California English: Bands on the Rise, Austin Edition

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

After highlighting bands from cities on the western and eastern shores of our great nation, I felt it was appropriate to venture to the American South and a city that has earned the nickname, “The Live Music Capital of the World”: Austin, Texas.


Marmalakes is a folk-pop group composed of three Austin natives. I remember my roommate Price (an Austinite himself) first introduced this group to me in the fall of 2010; the first song I heard by Marmalakes was “(A Scene Through) Cellophane”, from the band’s debut EP, Wonder Winds. I was immediately impressed with the jazz-infused folk sound with slick guitar riffs, smooth drums, and syrupy harmonies. I love the way “VITTORIA” begins with intensely strummed guitar leading to a drum/guitar combination that reminds me of a galloping horse. The high point of this tune for me is when lead singer, Max Colonna, belts out “VITTORIA!” the first time the chorus is sung. “Geneva Hall” is the lead track off of Marmalakes’ second EP, Even Clothed, which was released at the end of 2011. Out of the gate, this song is swirling with snappy percussion and quickly strummed electric guitar. Marmalakes has the talent to become big in the near future and they are starting to get the recognition they deserve, recently being selected as one of the best performing indie bands of 2011 by The Austin Chronicle.


SPEAK is a stellar dance-pop band and the culmination of the music talents of four high school friends. The group already has some impressive accolades under its belt, receiving the Austin Music Award for Best New Band in 2010 and Best Indie Group in 2011.
“Carrie” is the lead single from SPEAKS’s debut album, I Believe In Everything, and has already received some impressive reception, being remixed by the likes of Miniature Tigers and RAC. The tune is filled with an addicting electric guitar lick and layered with high-flying synthesizers. In addition, the chorus is one of the catchiest I have heard in recent times as lead singer, Troupe Gammage, moves effortlessly to a gorgeous falsetto. The bouncy electric and bass guitar work together beautifully on “You Know As Well As I” and are accompanied by some gorgeous vocal harmonies. My current favorite song by SPEAK is “Stand By Us”, which sounds like a combination of Maroon 5 and Foster The People with a dash of MIKA. The falsetto singing of Gammage shines especially bright. SPEAK looks to gain an even larger fan-base as they play in Austin’s famous South by Southwest Music festival this coming March.


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