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Stream This

February 28, 2014

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From the depths of the SOTO inbox, I present to you your weekly serving of the latest and greatest album streams and videos.  Enjoy.

FULL ALBUM STREAMS

ALBUM OF THE WEEK ➡ The Men – Tomorrow’s Hits

Ume – Monuments
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Soundtrack
Eagulls – Self Titled
Trust – Joyland
Posse – Soft Opening
Real Estate – Atlas
Nothing – Guilty Of Everything
Rick Ross – Mastermind
Pharrell – Girl
Frankie Cosmos – Zentropy
Ava Luna – Electric Ballooon
Bart Davenport – Physical World
Roman Remains – Zeal
Wake Owl – The Private World Of Paradise
Dark Mean – Samuel The Phoenix EP
We Are Scientists – TV en Francais

MUSIC VIDEOS

⬆ VIDEO OF THE WEEK ⬆
The Coathangers

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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 Their loyalty to an outdated but cheap music format helped spark a most unlikely resurgence in tapes.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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2013 SOTO Staff Picks

December 18, 2013

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It wouldn’t be fun if only I just rambled along about what I liked this year, so I reached out to my very diverse staff for their Top 5 Albums of 2013.  I think you’ll see that the SOTO clan like a lot of different things.  Enjoy.

You know what can, sometimes, kind of blow? Getting old. Yup, watching the old life clock tick on by, the responsibilities of life pile around your ears, those precious moments when you could just wile away an hour or five listening to a handful of new records. Well kiddies, those days are dead. Nowadays I’m happy if I can listen to the new Lil’ Wayne single more than a few times when I’m driving to the gym to work my gut out with my trainer Francis. What I’m getting at here is that though I wish my list was full of a shocking selection of diverse and mind-expanding music, well, it’s not. I stand by each and all of these picks but I can’t say I did the extra work this year to blow any minds.

Forgive me, and enjoy.

5. The National – If I Stay Here, Trouble Will Find Me
4. Parquet Courts – Light Up Gold
3. Thee Oh Sees – Floating Coffin
2. Fuzz – S/T
1. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires Of The City

In keeping with my column, I fully intended to select nothing but chick-fronted albums in 2013. Laura Marling was one of my most-streamed, and my girl Neko’s latest was an insta-fave. But once I got back to looking at things, I realized my list was a little more eclectic than anticipated. Vampire Weekend never ceases to be the catchiest around, and Local Natives continue to lyrically break my heart with everything they put out. And there’s nothing like a little Washed Out to soundtrack a Sunday afternoon. Notable mention? Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds stopped by KCRW, resulting in a record store day release that I haven’t stopped listening (and crying) to since purchasing.

Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle
Neko Case – The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You
Washed Out – Paracosm
Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires Of The City
Local Natives – Hummingbird

I see it this way … 2010 was the first date, 2011 was the good times, 2012 was the breakup, and 2013 was when music took some “me” time. That does not mean this year did not generate some great or even classic records, it does mean that there was some experimentation that may or may not have worked out so well; see Drumgasm. That being said, there was still plenty of illuminations happening all over the musical cosmos in 2013. Labels like Chapter Music and Paradise of Bachelors killed it this year, as did Bedroom Suck and Fire Records. Though some more successful than others, 2013 saw artists and bands the world over restate time honored sounds and genres.

5. Fat History Month – Bad History Month (Exploding In Sound)
4. The Stevens – A History Of Hygiene (Chapter Music)
3. Purling Hiss – Water On Mars (Drag City)
2. Dick Diver – Calendar Days (Chapter Music)
1. Steve Gunn – Time Off (Paradise of Bachelors)

When I received my assignment to pick my Top 5 albums for the year, I thought that It would be a piece of cake: “5 albums? No problem.” But then I started to recall the various new releases from this year and felt twinges of panic and regret: “Who do I choose ? Who do I leave off the list ?”. I don’t have a complicated system for deciding on favorites; it usually comes down to what I listened to the most.  The focus for my 2013 Top 5 are all Austin-based artists, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy records from bands from other places. This year was also a fantastic year for some outstanding releases from some of my favorite local bands. They all share a common love for melodies, harmonies, and top notch songwriting.

Royal Forest – Spillway
Black Books – Black Books
Wiretree – Get Up
The Zoltars – Walking Through The Dark
Yum – Take My Blue / Santiago Dietche – Waxing And Roaring (tie)

This year there have been some amazing metal releases, I am not even giving lip service about my genre, it has been incredible the caliber of albums coming out, and to narrow it down to five, I had to switch a few things around from other lists I have made. Excluding Dillinger Escape Plan, Cult of Luna, Arsis, Black Dahlia Murder and All Pigs Must Die is heart wrenching, but these five bands have created some of the best music metal has heard in two decades. From noisy extremes like Nails, to groove laden jams on the new Clutch album, and the rebirth of the dormant Carcass to win the top spot on every list I have done.  So let it be written, so let it be done, the best metal albums of the year are:

5. Nails – Abandon All Life (Southern Lord)
4. Kvelertak – Meir (Roadrunner)
3. Clutch – Earth Rocker (Weathermaker)
2. Protest The Hero – Volition (Razor And Tie)
1. Carcass – Surgical Steel (Nuclear Blast)

Hey, everybody! It may surprise you that here in my natural habitat of the music blog, I am supremely uncomfortable making lists.  Yes, I listen to a lot of music, and yes, there is stuff I like more than other stuff, but really when it comes down to taking my favorite albums from an entire year and ranking them on such a fine gradient, I just get miserable and ambivalent.  There was a lot of great hip hop produced this year and these are all great albums, and these are only in an order because John Laird forced me to do it.

5. Shad – Flying Colours
4. Janelle Monae – The Electric Lady
3. Chance The Rapper – Acid Rap
2. Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels
1. Danny Brown – Old

2013 was a big year for pop music. Miley’s tongue was inescapable, British teens ran rampant, and through it all I reveled in the weirdness. The latter half of this year found me really embracing my not-so-guilty pleasure of pure female fronted pop, so I thought I should theme my Top 5 to mainstream pop with female vocalists. Specific enough for ya? But after all, there’s so much of it, sometimes you need a spirit guide. Like Katy Perry–those of you who wrote her off for bubblegum pop need to check out Prism, where her dark side shines and emotions run rampant. And Ariana Grande–the next in line for a breakout from the Disney dynasty actually has the pipes to back it up, and I can’t stop spinning her tracks. Meanwhile, singles shine for Lady Gaga’s Artpop, where any track could be a hit–and Do What U Want is climbing charts for a reason. None of the Lana Del Rey songs on 2013′s Tropico are new–all taken from last year’s Paradise–but these three songs might be her best so far and provide an excellent primer for burgeoning Lana fans. Number one couldn’t go to anyone but Lorde–sure, brush her off as a one hit wonder, but I’d take Tennis and Ribs over Royals any day–it’s an incredible album.

5. Katy Perry – Prism
4. Lady Gaga – Artpop
3. Ariana Grande – Yours Truly
2. Lana Del Rey – Tropico
1. Lorde – Heroine

So 2013 was pretty good year for music, yes? My thirst for catchy punk rock and fuzzy garage rock was quenched throughout the year. There were a bunch of albums I loved that did not make the very top of my list. I’m looking at you Ty Segall, Bad Sports, Mind Spiders, A Giant Dog, and Thee Oh Sees. I love you all but there can only be five:

5. Radioactivity – Radioactivity
4. Vaadat Charigim – The World Is Well Lost
3. Sweet Talk – Pickup Lines
2. Mikal Cronin – MCII
1. Parquet Courts – Light Up Gold

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2013 Austin Essentials: Volume 2

November 26, 2013

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Hey!  Look at that, we’ve arrived at volume two of my Austin Essentials.  As I mentioned yesterday, there’s no particular rhyme or reason for the order of the entries, I was just looking to share some of my favorite stuff that came out of Austin in 2013.  Enjoy.

:American Sharks – XVI:  No matter how much fun you’re having, American Sharks always seem to be having more. I love that about them.  Find American Sharks on FB here, and buy their music here.

:Mirror Travel – Mexico:  It’s been a bumpy road for Mirror Travel, but now they can totally high five themselves because their long awaited full length turned out great.  If you haven’t already, pick up the psych-enthused Mexico.   Find Mirror Travel on FB here, and buy their music here.

:White Denim – At Night In Dreams:  It’s no secret that White Denim are my favorite band in Austin.  They’re just stellar and you should listen to them all the time.  As for their new album, Corsicana Lemonade, it’s them doing a nice job of continuing to expand their sound.  Find White Denim on FB here, and buy their music here.

:Growl – Abbreviations:  In the corner of Growl’s Bandcamp page there’s some text that describes how they’re a “band making solid indie rock.”  That’s true.  Well, except for the solid part.  I think they’re actually making really good indie rock.  Find Growl on FB here, and buy their music here.

:Tele Novella – No Excalibur:  Tele Novella features former members of Agent Ribbons and Voxtrot, and they have a rather charming pop sound.  I can’t wait for them to put out an album.  By the way, the band has another single called Don’t Be A Stranger that’s pretty good.  Find Tele Novella on FB here, and buy their music here.

:Wild Child – Crazy Bird:  This song has never failed to put a skip in my step.  It’s such an endearing little tune, and I can’t imagine anyone not liking it at least a little.  Find Wild Child on FB here, and buy their music here.

:Black Books – Favorite Place:  There’s a lot to like on Black Books’ largely dreamy self titled debut, but this song is by far my favorite on the album.  It’s just the right amount of heavy.  Find Black Books on FB here, and buy their music here.

:Sorne – Ego Altar:   Sorne aren’t exactly what I would describe as overly accessible, but they do have some really interesting material.  You just have to give them a few listens so that your brain can accept how intense of an act they can be.  Find Sorne on FB here, and buy their music here.

:The Zoltars – Evelyn:  The Zoltars are lo-fi, minimalistic, and very good.  This year they put out the Live Like Dragons EP and a full length titled Walking Through The Dark.  I recommend seeking out both efforts.  Find The Zoltars on FB here, and buy their music here.

:Pharaohs – Prettiest Girl:  Recently, Pharaohs’ Moan was reworked a bit and then put out by Burger City Rock N Roll.  That means you’ve been given a second chance to snatch it up.  Do so if you like really catchy jams.  Find Pharaohs on FB here, and buy their music here.

:Pollen – AR AK:  Pollen haven’t been around long, but that doesn’t mean they’re not ready for any attention you’re willing to throw their way.  Watch out for them and their garage rock ways in 2014.  Find Pollen on FB here, and buy their music here.

:Other Lovers – New:  I came across this folk pop anthem about a month ago and have been liking it every since.  Other Lovers’ EP, Born To Party/Born To Be Old, is a little all over the place, but it’s certainly worth your time.  Find Other Lovers on FB here, and buy their music here.

:Frank Smith – Chewing Glass:  First of all (and hopefully for the last time), Frank Smith is a band and not a single guy.  Secondly, this is a very clean sounding, focused rock track, and I dig it.  Find Frank Smith on FB here, and buy their music here.

:Shearwater – I Luv The Valley OH!! (Xiu Xiu Cover):  As a follow-up to last year’s Animal Joy, Shearwater assembled a collection of covers titled Fellow Travelers.  The nifty effort consists of Jonathan Meiburg and Co. doing song by bands they’ve toured with over the years.  Find Shearwater on FB here, and buy their music here.

:Okkervil River – It Was My Season:  On every Okkervil River album there’s always one song that I can never get enough of, and this was it on The Silver Gymnasium.  The damn thing is just immaculate.  Find Okkervil River on FB here, and buy their music here.

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The Zoltars, Gleeson, The Bremen Riot (Jennifer)

November 13, 2013

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The Zoltars are back with their infectious brand of quirky, lo-fi garage rock with Walking Through The Dark, which is out now on CQ Records. They celebrated the release of the LP at Waterloo Records yesterday and will continue the party this Friday at Hotel Vegas.

Featuring Jared Zoltar’s hushed vocals and minimalist production, the songs touch on topics ranging from loneliness and isolation to love, hate, friendship, loss and death. Album highlights include Evelyn with its vocal, guitar, and piano hooks all complementing each other and getting stuck in your head, Fear Not Death and its menacing, melancholy waltz that builds up the tension before it crashes back down to the morose chant of the song title, and the title track’s heartbreaking pleas for hope and forgiveness.

Thanks to a friend’s recommendation, I learned about an Austin band called Gleeson, which features current members of Grand Champeen and The Pons. Their latest album, Gleeson II, was released back in August.

As a longtime power pop fan, I wondered why I hadn’t found this band sooner. The songs are full of jangly, twangy, and crunchy guitars, killer string and horn arrangements, and bright, layered harmonies that go on for days. This is a melodic and fist pumping delight. Turn it up LOUD and sing your heart out.

If you enjoy the melodic pop/rock of Gleeson, I also recommend checking out The Bremen Riot. This band is a collaboration between songwriter Mike Nicolai and Grand Champeen. They put out their first album, PM Magazine, this week, and they’re celebrating with a vinyl release show tomorrow at Holy Mountain.

Their sound still retains a lot of melody but there is also plenty of roughness and grit around the edges; some of the songs remind me of The Replacements and Soul Asylum as well as hints of Wilco, The Minus 5, and Brendan Benson. This is honest, no frills, rock n’ roll – musical comfort food to keep your warm and satisfied on those chilly autumn nights.

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Boy + Kite, The Plastic Habit, The Zoltars (Jennifer)

February 27, 2013

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Austin’s Boy + Kite recently released a video for their first single, Think In Stereo, from their 2011 debut album, Go Fly. Its colorful, eye-catching imagery (complete with a paint filled band fight) complements their catchy indie pop hooks that are intertwined with sharp, dynamic dueling guitars and vocals from Beth Puorro and Darvin Jones.

The band is also gearing up for their official SXSW showcase on March 15 at the Parish Underground, and the release of their new We Can Go Anywhere We Want EP on March 19. Their sound has been growing on me for the past year, and I’m looking forward to hearing their latest EP, which was recorded by Louie Lino (keyboardist for Nada Surf who is currently based in Austin as an engineer and producer).

The Plastic Habit is the latest musical project from Austin guitarist and producer Jonas Wilson (from The White White Lights). As a fan of TWWL, I had been looking forward to finally seeing and hearing his latest band. The teaser single, Tiny Tin Soldier, from their upcoming album is a good taste of things to come with its raspy Bowie-esque vocals and blasts of punk meets glam rock guitar riffs. The live band lineup is excellent as well with guitarist extraordinaire Lauren Gurgiolo, Shawn Jones (from The Lovely Sparrows and The Eastern Sea) on bass, and Stephen Bres on drums.

I’m not so sure that garage pop/rock quartet The Zoltars have a future in playing kids birthday parties, but they do make a humorous and admirable attempt in the video for their latest 7″, All My Friends, which will be released on CQ Records. The test pressing of the EP is sold out, but you can stream it on Bandcamp. The band also earns points for creating custom comic style artwork for each copy All My Friends (only 30 copies made and only available for sale at shows).

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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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