Celebrate St. Patricks Day a little early with Dropkick Murphys

Dropkick Murphys will play Houston on Sunday, March 2 at House of Blues. Scott Gonzales / www.sevensixtyeight.com

Dropkick Murphys will play Houston on Sunday, March 2 at House of Blues. Scott Gonzales / www.sevensixtyeight.com

Dropkick Murphys and its St. Patrick’s Day tour are headed to Houston once again. The tour, which has become an annual event for the Boston band, will hit town Sunday, March 2 at House of Blues.

As it has for quite some time now, the tour will culminate with a week’s worth of shows in Boston, ending on Paddy’s Day at Lansdowne Pub.

This year’s tour will feature Lucero and Skinny Lister as openers. Both will more than adequately set the tone for a foot-stomping, fist-pumping evening.

Not having released any new material since 2013’s critically acclaimed Signed and Sealed in Blood, the band’s setlist will likely be a heavy dose of fan favorites and traditional Irish sing-alongs. If you’ve never seen Dropkick Murphys live, don’t miss this opportunity to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day a little early.

For more on the band, click here. Otherwise, check out these photos of last year’s stop in Houston.


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Awkward Love: twenty-three reasons not to forgo Valentine’s Day

Alkaline-Trio-heart-alkaline-trio-17069629-1542-1857Wuv, Twu Wuv… It comes in many forms. And when those forms aren’t all about holding hands and looking deeply into another’s eyes, it appears to be unusual.

Sometimes it sounds unusual.

Being the peculiar people we are here at www.sevensixtyeight.com, we’ve come up with a list of songs dedicated to the abnormal admirer, the crazy cupid, The venomous valentine, or the lost-souled lover.

Happy Valentine’s Day to the misfits of love, from Deanna, Mayra and Scott.

The Smiths – Girlfriend in a Coma

You don’t need to dig too deep to figure out why this track makes the list. The title kind of gives it away. Add Morrissey’s luxurious serenade to lyrics like “there were times when I could have murdered her / but I would hate anything to happen to her,” and you have a wonderfully awkward love hate relationship. There are some sweet moments of remembrance here, but I know, it’s serious.

Girl in a Coma – El Monte

This ambivalent study on romance starts off deceptively simple, illustrating one’s willingness to do anything for a special someone. It gradually morphs into something more complex as it wistfully explores the pitfalls when love goes awry.

Zoé – Via Láctea

Distance doesn’t always help to get over a someone as the sulky vocals in this track describe a despondent astronaut who is unable to forget a girl. While it describes being hung up on someone, it leaves you hopeful about having a chance to be able to get back with that person.

Bad books – Pyotr

Songwriter Andy Hull has said inspiration for the song came from Russian tsar Peter the Great who had his wife’s lover decapitated, preserved the head and made her spend time with it as punishment. OK, so that sounds a little macabre, but the song isn’t at all explicit. It’s actually a very lovely ode to Catherine from the perspective of both her husband and lover, who is nothing more than a severed head by the end. Hull’s storytelling is absolute poetry, and the acoustic version of this track is just emotionally haunting. You’ll find your heart hurting for all three parties, so get those tissues ready.

James – Laid

Wild sexcapades with a nymphomaniac girlfriend, a psychiatrist who intervenes, stalking, cross-dressing and eventual reconciliation.  What more could you desire? Nonetheless, this song is so catchy and easy to sing along too you can’t help but think of someone to share it with. The video is equally as charming, with “James” sitting handcuffed in a psych ward.

Warpaint – Burgundy

The dreamy haze of the vocals and demure pace allow you to just take a moment and slow dance it out with the one you’re trying to seduce. See if this doesn’t conjure up the possibilities of make out sessions and fogged windows.

Devendra Banhart – Mi Negrita

Beckoning with a gentle melody, this breezy serenade dipped in sweet and silly meditates on the uncertainty of falling for someone. Slow dance to this wistful lullaby that will soothe and swoon both you and your date.

Nick Cave and the bad seeds –Deanna

I was thrilled to discover a song that not only had my name in it, but pronounced it correctly. But once the novelty of the repetitive “Oh Deanna/ Sweet Deanna” chorus wore off, I listened closely to the rest of the love song’s lyrics. It seems this Deanna has fallen for a bad boy (who among us hasn’t), and these two have some nefarious plans involving murder and guns. “We discuss the murder plan / We discuss murder and the murder act / murder takes the wheel of your Cadillac.” Maybe it’s kind of dark, but who doesn’t love a Bonnie and Clyde-esque romance?

Toadies – Tyler

If there ever was a stalker anthem, this would have to be it (Every Breath You Take is a distant second). The antagonist is so deeply enamored with a girl that he’s seething to be close to her. Through the song’s progression he comes closer and closer to her, until he must fulfill his dream of taking her away – to do what is up to the listener.

Carla Morrison – Pan Dulce

Moody and sexy, this mournful hymn features Carla Morrison crooning about how her crush is torturing her despite being as sweet as a pastry and all she wants to do is eat him. The mix of melancholy and lusty imagery goes at a molasses pace and makes you want to hear it on repeat when it’s over.

Alex Turner – Stuck on a Puzzle

The dulcet vocals of this meditation on love quietly marvels at somehow being able to land the right person. While it outright refuses to get sappy, it maintains a dreamy, sweet quality. Play this un-cheesy song on repeat with or without your crush.

Florence & The Machine – Kiss with a fist

For the couple who loves drama. The lyrics use physical confrontation as a metaphor for the psychological games a couple can play. The song tells of two people who get their rocks off by pushing each other’s buttons, not an abusive situation. Yes, their love is a destructive and toxic one, but they can’t love any other way. With a track time of under two minutes, the song might last longer than the actual relationship.

Alkaline Trio – Clavicle

“I wanna wake up naked next to you / kissing the curve in your clavicle,” sings Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba. And it’s more or less the thought of Skiba performing this action that makes it uncomfortable. Let’s face it, he’s a shade paler than most ghosts, and is one of the naturally scariest looking artists out there. That aside, the song is sincere and very worthy of a Valentine’s Day dedication.

La Vida Bohéme – Flamingo

This haunting ballad doesn’t mention the word love once, but instead examines devotion and standing by the one you love no matter the situation. The big picture here is to demonstrate love through big and small gestures in everyday life and dark moments. And isn’t that what we all want?

Helado Negro – Regresa

As the ghostly vocals in this song remind us, when love doesn’t go smoothly, this hypnotic dance track might be what you need to win a girl back. Somewhere in between a command and plea to work it out, this choppy kaleidoscope of sounds may be just what you need to convince that girl to return.

Paul Simon – Hearts & Bones

If you know the end is nigh, this love song about “the arc of a love affair” is for you. Paul Simon’s lyrics are so beautiful you might miss that this one is describing a relationship reaching its demise. “You take two bodies and you twirl them into one / Their hearts and their bones / And they won’t come undone.” These two tried. They gave it their best shot, but ultimately they couldn’t give each other what they needed. That’s made painfully clear with the knife-twisting lyrics, “Why won’t you love me / for who I am / where I am / he said / Cause that’s not the way the world works baby / this is how I love you baby.” Ouch.

Calle 13 – La Jirafa

The dynamic duo step away from raising hell for a moment with this disarmingly frothy nonsense track. The tickling drums and airy rhymes will make your date smile and a little hungry with all the food that gets name-dropped, making for an easy segue to asking out that person to dinner.

Soda Stereo – Pasos

Despite the vertigo-induced portions that follow when tracing the same path with the object of your affections, Soda Stereo reminds us that it’s worth it.

Black Joe Lewis – Get Yo S**t

If you’ve never pissed off your significant other, you’re likely in day two of your relationship. For the rest of us, this song makes so much sense: a man comes home to find all of his belongings on the front lawn because his girl says he doesn’t love her any more. Well what’s a man to do? If you’re Black Joe Lewis you say, “You know I love you,” then you proceed to pound out some James Brown-like soul screaming and make her understand how you feel. And that’s just the first verse and chorus

Fiona Apple – Hot Knife

This frenzied ode to being smitten is exactly what infatuation sounds like when you dig someone. The layering of ominous drums over intense vocals builds up to a lovely cacophony. Include this in your Facebook stalking soundtrack when you look up your crush.

Tegan and Sara – Living room

If you’ve ever imagined there was more to a relationship than there actually was, this is your kind of love song.  The lyrics describe a nosey woman who becomes a little too obsessed with her neighbor thanks to the perfect view into their living room from her window. Um, stalker alert! But if you’re willing to look past the creep factor, this song can sound pretty sweet, especially the chorus of “I hope I never figure out who broke your heart / cause baby if I do /  Well I’d spend all night losing sleep.”

Devendra Banhart – Lover

The zany imagery illustrated in this charm offensive is doing all it can to get into a girl’s pants by way of an assertive but playful invitation that’s never demeaning. This infectious song basically sounds like your crush clowning around as he hits on you.

Arctic Monkeys – Do I Wanna Know?

This alcohol fueled sex stomp is all you need to persuade the object of your lust into a night of debauchery. Everything from Alex Turner’s rumbling vocals to the lewd guitars and sinister drums crackles with seduction. The answer to the question: yes. Get drunk and get down with this tune.

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The Weeks hit the road to support its latest album…again

The Weeks play Houston this Thursday, February 13, at Warehouse Live. Photo courtesy of Big Hassle Media

The Weeks play Houston this Thursday, February 13, at Warehouse Live. Photo courtesy of Big Hassle Media

Hitting the road for a few months to support the release of a new album seems to be standard for most bands these days. That’s not the case for Mississippi rock outfit The Weeks, however, who are headed out on tour again to push the band’s 2013 release, Dear Bo Jackson.

In fact keyboardist Alex Admiral Collier says the band never really wrapped up the last tour.

“I would not exactly say that we have finished our last tour,” Collier said. “It really hasn’t ended since the record came out. For any band (touring is) a great thing.”

The Weeks will play Houston this Thursday, February 13, at Warehouse Live.

The Weeks, formed in 2006, have built a strong reputation for playing aggressive, southern-inspired rock with a melancholy tone. The band’s 2008 release, Come Back Cadillac, pushed the band to national status behind the band’s most popular song to date, “Buttons.” The band’s follow up album, 2012’s Gutter Gaunt Gangster, brought the band some critical acclaim and a larger following.

Although “Buttons” feels mostly like an alternative / indie track, the majority of the band’s sound comes from influences like Bruce Springsteen, The Band and Thin Lizzy. The Weeks are also inherently influenced by its southern culture, something which often adds fuel to shows played south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

“I feel like a lot of people enjoy having the sounds of the south, but (our shows) definitely seem more intensified playing southern cities,” Collier said. “Although, having said that, our shows tend to have a certain level of intensity whether it is L.A., New York, London, or Texas.”

Even though the band is supporting its last album, they do plan on mixing up the setlist on this tour. Collier said the band may play a few variations of older songs for an ongoing project.

“Right now we are about to record an EP with new arrangements of previously released material in celebration of the bands seven year anniversary,” he said. “We actually have just begun rehearsing the first batch of new songs for the next LP this week.”

Don’t expect the band to stay off the road while recording though. Hitting the pavement seems to be where The Weeks feel most at home.

“I will say that not playing shows does make you go a little stir crazy if you’ve been accustomed to being in a van for 150-plus days out of the year.”

For tickets to see The Weeks, along with Ranch Ghost and Otis the Destroyer, click here.

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The Hold Steady offer a sneak peek of its upcoming album

The Hold SteadyNew York rockers The Hold Steady have released a video trailer for the band’s upcoming album, Teeth Dreams. From the sound of things, we can expect a similar tone to the band’s 2010’s Heaven is Whenever, which featured bass-heavy grooves and gritty guitars beneath vocalist Craig Finn’s trademarked rasp.

Teeth Dreams is scheduled for release on March 25 from Washington Square. Hit the link below to watch the trailer.

The Hold Steady – Teeth Dreams Trailer

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Coming Soon: A short list of anticipated records

sjdkA little more than halfway through the first month of 2014, we have already had solid releases from Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings, Against Me, and The Lawrence Arms. Here is a short list of albums we’re really looking forward to this year.

Drop a comment and tell us about your most anticipated releases of the year.

Bayside – Cult

Taking Back Sunday – Happiness Is

Band of Skulls – Himalayan

Rodrigo y Gabriela – 9 Dead Alive

Beck – Modern Guilt

Chromeo – White Women

Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence

Alabama Shakes – TBD

Best Coast – TBD

Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence

Foo Fighters – TBD

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – TBD

Jack White – TBD

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Reggie is Back in Full Effect

No Country

No Country For Old Musicians is now available from Pure Noise Records.

If you want something, fight for it.

That’s exactly what die-hard fans of James Dewees’ master project did, and the result:

Reggie and the Full Effect is back, and its latest release will once again make listeners thrash, dance, and soil their pants laughing.

Dewees, most recognizable as the keyboardist for emo pioneers, The Get Up Kids, was prompted to return to the act after a flood of fan support urged him to return to the studio.

Chalked full of songs about monster kidnappers, breakfast, chickens and fateful trips to the DMV, No Country for Old Musicians (2013, Pure Noise Records) returns to the band’s early amusing pop-punk sound, rather than the darker and heavier records it had released most recently.

And fans of RatFE should be happy about that. Having seemingly disappeared after a tough divorce that Dewees wrote about extensively on Songs Not to Get Married To (2005) and Last Stop: Crappy Town (2008), he seems poised to return to the music scene with a whole new, positive attitude. In addition to the latest Reggie album, Dewees also teamed up with Get Up Kids bandmate Matt Pryor to record a few demos, released as a three-song, self-titled EP earlier this year.

With No Country for Old Musicians, Reggie’s alter-egos and album pillars Fluxuation, a British synth-dance group, and Common Denominator, death-metal from Finland, return with a ton of flair. Appearing for the first time on a Reggie album is Floppy Disc-O, who tears up the mic on “Who Needs Another Drank.”

Songs such as “Super Croc vs Mega Doosh,” “Revenge is a Dish Best Served at Park Chan-Wook’s” and “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Ralph’s” would easily fit on any of the band’s first three albums, with their synth-led pop punk sound that is the staple of RatFE’s sound.

Reggie will be hitting the road in January for a quick month-long headlining tour with Dads and Pentimento. The tour hits Houston on Jan. 24 at Warehouse Live.

For more information on the tour, or to purchase the new album, head to the band’s official page here.

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Better Than Ezra to host a charity event and play Houston Thursday evening, plus Q&A with bassist Tom Drummond

Better Than Ezra will host a casino night prior to its performance at House of Blues in Houston tomorrow night. Photo courtesy of Pop Media Group

Better Than Ezra will host a casino night prior to its performance at House of Blues in Houston tomorrow night. Photo courtesy of Pop Media Group

It has been four years since New Orleans trio Better Than Ezra’s last full-length release, but that doesn’t mean the band hasn’t been hard at work.

With a new album in the works, a thriving charity foundation and the recent re-release of the fan favorite How Does Your Garden Grow in 5.1 surround sound, Better Than Ezra has been hard at work for its fans and community.

The group will make a stop in Houston tomorrow at the House of Blues. Doors open at 8 p.m. with the show starting at 9 p.m. Breton Sound and Graham Colton will take the stage before Better Than Ezra performs.

For those who feel lucky and are looking for a more intimate show, House of Blues and The Better Than Ezra Foundation have come together to present a casino night, beginning at 6 p.m. The event, benefiting The Better Than Ezra Foundation’s charities in both New Orleans and Houston, will feature an intimate performance by the band, complimentary drinks and the casino games Texas Poker, Roulette, and Black Jack.

Tickets for both the concert and casino night can be purchased here.

We spoke with Better Than Ezra bassist and founding member Tom Drummond about the band’s recent happenings and what we can expect from the group in the near future:

Scott Gonzales for sevensixtyeight.com: Twenty years after your first major release and five albums later, what would you say is the current state of Better Than Ezra?

Tom Drummond: I would say that the band is extremely grateful and excited. We are grateful to be in a band with such great fans that want to hear our music and want to see us perform. While a lot in the music industry has changed over the last 20 years, people still want to go to a show and be entertained. Having a fun live show is definitely a key to having a long career. But we are really excited to be back in the studio gearing up for an upcoming album and working with producer Tony Hoffer (Phoenix, Beck, Fitz and the Tantrums). We can’t wait to share it with the fans.

S.G.: The band and House of Blues seem to have quite the rapport. Tell us a little about this relationship and its importance?

T.D.: The House of Blues has always been a great supporter of Better Than Ezra. We’ve played their venues all over the country, and it’s always a great set up. It is not only a fan favorite, but also a favorite venue for us as well.

S.G.: In your own words, what is The Better Than Ezra Foundation about?

T.D.: The Better Than Ezra Foundation’s mission is geared toward the renewal of the structural and cultural heritage of New Orleans and Southern Louisiana. It’s our way to give back to the city we love that first embraced us, New Orleans. The Better Than Ezra Foundation has raised over $850,000 for various causes in and around New Orleans, such as Preservation Resource Center to renovate and rebuild a first responder’s flooded home from Katrina; New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) to aid the Summer Program for students; Brad Pitt’s Make it Right Foundation to help rebuild homes in the Lower 9th Ward neighborhood; Audubon Nature Institute to build the Cool Zoo Splash Park at Audubon Zoo; Louisiana SPCA, Crime Stoppers and the ALS/Gleason Initiative. Most recently the Better Than Ezra Foundation has adopted Bethune Elementary in the Holly Grove neighborhood of New Orleans, where the foundation has donated school supplies, renovated the teacher’s lounge and built an educational playground for the children. The Foundation is currently raising funds to support an after school program for the children of Bethune Elementary that would include arts education and designated time for tutoring.  For more info, be sure to check out www.BTEFoundation.org.

S.G.: The BTE Foundation is clearly beneficial to the Louisiana community, but how has it benefited the band, both as individuals and as a group?

T.D.: Post Katrina, we discovered many things that the city could use help with in order to rebuild, so we got involved in many things. As time went on, we discovered that in order to really make a change you need to look at the education system. Hearing stories about the elementary school that we have been working with was incredibly moving. The school serves as a safe haven for many of these kids, and we wanted the chance to make it an even better one for them. To see the kids’ faces, receive a giant post card from them, or to watch a video they have made thanking the foundation is extremely gratifying. Working with kids and seeing how we are making a difference in their lives is incredible. At the end of the day, kids are our future, so why not help to make it a brighter one for them.

S.G.: With the recent release of “How Does Your Garden Grow” in 5.1 surround sound, do you have plans to remix any of your other albums?

T.D.: While our main focus right now is on our upcoming album, “How Does Your Garden Grow” in 5.1 has gotten such a positive response and the sound is unbelievable, we may end up doing another remix. You never know. MusicValet.com was instrumental in making it happen, and once you hear the difference and clarity 5.1 can make, you’ll want every album to be in 5.1.  “How Does Your Garden Grow” just happened to be the perfect and most natural fit to remix at the time.

S.G.: The word on the street is that you’ll be releasing a new album later this year. What was the inspiration for the album, and does it have a title yet?

T.D.: We don’t have a release date or title for the album yet, but it is looking like early 2014. Whenever we make an album, we tend to take inspiration from everything around us. Whether it is certain music we are listening to, personal experiences we are going through, it all influences the record. We are really taking our time with this one.  From song selection, vibe, producer, production techniques, it’s all being worked into what will be our best album.

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Exclusive Interview: Rising Fawn describes origins and future plans following its debut release

Rising Fawn's Chauntelle Dupree describes the band's debut EP as "a gift from above." Deanna Mendoza/www.sevensixtyeight.com

Rising Fawn's Chauntelle Dupree describes the band's debut EP as "a gift from above." Deanna Mendoza/www.sevensixtyeight.com

This past month has been non-stop for Eisley, as the five- piece Indie rock band from Tyler, Texas released their fourth full length, Currents, and began touring as support for Say Anything, which saw a stop in Houston at Fitzgerald’s earlier this month.

But it gets even more exciting for Chauntelle DuPree, Eisley’s guitarist, whose solo side project, Rising Fawn, was released to the masses, via iTunes, Amazon and Merchnow.com, last week in a three song EP called Everlasting Songs. Rising Fawn, a side project with Dupree and her husband Todd D’Agostino, has been highly anticipated by fans that are keen to hear DuPree’s creative growth in songwriting and vocals, since she’s predominantly only done guitar work with Eisley.

Though it may seem like Everlasting Songs is just a taste, the folk rock songs on this EP prove to be a filling appetizer. DuPree and D’Agostino had their first child together earlier this year (as did her three siblings, bandmates: Sherri DuPree, Stacy DuPree and Weston DuPree) and they’re all currently on tour together. With so much added work from taking care of their little ones, we’re thankful Rising Fawn agreed to grant us their first interview. DuPree tells us everything from where the band’s name came from, what inspired such personal songs, and even what we can expect in the future.

Deanna Mendoza: You’ve chosen to be known as Rising Fawn, is there a story behind this name? I feel like maybe there’s a metaphor there.

Chauntelle DuPree: Back in 2008 Todd was moving from Conn. to Texas to be with me and saw the sign for a town in Georgia called. Rising Fawn, and he said to himself, “That would be an awesome band name!” But he never even mentioned it to me. So when we started thinking of names for this project he told me about it and I just knew that was the name right away. As for a metaphor, I think of a fawn as being a meek but strong creature, which is sort of my personality. It just seemed to fit with the music mostly.

DM: It seems like a lot of Eisley fans have been anxiously awaiting your solo work, specifically your vocals. Any song you sing so much as a verse on gets a lot of attention. Is there any reason why you haven’t really had more prominent vocals in Eisley?

CD: I was/am just insecure. Same with songwriting. In the beginning days of Eisley songwriting, we worked on songs together more, but, quickly Sherri and Stacy began writing separately. I loved (and still do) the songs they wrote, but at the same time I became aware that I wasn’t as self-sure as they were and doubted that I could venture there on my own, so I went on with what I was comfortable with…guitar. Looking back, I wish I’d have just tried to push through those self-doubts a little more, but, I don’t have any regrets because I’ve always loved my place in Eisley.

DM: You’re husband Todd joins you as the other half of Rising Fawn. What are your respective roles creatively?

Everlasting Songs is now available from Equal Vision Records.

Everlasting Songs is now available from Equal Vision Records.

CD: Todd is the reason Rising Fawn became a reality. If it weren’t for his persistent encouragement, a.k.a. “constantly ragging on me for giving up on myself too easily all those years,” I never would’ve made the leap! I’d always attempted to write over the years but never let anyone hear them. So when he heard them, I was scared he would think they were no good, but he loved them and even offered to help me finish them. I was also afraid to trust him creatively and felt protective over the half written songs I’d been sitting on for years, but the truth was I needed some input and a fresh perspective on them, and that’s what Todd brings to mix. It’s super fun working with your love and best friend. A lot of the longer musical parts are all from Todd’s brain. I was so happy with everything he added. He also played most of the instruments, except drums, strings and a little guitar, because I was super pregnant at the time and was so tired.

DM: What can we expect from Rising Fawn in the future? Will there be a full-length, or a tour? Do you have any set expectations, or is the idea to keep it a pressure-free side project?

CD: Eisley is always our main focus. Todd tour manages Eisley, which is great because we get to be together. Rising Fawn is for fun, but we are going to do a full length at some point, probably releasing it early next year on Rory Records/Equal Vision Records. We hope it does well, and we will also tour here and there when possible.

DM: The lyrics on Everlasting Songs, for the most part, seem a lot more moody, or serious, and with the lush strings added in it’s really very moving. Where did the inspiration to write these particular songs come from?

CD: Everlasting Songs came from a dream I had about being raptured into heaven with Jesus. It was a pretty amazing dream, and when I got the melody in my head, the lyrics just came out. The song was written in half an hour or less…it just…was given to me, like a gift.

“The Hiding” was only half of an idea. Todd really helped embellish it and give it length. That song is me telling myself that I can accomplish my dreams, and that the voices of insecurity don’t hold sway over me.

DM: Lastly, the EP is finally out this week! How has response been so far?

CD: The response has been so wonderful. Surprisingly, people have been really moved by it. I’m so thankful and humbled by the reactions I’m getting.

For more information on Rising Fawn, or to purchase Everlasting Songs, click here.

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Mexican-American artists’ vibrant sounds fill HOB Houston

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When Marisol Hernandez walks out to take the stage, there’s no missing her. On this night, the lead singer of La Santa Cecilia wears a leopard print dress with an aqua tulle petticoat, and  a pair of hot pink fishnets that compliment her one-of-a-kind, hand-painted Mary Janes. With her style, she looks like she belongs in another era, or maybe in a John Waters film. By anyone’s standards, she is a big presence.

But the House of Blues audience finds out fast she’s not all aesthetic, as she peeks over the rim of her trademark cat-eye glasses and begins to sing “Nuestra Señora La Reina de Los Angeles,” homage to the band’s hometown, and the first song on their latest album, Treinta Dias.

Her voice is even more vibrant than the colors she wears, as she wails some of the most soulful blues. So soulful, she’s affectionately nicknamed La Marisoul.  But with La Santa Cecilia, named after the patron saint of musicians, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Alex Bendaña, upright bass, Pepe Carlos, accordion and Miguel “Oso” Ramirez, percussion, help provide a genre-crossing, contemporary yet traditional sound that transcends language, so anyone can get down to their songs.

The quartet stopped in Houston last week, on the same day NPR named Treinta Dias one of their top 25 albums of the year so far, as support for Latin Grammy darlings, and brother-and -sister duo Jesse y Joy. It’s difficult being an opener where the majority of your audience didn’t buy tickets to see you, but these guys did an impressive job and made the crowd fall in love with them from the first to the last song.

From Bossa Nova rhythms to rock, ska and even cumbia, the eclectic instrumentalists navigated the crowd through a musical journey before the headliners hit the stage.

They paid tribute to their Mexican-American heritage taking the audience through Mexico with a stop in Veracruz with the son jarocho song “La Morena,” that had La Marisoul pulling out her jarana and the audience cheering.

Their American side shone through on English songs “Falling,” off their new album, and with a smooth and soulful cover of the Gloria Jones classic, “Tainted Love,” which the crowd had no problems singing along to.

And the masses couldn’t resist dancing along when the Californians played their Latin Grammy-nominated cumbia (Best Tropical Song), “La Negra.”

But the biggest roar from the audience came in the introduction to their penultimate song, “Ice-El Hielo,” when La Santa Cecilia’s awesomely talented accordion player, Pepe Carlos, came out to the crowd as an undocumented immigrant.

“We want an immigration reform, and we want it now.” the Oaxacan-born Carlos said to the crowd in Spanish before beginning the song. The stories sung in “Ice-El Hielo,” a play on words with the literal translation of the acronym for U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement, humanize the daily struggle of the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S who risk deportation simply by going to work every day. With a bossa nova beat and La Marisoul’s smooth melancholy voice, the song is so poignant and so personal that it’s heartbreaking.

Clearly the band had won the crowd over by the end of their set, as some in the audience even cheered for an encore. Those cheering in the crowd got what they wanted during Jesse y Joys encore when La Santa Cecilia joined the headliners on stage to sing the duo’s lighthearted hit “Chocolate,” a flawless send-off for the fun band, which looked to be having a big party on stage.

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Tegan and Sara close out tour full of energy

Sara Quin performing during Tegan and Sara's March 15 show at Warehouse Live in Houston. Deanna Mendoza / www.sevensixtyeight.com

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Deanna Mendoza / www.sevensixtyeight.com

I’m just gonna say it. Tegan and Sara are sell-outs. And by that I mean, of course, they literally sold out of tickets for their Houston show at Warehouse live on March 15.

What else would I mean?

I had projected this to be a popular SXSW-week show, but I didn’t quite think their popularity would be this crazy. The Canadian twins’ growing fan base practically slapped me in my face as I got to the venue sometime after doors opened that night. With media credentials safely in hand, I was bummed to find out there’s no special press entry (seriously, Warehouse we need to do something about that).

I was forced to join the everyday people waiting and walked to the end of line, and walked and walked. This line from hell stretched for two complete blocks and ended at the entrance of BBVA Compass stadium. Never before had I seen a line so ridiculously long well after doors opened.

An hour later and I was inside with just enough time to see the openers, Austin indie band Speak, rock out in their finale. The Texas boys made good and had a really contagious energy on stage. I just wish I could have seen more of them.

Tegan and Sara might have been promoting their latest release, Heartthrob, but the indie rockers gave a nod to their older fans when they led with their two most recognizable songs in “Back in Your Head,” from 2007’s The Con, and “Walking With a Ghost,” from 2004’s So Jealous.

Those two songs are easy for even the most casual Tegan and Sara listener to recognize, and their repetitive choruses made it easy for the audience to sing along with from the get-go. That’s something Tegan encouraged by jokingly threatening to head back to SXSW if she didn’t hear everyone singing. She knew exactly what to say to light a fire under the Houstonians’ asses — bring up a comparison to Austin.

While the entirety of Heartthrob was played, 2009’s Sainthood didn’t get much playing time with “Arrow” and a dance-inducing remix of “Alligator” being the only tracks.

It’s worth noting that the ladies had just come off a pretty rigorous three-day packed schedule during the festival. That included playing back-to-back nights around midnight, and even hosting mtvU’s Woodie Awards the night before heading to Houston, where they had a private live lounge show during the day of the show at Mix 96.5.

It would have been expected, and completely understandable, for their performances to be somewhat subpar due to them being dead tired, but that was the last thing it was. If anything, I was completely surprised by how great the pop-rockers’ voices sounded. I didn’t hear any tiredness in their voices and they belted it just as emotionally as they would have if Houston had been the first stop on their tour instead of their final one.

There was no phoning it in for the Quin sisters, because at this point in their careers they know what their audience comes to expect and deserves from them: a damn good show.  They got as good as they gave apparently, as both sisters expressed how much they loved the enthusiastic Houston crowd. Sara even went so far as to say it was the best audience of the tour.

“We don’t throw that around lightly,” Tegan told the sold-out crowd in response. “It could be because we just feel like we came out of some kind of war zone at SXSW, but you guys have been so awesome.”

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