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Posted: 12:00 a.m. Monday, Nov. 19, 2012

Local releases: Whiskey Shivers look beyond music with their variety show



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Local releases: Whiskey Shivers look beyond music with their variety show photo
Whiskey Shivers celebrates their ‘trashgrass’ sound on new release.
Local releases: Whiskey Shivers look beyond music with their variety show photo
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Akina Adderley doesn’t need over-the-top vocal tricks to command attention on her record with her Vintage Playboys.
Local releases: Whiskey Shivers look beyond music with their variety show photo
Julia Robinson
Orville Neeley leads band OBNIIIs with a new self-titled release.

By Peter Mongillo

American-Statesman Staff

Andrew VanVoorhees received a text during a recording session with Austin country band Crooks last summer. A video for his other band, Whiskey Shivers, had become wildly popular online. “I got a text that said we’re number one on Reddit,” he said. “And my text back was ‘What the hell is Reddit?’”

For Whiskey Shivers, the social network Reddit was something that propelled the band and its video (which, directed by Rob Wadleigh, portrays the group as one giant, red-flannel wearing bluegrass monster) into the national spotlight, landing them nods from CBS news and Ryan Seacrest, among others.

This summer the band returned with a new album, “Rampa Head.” Like they did on its predecessor, the band takes a fast and loose approach – Whiskey Shivers’ bluegrass is more comfort food (or maybe party food) than technical manual. “We tend to stay away from shows with other bluegrass bands because it points out how bluegrass we’re not,” VanVoorhees said. “We’re not worried too much about impeccable musicianship and playing 150 notes a second.”

Or, to put it another way, the band describes themselves as “trashgrass” — a punk approach to roots music. “I would have killed to have been there to see Refused,” VanVoorhees said earlier this month, expressing regret in having missed the reunited Swedish hardcore band at the recent Fun Fun Fun Fest. “I ended up going back to roots, for the same reason all of us did. We all grew up in small towns, we all listened to that stuff all the time, it was kind of the background music, and when we got older, it was like wait, this stuff is actually really good.”

Starting this month, Whiskey Shivers is hosting a Tuesday night variety show at Antone’s. They’ll play each week, along with a host of other performers, including musicians as well as comedians and other performance artists. The idea came after an offer for a residency, something which they haven’t done before. VanVoorhees said the variety show idea allows them to bring some of the acts that he personally enjoys — musical and otherwise — to the stage with the hopes of reaching a wider audience.

“There are a lot of really talented comics in town, insanely funny people,” he said. “The crowds don’t really mix too much — people go to Cap City and they go to the Velveeta Room, but they don’t really go out to music shows, and vice versa, people that go out to music shows don’t really go out to comedy shows.”

Whiskey Shivers variety show happens every Tuesday at Antone’s. Tuesday, Nov. 20, will feature performances from Wood & Wire, the Blackwells and Rooster Jenkins. $5. www.antones.net.

OBN III’s

‘OBN III’S’

(Tic Tac Totally)

The OBN IIIs — lead singer/songwriter Orville Neeley, Graham Low, Andrew Cashen, Jason Smith and Matt Hammer — follow last year’s “The One and Only” with a self-titled record. On it, Neeley delivers a set of songs a bit more varied than last time while mostly maintaining the band’s fast and loud default. Neeley, with what mostly seems like delight, takes aim at a variety of targets — people, places and things, including complainers, himself, fellow Austin dwellers, things chasing him in his dreams, computers — atop the choppy grind of the band, two-thirds of whom (including Neeley) also play in fiery garage rock outfit A Giant Dog.

Jason Smith’s guitar howls with lightning intensity on “You Wanna Bitch?” Neeley takes one of his darker turns as some kind of rock ‘n’ roll cult leader on “So What If We Die.” On “Damned to Obscurity” he turns the lens on himself, with backing vocals that signal an ambulance-like woooh in the distance, then back outward on the brighter “No Way To Rock ‘n Roll,” where he directs his relentless gaze on a “city full of fakes.” They slow down on the strung-out “Stick and Move,” and edge toward the psychedelic on “Driving Dream,” in which Neeley is chased in his sleep. Then “Leave Me Alone” hits sudden and quiet, with Neeley in a near whisper. “I’m tired of people and I’m tired of fun,” he sings, as the raucous gives way to the bleak.

Akina Adderley and the Vintage Playboys

“Say Yes”

(Get Level Records)

The second album for Adderley – who is related to grandfather Nat and great uncle “Cannonball” – and her Vintage Playboys showcases the frontwoman’s voice in all its grandeur. Adderley keeps a relative cool, not needing any overdone affectations or growling explosions to come across as powerful and clear. Her band is similarly tight, whether on the soul/R&B of “Get Outta My Way” or “Get Yourself Free,” which shines at the end with an organ and horn breakdown.

Adderley stretches her voice out on the long, climbing passages of the sweet ballad “Easy On Me.” Lyrically, she mostly focuses on relationships, and, as on the upbeat “Say Yes,” assertively: “you got to give me what I want…” Austin-based trumpeter Ephraim Owens guests on the smoky and smooth “Not Mine,” and the album takes a sudden turn with a hint of rock on “Bumblebee.” “Savannah” glows with warm bliss. Elsewhere it’s late night blues (“Good For A Minute”) and a bit of funk rock on “Attitude,” which features a guest spot from Big Sam Williams and De Phessah Drew Baham of Big Sam’s Funky Nation. Throughout, Adderley’s vocal talents unify the different styles.

Hello Caller

“Dark Twain”

(self-released)

Hello Caller – one of a handful of Austin folk-rock orchestras seemingly populated with a busload of members (there are actually six, but seven others guest on the album) supplementing the usual tools with strings, horns, banjos, etc. – begin their latest, “Dark Twain,” with the feel of a stage play. On “In The Full moonlight,” the band begins by following a solitary banjo, male and female vocals are in conversation. So it goes for the rest of the 11-track album, with detours into proggy roots rock instrumentals and hazier, dreamlike moments always returning, though, to the sad mood of the wordless title track.

On the vast, chugging “Box Above the Belt,” the band transitions mid-song to a dark, moody (maybe recalling Danny Elfman) soundtrack. On “Come Out Now,” a banjo and a wordless chorus mingle. On “Stop and Watch,” a trumpet, strings and guitar stretch out in a more traditional rock jam. “We Caught Fire” conveys a love story as disaster; on “Lurker Park” a sleepy mist settles in via hazy vocals and a cello. Then, near the end, comes “Dark Twain,” where strings, piano and an oboe play the main role – the band takes things up and then down again over the final two songs, but it’s here that the heart of the music reveals itself – sad, and more committed to the classical side of things than the contemporary.

Hello Caller plays Saturday at the ND as part of the Good Music Club series. 8 p.m. Free.

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