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In the clubs with Quin Galavis


Quin Galavis has spent the greater part of the past 10 years playing rock music, most recently in the post-punk band the Dead Space. When he's not doing that, you might catch him working sound at Beerland for garage and punk bands. Neither is a particularly sensitive gig, so it might come as a bit of a surprise to see him performing singer-songwriter fare, backed by a cello, at Momo's or Antone's.

It's an impressive line to straddle, considering that right now there isn't too much spillover between music scenes — Beerland bands tend to play at Beerland and a couple other clubs, and Americana/blues bands tend to stay off Red River (with some exceptions). With the release of a solo album, "Should Have Known You," a few months ago, Galavis has been able to work both worlds.

"I don't know why it took me so long," Galavis says when asked what prompted the shift in musical style. Now 27, Galavis moved to Austin with his family when he was 12. He's been in rock bands since he was 17, when he says Graham Williams (now of Transmission Entertainment) used to book young bands to play Emo's. His early influences included Gang of Four, Joy Division and Swans, among others.

Galavis has been working on more folk-influenced material for almost that long as well, with four or five albums worth of songs at home that nobody has heard. Some well-received sets late last year prompted him to put together a band with Shelley Mckann (piano), Graham Low (cello) and Matt Hammer (drums).

The resulting album, "Should Have Known You," which features the full band, is one of the better local releases of 2011, a surprisingly fresh take on a genre that runs a high risk of sounding tired or cliché. Part of what sets the album apart is the production, courtesy of Orville Neeley (of Austin garage band the OBN IIIs), which maintains an indie rock edge despite the fairly restrained music. Another force on the record is Galavis' catchy songwriting style and vocal style. On "We Don't Care for Love," Galavis' voice rises and falls in such a way that the sad lyrics almost become secondary.

"I love melody," Galavis says. "I've decided that in all the years I've written music the only thing I've been into has been melody."

Not surprisingly, Galavis names Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave and Cat Stevens as some of the biggest influences on his solo work. At times, their imprint is easy to hear on Galavis' simple, powerful music.

He names Stevens' "Wild World" as his idea of a great song. "Give me like three more years and I'll write a song that good," he laughs. "The melody is phenomenal, it's simple, it doesn't have much orchestration. The intensity is hard to describe."