The Wheeler Brothers, from Austin, Texas, are not a poor man’s Fleet Foxes. Nor are they an imitation Avett Brothers, even though, stylistically, they all sit pretty much at the same table with the larger acts, meaning Arcade Fire and Mumford & Sons and so on. The Wheeler Brothers are new, and they stand out from the crowd in their clever plundering of emotions. Their videos, for example, all have that look of home movies (albeit hi-fi), a seeming collection of small-town memories for rent, memories that look as if they could be yours or mine. But they’re not. A viewer can, therefore, assign whatever value they need or want, which is shrewd on the part of the band. Otherwise, the Wheeler Brothers, minus visuals, are high-energy country-folk revisited, and shrewd in the use of lap-steel guitar.
Last year, the Austin Music Awards fell for the Wheeler Brothers in a hard way, granting them title to Best New Band of the Year for their down-home work on Portraits. That same down-home appeal extends to the Wheeler Brothers’ Facebook page. There’s a phone number posted on their home page with this invitation: “Give us a call — we’d love to talk to you.” So, I did. And you know what happened? Absolutely nothing.
There was a phone message that said something about being sorry that the person at that number wasn’t accepting any calls, not Nolan or Patrick or Tyler Wheeler, or either of their sidemen A.J. Molyneaux or Nathan Rigney. Bummer. I’d have asked them why they think they got so much attention playing music that isn’t all that unusual; about how they are from Austin, but not so much of Austin. There’s a difference. Touring now behind Gold Boots Glitter, I have a sense that this is a band in mid-journey, figuring out who they are as they go.
- Friday, August 23, 2013, 6 p.m.
3615 El Cajon Boulevard,
$8 - $10
Dirty River Boys also perform.