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The best kept secret in music


"Texas Platters"

Room 107 (Sprague)
by Raoul Hernandez
August 6, 2004

"Unapologetic pop-laced rock & roll" is how Damesviolet describes its sound. Roughly translated, the hard-working Austin quartet is too hard to pop, too nüanced for nü metal. A good thing, more or less. Room 107, the band's second LP, is unapologetic, in fact. Led by brothers Beaux and Zak Loy, Damesviolet has its sound down. Opener "Rain" is a strong showcase for Beaux's FM voice, marked by an Eddie Vedder echo without the overemoting vibrato. The arrangement, meanwhile, lifts and parts nicely. It's a song well suited to local frequency KLBJ, a loyal Damesviolet supporter. "Something Wrong" also simmers rather than boiling over. That's where the problem in Room 107 lies. Tracks with more muscle ("Where I Stand") could stand to boil over, rather than sustaining a midtempo to little effect, like "Unforgotten," which has melody enough that the piano is good complement. Closer "Turn Around," the longest song on an overall very tight album, is one of the best, its acoustic solo and thoughtful lyrics melding nicely. Otherwise, Room 107 suffers from tepidly tortured love songs like "Over," also undercut by grating percussive effects. Moreover, a ballad like "Every Time We Say Goodbye" needs a more convincing delivery, another failing here. Loy isn't singing this material like he means it. He's better on the Pearl Jam-like "Leave Me." Actually, as Room 107 progresses, it sounds more and more like PJ, and that's no longer a good thing. - Austin Chronicle


"Damesviolet" (Released 2001)
"Room 107" (Released 2004)


Feeling a bit camera shy



Although widely acknowledged as a musical capital, Austin, Texas is viewed through an assortment of disparate lenses; the city is touted variously for its blues scene, its country scene and its punk, indie and garage scenes… But Austin also has a long and honorable tradition of nurturing energetic, unapologetic pop-laced rock and roll. And that is precisely where Damesviolet is making their mark.
With the release of their second independent album, Room 107, the Austin-based quartet dramatically expands its lyrical and stylistic landscape on one of the most assured and listenable albums to emerge from the Texas capital this year.
The band, which was formed in 1997, is anchored by a pair of brothers, Beaux and Zak Loy (brother acts, as in the guitar-slinging Vaughans or Los Lonely Boys, is another Austin musical tradition), with Tommy Roalson and Evan Huston rounding out the band
As they grew up in the small South Texas town of Dinero, the Loy’s parents decided that the boys’ hours-long bus rides to school each day could be put to better use, and they elected to home-school their children. As a happy consequence, Zak told a reporter, “Music just found us.” He added, “Home school was cool, because we were able to have time to play music and have time to drive to Austin instead of being in school from eight to five. We were able to work on music a lot more.” Having parents who were able to drive three hours each way to Austin every weekend for guitar lessons helped as well.

Through innate talent and partly through relentless live performances, Damesviolet (the name alludes to a rare flower) were soon landing gigs in Austin showcase clubs such as Steamboat, Antone’s, the Austin Music Hall and La Zona Rosa. As the quartet approached the ripe old age of 20, they also began landing prestigious opening slots for touring acts such as the Black Crowes, Blues Traveler, Dishwalla, Blue October, Avril Lavigne, Bush and others.
“It’s beneficial” to be a young band in a competitive setting Zak told a reporter at the time. “It’s hard sometimes too, because a lot of musicians here are older. And some of them don’t give you respect. But a lot of them, after they hear us play, change their minds.”
In March of 2001, Damesviolet landed a showcase slot at the South By Southwest music festival (a feat they repeated in 2002 and 2003). Five months later, they entered the studio with producer Carl Thiel (Bob Schneider, Monte Montgomery, Lisa Tingle) to record their self-titled debut. A song off the album, “Paris,” was soon added to the playlist of KLBJ-FM, and the album also received airplay on 101-X and The Mix, as well as around Texas.
Of their first album, the Austin Chronicle said, “Damesviolet is stocked with self-assured, slightly-melancholy would-be anthems…the potency is undeniable,” and the University of Texas’ Daily Texan wrote, “Damesviolet’s sound is a refreshing break from the array of look-alike, sound-alike play-alike modern rock bands that permeate the airwaves these days.”
Earlier this year, the quartet entered the studio with acclaimed producer John Ryan (Santana’s Shango album, as well as Styx, and many others). The result is Room 107, released on the band’s own Sprague Records label.
All ten songs are credited to the band as a whole, since, as Beaux Loy points out, the creative process has become more seamless and organic as the band has matured. “The band has come together on a personal level a lot more,” he said. “We’re more evolved, in terms of getting things done for the band, and also more involved with the songs, pressing hard to get into the depths of the song and make sure they’re written just the right way.”
Producer Ryan (who was initially introduced to the band by one of their fans) “made the album sound consistent as a whole,” Beaux said. “We probably went in with 30 songs, and there were a couple I really liked, but John would say, ‘It’s not consistent with the whole project.’ He wanted to make the whole album sound like a single entity.”
The proof is in the pudding, as it were. The album’s kick off song, the anthemic “Rain,” has already been added to the KLBJ-FM playlist in Austin. And the body of work as a whole, from the meditative ballad “Something Wrong” to the multilayered “Over” to the pensive, melancholy “Every Time We Say Goodbye” (emphatically NOT the Cole Porter standard!) and the thoughtful and powerful set-closing tour-de-force “Turn Around,” all reflects the professional and personal real-life growth the Damesviolet members have experienced in their short but vivid musical incarnation. Room 107 is a work that is mature beyond its creators’ years.
The band, meanwhile, is hardly pausing to take a deep breath. Besides touting the release of Room 107, Damesviolet is also touring to open shows for Flickerstick and Los Lonely Boys, as well as keep up their own busy club schedule. They wouldn’t have it any other way.