Thursday, June 28, 2007

An hour of Austin music

I have lived in Austin long enough that I sometimes take for granted the fact that there is a never-ending reserve of good music being created around me, so grabbing a few handfuls of this stuff from time to time and putting it all together in one place is one way of keeping up with what's happening. I have made mention most of these bands at some point since starting this blog last summer, so some of this will be a refresher with new material, and the remaining will be something new that you might not have heard yet.

There's a short description with links to use for further perusal, plus one track to hear from each artist. I've got a handful of new demos, a couple of blasts from the past, and a necessary dose of weirdness from Loren Dent. If you've got an hour to spare, take the time wrap your ears around some of the music that is coming out of Austin. I will probably upload individual tracks later, and for now you can follow the links to download this thing in Part 1 and Part 2.

I can remember seeing Mandible play a few years ago on the inside stage at Stubb's, and I had always wanted to pick up a CD of theirs. Years later it finally happened when I picked up the new album they've just put out titled (Here Come The) Mandible. Here's some of their info from Wiki: "Mandible is an alt rock/hard pop band out of Austin, Texas. The group is known for its wry humor, art rock style musical arrangements, and progressive rock influences. But the band is perhaps most infamous for their unpredictable (and loud) live shows. The quintet often wraps its considerable chops around multiple time signatures and whiplash stylistic changes in the space of a single song, and the audience is never quite sure whether the number will end in a sublime cathartic moment or a heinous train wreck. Or from gig to gig, whether the band will show up dressed in bird suits, as failed superheroes or Wizard of Oz characters, or in regular street clothes. But that's part of the fun, and the intrigue, of following this particular group."
The instrumental quartet Cue are ready to release their new album titled Wedding Song, and the CD release is taking place here in Austin at the Emo’s Lounge this Friday, June 29th, 2007. While I wait for a physical copy of the album to arrive in the mail, here is one of the demos that you can check out at their official site. I'm really enjoying this track...
Okkervil River have a new album titled The Stage Names that will hit shelves on August 7th, and it is yet another fantastic release to add to the band's strong repertoire. "Unless It's Kicks" is the second of nine songs that will be featured on their fourth album for Jagjaguwar. Feel free to let it make you jump around in front of your computer...
Oh No! Oh My! will soon offer up a new EP via Dim Mak Records titled Between the Devil and the Sea, to follow their eye opening self-titled debut album from last year. They have given us a glimpse of the new EP with this track filled with hand clap harmonies, and you can hear more at the MySpace.
The Black & White Years are a pop-rock-reggae trio who recorded 14 tracks for their debut album out in California with Jerry Harrison of the Talking Heads, and they were kind enough to send over a few tracks in advance of the album's release including "Power to Change." This track makes me want to boogie.
I was first introduced to the fine sounds of AM Syndicate at one of the Locals at La Zona shows last month that were put on by Do512 and Direct Events. I was impressed right away by their melodic songwriting, and before the night was over I made off with one of of their EPs so that I could hear more. Described as "a constantly evolving musical experiment - both catchy and challenging - a cross between the Arcade Fire and the Animal Collective," AM Syndicate have a full-length album and a few EPs under their belt that you can get your hands on. Check out their sound and head to the Austinist to read an interview with lead musician Omar Chavez.
A few words on Zykos from their MySpace: "After helping to define one of the most relevant independent music scenes in the US, Ausitn's Zykos are now poised for their own breakout. Since their inception in 2003, local and national critics alike have been showering Zykos with praise for their assured performances and inventive songwriting. Having released two records nationally and compiled a host of successful tours with many of your favorite bands (Cursive, TV on the Radio, Explosions in the Sky, Okkervill River, Ben Lee, Har Mar, Ed Harcourt, The Good life, and The Hold Steady), Zykos spent the last few years revitalizing their song catalog. Their latest approach is one that feels much more informed by "the classics" than contemporary trends. Despite the shift towards a more epic sound with bigger harmonies, this quintet maintains all of their trademark chill-inducing intensity. From introspective, slow-burning choral landscapes to chaotic, combustible pop, this is a versatile rock band not afraid to explore myriad sonic impulses with equal proficiency." You can get the new demo below plus three more tracks at their MySpace.
Red Hunter has been touring across the country this summer, and while he's been out there on the road he's been offering a 10 track tour-only Peter and the Wolf album which he calls Fireflies. The last time we spoke he mentioned a new album that might be titled Sun Chasers might be coming over the summer or perhaps in the fall, and once it's out I'll surely be saying something about it here.
Abandoned Love Records sent over an advance copy of the soon to be released Virgin of the Birds EP, and it didn't take long for the EPs seven tracks to get my attention. Austin Sound are big fans of the release as well: Continually surprising in their off-kilter contortions and vivid evocations, the seven songs most closely recall Destroyer’s Dan Bejar, though with less lyrical density or self-referentiality. “Sisters at the Sound of Dawn” and “Hey Kirsten” are probably most closely Bejar-ian, the former offering lyrics such as “Oh Sister, much the wiser, why do you stand tall beside her? And pretense, is it a virtue, or just a heavy method employed to hold you?” while the latter opens ““Hey Kirsten why’d you go and follow me to the Church of Restitution, you know that I’m in charge of the recruitment.” Yet Rooney gives the songs much more room to breathe than Destroyer, which works well for the general folk-pop feel throughout the album."
I caught up with Austin's own Zookeeper during a Locals at La Zona show, and shortly afterwords I received this message from Fanatic Media: "Chris Simpson has always been something of a virtuoso when it comes to songwriting. So it should come as no surprise that the former frontman for influential late 90s' bands Mineral and The Gloria Record has spent the last several years hunkered down in Austin, Texas, doing exactly what he does best: creating voluminous works of intelligent, naked rock n' roll. Only this time he is taking a distinct departure from his emo-indie days. His latest work, a solo, self-titled EP created under his new moniker, Zookeeper, bursts with melodies and rhythms that don't suggest Radiohead's The Bends so much as they do Van Morrison's Astral Weeks, and a gusto that calls to mind T-Rex more than U2. Fans old and new are raving about his recent musical turn which Hybrid Magazine gushed, “may just be the best jangling, loose pop record you hear all year.”
The Drawing Board played this track when I caught their Locals at La Zona set, and it's been stuck in my head pretty much ever since. "The Writer" is a new demo that they've just released on the heels of their well-received debut album Clear To The Far Side Of Way Over Yonder. Here is what Fifth Column thought about their debut release: "Austin via Los Angeles via looks like the Drawing Board have finally settled down for a bit, the bastard sons of Jellyfish and Elvis Costello have delivered a dizzying, hook laden, harmony drenched debut which only hints at the firepower they bring to bear in the live show. This complicated record dangles indie rock over the lounge precipice and chuckles while it squirms." Check out their newest song below and say something nice to them at MySpace.
The alt/rock/country/boozing 6-piece Li'l Cap'n Travis finally have a new offering to follow their standout 2004 release of In All Their Splendor, which I've probably listened to so many times that the grooves in the CD are beginning to wear out. One of the new tracks is available for download at the official site, and it makes the description "southern-fried guitar wankery with sunny psychedelic sway and languidly introspective songcraft" sound as accurate as any that I've read. The track below comes from a compilation album that I stumbled upon at some point...
A Pocketful of Deng caught my attention at one of the Locals at La Zona shows, and they were kind enough to hook me up with their album titled Boxed In, from which the track below is taken. Here is a brief description of the band from the Emergenza Music Festival site: "A Pocketful of Deng is taking a different approach to music by daring to start their own genre of rock called "Pocket Fusion." They rely on the distinct differences between the five members in order to create an entirely new sound. Some may say it sounds like The Doors, or Blues Travler, or Radio Head, or something more! It's high energy and you can dance to it, and it will surely leave you stunned."
I gave a heads-up on The Politics back in October, and since that time the dudes have written, recorded, and released their rock guitar-filled debut album These Bridges Will Not Stand. Here are a few words from their MySpace page: "Formed in February of 2006, The Politics music is the end product of countless hours of rehearsal, years and years of various musical influences and nothing short of a pure and passionate love for music. Derived from three musically addicted souls from Austin, TX, The Politics are nothing to mess with. An introduction is in order, Andrew Campbell on bass, Patrick Gonzalez taking care of guitar and vocals and Steven Gonzalez on drums."
I told you all about Chili Cold Blood album back in April, and here's another groovy track from their latest album.
The War Against Sleep are a group of local musicians doing what they can to obtain a foothold on the music map, forming the band after four years of promoting upcoming artists on the now-defunct Austin Music Network. The three VJ's and one Editor were forced to find another creative outlet after the city pulled the plug on the station in September 2005, and it was only logical that they would gravitate towards what they knew best, music. Instead of promoting other artists, this time around they would handle the instruments themselves and let their own voices be heard.

The War Against Sleep began as Jason Thomas (keys, drums, vox, noises, percussion,) Ryan Williams (keys, vox, guitar, bass,) Alex Bothstede (keys, vox, guitar, bass, drums,) and Chris Heckendorn (main vox, keys, guitar, bass, drums,) though these days they keep the creative energy refreshed by featuring a small rotation of artists who lend their talents to the band in the form additional instrumentation.
White Denim are a spastic rock trio that I've told you about a time or two in the past, and they've just released the Let's Talk About It EP for your aural consumption. The EP contains 6 tracks including the one below, and you can easily get a hold of it by heading over to iTunes. Do not adjust your radio. Do buy the EP.
Explosions in the Sky was formed in Austin in 1999, and shortly thereafter they released their debut album and never looked back. Here is what Wiki has to tell us: "How Strange, Innocence is the first album recorded by post-rock band Explosions in the Sky, released on January 17, 2000. It is their only album for the Sad Loud America label. Initially only 300 copies were issued in the form of CD-Rs. Due to many requests from fans, the album was remastered from the original master tapes and with new artwork, reissued by Temporary Residence Limited on October 11, 2005."
Via Contract Killers Records: "Loren Dent is an Austin-based aural architect, musician, and producer. Having cut his teeth as a founding member of the critically acclaimed orchestral rock group, Purchase New York, his solo efforts (often years in the making) incorporate humming static, chasmal feedback, and sonic objet trouvés all meticulously assembled into a warm, " joyous drone."
A few words on Daniel Johnston from eMusic: "As with other talented but troubled artists such as Syd Barrett, Brian Wilson, and Roky Erickson, Daniel Johnston fights a daily battle with the chronic mental illness that has plagued him nearly his entire life. However, despite recurrent bouts of delusional behavior wherein he has physically endangered himself and others, Johnston has carved out a respectable, influential career as a singer/songwriter of extraordinary talent who has grown since his first crudely recorded cassette was released in 1980." Here is one of those crudely recorded cassette tracks...

also recently featured a few local acts, and you can follow the links to read about the artists and get free downloads of each of them.


musicisart said...

nice work, mr. curiosity!

Doug said...

Great comp! Nailed some of the best stuff going on round here right now. Thanks!