Personnel: Curtis Roush (vocals, guitar, Wurlitzer organ, Moog synthesizer, tambourine); Jack O'Brien (vocals, tambourine); Dave Smith (synthesizer, Moog synthesizer, drum machine); Joseph Mirasole (drums).
Audio Mixer: Chris Coady .
Recording information: Austin, TX.
Texas is a place where folks do things their own way, which may be why so many artists in the Lone Star State love psychedelia but play it with a distinct twist, as anyone who has spent much time listening to the 13th Floor Elevators, the Red Krayola, or Cold Sun can tell you. Austin's Bright Light Social Hour are doing their part to keep the grand tradition of Texas Trippiness alive, and their second album, 2015's Space Is Still the Place, is an ambitious and wildly entertaining journey into the minds of the men who created it. While the echoey stirrings of the more languid songs reveals a lovely, lysergic sparkle that rises and falls over the whole of this album, Bright Lights Social Hour draw from an impressive range of influences, rhythm & blues, and off-center pop music, and even though these ten songs explore the nooks and crannies of the musical space around them, this is thankfully short on jam-band-style meandering. Bassist Jack O'Brien and drummer Joseph Mirasole keep this music tightly on track throughout, with rhythms that are rock hard or coolly grooving depending on the number (and sometimes adding a subtle electronic assist), and guitarist Curtis Roush punctuates the songs with clever solos and instrumental textures that add to the mood of the songs without calling undue attention to themselves; Edward Braillif's keyboards gracefully shift gears from the cool post-disco feel of "The Moon" to the '70s-rock stylings of "Aperture." While the members of Bright Lights Social Hour have said they intended Space Is Still the Place to make a statement about the need for new thinking at a time when economic and social woes are sapping the spirit of younger Americans, most of the lyrics don't stand out much on the first few listens, as they're mixed into the middle distance and layered with echo and reverb effects. But the band's intent to take the listener somewhere else succeeds admirably, and Space Is Still the Place is a smart, fearless work from a band whose inner journey is paying impressive musical dividends. ~ Mark Deming