Monday, March 23, 2009

SXSW 09: The Recap

SXSW is officially over and my feet are quite happy to be given a rest. The rest of me is just annoyed that I actually had to go back to work today. I'd call this year a success for sure. I avoided almost all of the terrible bands and saw some impressive performances from faces both new and old. I'll list some of my favorite shows and then I'll give some overall thoughts. These are in no particular order (although Caspian was the best).

1) Marnie Stern at Club Deville
She shreds. End of story. Her band is killer too.

2) King Khan and The Shrines at Bird's Barbershop on East 6th
James Brown is dead, King Khan is the new godfather of soul, or as he calls it "Psychedelic, Erotic, Gospel Music.

3) HEALTH at Ace's Lounge
So loud, so awesome. I was blown away by these guys' energy. Love all the random Floor Tom pounding too.

4) The Wrens at Mohawk
A really short set, but they packed it full. Best crowd/band banter of the show too.

The Wrens: We played SXSW for the first time in 1995
Random dude in the crowd: I was 4 then!
The Wrens: Jesus

5) Here We Go Magic at Mohawk
Another short set, but this got me super excited for their June show at the Parish opening for Grizzly Bear.

6)The Paper Chase at Club Deville
I hadn't seen John Congleton and Co. live in many many years and had absolutely zero expectations from this set, but they blew the tent off of Deville. Congleton is like a man possessed on stage. They haven't lost a step, see them any chance you get.

7) Irepress at Red Seven
Every year there is a band that I have never heard of before who leaves me with my jaw on the ground. This year it was Irepress. This 5 piece from Boston features one of the best rhythm sections I have ever seen and one of the best guitar duos I have ever seen, all in the same band. The keyboardist was kick ass too. Tons of energy and holy shit do they cover a lot of ground in their songs. If you like Post-Rock/Math-Rock/Post-Hardcore/Music check these guys out now.

8) Caspian at Red Seven
Caspian may be my favorite band in the universe to see live. There are several factors that lead me to this conclusion. Obviously, their insane musical talent is part of it, another part is how flawlessly they always play together, and yet another is that they absolutely destroy every time I see them, without fail. Finally, and this is something that I am sure will change in the future, Caspian is not hugely popular, so every time I see them I, and everyone else in the crowd, is sucked in and becomes part of the experience. It's pretty insane to get your mind blown by 5 guys who are standing 5 feet from you. It's insane to look around and see every single person in the audience being blown away too. And then after the show, there's the band, having a beer and hanging out. This part never lasts, but I cherish it every time I see Caspian, and any band that hasn't blown up yet, because some day the teeming masses will realize how amazing they are and they're going to be playing to packed rooms and the intimacy will be gone. Until then, this is the best ticket in town by a loooooooong margin.

The biggest disappointment of the whole fest was definitely Explosions In The Sky at Auditorium Shores on Saturday. This disappointment has nothing to do with the band, as they played earnestly and excellently, but the PA kept cutting out, it seemed like the overhead mics on the drum kit weren't on, and it just seemed like a general clusterfuck sound-wise. It should have been amazing, and I'm pissed at whoever fucked up the sound for ruining it for me.

The Pure Volume House sucks. The lines are long, the drinks (while free) are super weak and require yet another abhorrently long line and I just really disliked the place in general aside from the Austinist party which was fun.

The best show I saw all week was The Goodbye SXSW party at Red Seven on Sunday that Radar Recordings and Giant Steps put on. They put on the best show last year too. The line up was just flat out insane and I think i speak for everyone in attendance when I say that I hope they keep doing it. This town is sorely lacking in shows like this one. Kudos to all the bands as well as to Radar and Giant Steps for putting together the lineup of the fest, if not the year.

That about wraps it up. I saw 47 bands all told, and spent an insane amount of time on my feet. I wouldn't have it any other way and I can't wait for next year!

Thanks to my super talented sister Liz for taking all of the awesome photos you've seen on here all week. Check out her awesome blog here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Cymbals Eat Guitars

I fell hard for a new band this week, and that band is Cymbals Eat Guitars. You've probably heard the name this week since their debut album Why There Are Mountains was awarded the coveted Best New Music tag by Pitchfork. I'm far from a Pitchfork fan boy, but as a rule, I generally check out anything that makes their list and holy crap am I glad I decided to check this band out. First off, how great is that name? It's so perfectly evocative of how Rock and Roll should be. I've heard many a review cite Pavement, and it's an apt comparison here as Cymbals Eat Guitars sound like the band both musically and vocally at times, but there is more here than just Malkmus wanking. Why There Are Mountains perfectly rides the line between enthusiastic and sloppy and betwixt the two lies a plane of perfectly constrained energy that I just can't get enough of. They aren't playing any SXSW shows (boo!) but I can't see them escaping nationwide touring for too long, so let's hope we see them coming through town in the next couple of months.


Cymbals Eat Guitars - Another Hazy Sea

Buy Why There Are Mountains here

The Decider Party @ Mohawk 3.16.09

I ventured over to the Mohawk last night for the free Decider party. The place was packed for a loaded bill of local and touring acts. Opening the show were Low Line Caller. They really seem to be coming into their own, fully incorporating vocalist Marc Ferrino into their fuzzy reverb laden sound. I enjoyed their set, as usual. Following Low Line Caller was another local act, The Lemurs. Before The Lemurs took the stage we were treated to a brief comedy set by Eugene Mirman that was disappointingly met with loud conversation and some heckling. I really hate people some times. I really enjoyed Eugene as usual and was glad to see his act. After the heckling came The Lemurs. A lengthy set change between bands meant that they only had time for a couple of songs, all but one of which were brand new. Their new songs are very interesting. Traditionally, The Lemurs were the purveyors of all things poppy dance-rock, but with these new songs the band appears to be going for a more substantive, experimental sound with lots of vocal interplay and many layers of sound. I really enjoyed the new stuff and look forward to hearing more in the future. Next up was the highlight of the night, Oklahoma's Evangelicals. Evangelicals are exactly the type of band I can't get enough of right now. They make really interesting and beautiful noise. Walls of guitars, a bass player who plays like he's the lead guitarist, a solid loud ass drummer , and some earnest yelping all came together perfectly and the crowd seemed to respond in kind, with lots of jumping around going on during their set. Two parties in, Evangelicals are the best thing I've seen thus far. Closing out the night were the new band Wooden Birds, featuring Andrew Kenney from American Analog Set and Michael Bell from Lymbyc Systym amongst others. On another night, with less noisy and energetic opening acts, I may have really enjoyed them, but last night their music was putting me to sleep. I'm not going to say they were bad, I didn't get that impression at all, but honestly, after Evangelicals all out assault on that stage and the audience, I just wasn't feeling Wooden Birds. I'll definitely try to give them another shot on a less raucous night.

The Lemurs


Eugene Mirman throwing a Magazine

*All Pictures by Elizabeth Fraser Photography

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Austinist's Local Music Is Sexy VII at Pure Volume House

Last night I went to my first SXSW related event of the week, Austinist's Local Music Is Sexy VII at the Pure Volume House. They opened the doors late, and the line was sooooooo slow moving, but once inside I had a blast. Free beer and vodka, plenty of room so I never felt uncomfortably crowded, the PA was loud and the bands were good. Can't ask for too much more. Below you can find some pictures from the night including the events opening band, The Calm Blue Sea.

*All Pictures by Elizabeth Fraser Photography

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Break out the earplugs.

April 21st, 2009
Austin Music Hall
My Bloody Valentine

Get tickets here ($43.50 per with fees included)

I just bought mine. So fucking excited.

Monday, March 9, 2009

New Thermals song - Now We Can See

Head over to to download the first song from their upcoming album Now We Can See. I gave the song a listen for the first time this morning and I was immediately hit with a full on, all five senses at once, memory. I haven't listened to The Thermals all that much recently, but when their last album came out I listened to them near daily. As soon as this new song started I was hit with this memory of sitting at my desk in my old house with the window open and a cool summer breeze rolling in. I recall propping my bare feet up on the wall as I reclined in my chair, and taking a deep breath through the nose of fresh air from the open window. Immediately after this memory hit my brain, others began rushing in, being on the lake, walking around the city with my headphones in, or just waiting on the bus. Simple memories, but all pleasant and reassuring. Basically, if you liked The Thermals before, this song will remind you of how those other songs made you feel, and you can't ask for much more than that. The Thermals will be in town for SXSW and will be swinging through town again as part of a full tour in May.

The Thermals at SXSW

3/18 - Terrorbird/Force Field Day Party at Red 7
3/18 - Bitch Magazine/Kill Rock Stars SXSW Day Party at Club Deville
3/20 - The AV Club and Canvas Media present It's Pronounced Par-TAY at The Radio Room
3/20 - Insound's 10th Anniversary SXSW Party at Club Deville
3/21 - The Rachel Ray Party (shudder) at Maggie Maes

The Thermals (not) at SXSW

5/22 - The Thermals, Shaky Hands at the Mohawk

The Thermals Myspace

Sunday, March 8, 2009


Girls are one of the bands that I am most looking forward to checking out during SXSW week this year. Girls come to us from San Francisco and they play a jangly sort of stoner-twee, lo-fi, surf/garage rock that seems to be making a huge resurgence lately. They have very very little released so far, just the Hellhole Ratrace 7" as far as I know, but are promising an LP before too long. I'd be sure to add them to your list this year.

Girls - Hellhole Ratrace (mp3)

Girls at SXSW

Mar 19 2009 - The "Church" with Grizzly bear
Mar 19 2009 - The Peacock: Gorilla vs. Booze
Mar 20 2009 - Neon lights patry w/ the pains of being true at heart, Parenthetical Girls, Cause Co-Motion
Mar 20 2009 - Emo’s
Mar 21 2009 - Club Deville

Girls Myspace

Friday, March 6, 2009

New St. Vincent - The Strangers

"The Strangers" is the first track to hit the web from St. Vincent's new album Actor which is due out on May 5th. The album was co-produced by Annie Clark herself and John Congleton (Explosions In The Sky, This Will Destroy You, Modest Mouse, Polyphonic Spree, the list goes on...). "The Strangers" sounds great, although I wish they had picked a more spazzy song for the first song to debut. Regardless, I'm excited for Actor and I will be trying to see one of Annie's shows at SXSW for sure. Oh god, she;s so pretty.

St. Vincent - The Strangers (mp3)

St. Vincent at SXSW 2009

Wednesday March 18th at the Central Presbyterian Church
Friday March 20th at Antones

Check for set times.

*Note: Yes, new St. Vincent is what it takes to get me posting again.

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