Pleasant Grove

It’s approximately 3:45 am on a crisp, spring morning in a sleepy town known as Argyle, which lies in the woods in and around the backroads and over dilapidated bridges just outside of Denton, TX. Five friends who are as close to coming apart at the seams as they are to finishing the work on the ten songs they’ve been grappling with for over a year are staring at the soundboard hoping that last take of their song “Commander, Whatever” was the one that captured the magic they’ve been so desperately trying to harness for the last three hours so they could finally get some sleep as the cicadas are almost as loud through the ceiling as the space heater whirring in the corner of the room. The band is Pleasant Grove and the album they are making is “Auscultation of the Heart”, which was only released in Europe in 2002 on the German imprint, Glitterhouse Records.

Upon it’s release, AOTH was heralded by both MOJO and UNCUT magazines as an “Americana classic” as well as in publications in and around Europe. The unified opinion was these five young guys from Dallas, TX had somehow tapped into something truly unique and inspiring. They embarked on multiple tours to adoring fans in Germany, Switzerland and Austria as well as crisscrossing the US a few times putting in the miles and inevitably putting wear and tear on the already vulnerable spirit of the quintet.

The story is not unfamiliar to those who spend most of their time in and around the music industry. A band digs deep and manages to create something truly cathartic where they are able to express their thoughts and images into one cohesive story that is their album and then is expected to travel endlessly to promote it, inevitably burning out the spark that was ignited in the first place to create and play music together and then slowly, ultimately, fading away.

Whether it’s their stubborn nature or their earnestness to never give up the dream of playing music together, the collective known as Pleasant Grove never truly went away and released “The Art of Leaving” on Badman Recording Co. in 2005 and “The Heart Contortionist”  in 2016, and now, currently have plans to write and play together to make another album as well as to celebrate the re release of AOTH by playing it in its entirety at the Kessler Theater on May 26th, accompanied by their longtime friends, Bosque Brown.

To see and hear the results of whatever culminates from any future recordings remains to be seen but we are definitely hopeful for more music from this collective. But for now, let’s go back to the early 00’s, back through the winding roads and over the dilapidated bridges, back to those woods in Argyle, Tx and listen to the cicadas buzzing overhead.

“Auscultation of the Heart” is out now on vinyl only on Solid Systems Limited and distributed by Border Music in Europe.

Bosque Brown

A slow and luscious turn toward wall-of-sound, “You Said” announces the return of Bosque Brown. The song has traveled some distance to meet us. It’s the first song Mara Lee Miller ever wrote, more than two decades ago, before Damien Jurado found in her “the heartache of Kitty Wells and the lonesome howl of Robert Johnson,” before she was married at 21 years old in rural Texas. Sparse arrangements on those first releases bowed to the singer. Lush new sonics enthrone the voice of a songwriter on “You Said.” Jeremy Buller (synths, guitar, production) treats her vocals like Robin Guthrie and Simon Raymonde treated Elizabeth Fraser’s for Cocteau Twins, coating them in metallics and warping the air around each melody with precarious noise. Here Miller returns to herself after a long interruption. 

We meet two artists again and for the first time: Jeremy Buller (Sophia Duccini, Sarah Jaffe), the sought after multi-instrumentalist now devoted to greater sonic engineering, and Miller, who’s heard her songs anew in films like David Lowery’s The Old Man and the Gun and laid down the burden of other people’s secrets. 

Co-producer and engineer Alex Bhore (ex-This Will Destroy You, Halo Infinite) completed Bosque Brown’s vision for the arrangements on “You Said” and a forthcoming EP. 

Miller’s songs have been fiercely protected and quietly celebrated since 2005. Bosque Brown’s first release evoked starlit roads and shadowy churches of rural Texas. When the four-tracked demo that prefaced Bosque Brown Plays Mara Lee Miller caught the attention of Burnt Toast Vinyl, performance was not Miller’s focus. A band formed in service of the first record and Miller’s seriousness about privacy and process. Miller’s then-husband, her sister, and two friends became Bosque Brown. One of those friends was Buller, then an unknown guitarist whose reverence for Miller’s songs could be felt in the room. He went on to collaborate with Claire Morales, Quilts, OK Sweetheart and other artists whose work was clarified in his gentle, careful ear as a producer and collaborator. 

Bosque Brown had one more release on Burnt Toast Vinyl, Baby, and the self-released Us and Little Sea crystallized a partnership between Buller and Miller. Together they have developed a sonic language that carries lifetimes since they met.

Bosque Brown

Mara Lee Miller’s songs have been fiercely protected and quietly celebrated since 2005. Bosque Brown Plays Mara Lee Miller found listeners already warm to the plains-hearted music everywhere in the mid-aughts. Bosque Brown’s first release transcended those old-country and freak-folk trends, evoking a greater reason these sounds were popular: Miller’s songs evoked starlit roads and churches of rural Texas where she grew up just as they brushed a desire for healing common among those who associate those places with spiritual injury. This dichotomy was not resolved in Bosque Brown’s music. The bones of each hymn were strong enough to withstand trembling — the kind brought by fear, and the kind brought by wonder. Miller’s inner world was dark. It was only hers, and with the songs she kept the truth.

When the four-tracked demo that prefaced Bosque Brown Plays Mara Lee Miller caught the attention of Burnt Toast Vinyl, performance was not Miller’s focus. Neither is it her focus now. It is heartrending and special to hear Bosque Brown live. Those who did at the beginning remember the awe inspired by Miller’s voice and her talent for silence. She is an artist devoted to privacy and process, so a band formed around her in service to the first record in the safest way possible: her husband, her sister, and two friends played. One of them was Jeremy Buller, then an unknown guitarist whose reverence for Miller’s songs could be felt in the room.  He went on to play with Sarah Jaffe, OK Sweetheart, Sophia Duccini and other artists whose work was clarified in his gentle, careful ear as a producer and sought-after multi-instrumentalist.

Bosque Brown had one more release on Burnt Toast Vinyl, Baby, and the self-released Us and Little Sea crystallized a partnership between Buller and Miller that continues to grow. With fall 2021 comes an opportunity to witness the pair live for the first time since 2013. During this hiatus from shows, Miller’s voice has been heard by new audiences via soundtracks to films like David Lowery’s The Old Man and the Gun. The possibilities of Bosque Brown always begin with the song itself, and with Buller standing alongside Miller as a mirror to the listener’s awe, every song will continue to be treasured.

Jackson Scribner

Jackson Scribner’s debut album came out on March 26th on State Fair Records / We Know Better Records. Since its announcement, the album has garnered enthusiastic attention from the likes of American Songwriter, NPR’s KXT, The Dallas Observer, Folk Alley, The Bluegrass Situation, Glide Magazine, and For The Rabbits among others. Just twenty years old, Scribner’s timeless rasp and melodic intuition makes for folk-informed indie that jingles with emotional immediacy, akin to CAAMP, Hiss Golden Messenger, or Tallest Man On Earth.

By word-of-mouth alone, the young songwriter nabbed fervent support from reputed local musicians like Jeff Ryan (drummed for St. Vincent, The War on Drugs, Daniel Johnston), who came on to produce his first album, as well as  John Dufilho (bass for The Apples in Stereo, The Deathray Davies), and engineer Jerome Brock (Cryptolog), who completed the band. Recorded at Consolvo Studio in Oak Cliff, Texas and mixed by Grammy-winning Stuart Sikes (Loretta Lynn, Cat Power, Phosphorescent, The Walkmen), the upcoming collection showcases Jackson’s precocity in its natural state.

Raised in Melissa, TX, Jackson Scribner grew up obsessed with music from an early age. He learned guitar when he was only nine and spent countless hours playing alongside his Dad and brothers at family gatherings. Being that the virtuoso is only twenty years old, that doesn’t feel all that long ago. Only in the last year and a half has Jackson put lyrics to his skillful instrumentals, making their timeless appeal all the more prodigious.

“Authentic, raw, honest, pure… Scribner is already an A list talent”  – American Songwriter

“Jackson Scribner’s Music Needs To Be Heard” — The Dallas Observer

“so much raw talent, it’s hard to not take notice.” — Amy Miller, Program Director, KXT 

“one of those intriguing voices that make you lean in and listen” — Folk Alley

“a very special talent, just waiting for the world to come along and

discover how great he could become..” — For The Rabbits

“simple yet texturally rich folk twang” — Glide Magazine

“Jackson Scribner is a short set of lo-fi folk tunes grounded in small-town Texas, its people and landscapes. Scribner’s songwriting feels honest and true, to himself and where he comes from, telling stories about coming of age, with all the sweet rebellions and naïve revelations that go along with it.” – No Depression