Madràs
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Madràs

Fort Worth, Texas, United States

Fort Worth, Texas, United States
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"10 Dallas-Fort Worth bands poised to take over SXSW"

March 12-17, SXSW Music will host 1,300 musical acts down in our hippie sister city, Austin. The fest just released a third wave of invited acts, and there are 10 Dallas-Fort Worth bands on the lineup. The entertainers span from Top 40 rap to psychedelic doom — which is a thing, apparently.

Here’s who you need to know:

Conner Youngblood is the next in the St. Mark’s musician pipeline, with a sound that mixes multiple genres for indie-pop that’s as sonically expansive as it is mellow. His song “Australia” was featured in an Under Armour spot last year as well as an episode of Grey’s Anatomy in November.

Wo Fat can be found somewhere on the musical road between Jimi Hendrix and Black Sabbath. They describe themselves as a Southern fried, blue-infused version of psychedelic doom. Mosh on.

Dorrough gained national attention with his Southern hip-hop hit “Ice Cream Paint Job” in 2009. You might have forgotten that song, but good luck getting it out of your head if you ever stumble across it. Yeah, buddy. Rolling like a big shot.

Yung Nation is a pair of 20-year-old rappers swathed in the window-rattling bass of Texas’ hip-hop elder statesmen like Lil’ Flip, Slim Thug and Big Tuck.

Jessie Frye, a pop-songstress from Denton, is both seductive and unflinchingly raw. She’s a SXSW veteran, having performed there every year since 2009.

The Longshots are a Fort Worth rock foursome with a loose, ramshackle vibe. Shaggy harmonies and a psychedelic streak come together irresistibly live and on the August 2012 release “At a Time Like This.”

Madras, the Dreamy Fort Worth-born chamber-pop trio, got raves for its highly personal, ethereal debut disc, released in June, called Things Can Change.

The Orbans, a Twangy Fort Worth band, is a relative old-timer, having been on the scene since 2008. Their country-tinged rock is easy to like, and they’re finishing up a new record to come out in early '13, which they’ll showcase at the conference.

Quaker City Night Hawks says it best on its website: They play Southern rock right out of '75, played with the fervor of a sermon crackling out of the radio in a '68 Lincoln. The rock quartet has also been featured on the FX series Sons of Anarchy.

Skeleton Coast is an incredibly talented young foursome that’s like Fort Worth’s answer to My Bloody Valentine, issuing big waves of blissful shoe-gazer space-rock sound. Their self-titled opus came out in November 2012. - Culturemap Dallas


"Year in review- DFWcoms best local albums of 2012"

1. Madras, 'Things Can Change'

No other local album made as profound an impact in 2012 as this gorgeous, delicately rendered collection created by brothers (and TCU alums) Jeevan and Mathew Antony, with help from Secret Ghost Champion's Ben Hance. In the aftermath of romantic devastation and acute homesickness, Jeevan Antony spills his heart and soul into striking, almost haiku-like lyrics and wraps them all in exotic, spacious soundscapes. It's impossible to listen to these songs and not feel moved, perhaps even cleansed, by the artistry on display - DFW.com/ The Star Telegram


"Madràs- Things Can Change"

Since its June release, the debut album from twentysomething singer-songwriter Jeevan Antony, his bass-playing younger brother Mathew, and drummer/producer Ben Hance (Secret Ghost Champion) has attained almost legendary local status. In August, TCU alum Jeevan had to return to his native Dubai after his student visa expired but not until he had poured his heart into 13 musical meditations on loss, change, and maturity, home-recorded with his two helpers under the name Madràs. A tortured young artist forced to leave the country where he found his first great love? Sounds like the stuff of pop music mythology.

But Things Can Change truly is a remarkable excursion. Using keyboards, guitar, and synthy percussion to craft a sound that’s spare and lush, brittle and enveloping, Madràs has created a painfully intimate album that skirts the clichés of earth-shattering heartbreak by keeping things small and personal. It starts with Jeevan’s vocals. His sing-talk delivery sometimes barely raises above a whisper and sounds like a sad little kid consoling himself with scraps of memory. Electric guitars peal like church bells on “Older” as Jeevan’s boyish voice wearily repeats, “I was in love when I was younger / But now I’m older / And I’m loveless.”

The music is expertly arranged and performed. “Tasmania” features swells of orchestral synths, warm and icy at the same time, and a (relatively) happy melody picked out on a synthesizer. “Tracing Paper” sounds like one of those classic, dreamy Velvet Underground ballads, with Jeevan conjuring a young Lou Reed at his most earnestly romantic. The title track revolves around gentle, folksy guitar-plucking as Jeevan insists, “I have got to learn to make mistakes on my own”; a female voice interrupts to declare ominously, “Guilt is a strange thing, a powerful thing, a wild thing.”

Indeed, the recorded voices of different random people –– men and women, adults and children –– haunt Things Can Change, suggesting that Jeevan’s head is a very crowded place. It’s unclear now if the guys will ever perform again as Madràs, but with this album, they’ve created an impressive chronicle of youthful despair. — Jimmy Fowler - Fort Worth Weekly (Fort Worth, USA)


"Madràs: a bright light in Fort Worth music scene"

One of Fort Worth's best new bands -- Madràs -- sprang, like most great art, from profound emptiness.

Two years ago, reeling from the sudden collapse of a lengthy relationship and an acute longing for home, singer-songwriter Jeevan Antony contemplated walking away from music entirely.

He was convinced that his love of writing and performing thwarted his plans for a romantic happily-ever-after, and even attempted selling every piece of music gear he owned.

But his family would not let him abandon his passion.

His father urged him to remain focused on creating music, telling his eldest son, "I don't see you doing anything else with all your heart."

With encouragement from his younger brother Mathew and fellow musician Ben Hance, Jeevan sought refuge in an electric guitar.

The heartsick and homesick songs he began building, inspired by records like Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago, became the foundation of Madràs, a project named for the Indian city of his birth (now known as Chennai), and a superb new album, Things Can Change.

It's a title freighted with particular significance, considering the project's genesis. Over the course of the record's 13 tracks, you can hear a young man, attending college more than 9,000 miles from home, grappling with his past and his future.

Few moments in life are as emotionally trying as your early 20s, a time loaded with uncertainty, new experiences and painful transitions. Haunting, raw-nerved lyrics -- "I was in love when I was younger/But now I am loveless/And I'm older" -- are tucked into gorgeous, ethereal swaths of sound, layered with echo, synthesizer and faint electric guitar lines. It's the sound of someone gracefully, if somewhat begrudgingly, accepting life's bitter realities.

What began as an intimate exorcism of the soul has blossomed into one of the best bands Fort Worth has produced in recent memory, and spawned a truly great record, rich with detail and atmosphere. It's lightning in a bottle -- a perfectly captured moment in time, beautifully realized and able to elicit strong reactions from those who hear it.

But the excitement surrounding Things Can Change -- the sort of album listeners want to push into the hands of everyone they meet, imploring them to listen -- is tempered by another of life's immutable realities: Just as you become comfortable with yourself and your surroundings, it can be time, whether you're ready or not, to move on.

Having graduated from Texas Christian University last spring with a degree in entrepreneurial management and anthropology, the now-23-year-old Jeevan's time in America is coming to an end. His student visa expires in August, and he's returning home to Dubai. Consider it a fresh psychic wound, and one that might yield more soul-searching music.

But even if the brilliance of Madràs is fleeting, the rapturous response afforded Change is, in its own way, therapeutic.

"Especially for me, a lot of the songs are very, very sad," Jeevan says. "I have a lot of people coming up to me and saying to them, it's hopeful, and it actually makes them a little happy. For me, I find it difficult to listen to the album because I know exactly what I'm talking about. [But] knowing it means different things, happier things to other people makes me feel better."

Little by little, that void, looming once more, is beginning to fill up.

Beginner band

Growing up in southeastern India, and later Dubai, Jeevan and his brother (the family is rounded out by sister Sneha, a TCU alum who works for KVUE, Austin's ABC affiliate) were immersed in music. While neither his father, Antony, nor his mother, Margaret, played an instrument, they encouraged Jeevan and his brother, who remain very close, to pursue what inspired them.

Jeevan's father, in particular, noted his son's enthusiasm for music. Even when Jeevan's mother fretted that her child was just going through a phase, collecting pedals and other gear, Antony remained supportive, telling his son to keep plucking away on his 12-string acoustic guitar.

When Jeevan accepted a generous scholarship offer to attend TCU (as did his siblings), and arrived here after stints studying in Melbourne, Australia, and London, his music evolved.

"When we were in high school, we had this band that was very different from what we do now," Jeevan says. "It didn't mean as much [then] as what it's meant for the past two years. It's been very personal.... This was the only thing I really wanted to spend time and effort on, so I might as well give it everything and not really hold back. Instead of coming off as some overly sensitive, insecure person, this was my art."

That clarity of focus is one of the first things you notice on Things Can Change. The album is a cohesive, consistent experience, conveying the riot of emotions he was processing.

"I spent a lot of time making sure it felt like a flowing experience, and that it was honest about what I was going through," - dfw.com/The Star Telegram (Dallas/Fort Worth, USA)


"Record Review: Madràs- "Things Can Change""

Well, here is my first album review, and I couldn’t be more excited to share this with you as I think it’s some of the most unique and beautiful music to be made in Fort Worth this year (or any year, for that matter). For a while now I’ve been the musician getting my music reviewed by blogs like this, and it feels pretty great on this side of things i.e. being excited about some music that I think you should hear. So, here we go, lets get into this…

First off, you probably need to know a little bit about Madras. The band is the creation of lead singer/guitarist Jeevan Anthony, Matthew Anthony and Ben Hance (along with a assortment of musician friends from other bands in town). Read more from our friends at FW Weekly about Madras and what’s coming up for them here:

http://www.fwweekly.com/2012/06/22/madrs-good-news-bad-news/

Friends of mine had been raving about Madras for months. They hadn’t put out any recordings, but their live shows were causing quite the stir. I didn’t get the chance to see them live before this album was released, but when I saw the first post about the album on Facebook last week, I bought the album immediately based solely on friends’ recommendations Dear readers, I was not disappointed. I listened to it 4 times in a row after buying it. I couldn’t stop. I haven’t done this for any other local band in FW yet.

It’s that good.

The 13 tracks on Things Can Change are remarkably consistent in their tone, vibe, and instrumentation. The tracks feature dreamy synth, delayed guitar, reverb-wet drums, and percussion as Jeevan’s voice floats along with the harmony vocal. The tracks add up to a silky, beautiful 35 minutes of soothing music. I used the word “consistent” for good reason. These tracks fit seamlessly together in one cohesive whole. The total sum of the parts is what is important to this album. And that is where the strength of this album lies.

Music fans have lately been bemoaning the loss of this idea called “The Album.” The Album is a concept that requires the writers, musicians, producers, and promoters to put together tracks as a cohesive whole. Each one must feed into the next either sonically, lyrically, or thematically. This takes a lot of work and some would say that it is the highest form of musical Pop Art (think Pink Floyd, Music From Big Pink, Arcade Fire, Bruce Springsteen, the later Beatles stuff etc…). Vinyl virtually required the listener to sit and listen to all the tracks that the artist fit together to get across a whole idea. The Album has continued into our modern days, but with the growing popularity of digital music, the industry has moved towards a “single” mindset. That means that tracks are written, recorded and promoted on their own as single standalone works (think Thriller).

Things Can Change fits perfectly into the idea of The Album. With the addition of spoken word, Madras takes you on a 35 minute sonic exploration and without the cohesivness of these tracks, the whole thing would fall apart into a boring 13 track mess. What Madras has done here is take a simple set of sounds and blend them into an experience that you will want to play on repeat all afternoon, or evening, or for my money all dang day. They remind me of a very calm Sigur Ros, without the soaring crescendos and bowed guitars. The similarity for me lies in the fact that these bands using this particular palette of sounds take your listening mind to a place outside of your immediate experience. Madras has created a ethereal place above the city noise that begins the album and invites you to stay above and removed from the real world in a place of memory or dreams.

This album will go down as a mile marker for the current FW music scene. I’m positing that this is the most beautiful album that will be released inside Tarrant County this year. While others are working on making the “bloozey” rock’n'roll that is Fort Worth’s current bread-and-butter, folks like Madras and their album Things Can Change are eschewing the swagger of rock for the epic soundscapes of something more subtle and beautiful. I think you should be listening to this album.

Get it here: http://madras.bandcamp.com/album/thingscanchange

Last word: The band is incredible live. I finally got to see them at the FW Weekly music awards showcase. Where the album is calm and even-keeled, their live show is expansive and builds to soaring heights with guitar, flute, drums, and a rotating cast of side musicians. Jeevan is leaving the country soon, so if you keep your eyes and ears open for their last few shows, they will be events that are not to be missed.



If you want it, make it.

-Hank - FWIX (Fort Worth, USA)


"Madràs- Things Can Change"

A reader named Adam sent me a tip that one good friend on the other side of the Atlantic has released a record that would fall into my taste. And it does!

Madras is the brothers Jeevan and Matthew Antony. From India, grew up in Dubai and now lives in the United States .

How can I describe Madras music? "Gently" is the first word that comes to mind, and it fits the also very good for this blog name. Genre-wise you could call it dreamy bedroom people.

Often the songs based on almost caressing guitar strokes and airy vocals that sometimes is two-part. Few and simple means, but it works. The only thing I miss is that some of the songs might well be stronger.

- Musik Mig Blidt (Denmark)


"Upward to Madràs"

Started by brothers Jeevan and Mathew Antony, Madràs –– everything about it –– was created out of a series of seeming disconnects, fitting for a couple of transnational transients who have found their way to Fort Worth. From the refracted origins of the band to the way the two brothers develop and redevelop their repertoire, the music bears the sound of displacement. Somehow, the pieces all add up, like the best art, to many different meanings.


Though Jeevan and Mathew are best known for their work in the trio Fou, with drummer Houston Holtman, the brothers are constantly writing together and had developed material that wasn’t quite Fou-ish but demanded to be realized. With drummer Ben Hance, frontman for Secret Ghost Champion, the brothers have been able to get Madràs off the ground. While they’ve played only three shows so far, they’ve managed to produce a steady stream of recordings, available via http://madras.bandcamp.com/album/madras.

The writing process is wholly collaborative. From his apartment near Texas Christian University, singer-guitarist Jeevan records his pieces and then e-mails them to his younger brother in his dorm room around the corner on campus. (Jeevan graduated in May. Mathew is in his sophomore year.) On bass and keyboards, Mathew tinkers with the files, makes contributions, and provides feedback, and eventually the songs end up in Hance’s hands and then into the digital public sphere.

The nine fairly solid home recordings that are up now won’t change, but the live arrangements of those songs will. For starters, the earlier tracks were recorded without Hance. Some, such as “dreamdippedsincerity,” are sparse numbers with simple acoustic-guitar strumming. Other tracks have a lot going on, from computer-generated sounds to audio collages, but lack that special something when performed live. “We want them more fleshed out,” Mathew said.

The new arrangements give the songs a feel somewhere between post-rock (without extended noise solos) and the alternately melancholic and warm dream-pop of the early ’90s. (Think: a pop version of Explosions in the Sky or a more experimental Mazzy Star.) Indeed, newer songs such as “kookaburra” look back to the ’80s and yet sound at home with some of today’s digital-heavy indie music.

Jeevan and Mathew agree there’s a fair amount of nostalgia at play in their music. But it’s not for dream-pop. “We’re both big fans of A.R. Rahman,” Jeevan said. “If you listen to the percussion and the rhythm, we get that from him.”

Rahman is the most famous and arguably the greatest living Indian film composer, best known here, of course, for his Oscar-winning work on Slumdog Millionaire. His soundtracks on films from the different Indian film industries are unique, even in the subcontinent, because they draw upon classical and folk traditions from northern and southern India, popular music, and various international styles.

Which is to say it’s a little hard to hear Rahman in Madràs. But, after all, the Antony brothers decided to give their group the former name of their hometown. The two grew up in Dubai, part of the large South Asian diaspora there, but are from Chennai, which dropped its colonial name, Madras, in 1996. The brothers are Indian citizens and as children visited every year. “But we’re still foreign to it,” Jeevan said. “That’s why we use the foreign name.”

From the band name to subtler influences like Rahman, the music of Madràs comes out of “nostalgia for our childhood,” Jeevan said. The two have been playing together since they were teens in Dubai and had –– wait for it –– a metal band. (“People knew we were in a band but wouldn’t have guessed we played metal,” Jeevan admitted.) Jeevan assembled the group from his friends but couldn’t find a bassist. Finally, his father intervened with the offer to purchase a bass guitar on the condition that Mathew get to play it and join the band.

The two have been making music ever since. Jeevan arrived at TCU to obtain his undergraduate degree in 2007, followed by sister Sneha and Mathew. Each came with a scholarship, and it just felt right to their parents, halfway around the world, to have the three siblings in the same place. But the dominant elements of TCU culture –– football and Greek life –– were a bit of a shock to the immigrants. A business major, Jeevan felt out of place among his classmates, at least until he discovered the anthropology department. Fort Worth became more inviting once he tapped into the music scene via Fou.

And the scene has responded. To raise money for bicycles for international refugee families living here, the three Antonys held a fund-raiser a couple of weeks ago –– every band Jeevan asked, including big-timers like Quaker City Night Hawks and Skeleton Coast, agreed to perform. Nearly $1,800 was raised. “Including volunteer staff, we had around 200 people in attendance,” Mathew said. “We were expecting 20.”

Madràs is working on a proper full-length - Fort Worth Weekly (Fort Worth, USA)


"Upward to the Cellar"

On Friday night at The Cellar, I caught Madràs, the ethereal indie project by brothers Jeevan and Mathew Antony, and their textured, spacey chamber pop really shone in this setting. I’d say there were maybe 20 to 30 folks watching the show, a lot of whom sat at tables. Of course, there were talkers, but when Jeevan’s reverb-soaked vocals crested over the twinkling delay of his guitar, just about everybody shut up — and listened. This is a band in which the drummer uses mallets, and the frontman sits in a chair. Madràs is quiet, requiring you to listen actively rather than lean against the bar and have your eyebrows blasted off. And when the audience settled into silence, Madràs’ songs filled the room, swirling about the audience like sonic eddies wandering through space. I don’t know that I would have paid as much attention to this band if I’d first seen them at, say, Lola’s or even The Grotto — there was something about seeing them in the dark of a makeshift venue that made me take notice, and now I’ll have the mental preparation to appreciate them when they hit bigger stages around town. –– Steve Steward - Fort Worth Weekly (Fort Worth, USA)


"Upward to the Basement Bar"

As Fort Worth’s live original music scene continues to expand, you might as well give each new venue a try — I never thought I’d enjoy a show at another off-the-beaten-path place, The Cellar by TCU, but the Madras gig I caught there was one of the best shows I saw last year. And since we’re talking about it, check the paper and see who’s playing at The Basement Bar this weekend. Maybe we can split a cab. –– Steve Steward - Fort Worth Weekly (Fort Worth, USA)


"Currently listening to: Madràs"

I remember seeing an e-mail about this Texas based band Madràs a few days ago, but looks like I misplaced it. Today, I was lucky to hear from a friend of the group with a reminder to check out their music. The duo of brothers just recently completed their debut album, which sounds like it’d fit great with the ethereal sounds of Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes and Oliver Tank.

Its a calming soundtrack to a day where I’m completely frustrated with happenings from my day job. Hopefully, I can turn things around and getting a better start to the long weekend. - Indie Music Filter (Canada)


"Interview: Madràs"

Madràs is a place far away— a place that no longer exists on maps but the city’s name alone evokes strong memories (‘childhood innocence, railway stations, being in an auto rickshaw, wisdom from simple people’) for Jeevan and Mathew Antony. The two brothers were born Madràs, now known as Chennai, in southern India and much of their music under the name Madràs is a product of their nostalgia for the place. Last week they released their beautiful debut album thingscanchange, which you pick up at their bandcamp. I’ve spent the past few days entranced by the thirteen-track release. I was so impressed by the effort that got in touch with Jeevan to see if he’d answer a few questions about Madràs, the album and future of the project— he said yes. Check out his words below.
Several of the tracks on the album deal with issues of time, its passage and a longing for a there and then (‘older,’ ‘thingscanchange,’ ‘will wait’)— could you describe not the time that you were writing about, but the time when you first started recording songs as Madràs? How did it all come about?
I had another band with my brother, and a friend, called Fou. We were busy recording Fou’s debut record, but I had these ideas that didnt feel Fou-ish. I had just graduated from university, and was still coming to terms with other personal changes in my life; it was a weird/difficult time for me- I guess I have trouble with letting go. I recorded “Older”, and showed it to my brother around May of last year. We’re usually hard to please when it comes to our own material, but he really connected with the song, and encouraged me to explore it further. With that, everything just came out very easy.
So I know that things started as a solo project. With such personal music grounded in nostalgia, did another person’s input change things? How did your brother’s inclusion affect the recording process?
To be honest, writing music without my brother inevitably feels unnatural, and/or incomplete. We come from a very close-knit family; we all know each other inside out. I think having my brother help me write/finish songs made the whole process easier; he knew where I was coming from and what we were trying to express.
What kind of moments or scenes do you think are most fitting for your music. Also, what sorts of images were you envisioning as you worked on the album?
Love, loss, water, rain, winter, fog, sincerity, humility, intimacy, passion, vulnerability, betrayal.
When working on the album I would often imagine walking through railway stations in India/travelling around India by train, or picture the backwaters of my father’s hometown.
I’ve heard your music compared to a couple of different groups, but what acts do you think influenced your music the most?
Honestly more than music, it was just certain memories and this longing to connect with this idea of “home”, understanding love, and coming to terms with the complexity of human/personal choices; ultimately it was about seeing/feeling these strong scenes and trying to translate that to sounds and words. If i had to pick influences otherwise, Id say Jeff Buckley, Nick Drake and A.R. Rahman.
I know that you reached out to Dexter Tortoriello (of Houses) while you were piecing together the album. I feel that there are quite a few similarities between your album and his— how did he help with the recording process?
Ah! that’s such a wonderful thing to hear. I met Dexter sometime last year, and really connected with what he and Megan were doing. We kept in touch, and I sent him some early Madràs demos. It warmed my heart that he’d take the time to tell me what he thought about it. I even got his advice on figuring out our live shows, and production.
Are there any artists that you’d like to collaborate with in some form in the future?
Man I’ve got this list, haha. Jordan Ireland, Robin Pecknold, Justin Vernon, A.R. Rahman, Chris Martin, and Dexter. I’m also very intrigued by what I’ve heard from Sleep Party People. Is the list too long now? haha, I suppose it was the moment I made it a list. I think there’s a lot you can tell about a person when you listen to the music they write, as well as their approach; with some artists you think ah, that’s definitely what I would have done/said, and then you feel like you know them almost. It’s hard for me to work with musicians; unless we share some sort of connection personally, and respect each other. I really respect those guys, and though I don’t know them personally, I often feel like I really understand where they’re coming from.
Alright, so what does the future hold for Madràs?
I’m leaving the country because my visa expires in August, so we’re trying to get a lot done before that. We are still yet to finish Fou’s debut. As far as live shows, we’re going to be on (hopefully just) a short break—till I figure out a way to return to North America. We do have 2 shows in July, and maybe 1 or 2 in August. We’re working on a second album with our new b - Escucharemos (Boston, USA)


"Madràs"

If you take a look at the album art for Things Can Change, the debut album from the Texas based band Madràs, you will see a beautifully serene, nostalgic, aquatic setting. That's at first glance; looking closer you will see a faded figure with his arms open, almost like he is embracing the undeniable tranquility being observed. Looking at it this way, it couldn't be a more perfect cover. Madràs was first introduced to me as "nothing short of ethereal", which is about as correct as can be. The two brothers that comprise Madràs have put together a gorgeous compilation of delicate, soft, and dreamy songs that makes it feel like your conscience has been placed on a pillow. Things Can Change is airy and spacious, and it does quite a good job of developing an environment; "Reprise" is basically a sound collage of nightly insects, and the short "Bangalore" depicts a fuzzy street scene. These are the accents which help Things Can Change become a whole concept, and it works wonderfully. It could've been easy to break the streak of these fragile songs, they're so light that it feels like the slightest addition could've destroyed their gossamer qualities. Luckily, this doesn't happen. I've posted two songs from Things Can Change below, "Tracing Paper" and "Once I", so if you want a taste of their careful arrangements and magnificent harmonies, you can do so below. The album in full can be streamed or purchased at their Bandcamp. - Audio Splash (United Kingdom)


"Antony brothers have big "Things" to say"

We’re halfway through the year, and I’ve heard what I suspect will be my favorite local album of 2012: Madràs' Things Can Change.

That it is the Fort Worth duo’s first full-length effort is all the more impressive — these are incredibly confident songs, rendered with sensitivity and skill. Texas Christian University grad Jeevan Antony and his brother Mathew mine their past with an eye toward creating some of the most lush, richly textured folk-pop I have heard in many months.

Although the Antonys are responsible for much of Change (they’re credited as songwriters, composers, recording engineers and performers), they get an assist from fellow Fort Worth musician Benjamin Hance, who pitches in on percussion and synthesizer on three songs.

Spread over 13 tracks, Things Can Change is made up of arresting songs — the luminous Older, Tracing Paper and Never are exquisite — and what amounts to interstitial clips of people talking, evoking home recordings of loved ones. This is a deeply personal album, full of elegiac feeling about the passage of time (“These days they pass as if we’re gonna live forever/But you and I we’ve barely spent time together,” Jeevan sings on Never, addressing either a lover or a relative).

It’s this palpable emotion, which can even be felt in the tender, hushed music, that makes Things Can Change so gripping. The Antonys pull listeners close, sketching out very recognizable human emotions in minute detail and creating warm soundscapes that feel simultaneously inviting and exotic. It’s a terrific accomplishment, and one begging to be heard over and over.

Befitting a band that just released an album steeped in transience, the future of Madràs is somewhat in flux. Jeevan’s visa expires in August, and he is returning to his native Dubai (“My plan is to try and get back as soon as I can,” he says). In the next few weeks, Jeevan plans to finish up a debut album for Fou, the band he and Mathew started prior to Madràs, as well as to potentially record another Madràs EP or LP once Mathew returns to the States in mid-July. “After that, hopefully [we’ll] play a show or two before I leave,” Jeevan says. - dfw.com (Dallas, USA)


"Review: Madràs- Things can change"

Rating: 7/10

The eastern seaboard of the U.S. in the middle of July is a wretched surrounding. It is brutally hot and the air is thick with humidity. I personally will look for any sort of relief. Anything at all. When I saw the album cover for the Madràs album Things Can Change it immediately ushered in the thought of “wow that is beautiful, i wish i was there right now.” The photo making the cover is an Instagram-esque picture of crystalline waters with a mountain back drop and a small section of roadway that looks to me like it has to be somewhere along the Pacific Coast. Very serene. The music matches their album cover almost too well.

The Fort Worth, Texas based duo known as Madras is made of two brothers, Jeevan Antony, and Mathew Antony. The duo create an ethereal Folk/Pop that is easy to get lost in, although there is not much instrumentation. For most of the songs, it’s just some laid back guitar and with an excellent ear for the proper effects at the proper times. The album flows through the songs flawlessly without one of them seeming out of place. There are a few spots of recorded vocal samples, possibly from television or radio. These guys had an idea when they started and they saw it all the way through, which is why I think the album is so cohesive.

Some key songs that really make this album come together are the opener “Older” which with very basic vocals just sends the listener into thoughts of getting older, but not in a bad way, the serenity of the song makes it seem like an easy transition. A little further into the album you come across “Will Wait”. The song has a great guitar hook a slight electronic drumbeat, and some of their most cohesive singing as a duo on the entire album, all I can say is that I wish that song was actually a little longer.

The closer on this album titled “Someday” is definitely what caught the most attention from me. With the effects running high on the instrumentation, this song shows the possibilities of where Madras can go. This shows where they chose the “chamber pop” tag from. It sounds big, and expansive for only two guys and just has that “sound”, whether its the xylophone hits or the spacey chorus/echo effects on the whole thing, or all those things together this song is great.

Overall, I think this is a fantastic first album from a duo that, if given the right opportunity could be placed along side acts such as Bon Iver. I do believe they would benefit from adding some more full time members, with more instrumentation on all the songs. It would be great to hear some organ, and more drums running throughout the whole album. I look forward to seeing the progression they make on their next release. - Music under fire (Philadelphia, USA)


"Album review: Things can change by Madràs"

The Texan brothers of Jeevan Antony and Mathew Antony along with their friend Benjamin Hance form the current outfit for Madràs. Coming all the way from Ft. Worth, their latest release of Things Can Change is most definitely one of the best debuts I’ve heard in quite some time, and some good ole fashioned Southern chamber pop. The ghostly haze cast upon us from Things Can Change is more than likely going to entice you to the point of purchase. That’d be the ultimate win for both parties involved. Madràs definitely has a spooky sound that can become applicable in a multitude of situations. From going to sleep or looking for music to lackadaisically walk to, this band might have forged an album for you. Speaking of, let’s dive into Things Can Change.

Firstly, I’d have to tell you that this is composed well enough to make me want to put it in the Debut of the Year category for our Hanus superlatives. Actually, I already did. Then, I’d have to go on about how well the mastering and mixing was done on this piece. I mean really: this level of craftsmanship is beyond anything you usually hear within a debut release. That adds to the fact that this is all around a clean, smooth release for the cheap price of only 7 dollars (for the digital download, that is). Songs like “Older” really sell this album, along with tracks like “Tracing Paper” and the supreme ballad of “Will Wait”. There’s a lot of diversity when it comes to the instrument choice within this work, so there’s definitely a mass appeal feature to this body of work. I love that they’ve included the lyrics on each track’s description as well. I think that kind of intimacy will make for some intense live shows in which the crowd gets involved. That kind of experience is euphoric. This band knows.

The three songs featured above should eradicate any fears you previously had about whether or not you’re into this release. Madràs is most definitely going to be in my tunnel vision for what artists to feature on the site from now on and I’ll be sure to keep all of our Hanus readers up to date with their activity. I’m sure you’re thanking me for bringing you some new experimental folk. If you’re not? Then I don’t know, maybe you should have gone to another post before tormenting yourself to all of this and arriving at this point in the post. For that, I’m sorry you seem to be so daft. Don’t subject yourself to that kind of torment. Subject yourself to beautifully constructed music that soothes your soul and carries your spirit into positive realms of though. Subject yourself to Things Can Change. - Hanus (Atlanta, USA)


"Madràs with an accent"

Why is an album made by two brothers born in Chennai and raised in Dubai making waves in Texas? A chat with brothers Jeevan and Mathew Antony.

Last month, when brothers Jeevan and Mathew Antony released their debut album, Things Can Change, it quickly made waves on music blogs around the world. Which might seem curious for a group based in Fort Worth, Texas, called Madràs, but it could be their transnational background that endows the music with such resonance.

Take the album’s third track, “Tasmania”. This one song contains every aspect found on the 35-minute disc, which is held together by a pervasive sense of nostalgia. The opening soundscape calls to mind the synth-heavy kitsch of Tamil film music. Jeevan Antony’s hushed vocals have something of a choirboy effect here. He sings of restlessness, of the urge to move and to catch his breath; to reflect back, but only with distance. A scene briefly unfolds: “And in the morning she opens her eyes to butterflies, I chase just to/have around; will you have me around?” The words melt back into the music. At the three-minute mark, this dreamy atmosphere gives way to lush, yet gentle, guitar work. The reverie-like harmonies integrate seamlessly with sounds recorded from Chennai Central; fitting for a song that evokes romance, wandering, even diaspora.

Riskier musical territory

The album is full of emotionally bare lyrics, but Madràs could hardly be accused as overwrought or confessional. For starters, the minimalism of the lyrics is given an understated vocal delivery. “I’m primarily interested in the sound of the words,” Jeevan said of his approach to songwriting. In this way, his voice becomes just another instrument in a colourful palette.

Throughout Things Can Change, narrative details are eschewed in favour of subtlety and suggestion, which invite the listener to project her own imagination and associations onto the music. To be sure, Jeevan had specific experiences in mind when he started writing the album last year. “The album mourns the loss of innocence,” he offered. “But it’s also about being grateful for that experience.”

When he finished college in Texas last year, he found himself looking back on four years abroad (Mathew still has two left), twice removed from home. (The brothers were born in Chennai and raised in Dubai.) In this period of reflection, he began writing. But the resulting music sounded like nothing he and Mathew had ever made before. As teens, the two cut their teeth in Dubai’s metal scene with a four-piece known as Decoy Death Trap. Since then, they’ve showed a more playful side with the Fort Worth-based pop trio, Fou.

The new material was taking them into riskier territory; musically and lyrically. Songs like “Never” and “Tracing Paper,” which features a brief segment sung in an otherworldly falsetto, sketch the fragility of love. “Older”, the first new song Jeevan had written, conveys in a pair of simple couplets the simultaneous feelings of maturity and humility, of moving forward and starting over.

Jeevan and Mathew recorded the album primarily in Fort Worth, but didn’t always work side by side on the project. From his apartment, Jeevan would lay down vocal, guitar, and bass tracks, which he’d then pass on to Mathew. “He’d give me the skeleton and I’d flesh it out,” Mathew said. This meant tweaking the arrangements before adding the other layers: flutes, strings, percussion with his synths. When Mathew left for a semester in Manchester this past January, the production continued via the peer-to-peer sharing programme Dropbox. Drummer Ben Hance, frontman of Secret Ghost Champion, appeared on three tracks and helped mix the album.

What would A.R. Rahman do?

A veritable laptop manifesto, another remarkable aspect of Things Can Change is its use of samples. In addition to the natural sound from Chennai (taped dutifully by Jeevan and Mathew’s cousins), friends from around the world — Germany, India, Australia — contributed spoken-word recordings in their own languages, variations on the album’s key themes. “Each song is like a diary entry, with very personal lyrics,” Jeevan said. “But all of those experiences weren’t experienced alone. So, we wanted our friends to be part of the album too.”

Animated by such unique elements, the one label that tends to stick to Madràs is “shoegaze,” a decidedly mellow sub-genre of indie pop. But there’s something that sets the group apart. “We’re trying to connect to India through this music,” Mathew said. Aside from all the nostalgia on display, this desire manifests itself directly in the arrangements. The harmonies, for example, don’t follow the typical three-part pattern found in most rock. “Even the rhythm is much more ‘Indian’ than blues-based,” Jeevan suggested. When recording the bass or percussion, he recalled with a laugh, he’d ask himself, “What would A.R. Rahman do?”

It was natural, then, that the project would be called Madràs. Their family moved to Duba - The Hindu (India)


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

For fans of The Middle East, Grizzly Bear, Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, Houses

Bio:
Madràs is the project of brothers Jeevan and Mathew Antony, a pair of transnational transients who trace circuitous lines back to their hometown in India through music. Rounded out by drummer/producer Ben Hance, the trio has its feet in as many modes and genres as it does countries, from shoegaze and dream pop to folk and Tamil film soundtracks. Their first album, Things Can Change, was released last year to rave reviews in places as far afield as Fort Worth and Chennai—and elsewhere throughout the blogosphere.

The band is currently putting together plans for a tour of India in December of 2013, as well as adding finishing touches to their next EP.

--Official showcasing act at 2013 South by Southwest Music Festival (SXSW) in Austin, Texas
--'thingscanchange' voted best local album of 2012 in the Dallas/Fort Worth region by dfw.com/The Star Telegram

Selected Press:
"The Madràs show was the single most magical thing that happened in Austin this week" (Houses- Downtown records, on Madràs's SXSW showcase)

"one of the most arresting local performers I stumbled upon at this year's West Berry Block Party was Jeevan Antony, who sat unassuming on a ledge inside the Cellar and performed spacey, folk-tinged melodies as he hunched over his electric guitar. Along with sibling Mathew Antony and Secret Ghost Champion's Ben Hance, Jeevan anchors the chamber-pop outfit Madràs..." (Preston Jones, DFW.com)

"Overall, I think this is a fantastic first album from a duo that, if given the right opportunity could be placed along side acts such as Bon Iver" (Music under fire)

"The band is incredible live... where the album is calm and even-keeled, their live show is expansive and builds to soaring heights with guitar, flute, drums, and a rotating cast of side musicians" (FWIXmusic)

Band Members