I don’t think I’ve quite tired of hearing new music from John Pena’s project, Heavenly Beat. It always fulfills my listening needs, providing bits of pop elements entranced by dancefloor-ready grooves. Interestingly, Pena doesn’t have the same household name as others of his ilk, which seems strange as I think his layering is often far better than his peers. Anyways, he’s got a new record titled Designer that he’s self-releasing later this year; you’ll also be able to catch him out on the road with other synth-pop purveyor, Teen Daze (including a September date here in Austin).
It’s like a never-ending stream of interviews rolling into the ATH offices, and we’re really excited to help you all get to know a little bit more about some of the acts heading into town. This one here is from Heavenly Beat, who will undoubtedly be playing some of the hits from last year’s Prominence, which came out on Captured Tracks. Here’s some quick answers from John Pena, a former Texan. Read more
It’s yet another busy week in Austin in the live music scene and kicking things off with Small Black at Red 7 would be a great way to start the week. Fans interested in checking out the show for free should check out some contest details we’ve got below.
Venue: Red 7
Up for Grabs: You on the promoter’s list with +1
How to Enter: Leave a comment below with your valid email address. Say anything you want and we’ll pick a winner at random on Tuesday morning.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Moon-Killer.mp3]
Download: Small Black – Moon Killer [MP3]
It seems like everyone from Beach Fossils is going out on their own these days (DIIV), but the music being created by bassist John Pena has a brighter bent than his bandmates, giving you a collection of songs that’s probably more suited to the “beach” title than even his original group. Talent is chock full of bright pop tunes that provide listeners with a chance to let some of music’s natural warmth into their lives–you know, if that’s what you’re looking for these days.
Originally, I expected to find Talent as a bedroom listening experience, but “Lust” brought more to the table as soon as I pressed play. There’s a brightness in the musical arrangements that supersedes the quieted vocal approach used by Pena. It’s either the string arrangements or the throbbing beat bubbling beneath, but it provides more depth to a typical headphone listen. “Messiah” carries on with it’s string arrangement stabs propelling the vibe of the record/track. I completely dig the bass line working beneath the single too, which isn’t too much to expect I suppose, seeing as this is one of Pena’s specialties.
But, one of the things I dig isn’t necessarily the arrangements, though they all fit perfectly, it’s the tropicalia feel that comes along with the guitar sound. Songs like “Faithless” or “Influence” have this mellow strumming that seems to have roots in Latin American beach tunes, or even classical Latin music. When it’s combined with the other musical arrangements, it transports one to either the beach or to the heart of Mexico (maybe that’s only me since I lived there for a time). Heavenly Beat has cleverly put a nice spin on this sound, making it instantly original, though there are other acts taking similar approaches.
Admittedly, heavy doses of listening to Talent can perhaps wear you down, as the level of differentiation is fairly minimal, but there’s something undeniably powerful about the record as a whole. Each time I put it on, I find new elements lurking beneath a track I thought I already had figured out. It’s not every day you find a band that can create an album with a sound that seems limited to a certain extent, but still has the ability to surprise you over and over. I mean, “Tolerance” still gets me every time, with each element entering at different moments, coming in and out of the speakers. At times the guitar almost seems to disappear, then it comes in with hooks to grab you again. Such are the perks of a well-crafted record.
Side projects aren’t always able to eclipse one’s main project, but I think Heavenly Beat in a lot of ways has allowed John Pena to establish himself as a credible songwriter on his own. Talent doesn’t have Pena playing a role where he’s revising his work, but rather sees him pushing beyond Beach Fossils to find his own sound, and he does so successfully. If you want to find yourself wrapped up in the warmth of a solid record, then get your hands on this.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/02-Messiah.mp3]
Download:Heavenly Beat – Messiah [MP3]
Talent is out 7/24 via Captured Tracks.