The Bright Light Social Hour
Origin: Austin, Texas
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The Bright Light Social Hour is an American psychedelic rock band from Austin, Texas. The band is composed of Jack O’Brien on bass guitar and vocals, Curtis Roush on guitar and vocals, Edward Braillif on synthesizers and guitar, and Joseph Mirasole on drums.
Conjuring a bold new version of psychedelia informed by hard rock, R&B, electronica, and pop, the BLSH is a band taking the rich tradition of Lone Star trippiness and both preserving it and updating it for a new time and place.
The founders of the band met as students at in 2004 at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, less than an hour’s drive from Austin, the state’s busiest city for music. They combined their education and musicianship for the next few years. By 2007 they had cut their first EP, “Touches” and the next year dropped their second EP, “Love Like Montopolis” as the band’s line up continued to evolve.
It was time for an album and the self-titled full-length debut, issued by Maple Music Recordings in 2010, became a sensation in their new hometown of Austin, where it earned them six trophies at the 2011 SXSW Austin Music Awards, including Album of the Year, Song of the Year (for “Detroit”) and Band of the Year.
The band continued to grow their reputation with consistent high energy shows in southern states, evolving their sound to include elements of soul, southern rock and psychedelia.
Real life inserts itself when no one is expecting it to. In 2013, the group dropped a single, “Wendy Davis,” to honor the Texas senator whose pro-choice filibuster in the state capitol became national news in June; Mirasole, O’Brien, and Roush were in attendance for Davis’ protest and used footage they’d shot on their smart phones to create an accompanying video for the tune. “Wendy Davis” was also the recording debut for new keyboard man Edward Braillif.
After a severe and protracted battle with bipolar I disorder in January 2015, Alex O’Brien, the band’s long-time manager and Jack’s brother, committed suicide. Alex had been living at the band’s home studio. Jack discovered him suffering a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Alex had resigned his position as manager months earlier, but continued to advise the band until his death.
The band continued making plans to tour and promote the album and, in all likelihood, Alex’s memory helped propel the band forward.
Their second album, Space Is Still the Place, was released in 2015 to positive reviews, described by AllMusic’s Mark Deming as “an ambitious and wildly entertaining journey into the minds of the men who created it.” The band celebrated the release with a performance at Stubb’s Austin, joined onstage by outlaw country singer Ray Wylie Hubbard and ending with a tribute to Alex in the form of Curtis Mayfield’s “Move On Up,” accompanied by prominent Austin musicians including Walker Lukens, Migrant Kids, and members of Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears.
The Bright Light Social Hour (2010)
Space Is Still the Space Is Still the Place (2015)
Live at Lincoln Hall, Chicago (2015)
Love Like Montopolis (2008)
Neightbors (2016) with Israel Nash