Black Before Red
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Black Before Red

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Press


"The dog days of summer replace the street bustle of open windows with the crooning thrum of the air conditioner, almost unnoticed. Like the Sea and Cake, Austin's Black Before Red craft their own hermetically sealed world of rhythmic subtlety on "Underneath Gold". An organic hum fixes guitar harmonics, finger snaps, synth squeals, trumpets, and Marc Ferrino's trumpet-like vocals in a pristine lounge-pop space. It's the bass, though, that pulls this all together -- smooth yet verbose, Kevin Schneider's playing brings French pop group Phoenix out of their (deceptive!) dentist's office and onto a long, American road trip. Through it all, though, "Underneath Gold" seems more about watching a heatwave intently from indoors than participating: "There's girls here in summer clothes/ Christ, temptation," Ferrino sings."
- Pitchfork


"The title of Austin rock quartet Black Before Red's debut album, Belgrave to Kings Circle, suggests a British connection, and the band's music backs that up. Marc Dickey, Marc Ferrino, Michael Macicak, and Kevin Schneider work up an eclectic pop sound reminiscent of the '60s days of Swinging London, that time when any self-respecting group tried to get different, unusual sounds out of its instruments and the studio equipment for each track. Their music is less suggestive of the Beatles, the progenitors of that approach, however, than it is of the Kinks, perhaps because of the consistent lightness of the arrangements and the timbre of the vocals, which bear some similarity to Kinks leader Ray Davies'. Davies, however, never wrote lyrics as elliptical as these, full of imagery and aphorisms that don't quite add up, no doubt deliberately. Maybe it doesn't matter what Black Before Red is singing about, however, when they're doing it this tunefully."
- All Music Guide


"So color me impressed. I was sent "Belgrave to Kings Circle", the debut album from Black Before Red today and told, "prepared to be impressed". But I still wasn't quite as prepared as I needed to be. Now I'm in the best mood ever, and I was really trying to cultivate some deep-seeded anger today but now that's all shot to shit. Between well-crafted melodies & amazing harmonies lies some really, really happy laid-back pop. In the best sense of the term. I don't want to diminish their music with comparisons because they really have found their own sound, but I can't help hearing little bits of Okkervil River, The Sea and Cake and even Stephen Malkmus & The Shins. And that little Okkervil River I hear might be because some of those guys play on the album, as well as members of Zykos & The Lemurs. If you're content to wallow in a depresssion, then leave this album alone, but if being "happy, happy, joy, joy" is where it's at for you then download those MP3s."
- It Covers the Hillsides


"To say that Black Before Red make a sinfully sour indie pop would be a good estimation of their sound. On Belgrave to Kings Circle, the Austin band delivers an infectious, meticulously crafted album. In its muted beauty, the album seeps its way into your mind and settles in.
“Underneath Gold” announces itself with an organ hum and then a pogo bassline. We also get the muted horns and some serious background vocals. The song kind of hums along and shimmers in its simplicity. “Matagorda” is the type of little piano tune that Macca used to write, when he was trying. Another golden pop gem, it seems so classic – in the hands of a lesser song the simplicity would overrule the tune, but Black Before Red pace the song perfectly. “Our Last Summer” marches along with some nice sonic flourishes and some seedy lyrics about “driving the pocket slow”. Yet another great example of properly pace indie pop. “Goddess in Trauma” is a mellowed acoustic number – its vocal line summons the spirit of Cobain, without the hurt. “Bossa Nova #7? is a groovy little guitar ditty with some faint hints of the Who in the opening organ.
“Finding Peace in the City” has a nice little piano figure and blooms into a countrified groove, with a staggering beat trailing the way. “I like to see the buildings roar” seems a fitting sentiment. “Teenage America” is the type of single American teens would fall for if they weren’t being inundated with shit constantly. Snotty lyrics and catchy tunes with a nice guitar lick seems like a winner to me. “A Passengers Guide to Getting By” is a sloshy acoustic ode to?the futile frustration of waiting. A nice little number, but nothing to write home about. “Spilt Milk Mistake” is a pretty piece of pop about a crumbling relationship. Again, the beauty of the simple arrangement is so key. “Halliberlin Petroleum” is all strumming and a shaking tambourine – it gallops along until the fuzz kicks in and you realize you have got a burner on your hands. “Waiting for the Bang” is a stately stoic closer about teenage angst and suicide. Not the happiest end, but it ends the album with a song of death, which is cleansing.
Belgrave to Kings Circle is the work of some great musicians whose execution is flawless. It might take some time to dig in to this record, but Black Before Red have made an album that deserves your time. It’s polite and dour, all at once. This is the type of indie pop that I thought would be all the rage by now and maybe Black Before Red can be a part of that change happening."
- Adequacy.net


"Austin darlings Black Before Red are a band with promise. Their debut effort, Belgrave to Kings Circle, is eminently listenable, a slew of upbeat, catchy songs that shimmer with 60's and 70's pop influences. It's not just good times: throughout, edgy instrumentation and compelling lyrics make this album more than a soundtrack for road trips and pool parties. "Underneath Gold" is a knockout opener. Singer Marc Ferrino's voice is at its most toothsome amid sparkling guitars, horns, and hushed, layered vocals -- all propelled by Kevin Schneider's nimble, infectious bass. "Matagorda," which depicts a Bonnie and Clyde-style romance, delights in being above the law and on the run with lively melodies and a marching-snare strut. The band mixes with dissonant guitar squelch with sunny Beach Boys harmonies on "Our Last Summer." And "Halliberlin Petroleum" is a protest song for today's cynical, disaffected America. When Ferrino sings "what's done is done," his resigned plaintiveness is more resonant -- and more convincing -- than the indignant posturing found in so many politically-tinged rock songs.
If BBR can mature as a band and elevate all their songs to the level of the best on this album, they will -- like Okkervil River before them -- have no trouble finding a national audience outside Austin. In fact, they'll be something special. Keep an eye on these guys."
- Venuszine


"Austin darlings Black Before Red are a band with promise. Their debut effort, Belgrave to Kings Circle, is eminently listenable, a slew of upbeat, catchy songs that shimmer with 60's and 70's pop influences. It's not just good times: throughout, edgy instrumentation and compelling lyrics make this album more than a soundtrack for road trips and pool parties. "Underneath Gold" is a knockout opener. Singer Marc Ferrino's voice is at its most toothsome amid sparkling guitars, horns, and hushed, layered vocals -- all propelled by Kevin Schneider's nimble, infectious bass. "Matagorda," which depicts a Bonnie and Clyde-style romance, delights in being above the law and on the run with lively melodies and a marching-snare strut. The band mixes with dissonant guitar squelch with sunny Beach Boys harmonies on "Our Last Summer." And "Halliberlin Petroleum" is a protest song for today's cynical, disaffected America. When Ferrino sings "what's done is done," his resigned plaintiveness is more resonant -- and more convincing -- than the indignant posturing found in so many politically-tinged rock songs.
If BBR can mature as a band and elevate all their songs to the level of the best on this album, they will -- like Okkervil River before them -- have no trouble finding a national audience outside Austin. In fact, they'll be something special. Keep an eye on these guys." - Amplifier Magazine


"Belgrave to Kings Circle by Austin's Black Before Red is the type of album I thought I was getting with the new New Pornographers disc -- 11 pop songs with hardly a throwaway in the set ranging in sound from collaborative Canadian indie pop ("Underneath Gold" and "Bossa Nova #7"), classic Beach Boys and Beatles style songwriting ("Matagorda") to American indie pop in the vein of The Apples in Stereo ("Waiting for the Bang.") And unlike that Canadian supergroup who forgot to include the hits on their latest release, Black Before Red have included a number of highly hummable, ear-worm inducing gems. "Teenage America" is a perfect piece of power pop replete with sticky sweet "La la la's," "Aah Aah Aah's" and "Bah Bah Bah's." "Halliberline Petroleum" is the missing link between the space glam of Bowie and the space pop of Grandaddy. While "Goddess in Trauma" is a number full of shifts, subtle switches, and boundless melody, blissfully ignorant of its ambition."
- I Rock Cleveland


“Loaded with swelling harmonies, subtly layered multiinstrumentation and compositions reminiscent of some of the greatest songs in America's catalog. Listening to Belgrave to Kings Circle is like listening to glistening ?70s California pop classics and Sea & Cake's Nassau simultaneously.”

"A collection of well-arranged tracks portraying a band adept at morphing assorted instrumentation and distinct sounds into a unique product quite unlike any other."

"The band turned in a scintillating performance at Antone's last month, while bassist/vocalist/keyboardist Kevin Schneider later (along with Martin Crane from Brazos and Sara Beck a.k.a Pink Nasty joined White Denim on stage to aid in the shenanigans of that set. We are expecting a new EP from Black Before Red this year but in the interim, be sure to get to The Mohawk early to ease into the evening with their brand of accessible pop-rock. As Schneider claimed at a past gig at The Parish, Black Before Red is here to "soft rock" the audience. Sign us up please!" - Austinist


Discography

Belgrave to Kings Circle (2007)
Spilt Milk Mistake EP (2004)

Photos

Bio

Black Before Red was formed in 2004 by childhood friends Marc Ferrino and Marc Dickey. Known in Austin as a "band's band," the lineup has gradually come to include members from other popular local groups, including Brian Cassidy of Okkervil River, Kevin Schneider of Shearwater, and Brent Baldwin of The Normans.

BBR's debut full-length album, "Belgrave to Kings Circle" (i eat records, 2007) quickly charted at #23 on the CMJ music chart, with its lead single "Underneath Gold" hailed as a "hermetically sealed world of rhythmic subtlety" by Pitchfork.