Hold the French

Budian might be too clever for their own good. Or at least too clever for entertainment journalists. Case in point: Their MySpace page features a quote from now-defunct 210SA that reads, “BUDIAN French pop! It’s all you need to know.” Now, if you’re a good-looking writer for a sexy alternative weekly, you might be inclined to jump on that story springboard. You might research the genre’s history, noting the differences between the Anglophone and Francophone listening demographics. You might even envision the headline “¡Pinche sacrebleu! SA town produces own Stereolab!” But one question to Budian tosses that croissant to the pigeons.

“It isn’t French Pop,” says bassist Scott Andreu. “When we first made the MySpace band page, we didn’t know what category to put the music in. French Pop was a choice, so on a whim I picked it because one of `singer-guitarist` Janiene’s songs has a bit of a French-noir feel.”

Which explains why none of Budian’s music sounds like Karl Zero covering “Poinciana.” And why all the songs are sung in English.

“It’s funny how `that label` stuck with us,” adds Budian’s songwriter Janiene Bishop, whose husband Joshua plays the drums for the group. “Although now I must say I am intrigued to learn more about the Anglophone market!” 

Equally clever is the origin of the band’s name, which came out of a discussion over where band members should live. For years, one member of Budian resided in Austin while the rest lived in San Antonio. Due to the long commutes for practice, the Bishops considered moving to Buda, which resulted in a rigorous debate over what to label a Buda citizen: Budanian? Budan? Budanite? Budian? They joke that they named their debut album The Beast so it would help with the band name’s pronunciation. (Say it with me: “Budian & The Beast.”)

This silliness occasionally infiltrates Budian’s subdued, dreamy pop. Bishop primarily writes about modern longing and the quest for identity. Her “Loving Ordinary” is a conflicted ode to normalcy, in which an unremarkable woman uses the interesting people she meets to reminisce about former close acquaintances. The song argues for individual power over individual happiness in a way that would make Søren Kierkegaard misty-eyed. Meanwhile, Bishop’s bandmates, including new guitarist Alex Zuniga, wrap her musings in swaying, melancholic sound.

On the band’s MySpace, Andreu wrote, “Unorthodox timing and ethereal vocals is how we do it!” Budian’s solemn subject matter and cheeky humor evokes, of all bands, prog-metalheads Tool — they make serious music without taking themselves too seriously. Just listen to how Bishop illustrates the creative contributions of the band.

“If we were a body, I’d be the brains, Scott would be the heart, Josh would be the legs, and Alex would be the sweet hairdo,” she said. All told, Budian make atmospheric music fit for sipping chamomile and blogging through another sleepless night — on disc at least. Paradoxically (and perhaps appropriately), Budian knock out vibrant, quirky live shows, more Deerhoof than downer. On a recent KSYM performance, the band delivered a rocking rendition of the unreleased “Goblin King” from their forthcoming record. Whether the performance hinted at a change in sound for the band, Bishop did not say. We were too busy discussing the Golden Girl homages in their self-produced video blogs.

“`They’re` just downright cheesy,” she said, “and, well, I’m kind of into cheesy things.” •

10pm Sat, Aug 28
2718 N. St. Mary’s

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