ABOVE: (LEFT TO RIGHT) CLARKE CURTIS, MIKE PARKER, ROSS GILFILLAN, MEG GILFILLAN, AND KEVIN BUTLER.
It’s that time of year: bright summer tunes are recoiling back into the depths of iPods in exchange for something more somber to accompany the impending loss of green trees and the birth of a deciduous dreamland. If you’ve yet to find your fall musical fix, Black Books have you covered with their new single “Something to Remember,” from their debut self-titled record on Believe Recordings.
Ross Gilfillan (drums, lead vocals), Meg Gilfillan (keyboard, vocals), and Kevin Butler (guitar) first met in their middle school jazz band. It wasn’t until 2009, however, that Black Books came together as a five-piece with Mike Parker (bass) and Clark Curtis (keys) for a jam session in Ross and Meg’s garage. Since then, the Austin-based band has released an EP, Aquarena, and supported The Flaming Lips last summer in Europe.
“Something to Remember” is dense with heavy and amorphous guitars and keys that are held in place with rattling hi-hats and Gillfilan’s sharp and energetic voice. Its dreamy and constantly swelling soundscapes create a dynamic trance-inducing atmosphere, soon to be ruptured by an orchestral climax. The song’s vocals and percussion are cradled within Clarke’s nebulous keyboard textures, which he aptly describes as being “like a pulsing wet stutter, anxious to spill the beans.” For Parker, it was pretty clear from the beginning that “Something to Remember” would be a golden track. “We all heard it and thought, ‘We need to do something with this,'” he says.
Alongside their atmospheric sensibilities are strong ties to their Southern roots. The acoustic guitars of country and the droned-out sounds of shoegaze might be at opposite ends of the musical spectrum, but Black Books sits comfortably in the center with a warm, folky feel that embraces experimentation to the fullest extent. It’s this fearless experimentation that disguises the admittedly dense and emotional subject matter. As a testament to music’s ability to flip depression on its head, Ross says, “The lyrics are uncomfortable for me every time—but it’s worth it. It speaks to what would happen to me if my biggest fear was realized and I had to deal with it on a daily basis.”
Both Kevin and Ross say it’s their favorite song to play live; and for Ross in particular, it marked a distinct shift in his approach to songwriting. “It’s the song that made me realize I wanted to write really good songs—not just perform the hell out of half-baked ones,” he says.
BLACK BOOKS’ DEBUT ALBUM WILL BE RELEASED LATER THIS MONTH. FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT THE BAND’S WEBSITE.