By Paul Stinson
Austin’s Moving Panoramas are the first legitimate heir to the mantle of Galaxie 500 since Luna.
The Austin trio takes something familiar and makes it new again, enthralling in the many uses of subtle shoegaze and drifting grooves.
And while the locomotive rhythm section anchored by drummer Karen Skloss and bassist Rozie Castoe punctuate at times in a staccato Joy Division/Warsaw manner, the band pulls off a Velvet Underground-ish groove that anchored much of Galaxie 500’s lore.
All of that provides a background – and sometimes foreground – to the phaser-driven warmth of Leslie Sisson’s guitars and vocals, a series of vocal lines capable of spellcasting, leaving the listener to decide between being pulled heavenwards or disappearing into a wall of sound and turning into quicksand. Decisions, decisions.
Drawing a dedicated following after two years in Austin, the band is turning heads outside the capitol city bubble as well, landing some NPR love and praise from The Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom.
Earning artist of the month at Austin’s KUTX radio in September, the band released their debut effort One in October, carving out a space between Galaxie 500’s Today and This is Our Music, fast-paced in places (Magic), while songs “Please,” and “Always” build, lilt and hover like a spirit still searching for a home.
Born in part out of a friendship struck up by Sisson at film school, and following her terrifying ordeal of being abducted at gunpoint, the music is witness to the healing power of music and the persistence of the human spirit. (Further detail can be had by finding Sisson’s first-person band cover story/account of the ordeal as it appeared in the Austin Chronicle.)
Sonically, the single “One” could have easily been the first single off New Order’s Power Corruption and Lies in the headspace of ‘Age of Consent’ –marking that brief moment when the Manchester legends figured out they were no longer Joy Division but hadn’t yet given themselves over entirely to producing discotheque rock. Having said that, the trio’s ‘Word’ could easily be passed off as an Abba disco tune.
Set for a Midwest and West Coast tour over the course of the spring, the Austin trio doesn’t seek out heady comparisons, even if it’s clear that even in the absence of a sprawling Dean Wareham guitar solo, the Moving Panoramas are developing a strain of that magic that once existed in great abundance during the Rough Trade years.
Moving, and moving on to reclaim the light, Moving Panoramas’ songs are no shortage of powerful. And while demonstrating a capacity for excelling in the traditional form, it says something about a band’s courage to write a host of six-minute songs including “Harmony,” slowly drifting, plodding and pleading, eventually carrying the listener out to sea in the undertow, happily lost.
Editor’s note: Moving Panoramas are playing a ton during SXSW, so there’s no excuse not to see them:
March 13 @ 8 p.m.
Spider House (Main Patio Stage) – 2908 Fruth St
Moving Panoramas “Radar” Music Video Release Party
w/YACHT, The Ripe, The Blind Owls, Teleopds, Booher, The Sour Notes, & more
March 13 @ 1 a.m.
The Volstead – 1500 E 6th St
Presneted by Side One Track One / Austin Town Hall
w/ Lowin, Lochness Mobsters, Shivery Shakes, Sweet Talk, & more
March 14 @ 3:30 p.m.
Boat Show on Lady Bird Lake – Address TBA
Presented by Hotel Hot Burrito
March 15 @ 12 a.m.
The Sidewinder (Inside Stage) – 715 Red River
SXSW Official Showcase presented by The City of Austin
w/ The Ghost Wolves, Hunter Sharp, & more
March 16 @ 2 p.m.
Hotel Vegas (Patio Stage) – 1500 E 6th St
Spring Break Boogie V presented by
She Shreds Magazine / Good Vibrations / Hotel Hot Burrito
w/ Thee Oh Sees, La Luz, The Moonlandingz, & more
March 16 @ 11 p.m.
ScratcHouse (Backyard Stage) – 617 E 7th St
SXSW Official Showcase presented by
Modern Outsider Records / Riot Act Media
w/ The Crookes, Mirror Travel, Brass Bed, Dana Falconberry, & more
March 17 @ 3 p.m.
El Sapo Cantina – 1900 Manor Rd
Presented by Music For Listeners / Next Bop
w/ The Crookes, Beverly, Hinds & more
March 18 @ 12:45 p.m.
Maggie Mae’s – 323 E 6th St
Presented by 103.1 FM I Heart Radio / Modern Outsider Records
w/ Quiet Company, The Crookes, Brass Bed, & more
March 18 @ 6:30 p.m.
Hotel Vegas Annex – 1504 E 6th St
w/ Caveman, Night Moves, High Wasted, & more
March 19 @ 3:40 p.m.
Street Legal Guitars (Storefront Stage) – 2200 E 7th St
Leslie/Rozie Duo/Acoustic Set
w/ John Wesley Coleman, Flesh Lights, Vockah Redu, & more
March 19 @ 5 p.m.
TOMS Austin – 1401 South Congress
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