Tearful Moon on surviving Hurricane Harvey and releasing a new LP – the Grave City interview

Grave City’s first band interview was with THEM ARE US TOO, way back in July of 2016. I had had the privilege to book Them Are Us Too’s first show in Dallas the year before (under my Wardance moniker) at the sadly now-defunct Crown and Harp. At that point, TAUT was a Bay Area band; vocalist Kennedy had not yet moved to the North Texas area and/or started her excellent Denton-based SRSQ project (another band Wardance recently had the honor to work with). So Grave City’s first feature violated its self-imposed rule to only cover bands in the DFW area. This feature about Tearful Moon will be the second article on Grave City to do that.

Houston-based Tearful Moon came to my attention in 2015 mainly thanks to social media. Later I saw a great performance of theirs at Texas’ annual DIY dark postpunk/punk/deathrock fest, San la Muerte, in San Antonio (members of Aztec Death interviewed them at that show here). Impressed by their minimalist approach to darkwave, I asked them to come to Dallas in the Fall of 2016 to play with Eva O, a show  that took place at Double Wide with iill and Static of Masses in October, 2016.

 

tearfulmoongroup

Manuel Lozano and Sky Lesco of Houston’s Tearful Moon. Photo by Angel Mavarez.

 

Tearful Moon’s second LP, Evocation, was announced and posted onto Bandcamp just as the band was being battered by Hurricane Harvey last month. “We were both out of work for two weeks during Harvey,” singer Sky Lesco explains. “And we hunkered down in our home in fear of our loved ones.” As the flood started to abate, the band incredibly decided to remain committed to a previously agreed upon tour, but the devastation they left behind affected their mood on the road. “While we were on the road we heard it started raining again back in Houston, and people were freaking out. It was a ‘we may never get out of the woods’ sort of feeling. I think we were all suffering from PTSD.”


Although the material on Evocation was written before the hurricane hit, the tone of the new album is reminiscent of the mood during the storm. The music is itself like the stormy weather — dark and tempestuous: “The world is ending now/Crumbling upon the ground/Madness is all around/This cruel, ole town,” the band sings on the dark dance track “Conviction.” A mournful atmosphere pervades the LP’s twelve songs thanks to Manuel Lozano’s work on the synths. Keyboards linger at the lower end of the scale and are used to embellish the gothy duo’s songs with a ghostly, cinematic texture.

tearfulmoon

The LP as a whole is built on a skeleton of dancey, drum machine-driven, eerie minimal wave sensibility. The iciness of coldwave groups like Das Kabinette and Kas Product provides the main sonic reference points for the band’s brand of electronic gloom. Track 5 on the LP, “Cold and Burning Truth,” would get play at dark dance clubs in a world where djs were not afraid to play new bands (but, alas, it often seems that we do not live in such a world).

Interview with Tearful Moon is below, below the cut!
Continue reading

Advertisements

Moon Sounds: Grave City Interviews the Dallas Shoegaze/Postpunk Label

 Dallas label Moon Sounds will celebrate its 5th year in 2017. With about 30 artists on its roster, Grave City decided to interview the shoegaze and postpunk imprint.

* * * * *

In person, Jacques Urioste is quiet and unassuming — even reserved. But the label owner’s humble in-person demeanor belies the impressive years-long accomplishment of his Dallas imprint, Moon Sounds Records. Later this year the Texas shoegaze and dream-pop label will celebrate its 5th anniversary, and Jacques is well on his way to marking that achievement with a showcase next week (March 13) at Club Dada and a new EP by electronic dreamwave act Lunar Twin on March 17.

With about 30 artists on his roster — including acts from as far away as Sweden, Denmark, and Australia — and four previous label showcases behind him, I asked Jacques if anyone in Dallas had interviewed him before. “No one has officially. Or formally for that matter,” he responded. “Someone tried to once, but I had a feeling they did just to get free stuff. They never posted about it.” Well, Grave City to the rescue!

Below, I caught up with Jacques about Moon Sounds’ past, present, and where his noteworthy venture is headed in the future.

moonsoundsrecordslogoJacques Urioste/Moon Sounds Records was interviewed by Oliver/Grave City in March, 2017.


When did Moon Sounds start? How long have you been around?

Moon Sounds Records started in December of 2012, on a whim. I needed a healthy outlet to cope with the stresses of all that I had going on at the time and one day, on my way home from a particularly bad day; I looked up and saw the moon. It was in its waning crescent position so it appeared as though smiling. I’ve always had a fondness for the moon. So when I got back to my place, I was sitting on the floor with a pen and napkin, doodled out the logo, thought of the name, and told myself that I would follow through with a passion project. Most of my friends were in bands or working on other cool things so the label was definitely something different. I had no idea where to start and then a band posted on FaceBook, “Who’s going to release our seven inch record?” I chimed in and almost four and a half years later , still here.

Continue reading

Gothic Rock and Deathrock in DFW in 2016 – Grave City’s Quick and Dirty Guide to the Best Bands

gardenofmary

Emphasis on the dirty. Dallas has quietly been cranking out quite a few gothic rock, deathrock, and dark postpunk bands in the past few years. This is a guide to a few — BUT NOT ALL — of them, and it’s why Dallas might just be the sleeper capital of traditional gothic rock not just in Texas, but in the larger US southwest region.

A few caveats: The following list is by no means exhaustive. It’s meant as more of a starting point for your own discoveries. I’m always interested in things I have overlooked; email me.

Lastly, a qualification of terms: By “gothic rock,” I mean gothic rock rooted in the traditional guitar-driven, human-on-a-drum-kit, punk-was-our-foundation style of gothic rock, and not post-1990s dark dance club music that calls itself “EBM” and “industrial” and which many people confusingly also call “goth” these days. There are very divergent trends in the 30+ years that saw the birth of bands like UK Decay and Sisters of Mercy, with some acts since the 1990s using dark imagery to accompany slick dance music mainly meant for djs to play in clubs to pack the dance floor (Faderhead, et al), versus others exploring and rediscovering the actual punk/postpunk roots of the genre (Night Sins, Crimson Scarlet, Belgrado, Lost Tribe).

With that caveat out of the way, here are some –but not all — of the best current North Texas goth bands:

1) GARDEN OF MARY

As of this writing, Dallas’ Garden of Mary have a cassette-only release, The Agony in Memory, on Funeral Party Records. (Note that Funeral Party Records is not related to the Funeral Party goth/postpunk event that used to occur in Dallas at the Beauty Bar and at The Church.) Ryan’s vocals are downright narcotic, and Noah’s bass pins the music down — gives it its anchor — in true trad gothic rock style, a la the Sisters of Mercy. There are elements of dreamy shoegaze and hallucinatory 80s UK dark underground stuff at play in the mix, too.

As this blog post goes to, uhm, “press,” Garden of Mary will play their first show at my friends’ event, Mutant Wave, on Wednesday, September 21st. They will also play when Soft Kill return to Dallas in December, at a Wardance event. Look out for this band in the future.

2) AZTEC DEATH

This Dallas three-piece plays a clean but somber style of early Factory Records-inspired music that is refreshing and crisp. Singer Chris Ortega’s vocals are up front and center – unlike many current darker bands that tend to bury their vocals beneath waves of dark sludge – and are clearly enunciated. (You can understand them without a lyric sheet.) And, yes, while there is a hint of the almighty Ian Curtis in the vocal delivery, the band’s overall darker tones also recall the deeper spectrum of the original postpunk explosion – namely, oft-overlooked pioneering bands like Positive Noise and early The Opposition, or Glorious Din from San Francisco. But Aztec Death also cite influences from the shoegaze genre.

Aztec Death have been playing out a lot in Dallas — some promoters might say too much — but they are worth catching if you haven’t seen them yet. They win p(o)ints with me by featuring more smoke than a Cheech and Chong movie, and more atmosphere than a Maya Deren film. One of my personal favorite band in Texas. Or anywhere. They blew folks away that caught them at the recent San La Muerte III dark punk fest down in San Antonio in August. Check out their Facebook page.

aztecdeathgroup-700x467

Continue reading