“As long as you come out to hear us, we’ll keep coming back,” promised guitarist Andrew Trube of Austin-based band Greyhounds. “There are more people than last time we were here.” The crowd numbered optimistically at 30 — a small group inside The Grey Eagle. But Greyhounds, a class act, performed as if it was a sold-out show. Visuals, a lava-lamp backdrop, multiple smoke machines and a dancing spaceman added atmosphere (as did the musicians’ sharp-cut suits following a change from coveralls). But, as much fun as all if that is, Greyhounds provides plenty of ambiance even without props.
Trube’s bandmate is keyboardist Anthony Farrell. Together, their sound is a bluesy, groove-heavy take on blue-eyed soul. But each musician, a songwriter in his own right, lends a slightly different flavor to that theme. Trube’s songs — from the tartly funky “Amazing” with its creeping background vocals and clunky beat, to the sharp-edged “St. Louis” with its biting guitar parts — are tightly wrought, driving and command feet to tap if not dance outright. Meanwhile, Farrell’s offerings — from the smoothly emotive “You’re Gone” with its vintage organ tone and percussive shimmer, to the spooky, pervasively moody “Lone Rider,” which spans the velvet-to-fiery range of Farrell’s vocal — are laid back and effortlessly cool.
The video for “Lone Rider,” launched in June does a tidy job of contextualizing the song within the band’s dusky, retro-tinged aesthetic, without diminishing any of the considerable mystique. “What’s on Your Mind,” a sweaty, pulse-thick and falsetto-sliced slow-dance, was also set to video earlier this year. “We know a dude who has a video camera,” Trube said from the stage. “He likes to make weird shit, so we’re like, ‘let’s do this.'”
Hopefully the videos get Greyhounds’ tracks to more ears. The band — together since the end of the ’90s — has already attracted plenty of musician fans. Trube and Farrell’s songs have been covered by the likes of Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks; Ruthie Foster sang Greyhounds’ song “Cuz I’m Here” on her album, The Phenomenal Ruthie Foster. The band performed that song at The Grey Eagle, the line “There are times when I can’t stand the thought of talking,” stretched out to give Farrell’s vocal space to unfold. The song pushes the far perimeter of the lanky, loose, emotionally wrung-out soul that Farrell taps into.
It also served as a perfect foil for the band’s material at the other end of the psychic spectrum: The Trube-led, harmonica-driven “Hot Sauce,” for example, or “Soul Navigator,” which could be Greyhounds’ authentic response to “Soul Man.”That song’s got it all — the swagger, the social awareness, the positive outlook and the stomping beat (played by touring member Anthony Cole, a formidable drummer with jazz panache and impeccable taste). Onstage, the spaceman presented Trube with a melodica to play the melody. At the end of the song, Farrell produced his own melodica, ending the song with a harmonized duet set to a bare-bones drumbeat. “We’re thinking of adding a third one for the drummer,” Trube announced. “A melodica three-way.”