Off the Record
Who Do You Love?
Guitarist Jason Borkowski of the Jungle Rockers describes the Bo Diddley beat the same way one would the band's sophomore EP, Cool It Out. "It's primitive, but soulful," he says. "The simplicity of it always gets people moving." That's why the local quartet's CD release show at Beerland on Friday made for such a fitting tribute to the rock & roll originator, who died June 2 from heart failure. The Rockers' originals, including the garage bopper "Devil in My Head," twangy instrumental "Guts," and the summer smash "Cool It Out," kept the audience jiving and wailing in between classic covers that included "Pretty Thing," "Diddy Wah Diddy," and closing cornerstone "Hey! Bo Diddley." Without fail, the beat goes on.
What Fun Life Was
Matt Kadane, chief composer behind the delicately detailed pop songs of the New Year, has always felt the urge to slow things down, and it's only intensified with time. "I'm personally consumed by the idea of growing older," he says of the main theme rippling through the band's eponymous third album, recorded once more with Steve Albini and due in September. "I feel like life is just racing by. Age has as much to do with it as anything, but I needed to express myself in terms of time." It's difficult to believe that more than 15 years have passed since Kadane made his live debut at the Dobie Theatre with Dallas-bred slo-core kingpins Bedhead. "When we first signed with Trance Syndicate, it's fair to characterize that time in Austin as pretty aggressive and loud," Kadane recalls. "We faced totally different audience expectations. There was this idea that bands had to sound like Ed Hall, Crust, and the Cherubs, all of whom I liked a lot, but we were playing this wimpy, quiet music. It was much more passive and, in a way, a lot more demanding of the audience. Things started to change as the Nineties went on. Austin almost became a different kind of guitar town." Matt and brother Bubba are revisiting those early years and previewing their latest on this current tour as the Kadane Brothers, which kicks off at Emo's on Thursday with Sunset and Crystal Antlers. "The driving force is our longing to get out and play," Kadane concludes. "And we finally have the time to do it."
The Sound of Silver
The aura of hipster elitism emitted by the Beauty Bar is about to get thicker. The trendy chain venue, located on Seventh Street just off Red River, has begun offering bottle service Thursdays through Saturdays, by reservation only (a waitress needs to be scheduled). The sunken "VIP" area, next to the inside stage, can also be rented out for an additional $300, which includes the first bottle and mixers. "We started doing it because people were coming in and asking for it all the time," says general manager and booker Bart Butler. "People like to have a bottle to themselves so they don't have to wait at the bar for a drink, especially during a packed night. I guess it gives them the illusion they're partying like a rock star." Butler hopes that the Beauty Bar becomes an alternative to the ultramodern lounges proliferating throughout the Warehouse District, most notably Pangaea, Qua, and Cuba Libre, whose bottles can run up to $1,000. "We don't really care about what you look like coming in here," Butler stresses. "It's a take-it-or-leave-it sort of thing. We're not trying to press it on people." For Plush manager Bryan Smith, the service represents the ever-changing face of Red River. "What do you expect when high-rises are springing up next to music venues?" shrugs Smith. How about a bidet for the women's bathroom at Emo's?
Take as Needed for Pain
Mammoth Grinder is the sort of unholy beast one would expect to find roaming Mastodon's Blood Mountain. In its first show since returning from an East Coast tour, the local behemoth trampled Red 7 on Saturday for the second annual Jared Is a Grumpy Fuck Fest, combining the hypnotic undertow of Neurosis with the Southern sludge of Eyehategod and a hailstorm of hardcore breaks that flipped faster than the audience's heads. After releasing a series of homemade tapes, the trio, which formed in Houston, summer 2006, and relocated here shortly after, recently reissued its aptly titled debut, Rage and Ruin, one of the heaviest and most punishing albums in recent memory, on smoky gray-and-black vinyl through the locally operated Depleted Resource Records. "We have a really healthy mix of wanting to go really fucking fast sometimes and then really fucking slow," says bassist Chris Camp, "but it always has to be heavy and loud. Other than that, it's whatever really strikes us."
• Seminal Americana publication No Depression, whose last print issue hit newsstands in May and featured a stellar piece on Pinetop Perkins, is partnering with University of Texas Press to present a semiannual "bookazine," beginning in October. "We're still trying to figure out what a bookazine is," admits co-editor and native Austinite Peter Blackstock. "We're trying to create something new in the marketplace by focusing on our long-form feature stories and posting the more timely stuff like reviews on our website."
• AT&T has signed on as the first Corporate Sustaining Sponsor for the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, pledging to donate $10,000 annually for the next three years. There's still time for businesses to sign up for the 2008 HAAM Benefit Day, scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 7, while Amy's Ice Cream and Phil's Ice House locations are donating 20% of their sales on Tuesday, June 24, to the local nonprofit. See www.healthallianceforaustinmusicians.org.
• There's no telling how Roky Erickson crossed paths with Mogwai, but the psych pioneer appears on the latest from the Glasgow-based post-rock troupe, Batcat, bellowing his trademark howl on "Devil Rides." The digital/vinyl-only EP hits stores Sept. 9, courtesy of Matador. Meanwhile, original 13th Floor Elevators bassist Benny Thurman (see "High Baptismal Flow: Part II," Aug. 20, 2004) was admitted to a local hospital two weeks ago with kidney failure. He remained in critical condition at press time.
• Ian McLagan commemorates his four-year anniversary with the Bump Band at the Lucky Lounge on Thursday. Mac's latest, Never Say Never, lands in his motherland July 7, thanks to a new deal with UK's Proper Records.
• Real Animal and current Chronicle cover boy Alejandro Escovedo goes prime-time this week, performing live on Late Night With Conan O'Brien on Friday and Tuesday's The Today Show. Plan accordingly.