Casual Victim Pile
Hometown SXSW showcasing sampler
SXSW showcase: Friday, March 19, Beauty Bar Backyard, 9pm
If there's something Austin loves more than festivals and free booze, it's a theme. Since 2005, when singer Veronica Ortuño put out feelers to start a girl group, the Carrots have taken style and a concept – paying tribute to an era of young love and big hair – and added a sense of humor, placing them in a unique position within Austin's music revival camp. Five years later, bassist Chris Lyons says it was all part of the master plan.
"Our management team hired a consulting firm to predict what would be the next musical trend, and their computer programs predicted it would be a 1960s girl-group revival," he explains. "Our management then auditioned appropriate personnel to perform the required functions to exploit this future trend."
Trendsploitation aside, there's nothing Spectorian about the way the three-girl/three-boy configuration plays together. While the group's harmonic sound has become popular again thanks to revisionists like Vivian Girls, the Carrots put their own two snaps and a twist on it. The local sixpiece now includes current and former members of Finally Punk, YellowFever, Mutating Meltdown, and Basic, and that mix of pop and punk has erased any whiff of kitsch. Newer songs have spit out most of the bubble gum, as Ortuño's backup vocalists, Rose Ogle and Shelley McKann, channel the Southern soul of the 1960s more than East or West Coast R&B, their melodies echoing Stax Records' honeyed hive.
A new recording is expected this year, following up a couple 7-inches on Madrid-based indie Elefant Records last year. They've even started a series of fanzines called Carrot Talk, putting their Xerox footprint in Austin. Lyons gives some insight into their sartorial thought process, the thematic inner workings of the Carrots machine:
"We take pride in our professionalism. If our image consultants tell us that vertical stripes are in this week, we take pride in fulfilling our image consultants' concepts and designs. If they tell us that hobo-chic is in, we try to become hobo-chic.
"Our mantra is: The best parts make the best machine."