The Black and White Years at Fitzgerald's, 1/31/2014
They say in the business that it's all about who you know, and that couldn't have been truer for Austin art-rockers The Black and White Years. One day you're playing a sparsely attended gig in your hometown and some stranger walks in to give your band a listen. The next thing you know you're sitting at famed Talking Head and Modern Lover Jerry Harrison's house, putting together the songs that will eventually become your first record.
Two albums and several years deeper into their career, The Black and White Years are still working on finding their spot in the musical world, and it's a surprise that they haven't hit it big on a national scale. They have the voice, the songs and the swagger to really take them to that next level, yet a lack of touring and production over the last few years have somewhat held them back. Now, though, a week removed from the release of their latest record, Strange Figurines, it seems like the group has re-energized, gained focus and is ready to take on 2014.
And they have the ability to do just that. The new record has the songs to send them to that next Coachella/Bonnaroo/ACL level, which feels like it's not far from happening. They're going to be Austin's newest comeback story, and with a guaranteed-successful SXSW approaching, their name will start showing up on bigger and bigger marquees throughout the country. If their performance Friday night was any sign of things to come, these young lads have a bright future.
The energy was buzzing throughout the room from the get-go, which was noticeable during the standout opening set by local rookies BLSHS. An indie group that has only been doing their thing for the better part of a year, BLSHS are well worth the trip out the next time they play. Even after just a short time together, they look and sound like a band that has been performing together for quite some time. Michelle Miears' vocal chops over the synthy goodness of Rick Carruth and Chris Gore are the live, in-person translation of 808s and heartbreak, topped off by a whole bunch of dancey goodness.
The room wasn't as busy as a Friday night at Fitz could have been, yet it had just enough people in the room to raise a ruckus and drown out the punk/metal show rattling the ceiling above our heads. With three albums and a handful of EPs under their belt, The Black and White Years had plenty to choose from, but the songs from Strange Figurines were the real burners. Not only are the tunes good, but the band just seemed to really enjoy being on that stage performing them for a new audience.
Their influences are pretty noticeable in their music, drawing from several classic '80s pop and New Wave groups like Harrison's Talking Heads, the Cure and Pet Shop Boys and newer electronic dance groups like Hot Chip, LCD Soundsystem and !!!. Mustachioed front man Scott Butler's voice is perfect for the dance-rock genre, and the rest of the band are no slouches either -- each of them has been recognized numerous times at the annual Austin Music Awards during SXSW.
Review continues on the next page.