80s-inspired New Wave/Synthpop bands are everywhere in our new world of global music, so it is a pleasure to find a truly special one right here in my backyard of Texas. “Don’t Get Lemon” (DGL) is a dynamic Post Punk trio from Houston, TX, made up of vocalist/percussionist Austin Curtis, guitarist/synthesist/programmer/drum machine operator Nicholas Ross, and bassist/programmer/percussionist Bryan Walters, who combine rich nostalgic synth melodies with powerfully persuasive vocals and provocative lyrical themes to bring a fresh and modern twist to a retro sound that will take you back to the romantic angst of the Psychedelic Furs, the propulsive syncopated rhythms of Madchester era, the riveting synth-pop of OMD, and the bright disco flourishes of Erasure.
WL//WH is pleased to review the trio’s new 5-track EP “Forward Not Forgetting” with an added bonus Interview to discuss the background, influences, and distinctive nuances of this up-and-coming Texas band.
“Forward Not Forgetting” EP REVIEW.
The opening track “Motion With No Name” sets an ominously optimistic tone with warm glowing expansions cut by heavy pounding beats and bright, icy synth melodies, twinkling like stars around the rich gravitational pull of the vocals that at first listen are full of charming British Romanticism, but change into a compelling passion-fueled pain that rises and falls into tense, baritone emotion, suggesting Edwyn Collins croons.
“S.I.” delves into the spectacle of consumerism and the lonely, isolated lives we live at the hands of those in control weaving trotting, skipping rhythms through meandering melodic bassline wistfulness and distorted, glowing chiming synth chords, as powerfully hypnotic vocals release tear shed for the future of mankind.
The third track, “Dreaming in Concrete,” dives into a haunting post-punk atmosphere driven by mechanical lashing beats along with ominous layers of bleak tight bass throbs and piercing guitar distortion that oppress the upbeat synth melodies enshrouded in competitive societal angst emphasized in the sound clip at the end of the track, taken from Guy Debord‘s anti-capitalist ‘Society of the Spectacle.’
“Futures Lost”, the saddest and more nostalgic of the lot, arrives at the failure of our modern way of living expressed with sorrow and remorse in the highly nostalgic vocals of strong conviction as the distorted chime of mutated synth melodies, amidst off-tempo rattling rhythms, spins hopelessly downward
The closing “Idle Eyes” eclipses any sign of hope found over the EP with an almost apocalyptic demeanour muffled by a churning haze of dragging martial percussive patterns, obsessive airy synth swirls and resonant sinuously gurgling and whining pulsations of bass doom, as resignation sinks into the disturbingly calm, unforgiving vocals now bereft of human emotion and lost in complete bleak desolation, “I cried in the car for hours and hours.”
LET’S TRACE BACK TO YOUR PERSONAL ROOTS, WHERE DID YOU GROW UP AND HOW DID YOU GET INTO MUSIC? WHO WERE YOUR MUSICAL INSPIRATIONS GROWING UP?
We all grew up in indistinct, uniform suburbs in Texas. I think the cultural void of these areas left us wanting something more extreme and that led us into the heavy music scene. We began playing music together in 2012 through numerous genres, but we’ve always been inspired by bands like Joy Division, New Order, The Smiths, Depeche Mode, and The Cure which has led to the creation of this band.
THE BAND IS SPLIT BETWEEN HOUSTON, DALLAS, AND AUSTIN. CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE MUSIC SCENE IN EACH?
When we initially started playing music together we all lived in the Austin area which is a city and scene that is constantly changing. Since two of us haven’t lived there for years it’s hard for us to say what the local scene is currently like. We’re similar to our friends in Sword Collector who also have 3 members spread out in various cities in Texas. So with that, previous friendships through the Texas scene, and having a similar aesthetic, it’s given us an affinity with them. In Houston, we really enjoy Monochrome Lover, who we were meant to play a show with in April, which was cancelled for obvious reasons. In DFW, we love Three Rose Charm, we’ve recorded almost all of our music through various bands with one of their members.
YOU MANAGE TO BRING A LOT OF NOSTALGIC SOUNDS INTO YOUR MUSIC YET STILL SOUND FRESH AND MODERN. HOW DO YOU ACHIEVE THIS?
We’re big fans of the “new wave” genre, more specifically synth-pop and post-punk and we enjoy the lore that comes with the pioneers of these genres, but we also don’t want to be confined by any one label. We try to experiment as all the great new wave bands did, and along with any inspiration we find from modern bands we end up with what we think is a unique sound. We also achieve this through quite literal use of some vintage equipment, vintage synth models in newer synths combined with modern synths, and experimental ways of attaining the drum sounds we are looking to create.
THE LYRICS EXPLORE TOPICS LIKE DISILLUSIONMENT, ESCAPISM, AND MEDIA SENSATIONALISM. HOW DO YOU STAY TRUE TO YOUR ROOTS AND RELATE TO THE EXTREME NATURE OF THE WORLD AROUND YOU?
I think it’s almost impossible not to be more and more disillusioned with the world around us the older we get. Every day seems to be another colossal failure on a global level and the most terrifying thing is that it seems the freight train of reckless capitalism is going to be impossible to stop when it’s the only obstacle is the cardboard box known as neoliberalism.
WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN LISTENING TO LATELY?
We’ve all been enjoying Korine’s latest release, “The Night We Raise”. Have been keeping up with the singles that Kraków Loves Adana has been releasing, curious if there is an upcoming full length through Italians Do It Better (just released, N.d.R). Also, really enjoyed the recent Black Marble's Cover EP, “I Must Be Living Twice”.
HOW HAS THE UNCERTAINTY OF THE PANDEMIC AFFECTED YOU?
Well, we initially were planning on recording just two songs back in March 2020 but due to the pandemic, we ended up pushing our studio time back to June. In that time we were able to write three more songs (Futures Lost being the first) and ended up packaging everything as an EP rather than just a single/b-side. So despite the uncertainty of everything going on that was at least a silver lining for us, to release a more complete work that we’re happy with.
Don’t Get Lemon's “Forward Not Forgetting” EP is out now on Spotify and the other major sharing platforms. Check it out!
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