Texas®

 

Dallas roots duo, The O’s are legit talents and have certainly earned their spot as one of the most talked about acts in north Texas. We’ve talked about them here before. We freaking love their record from earlier this year. It seems as though they’ve pledged to make a video for each of the album’s 12 songs (not one of them worth skipping, by the way). At this juncture, they’ve recorded three, and they’re all really well-made and stand on their own as individual works of creativity, aside from the song itself.

 

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??

 

How about a few videos that really dont have a theme ouside of the fact that these are Texas-based acts? Hey, I’m not even making this an ACL Fest-related post, so that’s good too, right? Or not. Above, we have The O’s from Dallas, with “Wrecking Ball”, the second video from their excellent album, Between the Two and below, is the pretty-sexy Charla Corn with a stone-cold country tune that has stopped me in my tracks the couple of times I’ve heard it on the radio. Enjoy!

Here’s a pretty special treat, by the way. Below, Former At The Drive-In and Sparta leader Jim Ward from El Paso has a new video out. He’s got a couple of really cool things going on now, which we’ll be discussing here soon on Best of Texas…

Jim Ward “Broken Songs” from Zaebo Pasca on Vimeo.

The phrase “pure pop perfection” is likely an overused crutch in the lexicon of music criticism. Also, it’s likely typically used for fare that usually finds itself residing on the Top 40 end of the dial. With all of that out of the way, allow us to proclaim that Calhoun’s newest album, Heavy Sugar is indeed pure pop-rock perfection.

The Ft. Worth-based outfit of music veterans has long been on the cusp of notoriety that many have assumed would lead them to status larger than the regional favorites they certainly are at this time. This is a well-liked bunch of dudes. For example, we even featured “Hey, Mystery” from the new album on our inaugural podcast a couple of weeks back. But the truth is, we would’ve added pretty much the entire album onto the podcast as an example of what is so very right with music coming out of north Texas these days.

Calhoun’s label, Idol Records has been on a serious hot-streak since the beginning of the year. With well-received albums by The O’s and Here Holy Spain already out, one will be hard-pressed to pick a Texas-based record label that seems to spit out such quality with the same regularity as Idol has this year (for out-of-state labels on similar hot-streaks, give the 2011 releases of Sub Pop and Bloodshot a look).

The history of the band is an interesting one on top of all the musical goodness. Forming in 2004, former Grand Street Cryer leader Tim Locke has continued his long-standing run of simply writing great tunes. Grand Street Cryers had a nice run in the mid-1990′s and also saw its share of success before disbanding. The current incarnation of the group includes Taylor Young of The O’s (and formerly of the Polyphonic Spree), and Toby Pipes, formerly of Deep Blue Something, the band that reached pop-culture phenomenon status thanks to their massive, mainstream hit tune, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. After what was a short-lived dissolution, it seems as though Calhoun is back and ready to make a real go of it, as they are soon embarking on a European tour after the new disc sees its proper release this week.

So, yeah, the album is packed with catchy tunes, and simply put: There isn’t one song that you’re likely to tap the skip button on. It’s one of those albums that you can put on and let roll until it’s done. In fact, it’ll be the repeat button you’ll find your finger reaching for most often as proceeding through Heavy Sugar.

Head over to the band’s webiste to hear some songs (we highly recommend “Knife Fight”), and enjoy the video below, also. If you’re looking for a good show to hit this week. The guys will be playing in a couple of different parts of the state over the next week or so to celelbrate the release of Heavy Sugar, also.

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

Because you just can’t go wrong with a chicken fried steak, Shiner Bock and music combo, I would suggest you visit All Good Cafe tonight for your weekly Dinner and a Show.

Your Starter: Fried Ravioli w/ an ice cold Shiner Bock

Main course: A crispy, gravy laden Chicken Fried Steak with killer mashed potatoes and a side of sassy roasted corn & peppers, paired with another ice cold Shiner Bock

Dessert: creamy Tiger-Stripe Cheesecake

Ersatz Digestif: Elkhart at 9pm followed by The O’s at 10pm – and possibly more Shiner Bock Read more