Texas®

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??

 

When the end of 2011 rolls around, there’s sure to be many big names on top of the many “Best of 2011″ lists for music that us music-geeks like to read. The records from the Foo Fighters, My Morning Jacket, Radiohead, Wilco and Adele are sure to be given a great deal of praise. One of the albums that will also be on many of those lists comes from a band that’s yet to become a household name.

Philadelphia’s The War on Drugs’ recent release, Slave Ambient, has been an indie-favorite in the weeks since its release. The love is certainly deserved, too. Beginning in 2005 with current solo-star Kurt Vile as a key figure (he’s since stopped contributing full-time), and Adam Ganduciel as the guiding force, the band has put out two LPs including the new one, and a handful of EPs that all live inside the lo-fi, dreamy world that creates hazy atmosphere and what Gabe Lewis from the Office might call “Soundscapes.”

As I said, I’m not the only one who digs the album, not by a long shot. The finicky folks over at Pitchfork gave it a high rating of 8.3 out of 10.0, which earned the band a coveted “Best New Music” rating. On top of that, the English outlet The Guardian had some nice things to say, also.

So, hopefully all of this encouragement will help get you out your door into one of the spots that The War on Drugs will soon be playing here in Texas. On October 17th, the profile of Dallas’ Bryan Street Tavern will continue its ascent with this show and then the band will hit Emo’s in Austin on the 18th of October.

This past Saturday morning started with the always awesome chorizo breakfast tacos from Taco Joint, an Austin-esque little place just steps from our home and ended as a full blown adventure. With the weather somewhat hospitable for a walk that afternoon, I wanted to lug the hubby for a second visit to Bryan Street Tavern for their Tavern Favorite Pizza. After checking the tavern’s website for their hours of operation, I noted they opened at 11, and set about cajoling Joshua off the couch and away from his new issue of Entertainment Weekly. After a convincing argument, he agreed to make the four block trek with me, so we set off down Swiss, left on Peak and hung a right on Bryan St. Bryan Street Tavern was closed and we were very confused. I kept insisting to Joshua that the website said 11 a.m. We waited around in the parking lot, thinking that maybe the staff was running late. We called. We assessed the situation and decide that perhaps whomever it was that was supposed to open that morning, must’ve had a late night or something, so we decided to walk back down to Peak and Bryan to peruse LB’s Antiques for a while.

LB’s Antiques has been in the same spot at the corner of Bryan and Peak for almost 20 years and the store is jam packed with an antique store’s usual suspects: milk glass, postcards, bric-a-brak, and a various assortment of jewelry, books, art and other notions. As Josh busied himself with an old autoharp, I scoured the store for bakelite and jewelry findings, and that was when I encountered Bill Dickerson, one of the owners of LB’s.

“You looking for anything in particular?”

“Yes,” I replied, “I want to know where you’re hiding the bakelite.”

As Bill laughed and pulled out several bracelets for me to drool over, we quickly started chatting. About everything. We chatted about House of Dang closing next door, we chatted about dice, bakelite, the neighborhood’s history, old stabbings, long gone bars, night clubs and dance halls, Lower Greenville, the larger houses on our block of Swiss, just about anything and everything Dallas. The best part? 99% of the time, he’d come up with matchbooks, postcards, photographs, buttons to illustrate the places he was discussing with me. The man is a veritable treasure trove of Dallas stories and has the loot to back up his tales. From Bill I learned more about our tiny neck of the Dallas woods in one hour than I ever could have on the interwebs. After wrapping up our conversation and my small purchases – groovy old Lucite cuff-links for Josh, a toy harmonica and small pipe cleaner animal of some type for moi, I was startled to find that we’d visited for over an hour in the store. I’ll  back for more stories and more goodies. P.S. Bill will make you a hell of a deal on that autoharp, in case you’ve been in the market to unleash your inner June Carter Cash.

After leaving the store, we trekked – for a second time - North up Bryan Street to head back to the Bryan Street Tavern,  we were disappointed again. Darn place still wasn’t open by 12:30 that afternoon. We finally settled on Vietnamese food at Viet Nam Restaurant. Super-friendly staff and an easy to pursue menu made Josh’s first time with Vietnamese fare a breeze. Noting that you can’t go wrong with good Pho, we both agreed it was too hot for soup and opted for the C’om dishes. The crispy pork, alongside shredded pork, greens, egg bread packed with whole black peppercorns, fried egg roll and crushed rice left us sated and happy.

As we walked home, I pointed out Civello’s Raviolismo, a family owned join that has been making ravioli in Dallas for over 50 years. Add to their selections of handcrafted lasagnas, sausages, meatballs, and a long list of awards, Civello’s is yet another gem in this part of Dallas that often seems overlooked. I highly recommend that you try the Buffalo ravioli.

For the record, we did head back to Bryan Street Tavern that night for dinner – we were right, the bartender had overslept. The pizza was amazing as always, but our afternoon adventure taught me a very important lesson: Stop overlooking all the amazing things in your own backyard.