Daily Music
Off the Wall
If you build it, they will come. Austin acts dominate the third Wall of Sound Festival Saturday, Sept. 22, the weekend following the Austin City Limits Festival, at LaGrave Field in Fort Worth. The three-stage show is easy on the wallet (advance tickets are only $30, available here) and includes headliners Explosions in the Sky and Ghostland Observatory, as well as Pinback, Om, the Books, Brothers & Sisters, Peter & the Wolf, the Sword, Lions, Ume, White Denim, and Tacks, the Boy Disaster. The full lineup's at the link above and to the right.

For those unwilling to make the trek up I-35, a handful of Dallas' finest, including Black Tie Dynasty, Shanghai 5, Golden Falcons, and the Tah Dahs, hits the Parish on Saturday as part of the "Debbie Does Austin" showcase.

11:52AM Tue. Jul. 17, 2007, Austin Powell Read More | Comment »

Wreck of the Elizabeth Dane
Ghost stories, lullabies: spectral opposites of the same comfort. Two nostrils perched above covers pulled high serve them equally, same as a leaping campfire.

That firelight centers the prologue of John Carpenter’s The Fog. Follow-up to the previous year’s indie tide-turner, Halloween, the filmmaker’s fourth big-screen hit and run blunts its predecessor’s serrated edge with good old-fashion ghost-busting. The blood and guts of All Hallows Eve 1978 recede for The Fog’s milky screen of vengeful dead men returning to celebrate Antonio Bay’s birthday. Jamie Lee Curtis climbs back aboard as well. Cue the piano.

11:39AM Fri. Jul. 13, 2007, Raoul Hernandez Read More | Comment »

The Rapture of Annie Clark
The buzz around St. Vincent is warranted, as her debut album Marry Me, out today, should attest. Full of religious allusions, illusions of love, and love gone cold, it’s not nearly as fluffy and stuffy as one might think from her previous collaborations – Polyphonic Spree, Sufjan Stevens.

Instead, she crawls through land mines, sees Paris burning, and lusts after holy men, making Marry Me an almost unattainable goal. And that’s precisely why it’s such an engaging listen. The beatific music is secondary to Clark’s doom-filled lyrics. On “Landmines”:

I’m crawling through landmines
I know because I planted them
Under cover of night

And on the jazzy “Human Racing”:

Romeo, where’d you go?
It’s been years and still no sign, but I’m keeping hope alive
Juliet, how you been?
You look like death, like you sure could use some rest

Yes, much of Marry Me seems conflicted and desperate. Love is the answer, according to Clark, and it’s an awfully European gesture. The early century sensibility in her songs becomes even more interesting knowing Clark is from Dallas, and was born in Tulsa, Okla., one of nine children.

11:02AM Tue. Jul. 10, 2007, Audra Schroeder Read More | Comment »

July Is for Lovers (of Screaming and Feedback)
Mohawk's Tuesday July residency is a good'un, I tell you what. Ume, led by whirling dervish Lauren Larson, knocks down the hive tomorrow night (and July 24) along with Ringo Deathstarr, and Horse + Donkey feeds back to black next Tuesday.

And this Wednesday night, a certain sea-faring group from the Northwest will perform a rousing set of salty tales. Last one there has to swab the poop deck.

4:52PM Mon. Jul. 9, 2007, Audra Schroeder Read More | Comment »

Cardiovascular Blues (Inner Secrets)
“I’m going to have to shave you,” nodded the nurse, holding up a little white Bic razor.

We both looked at my chest. Standing there on a treadmill, soon to sport more electrodes than William Hurt in Altered States, I sighed. It took me 30 years to grow that!

“One Way Out,” an Elmore James/Sonny Boy Williamson razor strap, smolders infidelity, but mortality ain’t materializing any great escapes either. There’s only one way out of this life, and “oh, baby, I just don’t know.” The Allman Brothers’ cover of “One Way Out,” Live at the Fillmore East, 1971 (originally from Eat a Peach), chops bone.

Fade In: the whistles, the crowd. The buzz. Dickey Betts’ guitar. Loping just ahead of a swarming rhythm section, his fleet-fingered riffing bounds with animal grace. Airborne. Enter Duane Allman’s slide guitar, dripping with disembowelment.

A singular sound in the rock & roll library, Allman’s Coricidin bottle sliding across steel strings pressed atop steel frets burns ears and brands memory. Once heard, you’ve got the scars to prove it. Allman (1946-1971) wipes the face off “One Way Out” even as he flips its switch. Locomotive on track, baby brother Gregg Allman unwinds his predicament as if Mother Earth herself were reciting the book on tape.

Ain’t but one way out, baby. Lord, I just can’t go out that door.

Ain’t but one way out, baby. And Lord, I just can’t go out that door.

Cause there’s a man down there. Might be your old man, I don’t know.

11:36AM Fri. Jul. 6, 2007, Raoul Hernandez Read More | Comment »

Matisyahu: Making, Taking You Higher
First, the folks at the Backyard need to be applauded for the solution they’ve come up with to the horrible parking situation. They’ve arranged with a local Home Depot and a church on Bee Cave Road for offsite parking, where you can hop a shuttle bus to the venue. It’s the route I took, and it was remarkably hassle-free, unlike my last visit.

Under a sky that moved from threatening to exposing shafts of sunlight, but thankfully free of rain, this Independence Day celebration began with a much-too-brief set by L.A.’s Particle. The quartet offered but a glimmer of what they're capable of over the course of 30 minutes. Leaning heavily on dancing basslines, they delivered a slab of space funk that moved from high intensity to blissed-out trance with astonishing ease. At set’s end, they upped the cheese factor with a cover of the Commodores’ Seventies disco instrumental “Machine Gun.”

What followed was one of the best sets I've seen this year. File the music of Matisyahu under Hasidic Beatbox Reggae. While that might not make sense, it’s even more difficult to describe its positive nature without sound clips. Beyond the unique image of the Brooklyn-based rapper skanking while clothed in the vestments of his Orthodox faith, the fusion of sounds his fivepiece brought was awe-inspiring. No one mixes dub-wise hypnotics with roaring rock, shifting beats with slinky guitar and authentic reggae into such a delicious whole.

11:15AM Fri. Jul. 6, 2007, Jim Caligiuri Read More | Comment »

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Will Courtney: Simple Man
Will Courtney was born into the music business, literally. His mother, Grammy award-winning gospel singer Cynthia Clawson, went into labor with him in a studio in Nashville, while his father, Ragan Courtney, a Baptist preacher, penned several of her hits. Raised on lovin’ spoonfuls of the Byrds and Beach Boys, Will, along with real-life sibling Lily, formed the aptly titled country-folk collective Brothers & Sisters as a reflection and extension of their roots. The group’s eponymous debut, released last year on the family label, Calla Lily Records, is rich with pastoral scenery and sun-kissed choruses that are as instantly familiar as they are welcoming. The ensemble recently recorded a new EP, which includes a cover of Neil Young’s “Albuquerque” in Los Angeles, where they recently took up a residency. Off the Record chats up Courtney after the jump.

1:49PM Thu. Jul. 5, 2007, Austin Powell Read More | Comment »

Backbeat to the Music
“Upload this to YouTube so we can watch it!”

One of Pete Best’s men in black called to the cadre of camcorders in the audience in the Threadgill’s garden on a sticky June night. The greybeards and scraggly ponytailed ones nodded back agreeably at the guitarist as the band slid into “Till There Was You.”

“Why aren’t there more people here? He was a Beatle!” KGSR program director Jody Denberg and I muttered to each other as the band ably shifted into “Rock & Roll Music.” The old hippies in the crowd were game enough and when the Pete Best Band struck up “Twist and Shout,” the audience did just that.

If you’re not a fan of the early Beatles, it helps to know that like most of the early Sixties bands, they were a largely a jukebox band. Then-booking agent Allan Williams hired Pete Best as the Silver Beatles’ first full-time drummer in 1960. The “Silver” part was soon dropped but Best sat in a crucial position for the band as the drummer on the Decca demos and those brutal gigs and live recordings in Hamburg, the period that forever shaped the Beatles’ sound.

Best also played numerous Cavern gigs with the Beatles and was onboard when they backed up Tony Sheridan on “My Bonnie.” Best’s displacement by new manager Brian Epstein in late 1962 has been attributed to personality conflicts, questionable musicianship, and band jealousy. Whether it was any one or a combination of those is lost to history. Best continued to perform and record but with little success and seemed to drop from sight by the Seventies.

11:05AM Mon. Jul. 2, 2007, Margaret Moser Read More | Comment »

Back in to the Vault
It’s no big secret, though some haven’t figured it out, that I’m a Deadhead. No, not one of those. I went to about 20 or 30 shows from 1972 to 1994, and I still listen to a lot of their music, but I was never fanatical to the point of going on tour, collecting tapes, or digging too deep into the mythology. I was just into the music.

It’s a jones that’s been continually fed with a remarkable stream of live releases and box sets since Jerry Garcia’s death in 1995. The latest, Three From the Vault (Rhino), was released this week and while it’s an interesting set, the real story, at least to me, is the changes apparent since Rhino has taken over the release of the Dead’s archival material.

1991 saw the release of the original One From the Vault, quickly followed by Two. An extraordinary 53 live albums followed, which ranged from complete individual concerts to compilations from specific tours to career-spanning box sets. Most of those, especially the Dick’s Picks series, which is now up to #36, were woefully lacking in any historical context or liner notes.

2:44PM Fri. Jun. 29, 2007, Jim Caligiuri Read More | Comment »

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