2007-12-13

Jens Lekman Solo Radio Performance



Is Jens Lekman too quirky to break into the mainstream? His smooth crooning can sooth even the most jaded listener, and it's easy to see how his romantic sounds could appeal to a wider, older, less "hip" audience. He has called himself (here in the interview below) the "indie Frank Sinatra", although I have two arguments against that: 1. Jens's swagger doesn't have the tough streak of Sinatra's 2. Sinatra would probably never, even if the technology were available at the time, sing over a loop of his own beat-boxing as Jens does here. His newest, Night Falls Over Kortedala, is appearing on many year-end best-of lists, and also sees him exploring where he can take "crooner" music, encorporating various styles and offbeat musical elements. The combination of quirkiness (especially with lyrics) with pure pleasantness has won over much of the indie community, and it won't be long before a more mainstream crowd knows his name.






Jens Lekman
KEXP Seattle Nov. 6, 2007

01 The Opposite of Hallelujah
02 Kanske Ar Jag Kar I Dig
03 Interview
04 Your Arms Around Me
05 Shirin
06 Interview





Night Falls Over Kortedala would be an excellent gift idea for someone you wouldn't think would normally listen to indie music, and the cheapest price I found was directly from the label Secretly Canadian, 11 bucks for CD or vinyl.

Thanks also to your friend laura for the great photo of Jens, taken at an in-store he played the same day as the set above and a full show later that night.

2007-12-12

of Montreal Cover 2 More Prince Songs

of Montreal are a band known for their great covers, both performance-wise and selection-wise, but I don't think before this year's tour that they ever covered more than one song from the same artist. First there was "Moonage Daydream" (*bows*), then came a slew of other David Bowie covers. Then earlier this year they covered "Raspberry Beret" and lately they started playing "Purple Rain" (which I saw in Austin), and have now gone even further into the Prince catalog. Both Bowie and Prince seem to be huge influences on the newer of Montreal sounds, so it's good to see Kevin Barnes acknowledging that fact outright and firmly by playing so many of their songs. The show these following tracks are from was in St. Louis on November 19, the second-to-last stop of this American leg on their massive tour, and were the opening two songs of the concert.


2007-12-08

Karlheinz Stockhausen



Karlheinz Stockhausen died Wednesday (obit.). I had heard him mentioned several times as an electronic pioneer and an avant-garde composer who influenced popular music from the Beatles (he was on the Sgt. Pepper cover collage) to Sonic Youth, yet I admittedly (like most I presume) had heard little of his music. Like any kind of music, if you're interested in it, look to the pioneers and heavyweights, and if you missed their contributions while they were alive, a wake is an appropriate time to take a moment to examine somebody's work, so for the last couple days I've been diving in. I learned that Stockhausen (wiki) did much more than tinker with electronics, he was a quixotic visionary who (along with John Cage) pioneered the use of chance in music, even having musical scores which could be read by the performer upside down or begun at a random page. Stockhausen also experimented with atonal music, which even today sounds challenging, and probably much more so to audiences of the fifties and sixties. He was always looking for new possibilities in sound, and the music I've heard from him has very different styles, from noise to abstract choral arrangements to strange silence>note cluster collages. He is most influentially noted, though, for his electronic experiments, incorporating new musical equipment with his atonality and serialism experiments, like in his Kontakte, recorded from 1958-1960 in his studio in Cologne:









Below is an intriguing later example (early 90's) of his exploratory composing enititled "Helikopter String Quartet" (part of his LICHT [light] cycle of operas), featuring four classical instrumentalists matching dizzying tremolos to the rotary sound of the four helicopters they are riding in while performing. Here is a more in-depth description.




Karlheinz Stockhausen "Helikopter String Quartet" (edit)




If you take the time to explore Karlheinz Stockhausen, you'll inevitably come upon many internet opinions regarding him as everything from " unparalleled genius" to "unlistenable". As with virtually any artist, there is talk about how the later stuff is not as good as the earlier stuff. As with any music that is new (to you), try to ignore all of the words and focus on the sounds. They can be difficult piece to listen through, but good or bad, it brings up a quote I saw in an interview with Stockhausen, where he said that all music and sound effects you. You are different after listening to anything. Certainly the "Helikopter String Quartet" will, at least unconsciously, make you more aware of the interplay between what you think of as music and what you think of as daily noise.


Don't miss the multimedia page at the official Stockhausen site for more audio.

Amazon has a wide selection of interesting-looking Stockhausen CDs

2007-12-01

The Joggers Cover Deerhoof, Grateful Dead

On The Joggers myspace page, they now link to a new Joggers blog. It's been going on for a month now, and has lots of info - I didn't realize Dan and Jake also play in a band called Pseudosix, which I will be checking out immediately, and Daryl the bassist is out for a while with a hockey injury. But the big news comes in the form of a link to PRA radio - Portland Radio Authority, which is a treasure-trove of Portland area recordings, including TWO shows from the Joggers, plus an interview, as well as a Damo Suzuki (Can) tribute featuring Dan and Jake from the Joggers. One of the Joggers' shows is the cover-laden set from NYE last year featuring the below songs, and, oh, Led Zeppelin. The links at PRA are working weirdly right now, though, to get to the Joggers shows you first have to go to the PRA homepage and then to the link for PODCAST - PRA Events. When I went to that link yesterday it showed me a page full of concerts including the above mentioned Joggers' sets, but now it seems to be directing to a Yahoo page to "add events to my Yahoo". It wouldn't be as fun if you didn't have to work to uncover it, would it?


2007-11-26

A Birthday Mix

Yeah for me. I've managed to keep this blog going for a year now, and my download numbers keep increasing, so it's good to know I can still turn people onto music, take them on a slightly different musical journey than they would have. People always have a curious reaction when they first hear the name Funeral Pudding. It is actually an album by one of my all-time favorite bands, Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 - from San Francisco and often on Matador Records. The odd juxtaposition of words is what always caused it to stick in my mind, and when I needed a name for my old college radio show, it worked, especially with my oh-so-clever tagline "as commercial radio kills music...". So anyways, here's a couple of tracks from TFUL282's Funeral Pudding (buy):






TFUL282 "Waited Too Long"



TFUL 282 "23 Kings Crossing"














And here's a special birthday mix, it's quite nice if I do say so myself (go here and click "download now"):
















.
My first post was also a mix, and amazingly those original fileden links still seem to be working. It'll have to do for Christmas this season, because this year I'm working on a Festivus mix...

2007-11-21

Ropeadope/Klock/Critters/9-11

I was thinking about this year's releases, reading some early lists, and catching up on some albums I might have missed or not explored enough. One of my favorite's was San, from japan's DJ Klock, finally released in America, just before his death. I was looking for something more from him or the group Cacoy he was a part of. San was released on Ropeadope Records, who have a regular page and forward-thinking Digital page, as well as artist-friendly terms, and I found this sampler:





...but that's a small selection of the mp3s they have available on their site (which definitely makes exploring it more worthwhile), just look around - on many album info pages you'll find mp3s, too. The music selection is indie and eclectic, but seems to have a good deal of avant-garde, DJ, and jazz- inspired artists, including DJ Logic; Medeski, Martin, and Wood; and Critters Buggin (who I love and saw in 2000 - TFUL282 opened, but lost track of). Ropeadope released the last Critters Buggin album (and links to a new DVD), and on the album info page (buy it) I found this mp3 sample:




______________________




And I just came across this at WFMU, possibly the most hilarious remix contest ever:




Whether you decide to try to remix yourself or not, just listening to the sound clip alone is worth the visit.

2007-11-15

Brown Whornet is Back Hitting the Streets

Austin avant-meisters Brown Whornet (myspace) are like creeper weed: you kind of go "what the fuck? not bad..." at first, but slowly it envelops you. The faux-crooning and musical weirdness and tongues in cheek start to warble your own sensibilities a bit, and this is a good thing. Fans of Ween, Zappa, and Mr. Bungle / Fantomas should really like them, but they do have their own peculiarities, both musically and in their presentation. Chicago Reader says: "Brown Whörnet mangle free jazz, luv-me-baby R & B, parodically straight hardcore, and something that sounds like Yes on a boom box whose batteries are dying are all in their arsenal." They do musical scores for old silent movies ("Nosferatu"-1922, "The Adventures of Prince Achmed"-1926, and "The Lost World"-1925), their live shows often see costumes and slide slows, and have been as likely as (my heroes) TFUL282 (who they've toured with, along with Melt-Banana and Wesley Willis) to use outtakes from the studio or even a late-night hotel jam sessions on their releases. Brown Whornet have been on hiatus for a while, but are back with a series of new releases that they are making available as free downloads. They've got about 300 hours of audio that they're going to be releasing - two episodes a month, each episode containing more musical ideas than most bands' discographies. Releases like this are normally known as a podcasts, only, of course, these are called Brownloads. And to celebrate, they're playing a rare show Saturday night in Austin, I can't wait.



Although for some reason this stuff's not linked to on their main page, don't miss the other page with a Brown Whornet jukebox, plus downloads available HERE and HERE


This is a newer song that was a track of the week at garageband.com earlier this year:





And these are from a couple of older albums, the first three from Now I have A Pussy (funniest album cover of all time) and the fourth from Emena Pesticode, and both are available as a package deal along with a cassette as a Valupack HERE, along with lots of other releases sure to make your collection a bit more interesting.


Brown Whornet "Lik mye balls"

Brown Whornet "Outside World"

Brown Whornet "assboss"

Brown Whornet "Surf Song"



The first track holds special meaning to me - in 2002 I was doing my first stint on college radio before eventually moving to England for a bit, but before I left this was the last track I played.



Visit the Brown Whornet shop.

2007-11-07

Two Compilation Albums For Free Download

Sorry for the lag, I've been using a lot of my storage space for the Booty Patrol. You should head over there at once and download the new of Montreal tribute album Aluminum Plums (and the several concerts available there). This tribute really is better than many others I've heard - the musicianship is elevated, and there's a good range of periods in of Montreal's music, and in the interpretations, and also a good range of experience levels - from bedroom recordings to an acapella group to Pitchfork-worthy bands like Tokyo's Elekibass and former of Montreal member Jason NeSmith's band Casper and the Cookies, who deliver a jaw-dropping version of "Penelope" that jumps across genres like a frog on a lilypad, from funk to alt-rock to Queen to bluegrass to reggae to heavy metal to chamber music, all effortlessly and without sounding contrived, just an enjoyable exploration of where that song can go. Here's that song, the album's closer, and the opening track, from Mimi and Flo mastermind Jeff Maksym:








Also, beloved Bay Area label Three Ring Records has a free sampler album available on emusic. I previously featured another great (charity) compilation from them, featuring Rogue Wave and other great Bay Area artists. Three Ring was recently voted "Best Local Label" by the San Francisco Bay Guardian, who say "An impeccable design theme (circus nostalgia - how can you lose?), a community-oriented approach to music production and marketing, and some rockin' and folkin' good tunes from the likes of Rykarda Parasol and Boyskout make Three Ring Records our tune-savvy readers' favorite this year." Here's a couple of my favorites: Scrabbel (with Aislers Set keyboardist Dan Lee), and The Ebb and Flow (from download.com: "backhandedly progressive brand of indie pop... so catchy, you might not spot the avant-garde", don't miss Sam Tsitrin's side project We Is Shore Dedicated - mp3):







2007-10-19

Thai Pop Spectacular

Sublime Frequencies is a label run by Alan Bishop of Sun City Girls (and filmmaker Hisham Mayet), with help from brother and fellow SCG (Sir) Richard, where they can share little heard or seen musical treasures from Southeast Asia to the Middle East. And with Thai Pop Spectacular, they've managed to compile an eclectic mix of Thai music from the 60's to 80's that I wish would have been a part of my musical language long ago. It's a wild mix of genres held together for English-only ears by not only the foreign, melodic, slightly melancholy longing warble of the singing but by a strange sense of familiarity with the music. The first two tracks below especially gave me the feeling I had heard them somewhere before (especially the second one, I'm almost positive this is a cover but can't find info on it, it's not the "Don't Deceive Me" listed on allmusic.com - anyone?). And in this album the funky grooves, killer guitar/bass/keyboard/horn riffs, surf and disco-wah-wah influences, and a reverence for standards and oldies aren't the generic pastiche or giant mess you might think, but rather like a glorious Thai Nuggets, like what you expect to find in the record collection of a hip Thai kid in the 70's or 80's, who wears the same new-wave sunglasses as his American contemporaries, only with more wistfulness, palm trees, heat, and coconut curries.






Buy it direct from Sublime Frequencies. This is #32 in their collection of unique audio and video, and admittedly the first I've come across, but I look forward to exploring their other releases, too, which are all listed on their main page.

2007-10-12

Super Furry Animals - Hey Venus

Super Furry Animals are one of my favorite bands. The show I saw of their Rings Around the World tour, 2002 in Austin at the Mercury (now Parish), replete with head-swirling quadraphonic speaker set-up, is perhaps my favorite show of all time. I admittedly didn't fall in love the very first time I heard them in the 90's, I thought they were just OK. I had heard they drove around music festivals in a large blue tank that had techno music blasting out of it, that they were on Creation Records, and that I just hadn't listened well enough. I listened again to Guerrilla and it hit me - and it's funny, all of their albums are the same way for me - it's always on the second or third listen that the genius truly reveals itself, the interplay of harmonies is comprehended, the great lyric is realized (tongues are often either firmly in cheek, stuck out at bad politics, or on their first two EPs and the LP Mwng lilting unintelligibly in their native Welsh). The magnificently polished production fills the ears with warmth, repeated listenings affirming the hand-crafted care they take with every song.

They've always straddled the line between guitar-pop and electronica experimenters with various genre-bending including country thrown in, but on their newest, Hey Venus, they sound more like a proper rock band than they ever have, but at the same time they are as mellow as they've ever been. The songs are a bit simpler, leaner, less epic, more light-hearted, and both they and the album as a whole are as short as SFA have ever made. There's still the wonderful string and horn arrangements by Sean O'Hagan (Microdisney, High Llamas, Stereolab) which always provide an extra lovely richness to their sound, and a touch of 50's nostalgia at the core of several of these songs, like the doo-wop-ish "Runaway" or the summery longing strings of "Carbon Dating". Their psychedelic wackiness does still peek in from the cracks, like the random electronic arpeggio over the chorus of straight-ahead rocker "Neo Consumer", the bursts of spacey electro-whirring and Turkish-style dulcimer on "Into the Night" (Gruff says he's into mostly 70's Mediterranean pop these days), and the crickety rollercoaster-pitch trickle of the guitar on "Battersea Odyssey", or all the lyrics and 'No-no-no-no' vocals on "Baby Ate My Eightball" or that song's polyrhythmic bridge. Even a relatively subdued song like"Carbon Dating" has sound effects at the end that sound like the shrieking metallic apocalypse at the end of "Full Metal Jacket". But mostly here they're showing how brilliantly keeping things in check can sound, especially after the previous album, the less-focused Love Kraft. Closing track "Let The Wolves Howl At The Moon" is a late-night piano-bar sing-along elevated to perfection with just a backing band and no frills, an apt close. This is SFA's first album for the beloved Rough Trade label (after a major-label stint), almost hit #10 in the UK (as almost all of their releases do, this hit #11) and entered the iTunes charts at #9, and hopefully is a sign that after over a decade as a band there's still no end in sight.





Be sure to check the SFA official site (listen to streaming tracks from this album and others in the upper-right), especially the extras section with mp3s and videos of the recording session for "Hey Venus!" (including some funny outtake tracks). Like the new AC, I've had a few months to fully digest it and be able to say without a doubt it's one of the tops of the year. You can get it now for about 14 bucks on (UK) CD at Amazon, and they have it digitally for $9.49. There is a Japanese version available with two bonus tracks, but these are also the two b-sides to the first single, "Show Your Hand" ("Aluminum Illuminati" and "Never More"). The US vinyl release is apparently in November, and domestic CD (with bonus goodies according to fansite superfurry.org) Jan 22, 2008.

Here's first single "Show Your Hand" performed live recently at UK's T4 Festival. Apparently, Yeti costumes are out and Power Rangers are in (although the drummer Dafydd Ieuan seems to be wearing a bright yellow yeti body with red arm scales? in this performance on morning TV)













Here's the video for the second single, "Runaway", starring Matt Berry (anybody see the bizarre British hospital-over-the-gates-of-hell show 'Garth Marenghi's Darkplace'?) and directed by Richard Ayoade (same show - he acted, and wrote and directed episodes)













And why not take this chance to have you (again) watch the great video for Juxtaposed With U, one of the gentler cuts on 2002's "Rings Around The World", about letting go in more ways than one. Nice, serene video by Pedro Romhanyi
















2007-10-10

Mick Jagger

"Greatest hits albums are for housewives... and little girls." -Bruce McCullough's KITH sketch about the Doors. And it's partly true. I had the Best of Creedence for a long time until Pavement's cover of "Sinister Purpose" inspired me to buy CCR's "Green River" album, which blew me away and made me mad at myself for relying on the greatest hits package for so long. But for some artists, a greatest hits package makes perfect sense, as in the case of the brand new "Very Best of Mick Jagger." Mick obviously wants to spread his wings and do something different than he's done with the Rolling Stones in his four solo albums and other side projects, but it can end up sounding like a generic 80's pastiche, like on the faux-urgent driving rock of the Lenny Kravitz produced opener "God Gave Me Everything" or the strutting "Lucky In Love" and "Just Another Night" from his first solo album in '85, which did have Bill Laswell producing and Jeff Beck, Pete Townsend, and Herbie Hancock playing, and both of those songs and the album itself were huge hits at the time, but they haven't exactly aged well. But even though a few hits are misses, several of these tracks hit the mark, especially when he and the music stretch out and are at their most soulful, like on "Memo From Turner" (from the "Performance" movie soundtrack, written with Keith Richards and with Steve Winwood on bass and Ry Cooder on the bottleneck, from 1969), "Sweet Thing" (not too dissimilar from some newer era Charlatans UK, from Jagger's ecelctic third and by far most acclaimed album), and on his appearance on Peter Tosh's "(You Got To Walk And) Don't look Back" (I can hear it: 'Hey, mon, dijoo see 'im doon that chicken dance? cuh-razy, mon'). Also included are three previously unreleased tracks, including the long-fabled super-funky John Lennon-produced "Too Many Cooks (Spoil the Soup)" and a fine blues stomp with the Red Devils. If you're a fan of Jagger's legendary sway and swagger with the Stones, it'd be worth picking this up, ten bucks or less at Amazon.


2007-10-08

Collections of Animal Collective

Here is every known Animal Collective live recording


And a large selection of Animal Collective rarities



Huge thanks to all the Animal Collective fans who record and give their time to help share, especially sherbz at bansheebeat.com for compiling the live shows and chemotion.com for compiling the rarities.

There's not much more to say that hasn't been said about Animal Collective. If you haven't joined the bandwagon, then ignore it and listen to the music (after emptying your mind of preconceived notions), but note that most of the old-school fans are still on board.

On their newest, Strawberry Jam, their forest-chanting experiments and shakers and stick rhythms have completely gelled with their samplers and electronics and pop sensibilities into a more focused, steadier beat - where the whoops and ahhhs and hey-oooos and squirts of noise synchronize with the arpeggioed scales and steady but warbling waves of delay that shimmy off of nearly every sound, the whole time phasers and swooshes and other indistinguishable effects are all ingrained, the whole glorious mess somehow vibrating as one. They practice and prerecord their music as much as they improvise, but it always has a live manic energy, and always blends together, and it can be a game wondering during their live performances just what the hell sounds beyond drum shots and singing each member is producing. Third man Geologist (with headlamp) has compared his role to that of Bob Nastovich's in Pavement: the extra background sounds and flourishes, the icing on the cake. But even if Geo doesn't whip out the maracas or shout loudly, perhaps his role is even more important - he's talked on the Collected Animals message board about some of the electronics that are being used, how he and Panda synch their machines together and bounce sounds and samples back and forth to each other. But mainly it's the hooks and beautiful, primal vocal melodies that Panda (top) and Avey (second from top) seem to pull out of a never-ending bag of inspiration that elevate this band to something special. Says Geo: "You can give someone the best sampler in the world and are they gonna make something as killer as what Noah (Panda Bear) made with two sp-303's when he did 'Person Pitch'?" And while both Deakin (bottom) and guitars have been absent from Animal Collective on their recent tours, his recent appearance with the rest of AC on Conan seems to indicate he may be rejoining them again soon. It'll be interesting to see how his guitar fits in to some of the new songs, it seemed to just gently reverberate into the background in the Conan appearance - perhaps there will be some Afro-pop noodling on some of the post-Strawberry Jam tracks like "Will To Joy".


Before you dive into the treasures linked to at the top, be sure to have a taste of Strawberry Jam if you haven't already:



Amazon has it for about twelve bucks new, Insound has it for ten bucks on mp3 and nineteen on LP (nows a good time to experience the richness of vinyl) Thanks to Daniel/Arnold for the Panda pic, *Peter for the Avey and Geologist pics, and Soulsick for the Deakin pic - all three of them have other great pics of AC with not a whole lot of views on them, a shame. BTW, I do have an AC show in my previous post, and it is a great performance of their post-Strawberry Jam tracks with not-too-bad sound, but since then other recordings have come out that handle the super-low bass they've had rumbling lately a bit better, check the newer recordings in the above thread, especially the Charlottesville and London summer shows that come from the Live Music Archive. And if you missed it, they finally made their national TV debut on Conan last Friday night. Avey explained on the CA board that they were limited to around four minutes, so options were limited, but the only rationale I can think of for them choosing to play #1, perhaps the strangest of all tracks on Strawberry Jam, as opposed to the shorter (more energetic) "Chores" or even shorter (and less dissonant) "Derek" is clear: it is them saying, "this is who we really are - even though we're poppier than ever, we're still freaks":



2007-09-27

Junior Brown

When I've tried to turn people on to Junior Brown, I've settled on this description: imagine Jimi Hendrix playing old traditional country. Of course there's more to it, from the instrument he invented himself to his unique baritone voice, to the touches of surf, jazz, rock(abilly), and even Hawaiian slide that flavor his music. Junior is one-of-a-kind, and should not be dismissed by those who have a predisposition to not liking much country music. From the bio on his site: "A lot of people tell me they don't like country music, but they like what I am doing. I hear that line more than anything else." As a side note my wife is often stunned at my knowledge of old country (from my dad). She can't fathom how after decades of not hearing some of those songs I'm still able to sing along to each and every one, like on the Time-Life country oldies collection commercial. It's because a lot of them just had real feeling, and real playing and songwriting which explored the language of country music rather than relying on the same gimmicky phrasings of today. No other modern artist has taken country music further than Junior Brown.

The instrument he invented (after dreaming about it) is called a guit-steel, and has a regular guitar neck on top and a slide guitar built in below that, and when playing live he switches seemlessly between the two. He plays super-fast, and it's always highly inventive and slightly improvised and it's truly a thrill to watch and listen to him magically finger pick his way up a guitar neck (often with this characteristic chinka-chinka sound) and pull out his slide to finish off a run, or lay down some jazz chords, or play a string by de-tuning and tuning it back and forth, always somehow tuning it right back to the note it needs to end on (see "Brokedown South of Dallas" at 1:05, 1:40, and especially 2:28). His backing band (often in suits) is a stand-up bass, a drummer who often has little more than a single snare drum and cymbal (and usually brushes), and an acoustic rhythm guitar - and together they lay down the rhythmic tracks for Junior's enjoyable explorations of melody. I've seen an old guy and a young guy on bass, an old-timer named Pete playing drums (and one night at Floore's outside stage when Pete couldn't play, opener and Texas legend Johnny Bush sat in), and that's Junior's lovely wife Tanya Rae strumming the acoustic and smiling at him much of the time (with the rest of the crowd), though they have had a different guy strumming lately.

Junior is definitely in my list of top guitarists of all time. He plays tight licks but has a loose style. He doesn't take himself too seriously, writes great, often funny lyrics, and his concerts are some of the most entertaining I've ever seen - these pics are mine from the first Junior show I saw ('96) at Floore's Country Store in Helotes, just outside San Antonio, where Willie once played weekly shows. One NYE in the late 90's me and two guys drove a few hours away to see Junior play at the Cabaret in Bandera, TX (best NYE ever). It was the most energetic and electrifying of the half-dozen or so shows of his I've seen. I think. I was a little out of it, but I do remember that Junior was, too, his (slightly slurry) New Years countdown drawl of "uh, what time is it? Aw, hell... 3, 2, 1 Happy New Years!", and he launched into Auld Lang Syne, and he brilliantly peppered that song into others for the rest of the night. I cannot stress the fact enough that you have got to see him for yourself - if you're on the US West Coast, luckily he'll be coming your way this month.

Junior was born in Arizona, spent time growing up in Annapolis, Maryland, but now calls Austin his hometown. After working bars and clubs in obscurity from the late sixties on and then teaching some guitar in Oklahoma, he moved to Austin in the late 80's and became the house act at the storied Continental Club. His first album was released in '93, and Junior has steadily gained a growing legion of diverse fans. The following show was a homecoming for Junior at a small dinner-type theater, an intimate venue which didn't hold a lot of people, at least not on this night: "Better not try hecklin', 'cause we got you outnumbered," he jokes. "But we're gonna try and make a good time out of this." And dagnabbit that's just what he does. Don't miss an epic "I Hung It Up".






Check Insound for some great prices on Junior Brown albums. "Semi-Crazy" and the newest, "Live At the Continental Club", are highly recommended, the latter pulled from two smoking shows at his old stomping grounds in Austin.

2007-09-24

The Best of the Rest in Austin

So to not make this drag on forever, I'm going to finish my list of essential Austin bands with some videos:

GvB loves these next guys, White Denim (myspace) "the best new band at SXSW 2007." I'll call it dirty, anthemic, stomp-on-the-floor electro-psych-rock jams. I also really enjoy their desire to explore the song, to let it meander. They have a couple of Austin dates coming up - with fellow Austinites What Made Milwaukee Famous Oct. 5 at the Parish and at Fun Fun Fun Fest at the beginning of Novemeber (see you there, dudes). The debut EP for the following song is available now through iTunes, and as a 7" single with CD insert, direct from the band on their myspace (the lips pic).




White Denim "Let's Talk About It" - new video released a month ago












Another Austin band hitting their stride this year, with an s/t album out on Peek-A-Boo Records (Octopus Project, Palaxy Tracks) earlier this year is Peel. In them I hear some Pavement, some Flaming Lips, but in their own danceable messy distortion and keyboard-laden groove, can't wait to see these guys live. Check their site for mp3s and to buy the debut CD and their myspace for other golden tunes, and listen to the whole new album here.




Peel "Oskaloosa"












Peel "You're Gonna Miss Me" - Here they are performing the signature tune from Austin's own 60's icon Roky Erickson













And here's Roky himself at his 45th birthday party, 1992:












While some Austin bands are moving up, others are moving on, like the beloved Sound Team, whose performance at ACL the other weekend was their last.




Sound Team "Your Eyes Are Liars"












Another of Austin's more famous exports, And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead, came back from the brink of their own extinction last year with their comeback "So Divided". It was a return to form but also an apt statement, as while Jason Reece opened up the Austin branch of Beauty Bar, Conrad Keely now resides in NYC. And everyone who likes any band always says "it was better in the beginning", and I can't help but keep that feeling after witnessing a landmark Trail of Dead show in San Antonio, where the night manager of (the now burned-down) N. St. Mary's St. Brewing Company didn't realize what his booking guy had scheduled: Trail of Dead, I believe around '97, before the launch of their debut album. It was a pure noise-thrash fest... the manager demanded and shouted for them to quit playing and even tried to grab the cymbals, which were quickly hilariously bashed until he had to let go. And before he could finally pull the power and call the cops, which he did, a cardboard cutout of Jenny McCarthy had been full sodomized with a guitar and the band truly exorcised some demons. Although equipment has still been known to spontaneously combust in their hands, they're overall a bit more focused now, and even in this clip, from earlier this year playing a song from their last album, downright sunny.




...Trail of Dead "Eight Days of Hell"











... and here they read and act out the Motley Crue book "The Dirt", pretty funny:












Another Austin band that for the most part likes its sound big, epic, and moody is Explosions In The Sky. But whereas Trail of Dead mostly builds its noise around hooks, Explosions In The Sky seems more likely to crest and roll like the sea, although like Trail of Dead this can often end in a beautifully violent cacophony of wailing. Don't forget to shop at their store.




Explosions in the Sky - "The Birth and Death of the Day" (Seattle 2007)













Clap! Clap!'s debut album is on the way, and they seem determined to do their part to make Austin the best city in the country for dance-rock. Check out the songs on their Myspace, and if it's your thing keep your eyes peeled for their debut so you can be at the front of the dance line, although apparently their recognition is coming fast, as they announce on their myspace "Yes, our songs are played in Forever 21".





Clap! Clap! - Interview at Couture De Amore Fashion Show













American Analog Set have been providing beautifully cool music for over a dozen years. They've always kind of reminded me of Yo La Tengo a bit, comforting pleasantness with just the right touch of artsiness. They are originally from Fort Worth but have called Austin their base since '96. They have for the most part ceased touring since 2005, choosing to focus on other projects, but haven't ruled out another American Analog Set collaboration in the future.




American Analog Set "Punk As Fuck" (7/2/03)











And speaking of arty, I'd be remiss not to include some of my favorite Austin art-rockers, Brown Whornet (myspace). The only comparisons I can think of are Ween, Thinking Fellers Union Local 282, and Frank Zappa, so of course I fell in love the first time I ever saw these guys live, playing with virtuoso chops, tongue firmly in cheek, and costumes. They jump genres and ideas like a good band should, and everything, even throwaway studio and late-night motel recordings that make their way onto albums (like TFUL 282), sounds like it's the most beautiful that lo-fi trash could ever be. Make your music collection a lot more interesting at the Brown Whornet store, and listen to other tunes at their site.




Brown Whornet "Schway" Emo's, Austin 3/9/03











Brown Whornet "Family Reunion" Emo's, Austin 9/8/00












And if you're going to truly appreciate Austin music, you gotta look into some roots country. And some of the finest purveyors of Americana in any city just happen to live here in austin: Asleep At The Wheel. From the sassy female leads to the familiar but well-played old-school country trade-offs to all the old music and Bob Wills Western swing tradition they keep bringing out, always with the musicianship and jazz flourishes to make it stay fresh, they'd make the soundtrack to any Sunday outing in or outside Austin a bit more authentic.



Asleep At The Wheel "You Don't Know Me" (Austin City Limits)












And of course when Ray Price, Willie Nelson, and Merle Haggard toured together as "Last Of the Breed", who was their backing band? That's right, AATW. And of course Willie has his own place in Austin music hall of fame, leaving Nashville to start his own thing in central Texas, where hippies and country guys could both get together and drink beer and smoke a joint together at the Armadillo World Headquarters. Check out my Willie post if you missed it, some great audio and video of Willie.

And two more of my favorites on the local country scene are Don Walser, the most yodeling yodeler and high-voiced country gentlemen this side of the Mississippi, whose first album (at his ripe age of 60) was produced by Ray Benson, leader of Asleep At The Wheel - and Redd Volkaert (who often plays lead guitar alongside Merle Haggard), a maestro who can seemingly noodle his way through any jazz composition yet remains true to his country roots, whose voice is as soulfully deep as his guitar playing



Don Walser and the Texas Plainsmen - this is a great slideshow put together by Don's son Al featuring some classic Walser*












Redd Volkaert "Home in San Antone" (Continental Club, Austin - hard to get more Austin than that)












*Walser sadly passed away last year of diabetes. I had the pleasure of meeting him and his wife once, and they were some of the nicest people I've ever met. To make another Austin connection, he was doing some vocal commercial work at Tequila Mockingbird for Danny Levin: composer, violinist, keyboardist, multi-instrumentalist, Grammy-winning, producer extraordinaire, who does commercials for Southwest Airlines and the Texas Lottery amongst many others and was a one-time fiddle player for Asleep At The Wheel. The Walser video above was put together by Walser's son Al for his dad's viewing last year, and by request he's graciously posted it on youtube along with other rare Walser videos, hope to see more coming, check his username, alwalser. Many Austin legends have left for good (Townes Van Zandt), some still need to be remembered (Poi Dog Pondering - still crazy after all these years), and some are at the forfront of creating today's scene. "Austin band" isn't quite (yet) the buzzword "Seattle band" was in the 90's, but "The Live Music Capital of the World" isn't Austin's official slogan for nothing.




Townes Van Zandt












Poi Dog Pondering "Natural Thing"












Single Frame "People Are Germs" (Nick Skinner remix)












Single Frame "Floral Design In A Strait Line"












What Made Milwaukee Famous - Brooklyn 2006












I'll finish off this Austin run tomorrow or Wednesday with a full concert by one of my local favorites.


2007-09-22

Oh No! Oh My!

Austin's Oh No! Oh My (myspace) are another band on the rise (a new song on "Weeds", tour with Au Revoir Simone and everything). Their whimsical anthems are for the most part light and refreshing, twee at times, sometimes with a few minor chords which either give way to catchy refrains like on "Our Mouths Were Wet" or "The Party Punch" on the new EP, or continue along in their emotion, like the almost British sea song-sounding James-like "I Love You All The Time" from the self-titled debut album or "Oh Be One" or "A Pirate's Anthem" on the new EP. The percussion is especially nice - easy and laid-back, with a lot of clicking, clopping and clapping, cymbals, and tambourines - usually with acoustic guitar, soothing keys, and at times Animal Collective-like whooping filling out the sound, helping keep these new songs bouyant and spright. Their debut album last year was met with wide acclaim, as is their new EP (released just last month), "Between The Devil And The Sea". The influences and approach are college-rock, and they don't take themselves too seriously, as evidenced by the track "The Bike, Sir", which is charming in its silly yet earnest nursery-like simplicity. Oh No! Oh My! make me think "my day ain't so bad." Get 'em now while they're hot here from the label Dim Mak or at iTunes. Also check their Huey Lewis cover at Stereogum.