Based on Gram Rabbit's first album, 2004's Music to Start a Cult To, Houston Press sister paper LA Weekly described the Joshua Tree, California-based quartet's music as "psych-disco twang." Miracles & Metaphors, Gram Rabbit's fourth LP, echoes Pink Floyd and Cyndi Lauper.
With monster radio-friendly tracks like "Candy Flip," this may be one of the best rock albums we'll hear all year. Gram Rabbit returns to Houston Saturday night after a two-year absence, and Chatter recently spoke with singer Jesika von Rabbit.
Chatter: How do you make it work living out in Joshua Tree versus L.A.? That must add some aggravation to gigging and accessing the music scene.
Jesika von Rabbit: Actually, just the opposite. Being out here takes us out of any specific scene, so we feel free about the music we make. Many of our friends here have fled the big city to find some peace of mind and elude the distractions of city life. There is a special art/music scene here.
C: Are you getting any financial support, or is this strictly DIY, pay-as-you-go?
JVR: A little of both. Our fans actually contributed money to the making of our new record. TV and film licenses help, too.
HP: Do you pursue the film/soundtrack/TV licensing side of the business?
JVR: Very much so. We've had 30 film and television licenses in the past few years. "Off with Your Head," off the new album, is about to air on the new HBO series Hung.
HP: This album is pretty trippy. Do you guys indulge in psychedelics?
JVR: We definitely don't need drugs to create trippy stuff. I'm pretty wacky on my own, although sometimes I bore myself.
C: On a couple of songs you come close to that Cyndi Lauper unhinged thing.
JVR: When I was a wee girl, I had quite a time listening to She's So Unusual. I wanted to be her when I grew up. Hell, I wanted to be her then.
I remember just staring at the record design, the bottom of her high-heel shoes on the back cover and her dancing in fishnet feet in the streets of Brooklyn. I love how "She's So Unusual" kicks right into "Yeah Yeah Yeah" with that three-count electro-snare hit.
C: What's the plan if music doesn't work out financially?
JVR: This might not work out? It already doesn't work financially, but there's no going back now — we're lifers.
C: What's the most encouraging thing you see in the industry right now?
JVR: Gram Rabbit.
C: Most disappointing/disturbing thing about the industry?
JVR: Justin Bieber.
Buxton (above), played several new songs to a packed house and rapturous reception, as almost 60 other Houston Press Music Awards nominees took over Washington Avenue this past Saturday afternoon and evening for the annual HPMA showcase. Once that four-hour whirlwind was over, nominees and fans alike celebrated at an outdoor party with special guests Trae Tha Truth, Jonathan Tyler & the Northern Lights and Matt & Kim. Find complete coverage at blogs.houstonpress.com/rocks/hpma.
Also, this edition of the Press went to the printer's before this year's Houston Press Music Awards winners were announced Wednesday at Warehouse Live, but a full list will be online Thursday morning and in next week's issue.
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1. Lower Dens, Twin Hand Movement (LP/CD)
2. Darkthrone, Dark Essence (CD)
3. Various Artists, Grind Madness at the BBC (CD)
4. Boris, Amplifier Worship (LP)
5. Various Artists, Where Birdmen Flew (LP)
6. The Books, The Way Out (LP/CD)
7. Current 93, Baalstrom, Sing Omega (CD)
8. Wounded Lion, Wounded Lion (LP)
9. Department of Eagles, Archive 2003-2006 (CD)
10. Fennesz, Venice (CD reissue)
1. Toto, "Hold the Line"
2. Scorpions, "Rock You Like a Hurricane"
3. Kansas, "Carry On Wayward Son"
4. INXS, "Never Tear Us Apart"
5. Journey, "Open Arms"
6. .38 Special, "Caught Up In You"
7. AC/DC, "You Shook Me All Night Long"
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8. Eric Clapton, "Cocaine"
9. ZZ Top, "Sharp Dressed Man"
10. Ram Jam, "Black Betty"
(lists compiled by Chris Gray)