My Golden Calf
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My Golden Calf

Austin, Texas, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2009 | SELF

Austin, Texas, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2009
Band Rock Indie

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"New Austin band golden"

Some live music performances can be so captivating, they stay lodged in your memories for months on end. Austin band My Golden Calf's powerful and clever lyrics, saturating rhythmic melodies and catchy tempos definitely have this effect on listeners. Their debut album, "Rituals To Make New," is now available on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify, and can be downloaded for free on their BandCamp website.

Jangly folksy-rock is one way lead vocalist and guitarist Dabney Dwelle describes the band's sound. Their unconventional, bluesy beats convey a sense of mystery and allure listeners to the stories contained in Dwelle's bewitching lyrics. They offer a more sincere and unique sound than many of the other thousands of indie rock bands out there.

They worked on recording the album over the summer without looking into signing with a label yet, Dwelle said, and are offering the album for free to see if they can round up interest in their music.

The band's first connections began when Dwelle played with drummer Tim O'Neill before joining a different band, then later reconnected with him in 2008 to work on some songs Dwelle wrote. My Golden Calf formed with the addition of bassist Joe Salinas and keyboardist and guitarist Carlos Cardona. Due to recent scheduling difficulty, a new keyboardist, Brian Tomlin, has joined the band in place of Cardona.

One track on the album, "Fruit For Our Guest," tends to stick out as a fan favorite. It has a lot of different parts and reveals a brooding, poetic and unclear story seemingly about a predator. The tone and mood of the song ride a rollercoaster of emotions and leave you longing for more of its catchy melody.

Another song, "Bee In Your Bonnet," has a sinister bass line and obscure lyrics. Listening to it makes you feel like you're nosing around a town in a mystery movie, trying to find a culprit guilty of humiliating you. In the song, Dwelle talks of being too shy to pose questions, and the fear that others will find him strange.

Dwelle's lyrics are personal but camouflaged, so unless you were in the situation, it would be hard to grasp exactly what has happened. His phrasing and syntax could be characterized as somewhat Biblical language, although the content is not religious.

"It just comes out that way, not exactly on purpose," he said. "I'm not a very literal singer, I push myself to exercise muscles in the brain and write lyrics more creatively."

He said he likes it when people listen and think about the words to find their own interpretation because, ultimately, the listener draws the meaning of a song.

Dwelle does most of the songwriting, but the rest of the band has a lot of input and helps better arrange the music after he creates initial demos on his electric Wurlitzer piano.

Some of the band's influences include folk music and old-style country singers like Jimmy Rogers, The Zombies and Sam Cooke and The Soul Stirrers to name a few. Dwelle said he also grew up listening to musicals, and still watches movies to help him write. He also draws character from many indie bands he heard while traveling in Chicago during the mid 90s.

Dwelle has been playing music in bands since the age of 12, but never sang vocals until he was about 24. He said he never had the drive to sing until no one else around him chose to be vocal, so he put himself out there and found a new instrument – his voice. After that performing took on a whole new life for him and made music feel new again.

The name ‘My Golden Calf' is a reference to the idea that music has become somewhat of a false idol to the band, distracting each of them from other life pursuits. The goal of their music is not to become mega rockstars making millions of dollars, but to be a healing elixir to their own ears and issues. The music itself has selfish origins, Dwelle admits.

"I had dreams when I was younger [that being a musician would] float me away on this crystal, magic cloud, but now I've accepted the reality that music is just something you want to do without the expectation that you're headed to world fame," Dwelle said. "I write more for myself sort of as a form of therapy ... any attention the band gets is just a bonus."

With Salinas on crutches after ankle surgery, O'Neill in the process of building the band a recording studio and Tomlin catching up to speed, learning all their songs, Dwelle said the band is taking a break from playing shows. When they feel comfortable and confident with their performances they'll start booking venues again, he said, which may be as soon as January 2012.

The band is already working on new material, Dwelle said, and once construction of their new studio is complete they will start recording again.

My Golden Calf also applied to play in the 2012 South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival, but still have not received confirmation if they will be a part of the official lineup or not, as it takes a long time to process. Dwelle said they will play u - The Accent


"Band of Note"

You know when you have this relationship with someone that is predicated on mutual fondness, and you think you know everything major about them? Where they work, where they live, whether they’re vegan or carnivore, whether or not they watch It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, their general attitude toward David Hasselhoff, and etcetera?
And then, out of nowhere, they shock you with this secret, amazing detail about their life?
That is my relationship with Dabney Dwelle, frontman of My Golden Calf. Dabney and I were sitting at my house one day, listening to music, when all of a sudden he puts this blank CD in the stereo. The singer had this clear, unusually furtive quality to his voice.
“Whoa. Who is this?” I asked.
“That would be … ” he said.
“Yes, Dabney?”

“ME.”

[Stunned silence]

“That’s me. The one singing.”

I can’t remember exactly what I said next. But it was something along the lines of: You sing? You song write? You play instruments? You’re a musical wizard?
I mean, you have to understand something here. This was sometime in 2009, and Dabney and I had forged a bond over my short-lived obsession with Gossip Girl, and his impression of Chuck Bass par excellence. Dabney’s music was a private affair, and when I was let in on the secret, I was shocked. But happily so. Because his music is very, very good.

Dabney now has a band, My Golden Calf, whose members include Tim O’Neill (drums), Carlos Cardona (keys and guitar), and Joe Salinas (bass). Their debut album, Rituals to Make New, is a smart, carefully-layered set of nine songs that play deftly between hopeful and haunting.
That track – Fruit for Our Guest - is my favorite. It sounds vaguely evil, like something that accompanies the pouring of colorless, odorless poison into a poor soul’s cocktail. They won’t be around much longer.

But fortunately, My Golden Calf will be. I see this as a band with future KUT airplay, especially with a track like this one: Killer Boots.

And, we’re cheerful again! See what I mean about the interesting, in-between-moods space that My Golden Calf occupies? It’s quite canny.
One more for you. I think this song is my second favorite on the album: Feeble David. It highlights Carlos’ deep, dark piano playing, a steady march of sinister chords.

Do you love it? - Austin Eavesdropper


Discography

Rituals To Make New (2011)

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

My Golden Calf was originally conceived as a way to write songs outside of a typical band setting. The project began when guitarist/vocalist Dabney Dwelle was searching for a new way to approach songwriting after his previous band (Quien ‘es Boom) had dissipated. His solution was to set aside his guitar and to write songs on his broken down Wurlitzer electric piano.  A batch of songs were written and demoed, and Dwelle enlisted the help of a longtime friend, Tim O’Neill (Rhythm of Black Lines), to help carry the songs beyond the early demos. Many of those initial tracks ended up being on their first full length release, entitled ‘Rituals to Make New’, which was self produced, recorded, and mixed in the bands small studio. A band was assembled to translate the songs to a live setting and the band played locally and regionally to support the release.

After navigating some lineup changes, the band finally landed with two close old friends to join them. Bass player Jonathan Skaggs, who had recently returned to Austin from San Francisco where he spent time recording and touring with prog-rock band Crime in Choir, and keyboardist John Hale, a longtime friend of the band.

The band spent 2014 writing and demoing new songs, while playing shows and testing the songs in a live setting. During the first half of 2015, My Golden Calf locked themselves inside Captain Douglas Studios, the band’s newly constructed larger studio, and recorded 10 new tracks for their forthcoming second full length album. They collaborated with renowned engineer Erik Wofford to mix the songs, and mastered the album with Jason Ward, co-owner of Chicago Mastering.

The band’s sound experiments with intricate layers, while leaving enough space to breath. It keeps within reach of indie rock while sitting in it’s own pond. Guitar, keys, and vocal harmonies weave together swirling pop melodies and are anchored to a well-paced hustle from the drums and bass to deliver the punches. My Golden Calf’s sound lends itself to fans of Spoon, Grizzly Bear, Mac DeMarco, and the baroque pop of the Kinks.


Band Members