Daily Music
Don't Call It a Comeback
For the past couple of years, the Old Settler’s Music Festival seemed to wobble on its last legs, both creatively and in terms of attendance. This past weekend, however, it showed great signs of life with respectable crowds; a full, lively campground; and some inspired bookings that proved it’s more than just another (dreaded) bluegrass festival.

The vibe at Camp Ben McCulloch on Thursday night was as pleasant as an Austin music event could be with smiles all around and everyone kicking off their shoes for dancing and hula hoops. Slaid Cleaves cleared the air as to how a singer-songwriter goes about entertaining an audience. Backed by a trio that included striking fiddler Eleanor Whitmore, Cleaves laid down a set of country and folk, fast-paced yet touching and peppered with the occasional yodel. Baton Rouge, La.’s Red Stick Ramblers followed with a plate of swing, blues, and Cajun that had nearly everyone shaking their moneymaker. They’ve had some personnel changes over the years, which has unfortunately led the quintet to lean a little heavy on the swing and away from their Louisiana roots, but there were no complaints from the crowd, which was obviously geared up for a energetic weekend.

2:38PM Mon. Apr. 23, 2007, Jim Caligiuri Read More | Comment »

Cute Band Alert!
Above the sea of neck tattoos and back patches, I can only see Signal Lost singer Ashley Marshall pop up and down. So often, in fact, I begin to wonder if there's a trampoline I can't see. Signal Lost has lots of fans. Besides maybe Hermosa Beach in 1981, Room 710 is pretty much the perfect place for Signal Lost to play. Energetic, anthemic, all those things you like from punk rock, right?

The 4-year-old quartet is on Prank Records, once home to Kylesa and personal Schadenfreude favorite Guyana Punch Line, but they don’t sound like a typical Prank band. Instead of blast beats or unintelligible screams, they run through pop, thrash, and punk, and count bands like J Church, Severed Head of State, Deaththreat, Balance of Terror, and Storm the Tower among the branches of their family tree. Marshall's vocal range veers from a gruff howl to a Siouxsie-esque bellow and their politi-punk leanings could throw them in the pit with the anarcho ranks of Crass Records. But there's something distinctly Texas about them.

Prosthetic Screams is their latest LP. Produced by the ubiquitous Chris "Frenchie" Smith, there's a definite sheen to the new songs, as opposed to 2005's Children of the Wasteland. Funny enough, perhaps because there are two women in the band (Marshall and bassist Jasmine Mayberry) under the "sounds like" category on their MySpace is the phrase “Your girlfriend would like it.”

“That’s kinda just an inside joke from our European tour,” Marshall explains. “We played with a lot of hardcore type bands, and after we'd finish our set each night, older punks would walk up to us and say things like, ‘I like you guys. It’s different and I can dance to it.’ I'm pretty sure that on our last tour I was approached by a different guy each night who said something along the lines of, 'My girlfriend really likes you!’ I couldn’t help but wonder, where are all these girlfriends?”

Didn't seem to be a problem last night. Signal Lost heads out on a West Coast tour next week, and the play list for the van is quite telling. “Every time we cram into that van, we listen to the same tapes,” Marshall laughs. “It wouldn’t be a Signal Lost tour without Zounds, Wipers, Leatherface, Big Boys, Post Regiment, La Fraction, the Mob. And when things get tense we can always depend on some Dead Milkmen to lighten the mood.”

1:09PM Fri. Apr. 20, 2007, Audra Schroeder Read More | Comment »

Choogle x 2
If you're looking for a condensed history of "choogle," head over to TCBlog.
In the meantime, Minneapolis quartet Chooglin', who rocked Beerland shortly before South by Southwest, take the name seriously on their latest self-titled.

Armed with a Creedence-coined moniker and a logo nicked from Chicago (might wanna lawyer up on that count, boys), Chooglin' blasts far beyond whatever notions those two weapons might confer. The fourpiece utilizes garage-borne punk fury to remind us of the ass-shaking salvation once offered by the boogie-down guitar rock of the Seventies before it got all bloated on deli trays and cocaine.

Ex-Midnight Evils Jesse Tomlinson and Brian Vanderwerf conjure up double-barreled guitar pyrotechnics while drummer Shawn Walker splays himself every which way at a hundred miles an hour without losing time. Opener "So Stupid" spins itself into a frenzy approximating a speed-of-sound collision between Muddy Waters, Foghat, and the Streetwalkin' Cheetahs. Breakneck soul workout "Do It to It" and a well-placed cover of Roy Head's "Treat Her Right" garner extra oomph from the Horns of Eleganza's barroom brass. Theirs is the sound of workaday shackles rapidly evaporating into a rank steam of spilled beer and hormones.

3:22PM Wed. Apr. 18, 2007, Greg Beets Read More | Comment »

Strange Days Indeed
America’s most phallic state may soon forgive Jim Morrison for a 1970 indecent-exposure conviction.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist says he’s thinking about granting the Doors vocalist a posthumous pardon for allegedly brandishing his unknown soldier during an infamous March 1, 1969, concert at Miami’s Dinner Key Auditorium. Local officials also charged Morrison with using profanity.

Bootleg recordings of the Miami show demonstrate Morrison’s drunken, foul-mouthed invective, but the exposure charge has always been a matter of conjecture because accounts vary and no photographs of the unsheathed tool are known to exist. Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek has long maintained that Morrison was merely taunting the audience and never whipped anything out.

Morrison, a Florida native, was sentenced to six months of hard labor by a Dade County judge in September 1970, but he remained free on appeal. The case was still pending when Morrison died of an overdose in a Paris bathtub on July 3, 1971.

"He died when he was 27,” Crist notes. “That's really a kid, when you think about it, and obviously he was having some challenges."

Crist does not have the authority to pardon Morrison on his own. Two of the three other members of the Florida cabinet, which serves as the state’s clemency board, would also have to agree to a pardon. Moreover, Florida does not have a procedure for pardoning the dead.

Still, between this and his politically brave effort to restore the voting rights of most Florida felons once they are released from prison, Charlie Crist deserves to be short-listed for the title of coolest Republican governor.

12:14PM Wed. Apr. 18, 2007, Greg Beets Read More | Comment »

The Waiting Game
I'll skip what's really on my mind - how CONCERT PARKING SUCKS - because I am in the doghouse about it over not filing my Live Shot on ZZ Top show. I won't go into details about a 55-MINUTE LINE INTO THE PARKING LOT or why it annoys me that the Backyard misspells "glen," a small valley, as "Glenn" like the man's name. After attending music events for more than 40 years, I've reached my limit of doing the came-upon-a-child-of-God-he-was-walking-along-the-road march to Woodstock, ACL Fest, or any other place that requires me to park a ridiculous distance and stumble with a bad knee to the venue.

Except for the Rolling Stones. I'll walk, skip, hitchhike, fly first class, or take enough painkillers to limp anywhere to see them.

My most notorious concert line incident occurred in 1969, waiting to see Blind Faith at San Antonio's HemisFair Arena. With a portable tape recorder stashed in my purse - you could do that then without being a Deadhead - I stood with friends at the front of the line, huddled together while someone split a tab of acid. We alternated between saving a place in line and going to the water fountain to swallow the acid.

Two of our group had no tickets but we devised a plan: I'd go inside and meet them around the side of the arena and let them in. About an hour before the show began, the doors opened. We winked at each other and I walked in with my friend Debbie. We strolled along the bank of glass doors until we found what looked like a good place to throw open the door. Unfortunately, the two without tickets had blabbed the plan to some other have-nots. About 14 people stared at me from outside, waiting for the moment.

Debbie was the lookout. She gave the signal and I dashed to the door, pushing it wide open. Just then two cops came around the corner. I tried to slip into the crowd but one spotted me and gave chase. I ran, dodging hippies, and ducked into the bathroom. It was the men's room. The floor seemed to give way under a yellow-green florescent light. The acid had kicked in.

11:29AM Tue. Apr. 17, 2007, Margaret Moser Read More | Comment »

Fan Club
Dirk Michener currently crafts folk/psych/noise/pop with Cavedweller and the Charles Potts Magic Windmill Band. Here, in anticipation of Saturday's Sebadoh show (say that three times fast), he holds forth on an album that inspired him: 1992's Smash Your Head on the Punk Rock.

"I bought the album because I saw their name on the bill for Lollapalooza '93's second stage, along with Glue and Free Kitten," Michener says via e-mail. "I saw them before I bought the record and was completely blown away. Pretty much everything I’d ever wanted from music: folk and noise together at last. And they switched instruments in between every song. I was kind of young, maybe 17, and none of my friends liked this record at all. I wrote 'Sebadoh' on my jacket and some guy at a party came up to me and said, 'You actually like Sebadoh? They fuckin’ suck, dude.' This was probably one of the first times a fellow 'indie rocker' dissed a band I liked. I think he said something about how Dinosaur Jr. could kick their asses or something involving the Mascis/Barlow feud - like somehow that carried over into Sebadoh/Dinosaur Jr. fan camps. I became predisposed to hate Dinosaur Jr. because of this and effectively influenced most of my friends to feel the same way, even though they still didn’t like Sebadoh."

Michener will not be wearing his Sebadoh jacket to the show, unfortunately.

"My mom threw away my Sebadoh jacket when I left it in my closet after I moved out of the house. It also had a bunch of punk rock shit drawn on it. My mom thought drawing on clothes was in poor taste."

Smash your head on the psych rock with Cavedweller April 28 at the Carousel Lounge.

3:27PM Fri. Apr. 13, 2007, Audra Schroeder Read More | Comment »

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That Smell
Here’s a video treasure for aficionados of Texas psych – Dallas-based Southwest F.O.B. performing their 1968 cover of the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band’s “Smell of Incense” on The Larry Kane Show.

During the Sixties, TV stations throughout the country aired locally produced teen dance shows each weekday afternoon to attract afterschool viewers. These shows were similar in format – if not budget – to American Bandstand, with regular featured dancers from area high schools and pop groups lip-syncing their latest hit. WJZ-TV in Baltimore had The Buddy Deane Show (reimagined in John Waters’ Hairspray as The Corny Collins Show), WFAA in Dallas had Sump’n Else, and KTRK in Houston had The Larry Kane Show.

By decade’s end, local teen dance shows had become an anachronism due to high production costs. Because they aired live, and because videotapes of daily shows were often “wiped” for reuse, very little footage of these shows exists today, which makes this garbled 39-year-old clip a real find.

Despite their deep Texas drawls, the boys in F.O.B. (F.O.B. = Freight on Board) really knew how to freak out. Their version of “Incense” only made it to No. 56 on the pop chart, but band members Dan Seals and John Colley transformed themselves into England Dan & John Ford Coley in the Seventies, scoring a No. 2 hit in 1976 with "I'd Really Love to See You Tonight."

2:36PM Thu. Apr. 12, 2007, Greg Beets Read More | Comment »

Second That Emo-Tion
I lifted the advance proof of Everybody Hurts from the pile of books by Raoul’s desk. “Can I have this?” He snickered as I squirreled it away among the 43 CDs that had jammed my mailbox on that pre-South by Southwest day. I poured over the book. I even read it the night before the Austin Music Awards when I should have been making my guest list and checking it twice, but I was hooked. I haven’t found a book about modern music culture so helpful since Generation Ecch! came out in 1994.

Everybody Hurts was a good read because I’ve been baffled about emo culture and what defines it only to discover I’ve been there. Basically, it comes down to being young, dressing like a geek, taking pride in it, and listening to bands like Panic! at the Disco, My Chemical Romance, and Dashboard Confessional to reinforce life’s futility. That life is tough is news only to those under 30, because when you’re young, it’s important to think that life only happens to you and no one ever has hurt like you do.

More importantly, when you’re young, everything else is old and nothing is worse than being old. The best thing about getting old is finding out it beats the shit out of being young, except you’re usually prettier when you’re young. Plus, it’s hard to dress cool when you’re old without looking like a complete dipshit. But when you’re old, looks and dress doesn’t matter as much as long as you’re comfortable. See, comfort is really what being old is about, because when you’re old, everything hurts.

Emo kids like to wallow in self-pity. That part I remember well, though I hadn’t wallowed in self-pity since I got addicted to My So-Called Life during the Nineties. It turns out that it's in the pantheon of emo TV shows. It was the pluperfect show for me at the point in my life – flustered at finding myself in my early 40s, separated and almost divorced, having far more sex than necessary with a man half my age in a tizzy of mid-Nineties bands like Elastica, Oasis, Bush, Toad the Wet Sprocket, the Offspring, and Smashing Pumpkins. I developed an inappropriate crush on Jordan Catalano, played by emo-approved actor Jared Leto. The Christmas episode with emo goddess Julianna Hatfield still makes me weep. And whatever became of A.J. Langer, who played Rayanne Graf?

For a few minutes, I figured maybe I was emo before emo was cool. So I did the only thing I could reasonably do. I found the Everybody Hurts MySpace page and became their friend.

11:51AM Thu. Apr. 12, 2007, Margaret Moser Read More | Comment »

Tune Up
Jana Hunter’s new album, There's No Home, may be the folkier leanings in her once-darkened doorways, but it’s no less impressive. On the eve of a tour that will take her as far away as Clermont-Ferrand, France, with Tara Jane O'Neil, I asked Hunter for her current playlist and what she's been digging lately. Poof!

OCDJ
Wicked Poseur
Matteah Baim
Santa Dads
The Ram Ones
"One of These Nights" by the Eagles
"Baby Hold On to Me" by Eddie Money
"You Really Got a Hold on Me" by Smokey Robinson
"Busted" by the Isley Brothers
"Elvira" by the Oak Ridge Boys
Deer Tick
Thee Ohsees
Michael Jackson two-disc early-career anthology
Doris Duke
Karen Dalton
Bill Callahan
Bonnie "Prince" Billy
The Howling Hex
Crazy Fucking Landlady's Son
Eat Grapes
Pink Nasty
A Pink Cloud
Don Medardo y Sus Players
Indian Jewelry
Farah
Woods
Glass Candy
Chromatics
Tara Jane O'Neil
Ponytail

3:28PM Mon. Apr. 9, 2007, Audra Schroeder Read More | Comment »

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