Off the Record

Music News

Face-off: Conrad Keely (l) and Jason Reece
Face-off: Conrad Keely (l) and Jason Reece

Half of What

After 16 years and seven full-length albums, ... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead still pillages the indie circuit. That's a testament primarily to the band's co-founders and alternating guitarists/drummers, Jason Reece and Conrad Keely. Given the local wrecking crew's recent nomination for the Texas Music Hall of Fame, OTR set out to discover which co-founder knows the other better – via dating-game-style quizzing in a conference call with both. They distinctly remembered their first meeting (November 1987, Kalaheo High School, Hawaii), nailed each other's Saturday night rock albums (Reece: anything by A Tribe Called Quest; Keely: the Replacements' Let It Be), and came close to their first LPs purchased (Tears for Fears' Songs From the Big Chair and Rick Wakeman's Journey to the Centre of the Earth, respectively). More impressive were their responses to trick questions on their counterpart's favorite composers and hidden talents. Reece on the former: "I like the idea of Glenn Branca, but I'm not really a fan of his music." Keely on the latter: "I don't believe in hiding talent." After six rounds, a draw was declared, a fitting outcome given the pendulum force behind the band's new space-punk opus, Tao of the Dead (see "Texas Platters"). "We're still trying to take it to the next level," stresses Reece. "We're moving forward with a new energy." ... Trail of Dead blitzes Late Night With Jimmy Fallon on Monday, Feb. 7.

Celebrity Skin

Courtney Love takes a break from Twitter, SXSW 2010.
Courtney Love takes a break from Twitter, SXSW 2010. (Photo by Sandy Carson)

Can defamation occur in 140 characters or less? That's the million-dollar question being posed by Dawn Simorangkir, better known by the name of her clothing line, the Boudoir Queen. The local designer filed suit last year against Courtney Love after the Hole singer launched a campaign on Twitter that called Simorangkir everything from a "drug-pushing prostitute" to a "lying hosebag thief" following a dispute over $4,000 worth of custom threads. While various online sources indicate a settlement might be in the works, the trial is scheduled to begin in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Feb. 8, and would be a landmark case in determining the liability of Twitter users. Elsewhere on the local fashion front, Christeene is heading to Paris to perform at the behest of designer Rick Owens, so the Southern gutter-belle (see "Bravo/Brava," Screens, Jan. 29, 2010) is hosting a bon voyage fundraiser with Butch County Friday, Feb. 4, at the ND at 501 Studios. That same night at Mohawk, Cap City comedian Matt Bearden hosts the fourth annual Fashion Freakout with Gary Glitter tribute act Leaders of the Gang.

Hammer Party

"I'm continuously shocked that people give a damn about our band," admits Dave Norwood, singer/bassist of the Gary. "We're three guys that just pushed 40 and [are] not much to look at." That's actually part of the appeal. The local trio's workingman's rock bears a hard-boiled guitar-angst and metallic sheen that would have been a perfect fit for Touch and Go Records, and the group's new six-song EP, El Camino, out this week on vinyl, boasts production credits by indie godhead Steve Albini. "We ended up staying with him for a couple of nights, watching cooking shows and baseball," says Norwood of the sessions, which were spurred by guitarist Trey Pool's activity in the online forums for Albini's Electrical Audio studios. The album's a rare example of a local band being paired with its ideal studio counterpart, one that inspired the Chronicle Music staff to brainstorm some other dream combinations, purposefully leaving out T Bone Burnett, who's saturated the market already.

Brazos: Jon Brion

The Bright Light Social Hour: Steve Lillywhite

Grupo Fantasma: Gustavo Santaolalla

Leatherbag: Peter Buck

Li'l Cap'n Travis: Van Dyke Parks

Monahans: Daniel Lanois

Mother Falcon: John Cale

Rosie Flores: Patterson Hood (Drive-By Truckers)

Sahara Smith: John Leventhal

The Sour Notes: Mike Mogis

The Strange Boys: Greg Cartwright

White Denim: Danger Mouse

Willie Nelson: Rick Rubin

¡Está Bueno!

Search party: U.S. Border Patrol greets the Texas Tornados.
Search party: U.S. Border Patrol greets the Texas Tornados. (Photo courtesy of Shawn Sahm)

"There's profiling of entertainers' buses all across the country," fumed Asleep at the Wheel's Ray Benson to OTR shortly after Willie Nelson's arrest late last year (see "Off the Record," Dec. 3, 2010). "We know it's happening because it's happened to us." After being searched in El Paso a week prior to Nelson's pinch, the Texas Tornados were stopped again by agents on Sunday, Jan. 30, after appearing at Jamboozie in Laredo. "We knew we were clean, so we just kind of laughed the whole time," chuckles Shawn Sahm, who snapped a few shots of the ordeal before being shaken down for a few posters and CDs. "The look on the agent's face when he went into the back lounge of the bus and found Flaco [Jimenez] passed out, hung over, looking like something out of a Boris Karloff flick was priceless." In other reefer madness, Libertarian Kris Bailey has received an "official" endorsement in his City Council campaign from Nelson's Teapot Party. Before rolling one in his honor, check out the Newsdesk blog post "On the Bailey Train," Jan. 30.

Random Play

Tony "Ham" Guerrero, founding trumpeter for the pioneering Latin soul ensemble Tortilla Factory, died on Saturday, Jan. 29, from pneumonia spurred by congestive heart failure. He was 66. (See "Urban Tejano," Dec. 24, 2010.) An emotional tribute took place the following afternoon at South Austin's H&H Ballroom, where his legacy was emboldened by contemporaries from across the state and the next generation of his family band.

ZZ Top's iconic sharp-dressed man, Billy Gibbons, will be signing bottles of Pura Vida, his top-shelf blue agave tequila, at Twin Liquors in the Hancock Center on Friday, Feb. 4, 5-7pm.

Local dub specialists Lance Herbstrong open for Passion Pit and Duran Duran's Roger Taylor at the Fair Park Coliseum on Friday, Feb. 4, as part of the XLV Party, a two-night Super Bowl bash.

George Kinney & the New Riders of the Golden Dawn headline a benefit at the HighBall on Saturday, Feb. 5, to help offset the costs of the Texas psych trailblazer's treatments for liver cancer. Murder balladeer Jesse Sublett, T. Tex Edwards, and White Dress, among others, help steer.

Like the Black & White Years several years ago, Oh No Oh My was the only U.S. band selected to appear at MIDEM conference last weekend in Cannes, France. The prestigious gig kicked off a 51-show European tour behind the indie pop outfit's new album, People Problems. "We followed an amazing Brazilian jazz fusion group," relays multi-instrumentalist Tim Regan.

Music news

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Trail of Dead, Courtney Love, The Gary, Texas Tornados, Dawn Simorangkir, Boudoir Queen, Conrad Keely, Jason Reece, Tony Guerrero, Oh No Oh My, Shawn Sahm

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