Beirut – March of the Zapotec…


Rating: ★★ · · ·

Long before Zach Condon of Beirut presented us with his most recent output, a double EP titled March of the Zapotec and Realpeople: Holland the media presented us with a rumor of some grand orchestral scheme including bands from the Oaxacan region of Mexico.  Patiently, we awaited for the arrival, of not only new tunes, but for the next set of exploratory sounds pushed out by the young genius.

Sadly, the first EP, March of the Zapotec, doesn’t really seem to be rooted into much of the Latin culture.  For one, the presence of tuba and accordion definitely detract, or perhaps are more overbearing, in regards to the sound one would typically hear in quaint Mexican neighborhoods. “La Llorona,” the first real song, doesn’t even have a Latin twist at all, instead seeming like an extra piece left over from Gulag Orkestar. Maybe adding and extra layer of horns aids the cause, but very little.

The songs where he does delve into a little bit of the flavor one would come to expect from a Oaxacan regional band have little or no lyrics at all.  In fact, they seem like instrumental pieces tacked on to the EP as filler, and in a way, to show that Zach indeed did follow through with his desire to include a new flavor from South of the New Mexican border, but perhaps he should have gone way mariachi because the songs on this half of the EP are lacking.

Realpeople: Holland is an entirely different step then what we are given on the first EP; instead, Zach seems to go into the bedroom, digging deeply into that box in his closet in order to pull up all those Depeche Mode bits he recorded as a young child wearing eyeliner.  It’s his voice that wins you over here, which is going to be the case when juxtaposed from with the simple keyboard elements presented here.

Interestingly, some of these songs actually work well.  It’s a side we, as listeners, aren’t accustomed to when listening to a Beirut product. His voice always carries a semblance of the personal touch along with it, but here the quiet behavior of electronic elements in the background make it  more so than ever before.  He seems almost vulnerable.

Wait, did he just loop his accordion?  Is that what you hear on “The Concubine?” If so, then this part of the album definitely has showcased new direction and strengths, but still, it’s far too short to climb the walls to that spot reserved for your favorite albums.  His inconsistency here leaves one questioning exactly where he can go next, as it has been quite some time since he completely won you over with his originality and style.  For now, he seems to be treading water, trying new things and putting out mediocre EPs.


Download:  Beirut – My Night with the Prostitute from Marseille [MP3]

SXSW Watchlist: Dappled Cities

070529dappledcitiesDappled Cities hail from the Down Under, that being the case, they aren’t too well-known in these parts, which is entirely shameful.  They’ve created an album full of lush arrangements, freckled with bit of pop-perfect melodies.  Their sound is reminiscent of a lot of the early OOs indie bands, such as The Glands, crafting varying elements of sound and atmospherics beneath infectious moments of brilliance.  You can tell the band has more great things to offer, especially if you check out their stop off on the Daytrotter.

The band will be playing at The Ranch (708 West 6th Street) on Thursday, March 19 at 8 PM.


Download: Dappled Cities – Fire Fire Fire [MP3]

The River Flows East Party (2/21)

Main2The nice folks at do512 are teaming up with local label Vinyl Entertainment to put on one hell of a party this Saturday on the east side.  The nights events include but are not limited to performances by What Made Milwaukee Famous, The Story Of, DJ Thibault, DJ Markus With A K, and a special DJ set by Octopus Project.  You can also check out some sweet local art, visit a hair station, and visit a photo booth by Annie Ray.  Tickets for this event are $18 and can be bought now from Vinyl Entertainment or at the door.  Word around town is that an RSVP with do512 is good for free booze and VIP treatment.  Directions to the Warehouse can be found here.  Further details can be found on the fancy poster for the party.

Lykke Li In Austin (2/19)

lykke_li-im_good_im_gone-cb_remixSwedish indie pop sensation Lykke Li will be making a much anticipated stop in our little town this Thursday.  Your first chance to see her live comes at a Waterloo in-store starting around 5pm.  Later in the evening, You can catch a full set by the singer at Antone’s.  If you’re planning on heading to the in-store, get their super early because the Antone’s show is already sold out.  Give craigslist a try if you just can’t miss out.


Download: Lykke Li – Tonight [MP3]

Vetiver – Tight Knit


Rating: ★★★★ ·

Andy Cabic and Co. return with a loud whisper this outing with definitely their strongest album they have recorded to date.  Vetiver’s new release Tight Knit warms your ears through the cold days without all the embarrassment.  Having been part of the freak-folk scene in New York for awhile, Vetiver rubbed elbows with some of the heavy-weights on the music circuit today like Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsom which soon led them to a tour with Vashti Bunyan. Fast-forward to 2009 and Vetiver are now signed to Sub-Pop with some indie credibility and major promotion/distribution to follow. I was reading a couple weeks ago in the Austin Chronicle about bands set to break-out at this year’s SXSW Music Fest and Vetiver were listed.  HAAAAAAAAAA! They probably think this is Vetiver‘s first album. I mean, it’s not like they haven’t been making waves on the last two efforts. I’d say To Find Me Gone was their “break-out” album, but I guess they aren’t big enough considering they aren’t playing in arenas right? Pfft…scoff-scoff, nose up and pinkies out suckas.

Tight Knit has a dreamy floating quality to it through-out that normally would sound like  a lot of fluff to someone who hasn’t heard the album yet, but take a gander at it and you’ll see. The warmth of the vibraphone being used in the opener “Rolling Sea” immediately calms your nerves and gently rocks you back and forth. Zzz……….ahhhhhhh. Lap steel guitar makes it’s first appearance on the album in “Sister.” The layer of the instrument twists and pulls, breathes in and out, making you tap your feet and skip down the street. The skipping soon picks up to hopping when the opening rhythm chords of “Everyday” begin. The chug-a-lug feel comes to a nice vocal break-down and goes right back into the hopping. If there were a song which made you feel like the first day of spring had arrived, this is the one.

Cabic has a whispering way of singing that soothes your skin, his delivery is like the breeze– not forceful, not un-noticed, just a hammock away from day-dreaming. Though there are bar room stomper songs like “More Of This,” he never loses his velvet luster. You think the singing could easily give way to screaming and howling, but it’s just not in his nature.

The album is consistent from beginning to end. It never trails off boring you with a better half of the album than the other. Maybe this is Vetiver’s break-out album and I’m a jaded jerk-off. Maybe I’m just a music dork that has way too much time on his hands. Maybe you need to get off your ass and buy this album.


Download: Vetiver – Everyday [MP3]

New Tunes from The Papercuts

jasonJason Quever has quietly been making waves under the moniker of The Papercuts. This track comes straight off their upcoming album, You Can Have What You Want, set to come out on Gnomonsong Records on April 14th.  Just another song from one of our most-anticipated albums in 2009. 


Download: The Papercuts – Future Primitive [MP3]

Trail Of Dead @ Waterloo (2/17)

trailofdeadAustin’s finest …And You Will Know us by Trail of Dead are playing a sure to be rowdy Waterloo in-store on Tuesday.  Things are set to kick off around 5pm with all the free beer you can drink.  The show coincides with the release of the band’s latest LP Century of Self, which we reviewed yesterday.  If you’d like to know more about the band, check out a recent interview we did with the guys during Fun Fest.

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