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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?

Ok, promise. This is it. The last time I go out of my way to discuss how great things were at this years Fun Fun Fun Fest. In fact, you don’t even have to read my thoughts anymore. Just give this video. Look and see for yourself.

Fun Fun Fun Fest 2011 from Guerilla Suit on Vimeo.

 

Max Cady “40 Nights” from Zach Warner . Zulu Whiskey on Vimeo.

I’m not going to lie and say that Dallas rock band Max Cady’s newest album, Wicked Ways, is one of my favorite albums of the year. It’s solid, sure, but it’s just not revving my motor the way in which I had hoped it would, I guess. Regardless, their video for their song “40 Nights” is cool, and definitely worth your time, you dig? Enjoy…

In this coming week or two following the Turkey Day that’s just passed, there will be some notable bands and tours cutting through our state as a part of some really major tours. Wilco will make their way into Dallas on November 29th and into Austin on December 1st, for example. That’s pretty big, right?

Well, Wilco’s great, but things get even more epic and more arena-rocking in the week after Jeff Tweedy and roll through.

Perhaps the biggest, most anticipated concert tour of the year will hit our state once Jay-Z and Kanye West bring their Watch The Throne show to town. The album of the same name is already one of the better hip-hop releases of the year, but when you combine that album with the boat-load of hits the two MCs have in their arsenal already, it’s sure to be an insane night for all. Be sure to catch them in Houston (the Toyota Center) on December 5th, and then in Dallas (where I’ll be!) on December 6th. Reviews have been more than postivie so far, so it’ll be cool to see if the duo has stepped it up even further by the time they get to Texas.

To make next week even bigger, the Kentucky-bred, rough-hewn indie heroes turned arena-rock mammoths, My Morning Jacket will laser-shoot their way through the same two towns on the following two nights. Still basking in the glow of their latest, border-broadening (and excellent) release, Circuital, the Jim James-led outfit will show Texas why they can rightfully and successfully headline ACL and any other massive festival, regardless of whether they are the household name that many think they should be or not.

Next year will bring big shows: Radiohead has already announced a March tour, Roger Waters will bring the Wall back to Texas in May with giants like Foo Fighters and Coldplay sure to announce their Lone Star 2012 dates soon. But for now, for the end of 2011, the next week and a half is going to be a great time to bring the noise.

It’s been a few weeks, but what a set of pics to come roaring back with. The seminal alt-country band The Jayhawks have got the original line-up back together and are touring behind a really solid new album, Mockingbird Time. Sadly, I couldn’t personally make it to their November 16th show at the Granada Theater in Dallas, but thankfully, our intrepid rock photog, David Heidle could and did. Enjoy the shots… 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few weeks ago, our resident funny man, Dave Little, mentioned that when he hits Austin, he really digs making trips to both Waterloo Records and to Book People. Both independently owned store-fronts are more or less treasured Austin landmarks. With that said, however, you don’t really hear them mentioned in the same breath as the South Congress Bats, Barton Springs, The State Capital Building, or even the glorious den of iniquity that is Sixth Street when it comes to the standard, and perhaps tired, must-see Austin attractions.

The sad fact of the matter is that it had been way too long since I, myself, had darkened the doors of either establishment. My recent trips to Austin typically centered around festivals or quick day trips, and there was rarely time for the leisurely browsing time that visiting these two places would surely require of me. That all changed a couple of weeks ago, though. As my wife, son and I made our way into town from Dallas for the FFF Fest, I decided that we wouldn’t be hitting I-35 North on Sunday until I had traversed every shelf and display of both Book People and Waterloo Records, both located on Lamar Street near the flagship Whole Foods.

After strong and spicy Bloody Mary’s at the original Kerbey Lane restaurant (I know, I know, it’s touristy, but it’s really great, regardless), the family and I pointed the car towards Book People. Open since 1970, it’s tough to imagine more than a handful of similar book havens of this caliber in the entire country. Celebrity book signings and a mammoth inventory are only two of the many great qualities of this three-level shop. I pursued the gigantic music section (“Ooh, Jay-Z’s Decodedis in paperback, now??”) while the Mrs. and our four year old son got all up in the crowded and kid-eriffic storytime, set in what can only be described as an indoor amphitheatre for little ones. As I resisted the urge to pick up an autographed Jonathan Franzen novel on the way out, I knew that I wouldn’t be so prudent when we left and then hit Waterloo Records

Whether its the dozen or so iPod-powered listening stations that seem to be more curated by knowledgeable, discerning lovers of music than simply cobbled together by label publicists and trend-watchers, or the large room of all things vinyl, this store will never go unvisited by me again when I visit Austin.

After choosingSlint’s Spiderland vinyl, as well as the 33 1/3 series book that discusses the same album, I gave the first few tracks of themuch-maligned Metallica/Lou Reed release, Lulu a listen. After thinking the first track, “Brandenburg Gate” wasn’t so bad after all, I asked one of the store’s employees what he thought of the bashing the album’s been taking. He was quick to say that he really liked the first track, but wasn’t too keen on the rest. So, great minds and all, right?

So, if reading Little’s column didn’t compel you to visit these jewels of independent commerce as it did me, I can only hope that you feel as such now. If not, well, that’s one less person standing in my way at the vinyl bins next time.

 

Dirty River Boys – “Carnival Lights” from Compound Productions, LLC on Vimeo.

Who doesnt love stumbling onto something new? I’ve read a bit about this trio from El Paso recently, and wouldn’t you know? I clicked over to their website and the above video was waiting for me to view. Good stuff. These guys are a part of what is an encouraging trend of young, “Red Dirt” acts that have a distinctive roots emphasis. Which is better than the Def Lepperd leanings that many young Red Dirt rockers are displaying these days.

In fact, for those in the Dallas area, this holiday weekend, the Dirty River Boys will be teaming up with the Turnpike Troubadours for a killer holiday-themed show at The Southside Music Hall in Dallas.

Dirty River Boys – “Road Song” from Compound Productions, LLC on Vimeo.

So, a couple of weeks ago, at the Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin, thousands were treated to some blistering performances that were every bit as extreme as had been promised. With metal, electronic dance, hip-hop and alternative comedy acts making up a large portion of the weekend long bill, extreme is the only way to properly describe the sets that took place on four different stages over the course of three days. Check out my article from that week’s Dallas Observer, and check out a few more thoughts below…

 
 

The first set I took in at FFF Fest; Big Freedia got everyone's rump shaking. Hard.

 

Russian Circles - Before that Friday night, I simply wasn’t aware of this well-regarded band that excels in post-rock style metal. Without singing a word, this group pummeled the stage into smithereens as they featured tunes from they rhythmic, groove-heavy and bombastic recently released album, Empros. Easily the biggest surprise for me over that weekend, this Chicago-based trio had me feeling horrible about my modern musical IQ, since this was the first I was ever hearing from them. They ruled.

 
 

The Murder City Devils were great, but the Russian Circles set that ended just before this one stole some of their thunder.

 

Public Enemy - They did what they do and have done for so long. They owned the stage. They weren’t flakes, they weren’t divas and they hit the stage pretty much on time and tore through the classics such as “911 is a Joke” and “Fight the Power.” It was just one of those sets where you were just happy to know that you were witnessing a legendary group show why they so legendary.

 
 

Yet another crappy picture from me. This is Donald Glover inside of a jam-packed Comedy tent.

 

Donald Glover - The guy from one of the best, and least watched, comedies on TV, Community, offered a hilarious and taboo-filled 30 minutes that had the hundreds of people watching on cracking up at everything form his impression of Michael Cera doing a Shaft impression to his thoughts on how homeless people freak him out and intrigue him, all at once. He performed his hip-hop set later as rapper Childish Gambino, but we didn’t catch that.

The Joy Formidable - The band that I was personally looking forward to catching the most, the Welsh trio, led by Ritzy Bryan, didn’t disappoint in the least. Playing a 40 minute set consisting of tunes from their breakthrough album, The Big Roar, Bryan commanded the stage with a fiery and almost angry presence. It’s no wonder why this band got picked to open a few shows for The Foo Fighters.

The festival's MVP, Ritzy Bryan from The Joy Formidable. She dominated.

Austin Daily Press Food Truck - The team that almost took home the prize in Season One of The Great American Food Truck Race, brought home the prize for the best Caprese Sandwish I’ve ever had. I typically need a great deal of meat on my sammys, but this pressed offering, featuring gooey mozzarella and basil blew me away.

Hometown heroes, Okkervill River shook up the late afternoon crowd.

There were tons of great sets, great food and great people watching. There’s just no question that this is every bit the go-to festival as its bigger brother, Austin City Limits.

It's tough to beat the skyline of downtown Austin as a fitting festival backdrop.



I was all up in the grill of Austin’s Auditorium Shores this past weekend enjoying the extreme and often hardcore offerings of this year’s Fun Fun Fun Fest. Headlined by the likes of Public Enemy, a diva-esque and dissappoointing Danzig, Spoon, Slayer and Passion Pit, the festival was a blast. One of my favorite sets from the weekend was the Friday night performance from Seattle’s Murder City Devils. Above, there’s a video of a pretty awkward interview with the band. I’m not familiar with ATX Music Mag, but it sounds decent enough. Perhaps I shouldn’t judge it based upon this interview alone. Below is a clip from the performance that really busted the stage to pieces. The clip itself has horrible audio, but it was taken from a camera that basically held itself about two inches above my head, as I was in the pit area taking phots just in front of this specific cameraman. Plus, you at least get an idea for the type of fire these guys threw at the audience, even if the audio isn’t great. Later in the week, I’ll have a few thoughts on the performances and items from the weekend that really left an impression.

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.