put them on, wash the dishes, and you're going to shake your ass a little bit. I find when I listen to the Beatles, it's a lot more of an introspective experience.
What's the craziest thing you've seen or experienced while on tour?
Two tours ago, we were playing with a band in North Carolina that invited us to stay at their house afterwards. They had a house out in the woods, ten miles away from town. Our bass player at the time decided to invite someone from the bar back for a little after party. But they ended up getting into a huge fight at the party. So we had to kick the guy out, and he had to walk ten miles through the woods back to the town. It was in January in North Carolina and freezing. We don't know what happened to him.
- Jackson Michael, AOL Spinner
Casual Victim Pile: Hometown SXSW showcasing sampler (3/2010)
[+ Show ]
SXSW showcase: Wednesday, March 17, the Hideout, 12mid No one was more surprised than Jared Boula...SXSW showcase: Wednesday, March 17, the Hideout, 12mid
No one was more surprised than Jared Boulanger when Waterloo Records cut him a $600 check for his record collection. The Sour Note figured they'd take most of it, but not every last piece. Said stake then paid for the local pop quartet's second album, 2009's Received in Bitterness, but today in the Chronicle bubbleplex, the skinny Boulanger finds himself jobless, thankful for food stamps, and indebted to his girlfriend. Heartbroken as he may be about his music library, the Sour Notes' third disc, It's Not Gonna Be Pretty, was worth the struggle.
"I'm not afraid to say this album will be the best record I'll ever put out," he told us in January, and six weeks later the 29-year-old singer-songwriter still believes. "I call the new album the best I'll ever do just because the songs came together all in a row like a stream of consciousness," he explains. "Everything always sounded right. There wasn't ever a point in the recording or the writing process where we were like, 'What should we do here?' The way the songs flow in and out of each other just feels perfect to me. I don't think I'll get that perfection again with this kind of sound.
"From the beginning up until this album, we've been on the wave, getting more experimental and louder and faster and more rock & roll. All the elements of our four [releases] are on this one. The first one's kinda quiet, the second one's garage-y, then we put out the 7-inch, and it was rock-sounding. It's Not Gonna Be Pretty encompasses everything I've ever tried to do. The next one, even though there will still be elements of the Sour Notes' sound on it, needs to be a new direction, because you can't just keep feeding people the same ol' song and dance."
Somewhere between Fountains of Wayne's Teflon hooks and the Shins' minor-key reveries, the Sour Notes – Boulanger, multi-instrumentalist Chris Page, keyboardist Elaine Greer, and drummer Travis Hackett – emote anything but the same ol' song and dance, especially here in cow town.
"Totally," humbles Boulanger, who moved to Austin from Houston in 2008. "I think that's been our biggest struggle so far. Not only did I move here knowing nobody and not having any connections – and having to start from nothing – we don't have that niche. We don't fit into a certain group. I feel like there's a scene within the Austin music scene, people who have that sound, like Strange Boys and Harlem. That's a really popular sound right now, and people love it. I love both those bands. But I don't think they'd accept us in their scene. Not because other bands sound better or worse, it's just their scene."
- Raoul Hernandez, The Austin Chronicle
Sour Notes Sound Good (2/2010)
[+ Show ]
Based in Austin, Texas, The Sour Notes consists of members Jared Boulanger (singer/songwriter/guitar...Based in Austin, Texas, The Sour Notes consists of members Jared Boulanger (singer/songwriter/guitar/bass), Chris Page(guitar/piano/synthesizer), Travis Hackett (drums/percussion) and Elaine Greer (vocals/organ/synthesizer). They're known for experimenting in many different musical genres accompanied by female guest vocalists.
The band first formed in 2007, and soon expanded to include Elaine Greer, who added depth to the band's vocals. It's Not Gonna Be Pretty is the third full-length release from the hard working quartet, which released in Jan. 2010. The band has already accomplished the ever-difficult task of winning over the critical eyes and ears of the musical haven of Austin, Texas, and are now pushing themselves into the national spotlight.
The tunes are noisy, swirly and sound like they've blown through sheets of distortion to get to you. It's good stuff that's as dreamy as it is rough. Entertaining stuff then.
- Pop Stereo
Off the Record: Music News (1/2010)
[+ Show ]
In bowling terms, the Sour Notes just notched a turkey: three significant, successive releases in ju...In bowling terms, the Sour Notes just notched a turkey: three significant, successive releases in just over a year. Latest LP It's Not Gonna Be Pretty rules the roost – dense, sincere indie pop for the Garden State generation. "I'm not afraid to say that this album will be the best record I'll ever put out," admits singer-songwriter Jared Boulanger. "That's kind of disheartening to say, but we've gotten progressively louder and thicker in the sound and faster paced. It's like everything that we tried to do previously came together on this album." Originally envisioned as a solo vehicle, the Sour Notes has ripened quickly since Boulanger moved to Austin from Houston in 2008, coinciding with the release of the band's debut EP, The Meat of the Fruit. The quartet just finished a two-week East Coast tour that was filmed for a documentary, and a third full-length is already in the can, though Boulanger plans to hold off on its release for a while in hopes of gaining some more national attention. "I like to think that I'm writing little pop song scores to movies," relates Boulanger, who shares a house with multi-instrumentalist Chris Page. "Most of the songs are themed after specific movies in the Criterion Collection. I get totally wrapped up in the feeling of what I'm watching and let that dictate the music."
The Sour Notes light up Mohawk on Thursday, Jan. 28, with contemporaries the Demigs and Zest of Yore.
- Austin Powell, Austin Chronicle
Austin Music: Review - The Sour Notes "It's Not Gonna Be Pretty" (1/2010)
[+ Show ]
Songwriter Jared Boulanger must keep Brill Building hours. Last year, the Sour Notes issued its enga...Songwriter Jared Boulanger must keep Brill Building hours. Last year, the Sour Notes issued its engaging full-length debut, Received in Bitterness, chased with a 7-inch single. Sophomore LP It's Not Gonna Be Pretty marks the local quartet's sharpest and most cohesive work to date. Opener "Beyond Recognition" splits the difference between the Postal Service and Say Hi, programmed beats and bassist Elaine Greer's sweet harmony building toward Boulanger's conclusive refrain: "It's all right, I don't mind." In fact, most of the album sticks to the Barsuk variety of indie rock: soft melodies with a vulnerable streak set to a revolving and airtight pop backdrop, from vindictive guitar rave-up "Do-ers & Say-ers" and synth-cushion "One Word Emotions" to the beautifully melancholic "A Cute Little Ruin." Just over 30 minutes, It's Not Gonna Be Pretty is teasingly brief, but thankfully that's an issue the Sour Notes can remedy in no time flat.
- Austin Powell, Austin Chronicle
The Sour Notes - It’s Not Gonna Be Pretty (1/2010)
[+ Show ]
For a band as prolific as the Sour Notes (an EP, 7-inch, and now two full-lengths since 2008), the q...For a band as prolific as the Sour Notes (an EP, 7-inch, and now two full-lengths since 2008), the quartet has not only proven remarkably excellent in their quality of output, but also continue to impressively push themselves in new directions. Each release, beginning with the 2008 EP The Meat of the Fruit, has taken their instinctive pop-rock pulse and expanded their sound in arrangements and sensibilities. To some extent, It’s Not Gonna to Be Pretty is an appropriate title for the quartet’s sophomore LP - not because it’s not an excellent album, but rather because compared to their earlier pop leanings, the Sour Notes here seem to consciously be moving at times into more rock textures, unafraid to break up the melodies with more jagged edges. It’s the album’s balance of the quartet’s new harder inclinations with those more familiar pop elements that gives it a fully formed and rewardingly diverse feel, however.
It’s Not Going to Be Pretty starts unassumingly enough with the soft syncopation of “Beyond Recognition.” If frontman Jared Boulanger hearkened Transatlanticism-era Death Cab for Cutie in his earlier efforts, “Beyond Recognition” shades more of Ben Gibbard’s work with the Postal Service, with a touch of a more pop-polished Casiotone for the Painfully Alone. But it is the newly inducted vocal contributions of Elaine Greer that add the most to the song, and the Sour Notes’ current sound. She balances Boulanger’s introspective sincerity by at once reflecting and countering his sentiments.
“Do-ers & Say-ers” immediately breaks the spell of the opener, though, rippling electric guitar as Boulanger ups his vocals to a pop-punk shout and the song cuts a bitter, condemning tone: “You ought to fault who couldn’t tell her that she’s a whore, All by herself now and it’s not her fault.” These two sides of the Sour Notes – the calm desperation of “Beyond Recognition” (and “One Word Emotions”) and the rankled charge of “Do-ers & Say-ers” at times come together excellently, as they did on “Never Mix Never Worry” from their recent 7”. On It’s Not Going to Pretty, “One Fell Swoop” may be the best mix, pummeling guitars opening to Boulanger’s call of “I’ll be the nocturne hymn you’ll dream upon, A bitter lover in dull moments.” The song never careens out of control, but teeters on the edge to be pulled back as it mirrors the apparent emotional conflict roiling through Boulanger’s mind.
Unfortunately, this force doesn’t reemerge again as engagingly on the rest of the album, but the Sour Notes have plenty of other elements to show off throughout. “It’s the Hair That Makes the Dress Chic!” is an unexpected three minute long instrumental piece with a slow and ominous build, and “Familiar Presence” returns to their pitch perfect pop, infectious in spite of the horrible Eighties-style synth line buried in the back of the song. But “Time Will Tell” jumps from the speakers with minimal and straight-ahead licks that wander midsong into shifting distortion and then a dreamlike psych-pop lull.
The penultimate “A Cute Little Ruin” likewise slides from its mold of gently sincere pop balladry into a minute-long gossamer blur lifted by Greer’s looped “ahhs,” and “The Distant Knell” closes on such an achingly disarmingly tone, the struggle that Boulanger seems to relate in the lyrics is blindsidingly bleak. While the song seems to be a self-implored restraint to giving up, perhaps even suicide, it’s beautifully wrought.
It’s Not Going To Be Pretty is certainly the Sour Notes’ best effort to date, showcasing their diversity as they continue to adjust the musical reach to adequately match Boulanger’s poignant pull, both as songwriter and vocalist. Because Boulanger lays everything so emotionally bare in his songs, it’s a difficult proposition to simultaneously allow his sincerity to realize its impact and keep the songs from drifting into a too emotionally complex and heavy state. The band continues to show a number of different stylistic approaches to accomplish this, and though they still may not have quite found that perfect balance, there is no doubt that with the progress they continue to display that they will soon.
- Doug Freeman, Austin Sound
Sour Notes Get Ready for Tour Supporting It's Not Gonna Be Pretty (12/2009)
[+ Show ]
It's Not Gonna Be Pretty (due in Jan 2010) is the fourth release from Austin's Sour Notes. In Januar...It's Not Gonna Be Pretty (due in Jan 2010) is the fourth release from Austin's Sour Notes. In January, the band will tour in support of it, heading out January 1 and returning after a show in Dallas at The Lounge on January 12. Sample the songs here, particularly "Doers & Sayers" -- a brash and catchy indie pop tune that stands out as a particular favorite of ours. The Sour Notes sound something like We Are Scientists with a bit of Death Cab for Cutie added for softness. We're really looking forward to seeing their growth in 2010. Check them out live December 18 at the Hole In the Wall.
- Paige Maguire, Austinist
The Sour Notes kick off tour with NYE show (12/2009)
[+ Show ]
Austin’s own the Sour Notes — four indie rockers with a Death Cab for Cutie-esque appreciation for e...Austin’s own the Sour Notes — four indie rockers with a Death Cab for Cutie-esque appreciation for earnest pop — will celebrate the release of third album “It’s Not Gonna Be Pretty” with an early New Year’s Eve show at the Ghost Room at 7 p.m. Thursday. The Weird Weeds, No Mas Bodas and Mermaid Blonde will open. The cover is $5.
The show also will kick off the band’s 2010 tour, a nine-date jaunt that will take them from beloved New York hipster hangout the Cake Shop to the equally glamorous environs of Carrboro, N.C.
The Sour Notes’ second release, this year’s “Received in Bitterness,” landed an honorable mention on our list of the top Austin albums of 2009. The band shows considerable growth on the catchy, heartfelt “It’s Not Gonna Be Pretty,” which you can listen to in its entirety on their MySpace. They’ll return to Austin for a Jan. 28 show at the Mohawk.
- Patrick Caldwell, Austin 360
Singles Roundup: TV Torso; The Sour Notes; Follow That Bird (11/2009)
[+ Show ]
Local quartet The Sour Notes have highlighted pitch-perfect pop tunes across two excellent albums – ...Local quartet The Sour Notes have highlighted pitch-perfect pop tunes across two excellent albums – last year’s The Meat of the Fruit EP and this year’s debut LP, Received in Bitterness. Their new 7” only pushes that credit further, but dips into some expertly and unexpectedly heavier territory. A-Side “Never Mix Never Worry” announces those intentions with the immediate pummel of the chorus, the hard-lined pop bounce that opens to match Jared Boulanger’s high-hitting trill at first subtly meshed with a slant of distortion, which them ricochets full force. The teasing build ultimately explodes, but never loses its melodic center even in the wave of climax. “Rose Puzzles” falls much more in line with the group’s established sound, the pull Boulanger’s sweetly tortured vocals leading the tune. Yet even here, the band turns up the pulse in release with the lyrics - “Where no roles confine us, Where no laws confine us” – surging to the guitar barrage close. With yet another new album ready to drop next January, The Sour Notes remain one of the brightest, and probably most under-appreciated, groups in town.
- Doug Freeman, Austin Sound
Video: The Sour Notes - “Psychological Thriller” (10/2009)
[+ Show ]
We’re skeptical of the timing of this new video from the Sour Notes. First of all, there’s the whole...We’re skeptical of the timing of this new video from the Sour Notes. First of all, there’s the whole death of Michael Jackson fad (is the death of a pop icon a fad? Sure, why not?). Second of all, we can’t help but think that putting a video on Youtube right before Halloween with “Thriller” in the title is some kind of major SEO chicanery on the part of said Sour Notes! We’re also wondering how director Paul Raila managed to so accurately capture every relationship we’ve ever been in. Well, us and William Burroughs. We’re told this is an homage to Jean Luc Godard’s “A Woman is a Woman,” but we don’t do film, so we’ll just have to take their word on that one. What we can say is it’s a damn finely shot video for damn fine song. Check it out below. You can also next catch the local quartet tomorrow, Oct. 28, when 101X’s Homegrown series hits Trophy’s with Visitors and Candi and the Cavities. The Sour Notes will have an official video release show (because that’s actually a thing, now) on November 10 with Diagonals for Alexander Speed’s debut CD release party. Hmm, Sour Notes and Speed - sounds like a night of Austin music to us!
- Doug Freeman, Austin Sound
Texas Platters: 7 & 7 Is (10/2009)
[+ Show ]
26/200 numbers the green marble vinyl of my Sour Notes' 45 "Never Mix Never Worry" b/w "Rose Puzzles...26/200 numbers the green marble vinyl of my Sour Notes' 45 "Never Mix Never Worry" b/w "Rose Puzzles," a forcefully winsome gnaw of Tooth & Nail pop whose "Instrumental" MP3 bonus wavers radiant. Suck on the Sour's January full-length, Received in Bitterness.
- Raoul Hernandez, Austin Chronicle
Grow Local (9/2009)
[+ Show ]
Is it really almost October? Can it really almost be time to relive the 90’s at the ACL festival? Am...Is it really almost October? Can it really almost be time to relive the 90’s at the ACL festival? Am I really this close to eating pounds of Krackle and Mr. Goodbar for Halloween?! Yes, October is crrrreaking on up and with that comes a GREAT concert we are proud to be a part of on day one of the best month of the year. Stop hangin around the Hotel San Jose hoping for a glimpse of David Bryne and plan on spending your Thursday night with us… well me. Luther has been held hostage in Buenos Aires… This bill features Austin heavy hitters MOTH!FIGHT!, One Hundred Flowers, The Sour Notes, and No Mas Bodas.
Moth!Fight! Continues to reinvent themselves and rearrange songs and layers of acoustic poppy noise with every performance. This will be their first local show in a while it seems, and I can’t wait to see them on the luxurious La Zona Rosa stage. They will certainly fill it up.
One Hundred Flowers bring about a wonderful marriage of postindustrial keyboards and guitars. Their full length will be available in January 2010. Wait- is it really almost 2010?!
The young yet prolific Sour Notes help fill out the great bill as they play selections from the already acclaimed first two albums (The Meat of the Fruit and Received in Bitterness) as well as from their forthcoming early 2010 release.
Finally, No Mas Bodas! the only band of ladies in town that wears capes AND glitter! Saxophones, cellos and plenty of weirdo keyboards makes these women the forerunners of Austin current art punk although I’m sure there is a better blurry sub genre they would put themselves in.
The first 100 folks thru the door get a FREE ‘ACL Survival bag’ full of both practicality and love.
This event is brought to you in part by our good friends KVRX, Amy’s Ice Cream, and Stem & Leaf Records. See you Thursday night at La Zona Rosa.
- John Luther, Party Ends
Watch: The Sour Notes on The Austin Sessions (9/2009)
[+ Show ]
Man, video sessions are totally the new blogs, which were the new ‘zines. Used to be way back in the...Man, video sessions are totally the new blogs, which were the new ‘zines. Used to be way back in the day (say the 80s and 90s), trying your hand at amateur music writing and hanging out with your favorite bands required putting some work into a fanzine, printing it up, and passing it around. Yeah, we were all dorks. Then blogs made it easy, and everyone started writing about bands and even shared their music, cutting out the middle man. Now it seems everyone wants to do a quirky video session, cuz video’s the new mp3. Welcome to your Black Cab Sessions and La Blogotheque. And that concludes our lesson today on the obvious evolution of amateur music criticism. But now more professional music publications and outlets have gotten into the mix! Local UT student-run KVRX exists somewhere in the middle of that miasma - both pros at production and running a radio station, but decided amateurs in some of that crap that scrawls across the frequency late at night. Really, we love that you guys are stoned off your ass at 2:00am in the booth, but just spin some damn records already. (It’s still better than listening to KUT’s new “Undercurrents” syndication, though).
Anyway, the KVRX Local Live clan has started to do some video shoots that they’re calling The Austin Sessions, your typical (these days, anyway) put a band in a weird place and make them play kind of thing. Kinda like the ill-fated KUT and Super Alright “Retread Sessions” that was cool for all of the about 2 seconds it lasted. We’re impressed by what the KVRX kids have put together though, especially since Local Live is well established for showcasing some of the best Austin talent before they start getting any real attention. They’ve already brought in Wine and Revolution, and we hear they have the Eastern Sea on tap, too. It’s like they’re in our head!!!
Below you can scope their recent session with the Sour Notes. They set the group up in the Dobie Theater before a screening of Inglourious Basterds, and let them release their pop magic. The Sour Notes have a brand new 7? out titled with the sage advice of Never Mix, Never Worry, and you can also watch a video of them performing a new tune called “A Cute Little Ruin” live from Sugar Hill studios. The Sour Notes will also be playing a nice indie bill at La Zona Rosa come October 1 with No Mas Bodas, One Hundred Flowers, and Moth!Fight! Keep up with the Austin Sessions here.
- Doug Freeman, Austin Sound
Sour Notes 7-inch Release Party (9/2009)
[+ Show ]
The new album is super-charged, full of emotion, and definitely a step up for Sour Notes. Never Mix ...The new album is super-charged, full of emotion, and definitely a step up for Sour Notes. Never Mix Never Worry cuts down on the teenage-like innocence and beefs up the classic rock and songwriting elements with a mystical effect. There's plenty more incentive to come out to the Parlor tonight, too. It's free, the first ten entrants get a free copy of the 7-inch and there's a slew of great openers.
Milk Thistle, a simplistic yet sophisticated indie-rock group, will set the tone with steady vocals and complex rhythm. The outfit is now in the final stages of production of its album, Heart + Soul, which should be released soon. Bear Claw is a minimalist folk quartet with lots of melodica. Alas there is A Faulty Chromosome who brings quirky and dissonant indie tunes to the table.
We're stoked about this line-up and happy to congratulate Sour Notes for their hard work. Make sure you're at The Parlor Saturday night to give them a high five and a fist pump.
- Candace Birkelbach, Austinist
REVIEW: The Sour Notes - Never Mix, Never Worry (8/2009)
[+ Show ]
On their previous full-lengths The Sour Notes have bounced between open-hearted pop balladry, catchy...On their previous full-lengths The Sour Notes have bounced between open-hearted pop balladry, catchy boyfriend-rock, and fuzzy psychedelica, which often melded beautifully but sometimes came off as a band uncertain of their sound. Or at least that’s what I thought. This new seven-inch finally brings all sides of The Sour Notes together to a whole, and it turns out the band was pretty sure of what they were going after all along, it just hadn’t shone itself yet. It does now. The title track stomps and struts out its kiss-off lyrics, rushing through lots of quick bursts of wonderfulness before snapping shut surprisingly. It basically sounds like your last relationship in all its glory/sadness. But it’s the b-side, “Rose Puzzles”, that’s really something special. The song builds slowly, then suddenly it’s off hop-scotching the musical spectrum from Postal Service to TV On The Radio to Slowdrive, but all while keeping something that’s distinctly The Sour Notes right out front. And that’s the thing; The Sour Notes are now throwing a million ideas into every song, and they finally sound like themselves. If they can keep towards this sort of forward motion, the future holds a million prizes that I’m already stoked about. Good going, dudes.
- Loco Nunca
KVRX Summer Special at U.S. Art Authority on Saturday (8/2009)
[+ Show ]
After some hullabaloo last summer regarding permits, noise, and all sort of innuendo, the U.S. Art A...After some hullabaloo last summer regarding permits, noise, and all sort of innuendo, the U.S. Art Authority at 29th and Fruth closed its doors—only to later reopen and continue showcasing art and live music. Huh. Who'da thunk it?
While the locale has kept a somewhat lower profile in the intervening months, the KVRX Summer Special this Saturday night will no doubt turn out a crowd. The student radio station has wisely put together a fine bill of performers who represent some of this city's most talented up and comers in regard to unconventional pop.
Notable experimental project Mothfight will perform, apparently after having shed the exclamation! points! from their name. Wild, continuous, and fragmented but stunning live sets are what we've come to expect from this band, who continue to impress us with tracks from what we can only hope is a forthcoming debut album (to be out sometime this century?).
The fine, synth-laded Sour Notes will also perform, and are currently supporting a new 7" single out this month entitled "Never Mix, Never Worry." In January, the band is going out on their "It's Not Gonna Be Pretty Tour" across parts of the States.
The notoriously prolific School Police also share the bill. This group, which includes members of about nineteen other projects (including Belaire, Way No Way, etc. etc.) are also the proud parents of a new EP, Circles.
And because no live music event is complete without someone DJing(?), DJ Dan Gentile will also be playing tunes.
- Adam Schragin, Ausitnist
From SugarHill Glasnost and The Sour Notes Today – Listen ONLINE (8/2009)
[+ Show ]
The show is free and listeners can login for a live stream at http://www.outboundmusic.com WHAT: ...The show is free and listeners can login for a live stream at http://www.outboundmusic.com
WHAT: Live From SugarHill Episode VI featuring Glasnost and The Sour Notes
WHEN: Thursday, August 13, 2009 7p.m. to 8p.m. CST at http://www.outboundmusic.com
Live From SugarHill features electro-pop outfit, Glasnost and Austin pop quartet, The Sour Notes in August. The program includes short sets and candid interviews with Rosa Guerrero and award-winning record producer, Dan Workman. Community guest and ‘audience of one’ is freelance writer Chris Henderson, who covers Houston nightlife in http://29-95.com, Houston Press, Houston Magazine and Texas Music Magazine. Live from SugarHill, Episode VII airs on August 13, 2009 at 7p.m. CST and is a collaborative effort between Zenfilm, http://OutboundMusic.com and SugarHill Recording Studios.
The Sour Notes are a dreamy pop band hailing from Austin. Beginning in Houston as the solo project of songwriter Jared Boulanger, it wasn’t until moving to Austin that he transformed The Sour Notes into the full-fledged performance ensemble it is today. Since 2008, the band has released two full-length albums, The Meat of the Fruit and Received in Bitterness, as well as a 7? single. They’ve toured nationally and appeared on Austin’s KVRX-FM program ‘Local Live’.
- Indie Houston
ABOUT THE SONG: THE SOUR NOTES - "NEVER MIX, NEVER WORRY" (7/2009)
[+ Show ]
Jared Paul Boulanger to Recycled Love Songs on the track “Never Mix, Never Worry”: “I wrote this ...Jared Paul Boulanger to Recycled Love Songs on the track “Never Mix, Never Worry”:
“I wrote this song along with the B-Side song (Rose Puzzles) about 2 months ago while watching the Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton film ‘Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolfe’… Alot of the lyrics, including the title of (NMNW) are about the main characters relationship in the film. I usually always cast myself as a character in movies I watch and it’s probably my biggest inspiration for writing and feeling out situations in a lyrical sort of rhyme scheme. This time it was Richard Burton’s perspective I was kinda digging on. As a band we were just really digging playing these songs live and wanted to put out a very different-sounding release before our next album comes out in December ’09. The 7? record was recorded in 2 sessions at KVRX in Austin by Kayla Croft and The Treehouse in Houston by Steve Christensen. The latter of whom also mixed the record. The record is available August 30th and comes on limited edition colored vinyl in screen-printed jackets, but listeners can stream the tracks from myspace, facebook and last fm now!”
- Recycled Love Songs
The Sour Notes - Received in Bitterness (4/2009)
[+ Show ]
These burgeoning Austin indie-rock favorites update '60s power-pop for a down home variation of Seat...These burgeoning Austin indie-rock favorites update '60s power-pop for a down home variation of Seattle rockers Death Cab for Cutie. On "Is It Happening," lead singer Jared Boulanger's vintage vocals are like an all-you-take buffet of earnestness and angst.
- Shea Serrano, Modern Luxury
Sound Advice Vol. III: Starry Eyes (3/2009)
[+ Show ]
Another exceptional debut EP from the past year was the Sour Notes’ The Meat of the Fruit. Behind Ja...Another exceptional debut EP from the past year was the Sour Notes’ The Meat of the Fruit. Behind Jared Boulanger’s delicate, nasally croon, and pining lyrics, the quartet swoons a mellow indie-rock that hearkens Death Cab for Cutie. Following up the EP with their recent debut full-length Received in Bitterness, the group branched into even more expansive guitar layers that often shaded the New Year, and are already plotting LP number two, tentatively titled It’s Not Gonna Be Pretty, for release later this year. Also, be sure not to miss their stunning cover of Jawbreaker’s “Accident Prone” in their Sound Off.
- Doug Freeman, Austin Sound
Review: The Sour Notes – Received in Bitterness (2/2009)
[+ Show ]
Since releasing their debut EP, The Meat of the Fruit, last summer, the Sour Notes have quickly beco...Since releasing their debut EP, The Meat of the Fruit, last summer, the Sour Notes have quickly become local favorites, and with good reason. Principle Note Jared Boulanger crafts beautiful and questioning melodies that are rife with a direct pop angst. Yet that angst is sweetly plied, never over-bearing or melodramatic, and the quartet continually upends its pop stylings with unexpected samples and keyboard bursts that manage to keep the songs fascinating through repeated listenings, even as the short eight song album is over much too quickly.
There is an undeniable Death Cab for Cutie earnestness to many of the songs, bolstered by Boulanger’s Ben Gibbard-nodding vocals that are youthful and slightly sentimental. There is also a sense of the New Year’s hazy sound in the guitar tones and kind of sad suburban angst that seems to define the Kadane Brothers’ musings. While those bands best describe the Sour Notes overall aesthetic, Received in Bitterness also proves that they have much more to their music, however.
Opener “Psychological Thriller” kicks off with a skuzzed up barrage of guitars and synths that is altogether unexpected before settling into a more mellow space with Boulanger crooning “All that I love, I pretend you are not.” The willful denial of the song reawakens throughout the album, and in fact reiterates what Boulanger told us about the album’s title in their recent Sound Off: “The title comes from being in situations where you might accept or be vulnerable to things happening to you, and letting them happen, even though you might just be tricking yourself knowingly.” Yet the Sour Notes also seem to revel in that kind of conscious obliviousness, creating a disillusioned tension throughout.
The piano bop and garage pop of “Holy Terror” may be the most divergent of the tracks, giving the album an early lift before “Is It Happening?” swirls into a more stricken pop territory with subdued horns and a crescendoeing falsetto vocal push. As Boulanger extends “I don’t think I’ll ever learn,” that hint of the New Year comes full to the fore. Like their stunning cover of Jawbreaker’s “Accident Prone,” the song “It’s Just a Cut…” unravels the sad, youthful emo-tint (in a good way) with steady aggressive riffs and a pop-surging chorus. And “Double Negative” carries the kind of emotional heft anchoring Blake Schwarzenbach’s songs and, though much more plaintive in it’s piano-based balladry, actually wouldn’t sound out of place being played by a band like Jets to Brazil.
Even as those type of tunes gesture toward a sound that could easily break outside of Austin, there are equally compelling moments on Received in Bitterness that are surprising and strange. “Your Pretty Sphinx Voice” samples French lines from Jean-Luc Godard’s “Alphaville” over trippy ambience that eventually pummels a driving beat into a softly swooning heartbreak and reverb-hollowed well. It’s a surreal intro, one that seems to drift into another plane of stoned loneliness, and though at first somewhat disruptive within the overall album as it’s dreamy centerpiece, it becomes a mesmerizing suture between it’s two halves and the most interesting song in relation to the whole.
The female vocals that sparsely harmonize throughout the album also offer a perfect shading to Boulanger’s bared emotionalism, a calm counterpoint that actually seems to hearken what is going on outside of the solipsistic view of Boulanger’s disillusioned conceptions of relationships and the world around him. It also makes sense, then, that the penultimate song, “What In the World?,” becomes a plea of “will you wake up?” and the ripping from respite becomes a disorienting and hash cataclysm that melts into the quick closing warp of backward loops on “…Then Who Does?” The female voice faintly calling “If I’d have known…” brings us back to the surface, but the dreamscape that the Sour Notes have unveiled make you immediately want to crawl back into their beautifully subconscious world, as hurt and confused as it may be.
- Doug Freeman, Austin Sound
The Sour Notes - Received in Bitterness (2/2009)
[+ Show ]
Austin-based indie-pop quartet The Sour Notes welcomed 2009 by releasing a new album, Received in Bi...Austin-based indie-pop quartet The Sour Notes welcomed 2009 by releasing a new album, Received in Bitterness, and playing a celebratory show at Rudyard's in Houston.
When I first heard the Sour Notes' Received in Bitterness, it somehow seemed fresh and familiar at once; the songs evoked memories of someone or something, but I couldn't quite pin down who or what. I listened to the album in its entirety several more times over the following weeks, determined to locate the source of my unexpected nostalgia. Finally, earlier today it hit me: The Sour Notes remind me, at least at times, of Pizzicato Five, a Japanese pop group I was obsessed with for a couple of years in college. This certainly didn't help clear up my puzzlement initially – what could P5 possibly have in common with an indie quartet from Austin? I love learning new things: P5 are credited with leading the shibuya-kei movement in Tokyo in the 90s; shibuya-kei is an offshoot of yé-yé...which in turn heavily influences the Sour Notes' musical style, and might explain some of the stylistic similarities that caught my attention. Neato, eh? Now I really want P5 to reunite and play this song. Anyway, moving on...
As on Fruit, Bitterness finds frontman Jared Boulanger posing many questions in his lyrics, contributing to an overall theme of uncertainty throughout the album. It would seem that Boulanger (or the character portrayed in his songs, anyway) is unsure of his rightful place in the world and situations surrounding him. This results in many memorable, wistful lyrics (some of my faves: "All that I lost I pretend you have found" from "Psychological Thriller"; "You sleep around with the images you can't let go" from "It's Just a Cut"; "If our beyond has come and gone, will you take the blame for the games we played?" from "Double Negative"). As a whole, Bitterness reveals a more polished side of the Sour Notes: a shinier, smoother surface that features better composed, more deftly arranged pieces.
Album opener – and personal favorite – "Psychological Thriller" serves well in its role as an introduction to the rest of the album, drawing listeners in with its ethereal, plaintive vocals layered over a driving bass line and delicate yet foreboding bells. Lead single "Is It Happening?" features gleaming guitar riffs and Boulanger's characteristic questioning of the ways of the heart; his wistfully pessimistic attitude is captured at the end of this song, as he mournfully admits, "I don't think I'll ever learn."
"Your Pretty Sphinx Voice," by far the longest song on the mostly sub-3:30 album, is also Bitterness' most unique. Ghostly samples from Jean-Luc Godard's Alphaville joined by several distinct movements and tempo changes make this track multi-textured and unlike any other on Bitterness. Another particularly bright spot on the album is actually one of its most subdued. During "Double Negative," the band employs minimal instrumentation, an effective choice that keeps the focus on Boulanger's melancholy lyrics. It cuts me a little every time I hear Boulanger sadly muse, "I thought our troubles would end when and if I traveled through them," immediately followed by those two simple alternating notes on the keys that are somehow heartbreaking. The album ends with a track that's more of a coda than a standalone song – clocking in at only 1:16, it features fuzzy, almost Ratatat-esque electronic sounds and one simple lyric: "If I don't know..." The song's title – "...Then Who Does?" – finishes the thought and provides a succinct summary of Bitterness' lyrical theme.
Received in Bitterness Track List
1. Psychological Thriller
2. Holy Terror
3. Is It Happening?
4. Your Pretty Sphinx Voice
5. It's Just a Cut...
6. Double Negative
7. What in the World?
8. ...Then Who Does?
We had the pleasure of seeing the Sour Notes perform at Rudyard's in early January, just before they embarked on a month-long tour. Vocalist/keyboardist/guitarist Boulanger, bassist Brandi Dipietro, guitarist/keyboardist Chris Page and drummer Travis Hackett treated us to several songs from Received in Bitterness, plus a few more.
- Jim Bricker, Breakfast On Tour
Texas Platters: The Sour Notes - Received In Bitterness (2/2009)
[+ Show ]
n one year, Jared Boulanger's Sour Notes formed, released 2008's inspired The Meat of the Fruit EP, ...n one year, Jared Boulanger's Sour Notes formed, released 2008's inspired The Meat of the Fruit EP, toured, recorded this first LP, and then went back into his home studio for more recording. We should all be so productive. The Austin via Houston quartet's Received in Bitterness isn't perfect – a better mix would help – but it's a celebration of Boulanger's boyish vocals, pop experimentalism, and a rhythm section that understands its role. Opener "Psychological Thriller" hits with a Secret Machines blast melting into tinkling keys, but xylophone/horn jam "Is It Happening?" is the band's trademark, a fully formed storyline highlighted by euphoric guitar flourishes. "Your Pretty Sphinx Voice" pulls French New Wave into the Digital Age, and the slow, moody "Double Negative" begs for lighters. The Sour Notes have taken classic songwriting and seasoned it with the innocence of being 16 again.
- Darcie Stevens, Austin Chronicle
New Music: The Sour Notes (2/2009)
[+ Show ]
As we all seem to know now, Austin, Texas has some sort of magical soil in being home to so many awe...As we all seem to know now, Austin, Texas has some sort of magical soil in being home to so many awesome bands. Add The Sour Notes to the list of Austin stand outs. They are relatively new to the world (they just formed in 2008) but already have released a beautiful swaying debut The Meat Of The Fruit and an atmospheric rough around the edges stunner of an album Received In Bitterness. The latter album just came out on New Years Day and I’m completely wrapped up in it right now (I’m terribly sick right now, but this album is cutting the edge off of it). The Sour Notes have that clever songwriting we come to expect from Austin bands. They also have a knack for piling on the echoes in certain spaces to give their music a spacious Animal Collective charm to it. On the other hand lead singer Jared Paul Boulanger’s voice is so smooth and star-like I wouldn’t be surprised to hear some Fleet Foxes comparisons. Oh and they even have another album due out at the end of the year! Talk about productive. Don’t sleep on these guys.
- Pasta Primavera
Critic's Pick: The Sour Notes, Jana Hunter (1/2009)
[+ Show ]
The Sour Notes' (pictured) allure is an easy one--dreary yet rich pop ballads from Texas that ease y...The Sour Notes' (pictured) allure is an easy one--dreary yet rich pop ballads from Texas that ease you through the gloom with melodic charm and earnest sweetness. It's not Pedro the Lion sour by any stretch, but their world has seen brighter days. It's broadly what you'd call indie, and middle-of-the-road indie at that, but with indie music busy trying to outweird itself right now, the Sour Notes make a surprisingly refreshing sort of conservative music done well--it's stuff that sticks to the ribs, as they say. And, well, Jana Hunter's heady folk-pop has been sticking to Baltimore's ribs for a good while now, but we're awfully excited to see her perform in a space as wee as the Zodiac. Make sure you inappropriately scream something about releasing a new album already.
- Michael Byrne, City Paper
Top 10s: LOCAL CHORUS LINE (1/2009)
[+ Show ]
1) Charles Potts Magic Windmill Band, The Golden Calves (Business Deal) 2) The Sour Notes, The Meat...1) Charles Potts Magic Windmill Band, The Golden Calves (Business Deal)
2) The Sour Notes, The Meat of the Fruit
3) Mammoth Grinder, Rage and Ruin (Depleted Resource)
4) The Ape-Shits, La Pollution Culturelle (Super Secret)
5) Silver Pines, Forces
6) Pillow Queens, Kookoolegit (Monofonus Press)
7) When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, Not Noiice (Chalk Circle)
8) Gretchen Phillips, I Was Just Comforting Her (Seasick Sailor)
9) My Education, Bad Vibrations (Strange Attractors Audio House)
10) Murdocks, Roar! Roar! Roar! (Surprise Truck)
- Audra Schroeder, Austin Chronicle
Texas Top 10s (1/2009)
[+ Show ]
1) The Sour Notes, The Meat of the Fruit 2) Balmorhea, Rivers Arms (Western Vinyl) 3) White Denim,...1) The Sour Notes, The Meat of the Fruit
2) Balmorhea, Rivers Arms (Western Vinyl)
3) White Denim, Exposion (Transmission Entertainment)
4) Shearwater, Rook (Matador)
5) The Black Angels, Directions to See a Ghost (Light in the Attic)
6) Eliza Gilkyson, Beautiful World (Red House)
7) Red Leaves, By Road or Rail
8) The Sword, Gods of the Earth (Kemado)
9) The Moonhangers, The Last of the New York Sessions (Bloodchili)
10) Horse + Donkey, Dreams
- Darcie Stevens, Austin Chronicle
Critics Poll: Best New Local Act (1/2009)
[+ Show ]
BEETS - Foot Patrol CALIGIURI - Dustin Welch & the House Band FAWCETT - Rae Davis FREEMAN - The E...BEETS - Foot Patrol
CALIGIURI - Dustin Welch & the House Band
FAWCETT - Rae Davis
FREEMAN - The Eastern Sea
HAUPT - White Denim
HOFFBERGER - Hacienda
HERNANDEZ - Harlem
MEE - Woodgrain
MOSER - Iron City Soul Shakers
POWELL - Mammoth Grinder
SCHROEDER - Shapes Have Fangs
STEVENS - The Sour Notes
TRACHTENBERG - Cheap Fire
Off the Record: Music News - Nine Locals to Watch in 2009 (1/2009)
[+ Show ]
The Wooden Birds Elvis The Eastern Sea The Bubbles Woven Bones Sea Legs The Great Nostalgic A...The Wooden Birds
The Eastern Sea
The Great Nostalgic
A Giant Dog
The Sour Notes
- Austin Powell, Austin Chronicle
Sound Off: The Sour Notes (12/2009)
[+ Show ]
The Sour Notes burst suddenly onto the local scene this year with the release of their debut EP, The...The Sour Notes burst suddenly onto the local scene this year with the release of their debut EP, The Meat of the Fruit, a beauty of an album with deceptively intricate layers and the juxtaposition of Jared Boulanger’s weighty, reflexive lyrics on a bed of mellow, swaying pop. A touch of Death Cab for Cutie rings throughout the quartet’s work, both in Boulanger’s sentiments and voice. The group is planning the release of their full-length debut this January, and already recording their follow up as well as planning to head out on their first tour. If you’re looking for one of Austin’s best new bands, the Sour Notes have to be near the top of that list, and you can see them this Thursday, December 11, at the Mohawk with One Hundred Flowers, the Great Nostalgic, and Bear Claw.
Profile: The Sour Notes
I happen to be listening to ‘Examination of What’ at this very moment… So, it’s fitting, I guess, to say…
“One day, uhh, while sippin’ some groove juice
I realized that in the span of time we’re just babies
It’s all relative, time is unreal
We’re just babies
We’re just babies man”
But, technically… We formed this year.
Chris unplugs cables, tinkers with synth settings and adjusts the volumes of things while Travis beat boxes. Brandi and Jared try and think of the perfect “That’s what she said” joke till they’re finished.
Former Bands/Side Projects:
The Notorious J.A.R.E.D. (released only 1 single titled ‘Streak Freakin’)
Hackett the Racket
Our debut album, The Meat of the Fruit was self-released in May 2008 and our 2nd album, Received in Bitterness will be released New Years Day 2009! You can also expect our 3rd album, It’s Not Gonna Be Pretty (which we are currently recording) soon after!
Go for a run, then select an Ingmar Bergman film to watch while eating the first meal of the day… Consisting usually of a large portion of pasta topped with either alfredo sauce or marinara, lots of parmesan cheese and accompanied by a hefty glass of cheap champagne… Usually Andre’ or Cook’s.
Strangest comment or comparison ever made about your music:
Strangest comment: “You guys are unbelievable!” - by Drunk Concert Goer
Strangest comparison: “It’s like when you’re having sex on a leaky water-bed and your partner says ‘We’re not on a water-bed’… But with drums… Know what I mean?” - Same Drunk Concert Goer
Favorite local bands:
Ume, Yellow Fever, Diagonals, Many Birthdays, Pataphysics, Belaire, David Israel, One Hundred Flowers, The Great Nostalgic, Bear Claw, Octopus Project… Just to name a few… I really don’t wanna take up the whole article with this… But I could… Easily.
Favorite local venue:
Mohawk outside (which we are ‘yet’ to play)… Every time I see a show there on a fair-weather night, it’s just magical!
Upcoming shows scheduled:
Mohawk inside, Dec. 11th w/One Hundred Flowers, The Great Nostalgic, Bear Claw. COME TO THIS SHOW… IT’S A BIRTHDAY PARTY TOO!
Shows over the next month that you’re excited to see:
If we weren’t going to be on tour, I’d be really excited to see The Donkeys @ Mohawk on Jan 13th…
Some of your favorite albums from the past year:
‘In Rainbows’ by Radiohead
‘Does You Inspire You’ by Chairlift
‘Directions to See a Ghost’ by The Black Angels
Ideal band (past or present) to open for on a national tour:
Past: Francoise Hardy
Present: Antony and The Johnsons
Austin Sound questions:
What can you tell us about the upcoming album?
We went for more of a ‘raw’ feel on ‘Received in Bitterness’, mainly because we’d like every record to sound different from one another. It’s not quite as delicate sounding as our previous effort and was recorded very quickly, very much as a group. The songs on this album are unique to me, personally, because they were written in a way I wasn’t accustomed to, just by the way I was living at that moment.. I had a night job, I didn’t brush my teeth or get dressed before 5 in the afternoon, I stayed home all day in my pajamas drinking champagne and playing guitar to subtitled films. I was sort of lost in ‘movie-land’. Another thing that’s unique about this album, is the fact that every song on ‘Received in Bitterness’ was written and recorded during the day, in the actual order they appear on the album. As opposed to ‘The Meat of the Fruit’, which was written and recorded entirely at night.
What’s the best or worst thing any of y’all have ever received in bitterness?
Well… The title comes from being in situations where you might accept or be vulnerable to things happening to you, and letting them happen, even though you might just be tricking yourself knowingly, because you’re tired… Or bored… And you feel guilty about it… A little.
In my opinion, this song and video encompass the overall feeling of ‘Received in Bitterness’. It features Vocalist Micaila San Miguel and Brass sections by Matt Holmes and Tina Le.
The cover of Jawbreaker’s ‘Accident Prone’ was actually the first thing we recorded before starting on the ‘Received in Bitterness’ album. Jawbreaker is one of my favorite bands and I’ve always wanted to do a really ‘opposite take’ on one of their songs. We even changed the chord progressions and arrangement of the song to sort of make it our own. I hope listeners don’t miss that long instrumental break and drum roll build-up… hehe.
Willie Hughes was one of those ‘That do not do the thing they most do show, Who, moving others are themselves as stone.
- Doug Freeman, Austin Sound
The Sour Notes Tour, Release Video, Cover Jawbreaker (12/2008)
[+ Show ]
The Sour Notes are getting ready to release their second album, Received in Bitterness, in January o...The Sour Notes are getting ready to release their second album, Received in Bitterness, in January of 2009. They've been kind enough to share a new video with us, for the single, "Is It Happening?" as well as a bonus download that should get your '90s punk hearts racing -- a cover of Jawbreaker's "Accident Prone." Follow the jump for their tour dates and mark your calendars: they'll be at the Mohawk on Dec. 11th w/The Great Nostalgic, One Hundred Flowers & Bear Claw.
The Sour Notes' January Tour 2009
Jan 1 Denton, TX @ Rubber Gloves
Jan 2 Houston, TX @ Rudyards
Jan 3 Lafayette, LA @ Artmosphere
Jan 4 Mobile, AL @ Alabama Music Box
Jan 5 Athens, GA @ Caledonia Lounge
Jan 7 Chapel Hill, NC @ The Cave
Jan 8 Baltimore, MD @ TBA
Jan 10 Brooklyn, NY @ Union Hall
Jan 11 Boston, MA @ Harper's Ferry
Jan 12 Philadelphia, PA @ M Room
Jan 13 Nashville, TN @ 5 Spot
Jan 14 Fayetteville, AK @ The OPO
- Paige Maguire, Austinist
Video: The Sour Notes - “Is It Happening?” (12/2008)
[+ Show ]
Though only getting together this year, the Sour Notes already have on EP in the bag and are set to ...Though only getting together this year, the Sour Notes already have on EP in the bag and are set to release their debut LP, Received in Bitterness, early next year. This is one that we are certainly looking forward to, and to prepare us, the local quartet has delivered a video for “Is It Happening” off of the upcoming album. Also, you can find below a download for their amazing cover of Jawbreaker’s “Accident Prone.” We highly recommend you check these guys out at the Mohawk next Thursday, Dec. 11 before they head out on tour.
- Doug Freeman, Austin Sound
New Video: The Sour Notes - Is It Happening? (12/2008)
[+ Show ]
Austin-based indie-pop quartet The Sour Notes quickly landed on my list of bands to watch after catc...Austin-based indie-pop quartet The Sour Notes quickly landed on my list of bands to watch after catching their debut album release party/first show ever last May. The dreamy, reflective collection of songs that is The Meat of the Fruit served as an impressive introduction to the band, and I've been looking forward to their next studio effort ever since. The Sour Notes' new album, Received in Bitterness, is due out on January 1; an in-store performance at Cactus Music and a CD release party at Rudyard's in Houston are planned for January 2.
The band also boasts a spiffy new video for Bitterness track "Is It Happening?"
Their next show will go down on December 11 at the Mohawk in Austin; the band will spend most of January on the road in support of their new album. Check their Myspace page for dates and details.
- Jim Bricker, Breakfast On Tour
Show Review: The Sour Notes, Ume, Marnie Stern at The Mohawk (11/2008)
[+ Show ]
The Mohawk stacked their bill last night, giving attendees much more than their money’s worth for si...The Mohawk stacked their bill last night, giving attendees much more than their money’s worth for six bands on both stages. Attendees could choose to show up early for Danielson and two more bands on the outside stage, or just pop in later for the inside show, starting at eleven. To those who stayed for each and every band: congrats, that’s a lot of standing and listening, and you have remarkable musical depth. Some of us, however, cheated and came late, less excited about seven-piece Christian family bands than hard rocking power trios.
Speaking of hard rocking power trios, the description fits both Marnie Stern’s band and Ume pretty well, which is why the sensitive sounds of locals The Sour Notes seemed an odd fit (what, were Those Peabodys booked already?). The quartet did make a fine opener, if not an obvious one, working within the framework of singer-songwriter rock centered on lead singer Jared Paul Boulanger’s heartfelt confessions and, on occasion, slightly off-key but sweet vocals. Assisted by an army of effects pedals and more keyboards than there were band members, The Sour Notes introduced new material from what is likely to be their forthcoming record, Received in Bitterness and turned the nozzle from slow and sad to fast and jumpy enough to keep it interesting.
The stage now warmed up, it fell on our own Ume to set things aflame. The group was one of the early Sunday standouts at Fun Fun Fun, their refreshingly minimalist take on noise-rock a nice antidote to some of prog-indie's more stuffy contenders. Energy oozes from this band, from the quick pace of Jeff Barrera’s drumming to the strange dance Eric and Lauren Larson do when they settle on a particularly monstrous groove. The music Ume make is abrasive and dreamy, enough to satisfy the most rock-starved shoegazer and pop-leaning metalhead.
On the subject of metalheads, this easy classification for guys with long hair who want to rock applied to at least a handful in the crowd this evening, 100% more than usually present at the Mohawk. They came to see Marnie Stern, and she did not disappoint them, leading off with her famous shed-guitar tapping, which would bring a smile to Eddie Van Halen’s now-toothless mouth. Armed with a second guitarist and a wild and fill-crazed drummer, Stern’s band played a steady heap of complicated but slam-danceable rawk, just restrained enough to keep it from entering the dubious realm of math rock but too interesting to fall into catch-all punk.
Marnie Stern by Arian Brumby
Maybe we’ll look back and see two years ago as 2006: The Year Metal Broke or maybe not, but what is certain is that Stern’s riot grrl-meets-Quiet Riot sound blossomed at a pretty perfect time, first with last year’s In Advance of the Broken Arm and more recently with the mouthful This Is It and I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and It Is It and That Is That. Wow – Fiona Apple, eat your heart out. Anyway, as attendees of the show already know, Stern is playing again at the Beauty Bar at eleven tonight. Come on out to see what you may have missed last night.
- Adam Schragin, Austinist
Show Preview: High Places, The Sour Notes & Moth Fight @ Emo's (10/2008)
[+ Show ]
Mary Pearson and Rob Barber formed High Places in 2006. The Brooklyn-based duo employs a multitude o...Mary Pearson and Rob Barber formed High Places in 2006. The Brooklyn-based duo employs a multitude of beats in varying rhythms along with ample reverb and plentiful studio trickery to create soundscapes that chirp, throb, squeak, and echo. High Places utilize conventional and novel instruments to produce a wide array of sounds, and Pearson’s mesmerizing vocal contributions are aptly placed upon these hypnotic backdrops. A trance like ambiance is usually the result; High Places’ concoctions seem fit for that dissonance one can experience during a hallucinogenic trip. Not that we’d know anything about that.
High Places’ will be preceded on stage by Moth Fight, an extremely talented local band spearheaded by Kevin Adickes. The multi-instrumentalists in the troupe conjure up diverse sonic onslaughts that harbor stirring cacophonous passages as well as welcome euphoric harmonies. Fellow Austinites The Sour Notes get things rolling at Emo’s (Inside) this evening with sweet pop ditties off 2008’s The Meat of The Fruit and previews from their upcoming Received in Bitterness record. Former Sound Team member Matt Oliver is also scheduled to perform with his new outfit, The Minotaurs.
- Adi Anand, Austinist
Texas Platters: deEP end (8/2008)
[+ Show ]
Where the hell did the Sour Notes come from? Jared Boulanger's new fourpiece rips out the gate with ...Where the hell did the Sour Notes come from? Jared Boulanger's new fourpiece rips out the gate with jaded pop gem The Meat of the Fruit. It's the best of all worlds: hints of Postal Service, boy-girl harmonies, bittersweet lyricism, fresh songwriting, beautiful home production, and a voice a million girls will fall in love with. Opener "Weak at Heart" starts fey and blows up angry, "Leslie Burke" breaks the clouds with summer simplicity and reverb, and "A Woman or a Grave" is all effortless smile. Who said pop is boring? Here's hoping debut LP Received in Bitterness, dropping later this year, is even half as juicy.
- Darcie Stevens, Austin Chronicle
Album Review: The Sour Notes - The Meat of the Fruit (8/2008)
[+ Show ]
There are several album reviews we've been meaning to write for some time now, but just haven't foun...There are several album reviews we've been meaning to write for some time now, but just haven't found the time (and/or proper discipline) to get the words onscreen. We've slapped ourselves on our collective wrists and, tails between our legs, pledge to improve. This post will kick things off with Cereal's take on The Sour Notes' debut effort, The Meat of the Fruit.
Austin-based indie pop quartet The Sour Notes released their first album, the six-song The Meat of the Fruit, back in May, and celebrated at The Mink/Backroom in Houston by playing their first show ever. Over the past few months, I've spent quite a bit of time with this record in a variety of settings - in the car, at work, while walking, curled up on the couch. The verdict? The Meat of the Fruit is a great companion for any of these scenarios. As for me, I think my favorite listening time was in the mornings, ambling through Montrose as I made my way to the bus stop. Mornings are a solitary, contemplative time for me; I see them as an opportunity to recollect my thoughts and sift through recent events. How perfect, then, to have my ruminations accompanied by the reflective, expansive gem that is The Meat of the Fruit. The Sour Notes have succeeded in creating an accessible album that many people can relate to.
On my first listen to The Meat of the Fruit, I was sure that lead song "Weak at Heart" was my album favorite; this might have been influenced by its inclusion as the set closer of the performance I attended at The Mink. Repeat listens do nothing to diminish its charm; it's certainly one of the strongest tracks on the album. Simple keys at the top of "Weak at Heart" are the perfect lead-in for frontman Jared Boulanger's gentle vocals, and the song offers listeners their first glimpse of his plaintive lyrics. Guitarist/keyboardist Chris Page, bassist Brandi Dipietro, and drummer Travis Hackett also make their presence felt by painting bittersweet landscapes with their respective instruments.
"Weak at Heart" sleekly flows into "It's Easier to Be a Hypocrite," which begins with a fine example of Boulanger's characteristic writing tone: "There's nothing worse than can't give back/What you're still feeling." From there, the regret flowing from his heartfelt lyrics is almost palpable. Also of note are the backing vocals on this song - they meld particularly well with Boulanger's voice. Next up is "The Truth in Our Lies," one of the slower tracks on The Meat of the Fruit. The atmosphere created by the haunting keys, spare drums, and gloomy bass combined with pensive lyrics make for a rather chilling listening experience. Utterances like "I'm trying to fill the emptiness/with secrets inside my head again" further congeal the song's eerie aura.
"Leslie Burke" opens with the sound of rain, which aptly sets the mood for the darker, more subdued material that follows. Boulanger's airy vocals establish a ghostly effect from the beginning of "Leslie Burke," the song that claims the title for most lyrically concise on the album. It includes only three different words, but manages to say so much more. There's something fresh and guileless in Boulanger's voice, and he effectively conveys a whole host of emotions using only the word "I." Repetition has a powerful effect here, with each iteration of the pronoun building upon the previous. It sounds as though Boulanger is attempting an apology, but can't seem to locate the right words for the occasion. Perhaps, however, it only sounds like stalled penitence to me because of the expectations of regret built by earlier songs. The lyrics of "Leslie Burke" are subtly suggestive; the rest is left up to your imagination. He could easily be attempting to express either affection or regret. The absence of substantial vocals also affords an opportunity for the other band members to shine. The sparse, scattered instrumentation doesn't follow the traditional structure of a pop song, and the results are compellingly ethereal. A hi-hat roll starting at 1:34 heralds the introduction of denser instrumental elements that continue to build throughout the song. After several listens, "Leslie Burke" has managed to surpass "Weak at Heart" as my (current) favorite from the album.
From there, the album journeys to the delicate and unhurried "Trivial Pursuit," which brings to mind '50s-era pop. "Put the memory behind me/I know it's gone completely...I know you're gone completely," Boulanger sings, and listeners are taken back to the unambiguous territory of remorse. The beginning of album closer "A Woman or a Grave" finds Boulanger's vocals accompanied by only Dipietro's bass, but the quiet is quickly and deftly expelled by the circus-like introduction of the rest of the band's instrumental contributions. Later, the bridge takes the song in a new, darker direction, featuring lyrics like "Stand and wait on a steel beam rafter/And you don't care what comes after." Either Boulanger has experienced a few rocky patches, or he's got a dysphoric imagination as far as romance is concerned. Whatever the case may be, his starkly honest lyrics are appealing.
The Meat of the Fruit sounds like a midnight slow dance with a lover that you know you should leave behind; it feels like a light rain that's refreshing, but not healing enough to wash away your wounds from past disappointments. Many of the songs would fit perfectly in a wistful break-up scene in an indie movie with a soundtrack handpicked by Zach Braff - and I mean that in the best possible way. As a whole, this effort by the quartet rewards repeated listens. Their bridges are well-placed and help each piece to maintain freshness without becoming cloying. The attention given to programming is obvious, as all of the tracks flow nicely into one another. Also worth mentioning is that the album was mixed by sound engineer Steve Christensen, who did an amazing job (as always).
While Boulanger's voice isn't sensational, it's a pleasant and fitting complement to the style of music he's chosen to pursue. His skilled songwriting is unquestionably enhanced by the talented cast of musicians he has behind him in Hackett, Dipietro and Page. The Meat of the Fruit is a strong debut from this young group, and it definitely left me anticipating their follow-up. The Sour Notes are currently working on their second album, Received in Bitterness, which they plan to release later this year.
The band's next live appearance will be on August 22 at Emo's in Austin.
- Jim Bricker, Breakfast On Tour
Review: The Sour Notes, The Meat of The Fruit (7/2008)
[+ Show ]
Lush and quiet, the sad songs that make up The Meat Of The Fruit take listeners on a slow-paced jour...Lush and quiet, the sad songs that make up The Meat Of The Fruit take listeners on a slow-paced journey full of sometimes spacey, always melodic pop. Guitarist/vocalist Jared Boulanger shows a definite knack for introspection–for The Sour Notes, love is a trivial pursuit and pining away for a lost love is a favorite pastime. With lyrics like “I’m trying to fill the emptiness with secrets inside my head again” and “I don’t know if that’s me from a different view,” and song titles like “The Truth In Our Lives” and “Weak At Heart,” the Austin-based foursome–which includes guitarist/keyboardist Chris Page, bassist Brandi Dipietro, and drummer Travis Hackett–shows a familiar side of songwriting that rarely seems this fresh. The band breaks from the overall mellow feel of the EP with “A Woman Or A Grave” and the poppy, synth-heavy “It’s Easier to Be A Hypocrit,” songs that show The Sour Notes’ range and depth. What really makes The Meat Of The Fruit special is its lack of pretension. The subject matter may be weighty, but the music keeps it from weighing on the listener.
The Sour Notes play with Papermoons this Friday night (7.11.08) at The Mink’s Backroom. More information on The Sour Notes can be found at www.thesournotes.com.
- David A. Cobb, Houston Calling
Le Diamant Brut: Frog Eyes & The Sour Notes (6/2008)
[+ Show ]
What’s the Deal: Well, there isn’t really much that’s sour about this Austin pop group. They’re pret...What’s the Deal: Well, there isn’t really much that’s sour about this Austin pop group. They’re pretty much all sugar, although sometimes it can be a little bittersweet. The group – Jared Boulanger, Chris Page, Brandi Dipietro and Travis Hackett – formed just this year and has recently released The Meat of the Fruit, their first 7-song album. They’re playing at Hole in the Wall on Thursday night with Antarctica Starts Here and Pataphysics. There’s a Ben Gibbard-esque calmness in the vocals of Boulanger amidst the copious amounts of twinkle and melody, and by the end of the first track the moodiness takes hold and the heavy-hearted nature of their name is obvious.
The wounded sentimentality behind “Weak at Heart” from The Meat of the Fruit is conveyed by fluttering harmony, winking keys, clean guitars and a voice that sounds like the singer is hanging his head low.
Something Interesting: Their first LP, Received in Bitterness, is due out later this year.
Other Tracks Worth Checking Out: “It’s Easier to be a Hypocrite” and “Leslie Burke”
- William Mills, Austinist
Ume, Lymbyc Systym and The Sour Notes @ The Mink/Backroom (5/2008)
[+ Show ]
On Saturday, May 24, I was ordered by the evil BOThead overlord Eggs (kidding (kinda)) to cover the ...On Saturday, May 24, I was ordered by the evil BOThead overlord Eggs (kidding (kinda)) to cover the Ume/Lymbyc Systym/The Sour Notes show at The Mink/Backroom in Houston. I had just settled in to enjoy a slothful holiday weekend, and was not exactly pleased at the prospect of braving the rabid humidity to take pictures and jot down notes in a poorly lit venue, but I went nonetheless - and I'm quite glad that I did.
Saturday night was a momentous one for Austin-based quartet The Sour Notes, as it marked not only their debut CD release party but also their first ever show together. Some of the band members have roots in Houston, which was evidenced by the large number of family and friends present in the audience - including guitarist/vocalist Jared Boulanger's 5-year-old sister (who looked mighty tired after their set). It could be that I was just positioned in a particularly dense spot, but I swear that it was more packed in the Backroom's upstairs area than I've ever experienced.
The Sour Notes played a collection of 6 or 7 infectious indie-pop pieces. Initially, the vocals seemed a little unsteady, but they improved immensely as the set progressed. I imagine that as Boulanger becomes more comfortable performing the material with this new project, his vocals will convey more confidence. Providing a lush backdrop for Boulanger's lilting lyrics were bassist Brandi Dipietro, guitarist/keyboardist Chris Page, and drummer Travis Hackett.
You might expect a band to be a bit awkward onstage the first time they publicly play their work, and I think you'd be warranted in holding such an expectation. In the case of The Sour Notes, they didn't come off as completely uncomfortable, but they did seem a bit unsure of how to fill the transitional gaps between songs. Dipietro had the most natural presence on stage, but they all looked like they could've gone for a few rounds of Patron, but were refraining due to the presence of family, you know what I'm saying? On the other hand, I appreciated the fact that we weren't getting fed the same stale jokes that had been told in city after city before us - there was something raw and genuine in those not-quite-awkward but almost-too-quiet pauses between songs.
I especially liked their cover of The Ronettes' "When I Saw You", which found Boulanger's soft, buttery vocal melding effortlessly with the musical landscape. Another highlight for me was their set closer, "Weak at Heart", a dulcet ode filled with just enough acerbity to leave you wondering what events could have given Boulanger the urge to "board up the door." It's the opening song (and my current favorite) on their debut album, The Meat of the Fruit - which was included in the ticket price of the show. I've already listened to it in its entirety several times and will be writing more about it very soon. This show was an impressive debut from The Sour Notes, and I look forward to seeing how they develop over the coming months.
- Jim Bricker, Breakfast On Tour
Sour Notes: The Austin group releases The Meat of the Fruit EP (5/2008)
[+ Show ]
Austin’s Sour Notes play lulling, ghostly, fully realized melodies not terribly far from Bright Eyes...Austin’s Sour Notes play lulling, ghostly, fully realized melodies not terribly far from Bright Eyes or the Decemberists. And they do so with a degree of bitterness and rancor — directed both inward and outward — that places the quartet closer to noted indie-folk grouches like Bill Callahan and Cat Power. Their subdued, hummable nature does nothing to lessen the lyrical sting of songs like “Weak at Heart,” “It’s Easier to Be a Hypocrite” or “The Truth in Our Lies,” and may sharpen it to an even deadlier point. You know what they say…it’s always the quiet ones you have to watch out for. Though Saturday’s show is officially a release for their The Meat of the Fruit EP, expect plenty of material from LP Received in Bitterness, due out later this year. Lymbyc System kicks things off at 8 p.m.
The Mink/Backroom, 3718 Main. For tickets and information, call 713-522-9985 or visit www.themink.org/backroom.
Sat., May 24, 8 p.m., 2008
- Chris Gray, Houston Press
30-60 minute sets depending on the bill and venue. Setlist is usually 8 songs from about 30 that we play live, about 5 fast and 3 mellow, all catchy. We rarely play covers, but on extended sets might include either "When I Saw You" by The Ronettes, "Accident Prone" by Jawbreaker, "Halo" by Beyonce, "Harvest Moon" by Neil Young or "Mannequin" by Wire.
|Dec 31, 2013 Tuesday||8:00 PM||Cheer Up Charlie's||Austin, TX, US|
|Feb 22, 2014 Saturday||9:00 PM||Tequila Rok||Beaumont, TX, US|
|Boomtown Music & Film Festival|