:Bop English – Sentimental Wilderness: Just in case you missed this bit of info when I posted it a while back, Bop English is the solo moniker of White Denim’s James Petralli. I think you’re going to love the playful but intricate arrangement that drives this song (I certainly do). Constant Bop is due out April 14 via Downtown Records.
:Eternal Summers – Together Or Alone: The Drop Beneath came out just last year, but Eternal Summers have already put together a follow-up. Judging by this track, they’ve found a nice balance between the sheen of their recent work and the lo-fi ways of their earlier efforts. Cool. Gold And Stone is due out June 2 via Kanine Records.
:Modest Mouse – Of Course We Know: I believe this heavy slow burner is the fifth song that has been set free in anticipation of Modest Mouse’s new album. Not sure I can recall another time where a high profile release has had so many official “leaks.” Strangers To Ourselves is due out March 17 via Epic.
Meditating on Dylan’s 1976 live album Hard Rain, I get both inspired and embarrassed.
I had made a friend my first year in college who was a hippie kind of fella that I ended up hanging out with quite a bit. He played the tired old acoustic guitar/harmonica combo and sang Dylan songs all the time. I couldn’t admit to him at the time that I didn’t really know who Bob Dylan was and that I just hated all those fucking long ass songs he was constantly singing. I thought they were his songs! Let’s just say, your first introduction to Dylan shouldn’t be a guy in Birkenstocks and a beaded necklace singing his own nasal interpretation of The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll. He wasn’t all bad though, he knew girls, got me high and let me borrow Decade by Neil Young.
Somewhere along the line, this guy busted out a cassette of Dylan’s rough and tumble live album from 1976 called Hard Rain. He had bought it at a gas station for a couple bucks and just as soon as it began playing, I was enthralled. Was this the same legendary Dylan this dude was always talking about?
Maggie’s Farm starts the set with everyone kind of warming up before going for it. Dylan’s nasal vocals are bygone and the band behind him is in full rock mode despite being out of tune and not really knowing what the hell is gonna happen next. It’s evident in every refrain of the song’s chorus. They hang in there though, even when Dylan momentarily forgets where he is around the 3:40 mark.
One Too Many Mornings follows, sounding nothing like the folk version recorded back in ‘64. Keep in mind that I hadn’t heard any of that yet, this was the first I had heard of any of these songs and I thought they were exceptional. There was something approachable to the music that the folkier stuff still doesn’t possess for me. The sound of an out of tune telecaster was easier for me to copy than any acoustic fingerpicking.
The big highlights for me continue to be Oh, Sister and You’re a Big Girl Now. Both of these particular readings are not only the most well played tracks of the whole set but are also overwhelmingly ardent. Shelter From the Storm is close behind. Between the groovy/spastic bassline of Rob Stoner, Mick Ronson’s melodic guitar lines and the aimless slide work of Dylan himself, the song gets an uplifting makeover.
Hard Rain is without a doubt my favorite Dylan record. It caused to me think differently about the possibilities of song. To later hear the original versions of these songs and really understand how much the compositions had been changed was sort of a revelation. It doesn’t matter that I first heard it at a hippie guys house, does it?
The gentlemen from The Happen-Ins are back with a new album, Glamour Shots, and they’re celebrating with a release party at the Mohawk this Friday. The band hasn’t lost any of the confident, easygoing swagger that was on their debut, so they’ll be continuing to inspire plenty of sweaty hip shakin’ moves and grooves. The new album serves up a tasty musical stew seasoned with generous dashes of blues, soul, pop, psychedelia, and classic rock n’ roll.
I love the Austin Beer Garden Brewery Co. It’s my happy place. Their motto is “Beer Makes It Better” and, of course, I agree. Not only do they have an amazing beer selection but also the people are nice and the food is delish. The converted warehouse next to the train tracks is a perfect spot for a brewery (mostly because it’s somewhat close to my house). Inside there is a beer hall vibe with long communal tables and a big stage for bands. But unlike German beer hall, there are no polka acts playing (thank god).
The ABGB has done a stellar job of booking an eclectic mix of country, rock, garage, and bluegrass bands. This Saturday is no different. Fun Button, a Denton based four piece, kicks off the night with their mix of blues, rock, and post-punk.
Next up is the ferocious power duo The Ghost Wolves. I can’t get enough of their noisy garage rock meets American roots sound. Their stomp and roll style with a punk rock attitude make for one hell of a show. They do more with electric guitar and a four-piece drum set than almost any band this side of The White Stripes.
Closing out the night is The Harms. These ladies also have a garage-y sound but with a psychedelic and surf rock twist to it. They layer harmonies on top of their power riffs and thunderous drums, which is the perfect music to dance to after drinking all night in a brewery. See you on Saturday!
I’ve just about worn out Pedestrian At Best, so big ups to the wonderful Courtney Barnett for tossing out a new single. Hopefully it’ll hold me over until I can see her at SXSW (or convince someone to give me her album early). As for the track, it doesn’t quite feature the elaborate word play that she’s quickly becoming known for, but I think you’ll find its simple yet beautiful approach to be equally fantastic. Enjoy.
:The Go! Team – What D’You Say: Is it just me or is the upcoming Go! Team album kind of flying under the radar? I think the first three songs released off of it (that includes this one) have all been really good, but I’ve yet to come across anyone who has it pegged as a priority. Maybe folks will perk up once The Scene Between is actually out on March 24 via Memphis Industries.
:Fred Thomas – Cops Don’t Care Pt. II: Here’s the latest rambler from Fred Thomas (of Saturday Looks Good To Me). He kind of sounds as though he’s just spewing out stuff he scribbled in a journal, but I can’t help but find it all really endearing. All Are Saved is due out April 7 via Polyvinyl.
Alright, thanks for reading that first part. This month, I’ve pulled together some artists you can find playing at the gigantic, city-stopping, party mushroom bomb we call South By Southwest. Hope you enjoy this playlist and catch some artists below. A lot of them are at “official” showcases, but some are just currently at the shows listed below as far as I know. Any that lack dates and locations are official SXSW artists with performances to be announced. Happy partying, y’all.
PS – I’m hosting a show with Chi Chi from ScratchedVinyl.com at Dive Bar on Thursday, March 19. Come out!
SONG OF THE MONTH:
:Hologram Kizzie (aka Psalm One) – The Responsibility: The First Lady of Rhymesayers is back this year at Dive Bar for our showcase and honestly, if you haven’t seen this MC perform, you are missing out. She is one of my favorite Chicago emcees and always puts on an amazing show.
I had planned on posting a Quickdraw today, but the new Built To Spill single is so fantastic (especially once it jumps into high gear) that I couldn’t justify not letting it have all your attention. Who knew they still had it in them? I can’t say that I did. They haven’t put out anything since 2009′s There Is No Enemy and in the time since then the lineup has undergone some shuffling (two out, two in). To me, that sounds like a band who’s maybe nearing the end. To them, I guess it was a chance to recharge. I can dig it. Enjoy.
If you lived in San Francisco at a certain time (the garage-rock haven of the early 2010s) at a certain point in your life (somewhere between 25 – 35) and you were any sort of authority on music (I’m not, but hey we can dream of something besides all-you-can-eat swirl ice cream cones) you were expected to like The Mantles. It wasn’t a question, or an opinion, it was a stated fact – The Mantles are (were) good, and you have (had) no choice but to enjoy them, regardless of your stated opinions. At the one and only Mantles’ show I attended – in a dingy warehouse in Oakland – I found my brain wandering, my drinking increasing, my memory of the event foggy and indistinct. ‘Cause, hey now, I don’t like The Mantles. I don’t know why, their brand of pop leaning garage-rock was perfectly fine, a sort of harbinger of San Francisco’s evolution from fuzzed-out rock town to pop-heavy, er, convoluted-mess-town, they just didn’t register with me. They fell through the cracks of everything else that was going on, and because so much else was going on, they just slid off me. But, I’m still drawn to the name, and when I was lurking about the net this week hoping San Francisco might cough up something for me to write about I saw that The Mantles’ frontman Michael O. was releasing a new album, a solo project you might say. And, well, from what I’ve heard, it’s very, very good. Call it internal growth as a music listener, or a just an evolution of taste, but Michael O. has taken the at times undefinable sound of The Mantles circa-2010 – all that jangle, all that fuzz – and turned it into what feels like a tempo-drunk, acoustic take on a Ramones’ album. It’s earnest – it’s heart pumping and bleeding on a velvet sleeve – but the earnestness isn’t just out in the open, hoping someone will hug it, nah, it’s immersed in the thin shreds of basement-recorded guitar and Michael O’s sneering voice. It’s at once jangle-soaked happiness, but with that near unseeable line of darkness that gives it a shadow that gives it depth. I’ll give it a high compliment: Michael O’s solo work makes me wonder if The Mantles’ really were worth the hype and I just turned my nose and missed the boat.
Austin quartet Sounds Del Mar made their live debut about a year ago, and now their debut album, Miami Vice’n, is set for release on Nine Mile Records. The band is celebrating twice this week – an in-store at Trailer Space Records tomorrow and at their record release party this Saturday at The Mohawk. Their 70′s rock sound is infused with eclectic slices of new wave synths, disco grooves, and bluesy guitar riffs. The songs sound fantastic (FYI, the band is composed of sound engineers; they produced, recorded, and mixed the album themselves) and are ridiculously fun. Let their sonic sunshine help chase away those winter blues.
It’s taken a little longer than I expected it would, but Leon Bridges has finally let loose a new song (listen to the previously released Coming Home and Better Manhere). It is, as if to make him even more endearing, about his mother, and it features a retro sound so warm and inviting that I’d be more than happy to just curl up with it forever. There’s no official release date (other than “late summer”) currently set for his debut album, but I assume that one will be announced sooner rather than later. I can’t wait. Enjoy.
:Crocodiles – Crybaby Demon: The press release for this track describes it as being “salsa-punk”. Is that actually a thing? Either way, I like it. Good move by Crocodiles to record their new album in Mexico City. Boys is due out May 12 via Zoo Music.
:Family Bike – Idiot Boy: Family Bike is a new project from drummer Taylor Haag and vocalist Karl Kuehn (Museum Mouth). I think they have a really crafty pop rock sound, and I’m excited for their debut LP. Everything You Own Is Anagrammed will be out later this year on Negative Fun/EggHunt.
:Mat Shoare – Murder: “If I had time to kill you/Believe me I’d try/I wouldn’t hesitate/I wouldn’t cry” Mat Shoare is an interesting fella and this plodding track of his is one of those that you’ll be thinking about long after it’s over. Look for Right As Rain on May 5.
This month’s Guest Mix is from my good pal Matt Shiv! I met Shiv forever ago when he moved to Austin to continue working for WOXY. The station, unfortunately, didn’t make it, but Shiv went ahead and stuck around since it would have been really difficult to move his record collection back to Cincinnati. Enjoy.
John asked me to check in with what I’ve been listening to lately. He won’t be too surprised to know (although you may be) that I’m in a real pop-heavy mode these days. My listening habits are all over the board, with lots of pop radio intermingling with indie rock and old jazz records. The following tracks are in my personal heavy rotation right now. 2015 is definitely off to a great start.
Giorgio Moroder feat. Kylie Minogue – Right Here, Right Now
Legendary producer Giorgio Moroder’s upcoming album is called 74 Is The New 24. It’s his first release in over 30 years and he’s enlisting the help of guest vocalists like Britney Spears, Sia, Charli XCX, Mikky Ekko, Foxes and, on this incredible first single, Aussie diva Kylie Minogue.
YesYou feat. Noah Slee and Castlerays – Waste Away
Heard this track a few weeks ago listening to Triple J radio out of Australia. They’re a production duo from Brisbane and it reminds me of when I first heard Disclosure. Waste Away features vocals from Noah Slee and Castlerays and is the first single from an EP released on Yuksek’s Partyfine label.
The-Dream feat. T.I. – That’s My Shit
Terius Nash has written some of the biggest hits of the last decade including Rihanna’s Umbrella and Beyonce’s Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It). He’s expected to release a double album later this year and this single from it is as amazing as it is horribly sexist.
Purity Ring – Begin Again
I loved the 2012 debut album from this Canadian duo and fell in love with them thanks to their dynamic and unique live performances. There have been three advance tracks released from their upcoming album Another Eternity and this is my favorite of the bunch. Thankfully they’re going to be hitting the road to support the record and we’ll get them back in Austin in late May.
Fifth Harmony – Worth It
I’ve always had a fondness for all-girl pop groups from the UK. Fifth Harmony reminds me of the Sugababes, so I was really surprised to recently find out that they aren’t from England at all. Turns out, they all were contestants on the US version of The X Factor and then turned into a little supergroup. Hell, one of the members is even from San Antonio. They won me over with last year’s single Bo$$ with its chorus that simply repeated the lyrics “Boss Michelle Obama/Purse so heavy gettin’ Oprah dollars.” Their new single should totally work at pop radio, partially because it sounds a lot like last year’s huge hit Don’t Tell ‘Em by Jeremih.
Mark Ronson feat. Keyone Starr – I Can’t Lose
Collaborating with Bruno Mars on Uptown Funk has finally broken Mark Ronson into the mainstream stateside, although I suspect that many people who pick up the full album for that tune are left scratching their heads a bit at the rest of it. The project doesn’t have anything else as commercial as the lead single, but this little slice of heaven from the middle of the album is a soulful banger featuring vocals from a previously unknown singer Ronson discovered in Mississippi.
Django Django – First Light
This is the first single from the London band’s second full-length album, Born Under Saturn. It won’t be out until May, but I just may play this song on an endless loop up until it does.
Natalie Prass – Your Fool
This Nashville-based singer was, until recently, touring as a backup singer for Jenny Lewis. She just struck out on her own with a gorgeous self-titled album that is out on the Spacebomb label. I’m loving the production on this album and this track has a sunny, 70s AM-radio vibe. RIYL: Sharon Van Etten, The Mynabirds, Jenny Lewis (duh!)
The Decemberists – Lake Song
I’ve always liked The Decemberists in small doses, but have never spent a lot of time with their catalog. I heard this track on XM’s The Loft one night when driving home from work and I was so transfixed by it that I couldn’t get out of my car until it was over. This epic track will never be a single, but it’s my favorite track on the new album What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World.