Showing posts with label music. Show all posts
Showing posts with label music. Show all posts

Monday, December 31, 2012

Top 5 Albums of 2012

Mainstream, indie, and even the indie-mainstream have been bereft of good, major releases this year. When the best that outlets like Paste and Pitchfork can muster are albums by Best Coast, Beach House, Tame Impala, Alt-J, and the Lumineers, it’s obvious that we’ve been dealt a poor hand in terms of new music on the national level.

Overall it feels like the indie-mainstream in particular is waiting for a new movement. The Arcade Fire sound-alikes (which used to be Modest Mouse sound-alikes) have finally worn out their welcome. New Grass (or Banjo-core as I prefer to call it) never had the ability to sustain more than a few bands at a time and with Avett Brothers, Mumford and Sons, and the Lumineers on the scene, that quota has been filled. Like the generic “techno” outbreak in the mid-late 90’s, dubstep isn’t ever going to catch fire in a big enough way nationally and anyway, most of what people are calling dubstep isn’t really dubstep to begin with. And finally, the wispy synth-ish indie-pop movement (see: Alt-J, Tame Impala, and especially M83) isn’t worth taking a second look at and won’t last very long unless something changes.

The airwaves are bored and I couldn’t have picked a better year to dive head first into the Austin local music scene. In 2012 four out of five of my top picks come from artists local to the Austin, TX area. For several of these groups this will be the 3rd or 4th time I’m writing critically about their albums, having covered them for OVRLD earlier in the year. Given that fact, I ask you to forgive me if my blurbs about those albums seems lifted from my previous articles.

1. Balcones by Zlam Dunk
While never intended to be the band’s swan song, “Balcones” nonetheless performs admirably in this regard. Having recently called it quits, Zlam Dunk’s 2012 EP saw the group maturing, both instrumentally and lyrically. While still offering a unique blend of technique and danceable punk grooves, the absence of their debut’s synths along with the return of Charlie Day’s impassioned, raspy vocals create a more personal, introspective space on Balcones. There is a definite theme of coming into adulthood and striking out on one’s own here and while it leaves the EP feeling darker than Zlam Dunk’s previous work, it’s all the more powerful for it.

For fans of: At the Drive-In, Q and Not U, Cinemechanica

2. Lessons on Love, Sharing, and Hygiene by The Capitalist Kids
Austin’s prolific political punks came back this year with their 3rd full length and it may just be their best yet. Here’s the kicker though: it’s full of love songs! “Lessons on Love…” skates gracefully between political snark, finger-pointing anthems, and blisteringly fast ballads in a way that few bands could accomplish. The Capitalist Kids manage to find the goldilocks zone with every song in providing politics without being preachy and love songs without the sap. If you can’t get your toes tapping to this album then you may be a robot or possibly a Republican.

For fans of: Bad Religion, Screeching Weasel, Green Day

3. Arab Spring by Literature
I think it’s safe to call this album Austin’s sleeper hit of 2012. “Arab Spring came out of nowhere early in the year and this first full-length LP by Austin’s Literature has subsequently ended up on the “best of” lists of many major local outlets. Literature play a lo-fi, punkish brand of jangle-pop that’s both catchy and playful. Never overproduced, but laden with poppy hooks, Arab Spring skirts the line between old-school punk and pop like a tightrope walker. The end result is an incredibly catchy collection of songs with a very genuine, DIY feel.

For fans of: Polaris (the band that did the songs for Pete and Pete), Vampire Weekend, Talking Heads

4. All Our False Starts by Pswingset
For me to compare an album to the mid-Atlantic post-punk music scenes of the late 90’s/early 00’s is high praise indeed and in my mind Pswingset’s debut LP “All Our False Starts” is worthy of no less. This album is full of the kind of jangly, technical, minor-key, post-punk music that scored much of my 20’s and continues to be a favorite. There’s a moodiness to All Our False Starts that while subtly reminiscent of mid-late 90’s emo, is at once more mature and less affected. The end result as presented on this LP is both gripping and chill.

For fans of: Shudder to Think, Bats and Mice, Sunny Day Real Estate

5. Fang Island by Fang Island
Despite being my #2 most listened to album of 2012, Fang Island’s self-titled sophomore release has to come in at #5 on this list simply for the fact that it’s actually a 2010 release. Fang Island is not your typical instrumental rock band. For one thing, they often have lyrics (though if their 2012 release “Major proves anything it’s that they’re more interesting without them.) For another thing, this is the most positive, feel-good instrumental music you’ll ever hear. Where most instrumental bands tend to lean towards meandering, building epics, Fang Island aim to play fast, loud, and fun. This self-titled album is the perfect demonstration of what these guys do best and though it’s a quick listen that just means there’s plenty of time to hit “repeat”.

For Fans of: People who fall within the middle of a venn diagram of pop punk and post rock

Saturday, December 29, 2012

My 2012 Music Stats

When I tell people how much I like music, I don’t think they really get an idea of how much music I actually acquire and consume in a given year. Here’s some stats from this past year on what my music purchases and listening actually encompassed:

1289 new tracks across 154 new albums by 95 artists 47 of whom I had never heard before. And I make it a point to listen to every new album I acquire at least twice.

Not counting untracked sources like and other web-based streams, I listened to almost 4000 unique tracks in 2012. At a median of about 5 times per track that's about 70000 minutes (1167 hours) or nearly 49 straight days of music listening.

According to my Top 10 most listened to artists of 2012 are:

  1. Quiet Company
  2. Fang Island
  3. Zlam Dunk
  4. The Sour Notes
  5. The Capitalist Kids
  6. Coheed & Cambria
  7. Markov
  8. Wilco
  9. Literature
  10. Mother Falcon

My Top 10 most listened to albums of 2012 are:

  1. Quiet Company - We Are All Where We Belong
  2. Fang Island - s/t
  3. Zlam Dunk - Noble Ancestry
  4. Literature - Arab Spring
  5. Zlam Dunk - Balcones
  6. Pswingset - All Our False Starts
  7. Markov - This Quiet
  8. Mother Falcon - Alhambra
  9. Dear Landlord - Dream Homes
  10. The Capitalist Kids - Lessons on Love, Sharing, and Hygiene

And my Top 10 most listened to tracks of 2012 (if I only count the top track for each band) are:

  1. Coheed & Cambria - Domino the Destitute
  2. Quiet Company - Everything Louder Than Everything Else
  3. Fang Island - Sideswiper
  4. Zlam Dunk - Midnight Runners
  5. Literature - Grifted
  6. Pswingset - Husk
  7. The Sour Notes - Hot Pink Flares
  8. The Calm Blue Sea - We Happy Few
  9. Markov - Lucky Me
  10. Marmalakes - White Height

Statistically speaking 2012 has been my biggest year for new music since 2009 when I first started keeping these kinds of stats. With 8 albums already on my 2013 list, I’d say I’m off to a good start for next year as well. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Final Zlam

Bands come and bands go, and it seems that the closer you get to the local level the greater that churn becomes. Making a livable career out of making music is a huge undertaking and one that even for full-time touring bands doesn't pay much. There comes a point in the life of many bands where a decision has to be made as to whether people want to continue putting the effort into making music or pursue other options. While some bands may linger around and play a show from time to time without putting out any new music, others often feel it's better to just call it quits and hang up the guitars. The latter is a decision that Austin's Zlam Dunk has made and they'll be playing their final show along with Equals and The Couch at Red 7 tonight.

If you've read any of my articles here and on OVRLD this year, then you've likely seen me write about Zlam Dunk before. Back sometime in April I realized that after living here for three years I hadn't really been exposed to much local punk music outside the burgeoning garage scene. I took to in order to search for the kind of punk and hardcore I was into and among my first crop of finds was this energetic, danceable, but totally hard group called Zlam Dunk. I immediately took a liking to their 2010 LP "Nobel Ancestry" and as luck would have it, they were going to be playing a show just a couple weeks later at the Beauty Ballroom. Zlam Dunk played last that night on a bill with Searcher, Goldspine, and Boyfrndz and by virtue of the fact that the Beauty Ballroom is not a venue with much walk-in potential and that the show was on a Thursday night, there were maybe 15-20 people tops milling about by the time they played. Despite this fact, the guys played their balls off and I knew then that I would need to catch them again.

Following the early May release of their "Balcones" EP I saw Zlam Dunk several more times over the summer, sometimes playing to small crowds and other times to big. No matter who or what size the audience was, Zlam Dunk always left it all on the stage or in the case of lead singer Charlie Day (especially during the cowbell breakdown in "Ghostwoman") out in the audience as well. During every show I was up front getting my dance on, pointing my fingers, and singing along. Yeah I liked the music, but the energy of the show was what drove me. It's one of the things I love about punk music. When I'm out in a crowd and it's sweaty and loud and there's adrenaline in the air, I feel alive and to have that experience with a local band all summer long was a great time indeed.

Am I sad that Zlam Dunk are calling it quits? Of course I am, but these guys need to follow their dreams and if that means something other than entertaining my 34-year-old punk ass, well then I respect that. At the end of the day I still live in the music capital of the world and while bands may come and go, I've got my pick of the litter. For now I'm going to keep spinning my Zlam Dunk albums and make sure I enjoy the hell out of their final show and remember that sometimes it's better to burn out than to fade away. If you dig danceable punk music or just want to see what these kids are all about, come on down to Red 7 tonight. I’ll be the guy in front, having a great time.

Friday, June 15, 2012

I Heard You Driving In My Car

Earworms, we've all had experience with them at one point or another whether desirable or not. I find that on most days I wake up with one song or another stuck in my head. Instead of loathing the endlessly repeating tunes, I've learned to take this as a suggestion from my brain for what I should listen to on the way to work that day. Granted I realize that not everyone carries their entire music collection around with them like I do (iPod Classic FTW), but I've found that acquiescing to my brain's song selections is a great deal easier than trying to fight it and I often end up listening to something I would have never thought to have played otherwise.

PS. The title of this post comes from the Failure tune "Stuck on You" ... a song about an earworm.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

This One Time at Markov

Continuing our journey through my recent discoveries we have:

This Quiet by Markov
Twitter: @thisismarkov

This was another album that I really dug after finding it on Bandcamp. With tags invoking the likes of Hot Snakes and Refused the bar was set pretty high, but in the end Markov deliver an album worthy of worshiping at the feet of those hardcore gods. To put it plainly, Markov's "This Quiet" is an exercise in the application of raw energy to audio. Clever vocals complement well-crafted songs and tight playing as Markov explore a variable sonic landscape, clearly not satisfied with belaboring the same riffs and rhythms over and over. Songs like "Lucky Me" accentuate the loud-quiet fury of influences like the aforementioned Refused while "Jaws of Life" and "Debaters" recall the undulating rhythm of Hot Snakes and Drive Like Jehu. For all the pride and skill with which Markov pay tribute to their sonic patrons they do plenty on this album to develop their own sound and it never comes off sounding like mimicry, instead what you get on This Quiet is a whirlwind blend of razor sharp riffs and tight compositions hurtling around like a kid in a circle pit. When all is said and done This Quiet is an energetic, aggressive, and anthemic album with plenty to reward repeated listening. I'll be looking forward to more from Markov if at all possible.

Next: Edge of Collapse by Bad Chapters

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

This One Time At Zlam Dunk

A couple weeks ago I posted about how I had decided to search in order to discover some local Austin punk bands. You see, while I love all kinds of music, if you were to ask me what kind of music is my favorite I would say punk. What does "punk" mean though? To many, that is a loaded question and the answer really varies from person to person. For some "punk" is something that happened in the 70's when bands like The Ramones, The Clash, and The Sex Pistols railed against the excesses of 70's rock, disco, prog, and glam, and produced a stripped down, hard-edged, uncompromising soundtrack for those unsatisfied with the status quo. For others "punk" is something that doesn't even take hold until the 80's with bands like Bad Religion, the Dead Milkmen, and the Descendents coming onto the scene. For others still "punk" refers almost exclusively to hardcore punk, a louder, more aggressive form of music pioneered by the likes of Bad Brains, Black Flag, and Minor Threat. There a people who think garage bands are punk, that Green Day is punk, that emo music is punk, and that the 80's "New Wave" was punk. They're all right. They're all wrong. Fuck it! Who cares?

While it may be impossible to define whether something is punk or not punk, depending on who you talk to, I know what I consider to be punk. My personal preferences lean distinctively towards the hardcore branch of the punk family tree and encompass many of its offshoots. Since moving here and before beginning my search on Bandcamp, a number of Austin and Texas punk bands had been brought to my attention. These bands were actually a major impetus in my search as there seemed to be a common thread running between all of them: a certain garage rock like style and presentation. You can hear it in bands like The Marked Men and Bad Sports, that lo-fi garage-rock/protopunk sound that recalls punk music from the early days of the 70's. While certainly not bad, it wasn't what I was looking for and after hearing so much in that vein, I began to wonder if there was any punk music being produced in Austin that had a bit more of a hardcore bent or at least didn't ascribe to the extreme lo-fi aesthetic that seemed to be so prominent.

It didn't take me long on Bandcamp to find several bands that fit the bill for me in various ways and now, after having spent a couple weeks with these albums I'd like to give you my thoughts:

Noble Ancestry by Zlam Dunk
Twitter: @Zlam_Dunk

Of my recently acquired albums, this is probably my favorite. Noble Ancestry turned out to be exactly the kind of music I love: something different, but still somewhat familiar. Zlam Dunk play a tight, relentless brand of post-hardcore that's as technically impressive as it is danceable. While the album leads off with the anthemic "Vice" the tempo quickly shifts into territory that can only be described as dance music for hardcore kids. With the one-two punch of "Tomorrow in Twenty-Million Years" and "Midnight Runners" - a duo of songs whose driving beats, frenetic picking, and scorching synth practically beg you to move your body - Zlam Dunk recall for me the later works of DC's Q and Not U albeit with a bit more of an edge a la At the Drive-In and Fugazi or even Athens Georgia's Cinemechanica. When all is said and done Noble Ancestry is a well rounded experience with a lot of talent, power, and creativity on display. The band's next release, "Balcones", is due out on May 3rd.

Next: This Quiet by Markov ...

Saturday, April 7, 2012

This Wouldn't Have Happened if I had Google Glasses

Think of one of your all-time favorite bands, the kind of band that helped shape your musical tastes ... the kind of band that helped define a generation within it's genre. Now let's say that this is a band that has been broken up for years and let's say you never got a chance to see them live, because you didn't really start listening to them until right when they were calling it quits. Now imagine that this band recently decided to tour again and you just happen to live in their home state. Imagine that since this announcement they haven't published any home state show dates. Imagine that when they finally do post home state show dates, it's in a city 6 hours away and you missed the window to buy anyway. Imagine that several days later they announce a last minute show in your city at a small venue ... the kind of place they are NOT likely to play ever again. Imagine that had you been monitoring your email or twitter, you would have known about and had a chance to see this show. Imagine that you were doing other things instead.

This is what just happened to me with At The Drive-In. I've spent the last several months complaining that since announcing their reunion tour they haven't planned any TX shows ... their home state. Then earlier this week they announced a show in Marfa, much too far away for me to go see them and I missed the small window of opportunity to get tickets anyway. Now this afternoon at 1:05pm they announce a show for this Monday at Red 7, a small punk venue in Austin and I missed it because I was playing video games.

Now to be fair, chances are that I would have missed it regardless of what I was doing. Unless I'm at work, I'm rarely sitting in front of my computer and constantly hooked into email or Twitter updates. There was still a chance though, that had I not been otherwise occupied, I would have caught this announcement and I would have gotten a ticket to what is likely to be the most intimate show ATDI will do on this tour and that I have access to.

I know I'll get to see them at some point during this tour - if they don't do ACL or FunFunFun Fest then I'd be incredibly surprised - but it would have been amazing to see them at a small show with a bunch of die hard fans like myself. The funny thing about this is that earlier this week there was a lot of sarcasm directed toward the "Google Glasses" video, but honestly ... if I had me some Google Glasses, this would have never happened.

Friday, March 30, 2012

This One Time At

I always have to call bullshit on people who claim that they'd listen to more non-mainstream music if it were more accessible. There's great music everywhere if you just take a few minutes to look for it. For instance: spring is here and as is usually the case I'm in the mood for punk music. I decided that instead of my usual sources, I wanted to see what local punk bands I could find. I enjoy supporting local bands because:
  1. It's just easier to see local bands live more often.
  2. I live in a city with TONS of them, so the variety is fantastic.
  3. Local bands don't really make money off their music, they play because they love it (and maybe they hope to someday make money off it) and to me that reflects in the sound.
  4. Supporting one's own community has always struck me as both decidedly "Punk" and somewhat "Socialist", which are both things I personally identify with.
So to make good on my local punk search all I did was Google the following: "austin punk". That's it! I've already discovered 5 new bands. Now don't get me wrong, there were just as misses as hits in my search, but in those cases I listen to a track or two and then move on. My point is that it's not hard to find new music if a) you know vaguely what to search for and b) you're willing to spend a little time. So get out there and support your local scene ... support all the local scenes and don't just listen to the music that's handed to you, find the music that speaks to you.


Maybe I should post links to the stuff I just discovered ... duh!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Top Albums of 2011 - Honorable Mention

I hate to do this, but I need to retroactively give Quiet Company's "We Are All Where We Belong" an honorable mention for my Top Albums of 2011. I didn't pick this album up until last month, but had I grabbed it when it was released in late 2011, I have no doubt that I would have included it in my Top 5.

We Are All Where We Belong by Quiet Company
Spotify: Quiet Company – We Are All Where We Belong
Twitter: @quietcompanytx
Band Website:

At it's core, We Are All Where We Belong is a concept album about a crisis of faith. It's an album by and about someone for whom religion was once a central tenet and who (upon becoming a father) begins to question those tenets in examining how best to prepare his child for life. Two themes that seem to be at play are first: the questioning of one's faith and the reasoning behind one's devotion to a faith; "devotion" (especially when a person has been indoctrinated from childhood) so often being a result of routine and tradition more so than any personal conclusions a person has come to. The second theme at play is the age old desire of a parent to provide their child a better life than the one they had. In We Are All Where We Belong this manifests in a desire by the author to spare his child from the indoctrination and eventual crisis of faith that the author himself has gone through. With the band's previous albums having been seen by many to be "Christian Rock" to the point of having been released by a label known for publishing Christian music, the ideological shift in We Are All Where We Belong is a bold, but sincere effort that makes an indelible mark on the music itself.

I've said before that sincerity in art is one of the things I think separates "mainstream" music from everything else. When one makes art due to the unquenchable need to create versus the desire to simply produce another consumer product, the results often reflect that. We Are All Where We Belong is easily one of the most sincere albums of 2011. It's difficult not to feel for Taylor Muse as the album maps out an emotional journey complete with peaks and valleys, hopes and fears, certainty and doubt. As one might assume, musings on the afterlife (or lack thereof) play a prominent role in several songs, but none so prominently as "Everything Louder Than Everything Else". In what I perceive to be the climax of this album (and easily my favorite track at the moment) Taylor Muse begs "Don't lay me down / I don't ever want to die / I've had to good a time / I really like it here" only to come to the conclusion "But when I go, there will probably be / no angels singing / no harps ringing / no pearly gates / no devil's flames / just nothing nothing nothing nothing". The song ends with a heartfelt lament, a sincere plea by the man who has forsaken what he no longer believes for the harsh truth he believes he was "protected" from all his life: "Don't let me go / I'm not prepared / I'm so damn scared / That I'm almost there". It's beautiful and haunting. It strikes right to the core of me and I absolutely love it.

I've said so much about the themes and the lyrics of this album that one might think I have nothing to say about the music, this however is not the case. The skill and depth on offer in this album is simply brilliant. As someone who tries to follow the local scene and who even pays attention to the lesser known opening acts at a show, I definitely hear a lot of music that isn't quite ready for prime time. Quiet Company is not one of those bands. You could take nearly any of these tracks, put them on national radio tomorrow and people would instantly think they'd missed something ... "Why haven't I heard of this band before?"

I'm probably the worst person to try and describe what certain acts sound like in terms of what other bands they're reminiscent of. The goal of such an exercise is to mention related artists that most people will know and those tend to be the bands I don't listen to much. All I can say is that it's great rock music, full of guitars, horns, keyboards, drums, soaring vocals and strings, and produced to within an inch of it's life. It's not so cynical as to be the kind of thing Pitchfork gets on board with, but if you peruse the pages of Paste you're on the right track. Just check it out already.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

SXSW 2012 - Day Five

All things must end. This is as true for SXSW as it is for everything else, but this year my SXSW experience ended in epic fashion. We started the night by heading over to Swan Dive on Red River to catch DC-area band Deleted Scenes:

I had heard about these guys from Office of Future Plans' Twitter feed and listened to them on Spotify a few times. They combine DC punk/rock with a playfulness and experimentation that ends up producing a unique, but listenable sound not quite like anything else out there right now. I found the live show to be very good and a great start to the night. The next stop was Spill bar to check out a band called Elephant Stone:

This was one of my picks based solely on a single sample track and in the end I wasn't disappointed. They put on an interesting show and it's not often at all that you see a sitar used in indie rock in such a fashion. Leaving Spill around 8:30, we heading south to Lustre Pearl to meet up with some friends and catch the always amazing Tim Fite:

This is the third time I've seen Tim Fite live and it's always a fun and unique experience. I highly recommend checking him out live if you ever get the chance and head over to his web site for plenty of free downloads as well. Quiet Company was our 11pm stop, so we headed over to the Chevrolet Sound Garage on 6th to set ourselves up early for the show:

As always, these guys rocked the fucking house. If I had to pick an Austin band most on the verge of blowing up nationally it would be this one. These guys have serious chops and a style with broad appeal while still managing to be 100% sincere about their music. Do yourself a favor and pick up their latest album "We Are All Where We Belong" before the hipsters catch on and try to make it seem like they were there first.

With nothing lined up for 12pm, we headed over to Friends bar on 6th to catch And So I Watch You From Afar a second time. My main goal was to get up front for this set and after the previous band finished and the front of the stage cleared out a bit, I was able to stake my claim:

The band put on a phenomenal set despite a few technical difficulties and instrument malfunctions. One of the highlights for me was in finally seeing them play "Don't Waste Time Doing Things You Hate", one of my favorite tracks from their first album. They closed the evening with a powerful performance of "The Voiceless" that saw guitarists Rory Friers and Niall Kennedy jump into the crowd and continue playing whilst crouched on the floor and surrounded by fans:

If that wasn't enough, as the song ended in a crescendo of feedback and noise, Niall handed me his guitar. For a moment I was dumbfounded and then (understanding his gesture) began strumming the hell out of the instrument, contributing to the cacophonous climax of the evening. After 30 seconds or so of being the 5th member of And So I Watch You From Afar, Niall took back the guitar, gave me a hug from on stage and said "thanks" ... I have to assume not just for the strumming, but for my obvious admiration of the band as evidenced by my hardcore rocking out over the previous 50 minutes:

So, drenched in sweat and with a giant grin across my face I reunited with my friends and bid farewell to SXSW for 2012. It was a perfect end to an excellent week of music in one of favorite cities in the world and a place I'm so glad to call home.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

SXSW 2012 - Day Four

Day four of SXSW this year was the best so far. It started off with one of my favorite local acts - The Sour Notes - at B.D. Riley's:

They played an amazing set as always and handed out a bunch of free CD's and 7" splits to the crowd before the show, which is probably a really smart move for any small act playing SXSW. From there it was over to The Whiskey Room at 9pm for Bright Moments:

They took a little longer than average setting up due to what appeared to be an uncooperative sound system on stage, but when they finally did play it was worth the wait and I'll be checking out more of their stuff in the future. At 10pm came a moment I had been waiting for all week, And So I Watch You From Afar at Bat Bar:

The last time I really listened to some good, heavy music at a show was during Fun Fun Fun Fest back in November and last night's performance by ASIWYFA was a reminder of just how much I enjoy that kind of stuff. The band played perfectly and seriously rocked the shit out of the place. It's not often these guys come over here from Ireland so I'm going to see them again tonight at Friends bar and planning to get as close to the stage as I can.

I didn't have anything lined up for 11pm last night, but we wanted to get in to see Temper Trap at the Parish at midnight, so we headed over early to check out Crystal Fighters who put on a really excellent show, featuring the kind of pop meets (insert genre here) style that British bands seem to grasp without difficulty. A little after 12 Temper Trap went on with a set composed mostly of new material from their upcoming second album:

We ended up leaving early however as they were running late and we wanted to get over to St. David's Bethel Hall to check out Mother Falcon. After ending up in the Sanctuary instead of Bethel Hall and catching the end of another act, we were lucky enough to run into someone who figured out that all of us were in the wrong place and headed around the corner to Bethel Hall to catch the beginning of Mother Falcon's set:

This year's winner of the Austin Music Award for Best Avant-Garde/Experimental Band did not disappoint in person. The group of 15+ musicians played a beautiful set that acted as the perfect close to a great night at SXSW.

Tonight my SXSW 2012 experience comes to a close with Day Five. In addition to the aforementioned second installment of And So I Watch You From Afar, I'm also hoping to check out Tim Fite's unique live performance, as well as a more traditional SXSW set from Quiet Company.

Friday, March 16, 2012

SXSW 2012 - Day Three

My third day of SXSW 2012 was more along the lines of what passes for "normal" for this event. There wasn't anything in particular that I had labelled as "must see" last night, but there were a few acts that I was interested in catching. First up was Sarah Jaffe at Club De Ville:

The laid back singer-songwriter (how this gets to be a genre description when it can describe ANY person who writes and sings their own songs, I don't know) was a nice, mellow start to the evening. We stayed for almost her entire set, but ducked out early to make sure we could get over to Esther's Follies on 6th in time to get seats for Mike Birbiglia's comedy act:

We were lucky in that the three comics on before Birbigs showed up were actually pretty decent and of course the man himself was as entertaining in person as he is in print or CD. My original plans had involved checking out one of two acts that I wasn't really that familiar with for the 10pm block, but Andrew was excited to check out Grimes (a more or less solo electronic act) that was slated to start around 10:45. Since I didn't have any plans for 11pm I decided to chuck the 10pm plans and stick with the rest of the group, waiting in line at the Central Presbyterian Church for about 50 minutes till we could get in for Grimes' set:

When all is said and done, it really wasn't my thing. Electronic music is something I'm a little more picky about than other genres, but I was impressed by the ability on display at least. Seeing someone orchestrate layered music live is always interesting. As 12pm approached we had the choice to head way over to Antone's for Honeyhoney or to the nearby Red Eyed Fly for Cymbals Eat Guitars. As much as I would have liked to see Honeyhoney (especially after missing them the day before) I was hankering for the brilliant noise of Cymbals Eat Guitars:

The band put on a great set, including the 8 minute "Rifle Eyesight (proper name)" and even played one unreleased song. Like the last time I saw them though, the set was light on stuff from the first album, which I find a little disappointing as a big fan of that record. As 1am rolled around, I was thoroughly satisfied after Cymbals Eat Guitars' performance and I really didn't care who we went to see next. Andrew wanted to check out Say Anything (a band I later described to him - since he had never heard of them before - as "3rd wave emo") over at Buffalo Billiards:

We got ourselves a table towards the back and some beers and it was late, so I didn't pay much attention to the show except to say that I sounded fine and had I ever been a Say Anything fan I'm sure I would have been delighted.

Tonight will mark Day Four of my SXSW experience and will include a chance to see The Sour Notes again, as well as the first of two And So I Watch You From Afar performances and hopefully Mother Falcon as well. Still one more night to go after this!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

SXSW 2012 - Day Two

This is going to be another short post because I've got one foot out the door for SXSW - Day Three and last night (while I saw a bunch of acts) I mainly stayed in one place. After failing to get in to see Honeyhoney at the Austin Convention Center (apparently that stage was badge only) we headed over to Frank for some food and then the Austin Music Hall to check out Quiet Company. All I knew going in was that Quiet Company was playing, but it turned out that they were playing as part of the Austin Music Awards. Admittedly we felt a bit as if we had just crashed the ceremony, but we were well within out wristband wearing rights to be there so we settled in and enjoyed a great set:

We had originally planned to head out after this, when rumors started flying on the internet that Bruce Springsteen was going to show up at some point during the night. Seeing the boss in a venue like this would have just been too big a chance to pass up so we stuck around for the rest of the proceedings which included several decent performances:
Joe King Carrasco and the Crowns

Sixteen Deluxe

Ruthie Foster

Carolyn Wonderland

Ruthie Foster and Carolyn Wonderland

Christopher Cross

Patty Griffin
Eventually Alejandro Escovedo came up on stage to close out the night along with a bunch of friends:
Including The Boss himself ... Bruce Springsteen:

After all was said and done, we were glad we stuck around. Afterwards we had just enough time to get over to Stubb's and catch Andrew Bird:
All told, it was a pretty kick ass night. Now for round three!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

SXSW 2012 - Day One

I meant this to be a longer post, but I'm dead tired and I'm still dead tired from last night and I've only got an hour till I head back out for Day Two. Here's the round up from yesterday:

First stop around 3:30pm was the "A Music OVRLD" party at Guero's on S. Congress thrown by The Boxing Lesson and my pal Carter at OVRLD, where we caught several acts:

The Couch
Frank Smith
Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor
After a quick bite to eat at Home Slice, it was time to head downtown where (after nearly getting killed by several bad drivers) we headed to Bat Bar for The Apache Relay:

My friends wanted to check out Santigold, which led us on a walk to La Zona Rosa, only to relearn that valuable SXSW lesson: If you want to see a nationally recognized act at SXSW (even a nationally recognized indie act) plan on arriving well before their set time. Needless to say, the line was around the corner, so we headed back to 6th to catch the last half of the Marmalakes set at The Parish:

The next stop was Latitude 30 to check out British punk rockers Future of the Left. To my surprise and utter joy, they played a couple McKlusky tunes, including To Hell With Good Intentions. They ended the show with an overextended version of Lapsed Catholics that I have to believe was stretched out to mess with the Fire Marshall who wanted to clear the place out and refill it, claiming it was well over capacity:

We attempted to check out Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. at the Hype Hotel, but indie famous is as indie famous does and after viewing the large twin lines, we rerouted to Buffalo Billiards in preparation for The Soldier Thread later on. That's where we caught a decent, but mostly forgettable show by Electric Touch:

After which The Soldier Thread closed out our night with some impressive vocals by Miss Patricia Lynn: