Lower Level
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Lower Level

Band Rock Acoustic


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music


"The Daily Beacon - Knoxville, TN"

Many bands claim to mix genres effectively. Hardly any do. Lower Level is a rare exception. With its second album, "Door Open," it has created something both creative and catchy. Mixing folk, funk and plain old alternative, this Texas band entertains throughout by always keeping the listener guessing what the next song will sound like.
Lower Level is made up of singer/guitarist J.J. Usher, drummer Ryan "G-Vine" Sirna and bassist Chris York. Each is an accomplished musician, leaving no weak link in the band. Usher lived in Nashville for a time and gained experience playing acoustic sets all over the city. Sirna was a fourth place finisher in the PASIC World Indoor Drumline Championships. York grew up in Austin, Texas, and was a sought after musician in a town ripe with talented acts.
Lower Level is a difficult band to classify. The first chords of "Stones" will have the listener groaning at the possibility of listening to another refried alternative album until the song takes a melodic, funky twist and begins the descent into a truly creative album.
Throughout the course of all its songs, Lower Level shows the predilection to leave the listener guessing. While a song may start out murky and mellow, it may soon hit a bass line that sends it into a groove reminiscent of jam bands such as Of a Revolution or Rusted Root. The lyrical delivery will change as quickly as the music, as on "Jolly Rancher." It gives the listener a feeling of finally listening to something fresh and creative.
Usher's acoustic guitar mixed with York's truly skilled bass playing sets up most of the album's songs, especially with the beginning of "Flattered."
Lyrically, Lower Level is an anomaly. Usher can go from a vocalist who sounds strong and confident in his delivery to an annoying approximation of Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20. The great songs are the ones where he truly lets himself run with the song, as "Simple Kiss" proves.
The messages are the same ones college alt-rock bands have passed down for years. Once Usher finds artistic inspiration, the band may be unbeatable in terms of creativity and musical skill. As is, Lower Level is almost a finished product.
- John Carruthers


This trio of Southern gentleman is easy on the ears and eyes, so pop stardom can’t be too far off. First stop: Nashville, where Lower Level is making a name on the scene with a hot new record. Next stop: the world! …or at least Boston, as my roommates keep looking over my shoulder at the Lower Level StarPolish page, and asking me to play their music again. I guess it’s a welcome change from all the “weird punk music” I am usually blasting around here. The band has also been blowing locals away in venues through the South, opening for everyone from Flickerstick (the VH1 band) and Coolio (!). Sit back, relax, and take a listen to the song is question, “Stones.”
Folksy pop-rock with a definite Southern twang the tune is standard acoustic slow-rock fare. Consisting of just a guitar, vocals, and a light rhythm section, this minimalist sound works, sounding intimate, stripped-down and fresh. But this also means strong vocals are key. For the most part, lead singer JJ Usher succeeds with this area. At times, the singing gets a little too breathy and strained, but the passionate lyrics are delivered in a way reminiscent of a country-esque Dave Matthews or Edwin McCain, and sounds nice overall.

“Stones” is a sure to be a winner with fans of pretty, singer-songwriter numbers with a Southern flavor. The band claims to be influenced by bands of such diversity as Parliament Funkadelic, The Roots, and Tenacious D. Lower Level is off to a great start, and it will be interesting to see where they go, perhaps getting a little funkier along the way.
- Alee Hoffman

"Locker Gnome Audio"

“Sounding like the love child of Blues Traveler and Wu Tang Clan……Frontman JJ Usher has a voice that sounds like the perfect blend of Kurt Cobain and John Popper……reminiscent of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ finer moments” - Unknown


Lower Level, Maggie Maes, 07/18/03

Who says there arent talented bands in Austin? Last night I got to check out one of them! Lower Level
is a trio consisting of lead singer/lead guitarist JJ User, bassist Chris York, and drummer Ryan Sirna. JJ started the night off by himself, playing a recurring rhythm pattern that, after hearing it repeated times, reminded me of the feeling you get when youre on a rollercoaster and riding up the first crescent, about to take that first big drop. When Chriss low bass lines and Ryans bass drum and cymbal crescendos joined him, I almost started becoming a little nervous, like it was going to be a journey into the unknown. Thats definitely a good thing! Very effective opening, and it held true. Lower Levels sound throughout the night went from straight
ahead rock to slow melodic ballads and then over to some funk. Some covers were thrown in, mixed with the groups unique flavor. For example, The Humpty Dance was given a funk rock type overhaul near
the end of the groups first set, and it wasnt one of these half-ass representations of a cover. They gave the song new life and it worked. How do I know? Im not the only one who thought so. The crowd, which
consisted mostly of young attractive women shaking
their booties, were dancing their asses off pretty much the entire night. Syncopation and cool triplet breaks were also main characters throughout
the night. Their second song had at least three or four interesting triplet breaks, pulled off at first by the singer and his mighty axe, and then joined by the rest of the band later in the song. Many of the songs throughout the night were peppered with similar breaks. When watching these cats you figure
out pretty quickly that these guys arent just some garage jam band. Their song are inventive and well thought-out.

Man, JJ guy knows his stuff. Many of the groups songs rhythm guitar parts were syncopated, yet JJ was singing contra-rhythms to those parts quite often, and made it look effortless. Throw in the
fact that his guitar was a twelve string, and you get a very filled out, phat sound. JJs vocals are definitely part of the groups unique style. Every time I heard him I just kept thinking funky! In my opinion, he sounded somewhere betweeen
Matchbox 20s Rob Thomas and Nickelbacks Chad Kroeger. Chris handled his axe just as well. His bass lines were always appropriate: technical when he needed to be, and low-key when that was required. He knew when to just chill out and play a sustained quarter note or whole note during the groups more melancholic tunes. I learned later that Flea, Jaco Pastorius, and Victor Wooten were some of his main influences, and I said to myself I knew it. You can tell Chris has studied his instrument. Ryan was providing the groups backbeat with
an 8-piece Grover percussion set. He had a full palette of sound thanks to it as well as a large variety of Sabian and Paiste cymbals, some chimes, and a second 10 inch (I think) snare drum. His main snare reminded me of 311; it was very tight and poppy. His rolls and cymbal work were clean and appropriate. Like Chris, his playing was thoughtful: he played hard core when needed, busting out his double bass chops and killer fills when need, and he played low-key when the groups ballads were the focal point, letting the song as a entity move the people rather than his playing. But man when he let loose, he was pretty much all over his kit. He didnt let one drum go unattended, and his energy was always at 100%, even after coming off of a lengthy tour.

Theres a lot of decent bands in Austin. Lower Level is one of those bands that you dont come home and say Yeah they were alright. These guys are damn good young band. Their music is thoughtful, energetic and fresh. I see a big future for them if they keep it up.

Added:  July 23rd 2003
Reviewer:  Everett Cavazos
Related Link:  http://www.lowerlevelmusic.com
hits: 64
Language: eng - Everett Cavazos

"Rolling Stone"

"...funky acoustic rock molded from the drippings of several genres to create an unforgettable sound." - RS and Jack Daniels


Door Open - 11 Song Album Released 2003
Vertigo - 12 Song Album Released 2001
The singles "Simple Kiss" and "Take You Lover" have both held the coveted #1 spot in their genre on MP3.com.


Feeling a bit camera shy


Many bands claim to mix genres effectively. Hardly any do. Lower Level is a rare exception. With its second album, "Door Open," it has created something both creative and catchy. Mixing folk, funk and plain old alternative, this Texas band entertains throughout by always keeping the listener guessing what the next song will sound like. – The Daily Beacon University of TN Knoxville

Lower Level's last nine months on the road have included (a partial list):
1. Tour dates with Coolio, Digital Underground, FogHat, 17th Floor, BonePony, Kottonmouth Kings, etc...
2. Sold 2,600+ albums in the last 9 months (all at live shows)....
3. One of 2 "sold out" shows at a non-SXSW venue in Austin this past SXSW
4. Included as one of 7 top up-and-coming bands in Rolling Stone Magazine (Sept. 2003)
5. Voted "Best Band in Austin 2003" by StudyBreaks Magazine on UT Austin campus (largest college publication in TX).