Hello Caller
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Hello Caller

Austin, Texas, United States

Austin, Texas, United States
Rock Folk

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Austin band Hello Caller have a knack for combining the simple structures of singer songwriter pop with lush, ambitious arrangements. The band is a relatively new one. The five-piece is led by songwriter and frontman Brian Ferguson who formed the group in the fall of 2010. Ferguson had some self-recorded demos, and called upon former bandmate Will Wolfe to help him arrange the songs. Working the musical networks of friends and former bandmates, Hello Caller started to coalesce and included Ferguson, Wolfe on drums, bassist Jeff Crozier, multi-instrumentalist Brendan Bond and Wolfe’s younger sister on cello. Tyler Dunnam has since replace Crozier on bass, and Karinne Berstis replaced the younger Wolfe on cello.

Last August Hello Caller released their debut mini-record called demo. The name is apt because it has the lo-fi feel of an intimate cross-legged, living room jam, but hi-fi enough to not cover up the simple beauty of every part. Today’s song of the day “We Caught Fire” leads the record. The harmonies on “We Caught Fire” are breathtaking. Over simple guitar strumming and minimal percussion, the band lets the voices carry the song.

You’ll get a chance to hear “We Caught Fire” and more tunes from Hello Caller this Friday at Lamberts when they play with Shakey Graves and BOY. And this summer the band is set to release their first full length record Dark Twain. - KUT-FM Song of the Day


We love it when we find a great new band out there in the indie musico-verse. But you know what’s even better? When that band comes right back with a stunning debut that exceeds even our already-high expectations for them. Booya! That’s what Hello Caller has done here.

Jim introduced us to this awesome Austin, TX band last summer, by way of fellow Austinite and DUL fave Shakey Graves. Their 4-song demo was a diamond in the rough, chock full of impressive songwriting, beautiful harmonies, and perfectly intricate arrangements, featuring banjo, xylophone, cello, and who knows what else.

Now, Hello Caller is set to release their debut full-length LP, Dark Twain. From the sound of the tracks that they’ve been so kind to share (there’s one here on MTV Hive and one here on I Guess I’m Floating, and one more below!) they’ve really taken their core sound—the essence of their music that drew us to them in the first place—and beefed it up, laying on some stellar production and a little bit of je ne sais quoi … There’s something there that gives these tunes an extra punch and, whatever it is, our ears love it.

We’re very excited to be able to share this new tune from the album with you: “In The Full Moonlight”. This one starts out soft and sweet, just banjo and xylophone, but the kicks come in soon enough. Hello Caller builds a powerful atmosphere, then lets it settle a bit with the male/female vocal harmonies, then builds it right back up and … well, we’ll be darned if we aren’t shouting along with them. That trumpet line nails it and makes this track a real standout. Here’s looking forward to more awesomeness from Hello Caller! - Draw Us Lines


Got an email regarding this Austin act and although I have only listened a couple of times, I am really enjoying it. Its a nice blend of Americana with some baroque pop influences. The release mentioned Grizzly Bear & Beirut, and I imagine if you like those acts you’ll dig this track as well.

Their debut, Dark Twain, is coming out next week. Being that they are from Austin, I imagine you’ll find them kicking around during SXSW as well. - HearYa


Do you remember when Saddle Creek Records was a powerhouse? Or, perhaps they still are and I just grew up. Or, perhaps they never were and my perception of a record powerhouse was skewed in my youth. As a collective unit, that label had quite the sound nailed down that was appealing but seemed to really target a specific set of ears. It was an earthy, emotional appeal with just the right amount of angst and Americana fused together that really hit home on my (then) quickly developing juvenile eardrums. Austin’s Hello Caller has that same tornado alley sound that surged in the late 90s/early 00s, except with more of the textured instrumentation and baroque pop sound you hear in acts today like Grizzly Bear and Beirut. With strings, brass, accessible melodies, and vocal wallowing – “We Caught Fire” is a fun new song from a new band best set upon old ears. - I Guess I'm Floating


There’s more than a little country to Austin band Hello Caller’s “Box Above the Belt,” from its shuffling beat and twangy vocals, to the dive bar atmosphere evoked in the lyrics. But we’re pretty sure Hank didn’t do it this way when it comes to the Fight Club references that inhabit the dives of which frontman Brian Ferguson sings. “It’s cool when songs have multiple aspects, not just one thing; it’s got to be really good if it’s going to be straightforward and laid out,” he says. “So I tried to do that with this one, and I took my inspiration from Fight Club, mixing it with a lowbrow dive bar culture.”

For all the grittiness of Ferguson’s lyrics, the soaring harmonies and xylophone notes that “Box Above the Belt” utilizes as the song climaxes elevate the scene of a small-town fistfight circle from something grimy to something that’s closer to transcendent. That’s a nice touch, and something that makes the song stick in your ears once the punching is over.

Hello Caller’s debut album Dark Twain is out November 6. Stream “Box Above the Belt” below: - MTV Hive


Coming down from the haze of ACL, I started reminiscing about all of the bands I saw and how many bands I’ll probably never get the chance to see again. One of those bands, will probably be Broken Social Scene who are going on indefinite hiatus. This band of Canadians has brought us such gems as You Forgot it in People and Feel Good Lost. But similar to how there is hope in the sound of a crying baby at a funeral, there is always a demo that coincides with an indefinite hiatus.

In my inbox, I recently received Hello Caller’s demo ep and was enchanted by the indie folk contained within. One part dark songwriter a la Elliot Smith, one part folk a la early Sufjan Smith combine into the amalgam that is Hello Caller. Based in the songwriter style, these songs are filled out with xylphone, cello and brushed percussion pieces. I was drawn to the first track “We Caught Fire” and its picture-painting lyrics that depict a melancholic looting scene. Another demo highlight is “Fits the Crime.” Which features melodic xylophone and ever since I saw Katrina Kerns perform on the bars, I have been privy to this melodic percussion instrument.

Check out their whole demo here. I am excited to see what these guys come out with next. Their LP is slated for later this year, we’ll try and get you all a sample of what’s to come. - Overload


It’s happened before. We feature a band, we get to know them, we get to be pals, and then they feel comfortable recommending some music to us. It’s a really nice benefit of this whole deal and I really love when it happens (if we like the music). It’s much better than the pesky PR emails we get slammed with everyday and when the music is awesome, it makes our lives easier. Nice! It worked out great with Strand of Oaks and Juniper Tar, so let’s try it again. This time around it’s from our pal and favorite Shakey Graves and he wanted to introduce us to a band called Hello Caller…and we’re so glad he did.

Hello Caller / We Caught Fire


I love Shakey Graves music with all my heart and being and Mr. Shakey himself is a really nice guy with an awesome taste in music. When he recommended some pals of his to me, I was definitely all ears. I think the conversation went something like this:

Shakey: Dude, you should check out my friends Hello Caller
Me: Yeah?
Shakey: Totally. They’re sick.
Me: Sick.

Ok, not the most riveting conversation to share and I think he used some cool Austin, TX equivalent for “sick”, but whatever, you get the picture. As with all recommendations (even from the Shakey Graves, no promises are made. If I don’t love the music, I’m probably not going to be spending time writing about it, but I took the suggestion seriously and sought out some tunes online. I quickly became interested and after emailing the band for some tunes, I was awesomely surprised to receive their new four song demo over the interwebs with a nice note thanking me. That’s right, folks. The guys from Hello Caller are talented and possess terrific manners.

So enough of that dumb back story. Hello Caller is a five piece alt-folk indie rock band hailing from prestigious Austin, TX. The band is fairly new out of the gate and are distributing their four song demo (that sounds eerily un-demo like if you ask me). Started in late 2010 by main songwriter dude Brian Ferguson, the group has put together a really great collection of songs on this demo with many more in their back pocket, no doubt. What immediately grabs my attention about Hello Caller are the amazingly strong melodies present within every song. Right off the bat, “We Caught Fire” dances beautifully on Ferguson’s well-written lyrics, quickly building intensity into a chorus complete with cascading harmonies. The more I listen, the more I’m pulled into the overlapping choral harmonies driven entirely with a few handclaps and acoustic guitar.

The other three songs only continue to emphasize how terrific this band writes as a whole. Heavily relying on xylophone and cello (yes, cello, awesome), the arrangements don’t weigh the songs down, but in fact lift them up and emphasize the often changing melodic vocal lines. As I listen to “Box Above the Belt”, I’m definitely reminded of the more orchestral and melodic works of one Elliott Smith and that’s an awesome compliment. Yes.

The demo ends beautifully (and this is where they really hooked me) with the drawn out instrumental “Hunting a Fox”, highlighting some really beautiful banjo work. It’s a really interesting tune (and a ballsy move to put an instrumental on a demo, right?) that just carries the listener away with honest whistling and light, instrumental vocal lines. It twists and turns, stops and starts, keeping the listener strung along for the wild goose chase. This song specifically focuses on the strength of Hello Caller as a group o songwriters and instantly conjures comparisons to Midlake’s amazing Trials of Van Occupanther album that I fucking loved dearly. Awesome stuff.

I know for a fact Hello Caller is playing extensively in Austin and working feverishly on their debut full length. In the mean time, check out “We Caught a Fire” above, a video below, and give these guys your email address in exchange for this awesome four song primer (follow the link here or go to their official site). I know I’ll be looking forward to the future of Hello Caller and when these guys drop a bomb on us with their debut album, well, you heard it hear first. - Draw Us Lines


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

The songs on Austin quintet Hello Caller’s debut LP ‘Dark Twain,’ released in November 2012, are melodically stunning – “transcendent” (MTV Hive) harmonies woven with trumpet and cello, interspersed with jangly guitars, banjo and twinkling xylophones. But a closer listen reveals an unsettling feeling that deeper mysteries are veiled behind their outward beauty.

The band’s singular sound has earned them a loyal following in their hometown since they formed in 2010, resulting in SXSW gigs and packed shows with folky contemporaries like Shakey Graves, who contributes guest vocals on ‘Dark Twain,’ and Wild Child, whose cellist Sadie Wolfe previously played in the band. Their early demo recordings drew comparisons to Elliott Smith, Midlake, and Sufjan Stevens, as fans around the country discovered their sound through word of mouth and blog write-ups.

The Brooklyn-based tastemaker blog I Guess I’m Floating showed early support for ‘Dark Twain,’ comparing Hello Caller’s sound to the “earthy, emotional appeal” of the bands made famous by Saddle Creek Records in the late 90's-early 00's, updated with “the textured instrumentation and baroque pop sound you hear in acts today like Grizzly Bear and Beirut.”

As their music spreads around the country and their loyal fan base continues to grow, Hello Caller are quickly becoming an outstanding new force in Austin’s folk scene and beyond.