Coming to a music hall, church auditorium, Starbucks, or living room near you, Seryn (Denton, TX) packs a massive sound and stage presence for a folk group. I say “folk” only to set the broadest parameters, for here’s another Texas band whose sweeping sound defies taxonomy. They do it with the simplest tools in reach — ukulele, pump organ, accordion, violin, guitar, bass, trumpet, vibraphone, lots of drums (everyone in this band seems to have one), a $200 Goodtime resonator banjo and, above all, effectual vocal harmonies — rendering a gratifying achievement. Let them dispel any skepticism with their summer 2011 Daytrotter session. “River Song” and “Beach Song” seem better suited to the large concert hall than coffee house. This music emanates from the same big space that yields Explosions in the Sky and This Will Destroy You. Moving through fragile passages and tempo changes to big finales, Nathan Allen’s guitar can be as capacious as his massive red beard. Paste was impressed enough to name Seryn the best act at the 2011 SXSW festival.
The band derives its name from serendipity — a series of uncanny accidents drew the core members together in 2009, e.g. multi-instrumentalist/lead vocalist Trenton Wheeler and dreadlocked violinist Chelsea Borher bumped into one another at an Explosions in the Sky concert and exchanged musical ideas, unaware that Allen wanted them both in his band. Since then they have released one full length album, This Is Where We Are (2011), as well as a Christmas collection last year.
Seryn’s fluid line-up expands and contracts to accommodate additional strings and percussion as space allows. YouTube is flush with videos of the band’s iterations, but the most compelling of them feature the original quintet in cramped quarters with rapt listeners seated cross legged at their feet. Seryn have made two passes by my neck of the woods but conflicts have not permitted me to see them in person. But the opportunity would be well worth the time, as this band is too much their own muse for comparisons to be drawn.