Getting to Know Starlet Kina Grannis

Posted by    |    April 14th, 2012 at 5:52 pm

Kina Grannis performs at the Kessler Theater Sunday, April 15, Doors at 7, Show at 8pm. The below interview was conducted in October 2010, when Grannis appeared in the Cambridge Room at House of Blues.

Kina Grannis is freezing. The green room at the House of Blues, which is adorned with funky wallpaper instead of living up to its namesake, is entirely too cold for the month of October in Texas, and Grannis’s thin black sweater isn’t helping very much.

It’s the Fall of 2010 and Kina is getting ready for her performance in the Cambridge Room, a cozy environment perfect for her fans that take her lyrics to heart. The audience will be able to get close enough to the stage to shout out their requests and see her fingers fly across the frets.

We begin the interview, and within moments, she and I are talking like old friends. Put two California girls in a room in Texas and they’re bound to bond over the lack of palm trees in the Lone Star state. After a stint in Austin, Kina can relate.

Photographer Emili Carmichael is taking pictures of Grannis during our conversation. “I feel like that light is probably doing scary things to my face!” she laughs as Carmichael’s flash emits a blinding light and the camera shutter clicks open and closed. It is pretty much impossible to make this girl look anything but gorgeous.

The first time I heard Grannis’s voice, I was casually listening to The Sixty One, browsing for new artists to add to my self-professed awesome collection of underground singers when I stumbled across her cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence“. My ears have forever submitted to her sweet voice and talent powerhouse. Her music is a comforting blend of honesty and hope. Grannis, the eternal optimist, has a way of writing the most dismal affairs into positive, uplifting melodies. (more…)

Concert Review: Ximena Sariñana at House of Blues Dallas

Posted by    |    November 22nd, 2011 at 5:25 pm

People love things that are cute. That’s an obvious statement; yes, which is why YouTube is filled with enough home videos of puppies and kittens to keep the masses entertained for years, or at least until a different ‘cute fad’ takes its place.

Ximena Sariñana  (pronounced: hi-MEN-a sari-nyanah), one of Mexico’s most talented exports, is freakin’ adorable. Like, surprised kitty status adorable. This weekend, in the House of Blues Cambridge Room, Sariñana took the stage to massive applause, consulted her black Macbook, and opened her set with “The Bid,” off her latest album.

A crossover artist, Sariñana has a massive following in her home country. Her 2008 album, Mediocre, was praised by Rolling Stone as “one of the strongest debuts from a female singer-songwriter since Norah Jones’ Come Away With Me.”

Presently, Sariñana is taking on a new challenge for herself: bringing her music to the States with her first (90%) English self-titled album, released this July on Warner Bros Records.

Relentlessly watchable, Sariñana brings the colloquialism “smiling with her eyes” to life. During the song “Shine Down,” co-written by TV On the Radio’s David Sitek, she energetically bounced up and down between verses, politely gleaming at her band.

“Hola, como estan?” Sariñana asked coyly, smiling to the audience, her long, curly brown hair pulled into a side ponytail resting on her shoulder.

“I just released my second record, which is my first record all in English,” Sariñana began, introducing her latest single, “Different,” a cheery, piano-driven alt-pop song with a sunny whistling melody that appears in all the right places. “Gracias por entender,” she said, later thanking the audience in two languages, leading into the notion that the night’s set would be akin to a Spanish (or English) lesson. (more…)

Incubus with Young the Giant at Gexa Energy Pavilion

Posted by    |    September 30th, 2011 at 4:26 pm

The West Coast invaded Gexa Energy Pavilion last night as Newport Beach band Young the Giant and Calabasas band Incubus took the stage – the latter arriving much later than anticipated.

The weather made for a perfect California vibe along with the outdoor setting. Indie rockers Young the Giant must be getting used to the heat by now from spending so much time in Texas as of late.

They kicked off the evening with stand-out songs “I Got” and “Guns Out.” The way lead singer Sameer Gahdia sings “yeah” in the twelve tracks that make up their self-titled album, I’d say about anything to make him agree with me.

“This is called ‘St. Walker,’” Gahdia said, sounding more tired than the band’s explosive ACL performance, cutting long notes with ravaged screams.

During the slower-paced version of “Islands” (if you can make “Islands” any slower) Gahdia’s voice smoldered along with drummer Francois Comtois’s harmony.

“Come on, it’s a[n] [expletive] rock concert, you paid money for it!” Was Gahdia’s encouragement, asking the audience to stand up for their closing song, “My Body,” or that song that you know even if you think you don’t know who Young the Giant is. (more…)

Album Review: Burning Hotels

Posted by    |    August 30th, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Remember how excited we were after the Burning Hotels CD release party at Dada? We essentially had one of the greatest nights of our lives, made even better when Chance Morgan handed us a copy of his band’s latest self-titled album, released today on iTunes. We spent the weekend with it on repeat, and you’re about to do the same.

The eight track album is a rush of 80’s new wave, featuring cool, happy tracks like “Beard” bearing dance-infused choruses making it impossible to not shake your shoulders. Their sound is a consistent follow-up to 2010 album Novels with chill, catchy hum-along songs you’ll sing without really knowing what you’re saying.

“Shattered visions of what we had/Those days are gone” sing Morgan and Mooty on “Days Are Gone,” a lament on an invulnerable youth run dry. Track “Allison” could be the opener of a John Hughes film, Molly Ringwald dancing in her room as she gets ready for prom, dressed in a John Galliano poofy enough to mask the flask fastened to her thigh. (more…)

Gilt City Dallas Presents Foster The People at House of Blues

Posted by    |    August 4th, 2011 at 8:20 pm

Leave it to Mark Foster to make preppy trendsters latch on to indie-pushing mainstream music like a tennis ball to Velcro. Los Angeles-based band Foster The People has infiltrated pop and rock radio stations like an infectious plague, seeping into the bloodstreams of hi-top clad teens and twenty-somethings following the release of their debut album. And it seems as though Dallas can’t get enough.

Strange city, Dallas is. And by strange, I mean interesting rather than weird. Perhaps puzzling rather than interesting. The city has somehow managed to fuse what are usually opposite genres of style, creating some new breed of indie/hipster and preppy/posh. This new breed was recently dusted around House of Blues like pollen after a storm. (more…)

Owl City with Mat Kearney at Verizon Theatre TONIGHT 7.26.11

Posted by    |    July 26th, 2011 at 11:53 am

Photo courtesy of

Following the success of his album Ocean Eyes, multi-instrumentalist Adam Young, otherwise known under the moniker Owl City, returns with his June release of All Things Bright and Beautiful.

Young mastered his electronica and synthpop sound in his parents’ basement, which sounds kind of miserable, but he’s gone platinum since that time; clearly the days of telling his high school buddies he still lived at home and heeded curfew paid off.

As Ocean Eyes is an album born from the water, All Things takes a deep look at life on land, and the endless adventures that pull him toward the bright and beautiful with a magnetic force. “The stars always seem so pretty,” he sings on “Dreams Don’t Turn To Dust,” a funky imagination stir; something Gene Wilder may have dreamed up. (more…)

Christina Perri to Perform at House Of Blues Dallas 7.21.11

Posted by    |    July 20th, 2011 at 10:41 pm








Photo courtesy of

Christina Perri is the sort of ravaged beauty that is left after wars rage. The little flower that somehow fights its way through bloodstained soil and peaks at daylight, delicately surviving; simultaneously mocking your attempts at striking her down.

If you’re a dancer or dreamer, you’ve probably heard of Perri. Her debut album Lovestrong. released this past May on Atlantic Records after selling over one hundred thousand copies of song “Jar of Hearts,” which exploded to Prom Queen-popularity status on Fox’s hit show So You Think You Can Dance.

“And who do you think you are/ Running ‘round leaving scars? Collecting your jar of hearts/ And tearing love apart?” Perri sings on the dizzying, pained tune. (more…)

Taking Back Sunday at House of Blues

Posted by    |    July 13th, 2011 at 11:59 pm

If years were auditory, my 2004 would sound like Taking Back Sunday’s second studio album Where You Want to Be. I guess my ‘listening genre’ could pretty much be classified as ‘singer-songwriter’ heavy, but I have to throw a little rebellious hell in there every once in a while to keep it interesting. This is one of those fires.

Last week, the Long Island-based band, together on and off since 1999, performed at House of Blues Dallas following the release of their self-titled fifth studio album.

“Taking Back Sunday?” a coworker asked me before I embarked on my interview with the alternative band. “That’s a little intense for you, isn’t it?”

Negatory. If anything, they’re a volume-cranker.

“What are you thinking?” drummer Mark O’Connell asks guitarist John Nolan, who remarks on the heavy question. O’Connell notes the filthiness of his shoes, how he should probably purchase a pair of non-stage sneakers and whether or not they are machine-washable.

The two members of Taking Back Sunday are sitting on a couch in the Foundation Room, cracking jokes and relaxing post-sound check. “Yeah, we’re really cool,” O’Connell laughs. You know that whole never-meet-your-heroes adage? Doesn’t apply to them. I tell Nolan that “Existentialism on Prom Night” (product of side-project Straylight Run) is one of my favorite songs of all time. Ever. He humbly nods his head and says a genuine “Thank you.” (more…)

YouPlusDallas Photo Gallery: Taking Back Sunday

Posted by    |    July 8th, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Taking Back Sunday at House of Blues 7.5.11


Kicking off the SXSW Music Festival with Nelo

Posted by    |    March 15th, 2011 at 5:32 pm

If the lottery were issued in apartments instead of money, Matt Ragland’s neighbors would have hit the jackpot. I imagine whomever these lucky people are have ditched their radio for the perpetual Nelo concert that has turned the wall harbored between their dwellings into one large surround sound speaker. The SXSW Music Festival kicks off this coming Wednesday, March 16, and YouPlusDallas filmed an acoustic set with Austin (slash) Dallas band, Nelo. Not that they need the practice. We just like hearing them play.

Even though my personal clock ticks about five minutes behind the pace of on-time individuals, I dislike being late for things, especially interviews. But I can’t help it when Austin traffic moves at the pace of a snail swimming in honey, and Ragland’s apartment building is marked in the most unobvious manner. (more…)