Sound Advice: The Bright Light Social Hour with Current Events and Jettison (July 7)

Texas quartet The Bright Light Social Hour brings a lysergic head, Folk/Indie Rock heart and activist soul to Fountain Square.

click to enlarge The Bright Light Social Hour - Photo: Provided
Photo: Provided
The Bright Light Social Hour
Psychedelic music in the ’60s was characterized by thunderous volume, long flighty jams and seizure-inducing Pop Art light shows. Maybe the acid is better a half century later, but Psychedelia in the new millennium is more pastoral and reflective, sonic tendrils insinuating themselves into the cerebral cortex with a subtle yet palpable power and a message of unity, peace and, when necessary, resistance. Such is the passionate construct of The Bright Light Social Hour, a Texas quartet with a lysergic head, a Folk/Indie Rock heart and an activist soul.

TBLSH began in 2004 when four Southwestern University students formed a Post Hardcore/Art Rock outfit, gaining a local reputation for their frenetic live presentation. The band was inactive while guitarist Curtis Roush studied audio production and vocalist/keyboardist Jack O’Brien pursued linguistics and Flamenco guitar in Spain. Drummer Thomas Choate left to study eco building and was replaced by high school beatkeeper Joseph Mirasole, while bassist Ryan O’Donoghue remained for TBLSH’s first EP, 2006’s Touches, until O’Brien and Roush transferred to the University of Texas’ master’s program and O’Donoghue stayed behind, at which point O’Brien took over on bass.

In 2008, the band’s sound took a decidedly esoteric turn with the Love Like Montopolis EP and, with the addition of keyboardist A.J. Vincent, began incorporating more Psychedelia, Soul and straight-up Rock into the mix. TBLSH’s eponymous 2010 full-length debut was a revelation; the following year, the band won the six major categories at the Austin Music Awards. Early in 2013, the band parted ways with Vincent over creative direction and replaced him with Edward Braillif.

TBLSH has never made a secret of their political leanings; Roush, O’Brien and Mirsasole were present in 2013 when Senator Wendy Davis filibustered Texas Senate Bill 5, the restrictive abortion amendment, and then turned their phone footage of the agitated protesters into the visuals for their song “Wendy Davis,” which they wrote that same night. The band’s sophomore album, the acclaimed Space is Still the Place, was released in 2015. Seven months later, the band heard about the Paris attacks at the Bataclan and surrounding areas and recorded its show at Lincoln Hall in Chicago, offering the recording on its Bandcamp page in exchange for a donation to the French Red Cross. Most recently, TBLSH wrote the song “Harder Out Here” as the theme to the new Amazon Video series Sneaky Pete, featuring Bryan Cranston, and followed it up with “Tear Down That Wall,” a stinging rebuke to Donald Trump’s plan for a border barrier, which was released on Inauguration Day.

The Bright Light Social Hour’s next album should be a welcomed cornucopia of Trumped-up outrage. 

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