Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Taking a Crack at Reviewing Some of '08's Worthy

Real Emotional Trash – Stephen Malkmus and Jicks

Among those that preach the quirky and the unique one-man still remains supreme, after all he is the flag bearer that started it all. Stephen Malkmus steps to a new sound without leaving his artsy, outcast date by the punchbowl with a stain on her ironic retro dress. Much of what makes Malkmus is of course his days with Pavement. Under the same notion much of what has restrained Malkmus is his time with Pavement. A stigma he seemed destined to never escape. His work since Pavement has touched on high points, hinted at glory and even whispered ‘this is something different, just listen harder.’ Real Emo doesn’t tickle the ear, it shoves it’s droning, heavy laden guitar riffs deep inside and racks your ear drums, jamming away deep into the night keeping you wide awake and fuzzy with confusion of the best kind. The songs twist, yank and hang vicious u-turns as any tracks of Malkmus fame will do, but here there is no urgency to top what has been done, to force the extra tempo change or squeeze one additional anomalous rhyming couplet. Malkmus and his Jicks have made a complete album that puts to rest the notion that Malkmus’s best days are behind him. A true odd and wandering delight.

Attack and Release The Black Keys

I began the drool factor a few months back when my eyes scanned the line ‘DJ Danger Mouse to produce next album for the Black Keys.’ Oh Lord, have mercy on me! Could this live up to such an impossible hype? Could the current masters of blues-rock take such a redefining detour and arrive unscathed and ahead of schedule? The personnel involved is furious and volatile in exploration and potential, could the onslaught back produce the result? Will Attack match Release? Upon first listen the album is pure Black Keys, just more refined production. Sure there are times when the time in studio with a rising master rings more true than others but the presence seems more back trodden and mysteriously than originally assumed. Once the album sinks in, when you recognize that the Keys are still the mighty Keys, then you notice what is all around and has been screaming at you from the basement for hours on end. ‘This album is a brilliant success because it is so perfectly produced, arranged and the concept not overbearing of the potential. This is the true Odd Couple of the year and by the time they are clearing the dinner plates on the first date they’ve snuck off to the parking lot to make out…skipping on the tab. Yeah, they’re crazy like that.

For Emma, Forever Ago – Bon Iver

Pure, refined, heartfelt and true. A genius in the making, Bon Iver sculpts a epic beauty of an album in effortless fashion as the sun sets and the winter chill gives way to the bright suns on Spring. To say this album grows on you is to make as blunt a statement as with every passing day, we grow one older. The profit of the hills and the muse of the forest, Bon Iver’s voice rattles the leaves and cascades among the sputtering creeks of a place you know and love but rarely take the time to visit. A place that seems lost in the confusion of the world today. Track after track, heart spills from soul across lips, feeding into reverb out your speakers into the ambiance of the world in which you live. It’s the most comforting album I’ve heard in years. I trusty dog that walks in stride along trail throughout the day and nestles in close as night draws and the fire cracks. Simple, succinct and patron of ‘less is more.’ For Emma is truly for the kindred spirit of hope in us all.


Sun Giant EP – Fleet Foxes
Fantastic folk meets twang meets howling reverb of smoky bars and long nights with heavy thoughts.

We Brave Bee Stings and All – Thao (with the Get Up Get Downs)
Uplifting, jangle mixes of folk rock with a hint of world pop. Strong songs and lively instrumentation.

Walk It Off – Tapes ‘n Tapes
Bit of the ‘ol sophmore slump. Less fire, less direction, less zeal. Still punk meets pop and rides heavy on a few key tracks.

Monday, March 24, 2008

You'd be a Fool to not dig this...

From their new LP Visiter, here's The Dodos with Fools...ya'll enjoy yourselves now ya' hear! And no I'm not taking credit for finding this on my own, I know Pitchfork drooled over it, but I think it sounds more like Annuals than Animal Collective...so there!

2008 Albums to date coming this week...at least that's what the word is from the front office, we'll see if they follow through or not.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Jacket and the Whigs leave their mark on Austin

MMJ gets all Evil on ya' and the Whigs do their Rockin best.

Take a listen via NPR/Pitchfork

Full sets for both bands as well as Yo La Tengo.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Little Case of the Mondays...


Coming off an aggressive and exhausting weekend for many reasons I was not exactly amped to be staying out late again on a Monday to watch guitar heavy rock. But I know you people count on me and I owed it both of my readers to suck it up and approach this evening with an open mind and open ears. Despite the fullest of true intentions, my performance was on par with the band’s, sloppy and misguided with no end in sight.

By default I eat at Cabo fish taco when in NODA, but nothing about this night fired on target. After parking and observing a beyond appropriate number of showgoers for a Monday filing into the Neighborhood Theatre I began to get that feeling that the night was taking a turn for the worse. We just walked on past Cabo and the line that was spilling itself onto the concrete. Quick diversion as Phil and I meander the scenester traffic and grab Cubano’s from Salvador Deli. I can’t stomach a beer yet so I settle for a Root Beer, which makes me sluggish and full of sugar, I wasn’t helping myself at all.

8pm hits and we make our way into the door where I met with Gary, my personal neighbor and co-owner of the venue. He gets me in the doors and gives me the VIP treatment as he runs down the overhaul the venue has recently undergone. What once was a floor of seating as now been stripped down to open dance floor and elevated platforms with self VIP seating…changes that fast made this one of the better looking venues I been to. I’ve always liked the Neighborhood but now it looks and sounds great.

Can’t say the same for the opening act. Elevation from Seattle, referred to as Lo Mein for rest of the review. Lo Mein has a dilemma. This dilemma stems from a decent drummer, and alright guitarist and a leadman that sucks. This band had no focus. No clue. No hope. The songs trailed off into nothing as a instrument was either dropped or notes were so fumbling that they just kinda gave up. This band was loud in all the ways I hate loud bands.

Note: Photo obviously taken 17yrs. ago

Up next were the Meat Puppets whom I hoped would be a tighter more refined sound. Turns out they were just older, louder and weird. Kinda like Ween on a bad night. They did play Plateau but it sounded rough and the singer trailed off on the last stanza forgetting the lyrics…sad. The band seemed out of practice, out of synch. There were numerous sound issues, bumping into mic stands and knocking a guitar over into a speaker that sent squealing reverb across the floor for the next few songs. The only highlight was a great version of Backwater, their true hit. The oddest part of their set wasn’t the country rock they played or even the cover of Tennessee Stud, what made it awkward was the crowd getting so into the show. Most folks seemed to be loving every second of it. The guy in front on me had such a blast that he passed out with two Bud tall boys in his hands before the set was even over. The group of 40 something women to my left were dressed as though they were hoping to sneak backstage of a Stones show in ’81…and they were singing along! Maybe I just didn’t know what the hell was going on, but this show was wearing me thin. What topped it off was the worst version of Lake of Fire I have ever heard. THEY WROTE THE SONG, WHY DO THEY MAKE IT SOUND LIKE CRAP????

I knew I had to document the Meat Puppets to say I’ve seen them, yes the band Nirvana made famous and played with on their Unplugged set, I took out the camera to learn that I had failed to charge the batteries. I’ll have that beer now.

By the time Built to Spill came on stage I was ready to go home. This wasn’t fair to the band. They sounded really good. Loud, but very controlled and far more polished that the previous acts. It’s a shame the openers took so long and played all over the place because I really took away from a band I like and have wanted to see. The stage setup was interesting with a backdrop slideshow of black and white art with a few color oil paintings flashed as well. What hurt the band was that after EVERY song they tuned their instruments. No band has ever song in a different key, especially not bands that play muffled reverb and feedback like it’s about to go up in price like oil.

They even joked about the incessant tuning. “After we finishing tuning we’ll actually play a song…we just need to tune up first.” Not funny after they began tuning as soon and the ensuing song ended.

I ended the show much like the bands were playing; unexpectedly and fuzzy. That is to say I didn’t stay to the end. Not Built to Spill’s fault, just fault of the night as a whole. So I’ll end this review in a similar fashion and just simply