Ume (pronounced ooo-may) is an Austin trio who has built a reputation as one of indie rock’s heaviest live bands. On their new EP, the power of Ume’s live show has been captured and surpassed. With this sophomore release, Lauren Larson’s ferocious guitar riffs and fiery vocals have combined with a melodic beauty that completely transcends their previous efforts. With a rock-solid rhythmic foundation provided by Eric Larson on bass and Jeff Barrera on drums, Ume has delivered a unique combination of catchy pop sweetness, delay-drenched noise, and jaw-dropping intensity.
Behind Ume’s explosive music is an unassuming and quite shy trio. Guitarist/vocalist Lauren says (in her southern drawl) that show after show she meets people who don’t think she could possibly have played in punk rock bands for over a decade. She has even had audience members ask if the guitar parts were pre-recorded, because “nobody could play guitar like that, wail, and flail around so much on stage.” Sorry folks, this pint-sized shredder is the real deal.
One of her first fans was bassist Eric Larson, who asked the then 15 year-old guitarist to go out after seeing her grind-core band perform on a skatepark vert ramp. While attending Houston-area DIY punk shows, the high-school couple met drummer Jeff Barrera. They ran into him a few years later at an Unwound concert and formed Ume in 2002. Shortly thereafter, Lauren moved with Eric to Pennsylvania to pursue a graduate degree in philosophy. Though only able to practice a few times a year, the band stayed together across 1,600 miles.
After seeing Ume live in Brooklyn, NYC label Pretty Activity released their debut Urgent Sea in 2005. The album was called “about as good as it gets” by the Philadelphia Weekly.
The band rejoined in Austin in 2007 and recorded their latest Sunshower EP with Frenchie Smith (… Trail of Dead, Dandy Warhols) at The Bubble in 2008. As evidenced on “The Conductor” and “Pendulum,” this EP combines moments of melodic tenderness with epic hooks and some of the heaviest riffs you’ll hear. The intensity takes an entirely different shape on the elegant piano-tinged “Sunshower,” as the song’s lush vocals and hypnotic rhythms highlight Ume’s dynamic progression.
Building on the momentum of their busy 2007/08 schedule, which saw stops at both CMJ, SXSW and Fun Fun Fun Fest, along with a leak of Sunshower landing on Gang of Four bassist Dave Allen’s top ten list for 2008, and tracks from the EP getting spins on Seattle’s KEXP, Portland’s KNRK and Austin’s 101X, Ume is set to be one of the breakout acts of 2009.
Karate Body and SonaBLAST! bring you a special edition of the Sunshower EP on gold wax, limited to 500 copies, no download.
Order the vinyl at CTD Ltd/Saki.