One thing that distinguishes The Breakfast Machine from other local pop-rockers is the voice of lead singer Meghann Moore. While many young vocalists bend, slur, and generally improvise their notes and phrasings, the 20-year-old Moore’s singing is clear, precise, and authoritative, as if she was influenced as much by classical and Broadway belters as by any oft-mimicked pop star. As a matter of fact, classical music was her earliest exposure as a performer.
“I come from a choral background,” said Moore, who, like the other members of The Breakfast Machine, is an Arlington native. “I started classical voice training back in sixth grade. But I was never very successful in choir, because the teachers said my voice sounded too contemporary. Now people are hearing the classical roots in my voice. That’s funny to me.”
Moore and the other band members –– keyboardist/guitarist Chris Mansfield, guitarist Ryan Subczak, bassist Brandon Reynolds, and drummer Zack Mayo –– all attended James Martin High School in Arlington, though at different times. The Breakfast Machine has been around with various lineups since 2007. They began as a fairly traditional guitar-driven alternative act, but it’s been only in the last year or so that the players began to feel as if they’d hit their creative stride. This week they’ll release their sophomore album, Electric 2033, a smart, tight, infectiously melodic concept album that relies heavily on producer Mansfield’s atmospheric, Eno-esque synthesizer noodlings. Stick-in-your-head tunes like “Si, Explosions” and “Getz” are part of the album’s narrative, which explores a world 20 years in the future where digital technology dominates human communication even more than now but still hasn’t solved pesky problems like loneliness, self-doubt, and addiction. The album’s sonic palette is impressive, making use of everything from sitars to electric piano to rap vocals –– that last, courtesy of a friend, Colorado-based hip-hop artist Myke Charles.
“I’m a big fan of ’70s krautrock bands like Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk,” said Mansfield, 29, who recorded most of the LP at his house with music studio software on his personal computer. “We used keyboards more for effect than anything else. When a lot of bands record their music [in the studio], they want the songs to be a straightforward version of what they sound like onstage. But we didn’t want to bore our friends, so we tried to come up something a little different.”
Electric 2033 is being released on Euphio Records, a label operated by Moore, Mansfield, and a few like-minded friends. Mansfield said that Euphio is more of a collective at this point than a traditional label, with roster artists like Animal Spirit, The Frisky Disco, and The Hendersons pooling their studio resources to record albums and EPs while handling the distribution and promotion of those recordings individually. So far The Breakfast Machine hasn’t had to worry much about promotion –– the North Texas music press has given the group quite a bit of attention. Moore thinks part of the recent acclaim has come from a conscious decision by band members to loosen up and interact with one another and audiences during live shows.
“I used to get reviews that said, ‘She’s got a good voice, but she’s boring onstage,’ ” Moore said with a laugh. “Then we figured out that if it looked like we were having fun up there, the audience was more likely to have fun, too. So we broke out of our shells and tried to make the shows more of a party for everyone.”
In addition to their big show at Sundown this Saturday, the B-Machiners plan to tour around the state and in other parts of the country, with club gigs tentatively planned in Oklahoma and New York City. Moore and Mansfield said that while they don’t have a formal business plan to become multimillionaire rock stars before the age of 30, they’re serious about taking the music as far as it will go.
“We plan to continue working our asses off to stay relevant and expand our audience nationally,” Mansfield said. “That means recording more music, making music videos, and playing more [out-of-town] shows. No matter what you’re doing, I think you should always be reaching for the next higher goal.”
The Breakfast Machine
11pm Sat at Sundown at Granada Theater, 3520 Greenville Av, Dallas. Free. 817-823-8305.