Texas®

Goodness, the kolache-scented roads of the Texas hill country are just insanely ripe with musical talent, aren’t they?

Javi Garcia & The Cold Cold Ground are springing forth and aren’t much interested in happy tales that give listeners the warm fuzzies that a hearty kolache might. Truth be told, I’ll take Garcia’s record, Southern Horror, over roadside snacks, any day of the week.

From the band name, to the macabre, Dia de los Muertos-style album artwork (which was designed by Garcia, naturally), to the stories that are told from the opening notes of the album’s first track, “Comal Country River”, so much of the ambitious double album is a work of art and literature as it is a musical document that deserves greater attention. Yeah, that’s right – this is a double album. And, it’s produced by Garcia, himself, who also just happen to write all of the songs. The EP that is paired with the album to complete the dangerous duo is entitled Madly in Anger, and as with the title of the primary record, the title fits the blues-infused country rock of Garcia to a tee.

Ambition is great and admirable, especially in artists that are still making their way up the proverbial Texas music ladder, but without some real meat on the skeleton bones of simple ambition, all the listener is left with is, well, a shell of an album that never really gets anywhere. Fortunately, it’s glaringly obvious that Garcia’s ambition is backed by an ample amount of authority and substance; his hustle bolstered by some serious muscle.

The ghostly strain of Garcia’s vocals manage to recall the well-known rasp of fellow hill country-dweller Ray Wylie Hubbard, and it’s a perfect fit for his tales of murder, screwed-up family members and bloody dangerous women. Heck, sometimes those subjects are rolled into one devilishly satisfying yarn. As for influences and comparisons, it’s also hard not to notice the grime and grit of Mescolito-era Ryan Bingham, especially as the impact of the soulful “Lose Control” plays on. Of course, there’s enough here to distinguish Garcia apart from established greats and help his cause as he continues to dig his own gothic-country pathway into his dark ambitions.

Kelly Dearmore is a freelance writer, mean pot of chili maker and opinionated music lover. To read more about what Kelly is listening to, visit him here on The Squawker weekly.

Eight of Dallas’s premier DJs will be battling it out in a head-to-head format know as Red Bull Thre3Style come February 19th! Competing DJ’s include Joe Vega, NVS, Danny West, Fishr Pryce, Danny V, Trek, D-Roz and Rev.

Headlining the show is none other than DJ Mix Master Mike of The Beastie Boys. Guest judges include notable DJs and industry leaders including DJ A1 from the Cannabinoids, Kwasar of Chocolate Groove, DJ Enferno, Delano, Ben of the Rec Shop and DJ Sober.

Red Bull Thre3 Style - whos the best party rocker in the Big D?Not quite your standard DJ battle—far from it actually—Red Bull THRE3Style is a creative and innovative event format where the true art of party rockin’ is put to the test. Red Bull Thre3Style is a DJ contest that promises to be a night of dance-floor mayhem. Each DJ is challenged to play a selection of at least three genres or styles of music in a 15 minute set. Genres don’t matter, all that matters is the DJs ability to mix them and make them work together.

Participating DJs are judged on their track-selection, technical skills, creativity and most importantly their ability to bring the house down. It doesn’t matter if they know all the DJing tricks and techniques in the book, if they can’t get the feet on the dance floor and hands in the air, they don’t stand a chance of winning a Red Bull Thre3Style.

More than 20 US Qualifiers will take place this year. The winner of each qualifier will win $1,000 US and compete in a Regional final. The Winner of each regional battle wins the chance to fly to Las Vegas in November for the national Red Bull THRE3Style Championship. The national champ then travels to Vancouver, Canada to compete in the global finals against the world’s best party-rock DJs in hopes of being crowned the International Red Bull THRE3Style champion!

Excited yet? Well guess what? Best of Texas and BestBuzz.bz are giving away Four VIP Tickets to the Red Bull Thre3Style DJ Event in Dallas, TX at the Granada Theater on February 19th, 2011.

To win, go “Like” us on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/BestofTexas, and tell us the craziest thing you would do for Red Bull VIP tickets! Be creative…videos are welcome!

Don’t forget: DOWNLOAD the free BestBuzz app on your iPhone or Android and ‘Buzz-in’ with your phone at the Thre3Style party to be entered to Win VIP Tickets to the Thre3Style FINALS in May 2011.

Red Bull THRE3Style
February 19th, 2011
Granada Theater
3524 Greenville Ave, Dallas, TX

We’ve spent a good bit of time away from Texas country recently in this column, so, we thought it was time to go back draw from the well that we seem to hate as much as we love (more love than hate, though). Now, as anyone who has read this column for any length of time knows, we’re not about discussing just any old so-called “red dirt” hot name that just recently decided to make a name for himself in Texas, hoping to be the next Randy Rogers.

Given that, it was great to hear a new song from Lubbock’s Brandon Adams. He and his band, the Sad Bastards have been at it for a while now, and have made a point to try and draw crowds from outlying states, as well as the typically trodden paths of the Texas college towns that seem to make anyone with a guitar and ballcap feel like Pat Green.

The band’s self-titled record was just released and while they’re not exactly redefining the very way anyone will listen to country music from our state, they dont have to. “Radiate” features some electric guitar, effortlessly weaving with a bit of fiddle that will warmly remind astute listeners of Millican-era Reckless Kelly. There’s an edge to the overall sound that will thankfully keep them from getting confused with the hair gel-kings of the Eli Young Band, but that shouldn’t keep them from becoming solid draws on the Texas country scene for the time being.

Kelly Dearmore is a freelance writer, mean pot of chili maker and opinionated music lover. To read more about what Kelly is listening to, visit him here on The Squawker weekly or daily on his personal music blog, The Gobblers Knob

As much as “country” and “folk” can be genre labels that fall short of actually describing a band, due to their vague nature, so to can “post-punk”. Sure, it gives a general idea that you’re in for a guitar-driven ride with some challenging arrangements, but let’s face it, much still needs to be said in many cases if one’s going to try and analyze the sound of a post-punk act like Built to Spill.

Inhabiting a different, less emo end of the post-punk spectrum is Dallas’ own Broadcast Sea. Their new EP, Lost Generation (which at this point is available for free on their Bandcamp page), is an angry, bruising alternative to the sometimes shimmery tones of Doug Martsch or any other post-punker out there. Resembling the hammering menace of Denton’s noise-rockers Shiny Around the Edges, the quartet, formed in 2005 and led by lead singer Sterling Cash, busted out a lean EP. it’s the kind of smaller collection (six songs) that is more a promise of greater things than it is a sign of a band with but a little to give.

It’s not surprising that this band knows how to manage noise to a pleasing effect. The group’s previous record was produced by John Congleton, a guy that has made experimental downright accessible (OK, that probably doesn’t make sense). In fact, Lost Generation has done seemingly the impossible when it comes to its appeal. This is a record that has struck a rocking balance that will send meatheads fistpumping and indie-kids gazing even harder into their Chuck Taylors.

Kelly Dearmore is a freelance writer, mean pot of chili maker and opinionated music lover. To read more about what Kelly is listening to, visit him here on The Squawker weekly or daily on his personal music blog, The Gobblers Knob

If I was a smarter cat, I would find a different word to use than “buzz” when describing the vibe that emanates from the attention that a band that gets a lot of good press and a lot of positive word of mouth type of endorsements from fans. But, a terribly smart cat, I’m not sadly.

With that said, it doesn’t take a genius to know when a buzz is building for a band or performer. For those of us who live in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex, our buzz-detectors have been working overtime ever since the formation of banjo-loving duo, The O’s. So, basically, since late in 2008, folks around these parts have had to read and hear about how great this duo of John Pedigo and Taylor Young is. Here’s the thing: They really are.

All too often “buzz” and “hype” are confused as the same thing, but they’re not, thanks to a vital, key difference. Buzz is typically the direct result of genuine and positive reaction to something, whereas hype is generally formulated by someone behind the scenes in hopes of eventually building buzz, and giving the listener a good feeling about a band before the listener has really experienced the band yet. The question of whether a band “lives up to the hype” is often asked, and such a common question illustrates my point. Hype has to be followed up with substance after the hype has been generated. Hype can be hollow, but buzz comes from the substance of the product connecting with its audience to the point where the word spreads more organically. Sure, buzz has become a cliche and overused term, but for a band to generate buzz is to say that it has generated praise for it’s actual product and not for the effectiveness of a public relations agent.

For me, and many others, The O’s 2009 debut album, We Are The O’s, did more to further their name and build upon their reputations than any press mentions ever could. Possessing not a single skip-worthy tune, the spare, front porch style that recalled pre-Rick Rubin Avett Brothers was striking in it’s simplicity and even more so in it’s contagious catchiness. 

It should come as little surprise then that the quirky duo’s new album, Between the Two (out now on iTunes from Idol Records) is anything but a sophomore slump-style letdown. Prodcued by Stuart Sikes, this album has a bit of polish and a fuller overall sonic in many of the songs, but all of that is for the better and effectively introduces some appropriate variety to their sound that previously was dominated by acoustic guitar, pedal steel and banjo with some kick drum mixed in.

So, I guess you could say that The O’s and their new album live up to the hype because they’ve again produced a record that should generate tons of well-earned buzz.

Kelly Dearmore is a freelance writer, mean pot of chili maker and opinionated music lover. To read more about what Kelly is listening to, visit him here on The Squawker weekly or daily on his personal music blog, The Gobblers Knob

If you go to Old Settler's, you should get trampled by these turtles

 

Man, it’s almost spring, for real. Maybe the calendar doesn’t necessarily back that claim up, and the recent chilly Dallas-area weather sure as heck doesn’t support my point, but the announcements for many killer festivals sure does. Want something to do in the weekends that can easily fill up your Spring-time calendar? Check it out below, then:

Ft. Worth Stockshow & Rodeo- OK, this isn’t a festival, per se, but where there’s cows and music joined together in one historic district, there’s a festival-like atmosphere. If you make your way to the Stockyards for this annual tradition, check out the acts that will be at Billy Bob’s, sure, but don’t miss the calendar for the entertainment that will be filling up the Rodeo Roadhouse. Country favorites from local, regional and national levels will be kicking it up. be sure to catch Texas country icon Gary P. Nunn when he plays.

35 Conferette - The annual pre-SXSW gathering in Denton has gone from a basically all-local bill for the weekend, walkable festival into a happening where big names from all walks of music will play in the shadow of the Mean Green. This year from March 10 – 13; Big Boi, Local Natives, Mavis Staples and Dr. Dog, among many others, take on the task of helping this “conferette” continue to grow into something that SXSW can be jealous of.

Old Settlers Music Festival:It’s hard to imagine that this homey festival has ever had a line-up that was anything less than stellar. Focusing on roots and bluegrass, this festival has plenty of Texas flavor, thanks to The Gourds, Band of Heathens and other Austin-centric artists. this year, however, the big draws are from out of state. The Avett Brothers, Sam Bush, Jim Lauderdale and Tim O’Brien lend the event a bot of Asheville and Nashville flair. For those looking to see a band that isn’t quite as big as the ones I’ve mentioned so far, but every bit as good, do not miss Minnesota’s own Trampled by Turtles when you go.

Kelly Dearmore is a freelance writer, mean pot of chili maker and opinionated music lover. To read more about what Kelly is listening to, visit him here on The Squawker weekly or daily on his personal music blog, The Gobblers Knob

Way too often, music fans and writers confuse hazy for lazy, when it comes to describing the sonic texture of a record. An album can be sleepy without being stagnant, and indeed, a record can produce an atmospheric haze without coming across as lazy. In fact, properly pulling off such a feat requires a focus and a specific vision that is anything but loose and cavalier.

Todd Gatreau’s project, Crushed Stars, is a great example of the above equation. The Smiths-meets-Mark Kozelek vibe of his latest album, Convalescing in Braille, further establishes the sonic signature that has been honed over the course of several albums since the group’s inception in 2005. Crushed Stars have been successful in getting the word out, over the past few years. Along with appearances at the all-encompassing SXSW and CMJ festivals, many radio stations have added songs from their catalog to their playlists. Recently, their genius cover of the campy 1980′s classic, “99 Red Balloons,” made noise on airwaves outside of North Texas.

Having worked with an impressive group of producers including Stuart Sikes (White Stripes, Cat Power) and North Texas native John Congleton (Walkmen, St. Vincent, Sarah Jaffe), calling Crushed Stars a band might be a bit of a stretch, given that for this latest album, Gautreau played all of the instruments himself, with drums bing the lone exception. In this instance, it seems as the dedicated multi-tasking paid off, as the album flows evenly and effortlessly. Even with numbers like “Technicolor” and “Spark” boasting a bit more percussive pounding and quickened pace than many of the other softer tunes, the collection’s moody cohesion is never disturbed.

While we’re always a bit reluctant to quote anything from Pitchfork, we’d be lying if we said that they didn’t sum up our general feelings as it pertains to the work of Gautreau when they reported that Crushed Stars music makes “you wish it were night all day long.”

Kelly Dearmore is a freelance writer, mean pot of chili maker and opinionated music lover. To read more about what Kelly is listening to, visit him here on The Squawker weekly or daily on his personal music blog, The Gobblers Knob

The people who have successfully launched an upscale sports bar called Twenty7 a couple of months ago, have finally opened phase two of their Plano beachhead.

Craig Monroe, former Texas Ranger and Detroit Tiger now has opened an Ultra Lounge in the space adjacent to Twenty7’s Parker and Independence Parkway location, named Krém.

This last weekend the “soft opening” began, and like a dress rehearsal, the not entirely finished club began to sort out the duties and workflow for bar and waitstaff to begin getting a handle on how an Ultra Lounge is going to work in Plano.

“There really is nothing like this around here and we have so many people who want a really good place to go and have a good night out who find driving to Deep Ellum, Greenville or UpTown just a hassle.” General Manager James Brown says, “Here we don’t have issues with parking, and a clean slate to build the club we wanted to open for people who live north of the Bush Turnpike.”

The 2800 sq ft lounge occupies what once was an insurance company office and now is an open airy space with dark purple walls, white booths, polished aluminum bar front topped with dark marble. The space has accented wrap around booths which are backlit with long strips of LED lights and under lit tables that glow to the beat of the DJ’s music,

“The idea really comes from Craig, after all as a sports guy the sports bar was a natural. He always wanted to own a really cool upscale place. The kind of place you can go, hang out. He also wanted it to be the kind of place he and his friends would want to go, so we came up with Krém as in “crème de la crème” or “Cream of the Crop”. We wanted a name that instantly imbibes the Top Shelf service and facilities we were putting in.”

While crews are still working on some of the finishing touches Krém had its trial run on the weekend. The tweaks and finishing flourishes like behind bar lighting system that will backlight the glassware and bottles had not yet been installed and the LED’s were waiting on a back ordered switch to become fully functional. Those last items are getting ticked off the extensive to-do list.

“There comes a point with a little delay here and there, you just have to say WE ARE OPEN and that is why a soft open is so important, with entirely new staff they will spend some time tripping over themselves getting to know where things are. It also gives us the ability to watch how the pieces come together and make any adjustments before we open for ‘Real’” says Brown

This Friday Night Krém will open its doors for real. “Craig is really happy with the way things have come together. Now we have the Twenty7 side where you can have some great food and watch “the Game” then move next door when you just want to hang out with your friends.

The proper Grand Opening will take place in a couple of weeks with many of Craig’s friends from the world of pro sports stopping by. Many of them live close by so Krém should become a regular hangout for them when they are not playing.

The extensive drink menu at Krém is a new variation on the Ultra Lounge theme. The club is a first for the Plano/Allen/McKinney area especially on the Central Expressway side of town. After opening Friday the hours will run from 9pm-2am Thursday-Sunday.

Starting Friday there is no need to fight your way past the Bush just pop over after the game, whatever that game is.

Day1 of ACL was great. After taping up my blisters and fueling myself with two of Torchy’s Tacos finest morning selections, I made my way back to the hollowed, still not dusty grounds of Zilker Park for Day 2 of this year’s ACL Festival. Below is how the day unraveled…

  

 

Lissie helped start the day right with her folksy, but rocking, early-day set.

 

  • The opening round of performances featured a killer grouping of sweet, female talents. Across various parts of the park; Lissie, Basia Bulat, Caitlin Rose, First Aid Kit and the out-of-this-world Grace Potter, were all strutting their feminine stuff. Each of these acts brought something decidedly different to the table during the morning, as the temps began to rise into the high 80′s. Bulat strummed a uke while Lissie introduced some rocking Bohemia to the crowds. Grace Potter oozed sex-appeal in her sparkly dress that failed to cover up too terribly much. The soulful southern rock in which her band, The Nocturnals, deal in provided a distinct and forceful wake up call to the entire park.

 

  • The 2:30pm slot presented me with a tough choice. Lucero and New Jersey’s The Gaslight Anthem were scheduled to rock stages on opposite ends of the park form one another. Both bands were on my previously composed list of acts that I wanted to catch, but of the two, Lucero is the one I had seen shred in a live setting before. With that in mind, I made my way to the Budweiser stage and secured a pretty close spot near the stage for the band that has basically been handed the crown as latter-day heirs to the Springsteen throne of good ol’ American rock. Such hype is well-deserved, I might add. The punk flourishes that brighten up the anthemic, hard-charging odes to screwed-up love and life on the fringes were ideal and do enough to actually separate them from The Boss, more than most people seem to notice.

 

On a clear day, the skyline of Austin provides a dramatic ACL backdrop.

 

  • While Saturday’s set of shows didn’t provide me with the same I-can’t-believe-I’m-seeing-this type of thrills as Friday evening had, there were still two performances that proved to be revelatory, regardless. The 4:45 pm set from L.A.’s Local Natives was spot-on. Relying on material from their enjoyable debut, Gorilla Manor, the group rode their harmonies and interesting take on chamber-rock for all they were worth. “Sun Hands” might have been the single best performance of a tune all weekend, for my money. The climactic cacophony that ends the song was pure, frenzied madness.

 

  • The other set which proved to be eye-opening also proved to be the weekend’s most thoroughly thought-provoking for me. Former Pedro the Lion leader, David Bazan, has had a decent dose of press ink cover his transformation from a faithful, Christian follower to a skeptical agnostic since the release of his latest, very personal album, Curse Your Branches. From a musical perspective, Bazan’s enjoyable indie-rock set was reminiscent of a stripped-down, raw version of Bobby Bare Jr’s set on the same BMI Stage at the same festival, back in 2008. Regardless of one’s religious beliefs, it was hard not to be sucked in during the 40 minute show which took place as the sun finally began its descent. The lyrics that made up the majority of Bazan’s set, which roll out like a pained, vulnerable catharsis, became the focal point, quickly enough, however. For a guy like myself, who, shall we say, has beliefs that align more with Bazan’s past than his present, I found myself not being repelled, but using his art as a means to understand him and his struggle-ridden journey. When Bazan sang “Hard to Be,” where he questions God, it wasn’t offensive in any way, it was enlightening and relatable. How often in a festival setting will an artist create an environment that is closer to a living room concert, instead of a rock show in the middle of 75,00o sweaty souls?

 

Grace Potter is just OK...if OK means insanely hot and ultra-talented.

 

  • Matt & Kim? More like, Meh & Kim. Sorry, oh bouncing 17 year-olds, I don’t get it.

 

  • Closing out my ACL experience for 2010 was the U.K.’s current kings of all things epic: Muse. And epic, their show truly was. Opening up with their us-against-them anthem, “Uprising,” the most powerful of trios belted out tunes that matched the wonder and ferocity of their laser and video-filled stage show. After a handful of stadium-sized rockers, I walked across the park to catch a glimpse of M.I.A, but with her video-screens not projecting any images to the back of the crowd where I stood, hearing only the beats from the stage was pretty anti-climactic after being slayed by England’s most arena-worthy imports.

 

So, there you have it.  Unforseen circumstances led me to skip Sunday’s performances, unfortunately. While there were certain acts that I was excited to catch – Frank Turner, The Morning Benders, The National and Band of Horses, to be more specific – I was able to leave, knowing that I had enough festival intensity to last many times the two days that I enjoyed so thoroughly.

Kelly Dearmore is a freelance writer, mean pot of chili maker and opinionated music lover. To read more about what Kelly is listening to, visit him here on The Squawker weekly or daily on his personal music blog, The Gobblers Knob

 

Well, Stetson has certainly stepped things up a notch as of late. First there was their recently announced partnership with world-renowned milliner, Albertus Swanepoel which produced a slew of retro hat badassery that left me both drooling and covetous and now Stetson has collaborated with Garland’s own music maven Erin McCarleyhat tip to Wind-Up Records for letting me know and for signing Jeremy Fisher (yay!) – to present Erin’s new video for her new cover of Hank Williams’ ‘I Saw The Light’.

The video is pulling double duty, serving as both a vehicle to spread Erin’s music and as a look book of Stetson’s new Fall clothing line. I have to admit, I had to watch the video a few times because I was utterly gobsmacked by the sheer rock and roll awesomeness of Stetson’s new line. Believe you me, this is so not your grandpa’s Stetson, oh no not at all. We’re talking tight, low rider, black leather pants, people!

Steston is also running a contest where you can win some of the pieces Erin wears in the video. (It’s okay fellas, they have options for you, too, if you’re so inclined to enter the contest.

It’s easy to enter, just watch Erin’s new video and enter to win at Stetson here.

P.S. Like Erin’s take on a Hank Williams classic? Stetson will also let you download it for free!