Androcles and the Lion
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Androcles and the Lion

Athens, Georgia, United States | SELF

Athens, Georgia, United States | SELF
Band Alternative Folk




"SHOW REVIEW: Androcles and the Lion"

I know we have a section on this site for show reviews, and I feel we don’t post enough of them. It’s not to say that we don’t go to a lot of shows. We try to do our part to promote upcoming shows, so we tend to write more previews than reviews. With that being said, I intend to remedy that right now with a review of last Friday’s show with Androcles and the Lion at The Radio Room. Although, Our Western Sky accompanied them, I have no intention of reviewing a band that I play in. That would just be weird.

To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect with Androcles and the Lion. All I knew was that they were from Athens. I was shocked and impressed with what I heard! Everyone was throwing out names of artists or bands that they thought Androcles and the Lion sounded like, most notably: Lou Reed, Slow Dive, Mojave 3, Smashing Pumpkins, Red House Painters, and many, many others. At times, all of these sounds were present, but the sound that was most prevalent was fearlessness. It takes huge cojones to come into a “dive” bar that you’ve never played in before and throw down a solid set of slow jams and set the place on fire (metaphorically speaking).

In order to save gas and carpool, Androcles and the Lion asked if they could borrow Our Western Sky’s backline (drums and bass amp). We obliged. It was very entertaining to watch another band create such different music with the same equipment. You get so used to using your equipment in a certain way that it’s hard to imagine it could ever be capable of making those types of sounds. I paid very close attention to Androcles and the Lion’s drummer, Paul Stevens. I haven’t witnessed anyone in this scene with that much control and technique. Imagine Jungol’s drummer, Jason Monseur, but way quieter and less busy. I’m not saying that the other members didn’t do work, but since I’m a drummer, that’s where my focus lies.

In summation, the show was very inspiring. It’s not often that we get a band this surprising to come through. If you’re a fan of cinematic music that is as chill as it is intense (it’s possible), then you shouldn’t miss Androcles and the Lion the next time they come to the Upstate. In the meantime, you can go to their Bandcamp page and name your price for their album. Whatever you decide to pay, it’ll be worth it. - We Are The Upstate

"Androcles and the Lion takes its time on full-length"

If one studio sound defines the rock recording process, it’s not the bright whir of a Hammond organ, the buzz and glow of tube amps or even sung notes passing through a panty hose pop-filter on its way into a microphone.
The roll of plastic wheels on a high-backed office chair, a distinct motion propelled by an engineer’s legs as he pushes from a Pro Tools digital recording computer console to a wide mixing board and back again.
Record, redo and repeat. An engineer’s recurring reel is the true machination of the studio session. It’s how the sausage has been made for years.
As often is the case at Chase Park Transduction recording studio, the mixing board is at least a decade older than the musicians funneling tracks into bays and faders.
At the studio last week, McKendrick Bearden, Austin Harris and Paul Stevens, the musicians who make up Androcles and the Lion, took turns popping in and out of a sound booth, adding harmonies and extra percussion to the new slew of tracks they’ve been recording piecemeal over the past year with engineer Drew Vandenberg.
Take after take pushes Vandenberg from board to console, and the trio vacillates over the captured performance. Does the track add or take away from the song as a whole? If it’s the latter, all that rolling may have been in vain.
Androcles and the Lion is a band of young men with little dust on their college degrees.
Their music is moody, almost melancholy, conveying a seriousness of emotion and technique supported by each member’s academic musical training.
Having moved to Athens less than three years ago, the trio quickly released a new EP, “As Far As Blindness Could See,” in the summer of 2011.
As 2012 careens to a close, Androcles is making the first push of a final assault on finishing up sessions for a new full-length.
“We’ve been sitting on it for a while,” Bearden said of the songs they first tracked in May. “We’re just ready to get it out there.”
Bearden said the group has the prolific potential to release a full-length every six months, but not the financial reality. As they mature and write, the band said, coming back to a project has its ups and downs.
“We’re coming back and listening to everything we did in May and hearing it differently now,” added drummer Paul Stevens. “We’ve been playing these tunes for longer in a live setting. The way these songs sound in a recorded setting is different now, for better or worse. Some things don’t have the same ring as they did in May, but at the same time, you work with it and add things on top.”
While they said time could make them indifferent to the emotions laid out in the songs, and their creative drive eggs them to move on, Androcles is nonetheless a methodical band that can look at the recording a process with a higher purpose, and is perhaps willing to cut the old in service of the new.
“Whatever serves to make a better record,” Bearden said.
In the past year, Androcles has been a live-show-focused band.
The newer songs not released on “Blindness” found their birth in sets around Athens and on East Coast tours. In the studio, Androcles can take songs they’ve played a hundred times and start from scratch.
“The thing that gets me excited, for a song we’ve played for a long time, is being able to rethink it in the studio,” Bearden said.
“That’s where I think our training comes in,” Stevens said, explaining how they can layer and compose to give tunes new life.
Harris said many criticized their debut EP as boring, but a newfound writing style, with Stevens as a third contributor, has injected much more energy into the recordings.
“It’s taken on a new dynamic,” Harris said. “The excitement is more transparent. We’ve come together a lot more. Everyone has a distinct voice in the process.”
Androcles filled “Blindness” with dense space in the style of Radiohead and yearning like Bright Eyes.
But the new tracks, while continuing with what might be their trademark emotional intensity, are jaunty in a Nashville-style guitar theatrics sort of way, a post-doctoral take on American and country music.
Time spent aside, Androcles and the Lion are very deliberately making a record, an altogether purposeful act quite different from just a recording.
“We’re really picking the songs, making a cohesive thing,” Stevens said. “There’s a very good chance we won’t use everything we’ve recorded since May.” - Athens Banner-Herald

"Atlanta's A List Top 10 of 2011"

This is my “dark horse” pick. These guys are based in Athens now, but met while studying music at Lagrange College. Musically, this EP moves seamlessly from droning guitar noise to an intimately picked acoustic. These songs affected me when I first heard them, and they continue to do so. Producer/Engineer/Athens-stalwart Drew Vandenberg probably had something to do with that as well. - Atlanta's A List

"Top 10 of 2011"

Holy Jesus! This album blows me away. These guys have studied contemporary song structure in depth and have applied it to their songs. They know all the right buttons to push without sounding manufactured or insincere. Also, there is a lot going on, texturally and dynamically, which is a nice change of pace from the normal rock band setup. Listen to this album to ease yourself back down to earth. It works. - We are the Upstate

"Master Class: Univ. Music Students front Androcles and the Lion"

Androcles and the Lion know what it’s doing — it’s trained.

Usually, a band sits down for a rehearsal and the conversation most likely collapses into a jumble of misused adjectives and emotions.

But for the musicians of Androcles and the Lion, education makes rehearsal a clear, concise and productive endeavor.

McKendrick Bearden, guitarist and vocalist, and Austin Harris, bassist, have both graduated from LaGrange College with music degrees and Paul Stevens, drummer, is a senior at the University working on a music degree as well.

“It’s had a big impact on the way the songs are written and how we talk about the music,” Stevens said. “I think the music is a lot fuller instead of just chomping chords. There is a clear delineation of melody and harmony.”

The band members think their studies give them a leg up among competition.

“Being that we have all studied music classically versus someone just playing guitar in college. I just can’t stress that background enough,” Stevens said. “It’s an advantage to us in writing and performing. It helps us get a lot better. Not to say we’re better, but it helps us.”

The classical education has influenced Androcles and the Lion, but it does not control the group.

“We’re not too conscious of it,” Harris said.

Nothing holds the trio back.

The band has already released an album of material, “As Far As Blindness Could See,” to show itself to the world.

“It’s sort of an introductory recording,” Bearden said.

The recorded sound of the band is certainly different from hearing the band in-person: more indie than folk.

“The EP is a little more melancholy than playing live,” Stevens said.
Live, the band is a little less reserved.

“The recordings are softer. The live shows are more raw,” Bearden said. “A lot of times people will say, ‘You guys sound really ’90s,’ I think it’s just the flashy guitar.”

Originally, the sound of the band had more conservative, and less commercial, roots.

“A lot of it stems from folk-rock sensibility, but it’s taken in a few stranger places,” Bearden said.

The journey the music takes the listener for is the most important purpose of the music — with no clear end-goal.

“The sound is a psychedelic experience of the mind,” Stevens said.
For all the work that goes into producing a complete track, the band hopes the final sound will also be appreciated by the audience: its background in musical contemplation aids the band in creating a well-thought out sound.

“I hope they enjoy the space in the sound and the ambiance of the tone,” Stevens said. “A lot of thought goes into the songs being produced.”

The band wants to keep the journey honest above all — for the audience and for itself.

“The goal is to write honest — whatever that means. That is not limited to style,” Bearden said. “We are just honestly writing and honestly trying to play for people.” - The Red and the Black

"Georgia Music New 10/31/11"

Androcles and the Lion play moody, echo-chamber dream-pop with a perceptive, poetic flair.... their seven-song self-titled CD (As Far As Blindness Could See) is an understated, graceful and occasionally haunting listen. - Stomp and Stammer

"1146 Miles - Androcles and the Lion"

In what I believe is a blog debut, I’d like to introduce Athen, Georgia’s Androcles and the Lion. Their debut EP is called As Far As Blindness Could See. Originally, the album was scheduled for release in August, but the group introduced it July 22nd, 2011.

Androcles and the Lion formed in 2009 when McKendrick Bearden and Austin Harris were attending LaGrange College. After college, they moved to Athens where they met Paul Stevens and also added Shandi Kennedy to the lineup.

"As Far As Blindness Could See" was such an enjoyable listen that I decided it deserves a review.

Off the bat during my first listen, "All We Were" caught my interest initially but as I read the news online it seemed to meander a bit through the middle of the song before I remembered I was listening to music. Sometimes, if I had other plans I would have stepped away, moved on from, and/or forgotten about this EP. It’s funny that I didn’t do that this time and the proceeding six tracks turned out to make this a favorite.

As I sort of noted above, "Eulogy" was the turning point for me. It is also the most interesting track for me. It’s organic indie rock that isn’t afraid to move from different spheres to other influences. There are at least three turns in the track and those turns feel natural and not forced. That natural, organic feel took root as the album progressed.

"Twist Me by the Arm" and "Forgiveness" take their places as alt-country style tracks. Keeping the simplicity of those two tracks, "Beautiful Things" starts the transition to the last two tracks. It starts out so simple, so beautiful and features a slight build at the end that helps preview the ending. The foreshadowing never quite climaxes and allows the next song to start off softly as well.

And then there are my personal favorites, "The Creek That Ran Behind Our House" and "Tired Voices." In the last 11 minutes, these two concluding songs pushed the entire EP way up my favorites list. I wish the last minute of the EP would go on forever. Check out the whole EP and enjoy! - 1146 Miles

"Listen Before You Buy - Androcles and the Lion"

OK, I might be a little biased about this new band, Androcles And The Lion – the name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but we’ll get to that later. Androcles And The Lions are actually from my home state of Georgia – Athens more specifically. Athens is a little-known music hub for established and up-and-coming bands, such as R.E.M., B-52's, and now we can add Androcles And The Lion.

Bandmates McKendrick Bearden and Austin Harris first came together at LaGrange College and moved to Athens, GA after graduation, where they met drummer, Paul Stevens. What first struck me about this band is their musical range. While they say that the general theme of their new EP, “As Far As Blindness Could See,” is about family, loss and isolation, their interpretation of each in their songs is really unique.
They mix hard and full-textured guitar strokes, reminiscent of ’90s grunge, with mellow melodies infused with folk influences and lingering vocals. I first listened to “All We Were” and then skipped to “Beautiful Things,” which offer two very different perspectives. However the band’s tone and point of view are consistent throughout, which is often times rare for a newer band. I was pleasantly surprised.

As for the name, Androcles And The Lion is one of Aesop’s Fable, later adapted and written into a play by George Bernard Shaw. The fable is about a slave, named Androcles, who escapes his master and hides out in the forest. After coming into contact with a lion, Androcles finds comfort and a friend. Throughout the fable and the play there is a constant juxtaposition of modern and traditional; a constant struggle and clash that can also be found in the bands’ tracks – whether intentional or unintentional.

I can’t say enough. Check out their bandcamp page to listen to the full EP. - Listen Before You Buy

"Flagpole Calendar Pick: Androcles and the Lion"

It's always refreshing to find a young band that isn't afraid of sounding pretty. And the harmonies and alternating lead vocals between Austin Harris and McKendrick Bearden of Androcles and the Lion are lovely—at times recalling the honeyed whisper of Elliott Smith or Ryan Adams' more folky moments. With the addition of percussionist Paul Stevens, the trio crafts swelling rock numbers that often start off gently and then crescendo with roaring reverb, care of Bearden's swirling guitar leads. In a live setting, the band often foregoes bass altogether in favor or a two guitar-attack, depending on the song.

"It can be a challenge getting a rich, full sound from only three people," says Stevens, "but it can be done."

And while live the band is able to convey the subtleties and dynamics of its compositions to some degree (sometimes with the help of a guest player), you can really hear the group's true depth and range on its debut EP, As Far as Blindness Could See. Here, keyboard is more prominent, bass is always there to anchor the tunes, and overall the arrangements are fuller, grander and exceptionally striking.

The EP was recorded at Chase Park under the careful direction of Drew Vandenberg. "The songs have been around for about three years," says Harris. "McKendrick and I actually wrote them as part of a recital our senior year at LaGrange."

Adds Bearden: "It's interesting, though, taking songs that you have mulled around and played with for a few years and then giving them to fresh ears… It was definitely a great learning experience, having to question old decisions that you are comfortable with. "

Having fine-tuned their songs and their approach, the bandmembers are celebrating the release of the EP on Friday, but say they already have a fresh batch of songs in the works. Expect to hear tunes from the EP and a taste of what's to come at Flicker this weekend.
- Flagpole

"Friends With Both Arms - Androcles and the Lion"

I’m glad I spent some time listening to the new EP by Androcles and the Lion. There was this comfort in listening to it, maybe it was it’s simplicity. The vocal harmonies, plucked strings, banjos, singing about playing with leaves in the yard. The band is from Athens, GA and is made up of McKendrick Bearden, Austin Harris, and Paul Stevens. It’s got that rustic middle-of-the-woods sound similar to J Tillman’s Singing Ax. - Friends With Both Arms

"Flagpole Review - As Far As Blindness Could See"

The year-old band took its time releasing its debut, As Far as Blindness Could See, but various changes in lineup and location give the result a context of mature patience. The seven-song EP is a studied, careful construction of layers that sound anything but belabored. At first listen, the post-rock instrumentation, the lolling, echoing vocals and the mini-epic statements feel a little dated. Singers who slowly and casually observe micro details to express macro disappointments and joys suggest an it’s-so-meaningful kind of sadness that current music seems to be leaving behind for the moment.

But everyone knows that first listens can’t be trusted. The name of the band refers to a fable about the importance of doing the right thing even if the reward is not evident, of relinquishing one’s mythical control over one’s fate and allowing life to come without getting in the way. The songs are titled with eternal, peaceful ideas, such as “Forgiveness,” “Eulogy,” “The Creek That Ran Behind Our House.” When the songs are reinterpreted through the fable, the singers suddenly do not sound bored at all—they sound content to understand nothing about everything. It’s as if they’re telling their own fable of which the moral is that life is not always a party and not always a hassle, and that one sees further when one stops looking. - Flagpole

"Listen Up! As Far As Blindness Could See - Review"

After a summer of cynicism — the anthem for which, “Pumped Up Kicks,” was a subversive middle finger to the same kids who shuffled and bobbed back and forth until the song was a hit — the world can use a bit of sincerity.

And in its debut EP “As Far As Blindness Could See,” Androcles and the Lion, a year-old Athens band just now committing songs to tape, forgoes the ironic for the sonic.

Phantasmagoric vocals and gossamer guitars create lovely soundscapes, but it is the earnestness with which the band treats its themes and feelings on tracks like the opener and first single “All We Were” that makes the seven-song set a welcome opener for the fall. The songs are ghostly laments, elegies from the ether, or more likely to the ether.

The second track, “Eulogy,” is what it sounds like: a dedication to a dead brother, with lines like, “Taken by the hand that holds our fate/And reveals the instability of our state.”

A persistent organ riff belies a somberness that could have easily turned the song into a dirge. It is followed by “Twist Me by the Arm,” a piece that creeps by at a languorous pace, addressing an inability to reconcile after loss and ending with the heart-rending admission, “It hurts more every day.”

Next, “Forgiveness” swells to a high water mark during its climax and ebbs into ambiance and sweetly lilting songbirds that bleed into “Beautiful Things,” which intimates a similar crescendo with an economically used banjo and chimes, but falls off to make room for the penultimate track.

If there is a standout from the EP besides “All We Were” it’s “The Creek That Ran Behind the House.” Its content is somewhat more opaque than the rest of the album, but it builds from concurrent acoustic and banjo riffs until a familiar electric fuzz and church organ ring in a refrain that occupies the last half of the song.

The sounds exemplify the work as a whole: “As Far As Blindness Could See” is seven-step grief therapy, refreshing in its honesty. - The Red and Black


As Far As Blindness Could See - EP - August 2011



Androcles and the Lion formed in August 2010, after songwriters, McKendrick Bearden and Austin Harris, moved to Athens. The pair met while studying music at LaGrange College. To pass the time while working on composition projects the two began writing songs together.

Upon graduating from LaGrange and moving to Athens, they were introduced to percussionist, Paul Stevens.

In August 2011, the group released their debut EP, "As Far As Blindness Could See." The album was recorded at Chase Park Transduction in Athens with engineer and producer, Drew Vandenberg (Deerhunter, Toro y Moi, Futurebirds).

The band is currently working with Drew on a full-length record set to be released in Summer/Fall of 2013.