Smalltown Sensation to Global Phenom: (409) Conglomerates Purple’s Constant Growth

Words by Nate Abernethy

Photos by Josh Kamnetz

Purple 409

It’s no secret Purple likes to party. Maybe you’ve bumped into them at local shows and not even known it, they’re often at the front of the crowd having the time of their lives. They’re hot, young and seem to have struck a chord amongst concertgoers globally that causes beers to fly and feet to dance. They’ve been the hometown heroes to small town Beaumont, a local favorite to Austinites I otherwise wouldn’t catch dead actually paying a cover for a show and an out of nowhere charming sensation across the pond; such a sensation in fact that there’s been a definitive shift in Purple’s sound. Originally channeling a refreshing rebel rock streak mashed up with an early Yeah Yeah Yeahs grungy garage rock mentality, I’m an unabashed fan and when “Target” originally premiered I was first in line to catch an earful. Woooaaaahhh there! A track that immediately kicks off with lead vocalist and drummer Hanna Brewer shouting in your face and a guitar blare that kicks hard as it finds its groove. It’s not exactly outside the versatile trio’s wheelhouse but seemed to show an embracement of the harder leaning reception and a commitment to continued growth outside the comfort zone. Somewhere along the line Purple went full punk and the people love it. So how does the new album (409) fare as a whole? After all I still have a soft spot for the older tracks and there’s an impossibly endearing quality to the southern charm and softer-spoken moments. With (409) Purple has proven not only their versatility but also their restlessness, as Brewer puts it, “We get bored real easy”.


Brewer, in non-bored mode

(409) begins with “Wallflower” that lures you in immediately with a taunting and tantalizing waver and a nice clipped effect before the drums fully make their presence known. Its jam packed with Brewer’s handiwork with cymbals dancing around you like a tornado hit a percussion-obsessed orchestra. Drawn out guitar licks and subtle bass rumbles shove Brewer’s initial talk-singing forward, before the song’s deception is revealed. Suddenly her coos turn to roars without warning, “You’re the boy you’re supposed to be chasing me!” she complains while confronting a shy cutie as a positively sick guitar riff and groovy bassline escalate. Brewer is the chick all the boys were (and maybe still are) equally enchanted and terrified by growing up. It’s the perfect intro track: fun, unafraid but holds back, only giving you small tastes of what Purple has hidden up their sleeve. While Brewer is definitely the ringleader, managing to drum like a maniac while also shrieking or purring without hesitation; its the balance between Brewer and guitarist Taylor Busby has always been what has set Purple apart for me. Busby is a through and through raucous rocker that could easily front any band of his choosing. “Double Nickels” serves as smooth segue as the big picture is slowly revealed with some gut crunching guitar zips and throat stutters. Through nonsensical and equally entertaining numbers like “Leche Loco” he screeches and strangulates his strings with the attitude of a guy who has stirred up his fair share of trouble and had the time of his life doing it. Meanwhile Brewer lures you in like a siren with backing vocals that all to quickly dominate and accelerate as glorious fuzz courtesy of Busby’s neon guitars and custom pedals gives way to some truly proper percussion.


Just as you think you’ve got Purple figured out, in the middle of the album there’s an intruder. A properly catchy and purposefully lackadaisical surf rock tune “Beach Buddy” starts off with a gloriously thumping bass front and center. They winded down their last Austin show at the Do512 Lounge with this number and made it quickly apparent how the group has grown from a handful of rock n rollas to a unified wave of sound without a single chink in the armor. Bassist Joe “Prankser” Cannariato was still a relative newcomer to the band not too long ago, but watch him rip it up onstage now he’s completely at ease and you can feel the jovial rapport between the band members. The album’s energy picks right back up into super-drive with the rapid-fire and all too brief “Thirteen” followed by punk flag planting number “Target”. On the surface both seem to simply be solid high energy in your face numbers, but they reflect the same intimacy that first won my heart with the deeply personal and still fucking fantastic track “Big Light”. With screeching declarations “Give me the love! But not the disease!” “Thirteen” explores Brewer’s longing for a faith without the bullshit and a mischievous hypothetical on “Target”, “Would it be so wrong?” she poses as she wants to party and indulge but avoid the fate of a meandering existence. It’s a nice bonus too that both tracks just flat out rock.


The album starts building to a climatic finish by the time “Head on The Floor” starts up. A sharply shifting swap off between Busby and Brewer you can practically anticipate Brewer’s wails as a fabulously creepy guitar soars. It captures an old timey righteously indulgent bluesy flair with fingers prancing up and down guitar necks. Followed up by “Liquor” which feels like the only weak point on the album. Even with a great intro its just such a raucous party song that anything less than an in person live performance feels like cheating. Thankfully the mild disappointment is short lived as we’re introduced to “Newborn”, a soulful serenade that showcases how ludicrous the scope of Purple’s talent extends. I hope Purple keeps getting “bored real easy” if it results in such an unbelievable range of sound. It all concludes with what might as well be Purple’s anthem as an unseen narrator declares, “I like to party and wear bikinis” and cues a trouble-making giggle with “DMT”. It’s a polished and perfectly balanced concentration of Purple’s growth with red-blooded screams, suck you in psychedelic warps and a nonstop pace that explodes into nonsense and noise.

(409) is an interesting conundrum in that normally I’ll spends months listening to an album like this over and over, but I suppose I’m getting greedy because I’m left simply craving more and more of what Purple will cook up next. If you want to be greeted with Brewer’s distinct southern “Well hey y’all!” with a voice that makes admirers melt and a mischievous grin that reveals she knows it Purple will continue to represent and knock them dead as they tour Europe and the UK with Twenty One Pilots and Broncho. If you’re stuck in Austin eagerly awaiting their return, never fear! You can cop 409 their album out on November 10 and can currently stream the full thing over at Punktastic.

Nate Abernethy is a magical sprite we captured and forced to write for us. He somehow also wound up with a twitter account @NateAbernethy