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The best kept secret in music


"“A near-perfect post-rock storm”"

Like fellow Texans Explosions in the Sky, Cue follows in the footsteps of Godspeed You Black Emperor! and Mogwai,creating dynamic, brooding, post-rock instrumentals. While Cue's songs tend to emulate the formula of soft,slow, guitar-based tunes that build into mountains of coordinated sonic assault, the band has modified the formula by including diverse tempo changes and additional instruments like piano, glockenspiel, and violin.

The four members of Cue break slightly from their brethren post-rockers with piano and violin interludes that border on classical, where the up-front violins produce a melancholic aura ripe with emotion. The slow starts are calming, and the transitions to the more frantic passages are flawless, usually instigated by Jason Brister's lively drumming and often including additional percussion. The turbulent mix of guitars, bass, keyboards, and violins rarely attain overpowering proportions but mostly weave fervent tales with creative interplay that approximates prog-rock rather than post-rock.

The album is assembled nicely for your listening pleasure with short, exquisite, tranquil pieces acting as bookends to open and close the disc and one in the middle as an intermission. Scattered in between are well-orchestrated songs that demonstrate Clarke Dominick's and Colin Swietek's ability to combine guitars, bass, and keyboards into coordinated crescendos that are filled with raw power but are not overwhelming. But it is Stacy Mashbane's violin that give these tunes their poignancy. Songs like "The Sun Has Risen Twice Today," "Every Wing All at Once," "The End of the Rule of Nostalgia," and the title track diverge from the post-rock convention of soft-loud-soft and extend the boundaries by including more indie-like guitar strumming, classical arrangements, and chilling violin that rises not to a mountain of sonic assault but a plateau of somber space-rock. The production is crisp throughout, keeping the instruments balanced, with the exception of "Handful Savants" and "Thulsa Doom," where the blistering guitar fuzz pushes Meshbane's violin work too deep in the clamor instead of out front where it should be.

Since they don't write lyrics, except for a short, subdued chorus of "Bring back my love" on the closing track, Cue should show a little more creativity with song titles. Having three of 11 tracks untitled and borrowing another from a book begs an explanation; although the sleeve design, artwork, and track layout are very imaginative and make a neat package.

Like a welcome thundershower brings a cool stiff breeze after a hot, humid summer afternoon, Cue offers up a near-perfect post-rock storm.
- Delusions of Adequacy

"Texas Platters "Release Me""

Only the tightest instrumentalists elicit a Pavlovian response from their audience – a cocked head of incomprehension. Something's being said, but what? Jazz is explicit, but skillful post-rock embodies enigma. The melancholic mystery of Bring Back My Love manages both. The combination of Clarke Dominick's keyboards and Stacy Meshbane's violin cutting through the local quartet's dense rock ballast immediately sets Cue apart from the instrumental fallout in the wake of Explosions in the Sky. They're Austin's Dirty Three, only solar-powered, not shadow-driven. The quarry cutter breaks from "The Sun Has Risen Twice Today," Meshbane stabbing at Jason Brister's taunting drum beat, dance the assassination tango. The free-flight migration of "Every Wing All at Once" matches the plucked twilight of "The End of the Rule of Nostalgia," which steps onto a piano plateau of sparring beats and the rising waters of guitarist Colin Swietek's burst dam. Meanwhile, the epic palace coup of "Thulsa Doom" is nearly swept asunder by the 13-minute tidal sweep of "Granny Suite." Each track stands alone, which makes the titanic voyage of Bring Back My Love slightly choppy in places, but the overall effect is one of, if not a perfect storm, then the white noise tempest whose rain-weighted clouds beg you to release their outpour.
- Austin Chronicle

"Cue revs up the glockenspiel for full-on rock"

Slowly but surely, Austin has become home to — and become associated with — a vibrant colony of bands playing stately instrumental rock.

Before any of them was Trail of Dead, who these days seem to de-emphasize their once-massive instrumental passages. (Besides, they were always a little too punk rock.)

Then you have your Explosions in the Sky, who were building epic guitar rock before anyone else. And there's A Five and Dime Ship and My Education, both of whom pursue much the same muse.

These are bands that have worn flat their copies of "Mogwai Young Team" and Godspeed You Black Emperor's increasingly influential debut "F#A#oo," not to mention Slint's insanely seminal "Spiderland" and any Neil Young record that Slint dug.("Zuma" comes to mind.)

Now we have Cue, who play down those bands' dynamic guitar shifts in favor of a full-on chamber rock feel: Piano, violin and glockenspiel drive these melodies. "Bring Back My Love," the band's second album, is a strong outing, alternately delicate and muscular. Drums are thunderous but distant, kept deep in the mix. The bass plays a tasteful supportive role. Clarke Dominick's piano and Stacy Meshbane's violin are where the action is. They trade off the melodic truth-telling from song to song, almost in dialogue, each instrument delivering a particular chapter or delineating a theme. It's lovely, often majestic stuff, suitable for listening sessions both ambient and deep. —Joe Gross

Cue play Friday with the Octopus Project, Shearwater and the Sun at Emo's.

- Austin American-Statesman: XLent

"“Music without lyrics growing on me”"

I've never been a fan of instrumental rock. My mind starts to wander during lengthy solos or when jam bands begin improvising. As a writer, I always paid attention to lyrics.

But a number of up-and-coming instrumental acts are changing my mind about the absence of vocals. Cue, an Austin, Texas-based chamber rock quartet who play the Milestone tonight at 8 ($5), are one of those bands. Stirringly dark and gorgeous violin, glockenspiel, guitar and keyboard melodies mingle with fitting percussion for a full classical-meets-indie-rock sound.

The instrumental approach has drawn comparisons to Godspeed You Black Emperor! and Mogwai, but comes closest to the cello-based trio Rasputina immersed in a voiceless mash-up with a Superchunk single stuck on 33 rpm.

Other instrumental acts are drawing larger audiences as well. Fellow Austin indie-rockers Explosions in the Sky expanded their audience scoring the 2004 Texas football flick "Friday Night Lights.".

French buzz band M83, who feature a few vocals embedded in their cascading wall of sound, stole some of Irish hit-makers Snow Patrol's crowd at this year's Coachella Festival, where both performed during the same time slot. The trend isn't new. Predominantly instrumental acts such as Medeski, Martin & Wood, Tortoise, and Sound Tribe Sector 9 have flourished in jam and indie rock circles.

So what changed my mind other than excellent discs by M83, Cue and Explosions in the Sky? Watching locals Hell or Highwater's ADD rock last week at the Milestone. They changed direction and style mid-song while flurrying between delicate guitar work, hardcore, metal and complicated math rock -- and held my attention with nary a lyric. - The Charlotte Observer

"Heaven On Their Minds: Cue"

As a rule during an interview with a rock band, if talk turns to their love of musicals, it's time to ask for the check. If that musical happens to be Jesus Christ Superstar, you may be praying for lightning to strike. But when that band is Cue and their appreciation for it is oh so sincere, it's kind of awesome. The instrumental Austin quartet has no shame when talking about their influences, misconceptions about their sound, or their love of religious rock opera.

Cue began as a twopiece, with just high school friends Jason Brister and Clarke Dominick. "Jason and I started playing together almost exactly 10 years ago," says Dominick, lounging in the garden at Spider House. "In '97, we started playing as a duo; one of our first shows was at [former Austin punk bar] Bates Motel. Then came Colin, who was living in San Marcos at the time. We had just moved to this one house and Colin was like, 'I just want to come live with you guys in Austin for a while.' We had this ping-pong table set up in the garage, and he slept under it."

"It was awesome," says guitarist Colin Swietek, who also spent time in local electro-pop group the Octopus Project. "They were practicing as a duo, playing acoustic guitars, and I'd have all these ideas for what I could do on guitar."

As a trio, Cue released its first LP in 2001 before adding Stacy Meshbane, violinist since the age of 4 and previously of Austin's psych-lullabye band TunaHelpers.

"I was really scared because I've done classical my whole life, and they were all loud boys," Meshbane laughs.

The current incarnation of Cue was born. At first listen, their lyric-free approach to songwriting seems scene-driven, expressionist, orchestral. Brister insists that's just the way it happened.

"Clarke and I were weaned on a lot of the same music, and a lot of it was lyrical," Brister says. "Fugazi, and ... well, I have this renewed obsession with Jesus Christ Superstar. It's all very lyrical, but I just don't know if we have anything to say."

"The way the songs are written, they don't need any vocals," concurs Swietek. "When we're writing something, whatever sounds good to everyone is what we'll run with."

"When someone says 'cinematic,' I think of something grand," hedges Brister about the most common label attached to Cue. "I don't think we have those grand concepts in our songwriting. [The songs] might be more based around the ideas of relationships, us getting together, getting excited about something, than grander ideas like war."

"We started using 'chamber rock,' but I don't really feel like that's so accurate," Dominick says. "There are so few instrumental bands, so there are all these default labels. You want to think that you're doing something original, but for this kind of music to be a genre right now, that's fairly new."

April's Bring Back My Love ( was recorded at Sweatbox studios over the period of approximately two years. The combination of Dominick's piano and glockenspiel, and Meshbane's violin create a static mix and flesh out stories where Swietek's guitar and Brister's drums are free to crawl or run to the surprise ending.

"We recorded it like four times," Brister says. "It finally worked. We were also very, very done with it."

Discussion again devolves into talk of Jesus Christ Superstar, it's viable, catchy numbers and brilliant subtext. The band quotes lines from it and sings choruses.

"Whatever people say about Andrew Lloyd Webber or the musical, it was just so awesome to me," says Dominick. "It was big and thematic, but still kind of rock & roll. I loved the rock music context."

"I'm obsessed with it right now, again," Brister says. "I can't get it out of the CD player."

"It's just ... the best story!" Dominick exclaims.

Just as he says this, a young man wearing sunglasses, flip-flops, a button-down shirt and only a towel around his waist stumbles up to the table. Even though it's after 10pm, he insists he just woke up from a "nap in the park" and asks for a cigarette. Battling hiccups, the man tells us he's an artist and stares off into the distance before snapping back to reality and alerting us that he's "going to play some basketball." He stumbles away and the band stares at each other before bursting into laughter.

"Keep Austin weird!" smiles Swietek.
- The Austin Chronicle

"Music Menu"

CUE—This Austin-based quartet’s self-described “chamber rock” is nothing less than inspired. The Cue’s skilled, interwoven instrumentals evoke Tortoise or B-movie soundscapes in which the violin adds and otherworldly dimension.  Save the trip to the bar until after the band finishes. This music is worth paying attention to. Milestone. Friday, July 15, 2005.
- Creative Loafing

"Music: Voice Choices"

This Austin-based “chamber rock” quartet (featuring glockenspiels, violins, and tambourines at times along with rock stuff) warns on their press release not to play “approximately one minute interlude” tracks 1, 6 and 11 apart from the rest of their album. But I like to break rules, so I just did, and surprisingly, the world did not blow up. Those are no less fleetingly comely than most of the other cuts. 9pm. Eddy.
- The Village Voice

"SXSW Picks and Sleepers"

When Explosions in the Sky found success with their lulling guitars building into crescendos, the local scene got a needed boost in the instrumental department. Now Cue takes the stage singing a similar tune, made their own with the addition of violin. A full-length record is in the works.
- Austin Chronicle

"Emo's: Cue/Dead Whale Tide"

Tonight's line-up was a show best enjoyed with eyes shut.  There was no looking at the attractive girl across the room. No looking at the bar which teased my empty pockets. No eye contact with old acquaintances. And yes, that meant that I didn't pay much attention to the bands' actual stage performances. Don't get me wrong; the bands performed well. But this was a case (and maybe it was just my mood) where the music demanded my full attention, and that meant shutting off as many other senses as possible.

It was definitely easier to watch Cue with all senses go, as their frequent instrument switch-offs made for entertaining (although somewhat jealousy-inducing) viewing. Again, though, I preferred their completely instrumental set as a background to the images in my head. With eyes closed, Cue makes a good soundtrack for the imagination. It began with the supernatural opener that had their violin player singing (I think) into her electric violin pick-up, which provided one of the cooler ethereal effects I've heard recently. Then it was music for spies. Then it was music for summer camaraderie. Then it was music for mischief. Their arrangements were more orchestral than progressive, and it provided a nice alternative to the more artsy and confounding instrumental bands in town.

By the end, Cue had chased away the introversion I had carried with me into the club and replaced it with a much more satisfying wave of introspection. 

"Octopus Project and Cue  "

To some, dance music is a constant repetition of boom-ch-boom-ch beats laid under some DJ's crappy collection of dusty vinyl. For Austin/Houston group the Octopus Project, dance music is something else entirely, something they call "ambidextrous equipment failure junk-tronica." The eight arms of the band's four members -- Toto Miranda (Woozy Helmet), Erik Bogle (Groceries), and Josh and Yvonne Lambert -- float and intertwine through a bewildering array of electronics and the usual rock gear -- they switch off on a total of 13 instruments between songs, and sometimes right in the middle of them.

Cue is a four-piece instrumental chamber noise rock band from Austin with a melodic and dramatic violin/piano/guitar/bass sound that often crests into mountains of orchestrated assault. Yeah, the comparisons to Godspeed, You Black Emperor! and Mogwai are a given, but the incredibly technical skills of drummer Jason Brister set Cue apart. "We do our best to keep it different and unique, while still letting our natural expressive forces do their thing," Brister explains. "And we try to play tambourines as much as we can because they're cool."

And it doesn't get much more technical than a tambourine. - HOUSTON PRESS


"Keep Busy" 2001
"Bring Back My Love" 2005


Feeling a bit camera shy


Cue is a four-piece progressive instrumental/chamber noise rock band from Austin, TX. The Houston Press has described the music as "a melodic and dramatic violin/piano/guitar/bass sound that often crests into mountains of orchestrated assault."

Cue began as a two-piece between guitarist/ bassist/ keyboardist Clarke Dominick and drummer Jason Brister. In 2000, guitarist Colin Swietek, part of the San Marcos indie scene and occasional member of electro-rock group The Octopus Project (Peekaboo), joined the band. The trio released their first full-length album in 2001. Later that year violinist Stacy Meshbane, formerly of the Tunahelpers (Mimicry) joined the band. Cue has recently released "Bring Back My Love," their debut album as a four-piece, which has already received excellent reviews from the Austin Chronicle, Delusions of Adequacy, and the Austin American-Statesman.

Featured as a "Sleeper" in the Austin Chronicle's "Picks and Sleepers for SXSW '05" spread, and recently chosen to perform at the CMJ Music Festival in NYC, Cue performs regularly at clubs throughout Austin, Houston and San Marcos, and is embarking on its second national tour in September '05. Cue has also played numerous benefits for organizations including Cinematexas International Short Film Festival, TexPIRG, House the Homeless, and the Eye and Ear Festival. Cue has been written up and recommended by various newspapers, including the Village Voice, The Charlotte Observer, Creative Loafing, the Austin Chronicle, the Austin American-Statesman, Rank and Revue, and the Houston Press, and was included on the 2002 Artichoke Compilation put out by Soda Pop Records, which features prominent Central Texas bands such as The Octopus Project, Horse + Donkey, Jana Hunter, Black Lipstick, Ink Blot, and Bring Back the Guns (formerly the Groceries). Most recently Cue has played shows with ·And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, Mono, Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, Bleach, IQU, Early Day Miners, Joanna Newsom, Devendra Banhart, Atom Bomb Pocketknife, Shearwater, and The Fire Show.