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Archive | May, 2015

Hip Hop Hooray (Leah)

May 29, 2015

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Guys. It’s been raining here. Like crazy, biblical rain.  People have lost lives and houses (not me – probably mostly people who didn’t deserve for that to happen to them).  If you have a heart and can help, please do so here or here.

In other news, there are some great hip hop shows coming up in our fair, sopping city.  Tonight, there’s Bird Peterson and Bleubird, along with some great local acts (like KB the Boo Bonic,who you’ll find on this month’s mix) at Holy Mountain, and there’s the Geto Boys on June 13 at the Mohawk.  Also, on June 17 there is probably the most bangin’ show of the year if you’re a throwback hip hop head like John Laird definitely is (right, John?) because it’s the reunion tour of the Cali Agents at Holy Mountain.

By the way, your time seeing hip hop shows at venues like Holy Mountain could be very limited, so please take the time tonight and next month to show this venue you care and you are grateful for the many great shows it’s brought and how open and accepting of local music it’s been, because I sure am.  In fact, right now I’d like to extend a big huge gigantic thanks to James Taylor, Sam Houdek, Ivan Torres, and everyone at what I affectionately call “HoMo” for always being ready to put on a local hip hop show, extend a guarantee, believe in the scene (and me), and be willing to take a risk to put locals on a bill.  You all are the best and serve the strongest Lone Star.

Since the above has been 60% shitty news, here’s a music joke:

-What rock group has four men that don’t sing?
-Mount Rushmore.

(sorry)

 SONG OF THE MONTH:  :Bleubird – Down Like Brothers feat. Radical: (See this white muthafucka TONIGHT at Holy Mountain!)

:Lyrics Born – Pack Up Remix:
:M.I.A. – Bucky Done Gun:
:A Tribe Called Red – The People’s Champ:
:Bird Peterson – Comfortable:
:Hudson Mohawke – Ryderz:
:Vince Staples – Senorita:
:Lil’ Jazzy Jay and Cool Supreme – B Boy Style:
:King ART – Are We There Yet: (check my recent interview with King ART and his producer Ruler Why HERE)
:Zion I – Unity feat. Bambu & D.U.S.T.:
:KB The Boo Bonic – Daddy Baby:
:Shad – Yaa I Get It (Oddisee Remix):
:Dead Prez – Police State:
:Modal – Diggin: (interview HERE)

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Movie Breakdown: San Andreas (Noah)

May 28, 2015

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

Disaster-style action flicks have taken a real nose-dive since the heyday of Roland Emmerich’s enviro-madness. That said, the way Warner Brothers has been pushing the film like the dramatic, explosion-porn crown jewel makes me wonder if there’s actually something there, lurking amongst the shattered buildings.

The Reality:

You could hang the massive faults of Brad Peyton’s San Andreas on the two-by-four straight line of Dwayne Johnson’s shoulders. The massive ex-wrestler, though now almost fully reimagined as a Hollywood type actor, doesn’t seem to be able to shed the glorified camp of the wrestling ring. His Ray Gaines, a former military man-turned rescue pilot has all the makings of an early 90s protagonist: the aforementioned physique, a family broken by tragedy, the skills and potential to do, well, just about anything, and a stunning lack of personality. The burrs and barbs – flaws, even – of the average personality, worn down in favor of a Captain America like superhero, driven by duty and grief (sort of) to save his family in the wake of a coast-shattering earthquake. Oh yeah, this film has an earthquake, several earthquakes in it, and much like The Rock’s steely visage and empty, benevolent soul, the quakes are there to look good and kick ass without actually mustering any sort of real emotion. The film is an homage to the mid-90s disaster spectacles like Dantes’s Peak and Volcano that defined blockbusters for a stretch of years, and this isn’t for the best. All the cheap ploys – swelling strings, Dwayne Johnson grimly staring out over a broken (landscape), a cheeky British kid, massive, unheralded destruction – are here in force. Twenty years ago, when the American public was still happy to slosh around in shitty story lines and bad acting for the sake of some nicely put together destruction, this crap would’ve worked, but now it almost feels like Peyton is constructing an art piece, one that pushes the concepts of films like 2012 and Independence Day to their most extreme point (every quake a city destroyer, every line a potential tearjerker) to highlight just how far we’ve come. A nicer reviewer might walk away thinking this absurd thought, but I am not that, and as the earthquakes rumbled and The Rock defied vehicular gravity and characters disappeared (not into the carnage, just out of the story) I did not find myself yearning for the days of Pierce Brosnan racing a volcano, or Bill Paxton chasing a tornado. You could write down the major plot points of any action film made in the last 20 years and set a timer, and you better believe Brad Peyton is going to tick them off one by one. Maybe, possibly, you’ll find some nostalgic solace in the sight of the West Coast’s most famous landmarks crumbling into nothing, or maybe you’ll enjoy the paper thin love story between Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino (squandered here as helpless, but sexy, ex-wife), but it won’t be your enjoyment of this film that resonates, it’ll be the memories of an era films that have thankfully, hopefully, passed on.

The Lesson:

I will say this, watching the city you live in crushed by earthquakes, tsunamis, and looters is strangely, deeply scary. The level of fear in the audience (of hard-nosed critics) was much higher than I would have expected, and I can only imagine most of this stems from a sort of cinematic PTSD for those who’ve lived through San Francisco’s worst shakers and those who’ve come to grips with the idea that someday they probably will.

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The Good Life

May 28, 2015

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Tim Kasher’s The Good Life have readied a new album (their first in eight years).  In college I spent a lot time listening to the band and – despite having no reason at all to be sad in any way – I totally “related” to Kasher’s emo musings.  Ha.  Below you’ll find the first single off of the LP.  It’s a good one.  Enjoy.

:The Good Life – Everybody:

Everybody’s Coming Down is due out August 14 via Saddle Creek.

Bonus Video:

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Movie Breakdown: San Andreas

May 28, 2015

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson saves people from an earthquake.

The Reality:

I’m fairly certain that San Andreas is the beginning of the end for me in regards to disaster movies.  The film is as big, loud and dumb as I expected it would be, but story-wise it’s very run of the mill.  There’s a broken family, the father of said busted family is an expert in some conveniently relevant field, a cataclysmic event happens, the torn family survives and then becomes one again.  The end.  That’s San Andreas.  And pretty much every other disaster movie ever.  Oh how tiresome that’s become.  This issue is also not helped by the fact that it takes a lot these days for CG-heavy movies to truly impress, and the action in San Andreas mostly just consists of buildings crumbling and the ground shaking.  I honestly can’t recall a single breath-taking shot, and that’s just a shame considering it’s the kind of movie that is supposed to dazzle visually.

So, I know it somewhat sounds like it, but I didn’t hate San Andreas.  For a disaster flick, it’s alright.  It just doesn’t bother trying to do anything new, and I think that’s reason enough to not make an effort to see it until it’s on the small screen in the comfort of your own home.

The Lesson:

The disaster movie formula needs a refresher.

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Rain Collectors (Jennifer)

May 27, 2015

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Waxing and Roaring by singer/songwriter (and Growl frontman) Santiago Dietche was one of my favorite local releases from 2013. In regards to that album, I wrote that “he displays a more contemplative, melancholic side to his songwriting while still allowing the catchy, pop hooks to shine through.” Well, now his solo project has evolved into Rain Collectors, where he’s joined by fellow singer/songwriter and collaborator Blair Robbins (who also sings and plays guitar and keys in Milezo). The band describes their sound as “cloudy folk” and have released a single from their upcoming EP (due later this year). It’s gentle, lilting, and sad tones and textures feel like a fitting soundtrack with the recent overcast days and rainy weather. Keep your eyes open for upcoming shows!

:Rain Collectors – Unless:

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Snooty Garbagemen (Dan)

May 27, 2015

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My latest musical obsession is the Snooty Garbagemen. Hailing from Houston, this power trio delivers furious guitar heavy punk rock. The band is comprised of guitarist Tom Triplett (OBN IIIs, The Real Energy, BLAXXX) with drummer Josh Wolf (Secret Prostitutes, Sick Abuse, Crime Wave) and bassist Manie Chen (Titan Blood).

Their lead single, I Lost My Keys, has already been featured on sites such as Pitchfork and Grantland, and for good reason. Tom Triplett is a guitar rock force and his manic shredding abilities are on full display throughout their entire debut album. The album kicks off with the best opening track (Sad Sack) you’ll find on any record this year and it never relents. It’s 14 songs and 32 straight minutes of boisterous rhythm and aggressive punk rock.

The self-titled debut from Snooty Garbagemen lands in stores on July 6.  You can pre-order it now via 12XU.

:Snooty Garbagemen – I Can’t Find My Keys:
:Snooty Garbagemen – Sad Sack:

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Raised Eyebrows: Steely Dan’s Countdown To Ecstasy (Randy)

May 26, 2015

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On considering Steely Dan’s 1973 smooth epic Countdown to Ecstasy, I’m reminded of my first steps into music geekdom.

My first run in with a real deal music nerd happened late in college. I worked at a record store and was also the music director for the local college radio station at the time. This timid kind of dude would stop by the store sometimes and special order things as well as cherry pick the $1 bin. Most of the shit he talked of, I had no idea about (The Beach Boys Friends, Nuggets, early Rod Stewart). I thought I had it all figured out and knew of most of the newest things going, but this dude was on another level. We became friends.

I was staying with a girl we both kinda knew and when we split, the guy put me up at his place while I figured out my next move.

I still remember the first few days over there. He had vinyl! Not many folks my age were carrying on the tradition in the late 90’s/early 00’s and he had a ton. Everything I looked at, I knew little or nothing about. There were Tom Verlaine solo records, a copy of The Replacements Let It Be and Costello’s Get Happy … the list goes on and on.

One of the records I recall him playing a lot was Steely Dan’s Countdown to Ecstasy. I didn’t really get it at first but the damn thing was on all day every day. After a while it became this comforting kind of thing and that’s never really changed for me.

I guess what i’m saying is that for me, Countdown to Ecstasy is the audio equivalent of sweet tea and I love sweet tea.

The record opens with Bodhisattva, a great supermarket rock track. Not too wild or righteous but that dual guitar coda remains pretty wicked and Dias’ solo out of the first verse is the only way to shop for produce.

Razor Boy follows and is where the record takes off for me. There’s a groove happening not unlike their previous top ten single Do It Again and later smash hit Rikki Don’t Lose That Number. The moves and melody in this song give discreet nods to their country rock contemporaries (Neil Young, CSN) while also creating an early blueprint for those artists looking to crossover into the genre without giving up their sound or chart success.

Your Gold Teeth is a  6+ minute Chevy Chase kind of burner built on fusion rhythms and sinister playing. Dias shines again (especially around 3:45 when he gets some eastern raga twinges going) and the modulation before and after the boys stretch out is stellar. One of my all time favs from The Dan.

My Old School follows the fairly successful single, Show Biz Kids and is another fav of mine. It dishes out some well crafted old school RnR without the Billy Joel schmaltz. Additionally, it may be the best and possibly only rock song ever written about Bard College.

What’s so striking to me about CTE is that not only does it contain some of the most perfectly recorded and arranged music the 70’s ever saw, it also captures a time for me that very few other records do. It’s part of a time when I first started realizing that my love for music was expanding and that I had a helluva lot still left to learn.

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Quickdraw: Destroyer, Future Death, Westkust, Adult Mom, Drinks

May 26, 2015

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Music!  Enjoy.

:Destroyer – Dream Lover:  Dan Bejar’s Destroyer has always been kind of hit or miss for me, but this horn-filled new one is pretty damn great.  Poison Season is due out August 28 via Merge.  See him September 23 at the Mohawk.

:Future Death – Familiar Tremors:  Austin’s own Future Death have put together a new EP.  This first single is a dynamic dose of adrenaline.  The Cryptids EP is due out June 23 via Bloodmoss Records.  See the band on June 7 at Red 7.

:Westkust – Dishwasher:  Westkust are now 2/2 on singles, and that has me rather ready to check out their debut LP.  Hopefully all of it will consist of the rad combo of layered guitars and infectiousness that they’ve showcased so far.  Last Forever is due out July 7 via Run For Cover.

:Adult Mom – Survival:  I’ve really been into this song from Steph Knipe (aka Adult Mom).  Her vocals come off as really sincere, and I think she’s a crafty songwriter.  Momentary Lapse Of Happily is due out July 28 via Tiny Engines.

:Drinks – Hermits On Holiday:  Cate Le Bon and Tim Presley (of White Fence) are the main brains behind Drinks.  To me, this song sounds like a lighter, less quirky version of Deerhoof.  Hermits On Holiday is due out August 21 via Birth Records/Heavenly Recordings.

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Laird’s Library: Tim Fite

May 22, 2015

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My plan for this mix was to always make it an assortment of artists, but then while crawling around my hard drive last night I got eternally hung up on the brilliant Tim Fite.  So, here I am, abandoning my guidelines and instead presenting to you my top 10 favorite songs (plus two skits) by Mr. Fite.  I do what I want!  Or whatever.  Enjoy.

PS – Tim has a ton of music on his site, if you’re feeling browsy and generous.  Support him!

:Tim Fite – It’s All Right Here:
:Tim Fite – No Good Here:
:Tim Fite – More Clothes:
:Tim Fite – I’ve Been Shot:
:Tim Fite – Bully:
:Tim Fite – Pizza Shop 1:
:Tim Fite – Pizza Shop 2:
:Tim Fite – Forty-Five Remedies:
:Tim Fite – Joyriding:
:Tim Fite – We Didn’t Warn You:
:Tim Fite – I Hope You’re There:
:Tim Fite – Big Mistake:

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Movie Breakdown: Poltergeist

May 22, 2015

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

Another horror remake that no one asked for has arrived.  This time it’s Poltergeist.

The Reality:

The strangest thing about the current (and perhaps never ending) string of horror remakes/reboots/re-imaginings is that they seem more inclined to play it safe instead of taking the established property and spinning it in a crazy way that warrants a do-over.  Poltergeist is no different.  There’s nothing particularly wrong with the film – the cast is fine (especially Sam Rockwell), there’s a solid creepy moment or two and the movie doesn’t feel cheap – but overall it doesn’t do anything but try to avoid offending anyone.  How can any horror film with an agenda like that actually be scary at all?  It can’t.  So, while it pains me to say this, the unfortunate truth is that the new Poltergeist is just another entry in a long line of remakes that can’t justify their existence.  You should just stay home and watch the original.  At least that film had the balls to attempt to make you want to turn on all of the lights in your house and/or only watch romantic comedies for a month.

The Lesson:

Go big or go home.

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Speedy Ortiz

May 21, 2015

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Carpark Records have assembled a compilation for their 16th anniversary, and because Speedy Ortiz is on it I pretty much have to talk about it.  Below you’ll find the demo version of a song titled Basketball (from 2012′s Sports EP).  It’s quite a bit different than what ended up being released, and it actually kind of has me wishing that Sadie Dupuis and the gang would do an acoustic album.  Enjoy.

:Speedy Ortiz – Basketball (Demo):
:Speedy Ortiz – Basketball:

The Sweet Sixteen Basketball Picture Disc is due out July 21.

Bonus Video:

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Movie Breakdown: Tomorrowland

May 21, 2015

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

Brad Bird doesn’t make bad movies, so everyone is down for Tomorrowland because they should be.  The trailers have made the film seem like it will be a wondrous adventure.

The Reality:

Tomorrowland is a tricky film.  I think that if you look at it as something that’s only for kids, it mostly works well.  The story itself is kind of all over the place and not consistently entertaining, but the visuals are stunning and the main message that the film carries, which is to dream big and know that you can make the world a better place, is as positive as can be.  How inspiring, right?  The kids that are able to navigate the clunky narrative of Tomorrowland will get all excited, then they’ll slap on their imagination hats and make everything better.  I dig it.

However, what I refuse to dig is the shame that gets tossed at adults by Brad Bird (and co-writers Damon Lindelof and Jeff Jensen) in Tomorrowland.  In particular, there’s a poorly written monologue that essentially blames the world’s problems on those who engage in things like playing video games and/or watching violent movies.  No thanks.  That’s just silly and insulting.  Also, I think I’ll pass on the contradicting idea that we should all live and dream without boundaries, but only as long as we do so in a certain way.

Overall, Tomorrowland is shiny film with a heavy handed (and misguided, depending on what side of age 12 you’re standing on) message.  If you have kids, you could let them watch much worse.  If you don’t have kids, I say give Bird the bird and go see Mad Max: Fury Road again.

The Lesson:

Can’t win ‘em all.

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Plato III (Noah)

May 20, 2015

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It’s a plus of being a music, er, recommender, that you get to not only share your taste and hopefully influence other people’s, but on occasion, you get to make a genuine heart-felt connection with someone, simply through writing. After posting about Jeremiah Jae, L’Orange and my personal relationship with rap last week, Austin’s Plato III reached out to me, with a nice personal note and a link to his song. Often times, when you get an email like this, though it’s nice to note that someone took out the time to actually try and make it seem like they weren’t a robot, you get to the music and, well, the whole thing falls apart. Not so much for Plato III. His track Natalie Portman is a mellow, almost melancholy mix of breathy, non-stop flow with a sort of stretched out, ballad beat. In the wrong hands it could be Drake-light (and that’s light), but Plato III manages to stretch and bend and mix the potent sound of his voice with the twisting moan of the beat into something subtly psychedelic. It’s romantic, but as if you’d just dropped a horse-pill of Ketamine and were trying to get your legs untangled from the sheets. If anything, it’s promising, an acknowledgement of a new artists roots in the rap game, and his intention to do what he can to put his own personal stamp on it.

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Horse Thief, Pageantry (Jennifer)

May 20, 2015

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It’s not news that weekends in Austin for a live music fan tend to consist of having to choose between several quality shows.  For instance, I’ve already happily made my decision for this Friday night, but if I could fit in another show I would totally go see Horse Thief  (via Denton and Oklahoma City) and Pageantry (also hailing from Denton). Both bands are excellent purveyors of a lush, layered, and an occasionally soaring, anthemic sound that is familiar and comforting but also pleasantly surprising and unexpected. Their show together is this Friday at the Historic Scoot Inn with Reed Turner. Go in my place and support some talent from our neighbors!

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Spoon

May 19, 2015

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I haven’t been particularly looking forward to my screening of the Poltergeist remake later this week, but I’m feeling more upbeat about it now that I know the soundtrack contains Spoon covering The Cramps’ TV Set.  That’s kind of an inspired bit, right?  What if the rest of the movie is made up of similarly great choices?  Now I have hope for the flick and, let’s face it, I probably shouldn’t.  Thanks, Britt.  Anyhow, the cover is a real jam and just further proves that Spoon should be loved be all.  Enjoy.

:Spoon – TV Set (The Cramps Cover):

Bonus Videos:

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