Manatee

SXSW records

Phases and Stages

Manatee

Music Is Useless Imagine if Jets to Brazil listened to more Tool. That's a useless way to describe what Manatee approximates on Music Is Useless, the young Austin fourpiece's first album. Sure, you could call it emo, since there are plenty of stop-start dynamics, hyperpersonal lyrics, and the occasional scream-therapy chorus. The lead singer's name is even Chris Vanlandingham. But Manatee has more on its minds than setting their Web diaries to music -- they also like to rock, if you don't mind. "Torn Away" gallops out of the chute like Judas Priest, and "Saturday Morning" even contains a whiff of power ballad. Mostly, the songs come in tightly compressed bursts of white-knuckle art-punk, with long passages of merry-go-round arpeggios over apologetic basslines, and lots of cutaways to Vanlandingham a cappella. Sometimes the abrupt changes can be jarring, like when "Little Sister" jumps between the Cure and Jimmy Eat World, but more often, the different sections work like chapters in a story, as on the cello-assisted "Phone Call to Dad, 1am." "Six" is a peculiar piece of prog structured around Austin Orand's lumbering bass, but the Zeppelinesque climax of "Nebutol" is well worth the payoff, and "Someone Else" only has one speed: Gonzalez. "We will make mistakes, and we will pay for them," Vanlandingham sings on stout opener "A Sound to Spite the Silence." If they continue growing into their sound, Manatee may not make too many. (Back Room, Wednesday, 9pm)

*** 

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
Saturday Picks & Sleepers
Saturday Picks & Sleepers
Last night blurbs – hip-hop Picks and slept-on Sleepers

March 20, 2015

Friday Interviews
Friday Interviews
The Church, Leon Bridges, Best Coast – vintage, meteoric, and sincere.

March 20, 2015

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
X: The Godless Void and Other Stories (Record Review)

Alejandra Ramirez, Feb. 21, 2020

Texas Platters
Daniel Johnston
Chicago 2017 (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Feb. 21, 2020

More by Christopher Gray
Margaret Moser Tribute: The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones
That Margaret Moser, she’s a rainbow

June 30, 2017

Margaret Moser Tribute: Patricia Vonne
Patricia Vonne
Shine a light

June 30, 2017

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle