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2013 Austin Essentials: Volume 3

November 27, 2013

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And now, before Thanksgiving consumes us all, I present to you the last part of my Austin Essentials (here are Volume 1 and 2).  Hopefully you’ve had fun.  If you didn’t, what the hell happened?  At any rate, I love you all.  Enjoy.

PS – Honorable mentions go to the Austin bands who just missed the cut (way too many to list) and to acts like The Couch, Dana Falconberry, and Letting Up Despite Great Faults who put out music last year but still had a great 2013.

:The Black Angels – Evil Things:  While I’m a big fan of The Black Angels’ early albums, I don’t have an issue with them continuing to move away from being heavy and droney.  Probably because I can only stare at my ceiling fan for so long each day.  Find The Black Angels on FB here, and buy their music here.

:Gal Pals – Earthquake:  If you ask me, Gal Pals are just as good as La Sera, Splinters, La Luz, and any of the other lady-lead garage pop acts that are scattered around the globe.  By the way, who can help me convince them to put together an album already?  Find Gal Pals on FB here, and buy their music here.

:Sweet Talk – Microphone:  Sweet Talk remind of the pop rock that I loved when I was a teenager.  This track requires a loud volume and you enthusiastically singing-a-long.  Find Sweet Talk on FB here, and buy their music here.

:Bobby Jealousy – Bang Bang:  Because Sabrina Ellis is just that good, here she is with her other band, the always catchy Bobby Jealousy.  They played ACL this year, which is just straight up awesome.  Find Bobby Jealousy on FB here, and buy their music here.

:The Octopus Project – Whitby:  Personally, I think that Fever Forms is The Octopus Project’s best album.  They’ve really honed their experimental ways and the material coming by way of their leap forward is just undeniably good.  Find The Octopus Project on FB here, and buy their music here.

:Magna Carda – Shoes $ Money:  I recently mentioned to SOTO’s resident rap guru Leah Manners that I didn’t get around to much local hip hop in 2013, and she promptly scolded me and then sent this track so that I would know exactly what I had been missing out on.  Lesson fucking learned.  Find Magna Carda on FB here, and buy their music here.

:The Black And White Years – Little One:  I don’t really know what to expect from The Black And White Years’ next album, Strange Figurines, but I know that I’m looking forward to it solely because of this inspired electro pop number.  Find The Black And White Years on FB here, and buy their music here.

:Mother Falcon – Dirty Summer:  You can argue you about it if you want, but the fact of the matter is that all 419 members of Mother Falcon really know how to make a pretty sounding song.  They released the unsurprisingly well crafted You Knew this summer.  Find Mother Falcon on FB here, and buy their music here.

:Feverbones – Breaking Even:  I need to start talking about Feverbones more, as I really do think they’re crafting some of Austin’s most interesting indie rock.  For proof, see the self titled EP they put out earlier this year.  Find Feverbones on FB here, and buy their music here.

:Roger Sellers – Sincere:  Now matter what style of music he’s playing, Roger Sellers always seems to effortlessly pull it off.  It’s okay if you want to scream “talented bastard” and then shake your fist at the sky.  Find Roger Sellers on FB here, and buy his music here.

:Holy Wave – Star Stamp:  I fully expect Holy Wave to garner a slew of new fans in 2014.  This single is as accessible as they’ve ever been, and I have a feeling that their new album, Relax, will be the first great psych rock release of the year.  Find Holy Wave on FB here, and buy their music here.

:The Mole People – Searching The Streets:  The Mole People are a whirlwind of psychedelia, and that’s fine by me.  This song in particular reminds me of the kind of music that Slumberland often puts out.  Find The Mole People on FB here, and buy their music here.

:The Preservation – Still Be Your Friend:  The Preservation pretty much nail it by referring to their approach as “cosmic American music from heart.”  By the way, kudos to them for earning spots at KGSR’s Blues on the Green and ACL.  Find The Preservation on FB here, and buy their music here.

:Bill Callahan – Small Plane:  I’ve yet to give Bill Callahan’s Dream River a thorough listen, and that’s just silly of me.  At least I’ve spent a good chunk of time with this beautiful track, though.  Find Bill Callahan’s fan page on FB here, and buy his music here.

:Reservations – That Road We Traveled Down:  Jana Horn’s stellar voice not only leads Reservations, but I also seem to just wander along behind it.  I hope their debut full length arrives in the first part of 2014.  Find Reservations on FB here, and buy their music here.

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Valentine’s Day Is For Music Lovers (Jennifer)

February 13, 2013

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Shakespeare wrote in Twelfh Night, “If music be the food of love, play on.”  This Valentine’s Day, I’m going to attempt to heed the Bard’s advice by feeding my love for music.  Tonight, there is a free show at Holy Mountain called Free Love, which features three local bands to get your heart pumping: Frank Smith, Leopold And His Fiction, and The Sweet Nuthin.

The Sweet Nuthin close the night with their grit meets glam brand of rock n’ roll; they also share a bit of love advice in their new song, All In – “sometimes you got to take a chance/sometimes you got to give romance a try/even though it’s goin’ to die.” If you can’t see them tonight, you have a second chance on Friday night at Swan Dive when they pair up with their friends, The Happen-Ins. Plenty of good, sweaty rock n’ roll to celebrate your new-found romance and/or soothe your broken heart.

On Valentine’s Day, you can also show some heart by downloading PowPow‘s new single, Pin Drop (b/w Rich) here. The release benefits the charity Half The Sky. The generous cherry on top is if you attend their release party tomorrow at Lucky Lounge, 10% of the bar proceeds will benefit the charity Autism Speaks. It’s an early show (8-9:30 pm) and food will be provided too. Here’s another musical sweet treat from this local indie pop duo:

I must confess that I’m really excited for the Valentine’s Day event featuring Bobby Jealousy, where they are celebrating the release of their 2nd album, The Importance Of Being Jealous. 2012 was a busy year for them, they released their debut album, A Little Death, toured, underwent some lineup changes, as well as writing and recording the new album. Bobby Jealousy is a pop band but this is not throwaway pop; this is pop that grabs you and demands to be heard and shared. I’ve heard a few of the new songs and you can hear their signature mix of musical styles ranging from glam punk to country ballads. I like to describe the band as “seriously fun” – the songwriting is top notch and as a live band, they’re incredibly fun, engaging, and know how to put on a show.

Get your weekend started at Red 7 – Bobby Jealousy are joined by some of their favorite local bands, Roky Moon And The Goodnight, The Bad Lovers, and Shapes Have Fangs.  Let Bobby Jealousy be your Valentine this year; I promise that they will sweep you off your feet. If you already have a valentine, then pick up a copy of The Importance Of Being Jealous; it’s much sweeter than a box of chocolates and will last longer than a dozen roses.

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Local Live Picks (Jennifer)

January 16, 2013

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Free Week in Austin may be over, but there’s no rest for the wicked as there are several great local shows coming up this month. This Friday at Frank there is the killer triple bill of Gentlemen RoguesMoonlight Towers, and Excited States. This will be an evening of loud, ringing guitars with plenty of hooks and melody.  I’ve been a longtime fan of Gentlemen Rogues and Moonlight Towers, but in the past year I became a fan of local trio, Excited States. There’s no finished album just yet but they recently posted a couple of tunes on their Soundcloud page, and they’re chock full of tasty power pop goodness. Their gigs are infrequent so I encourage you to check them out this weekend at Frank. They open the show at 10pm followed by Moonlight Towers and then Gentlemen Rogues.

A few of my local favorites have month-long residencies worth checking out. Sabrina Ellis from Bobby Jealousy is a very busy woman this month with the Home Church Monday night residency with Bobby Jealousy and special guests at Hotel Vegas, and then Sabrina’s Foxy Nights, which is a solo residency (with special guests) on Wednesday nights at The Fox Tavern. Bobby Jealousy’s Free Week show last Friday at The Mohawk was such a blast, I’d love to see them again one of these January Mondays. If you prefer a mellower, more intimate atmosphere, I suggest going to one of solo shows at The Fox Tavern. If you missed out on his monthilong residency last August at The Parish, you have another chance to see Shakey Graves (the moniker of songwriter, Alejandro Rose-Garcia) every Wednesday night this month at The Parish. Word of mouth is spreading across the globe about him, so don’t miss your opportunity to see him in Austin for free at one of the best sounding venues in town. Doors open at 8pm; there are different special guests each week that open the show before Shakey takes the stage. He has some serious guitar picking skills and a charismatic yet easygoing stage presence.

Wednesday night seems to be popular night to host a residency. The Sweet Nuthin’ have put together A Very January Residency at Hole in the Wall. This fun, hard rockin’ quartet (plus special guests every week) will be celebrating January humpdays from 10pm-midnight. Tonight should be a rollicking good time as they are joined by their friend, Nic Armstrong. The Sweet Nuthin will be doing double duty – playing their own tunes and as members of Nic’s band, The Thieves. In addition to these monthly residencies, I also wanted to mention a couple of other special shows. Local symphonic pop ensemble, Linen Closet, is re-releasing their Bright Wing EP. The songs have been remixed and the EP is finding new life on cassette through the Accrue Cassettes label. This special show will be held on Sat Jan 19th at Central Presbyterian Church and feature an expanded lineup. Their performance at CPC last August was extraordinary – a perfect marriage of the band’s sound and setting. I’m looking forward to hearing their orchestral, melodic swirls fill the entire church once again.

Last but not least, a couple of local favorites will be launching their winter tour adventures. On Tuesday, January 22, local indie pop quartet, Tiger Waves, will be kicking off a Jan/Feb US tour at the Mohawk. Their surf and psychedelia influenced sound has been growing on me since I first saw them a year ago. Their Don’t Be Yourself EP and more are available to stream and download on Bandcamp. I especially love the Beach Boys meets Real Estate vibe on their Weekends single. I encourage you to give them a warm sendoff – they’re playing late after the sold out Purity Ring show with local dream pop quintet, Black Books. Touring is expensive so if you would like to help them out, you can do that on their Kickstarter page and/or purchase merchandise at their upcoming gigs. Prog pop band, The Eastern Sea, started their winter tour with The Kopecky Family Band on Monday and they’ll be returning to Austin on Saturday, January 19 to play at The Parish before going back on the road. They were one of my favorite highlights from Austin City Limits Festival 2012 (and released one of my favorite albums, Plague, of last year), and I highly recommend hearing them at the Parish.

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Jennifer’s Top 11 Austin Albums Of 2012

December 14, 2012

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When I sat down to list my favorite songs and albums from 2012, Austin bands were all over it. I’m going to take that as a sign and share the local favorites that I listened to repeatedly. There’s no special ranking or order here. It was harder than I expected to narrow it down to the Top 11. These are the bands that made an impression on me this year and give me reasons to be a music fan. I hope you’ll discover new favorites and check them out in 2013.

JC & Co – Music By

This band’s debut album kicked off my 2012 with blissful, dreamy 60s influenced pop. Led by songwriter and guitarist, Jason Chronis, this album is filled  with plenty of jangly guitar hooks and stick in your head melodies.

Belaire – Resonating Symphony

The members of JC & Co had a busy year because most of the band is also part of Belaire. Resonating Symphony was released this spring after having been worked on for three years. It was definitely worth the wait, as it’s a breezy, infectious pop delight with a range of influences that hint of bossa nova, folk, and electropop.

Dana Falconberry – Leelanau

I had heard of Dana from the Echotone music documentary, but I didn’t check out her songs until her album release show a couple of months ago. You could say I had a “what took me so long to pay attention?” moment, but needless to say, I was enchanted by the eloquent, emotive songs filled with the nature inspired sounds of her home state, Michigan. Just close your eyes, listen carefully, and you can imagine yourself transported to the woods and lakes of her childhood.

The Eastern Sea – Plague

The Eastern sea is a name that I first heard a couple of years ago, but I didn’t follow through on checking out their tunes. Thank goodness for second chances! Despite the foreboding album title, the songs on Plague also convey a sense of joy, hope, and overcoming the odds despite what might be against you. A triumphant, gorgeous record worth repeated listens.

Good Field – Good Field

I first heard their self titled debut album about seven months ago, and I’m still completely head over heels for it. The LP is full of undeniable guitar pop hooks that get into your head and never leave. I highly recommend seeing them play live so you can also witness just how great they are as musicians. A new album is in the works and more touring, so keep your eyes and ears open in 2013 for this band. I promise you that they measure up to all my fangirl gushing.

She Sir – You Could Be Tiger/Condensedindents

Their next album, Go Guitars, is slated for a 2013 release. To appease the appetite of fans, the band made two new songs available for download and/or streaming. I can’t get enough of their lush, shimmery sound that floats and swirls in a melodic haze.

The Calm Blue Sea – Arrivals And Departures

This is the year I finally enjoyed a (mostly) instrumental rock album. This is a surprising revelation for a (mostly) power pop, hook loving music fan. Maybe that’s why I love this album, it blew my own expectations away. At one moment you can close your eyes and drift away and at another moment, you can’t resist pulling out some air guitar and/or drumming. This music isn’t just for bedroom listening. Their album release show this fall was one of the shows you brag to your friends about how you were there. I also highly recommend checking out their video performance series, Aberrations And Departures, which was shot at various Austin locations ranging from a neighborhood bar, a vintage store, and a playground. Each setting seamlessly fits into the personality of the songs.

The Couch – The Couch

Early this year, I saw The Couch perform as part of The Good Music Club, and I finally became a Couch convert. They have the advantage of having two talented songwriters and lead singers (I’m such a sucker for great dual male/female vocals), and a solid, top notch rhythm section. It’s a fun, sweaty rock and roll with a melodic, pop heart beating underneath.

Bobby Jealousy- A Little Death

Their debut album is a delicious mix of rock, pop, glam, soul, and punk. The band is a great combination of solid songwriting and infectious, engaging live performances. There have been lineup changes since the album’s release, but that is not slowing the band down from starting work on the next release. I’m excited to hear more from tthem.

The Zoltars – Should I Try Once More?

This album was instantly in the running to be a year end favorite. I became a fan of their less is more, stripped back sound and songwriting. The winning factor is that they’re able to make it catchy, infectious, and worthy of repeated listens. They make the sad songs feels so good.  A 7″ EP is slated for release in January or February, and a new album is set for a summer 2013 release.

Leatherbag – Ditto Time

In 2012, they re-branded themselves briefly as No Future before calling it a day. This past spring, this trio released Ditto Time, which hinted at the band’s change in direction described as “flag wave.” I’m still not quite sure what that is but at the end of the day, the results were killer, no BS songwriting from Randy Reynolds and a badass rhythm section of Daniel Blanchard and Drew Emmons. They were a live favorite that I never tired of seeing. I’m really going to miss this band – good tunes from good people.

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