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Archive | March, 2017

Hip Hop Hooray (Leah)

March 31, 2017

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We’re nearing the end of Women’s History Month, those 31 days a year when educators and lawmakers put the spotlight on women’s contributions to this great nation of ours.  I’ll add to that today by spotlighting women’s additions to the genre of hip-hop in this month’s playlist.  Women make amazing music even as obstacles exist to them doing so in a genre whose mainstream aspect is characterized by rank misogyny.  Here are some of those women. Listen up and party down.

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Hazel English

March 30, 2017

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Back in October of last year I came across Make It Better, a song from newcomer Hazel English, and I instantly got hooked on it.  Since then I’ve been a big fan of hers, so of course I was pretty pumped when I got an email about her impending double EP, Just Give In/Never Going Home (due May 12 via Polyvinyl and Marathon Artists).  The former is a set of six new songs, and the latter is actually her EP from last year.  Neat!  Today I have the first single/video.  Can’t wait for more!  Enjoy.

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Show Of The Week

March 29, 2017

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Sweet Spirit, who are currently one of Austin’s hottest acts, have TWO shows happening this week to honor their sophomore LP, St. Mojo.  One is Friday, the other is Saturday, and they’re both happening at Barracuda.  If you’re in the cool loop, then you probably know all of this and you already bought tickets for night one, which just recently sold out.  If you’ve been preoccupied or something, then I advise that you grab a ticket for night two before they’re all gone.  Trust me, you don’t want to miss the always electric Sweet Spirit celebrate their rad new album.

Night #1.  Har Mar Superstar and Tinnarose are set to open.

Night #2.  Absolutely Not and Fools will open.

BONUS Show Recommendations:

Tonight:
- Jenny Hval, Ssleeperhold at Barracuda
- The Psychedelic Furs, Robyn Hitchcock at Emo’s

Thursday:
- Otis the Destroyer, Bantam Foxes, WIldfires, Empty Shells at Cheer Up Charlies
- Hot Cotton, Carry Illinois, The Human Circuit at the Mohawk
- Shovels & Rope, Matthew Logan Vasquez at Emo’s

Friday:
- Gringo Star, Summer Salt, Tamarron, Andy Grant at Hotel Vegas
- Dossey, Zettajoule, MCG, MoonLasso at The Swan Dive

Saturday:
- Flesh Lights, Crooked Bangs, Dope Dungeons at Hotel Vegas
- Kady Rain, Megafauna, Fort Never, Whit at The Swan Dive
- The Canvas People, GOBI, Hours Quiet, Sugar Skull at Stubb’s
- Sounds Del Mar, David Beck at Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co.

Sunday:
- Knife in the Water at End of an Ear
- Ben Ballinger, Jonathan Terrell, Cari Q, Mean Jolene, El Lago at Barracuda

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Slowdive

March 28, 2017

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It’s usually pretty impressive when an artist returns after being gone for something like six or seven years, so you really have to give it up to Slowdive, who are back (and sounding good) after a whopping 22-year break.  The band’s new album is a self titled effort, and it will be out on May 5 via Dead Oceans.  I think it’s going to be a rad one.  Enjoy.

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101X Homegrown Podcast

March 27, 2017

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Here’s this latest 101X Homegrown. Listen!

(NEW) Molly Burch – Please Be Mine
(NEW) Matthew Logan Vasquez – Same
(NEW) Quiet Company – Celebrity Teeth Poacher
MCG – Start Over
Hours Quiet – Bring You Down
Knifight – I Am Electronic
Fort Never – Don’t Push Me Away
Spoon – Do I Have To Talk You Into It
Sweet Spirit – The Power
Dumb – Live Fast Die Dumb
Warm Soda – I Don’t Wanna Grow Up
Otis The Destroyer – Cheetah
(NEW) The Black Angels – I’d Kill For Her
The Ghost Wolves – Crybabies Go Home


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Helium

March 27, 2017

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Today I received an email with new Right Said Fred music and I immediately felt like maybe it was time for everyone to jump off of the 90s nostalgia train.  Thankfully though, that ridiculousness was canceled out by word from Helium that reissues of The Dirt Of Luck, The Magic City and the No Guitars EP are coming, along with Ends With And, a 19-track compilation of rarities, b-sides and unreleased tunes.  Look for all of this on May 19 via Matador.  Below you can check out one of the new-old songs.  Enjoy.

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Movie Breakdown: Power Rangers (Noah)

March 24, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

I grew up watching the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. I sat my 8-year old ass down on my bright red beanbag chair with a soda and a stack of cookies and watched 5 color-coded ninjas fight grown humans in rubber suits. Do I think it needs an edgy remake? No. But it’s 2017 and Hollywood’s grinding teeth need more unoriginal material to feed them.

Post-Screening Stance:

For those who didn’t grow up anytime between the early 90s and now, here’s a description of the (Mighty Morphin) Power Rangers: a group of 5 high-schoolers find magic stones that give them access to a rainbow’s worth of ninja outfits, as well as giant animal-themed robots which they use to fight Rita Repulsa and her army of rock monsters. If you are deciding whether you want to see this film or not based on a lingering worry that it might be “dumb”, then I have your answer: it is, by definition alone, dumb. That said, those keen minds in the bowels of Hollywood are trying to reintroduce these plucky Power Rangers (Red, Blue, Yellow, Black and Pink) to a new audience in a new era where kiddie ninjas and their lovable robot friends can’t be targeted at only 9-year olds. Thus, Power Rangers – by Dean Israelite – is the same general premise, shot through with a thick serum of contrast-y grit. A bunch of teenagers live in the small town of Angel Grove; they’ve all been in various kinds of trouble, all are burdened with the particular brand of malaise only a teenager can feel. Jason Scott (Dacre Montgomery) is the star quarterback of the football team struggling with his celebrity. He ends up in detention (there are strong shades of The Breakfast Club in this film) where he meets Billy (RJ Cyler), Kimberly (Naomi Scott) and Zack (Ludi Lin). Through a series of circumstances, all four, plus Trini (Becky G.) end up discovering the gemstones that make them Power Rangers under the guidance of Zordon (Bryan Cranston reprising his role) and Alpha 5 (voiced by Bill Hader). Training occurs, a bad guy (Rita Repulsa – Elizabeth Banks) is revealed, and the team must overcome their own weaknesses to learn how to be Power Rangers and kick some monster ass. If we’re rating this film on how well it has managed to do what it set out – to reintroduce the Rangers to a new generation, while staying true to the nostalgic yearning of the prior audience – Israelite’s film succeeds in spades. The director front ends the film with enough character development, lightly revealed exposition, and darkly tinged cinematography, that when someone inevitably yells, “It’s Morphin Time!” and turns into a spandex-clad warrior, it actually, kind of works. It isn’t easy to thread that needle, and applause should be had for the crew (actors included) on this, who are able to craft a movie that feels modern, edgy at times even, but doesn’t run away from the sillier aspects of the source material. There’s issues to be found – all the front-loading makes the CGI-clogged end battle feel rushed and Israelite has a tendency to just omit scenes instead of find a way to incorporate them – but hey, Israelite does the property right and in doing so, he cobbles together a flick that you don’t have to be embarrassed to tell anyone you’ve watched. And with so many shitty adaptations of, well, everything clogging the box offices, I’d call that a success.

One Last Thought:

The swollen river of superhero films have done some serious damage to non-superhero properties. By this I mean, now any film with anything slightly related to a superhero (color-coded ninjas fit the bill) just gets stuffed into the superhero sandbox. Power Rangers has the potential of being a truly weird, truly out there sort of property (and I do believe that Dean Israelite had hopes to make it even weirder), but instead the film ends up like a more colorful X-Men flick, the odd edges of it filed down so it fits in the proper, money making box.

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Raised Eyebrows: RIP Larry Coryell (Randy)

March 24, 2017

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Photo courtesy of @JYPSEYE

First wave fusion guitarist and Texas native Larry Coryell passed away in February at the age of 73. Coryell was born in Galveston, Texas and spent his formative years in Seattle before moving to New York in the mid 60’s. There he cut his teeth with Chico Hamilton, Gabor Szabo, and Gary Burton. Coryell is perhaps best known as the founder of The Eleventh House, one of the premiere fusion bands of the era.

In his book, Improvising: My Life in Music, there’s some really rad stories including when he turned down being in Miles Davis’ band and still doesn’t know why, where he turned down an offer to record a solo on one of Hendrix’s bigger tunes (photo of Coryell and Hendrix featured above) and the time he found himself ill-prepared in the studio recording with Robbie Robertson.

Coryell’s playing bridged rock and jazz unabashedly. Evidence of his unique, savage style lies on a number of recordings; ranging from his early 70’s Vanguard LPs to The Eleventh House to Mingus’ later recordings. He is missed and there will definitely never be another like him.

Here are my top 5 Coryell cuts.

“Lady Coryell” from Lady Coryell (1969)

This track is LC at his wildest and most PURE. Shit gets real at 3:30. The track features Roland Kirk’s drummer, Bob Moses and LC on guitar and bass. STUNNING.

“Ann Arbor” from The Restful Mind (1975)

LC in an acoustic setting. One of his finest compositions. Leaves me speechless every time. The track features ECM artist/guitarist Ralph Towner.

“Scotland I” from Offering (1972)

LC at his highest powers and his BEST RECORD. Offering finds Coryell and his band Foreplay, whose lineup includes the great Steve Marcus, just SLAYING.

“Stiff Neck” from Lady Coryell (1969)

Another from Coryell’s first solo LP on Vanguard. The track features the legendary Elvin Jones and according to Coryell’s book was also supposed to feature Jimmy Garrison on bass but he was late to the gig … so they went on without him. SO MUCH VIBE.

“Scotland Part One” from Aurora Coreyllis (2016)

Finding this compilation that was released just last year has been a revelation. The first four cuts find Coryell performing most of Offering at a jazz workshop in Boston, MA in September of 1972. Heavy improvs here and of course, Coryell is ON FIRE.

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Movie Breakdown: Personal Shopper (Noah)

March 23, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

I’ve never seen an Olivier Assayas film, but the guy is a real art-house rock star in France and abroad and his first hangout sesh with K-Stew, Clouds of Sils-Maria was well received. This might be a film I can get into.

Post-Screening Stance:

I’m going to be very honest: I didn’t get Personal Shopper. You know, it just didn’t make sense to me. I understood what was going on in the movie, but I didn’t know why Olivier Assayas chose to have these things going on. Kristen Stewart plays Maureen, a personal shopper for a very famous, supposedly awful person named Kyra (Nora von Waldstatten). She is also a medium, and a twin who has recently lost her twin brother. There’s two main story-lines: one, Maureen buys Kyra clothing and secretly, shamefully, tries that clothing on. And two, Maureen goes to a house that her dead twin brother Lewis once lived in and tries to find out if there’s still a ghost there. Eventually some form of stalker starts, well, stalking Maureen, and she kind of likes it and loathes it at the same time. All of this stuff comes together eventually, or all of it ends up in the same scenes and there’s some swelling music that I believe implied importance, but seriously, when the credits rolled, I had to go back and watch the ending over and over again, just to try and figure out what had happened, to see if I’d missed the telling moment that would wrap everything up in a nice subtextual ball. This movie wasn’t difficult to watch, but neither is staring at a comic book in a different language – it looks nice, but you don’t understand a damn thing.

One Last Thought:

Kristen Stewart has been riding this mumble train for a long time now. I wonder if she’ll ever move into an area of acting where’s she extremely excited all the time.

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Movie Breakdown: Life

March 23, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

I didn’t much like director Daniel Espinosa’s Safe House, but that’s not stopping me from looking forward to Life.  The film has a nice Alien vibe, and it stars the talented trio of Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds and Rebecca Ferguson.  Cue it up!

Post-Screening Ramble:

If I didn’t know any better, I’d think that Life was made long before Jake Gyllenhaal or Ryan Reynolds became household names.  It has a distinct low-rent feel, like the sort of film you’d stumble across late at night and then watch just because of the familiar faces on the cover.  The movie isn’t outright terrible – it hums along and is occasionally entertaining (and gross), but there’s absolutely nothing about it that’s memorable.  In fact, even I sit here now – less than 24 hours after having seen it – I’m having a difficult time recalling what happened in the damn thing.  Further complicating the matter is Gyllenhaal and Reynolds, who are definitely in Life but their roles don’t feel even remotely important, which is rather weird.  They’re so famous and all over the marketing for the film, but I couldn’t tell you the names of their characters even if tried.  Those two must have really owed someone a big favor.  Or it was just an easy payday.  Or both?  Who knows.  Regardless, they’re pretty useless in the film.

Unless you’re just really starved for some sci-fi, I’d wait a good long while to watch Life.  It doesn’t do anything fancy enough visually to warrant a trip to the theater, and it’s so forgettable that you’re better off watching it from the comfort of your couch so that you can occasionally nod off and dream about better movies.

One Last Thought:

Oddly enough, this movie didn’t actually do anything interesting enough to warrant another thought.  Drool, maybe, but definitely not another coherent thought.

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Show Of The Week

March 22, 2017

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Oh my.  Who wants to go to a show the week after SXSW?  Probably none of you, but that doesn’t change the fact that there are still some good ones happening.  My favorite of the bunch is My Education’s party at Sidewinder on Saturday.  The instrumental post-rock act will actually being doing two sets – one that’s nothing but fan favorites, and another that’s comprised of their new album, Schipol.  Sounds neat.  Be there.

Tix are $12.  The rest of the lineup is great as well.  It includes Megafauna, The Clouds Are Ghosts, Knifight, Total Unicorn, Bright Like The Sun, The Angelus and A Sundae Drive.

BONUS Show Recommendations:

Tonight:
- The Rich Hands, Crocodile Tears, Killer Hearts at Hotel Vegas
- Blink-182, The Naked and Famous at Austin360 Amphitheater at Circuit of The Americas

Thursday:
- Caroline Says, Andy Grant of Roses at Hotel Vegas
- Carry Illinois, Lola Tried at The Sidewinder
- Electric Six at Stubb’s
- Blushing, Honeyrude, Fools at the Hole in the Wall

Friday:
- Croy & The Boys, Bad Lovers, Caleb & Corey DJ at Hotel Vegas

Saturday:
- Booher, Harvest Thieves at Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co
- Vanessa Carlton at the Parish
- Power Trip, Iron Age, Glue, The Real Cost at the Mohawk

Sunday:
- Greg Cartwright (Reigning Sound/Oblivians), The Golden Boys, Mind Spiders, Que Pasa at Barracuda

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Do Make Say Think

March 21, 2017

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While doing some digging to see what I missed during the chaotic lead-up to SXSW, I came across some new music from famed post-rockers Do Make Say Think.  Apparently, the band has a new album – their first in a solid eight years – that’s coming on May 19 via Constellation Records.  The LP is called Stubborn Persistent Illusions, and today you can check out a really rad 12-minute jam from it.  Be sure to toss on headphones before you hit play.  Enjoy.


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101X Homegrown Podcast

March 20, 2017

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Here’s this week’s 101X Homegrown. Listen!

(NEW) Spoon – Do I Have To Talk You Into It
Alex Napping – You’ve Got Me
The Digital Wild – Wait
The Wild Now – Run For Your Life
The Octopus Project – Cuidate
(NEW) Knifight – I Am Electronic
My Education – Open Marriages
(NEW) Dumb – Live Fast Die Dumb
(NEW) Warm Soda – I Don’t Wanna Grow Up
The Ghost Wolves – Crybabies Go Home
Crooked Bangs – Rabbit Hole
Sweet Spirit – The Mighty
Booher – Pick Up The Robot Put The Robot Down
Food Group – Nocturne


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Feist

March 20, 2017

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SXSW is over!  Hooray!  There’s also a new Feist single and she’s announced her first album in seemingly forever!  More hooray!  The LP is titled Pleasure, and it’ll be out on April 28 via Interscope.  The title track is down below, and it’s an entrancing effort.  Enjoy.

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Movie Breakdown: Beauty And The Beast

March 15, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

Like most, I adore the animated Beauty And The Beast film from 1991.  Also like most, I’m not entirely sure it needs a live action version.  Still, I love what Disney did last year with The Jungle Book and Pete’s Dragon, so I might as well be all in on Bill Condon’s adaptation of BATB.

Post-Screening Ramble:

I want to tell you that Beauty And The Beast is a grand retelling that you’re going to love.  But it isn’t.  Unfortunately, the film, though magical at moments, is a fairly ho-hum affair.  The story is basically the same, your favorite songs are there, the cast is great and the film itself looks nice, but it has quite a few issues that steadily trip it up as it moves along.  Personally, I found the biggest problem to be the extra items that were tacked on to get the film to a totally not-needed two-hour run time.  This isn’t to say I don’t like that Bill Condon changed anything – because I do (after all, it is his adaptation) – but what’s been added is not good.  There’s a handful of new songs that in no way match up with the old songs (neither in quality or sound), so they feel like they’re from a different movie.  There’s a segment on what happened to Belle’s mother that’s entirely useless.  There’s more at play with the Enchantress, but none of it makes any sense.  Plus more fat.  A lot of it, actually, and all of it together make for a film that simply just drags when it’s not giving you a highlight from the animated version.

Here’s what you should do, see at the theater because you know you want to.  That’s fine.  Just promise you’ll greatly temper your expectations.  Also, DO NOT see it in 3D.

One Last Thought:

There’s a moment near the end of this film that involves a particular someone growling (you’ll know it when you see it) and it made me cringe so hard that it took two hours for my face to feel normal again.

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