Texas®

 

These days, there are a good many websites that aim to go beyond the normal boundaries of the standard, mp3 sharing music blog. Popular sites like Daytrotter and HearYa.com are both great examples of sites that find unique ways to create art based upon the musicians they are covering. There’s a close-to-home site on the scene and it covers predominantly Texas-based acts (Sarah Jaffe, Doug Burr) with the occasional national act (Waters, Pterodactyl) thrown in for good measure. Denton based Violitionist.com (aka The Violitionist Sessions) has been great about picking some great acts and getting some great performances out of them. Who can go wrong with getting some (Texas-based act of the year?) True Widow on film?

Rodney Parker and his band, The 50 Peso Reward has been country-rocking-in-the-free-world for a few years now. In the last three years or so, however, the Denton-based band has really cranked things up a notch in terms of the quality of their releases. While The Lonesome Dirge is a muscular album that doesn’t boast one skippable track, and their EP, The Apology – Part I, was a great, if too small, collection of tunes; the bands latest effort, the acoustic, Live From The Living Room showcases a band that isn’t afraid to lay it all out in the open, eschewing the overdubbing and numerous takes that a studio often affords a band as they perfect an album.

There isn’t terribly much on here that’s new to longtime fans as far as actual song titles are concerned, but that isn’t to suggest that one shouldn’t pay close attention as the differences between the versions provided here and the ones given on past releases are substantial enough to make even those familiar with the bands catalog pay close attention to the older tunes in new packaging.

It’s often said that the true greatness of an individual song can be measured in how it holds up over the transition from plugged-in and polished studio track to a stripped-down, skeleton of it’s louder counterpart. Perhaps that’s become a cliche, but it’s especially true in the case of Parker’s brand of insurgent country. And by that measure, the Living Room versions more than survive the transition, they shine.

Want a taste? CLICK HERE for “Skin & Bones” from the new album.

It would be a sin for us to keep from making sure that you all know about this weekend’s celebration of north Texas’ best music. The 22nd edition of the Dallas Observer Music Awards are nigh upon us, and a few years ago, that meant a pretty nifty awards ceremony and a great special issue of the free alt-weekly would be awaiting us. But now, so much more is meant when the time for these awards roll around.

For the last few years, a massive majority of the nominated acts get together and jam within a few blocks of each other. Last year, the showcase was held in the historic Deep Ellum district. While there were 50 or so bands playing in several clubs, the highlight was the positively communal vibe that a bustling night of music fostered.

This year, Deep Ellum will once again hold the showcase and a main stage line-up will join the festivities. It’s tough to think of a more appropriate bill for a main stage at a festival full of Dallas, Denton and Ft. Worth’s finest acts. The Toadies, The Old 97s, Centro-matic and Sarah Jaffe will ring in the night that will see nominated bands rocking until 2 am.

Of course, it would also be sinister to forget about the awards show itself, now wouldn’t it? On Tuesday, the 18th at the House of Blues in Dallas, Erykah Badu will headline the festivities as the best of the regions music stars are revealed.

Full disclosure: I really like Bad Design. Coming out of Denton, JP Hossley and crew have taken their aggressive post-punk into an even more sonically challenging, yet pleasing, direction with the addition of new guitarist of John Gillespie. Such a shift isn’t much of a surprise, given the dynamic loudness that Gillespie’s former band, the now defunct math-rock group Dear, Human proffered to a wonderful degree. 

As great as Bad Design’s Self-Titled album is, it’s hard not to see the progress that’s taken place inside the confines of their Diamonds EP.

I caught a set of their at the Bryan Street Tavern a few months ago, and was really blown away by the power of their performance, and how well Hossley’s menacing howl translated in the live setting. I left feeling as though these guys have the whole “accessible experimental” thing down as cold as a guitar-based rock band can have it (maybe there isn’t such a thing, but if there is, they got it.).

Their Bandcamp page offers both of their albums for cheap and they’re both worth well more than the price you’ll pay. Also, keep an eye out for the gig-posters they design. Along with the musical talent, their graphic talents are excellent as well.

 

The above poster pretty much says it all. Texas versions of Oktoberfest brews (sounds familiar), north Texas bands, and the very cool Bryan Street Tavern will surely make for one heck of a weekend party. Saturday’s bill features a rocking vibe (don’t miss the mid-day sets from Soviet and Bad Design) while Sunday’s features a practical all-star line-up of Dallas’ best country acts (read: King Bucks, Grant Jones, The O’s, among others).

Don’t miss it. The above, award-winning poster will also be for sale there. Just in time for your holiday shopping, right??



I hope you checked out the video above already. If not, go ahead and do it now. You probably won’t even need to read anything below this once you have. It’s a great film made of footage from a CD release show featuring one of the state’s great rising talents. Jessie Frye.

The quality of female talent that has been gracing the stages of North texas in recent years continues to grow. Not that it’s even been a wasteland for the fairer sex, musically speaking. It’s just that people beyond our state’s borders are taking notice too.

Sarah Jaffe and former Dallasite Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) are easily the most notable names to be bandied about these days. But one would be missing a ton if they were to forget about Amber Farris (the powerfully doulful lead singer of Somebody’s Darling) and relative newcomer Madison King, who might be the indie-heir to Miranda Lambert’s tough, Texas country throne.

While the list could continue for a while, for now, we’ll stop with Denton’s Jessie Frye. Having just released her second EP, Fireworks Child, Frye’s sweet voice seems to suit any style, but especially the eclectic indie-pop that her and super-producer John Congleton have dreamed up for this release. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Congleton has produced the much-lauded recent works of two ladies we previously mentioned, St. Vincent and Sarah Jaffe. Either way, the EP is a pleasing listen that impresses with each track.

Male or female, it really doesn’t matter. What matters is the way in which you’ll find yourself either leaving the disc in your CD player, or how you’ll likely be smashing the repeat button time after time, once the record ends.

There’s really not much to say or add to what you see below. If you’re not famililar with the site Daytrotter.Com, then you’ve been missing out n some serious (and free) music by some of the biggest names (Death Cab for Cutie, Social D, Bon Iver) and brightest up and comers (Yuck, Portugal the Man, Dawes) that the musical universe has to offer. Big time. But, there’s good news: It doesn’t really matter if you havent clicked onto the site ever before, as there is gold beyond measure awaiting you from years of not visiting it before.

What’s even better is that many Texas-based acts have visited the Daytrotter studios in Rock Island, Ill and laid down tracks to be listened to and downloaded from the site. There’s always a great write-up and whimsical artwork to go along with the 4-5 songs as well.

Well, let’s get to it. Below are but a sampling of Texans that have Daytrotted before. You’d be crazy to not dig deeper, OK??

Matt the Electrician | Fresh Millions | Dale Watson | Dignan | Doug Burr | Old 97′s | Ben Kweller | Black Angels | Centro-matic | Jesse Dayton | Meat Puppets | Asleep at the Wheel | Monahans | Seryn | Robert Ellis

OK, you’re right. The Red Hot Chili Peppers are so not from Texas. There might be some sort of ties to the Lone Star state, but I’m not familiar with them if there are any, to be truthful.

But, on August 30th, they’ll be all over the state. I mean all over it. In fact, they’ll soon invade our state’s (along with other states) movie theaters. To celebrate the release of their upcoming and hotly anticipated album, I’m With You, the band will debut the album in its entirety, live in concert and beam it to movie screens everywhere. Pretty sweet, right?

Check out the trailer for the film above and also give a look to see which theater the show will run near you. Regardless of where you live in Texas, you shouldn’t be too far from a Red Hot Chili Screen.

For years now, Centro-matic, a band that began in Denton well over a decade ago, has been known as a prolific group that has risen to a rather lofty status in the world of American Indie-rock. Led by Will Johnson, now an Austinite, the band hasn’t yet put out a record that one would consider anything less than stellar.

The band members themselves are highly sought after when it comes to contributing their individual talents to other’s projects, even. Johnson was the touring drummer for the massive Monsters of Folk project, and he also played guitar on Patterson Hood’s (Drive by Truckers) last solo album. Of course, that’s aside from his many producing projects. Drummer and sound engineer extraordinaire Matt Pence has toured with Jason Isbell while multi-instrumentalist Scott Danbom has played with Slobberbone and Sarah Jaffe. See? In-demand!

Their new album, Candidate Waltz, has reawakened many to the greatness of this band and has already began earning more than its fair share of rave reviews and predictions of the album finding its way onto a solid amount of year-end-best-of lists (Hint: There’s no way it’ll avoid landing on this blog’s list of 2011′s Best Texas Albums. Not a chance).

Enough of me blabbing. Since it’s always nice to see fellow Lone Star dwellers win praise from outside of our own borders, I’ll just let you see for yourself, OK?

 

 

 

 

So, there. Centro-matic might be a band from our state, but it’s clear that their appeal lies beyond the Red River. Still not sure? Check out the tour schedule for the guys. There aren’t many corners of the great 48 they wont be hitting soon, if not later…

In our second edition of Rockin’ The Lens, David Heidle hit The Granada Theater in Dallas this past Saturday night for a show that certainly tore it up. Denton’s Rodney Parker & 50 Peso Reward made great use of their time as opening act for one of their musical heroes, while Slobberbone came out and made sure everyone knew why it is people have been so excited about their return. Don’t take my word for it. Let Dave’s pics do the talking!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rodney Parker & 50 Peso reward impressed with tunes from the last two offerings, including alst year's EP, the Apology, Part I.