Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Arkells @ Pianos

Vaguely delirious from SXSW, I wandered in a daze to Piano's last night, my brain going through a withdrawal. I had scanned the LES bars, and Arkells have this great single called "John Lennon." Good enough for me - that and I imagine R. Kelly's mates affectionately nick-naming him something similar. Arkells are from Ontario, and they rocked the tough 7:00 pm slot admirably. Their music, aptly classified on MySpace, is 1/3 Soul, 2/3 Rock with a very classic rock songwriting savvy. If it had a 6th gear it would be ELO-esque. As it is it is much more hard rockin' than experimental. The front man, Max does look a bit like Jeff Lynne though, which when I squinted, put me into a nice temporary time-warp. He jerks and moves much more erratically than Lynne though, so as he tumbled out of my periphery, I was brought back to the present - though not an unpleasant arrival, I assure you. They put on a great live show, and New York is a tough crowd. My ears are still ringing a little though; Pianos definitely likes their shows at 11.

"John Lennon" by Arkells Download mp3 (with permission)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Emma's Take on SXSW

So Emma is my first other contributor *does celebratory high-kick*. Here's her post:

The festival was amazing, and I think I'm sorted for new music for at least a year. Seeing ten bands a day brings you to an almost otherworldly understanding of musical structure and the nuances of sound, though at the expense of your sanity and health. . The festival takes my mind-over-matter ethos to unconscionable extremes. The hot sun, loud music, endless free drinks, and twelve hours a day of standing outside in the hot sun, breaks your body down until you're nothing but spirit and ears. Emerson wrote of the "transparent eyeball"...
Standing on the bare ground,--my head bathed by the blithe air and
uplifted into infinite space,--all mean egotism vanishes. I become a
transparent eyeball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the

Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or parcel of God.

...At southby you become a transparent eardrum.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Saturday at SXSW 2009

Recharged from a great night's sleep, I headed to a great show organized by This Side Up Sounds (and others) at the Red Eyed Fly. I have fond memories of the old Little Radio parties that used to go on there in years past. It is one of my favorite venues in Austin. The lineup was promising as well, despite the first band canceling last minute. Takka Takka picked up the slack though, playing the first slot at 12:30 on very short notice. I was completely with these guys throughout their set, even though I typically find music without definitive climaxes to be outside my domain. I caught a couple of their songs on the camera. Here is "Monkey Forest Road". There are more videos on my YouTube channel.

Next were The Harlem Shakes, from New York. I caught them doing a solid live version of "". Below is the first single from their new record "Technicolor Health," which is released Tuesday, March 24.
"Strictly Game" by Harlem Shakes Download mp3 (getting permission)

Princeton, who everyone knows are one of my favorite bands of last year, played a ton of new material, which was a treat for me. They opened with "The Waves" from their first EP "Bloomsbury". Again, videos of the new songs on YouTube.

From here, I took off to go to a Pool party in North Austin. Kap10kurt had just started. These guys were so exciting to watch. Unfortunately, it was so bright, that the camera had trouble adjusting. As a result it looks like a band comprised of a ghost and a man with a speaker for a head.

As my batteries were dying, I managed to get a couple of Savoir Adore songs right at the end of the tape. Paul Hammer is going Huck Finn on this one. Thanks again to Paul for engineering our entire house show, including his own set!

Friday at SXSW 2009

Sleepy Sun

FRIDAY WE DID OUR HOUSE RECORDING! Stay tuned for the videos and audio recordings some time next week! I was so exhausted and satisfied from the show that I saw nothing after. I went to bed early to get ready for a jam-packed Saturday. Here are a couple of tracks. One from Paul Banks, and one from Sleepy Sun, who I can't stop talking about.

"The World" by Paul Banks Download mp3 (I'm assuming it's ok)

"New Age" by Sleepy Sun Download mp3 (getting permission)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Thursday at SXSW 2009

Paul Banks
So Thursday I spent a lot of the morning running around doing errands for our Friday show, which limited the music I saw during the day. I did catch one song by Justin Townes Earle, who lays down an impressive "hillbilly song," as he put it. By the time I was ready to go out, I just headed straight to FADO for the Thru Windows / Canon Records showcase. Quote opened up and blew me away. They have a new record out, which is actually a book. I have posted "Caspian Prince" below.
"The Caspian Parade" by Quote Download mp3 (with permission)

Paul Banks (pictured above) came on with his Fender Rhodes (as adamantly informed me). He has some great new songs since his first record came out last year. Can't want to hear that in the can. If you ever see a Paul Banks show, be sure to pay attention to James, the drummer at the very end. The band has taken to ending each show with a slightly-embarrased, but committed primal scream from James. The whole band starts to slow down, looks over, and after a shrug and a shake of the head, James lets it rip. Well done, James! I like Paul Banks and the Carousels more than any other Austin band I saw. Locals, you should check them out.

From there April Smith, Kara Suzanne, The Boy Bathing, Joe Pug (pictured above) were all fantastic. Joe Pug and The Boy Bathing played at the house show the next day, but it was nice to see them in their full irish-pub glory. Unfortunately I was too knackered to see Sam Isaac finish his set. I swayed and concentrated on staying upright long enough to catch 3 great songs. Then I had to hop in the van and get out. This was the first day where I felt exhausted. Some great music though!

Wednesday at SXSW 2009

So the IODA party was the best bill in town on Wednesday. I got there at the beginning, and I didn't leave until I could barely stand. I recorded the first three acts, but there were many more after. Namely Deastro, who blew me away. They are in my top 3 from the fest so far (with Sleepy Sun and Department of Eagles). This is Marching band, a great pop band from Sweden, in theory my favorite musical country. I can't find the name of this track, but I will.
"Make No Plans" by Marching Band Download mp3 (with permission)

Phenomenal Handclap Band were incredibly fun to watch. The sound is clipping a little on my tiny microphone, but you'll get the idea. They are a throwback for sure, but with an element of self-conscious commentary. This is what separates it form a novelty project - that and they make massive music! Listen to it! Great.
"You'll Disappear" by The Phenomenal Handclap Band Download mp3 (hopefully w/ permission)

We Were Promised Jetpacks were the last band I could manage to hold my arm up for. Too many free Lone Star's. When I was researching the name of this song, I noticed that Scottish Rock has become a genre in some places. I guess I can hear a sort of thread-thin gaelic undercurrent in there. I don't even know what that means. I read my post about Tuesday again just a minute ago - It is unusually harsh. Sorry to all of the wankers who were at Lattitude 30 on Tuesday night.
"Quiet Little Voices" by We Were Promised Jetpacks Download mp3 (sampler track)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tuesday at SXSW 2009

Sleepy Sun are the best band I have seen in a year. They all stopped for a very sweet band huddle before the show, and then they proceeded to wow us all. I met Rachel briefly before the set, and we chatted about All Tomorrow's Parties. After a few moments jawing, I think it sounds like it might rival SXSW for America's best festival. It is also a European festival, in case anyone reading is from the homeland. Anyway, I am buying my ticket today, or as soon as I stop spinning from an incredible first day. Thank you Sleepy Sun, for making the first day the best in years.
"Lord" by Sleepy Sun Download mp3 (sampler track)

Micah P Hinson is an Abilene native, and a hell of an interesting song-writer. He performed before Sleepy Sun at the ATP party, and quite frankly he was my backup to seeing Post War Years. Thank god the British Embassy at Latitude 30 was full of non-listening wankers, or I never would have seen him! I couldn't have been more disgusted watching unknowing, ticket-wielding idiots prying their way into a space that would not have held a shred of interest for them had a separate line of disappointed RSVP victims not been kept waiting. Or maybe anything British comes with an unending queue built-in! SXSW always has a way of righting itself though. My only beef with Micah is that he sent me packing to Waterloo to get his record.

--addition 03.23.09---

I got a copy of Micah's CD, THE BABY AND THE SATELLITE, from Waterloo the next morning, and I will be reviewing it at some point down the line.
"For Your Eyes" by Micah P. Hinson Download mp3 (hopefully w/ permission)

Elliot Brood was my first show of the fest! It took me a few minutes to figure out where the bass was coming from, but it was Casey Laforet playing the "bass pedals." This contraption describes itself, but seeing it had me doing the head-pat, tummy cirlce afterwards, to try and get an idea of how far gone my uni-task brain has become. I would describe Elliot Brood as good, solid folk rock, and a very good rockin 'live show. I was bumped in the video - first show, first stain. Banjo player, Mark Sasso sort-of grimaced when I asked him if I could film, but then he acquiesced. He's quite a photogenic gent, so I don't get that one. Maybe he was holding back some strange playing-face, which perhaps made the show more of an effort than he would have liked? I think it came out great.
"Write It All Down For You" by Elliot Brood Download mp3 (with permission)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The SXSW Skinny

So I leave for the fest in the morning, and I am going to try and be very good about recording and posting semi-immediately after - like the next morning.


I am going guerrilla with my video camera, so if I can get close to a show I will tape it. Obviously all the stuff from our house show (laminate pictured above) will be edited to get great sound, and probably posted right after the festival.

My pledge not to drink for the week leading up to SXSW has predictably flopped, and I am going into it tired and hung over. I am also going to try really hard to get the bowler hat at least once this year. Check out the SXSW hat game.

Two bands I really want to see:
"Half Asleep" by School of Seven Bells Download mp3 (with permission)
"Swissex Lover" by Fight Bite Download mp3 (with permission)

Bryan Dunn rockin in January

So I lost this tape for a couple of months - as I got very excited at this show and had one too many ales. Thankfully, the young lady in whose apartment I left it was kind enough to bring it back to me this week. Now we get to see Bryan Dunn rocking the Spike Hill with his mega-hit, "AudioStereoRadio." A catchy mo-f*in single, actually. When mixed with some shimmy, it's a real toe-tapper.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Paige Wood causes misgivings, then rocks

--written 02.24.09--

In Manhattan they are rife. A shock of dread jabs you when you see one on stage .. and you've already paid the cover. You walk up to the back of the venue and measure it up through the glass. Five foot five. Ninety pounds tops. Blonde and pretty. Too pretty.

The temperature last night was such that I would have watched any number of Norah Jones clones, swaying, affected, unknowing. But wait, this is Mercury Lounge. That chick's playing a Tommy James cover! Paige Wood. Sorry, love, but you are too good looking, I almost wrote you off.

So after a lengthy Crimson and Clover, the band reassured with "I Am Spy," a short treatise on man-bulge vis-a-vis the Speedo, and then "Surfer's Queen." To quote my partner, Paige has "a worthy consciousness." That does sound vague. Basically she is referring to the front-person power of indie-rock. We are not prepared to watch someone who is quite obviously a fake, but we also demand that the principal song-writer, whose art we are enjoying, give us a little shimmy now and again.**

Paige is an artist in conversation with other art forms, namely film. This manifests itself beautifully in the two aforementioned songs, but there is another angle as well. The slow, haunting "Carmelite" (which I heard this morning on MySpace) spends four minutes inside the head of a monkish layperson (actually ironically allowed in the Carmelites) getting a dose of spirituality, presumably in the face of some illness. It's a repetitive pleading song, with only a minimal bass track behind the vocal, but it's great. Exactly what I was talking about in the last paragraph. I don't care what she chooses to sing about, because I can tell that she's going to have something interesting and beautiful to say about it. I am regretting the film reference now, but I suppose it's a harmless generalization. Paige's CD is coming out very soon. I can't wait to review the whole thing.
"I Am Spy" by Paige Wood Download mp3 (with permission)

** By shimmy, I mean both a literal moving of the hips and any action that makes us smile / like the person / enjoy ourselves / understand the music in a more lush context (you would think this is easy but it isn't)

Wait, Nietzsche isn't the Bad Guy? J Goodin is.

Wait, there is no such thing as the "bad guy?" No such thing as Bad? No such think as "Guy?" I knew it. J Goodin is as close to the bad guy as exists. He used to live in the city, but now he is living and performing strictly in Texas. We miss you on Sundays at the Poet, buddy. Here he is doing a wicked TMBG cover of "Dead." I taped this while I was on holiday in Texas.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Jenny Morgan @ Revolution

This show isn't in Manhattan, but I was in Texas for a bachelor party and thought I would film a gig or two. Here's Jenny Morgan doing a couple of pretty folk songs.