The Austin Chronicle

Off the Record

SXSW music news and carryings-on

By Austin Powell, March 20, 2009, Music

The Greatest Gift

If Scratch Acid's David Yow seemed well-rehearsed gnashing his way through "Wheelchair Epidemic" with the Dicks last night at the Austin Music Awards, that's because the post-punk berserker is one of 29 songs the Jesus Lizard practiced in January in preparation for its upcoming reunion tour, which now includes a headlining spot at Austin's fourth annual fall classic, Fun Fun Fun Fest. "It came together relatively easy, but it didn't sound that great in the practice space," says Yow of the sessions. "It never had that punch-in-the-face confrontation to it. The biggest deal for me so far has been seeing Mac McNeilly. I haven't seen or talked to him in 12 years. It's great that we're pals again." The Jesus Lizard will also release "Wheelchair Epidemic" as part of Inch, a box-set collection of the band's 7-inch singles, available on the second annual Record Store Day (April 18). As for the upcoming reissues of the Lizard's essential Touch and Go Records catalog, don't expect much in the way of bonus fodder. "I did get sent a copy of the first two shows," confides Yow, who's in the process of recording a new LP with Qui. "They sound like poop."

Made in Japan

On the iconoclastic cover of 1970's Anywhere, Flower Travellin' Band is riding into the unknown, barebacked on motorcycles, poster children for Japan's postwar counterculture. They never looked back. "They took us [as] a major symbol of freedom at the time," opines original bassist Jun Kobayashi. "In Japanese culture, there are a lot of rules and traditions that are to be followed, and we tried to break away from that. We wanted to go further and get heavier." The band's heavy-psych masterpiece, 1971's Satori, which tops Julian Cope's list of essential recordings in Japrocksampler, is a five-part, Far Eastern meditation on the classic rock mythology of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, timeless and enthralling. After a 35-year hiatus, during which Kobayashi became a Canadian citizen and the quintet's legacy revealed itself through modern Japanese acts like Boris and Ghost, the band's final lineup for the 1973 live LP, Make Up, reunited last year for the Fuji Rock Festival, leading to the recording of its new album, We Are Here. "It was just like yesterday – the same, no difference," Kobayashi stresses. "We didn't play any songs. We just jammed and followed the music." Flower Travellin' Band takes flight tonight at Smokin' Music, 11pm.

Don't Look Back

Founded in 1999 and named after the classic Velvet Underground tune, All Tomorrow's Parties changed the face of the festival circuit with two relatively simple concepts: selecting iconic artists to curate the lineups and, as part of its Don't Look Back series, booking bands to play their seminal albums from start to finish. "It's turned a bit into an epidemic," founder Barry Hogan says of the latter. "You're seeing it everywhere now, but the difference is that we choose quality over quantity, like Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation or the Stooges' Funhouse, records that mean the world to us." Tuesday night at Emo's, ATP screened a preview of its eponymous documentary, offering an intimate look at the emerging phenomenon, but the real draw was ATP's South by Southwest showcasing artists, third generation San Francisco psych troupe Sleepy Sun and the Drones, whose seething rock & roll salvation sounded like the natural extension of their Australian forefathers Radio Birdman and the Scientists. All Tomorrow's Parties officially premieres today at the Paramount, 5pm.

On the Download

"This place feels like home," says founder Sean Moeller, surveying the recently remodeled Big Orange studio on Austin's Eastside. "It's a bit rough around all the right edges." Since launching March 2006, the esteemed website has recorded – straight to tape, no less – and uploaded more than 500 sessions by indie bands that are exclusively available on its website as free downloads. For the third consecutive year, Daytrotter has lined up a 29-band marathon recording schedule for SXSW that began on Tuesday with a red-hot session from Austin's the Strange Boys, who debuted an untitled doo-wop number that could've passed as an outtake from the Rockin' Bones box. "We still never tell bands what to play," Moeller enthuses. "That alone makes a session noteworthy."

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