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Lone Star Horizons: A Texas Tribute To Jason Molina (Dan)

May 15, 2013

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Jason Molina passed away at the age of 39 on March 16, 2013 after a long struggle with alcoholism. It was a sad ending for a man that touched many with his music. He released numerous albums, EPs, and singles as Songs: Ohia (1996–2003) and then as Magnolia Electric Co. (2003–2009).  Jason was a prolific and widely admired songwriter that never chased the latest sound or trend. He didn’t craft his songs with the goal of gaining airplay. He just wrote music that mattered to him, songs that were true to himself, and in doing so he had a profound effect on other musicians.

One of those affected was Randy Reynolds (Leatherbag, No Future) who curated Lone Star Horizons: A Texas Tribute To Jason Molina. Reynolds teamed up with other Texas artists for this album of covers to raise money for the Jason Molina Medical Fund. The result is a moving homage to Molina and an album you’re sure to love. The diversity of artists and musical styles is a reflection of Molina’s music and yet another example of what a remarkable songwriter we have lost.

Buy Lone Star Horizons: A Texas Tribute To Jason Molina now on Bandcamp; donate some money to a good cause and enjoy one hell of an album.

Album Artists and Track Listing:
01. Battle Bend – Hot Black Silk
02. The Blurries – Hard To Love A Man
03. Cyber Dads (featuring James Petralli) -Just A Spark
04. Daniel Markham – Heartbreak At Ten Paces
05. Danny Rush Folmer – Being In Love
06. Delmore Pilcrow - I’ve Been Riding With The Ghost
07. Driftin Luke – Rock of Ages
08. Excited States – Napoleon: How We Have Ranged
09. Ghostward – Just Be Simple
10. Isaac Hoskins – Leave The City
11. Jordan Moser- Get Out Get Out Get Out
12. Lex Land – Northstar Blues
13. Linen Closet – No Limit On The Words
14. R. Reynolds – Down The Wrong Road Both Ways
15. Ryan Thomas Becker (of RTB2) – Soul
16. Some Say Leland – 34 Blues
17. Starhead – Lioness
18. Some Say Leland – Hold on Magnolia

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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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Leatherbag, Arum Rae (Jennifer)

October 31, 2012

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First up today is a parting gift from Leatherbag, who called it a day earlier this year. This week they released a collection of demos and rarities from 2008-2012 on Bandcamp as a “thank you” to fans and listeners. Ranging from the rough sounding rehearsal version of Pretty Tuff to their true to form cover of Big Star’s Jesus Christ (that appeared on a Christmas song compilation) and closing with Living In The Dark (which was recorded in the studios where Big Star had its beginnings), these nuggets should make you smile and be grateful for a band that diehard fans like myself will miss dearly. There’s no time to be sad and we should all pay heed to Leatherbag’s musical advice of Start All Over Again – “It’s time for you to begin/now’s not the time to give in /and recognize that the past is just fiction/and start all over again”

:Leatherbag – Jesus Christ (Big Star Cover):

The summer of 2011 was when I was introduced to the stunning vocals of Arum Rae Valkonen, when she performed as part of the band, White Dress. Even in a venue such as the Cactus Cafe where people tend to pay attention and really listen, you could still feel a hushed sense of awe fall over the room. About a month ago, I saw her perform an impressive solo set at Hole in the Wall playing a mix of originals and covers (Her Hank Williams cover of I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry definitely left a lump in my throat).  Last week, a song she co-wrote with The Civil Wars’ John Paul White, If I Didn’t Know Better, was performed on the new ABC drama series, Nashville. After the episode aired, the song hit the #5 spot on the iTunes country chart. While the actors singing the duet version performed on the show did a beautiful job, I’m rather partial to the spooky vibe and the sultry yet mournful vocals sung by Arum Rae. The lyrics tell a tale to which many of us can relate – doing something wrong and knowing better but doing it anyway despite the consequences. Keep your ears open for more songs from her, as there’s an EP anticipated for release at the end of 2012 or early 2013.

Version performed on ABC’s Nashville by Clare Bowen and Sam Palladio.

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