Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Austin band Built by Snow coming to Tulsa, bring catchy keyboard pop

June 16, 2009

Built by Snow, a band hailing from Austin, Texas, describes their music as “catchy keyboard indie pop rock with an explosion of velcro melodies and magnetic hooks that hit your brain like an Atari blasting out of a bazooka.”

“Whoa,” I hear you readers say. “That band sounds like they would be fun to see live.”

Luckily for you, said group Built by Snow is on tour this June and they will be playing in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Monday June 15 at Soundpony Bar at 10 p.m.

This particular show is especially exciting for band member Matt Murray, who grew up around Tulsa.

“This will be my first show back in my hometown!” Murray said.

The four-piece Built by Snow is currently working their way up to the NXNE Music Festival in Canada, playing shows on the trip there and back. This is their first big tour, although they have played out-of-state gigs.

“We’re gonna be covering a really long distance compared to anything we’ve done before. It’s exciting!” said band member JP Pfertner.

The group also recently released a new album called MEGA in January.

“It’s kind of like plugging your brain into an 8-bit Nintendo. Then plugging guitars, vocals, and rock and roll in at the same time,” Pfertner said of MEGA.

Concert attendees can expect a very high-energy, fun performance, with lots of instrument-swapping between songs.

“We move around and sweat quite a bit. Sometimes we might look clumsy on stage when we’re all jumping around, but it’s all under control… sort of,” Pfertner said.

The group met one another at a local Austin TV station where they all work, and have been playing music together for about 3 years. But music was a major part of their lives even before Built by Snow.

Pfertner said that music runs in his family.

“My uncle even invented an instrument called ‘the hamatar.’ It’s crazy – two guitar necks stuck together pointing opposite directions. It allows one person to play two guitars at the same time. It was 80’s excess at its best,” Pfertner said.

Murray does not have quite the same familial claim to fame as “the hamatar,” but said that he also became interested in music at a young age. Murray began taking piano lessons at 11, only to quit, fall in love with guitar, and then get back into keyboard again.

Tulsa residents, check out Built by Snow this Monday at Soundpony Bar next to Cain’s Ballroom. The complete Built by Snow tour schedule is available on their myspace.

Built By Snow-Noise EP

February 1, 2008

Built By SnowNoise EP

Self-released

Fun, energetic indie-pop rock songs that could have been made in the ’80s.

Music made in the ’80s never really struck a chord with me. Since I was born in the latter part of the decade, I didn’t quite pay much attention to the era’s pop music when it was being released (I was, after all, a toddler). But after listening to Built by Snow’s 2007 EP Noise, I was suddenly brought back to the ’80s – and it was better than I remembered.

Built by Snow sounds like a combination of Weezer’s modern, quirky dork-rock and the synth-oriented ’80s band The Cars. Other influences are apparent as well; the driving bass line in Noise’s opening track “Underneath” is very reminiscent of The Strokes. However, Built by Snow differs from the garage band sound of The Strokes with their use of three-part vocals. “Underneath” is a perfectly catchy opener to the EP, and is a good indicator of what is to come in the remaining songs.

In the next song, “Radio,” the chorus is the main attraction. The use of synthetic keyboard here would remind any listener of the ’80s, no matter when they were born. The song is easy to sing along with after one or two listens, which made it enjoyable and fun for me to listen to in my car.

“Sleeping Machines,” however, is a definite standout track on Noise. It has a somewhat slower tempo, but with a strong and steady pulse, it is perfect to nod your head along to. The eerie, bare chorus varies greatly from the rest of the EP, and the lines, “we are kids with no dreams, we are sleeping machines,” are also a step away from the mostly-cheerful feel the other songs have.

This song transitions into the lighthearted “Juliana,” which makes for a bit of an odd contrast, but is irresistible nonetheless. It spotlights the guitar and sounds less ’80s than some of the other songs, like “Drag Away.”

Overall, this first EP from the Austin-based group shows a lot of promise. Built by Snow’s Noise is recommended for anyone with an affinity for pop from the past and who doesn’t shy away from accessibility.

Megan Morgan

Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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