Playback: If the Gloves Fit
Gloves INTL ices funk, Allegro Media Group ices local label, and the ATX6 plan to ice international festivals
Gloves INTL turns heads. Who are these dudes lookin' like Miami Vice noir, and what's with the name? How can they make the joyous genre of funk sound so cold and calculated?
Guitarists Ajit D'Brass and Colton May are recovering rockers, having anchored psych-punk outfit the Act Rights. The other half of Gloves INTL's core four, drummer Salem Abukhalil and bassist Ben Fisseler, come from the University of North Texas' vaunted music program, where their interests ranged from electronic music to world beats. Coming together like gold chains and turtlenecks in 2013, Gloves INTL billed themselves "anti-garage," a protest against the shambolic indie bands in vogue. While last year's debut, Get It Together, came off like Parliament for the indie sect, the foursome's smooth new LP spins like Prince indulging technoid beat patterns and gangster rap charisma.
"The concept was to use completely analog instruments, but then try to make it as close to electronic music as possible, where the guitars sound like samples and the drums are played like an 808," explained D'Brass while drinking espresso under the molten sun on Spider House's patio. "To make it so there was no harshness, we had to turn down, use smaller drums, smaller amps, and really finesse it with musicianship."
In fact, when the band hit the studio to record its eponymous album, out on Friday through Austin's GTZ Records (Stiletto Feels, Shmu), they posted signs all around the cutting room: "This is not a rock record." D'Brass cites Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly, Unknown Mortal Orchestra's Multi-Love, and DJ Rashad's Chicago footwork material as helping them step away from the ubiquitous constructs of bar chords and four-on-the-floor beats. He channels his inner soul singer by alternating between the gentle falsetto of a ladies' man and the spoken prosody of a bar fighter. "If you want it so bad, just shoot me," he barks on "Rashad."
"That's just us trying to play bad boys," chuckles the mild-mannered vocalist. "We'll see how that goes."
Such in-your-face posturing extends to Gloves INTL's silky-suited visual aesthetic, which D'Brass calls "basically drag – a way to present the idea of a crew," but it's their songs that demand attention. A cleaner, meaner musical evolution initiates a leap from interesting to extraordinary for one of Austin's most radical young acts. Catch Gloves INTL Friday at Cheer Up Charlies.
Distributor's Demise Fleeces Local Labels
Allegro Media Group, one of the largest music distributors in North America, has fallen into financial ruin, leaving several local record labels in the lurch.
The Oregon-based business is undergoing an orderly out-of-court liquidation of three of its divisions, including music distribution. As a result, two Austin labels that worked with Allegro – Chicken Ranch Records (Peelander-Z, Yuppie Pricks) and Dialtone Records (Little Joe Washington, Barbara Lynn) – are having payments withheld and inventory commandeered, with little hope of restitution. Two other local imprints, Super Secret and Australian Cattle God, are no longer distributed by Allegro.
"I thought of them as financially solvent," sighed Chicken Ranch owner Mike Dickinson, who wasn't notified by the company of the liquidation. "Until recently, I've been getting paid on time, which is rare in the music world."
Dickinson estimates that Allegro owes him over $1,000 for past music sales. Dialtone's Eddie Stout is also suffering from the company's collapse.
"They've stuck me for a good chunk of dough and my product," says Stout, who has 2,000 CDs in their warehouse. "For the last year and a half, they've kept telling me, 'Stick with us and they'll pay you soon,' but I haven't gotten paid. For a small independent like myself, it's a real hitch in my giddyup."
Edward Hostmann, handler of Allegro's liquidation proceedings, says the labels' inventory now legally belongs to Allegro's secured creditors (financial lenders) under the Uniform Commercial Code. Because the labels didn't previously notify Allegro's financial lenders of their consignments, the inventory has become property of the lenders, who can sell it to recoup money owed.
"It's an unfortunate situation and passions are running high right now," acknowledges Hostmann, who claims he's working toward a strategy that would satisfy lenders and allow labels to get their merch back. The latter scenario would still come at some cost to local record concerns. Either way, he adds that it's uncertain if labels will see any money from unpaid sales since creditors must be paid first, after which any remaining money flows down to labels on a prorated basis.
Local attorney John Absher, versed in music and entertainment law, says he can envision legal paths for small labels to get their merch and money back, but it will be tough because Allegro isn't officially filing for bankruptcy.
"[The legal process] can be a long and expensive one, and it might not be worth it for labels to pay more money than Allegro owes them to get their stuff back," he says. "But there's increased incentive because otherwise the inventory can be sold on the open market for pennies."
Considering that the music business is on thin ice financially, Absher offers a practical lesson for labels going forward: "Don't let a distributor stock up too much inventory because they can go under overnight."
Each year, Austin Independent Radio founder Chris Brecht selects six up-and-coming artists to represent the Texas State capital at international music festivals. This year's magnificent six are Star Parks leader Andy Bianculli, blues vocalist Jai Malano, roots music ace Beth Chrisman, Grace Park of indie folk outfit the Deer, swampy-tonker Tate Mayeux, and rock songman Elijah Ford. The crew hits a series of shows in France, Toronto's Indie Week Fest, and other international gigs TBA. Brecht films the travelogue for an upcoming ATX6 documentary series to air on KLRU-Q. "This whole trip is about challenging themselves in a non-generic environment," he posits. "It leads to an experience that these musicians will take with them forever."
The Joe Jacksons, a super side-project led by soul/rock firestarter Black Joe Lewis and Weary Boys frontman Mario Matteoli, issue their first recordings on 7-inch vinyl next week. Matteoli leads side A with high-octane rock & roll strutter "It's a Sin," while Lewis belts the paranoid punk backside "Shadow People," reminiscent of early Dead Moon. Snag one at the band's End of an Ear in-store Sunday, 6pm, or the following Thursday at the Continental Club. At press time, it was still unclear whether the band's named after the disgraced White Sox outfielder, Michael Jackson's domineering dad, or Mr. "Is She Really Going Out With Him?"
Sound on Sound Fest is the new Fun Fun Fun. Graham Williams, who recently split with Transmission Events and formed a booking enterprise called Margin Walker, unveiled plans for his new fall fest to be held Nov. 4-6 – the usual FFF weekend. Expect a familiar convergence of metal, punk, hip-hop, electronic, indie rock, comedy, and action sports. Sound on Sound's complete music lineup and location will be announced Tuesday at 10am. It's still unclear if FFF Fest, now owned in name by Stratus Properties, will happen in any capacity.
Dialtone Records CEO Eddie Stout raises money for the Eastside Kings Foundation, a nonprofit preserving Austin's African-American blues, jazz, and gospel heritage, with an all-day fundraiser at the Moontower Saloon on Saturday. The show, 1-11pm, brims with unique Texas talent like king-size country bluesman E.J. Mathews (3:40pm), Dallas deep soulstress Andrea Dawson (5pm), and true OGs Eastside Kings backing a revue of personality-driven blues singers: Bobby Gilmore, Da Captain, Soul Man Sam, Birdlegg, Orange Jefferson, Jabo, and Mac MacItosh (8:40pm). It's free, but raffles – including one for a signed Jimmie Vaughan Fender Strat – fill the coffers. Consider it a preview of Stout's Eastside Kings Fest, a 12th Street club crawl honoring the progenitors of Austin blues, on Sept. 11.