The Last Days of Learning

On March 10, we’re going to play our last show ever.

We thought about trying to put our own big show / celebration / wake together. But that’s not really our style. Besides, Sarah Hirsch of Jealous Creatures has engineered a swell event with a bunch of great bands, gourmet pizza, and St. Arnold’s refreshments. The timing could not have been better, especially because all our 30- and 40-something pals can see us play and still get home at a decent hour. Since we’re a band with five dads, getting home early is a great deal for us, too.

Anyway, the details are as follows. A Facebook event page is also available.

$5
Doors at 3
4:00 – Flying Cars (Chicago)
5:00 – Ornery Little Darlings (Chicago)
6:00 – A Sundae Drive
7:00 – Jealous Creatures
8:00 – Bright Men of Learning
9:00 – Art Institute
Refreshments will be provided by St. Arnold’s and PI Pizza Truck will be parked near the venue!

This show is going to be a lot of fun. It will be our second-to-last-show OF ALL TIME.

In addition to our families and friends, we want to take a moment to say thanks to some super supportive businesses and pals, without whom we could not have enjoyed our rock band experience as much as we truly have:

  • Rudyard’s (our favorite place to play by far)
  • Joe Omelchuck (best sound guy in Houston)
  • Jeremy Hart / Space City Rock
  • Chris Gray / The Houston Press
  • Sara Cress and 29-95.com
  • Nonalignment Pact
  • Sound Exchange
  • Cactus Records
  • James Love @ Rockin’ Robin Guitars
  • Josh Denk
  • Gilbert Alfaro
  • Rene Cruz
  • Chris Ryan
  • Jonas Wilson
  • Ramon Medina
  • Daniel Mee
  • Kilian Sweeney
  • Marc Brubaker
  • The people still posting on the HandsUp Houston Board
  • and…The Jonx (in my personal opinion, my favorite band to play with, and one of the best Houston bands ever)

Maybe it’s fitting that we follow the Jonx in merging with the infinite after some of our dudes moved away. But we’re not dead yet. We have one more show. Come see us. We promise to play “Girls in Love.”

Finally, speaking for myself, I love it here, and never want to leave. I’m not going to Austin to further my music career. I’m 37. I’m a dad. I probably peaked years ago.

I’m from Houston. This is where I wanted to play music. And I think it’s been a wonderful music town. Even better in the last few years thanks to some of the people mentioned above and a bunch of great new bands. I’m torn and a bit jealous of you who will remain. But I’ll still be in Texas. And that’s the important thing.

Thanks again. And may your all your days be bright and full of learning.

- mrshl

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We’re actually playing an actual show (actually).

It’s been what… 4+ months since we last convened in one public space and played music? Well someone was nice enough to ask us to play a show. Being the accommodating fellas we are we just couldn’t say no, even though we haven’t had but a single actual practice in at least 3 months. So our fingers are crossed that we’ll remember how our instruments work and how the songs go but we’re happy to just be playing again. And what makes it all that much more pleasant? It appears the local press (houston chronicle and houston press) felt inclined to give us a wee bit of unprovoked positive press in print and online.

A Sundae Drive,
The Magnificent Snails (Austin),
Bright Men Of Learning

Sun., January 8, 10:00pm
@ Rudyard’s
2010 Waugh
Houston, TX 77006

$8

Friday night at Rudz with Runaway Sun

We don’t know Runaway Sun very well. Or at all, but they invited us to play and we don’t often pass up Friday night at Rudz. I’m already looking forward to a Rudz Burger. Or maybe some calamari.

Oh, yeah, and there will be rock.

10:30 Bright Men of Learning
11:30 Runaway Sun
$5

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Thanks to the Chron and 29.95

Our show tonight at Fitzgerald’s is currently and prominently recommended on the front page both websites. Yay!

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Jeff the Brotherhood (FREE for 21+)

We’re playing Monday, November 8 at the new Fitzgerald’s with one of our favorite meat and potatoes hipster-tinged rock bands, Jeff the Brotherhood. Local rockers, The Energy, featuring our pal Chris Ryan, will fill the middle slot.

It’s free show if you’re over 21. And if you’re coming to see us, you’re doubtless a lot older than that. For the over-30 crowd, you’ll be happy to know we’re playing first. Which means you don’t have to endure the comparatively more rockin’ bands that follow (even though you should).

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Review round-up

Yesterday and today were big for us, as features and reviews of the new record have begun to pop up in the local music press as well as blog-land.

First, the Houston Press previewed our two shows tomorrow with some kind words.

Next was a golden review from Jeremy Hart of Space City Rock:

It’s about damn time. I’ve been a fan of Bright Men of Learning and its various predecessor bands over the years, from frontman Marshall Preddy’s early Wholesome Rollers project on through the evolving lineups of Telluride, Chasmatic, and the current band, digging ‘em live the whole time and definitely liking what I heard in recorded form. Even still, though, I always got this feeling the band and music weren’t quite where they needed to be; close enough to glimpse it, sure, but not yet hitting the mark.

With Fired, they’ve hit that mark — obliterated it, actually — and left me shaking my head and grinning. This is what Preddy’s songs have needed to sound like, the whole freaking time. I couldn’t have articulated it if you’d asked me before I heard it, but trust me, the songs on Fired are perfect right down to their core.

This morning I awoke to read Danny Mee’s review at Nonalignment Pact. I know he’s my co-blogger at NAP, but I hadn’t expected a review from him, much less a good one. He’s always been willing to tell us, and other bands, when we’ve fallen short. So I’ve enjoyed reading his very positive response. Over and over again. Kinda made me late to work. Embarrassed smile

One of Fired’s most salient characteristics is how good it sounds. Dual lead guitarists Chris Kahlich and Ben Murphy deserve some of the credit, since, as James Love is wont to say, “tone is in the fingers,” but the careful, tasteful, intelligent recording style plays a major role. The band has done well in choosing to work with an engineer who knows how to vary microphones to achieve different effects, especially regarding distance; see the close-up “In The Dark” and the fuzzy, retro “Your Brave Mistake,” which almost sounds like a Strokes pastiche, for examples.

Another word about those lead guitarists. The magic of layered guitar is that it allows a rock band to increase the weight and volume of a song’s primary riff without changing the tone of the instruments. A great band can do this with just a bass and a guitar, but it’s easiest with two guitars; with three guitars, startling unison effects are possible. BMOL, with three guitars including Marshall, do take advantage of these possibilities, dropping into big, enveloping unison riffs on “Sidewalks” and “Left Behind.” But more importantly, when the three aren’t playing together, they separate beautifully, splintering into rhythm, accent, and lead without overwhelming Jonathan Sage’s bass or Marshall’s voice. On the whole, BMOL take advantage of the dramatic possibilities of a three-guitar lineup extremely well, better than nearly any band I’ve heard since Swarm of Angels- certainly better than a band like the Drive-By Truckers.

The Chronicle’s 29-95 blessed us twice. An Interview (also featured in the Chronicle’s print-edition Weekend Preview section) and a review from Ramon Medina:

On the new Bright Men of Learning album, Fired, you hear the sound of a band with a voice and confidence all its own. People who have heard them perform live know that sound but now you can hold it in your hands – 12 inches of sweet analog wax – and everything promised is there: the confident triple guitar attack, the emotive voice of leader Marshall Preddy, the assured rock-steady rhythm section, and songs filled with tangible emotions and heart.

Finally, Marc Brubaker, who is late of Houstonist and now with the Houston Press, posted a review on his own local music blog. This was actually his second try, since his first draft was zapped by a browser crash. We’re sad we missed his first attempt, but the second one was pretty good, too:

Harmonies, lap steel, whoa-ohs, expressive but restrictive guitar interplay and some sharp percussion arrangements provide a solid foundation for what is an excellently constructed album that’s sure to sit high on our Best of 2010 list. Sure, we could pick a favorite song or four, but the fact of the matter is that we’re more than happy to just let this album sit on repeat – something we’ve done several times over the few weeks since it hit our inbox. Do yourself a favor and buy it now.

Yes, please buy it now (or get it for free)!

Oh, and I would like to thank all these writers. Not just for the kind words, but for timing their pieces to coincide with our celebratory shows this weekend. The state of local music writing and press coverage has never been better in this town. There are more great bands than ever before right now, and I think part of that resurgence has been fueled by a local press that’s paying attention.

I’ve been playing local shows since 1997, and I’ve never had a better time than what’s happening right now.

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Get Fired. Now.

So, you can finally hear (and buy) the new record. All of it. Go ahead and press play, then I’ll write some more stuff below while you listen.

Fired by Bright Men of Learning

As we’ve already said lots of times by now, we’re playing two shows this Saturday September 18 to celebrate:

  1. You can either catch our FREE 3 pm show at Cactus Music (refreshments provided by St. Arnold). Cactus will have actual, physical copies of the record on sale.
  2. Or you can hear a longer, louder set at Rudyard’s where we’re playing with fellow band of old guys, Orange is In. Jim Beazy opens that show and he’s apparently turning his set into some kind of video project. You can’t say we didn’t make things interesting. The show is $8, but you get a Free Download card with every paid admission that entitles you to a high-quality digital download of the new LP.

Special Guests

To make a special show even more special for us, Jonas Wilson and Jenny Gacy from The White White Lights will be joining us on several songs. Jonas recorded our record at Blue Train Studios in Austin. And Jenny sang on the record. Thanks to them, you’ll be able to hear things we normally wouldn’t be able to do with only 3 guitars. Smile

How to buy the record

First, you don’t have to pay a dime. If you grab a digital copy here, you can name your price. Including FREE if you like. To get a vinyl record, one of only 250 copies, you have to fork over $10, but you get a digital download with purchase. As I said above, it will be on sale at Cactus starting this Saturday. We’re hoping to sell copies at Sound Exchange and Vinal Edge, too.

When you do buy the record, you’ll probably wonder who did the amazing album art. That would be Rene Cruz. We want to thank him again for donating his art and for inspiring us to change the name of the record.

Finally…

Thanks to our friends, family, and fans. We’re excited to share this with you and we’re even more excited to be done with it.

So we can write more songs. And record more stuff.

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Album Release set for September 18

So we’re finally releasing our new record, Fired, on September 18. And we’re celebrating with two shows that day. First we’ll be doing an in-store at Cactus Music at 3 pm (refreshments provided by St. Arnold’s). Then we’ll play a late show our favorite venue, Rudyard’s, where we’ll close down a show with Orange is In. You have no excuses this time. You’ll have to come out and see us, because you can’t say it’s too early or too late. We’ve covered all the bases.

As for the record itself, well, I’ll confirm what I’ve said before. We are not making this record available on CD. You can either buy one of 250 vinyl copies or download the record in the digital format of your choice for whatever price you want to pay (including FREE, if you like). The records will be available at Cactus / Sound Exchange / Vinal Edge. Anyone who pays $10 or more for a digital copy can get a vinyl record for free (while we have them). Anyone who buys the vinyl record will receive inside a card/code they can redeem for the digital files. All the digital distribution is done through our Bandcamp site.

We’ll make the record available online starting September 15. And you can buy a physical copy the following Saturday. We’ve shared the record already with a few friends and local music writers, and early feedback seems pretty positive. We’re excited to share it with you. Thanks for listening.

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We Love Football

Sometime earlier this year, I checked out the Myspace for Football, Etc., listened to the tracks and friended them behalf of BMoL. This is pretty rare for me, as:

  1. I think Myspace is awful and try to use it as little as possible.
  2. I’ve never been one to follow a bunch of randos in a foolish attempt to promote my band. Take a look at our Myspace. If we’re friends with someone, they’re probably our real-life friends. Either that, or we actually, truly like their bands.

So it was with Football, Etc. We don’t know these people, but we’re friends of friends, and we dig their tunes. Now, we’re stoked to hear them on Friday when we share a bill at Dean’s Credit Clothing, downtown. FE is launching their tour. You should come and see them off. Four bands for $5. Ride the rail and make us part of your downtown evening.

Here’s a cool poster my friend Todd made. Todd describes Football, Etc. as emo. I call them good.

footballkickoff
Update: Here’s the Facebook event page for the show.

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Young Mammals on Amie Street

Congratulations are in order to the Young Mammals for being prominently featured on the home page of AmieStreet.com, a bargain download service similar to eMusic in terms of catalog and clientele.image

After little more than a week on the site, Carrots is now a Top-25 album. Also, since Amiestreet pricing is directly related to how popular an album / song is, the fact that the band has gone from zero to $4.77 in such a short time is impressive. I downloaded it earlier when it was still under $3.00, but I haven’t had a chance to hear it. Get it while it’s cheap!

By the way, Young Mammals (formerly known as the Dimes) released the record themselves. They’re pals of ours, and we’ve shared the stage a few times, so we’re pretty stoked to see them getting exposure to a national audience.

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