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2014 Austin Essentials: Volume 2

November 25, 2014

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Hey!  Here we are with the second volume of my 2014 Austin Essentials.  Dive in.  But don’t tire yourself out, as there’s still a third volume coming your way tomorrow.  Enjoy.

:Alex Napping – Weak Knees:  Alex Napping popped out of nowhere this year and instantly impressed.  Their debut, This Is Not A Bedroom, is the kind of introspective indie pop that college me listened to too much of.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Hundred Visions – You’re Gonna Cut Me Loose:  The fuzzy garage rock ways of Hundred Visions have been on point in 2014.  You’d be crazy not to check out their sophomore album, Spite.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Flesh Lights – Just About Due:  My passive appreciation of the punk trio Flesh Lights ended with Free Yourself.  The album features some great songwriting.  And it rocks.  If you’re into that sort of thing, of course.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Sweet Spirit – Let Me Be On Top:  It was a bummer when Bobby Jealousy called it quits, but at least Sabrina Ellis, who is one of Austin’s most dynamic performers, quickly landed on her feet in Sweet Spirit.  Eventually the band will officially release an album and make the world a better place.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Shivery Shakes – Hold On:  Shivery Shakes put out their debut full length, Three Waves & A Shake, this year.  You pretty much have to listen to it if you consider yourself a fan of indie pop.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Gentlemen Rogues – Mocking Love Out Of Nothing At All:  Jennifer, SOTO’s purveyor of local music, was adamant that this slice of power pop from Gentleman Rogues make the cut.  Look out for a new album from the band soon.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Grape St. – Wallpaper:  Last year Grape St. released the excellent A Date With You, and just recently they followed it up with the equally fantastic Free Stuff EP.  The band just can’t miss!  They’re a must-listen for fans of jangly garage rock.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:The Sour Notes – Cutthroat:  Earlier this year The Sour Notes put out a really solid album (their fifth overall) by the name of Do What May.  It’s worth your time if you dig hooky indie rock.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Ramesh – The King:  For those of you that don’t know, Ramesh was once a part of Voxtrot.  His debut solo album, The King, is a well crafted alt pop effort that features a lot of great vocal work.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Coeds – Sensitive Boys:  I haven’t seen Coeds play and this is the only song of theirs I’ve heard, but that’s not stopping me from being into the duo.  Make a note to keep an eye on them and their synthy ways once 2015 rolls around.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Young Tongue – Heavy Metal Thunder:  Once known as The Baker Family, Young Tongue have a sound that’s a pleasant mixture of indie rock and pop.  Recently they released an album titled Death Rattle.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Jess Williamson – Snake Song:  Jess Williamson spent 2014 fully establishing herself as one of the best singer/songwriters in Austin.  If you haven’t already checked out her album, Native State, then you should do yourself a favor and seek it out ASAP.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:A. Sinclair – Shiny Things:  Indie rockers A. Sinclair (formerly known as Frank Smith) had a nice year.  They signed with Dangerbird Records and churned out a good album, Pretty Girls, for all to indulge in.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Boyfrndz – Design:  When it comes to experimental rock in Austin, not many can compete with Boyfrndz.  Their sophomore LP, Breeder, is a daunting, but rad listen.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:OBN IIIs – No Time For The Blues:  OBN IIIs are a loud, good ole fashioned rock n’ roll band, and their latest release, Third Time To Harm, is further proof that you should be giving them all of your attention. Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Spray Paint – Rest Versus Rust:  Many would argue that Spray Paint are Austin’s premiere punk act, and I think I’d have to agree.  Their album, Clean Blood, Regular Acid, is one you need to hear.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Polio Club – Poison The Well (Demo):  I just recently came across Polio Club, and I’ve already pretty much worn out the demos on their Bandcamp page.  I’m looking forward to whatever is the post-punk act decides to do in 2015.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:The Wolf – In Waves:  SOTO’s own Dan said that I should include psych-rockers The Wolf.  He’s apparently a big fan of the noisy, distortion-filled sound that’s all over their latest release, Ride.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Christian Bland And The Revelators – Brian Wilson:  Back in September Christian Bland (of The Black Angels) released his third album, The Unseen Green Obscene.  Naturally, it’s a gloriously hazy psych rock experience.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Scuare – Mind States:  SOTO’s own hip hop expert Leah recently recommended Scuare to me, and he’s been firmly on my radar ever since.  This song in particular is pretty fantastic.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

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Grape St.

November 18, 2014

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While I was really tempted to spend today rambling about the surprisingly rad new song from AC/DC, I figured it would be a better idea to indulge in some Grape St.  Why?  Well, there are three reasons.  1) They’re one of my favorite Austin bands.  2) I should have shared their super catchy singles when they were released in September.  3) They’re playing the next Side One Track One Presents gig and I want you to be able to sing-a-long throughout their set.

That about covers it.  Enjoy.

:Grape St. – Wallpaper:
:Grape St. – Free Stuff:

The band’s Free Stuff EP is out now in cassette form via Burger Records.

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Burger Records (Dan)

February 19, 2014

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Like it or not, SXSW is just around the corner. I can’t say I’m ready for it, but I’m getting there. I’m currently working on the follow up to last year’s DC vs Austin show, but since we’re not yet ready to release the details for that party, I figured I’d suggest another SXSW show.

If you love garage rock as much as I do then you’re probably aware of Burger Records. It’s an independent record label and record store in Fullerton, California. The label was founded in 2007 by two members of Thee Makeout Party. The record store opening followed soon after in 2009.

So what makes Burger Records so special? First, they are known for releasing most of their music on cassette. Their loyalty to an outdated but cheap music format helped spark a most unlikely resurgence in tapes. I personally don’t long for the days of listening to music from the tape deck of my 1986 Ford Tempo, but to each his own.

My love of Burger is not because of cassettes. It’s all about the music. They have released tracks by some of the great garage bands of the past decade: Bad Sports, Black Lips, Diarrhea Planet, King Kahn & The Shrines, Hunx And His Punx, King Tuff, Mikal Cronin, Ty Segall, and Thee Oh Sees.  There are also a number of Austin bands on Burger Records as well – Grape St, Holy Wave, John Wesley Coleman, and The Zoltars (go see them on 3/1 with La Snacks at Spiderhouse!) all have released music through Burger.

I also love Burger’s DIY attitude. When I was younger I idolized Fugazi and everyone at Dischord Records for paving their own way. They set the example for punk and hardcore bands on how to succeed on their own terms. The founders of Burger Records have a different model for their business but the DIY motivation is the same.

All of that is to say that you must hear these incredible Burger bands next month during SXSW. The Burger’s 5th Annual SXSW Kickoff is on Wednesday, 3/12 at Trailer Space Records. Then the big party, Burgermania III, is on Saturday, 3/15 at Hotel Vegas. You can listen to the sampler below and also stream The Studio B Sampler and Taste of Burger Records.

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Top 25 Albums Of 2013: Part 1

December 11, 2013

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Because I want to makes sure you know I listen to too much music, here’s another year-end list.  This time it covers the albums I couldn’t take off repeat when I wasn’t pouring over various singles.  The countdown will come to a conclusion on Friday!  Enjoy.

25) Chelsea Light Moving – Self Titled

Thurston Moore’s new band put out their self titled debut in the first part of 2013, and I’ve been listening to it fairly often ever since.  It’s a meaty, noisy indie rock effort that gets better the more time you spend with it.

:Chelsea Light Moving – Burroughs:

24) Thao And The Get Down Stay Down – We The Common

We The Common didn’t resonate with me as much as Thao’s previous two albums, but I still find it to be a really good effort.  She continues to be one of my favorite songwriters.

:Thao And The Get Down Stay Down – We The Common:

23) Marnie Stern – The Chronicles Of Marnia

Despite being a long-time fan of Marnie Stern, The Chronicles Of Marnia is the first album of hers that I’ve fully liked.  Probably because it’s easily her most focused effort to date.

Check out the album here.

22) The Men – New Moon

I know everyone prefers the Men’s heavier efforts, but I adore the almost folkish indie rock sound that makes up New Moon.  Don’t be afraid to toss on headphones for this one.

:The Men – The Seeds:

21) Grape St. – A Date With You

A good chunk of my 2013 was spent singing-a-long with Grape St’s A Date With You.  The Austin act sure knows how to put together a catchy garage rock tune.

:Grape St – A Date With You:

20) Terry Malts – Nobody Realizes This Is Nowhere

Terry Malts’ Nobody Realizes This Is Nowhere took a few listens for me to completely warm up to it, but once I did I never wanted to let go.  If you like fuzzed-out pop punk, then you need this album.

:Terry Malts – I Was Not There:

19) White Denim – Corsicana Lemonade

Even if you’re not a big fan of White Denim, you have to appreciate how hard they work to constantly expand their sound.  Corsicana Lemonade is really nice step forward for them.

:White Denim – At Night In Dreams:

18) Joanna Gruesome – Weird Sister

Weird Sister is one of the more scatterbrained, largely crazy indie pop efforts of 2013, but it works.  Here’s hoping Joanna Gruesome never change.

:Joanna Gruesome – Sugarcrush:

17) Foxygen – We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace And Magic

Foxygen’s poor/bizarre live showings seem to have soured most people’s opinion of the band, and that’s just too bad.  We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace And Magic is a really good album that proudly showcases the band’s various influences.

:Foxygen – On Blue Mountain:

16) Bosnian Rainbows – Self Titled

Omar Rodriquez-Lopez (The Mars Volta) and Teri Gender Bender (Le Butcherettes) are at the center of Bosnian Rainbows, and their self titled debut is full of well crafted alt-rock gems.  Still not sure how I feel about their name, though.

:Bosnian Rainbows – Morning Sickness:

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2013 Austin Essentials: Volume 1

November 25, 2013

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A couple of weeks back I was thinking about my annual Top 50 Songs/Top 25 Albums lists (expect those to start on 12/2), and it dawned on me that I should do something separate specifically for Austin.  So, I did.  There’s no particular ranking to anything in Austin Essentials, I just wanted to share with you some local stuff that I liked a lot this year.  There’s 45 entries (culled from a group of about 70-80) that are spread out over three 15-track volumes, so look for a post tomorrow and then another on Wednesday.  Enjoy.

By the way, if I had one goal for SOTO this year, it was to try and include more mentions for Austin artists.  Overall, I think we did a solid job, but there’s definitely room to improve.  Hit me up if you have any suggestions for us as we head into 2014.

:A Giant Dog – All I Wanted:  Sabrina Ellis is one of Austin’s most dynamic singers, and there isn’t a single song on A Giant Dog’s Bone where her enthusiasm doesn’t shine through.  This pop punk gem is my favorite track on the album.  Find A Giant Dog on FB here, and buy their music here.

:Grape St – A Date With You:  Harlem’s indefinite hiatus has now formed three great bands – Lace Curtains, Daytona, and Grape St.  If you dig this song, then definitely pick up the album A Date With You.  All of the other tracks on it are just as catchy.   Find Grape St on FB here, and buy their music here.

:The Laughing – Disappear:  The Laughing kind of dropped off the planet for a while, but this year they made their return via Oscillation, a 10-track effort that features some really nice pop rock tunes.  Find The Laughing on FB here, and buy their music here.

:The Sour Notes – Do What May:  The Sour Notes may be great friends of mine, but I can honestly say they’re listed here because they earned it.  They’re one of Austin’s hardest working bands and their upcoming album, Do What May, is a really solid prog pop effort.  Find The Sour Notes on FB here, and buy their music here.

:Borrisokane – Amelia Fucking Earhart (A.F.E.):  For those of you who like your pop music to have an experimental side to it, there’s Borrisokane’s Murdering Teeth EP.  I think it’s one of the more quirky (in a good way, of course) listens to come out of Austin in 2013.  Find Borrisokane on FB here, and buy their music here.

:Love Inks – Time:  Love Inks are a quality act, but they don’t seem to have the biggest of followings in Austin.  We should figure out a way to change that.  The band’s album, Generation Club, is a must if you like minimalist pop.  Find Love Inks on FB here, and buy their music here.

:Whiite Walls – Easy Love:  When I wanted something dancey this summer I either tossed on Daft Punk’s Get Lucky or Whiite Walls’ Easy Love.  You can’t listen to it and not want to move.  Here’s hoping the band doesn’t take too long to put out an official effort.  Find Whiite Walls on FB here.

:Knifight – In The Fire:  Their name makes them sound like a punk band, but they’re actually more of a New Order/Future Islands type – dark and synthy.  Their debut, Dark Voices, is an intense but good listen.  Find Knifight on FB here, and buy their music here.

:Zorch – We All Die Young:  I love this track.  It’s wild and raw and should only be listened to at the sort of volume that makes your neighbors angry.  Find Zorch on FB here, and buy their music here.

:Boyfrndz – Water Weight:  Boyfrndz are one of Austin’s better experimental rock acts, and I thought they did a good job of proving that on their Natures EP.  Find Boyfrndz on FB here, and buy their music here.

:Major Major Major – Scream Queen:  I was a late adopter of this track, but once I did I couldn’t seem to get it out of my head.  Talk about infectious.  If we’re lucky, the duo will wrap their EP sooner rather than later.  Find Major Major Major on FB here, and buy their music here.

:Genuine Leather – Head Wound:  Chris Galis (from the Gorgeous Hands) heads up this breezy pop act.  Viper (Found A Good Place For My Love) is the other single that the band put out this year, and it’s also worth your time.  Find Genuine Leather on FB here, and buy their music here.

:Royal Forest – Goldwallpaper:  Over the years Royal Forest have really become a fine pop band.  If for some reason you didn’t check out Spillway, then seek it out.  It’s a nice listen.  Find Royal Forest on FB here, and buy their music here.

:Walker Lukens – Dear Someone:  Walker Lukens somewhat recently made the jump from NYC to Austin, and I’m happy that he did.  The guy knows how to write a good pop song.  Find Walker Lukens on FB here, and buy his music here.

:Yum – Take My Blue:  Yum just sort of popped onto my radar one day over the summer, and ever since then I’ve been a big fan.  Their album, Take My Blue, has a lot on it that plays like a lighter version of Warpaint.  Find Yum on FB here, and buy their music here.

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Quickdraw: Grape St, Radical Dads, Cheatahs, Haim, Alela Diane

March 18, 2013

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Today’s music is happy that SXSW is over.  Enjoy.

:Grape St – A Date With You:  Here’s another band (the other is Lace Curtains) that has come about because of Harlem going on hiatus.  They make some seriously catchy stuff and have quickly become an act to know around Austin.  Our friends over at Austin Town Hall will release A Date With You tomorrow.

:Radical Dads – Mountain Town:  This act put out an easy to like indie rock album titled Mega Rama back in 2011.  It was a super solid release, but I will say that I like how this track seems to indicate a more aggressive approach on their new LP.  That should make for some added fun.  Rapid Reality is due out May 21 via Uninhabitable Mansions.

:Cheatahs – Fall:  I saw this band’s name on a lot of SXSW bills, but I didn’t make an effort to see them.  This may have been a mistake, as I’m now seeing that they make some rather good shoegaze.  No release date has been given, but Cheatahs are expected to out an album this year via Wichita.

:Haim – Falling (Duke Dumont Remix):  I tend to be overly picky when it comes to remixes, so you know it means something when I say that I really dig what Duke Dumont did with this track.  It’s now so light that it effortlessly glides around the room.  Turn the volume up like you mean it.

:Alela Diane – The Way We Fall:  This is such a pretty track.  I’ve really got to start paying more attention to Alela.  I always post the singles and then never check out her albums, which is just totally lame on my part.  Anyway, About Farewell will be released at some point later this year.

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SXSW 2013 Picks (Jennifer)

March 6, 2013

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Even though I’m a 16 year veteran of attending SXSW, I’m reluctant to do much in-depth research for fear that my head will cave in from information overload. The festival is certainly no longer limited to the latest buzz bands. I admit I’m looking forward to seeing bands that are festival veterans and maybe even a rock n’ roll legend or two. I also willingly break the unofficial rule for Austinities by checking out local band showcases. I know I can see them throughout the year, but why is it so wrong to support them during SXSW?

I’ve selected five Austin bands and five non-Austin acts worth checking out next week.

Don’t forget your earplugs, wear comfortable shoes, and drink plenty of water.

Hundred Visions

I had heard of Austin’s Hundred Visions a couple of years ago, but I didn’t become a fan until seeing one of their Austin Free Week performances in January. It was full of energy, passion, and fun. Their sound is an irresistible blend of late 70s power pop and early 80s British post punk. You can catch their official showcase on Friday, March at Metal And Lace. They’re also part of the lineup for SOTO’s day party, DC vs Austin, on the same day. Just in time for the festival, the band has released a video for the track Where Do I Sign?.

The Ugly Beats

A longtime Austin favorite of mine is The Ugly Beats. Their sound combines 60s British invasion, garage rock, surf, punk, and psych, and their shows turn into instant dance party. They’re a total blast and one of the best bands in town. They play their official showcase as part of the Get Hip Records lineup at the Parish Underground on March 16.

The Calm Blue Sea

Local quintet The Calm Blue Sea create a powerful sound that (pardon the oceanic reference here) washes over you – at once it can be gentle and calming but it can also take your breath away as it crashes over you. They’re part of an excellent label showcase by Austin based label Modern Outsider that includes other quality Austin bands such as Ume, The Black and White Years, My Jerusalem, and Mirror Travel (formerly Follow That Bird!).

Residual Kid

Don’t call them a kid band and don’t call them a novelty band. The members of Austin trio Residual Kid may be young, but I’ve been to shows where older bands that play after them have asked aloud onstage, “How do we follow that?” They’re loud, brash, and maybe even a bit messy. They’re not afraid to just go for it and have a lot of fun onstage while melting faces of all ages in the audience. They’re playing plenty of day shows and you can check out their official showcase on March 16 at The Palm Door.

Grape St

Grape St are about to release their debut album, A Date With You, on the local start up label Austin Town Hall Records. Their infectious garage rock stompers make for a raucous live show. They have two festival showcases – March 13 at Cedar Street Courtyard, followed by another showcase later that night on the Hotel Vegas patio.

Robyn Hitchcock

Robyn Hitchcock is a longtime SXSW veteran, but this is not an artist who repeats himself. I’m always intrigued to see him perform live. His lyrics and stage banter have a stream of consciousness quality that range from thought provoking and biting to humorous and flirtatious. I’m sure that “quirky” and “odd” have been used to describe him and his songs, but those words don’t do him justice. Just listen and dig a little deeper to appreciate the enigma that is Robyn. His official showcase is on March 14 at the Continental Club. He’s also part of the all star tribute to the late Brent Grulke at the Austin Music Awards.

Ash

I’m pretty sure I did a little happy dance when I learned that the Ireland band Ash was returning to SXSW. I have a fond memory of watching them play a day party from a far distance in 2006; the band could see the far off crowd watching and dedicated Renegade Cavalcade to us. In the past couple of years, the band has played some limited tour dates in the US, but it’s been seven years since they’ve played in Austin. In late 2012, the band marked its 20th Anniversary with the release of the Ash A-Z Series, and they’re playing additional US dates in support of that release. They have skillfully combined hard, crunchy guitars and infectious, singalong worthy pop hooks that have won over listeners and allowed them to maintain a devoted fan following. Their official showcase is at Buffalo Billiards on March 13, and they’re also playing the Irish Full Breakfast showcase.

The Zombies

You don’t have to be a scholar or hardcore fan to appreciate The Zombies, who are in their 52nd year of being a band. Two original members remain – lead singer Colin Blunstone and songwriter/keyboardist Rod Argent. As one of the most influential bands from the 60s British Invasion, you’re probably familiar with some of their classic hits, including Time Of The Season, She’s Not There and Tell Her No. I’m not familiar with their 2011 release, Breathe Out, Breathe In, but I’m sure that they won’t leave SXSW without playing their classic hits and fan favorites. Their popularity and influence on contemporary bands endures for past, present, and future fans. Their official showcase is on March 16, and they’re also a featured interview on March 15 at the Austin Convention Center.

Free Energy

Philadelphia based quintet Free Energy never fail to make me smile. It’s feel good music that’s ridiculously catchy; think classic rock meets power pop. Even the cool kids who usually keep their hands in their pockets will start clapping, dancing, and singing along. They’re supporting the release of their second album, Love Sign, and I’ve been looking forward to their return to Austin since their SXSW showcase last year. The band genuinely enjoys what they do and it shows during their live performances. They’re playing several day shows and their official showcase is on March 16.

Frightened Rabbit

I first saw Scottish quintet Frightened Rabbit at a small SXSW day party in 2008. It was a short set, but they definitely made an impression on me. The band is celebrating their return to this year’s festival with the release of their fourth album, Pedestrian Verse. Their songs have a persistent sadness, but they also convey a sense of hope and resilience which strikes a familiar chords in many of their fans and listeners.  This is not a band that stares at their shoes; their live shows are passionate, sweaty, and satisfying affairs. Their official showcase is at The Belmont on March 14. Even if you have a badge, get there early as The Flaming Lips, The Joy Formidable, Alt-J, and Surfer Blood are part of that night’s lineup.

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