Picture, if you will, the year is 2007. You and two of your friends from college have been playing in a band together for about one year, and you’ve secured a spot on the lineup at South by Southwest, amongst over 1,400 other acts. At the show, you open for a group of five bands, and a whopping seven people are in attendance for your set. No sweat, right? Everybody’s gotta start somewhere. After the show, BAM, freakin’ Jerry Harrison (guitarist and keyboardist for the Talking Heads) is all up in your grill offering to produce your first LP at his personal studio in California. The LP drops in 2008 to critical acclaim. After some more touring and maturing, your band is awarded: Best New Band, Song of the Year, Best Rock Band, Bass Player of the Year, and Producer of the Year all at the 2009 Austin Music Awards. Now it’s 2014, and you’re playing at the one and only Grand Stafford Theater in Bryan, Texas. Okay, admittedly, maybe things didn’t haven’t happened quite that quickly or easily for The Black and White Years, but, aside from the five years not mentioned above, the details ring true (sorry, you’re not actually in an awesome band, but it’s fun to pretend.)
The Black and White Years were formed by Scott Butler, Landon Thompson and John Aldridge in 2006. Since then, they’ve been joined by official drummer: Billy Potts, played hundreds of shows, established a decent fan base, and built up a discography exemplifying the meaning of quality over quantity. Surprisingly, despite their hard-earned success, The Black and White Years are still struggling to find their niche in the musical world. This is due in part to what Houston Press has deemed “a lack of touring and production over the last few years have somewhat held them back,” which is also a probable explanation for the gap in between releases of studio material.
Last month marked the end of a four year long material absence from The Black and White Years, which is to say that their new album, “Strange Figurines” (released Jan. 21, 2014) is the first we’ve heard from the group since 2010’s “Patterns.” “Strange Figurines” delves farther into The Black and White Years’ affluence for the past than any previous LP. Synthesizers (funky and grimy alike,) dark sunglasses, dancing, probably cocaine, and the velvety soothe of Butler’s vocals all coalesce into a project that can’t be described in just black and white. Think soft purples, mellow yellows, orange euphoria, and glimpses of the whole color spectrum instantaneously. It seems as though The Black and White Years are inching out of the comfort zone, little by little, with each track. And it’s working out fantastically. This electronic-pop-punk concoction is here to stay, or get bigger, and it looks like the only route from here on out is up.
Come experience The Black and White Years and songs from their new LP, “Strange Figurines,” this Saturday at the Grand Stafford!
Doors @ 8 p.m.
$10 tickets available online and at the door!
By: Dylan Huddleston