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Take it from the upbeat

Life is pretty good for Quiet Company's Taylor Muse, and his songs shimmer with optimism.

Patrick Caldwell

There's a moment in the video for Quiet Company's "On Modern Men," off this year's "Everyone You Love Will Be Happy Soon," when shaggy front man Taylor Muse perches on a soapbox in front of the Williamson County Courthouse, megaphone in hand. As the power pop's quartet hits the song's soaring crescendo, a gathered crowd joins in on the chorus, shouting with hopeful exuberance.

That shared, joyful climax adeptly sums up the virtues of the local four-piece, who meld dramatic guitar and piano hooks with Muse's heart-on-your-sleeve positivity. Never mind that the assembled crowd looks a little ... sparse.

"A lot of people committed to being there, and then it rained and we were like, 'Oh, man, nobody's going to come out,' " laughs Muse, recalling the day's drizzly video shoot. The band put out a call for extras via MySpace and Twitter. "We had a really small crowd, so we kind of had to do our best to make it look like more people. There's some parts you can look at and go, 'There's really not many people there.' "

Not that that bothers Muse much. Few things seem to. The earnest, optimistic guitarist, vocalist, pianist and occasional glockenspiel player started Quiet Company as a solo project in high school, an outlet for the love songs he was penning to his then-girlfriend.

Since then he's rotated through a series of bands but always returned to the moniker. After a series of lineup changes, the band has settled as a four-piece that brings its brand of heartfelt rock to the Parish this evening. Ask Muse to articulate his songwriting philosophy, and he'll recall that most quintessential of inspirations.

"Paul McCartney has said that, looking back, he's really happy a lot of the Beatles songs are about love and peace. And I kind of want that, too," he says. "I don't want to be some guy saying things are horrible all the time, because things are really not horrible. People are not bad. In general, things are good. Maybe not everywhere in the world, but in my life I don't have anything really to complain about. I have a great wife and a great kid and food on a table and I get to play music in a band."

Muse picked up a guitar and first tried songwriting in the seventh grade. Raised in Tyler in a religious home — and a fan of Christian music — he played in bands both spiritual and secular. He dabbled in high school band Twenty Watt Shed ("I still have family members who think that's a great name and a great band, and they're wrong on both accounts."). He played bass in, and chose the "Star Wars"-inspired name for, the indie rock band Mos Eisley, which changed to Eisley after being picked up by Warner Bros. ("Which is probably smart, because George Lucas would sue.") He played in both the Lonely Hearts and the Connotations.

But it's Quiet Company, the ever-evolving project he formed with Thomas Blank, that he returned to after moving to Austin. The band put out an album in 2006, the sunny "Shine Honesty," on boutique label Northern Records. They split with Northern for "Everyone You Love Will Be Happy Soon." And Muse had a fresh source of inspiration in his wife, whom he married in 2006 between the debut and sophomore albums.

Not that that makes songwriting easy. As Muse sees it, being a glass half-full type of guy can make penning lyrics more of a challenge than you might think — though he's up to it.

"It's love and life lessons and all that keep-your-chin-up feel-goodery. That to me is a whole lot harder than writing about being angry," Muse says. "It's hard to make that stuff cool without it being cliché."