Texas®

 

OK, OK. I didn’t make it this year. Last minute changes kept me from going, and while we’re at it, I failed miserably in my goal of discussing every one of the artists on the line-up, too. What can I say? I’ll do better next time. For now, we all have some great highlights to look at, thanks to Youtube, whose showcasing official clips from the festival. Here’s some of what would’ve been my favorite performances of the weekend.

We’re serious. We’re going to sit here and discuss EVERY band that is scheduled to play this year’s ACL Festival in September. It’s going to happen. Don’t believe us? Don’t think it can happen? Just keep watching. We dare you.

For those that have been living under a rock for the last couple of years, Fleet Foxes are a big deal. They become bearded indie-darlings after the release of the pastoral, harmonic debut album, and with the recent Sub Pop release of the even more harmonically stellar Helplessness Blues, they’ve become the CSNY of the current hipster generation.

Hailing from the rainy Northwest, Robin Pecknold and crew did what many suspected might not be possible. make many forget about the first album. Not that anyone will, mind you, but they can if they want to. That’s how great the new disc is. They built upon their vibe without screwing with it and without completely copy-catting it. A tricky feat to say the least. Perhaps you’d like to read more specific thoughts on the new album so as to familiarize yourself? Check out what I had to say when I reviewed the record for Twangville.com a while back.

Deservedly, these guys will be playing a more prominent, later-day slot than they did in 2008, when they played around noon at ACL.

Another band that not only shares a record label home with the Fleet Foxes, but a regional one, as well as love for ragged folk with sweetness to spare are relative newcomers The Head & The Heart. Sweeping out of Seattle, this buzzed-about six-pack of folkies has just released an album that’s more than likely to find it’s place along Fleet Foxes when it comes to many a year-end best-of list (no, it’s not too early to talk about that.) Don’t trust me? Click play on the tune below, and get ready for some mellow, folkin’ gold, my friends.

Lost In My Mind by theheadandtheheart

OK, I know it doesnt seem like that long ago, because it wasnt. But 2010′s ACL Festival is a distant memory, regardless. Why? The line-up for 2011′s edition of the annual party in Zilker Park was officially announced recently, and for those who claimed the organziers had an off year with last years billing (for the record, we didn’t think that), it would seem that such complaints will be hard to come by this year.

Kanye West, Stevie Wonder, Coldplay, Arcade Fire, My Morning Jacket, Cee Lo Green, Fleet Foxes, Allison Krauss, Ray Lamontagne, Nas & Damien Marley, Social Distortion and Ryan Bingham headline an insanely fun group that, as was the case last year, will surely provide many an opportunity for tough decisions once the schedule is announced in a couple of months.

Aside from Bingham, there are several notable acts with Texas ties, as usual. Iron & Wine, Court Yard Hounds (the Dixie Chicks sans Natalie Maines project), Jack Ingram, Hayes Carll, Gary Clark Jr., Patrice Pike, Hudson Moore and of course, as usual, Asleep at the Wheel will certainly lend the festival its usual taste of the Lone Star State.

So, this is only the beginning. This year we at Best of Texas are going to take the ACL preview to new hieghts (at least for us). We’re not going to throw out a few big names and wait until after the September festival is over to tell you how it all went down, no sir. Starting NOW, we’re going to begin a musical oddysey that will see us give you the reader a short (and sometimes not-so-short) introduction into each and every act that will grace an ACL 2011 stage. Sometimes we’ll tell you about several at once, in some form or another. Sometimes we’ll just post a video and a couple of quick thoughts on an act or two, and at other times, we’ll kill a few hundred words on an act that we think is particularly special and certainly worth your time, should you head to Austin between Sept 16-18. 

Since this is the first one (of so very many to come), let’s get one of the big names that needs very little introduction out of the way: Kanye West.

Headlining the Friday night schedule, competing for ears with Coldplay, who’ll be rocking the other end of the park around the same time, most likely, West has established himself as a festival act that is as unpredictable as he is ostentatious and genius. Full disclosure, West’s 2010 record My Beautiful, Dark, Twisted Fantasy was my vote for record of the year when I voted in the Village Voice Pazz and Jop Poll (the album ended up at #1, among 1200 voters from publications all over the country including Rolling Stone and Spin).

OK, we’ve got almost four months until that magical weekend, so please check back regularly for future ACL band intros. I promise: it’ll be well worth your time, oh fellow festival goer.