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Summertime is slinking past. We’ve been so busy wiping the sweat from our eyes, it’s hard to believe August is here. Maybe I’m losing it a bit, but it seems as if each summer gets a little bit hotter, a bit murkier. This awareness might be chalked up to growing older and less giddily distracted by the popsicle, fireworks glory of summer. Whatever the reason, this summer has been stifling and few things have provided that cooling relief.

Surprisingly, one of my sole comforts has been music; in particular, the music of Pure Bathing Culture.  I have managed to convince myself of the value found in that old adage, “mind over matter.” The mellow, ambient notes of their self-titled debut EP play a lovely and somewhat cruel trick. My ears tell me that I am tranquilly drifting down a lazy river, drinking coconut water. They also tell me that I am being filmed for a scene in a John Hughes film and that I belong to a group of high school misfits, who have run away to spend a perfect summer together at the beach. Then the four-song EP stops and I realize I am still a twenty-two year old working three summer jobs. Plus, it’s 101 degrees outside.

The nostalgic tones of this Portland-based band’s music are unique and lovely in their escapist stylings. With a move from New York to Portland, band members Daniel Hindman and Sarah Versprille also made a bit of an escape. Transitioning from years as members of Brooklyn band Vetiver, the duo wanted to create something fresh and uplifting in its newness. This new place, and new sound approach has revitalized their music and allowed Pure Bathing Culture to craft a short but dreamy album that leaves you wishing it would go on. Consequently, you find yourself listening over and over.

The first song I heard from Daniel and Sarah was an acoustic version of “Ivory Coast,” filmed by Natural Beardy for a Beardy Session. The song instantly drew me in with its honest hopefulness. Sarah’s unadorned voice reminded me of a classic 1950’s songbird. A stripped down, relatable Zooey Deschanel. A voice and a singer we can love because she wishes and dreams as we do. She has great bangs as well.

In their single, “Ivory Coast,” Sarah warmly croons about a love that will stand the test of time, “I know that you will love me till my eyes do close, you’re what I love the most.” Daniel’s gentle harmonies affirm Sarah’s hope that there will always be someone for her. The duo’s music reminds listeners of the importance of dreams, that hope is a necessary beauty. Also, that we just might survive this hot, hot summer.

Pure Bathing Culture is currently touring the West Coast, playing shows with the likes of Bryan John Appleby and Y La Bamba. You can order their EP from Father/Daughter Records.

– Brittany Price

Pure Bathing Culture – Ivory Coast – Beardy Session from Natural Beardy on Vimeo.

(I was first introduced to this artist by Paige Newton of Austin-based Paige Newton Photography when I asked her what Texas bands were must-listens for her. Shakey Graves rolled off her tongue before I even finished asking the question, and since then I’ve been hooked on the music that Alejandro Rose-Garcia creates so effortlessly. When I asked my friend Brittany Price, who also currently resides in Texas, to write on an artist she was currently addicted to, her response was almost as immediate as Paige’s several months ago. I think you’ll take to Shakey Graves just as quickly.)

We recognize a place in the way a person speaks. Whether it’s their inflection, local vocabulary or simply the way words seem to roll off the tongue, we know. In a group of people, it hardly takes minutes before we point to the Georgian and the Boston native. West coast-ers can pick out someone from the east coast without laying eyes on them. It works both ways.

Say what you will, there’s a certain beauty in being so closely tied to your home. It’s a unique weight that shows up with each word. Music is no different. With a few strums, taps or snaps, a musician takes his audience home.

Although I grew up in Georgia, Texas has become my home in the past few years. My ears have learned the difference between a Georgia drawl and a Texas twang. I’ve also come to know and love the gritty, raw pluck of Texas musicians.

In my mind, no modern musician embodies true, deep Texas soul as well as Alejandro Rose-Garcia, aka Shakey Graves. This Austin native sings stories in his uniquely Texan way. They’re a little rough-around-the-edges but it’s difficult to imagine his gravelly voice painting any other sort. Plucking at his guitar, the musician belongs to a one-man-band, keeping beat with a rigged up kick-drum and tambourine combo. Although he sings about places from California to Georgia, the rattle in Shakey Graves‘ serious, but never-too-serious, voice always points us back to his roots.

In fact, everything about the musician speaks to his southern roots. Usually dressed in 1940’s style suspenders, slacks and fedora, this Texas boy makes sure to pair the ensemble with his old, broken-in cowboy boots. His stage name, Shakey Graves, was created while joking with friends around a campfire and it stuck.

If you dig Jack White’s grit, The Tallest Man on Earth’s stories and the homemade sound of The Lumineers, you’ll fall for Shakey Graves. Every song will have you tapping your toes and turning the volume up just a bit louder. You may also experience an inexplicable desire to get into some trouble, just a little. In this situation, we will assume no legal responsibility for what happens next.

Currently, Shakey Graves is touring within his home state of Texas. We’re hoping that one day soon he’ll get the urge to head up towards Nashville. We can handle his brand of soul, we think.