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2014 Austin Essentials: Volume 1

November 24, 2014


It’s taken me a couple of weeks, but I’ve finally manged to get my 2014 Austin Essentials list all perfectly hammered out  And by perfectly hammered out, I mean “I’m pretty sure I got 91% of it right.”  Anyways, it’s 60 or so bands long and it’s divided into three volumes (part two is tomorrow, part three is on Wednesday).  In case you’re wondering, my only real “guideline” for the list was that the artist must have put out something new (no re-releases, man) in 2014.  So, get to sampling!  I hope you find some new local stuff to love.  Enjoy.

PS – For the sake of not making the list even longer, I left out super familiar names like Spoon, And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, The Black Angels, Shakey Graves, Balmorhea, Ume, Quiet Company and I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness.

:Major Major Major – God Doesn’t Want Us:  Throughout 2014 Major Major Major have been increasingly impressive.  Their shows are a blast, and then there’s also the way the duo can’t seem to write anything that isn’t infectious.  Look out for their debut full length next year.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Abram Shook – Coastal:  I really love Abram Shook’s Sun Marquee.  The album is one of those pop efforts that’s both wonderfully crafted and super accessible.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Tele Novella – Trouble In Paradise:  Tele Novella spent much of the year further establishing themselves (singles, videos, lots of shows), and I think 2015 is now set to be a big one for them.  Jump on the bandwagon now.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:The Dead Space – Behind The Wall:  The Dead Space’s Faker is probably my favorite Austin album of 2014.  It’s a fantastic collection of post-punk tracks.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Magna Carda – Every Weekend (Featuring Olivia Applegate):  Magna Carda are no longer just one of the best hip hop acts in Austin, they’re one of the city’s best overall acts.  Here soon they’re releasing an album, and I can’t wait to check it out.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Dana Falconberry – Palmless:  Dana Falconberry and Jim Eno (from Spoon) crafted this song together for a Record Store Day release.  I want a lot more of the same.  Please.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Borrisokane – God Doesn’t Want Us (Major Major Major Cover):  Borrisokane’s Versus Project (a box set that features them and a variety of guests doing covers and original tunes) is probably the most ambitious thing that popped out of Austin in 2014.  Check it out if you haven’t.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Letting Up Despite Great Faults – Wrapped:  Neon is the name of Letting Up Despite Great Faults’ latest (and maybe final?) album.  You should pick it up just so that you can own a physical copy of this absolutely stellar song.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Summer Salt – Sweet To Me:  Phil and Eugene (from the now defunct Yum) are two-thirds of Summer Salt, a retro pop act with a knack for providing rather hooky, breezy tracks.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Otis The Destroyer – You’re The Wealth:  The Couch are no more, but that’s OK because some of its former members started the equally loud and glorious Otis The Destroyer.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Equals – Glistener:  If you’re a fan of instrumental rock, then Equals’ Tracts is an album that you need to seek out.  I’ve been jamming it for most of the year.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:BLXPLTN – Start Fires:  With music that’s all at once danceable, mosh-worthy and inspired,  BLXPLTN are an Austin band that has dominated in 2014.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Future Death – Basements:  Future Death play like maybe there really won’t be a tomorrow, and I like that.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Genuine Leather – The Enemy:  For those of you that love clever pop tunes, there’s the Genuine Leather album Losers.  Snatch it up.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Phil Ajjarapu – Sing Along Until You Feel Better:  SOTO’s own Jennifer made sure I included Phil Ajjarapu on the list, and it’s not hard to see why – the guy has some really good pop songs in his repertoire.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Lowin – Heave Ho:  Sara Houser’s soaring voice is now front and center in her own band (and no longer as part of The Couch), and the results so far have been pretty great.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:SHMU – She’s Leaving:  Sam Chown, who is also one half of Zorch, is the man behind SHMU.  Give the guy a listen if you like experimental electronic pop.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Pompeii – Blueprint:  After a solid five years or so, Pompeii finally rallied up a new album.  Loom, if you ask me, is fantastic and totally ended up being worth the wait.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Growl – Jackie:  I don’t remember many local music convos this year where someone didn’t excitedly bring up Growl.  This song is from a compilation, but you should also spend some time with the band’s EP, No Years, that was put out back in January.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Crooked Bangs – Ce Type:  This year Crooked Bangs put out this attitude-laced gem (it’s from a split with Houston’s Secret Prostitutes) and played Fun Fun Fun Fest.  Solid.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

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Crooked Bangs, A Giant Dog (Dan)

October 24, 2012


Just when I think I’ve covered all notable garage rock bands in the Central Texas area, I realize I’ve totally overlooked some great ones.

Crooked Bangs’ self-titled album is a potent blend of post-punk and garage rock … which is to say it’s right up my alley. It was produced by Mike McCarthy (Spoon, Trail of Dead, Heartless Bastards) and released on his Western Medical Records label. It’s fast paced, full of power tracks, and one of the most impressive debuts of the year. Each member of this trio packs a wallop but they don’t ever overpower or cramp one another. Rather their combined force blends together to make one incredible superpower of rock. Layered on top of the stellar musicianship is the unique vocals of singer Leda Celeste Ginestra. She alternates between English and French while delivering her often dark lyrics. It all makes for a hell of a band and one you definitely need to see and listen to. Your next chance is Halloween night when Crooked Bangs play the 29th St. Ballroom.

:Crooked Bangs – Be Young – Sois Jeune (Et Tais Toi):
:Crooked Bangs – Halfway – Lucifer, Mon Amour:

When I was in Chicago this summer for the Pitchfork Musical Festival, I went to a Ty Segall after-show and met some random guy from Dallas. We got to talking about our favorite Texas garage rock bands and he mentioned A Giant Dog. When I confessed I wasn’t familiar with them, he looked at me incredulously. He then berated me for living in Austin and not seeing A Giant Dog at every possible opportunity. Well, I gave them a listen when I got home, and he was right. They’re pretty awesome and I should have known about them sooner. Thanks random dude!

The band features members of Bad Sports, OBN III’s, and Bobby Jealousy. Earlier this year they released an album, Fight, and they have just followed that up with a new 7” called Dammit Pomegranate. Like Crooked Bangs, A Giant Dog is fronted by a female singer and the music features a number of punk and garage elements. However, the tempo is slowed down a bit and the tracks have more pop appeal (especially on the new 7”).

A Giant Dog just finished playing a series of shows around Austin, so if you missed them, you lose. Just kidding! A Giant Dog plays November 5 at Beerland in support of the new record. In the meantime, hop on Spotify or iTunes and see why this band inspires fans to berate complete strangers over the greatness of A Giant Dog.

:A Giant Dog – Chatterteeth:
:A Giant Dog – To Put It Bluntly:

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