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.

Deathray Davies

If you can believe it, 15 years have passed since the garage rock outfit The Deathray Davies have shared any new material. That changes today with the forthcoming release of a brand new album, Time Well Wasted.

The record’s first single, “Then You Met Me,” inspired by the sound of the 60’s British invasion, is available to stream + share everywhere today. Watch the official music video below, as well as the video for “Talking With Friends.”

“I quickly wrote 13 songs in a row, realizing right away that they were DRD songs. I sent demos to the band, asking if they wanted to jump back in. Right away, everyone wrote back “HELL YES!” A 15 year nap…suddenly we’re awake.” – John Dufilho

Despite taking over a decade off from the band, each member of The Deathray Davies has been busy creating and performing. The ever-busy John Dufilho continued to create and put out records under his own ever changing rock n’ roll incantations such as the absolute punk rock ripping CLIFFFS, the cinematic 60’s pop tinged Corner Suns, and the indie-folk of Cantina. Not to mention the collaborations and endless touring for both John and lifelong member and drummer, Jason Garner as current members of indie rock luminaries The Apples In Stereo and The Polyphonic Spree.

Let’s just say the members of The Deathray Davies have used this time apart wisely and are ready to return with the aptly titled Time Well Wasted.

“they’re churning out some classic post-punk vibes, only woven together with some ballad-like tendencies.” – Austin Town Hall

“Bouncy new single “Oh Stars” is very promising.” – Brooklyn Vegan

“From one listen you can hear the band has not missed a step and once again cranks out 60’s style indie power pop without breaking a sweat.” – The Fire Note

“[‘Oh Stars’] charmed us with peaceful, deep vocals, and guitar riffs at times resembling The Arctic Monkeys riffs.” – Open Call Magazine

Pleasant Grove

Pleasant Grove, so named for a Dallas, Texas suburb, was formed by co-vocalists / guitarists Bret Egner and Marcus Striplin. They were drawn together by a vision to write and play music that captured raw melancholy melodies laid out over slow spacious rhythmic harmonies. Pleasant Grove released their self-titled debut album on a regional label in 1999. It speaks to the down-and-out ache of classic Texas country, yet still flows with the sonic outbursts of an electric Neil Young, the Flaming Lips or an out of control Alex Chilton. The George Jones meets Pink Floyd sound grabbed the attention of German label Glitterhouse Records when they saw PG at a SXSW showcase in 2000. Glitterhouse did a European release of the self-titled record in 2001 and the critically acclaimed follow-up record Auscultations of the Heart the following year. Pleasant Grove toured off both Glitterhouse releases. In 2004, Pleasant Grove released The Art of Leaving in the states on Badman Recording Co. The extensive touring and work that followed its release took a toll on the band especially Marcus Striplin one of the founding members. While working on the follow up to The Art of Leaving, Striplin moved to New York and eventually settled in Austin, TX.
In 2006, after recording most of the next record, PG disbanded and the members moved in different directions, Striplin formed a new project called AD Blood in Austin, Jeff Ryan started Myopic and ambient project and went on to play with Baptist Generals, & Sarah Jaffe, and did studio work with producer John Congleton recording w/ St. Vincent and The War on Drugs among others. Bret Egner continued writing songs and played with several bands in the Austin area. In 2012 Pleasant Grove reunited for a one off show celebrating the 10 year anniversary of the release of Auscultations of the Heart. Pleasant Grove played the record from beginning to end at The Kessler Theater in Dallas, TX. The show sold out and there was talk of reuniting the band and releasing the unfinished material on a new label. After two years of talking and playing occasional reunion shows Pleasant Grove announced they were reuniting and set a release date for a new record in early 2015.
They released “The Heart Contortists” on We Know Better Records in 2016 then they commenced on another European tour, ending it by playing Glitterhouse Records’ Orange Blossom Festival in May.
The band has been in and out of the studio the past few months working on their follow up to their 2016 release  and will release their next single “Change the Station” later this summer,  as well as working on the re-mastering of the 2002 European only release “Auscultation of The Heart”.