R.I.P TRL

So MTV recently announced that it is canceling Total Request Live. I think that means they officially play zero music now. Not that the 15 second sound bytes of Miley Cyrus they played on TRL really counted as playing music. Looks like it was a bit of a guilty pleasure for poor Steve, however…

Town Hall ACL Battles: Manu vs. Mars

Town Hall ACL  Battles is another feature we will be bringing you everyday leading up to the festival this weekend. The idea is fairly simple: two bands, same time slot, same day, who ya gonna pick? Feel free to leave comments on why you should or shouldn’t see each band represented in our “battles”. Now obviously we can’t hit every single conflict over 5 days so don’t be offended if we miss something. These are “the big ones”. Our first battle pits Manu Chao vs. Mars Volta both headlining around 8:30 on Friday. The schedule does have Mars Volta ending at 9:30 and Manu ending at 10 but were talking about opposite ends of the park (AMD and AT&T stages). It might take you 30 minutes just to get from one side to the other this late in the day. So, Sunday at 8:30, where ya gonna be? Getting your face melted by the prog-rock of Mars Volta? Or jammin’ to the world sounds of Manu Chao? If you need a little assistance, we have the most recent singles of both bands. Ding Ding.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/rollingstone_download_manuchao_politikskills.mp3]

Download: Manu Chao – Politik Kills[MP3]

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/04-wax-simulacra.mp3]

Download: Mars Volta – Wax Simulacra [MP3]

ACL Preview: Colour Revolt

This being the week leading up to ACL, we’re going to preview the Festival by offering you a feature of a few bands we’re pumped about seeing. We’ll try to keep it to bands that might be a little left of center or not quite on everyone’s radar. Today, we take a quick look at Colour Revolt out of Oxford, Mississippi. A short bio, song preview and a ton of links after the jump.

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TV on the Radio – Dear Science,

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Does the absence of a song such as “Wolf Like Me” devalue a new venture by a popular band?  TV on the Radio poses such a question to the audience of independent music with their newest effort Dear Science,.

By opening with “Halfway Home” the band walks the thinnest of lines between new direction and tried and true talent.  The pounding song, full of handclaps, pushes forward, with an atmospheric guitar swirling in the background.  Outside of the chorus, listeners will immediately notice the more subdued approach the band has embarked upon.

Oddly, the band discards the often apparent gang-vocals approach they’ve used in their previous albums, instead choosing to focus the singing duties for one singer per song, at least for the most part. Stranger still is the lack of real instruments present; the drums sound more programmed than anything they’ve done before.  Sure, you have strings and horns, adding a strikingly subtle emotion to the entirety of the album, but no real musicianship, give or take a few songs.

Yet at the core of the album is a band that is able to perfect exactly what they want.  This album comes off more as a traditional R & B album, with a revisionist standpoint.  Of course there are a few odd songs, such as “Dancing Choose,” which is full of vocals reminiscent of Billy Joel when he was telling us that “we didn’t start the fire.”  Then you juxtapose that with a song like “Family Tree,” which some might call the most beautiful song TV on the Radio has ever written, even with its Brit-Pop leanings.

Admiration is owed to the band for their desire to go in newer, albeit, stranger directions.  They haven’t rested on their popularity; they have continued to progress with their own direction in tact.  The throbbing bass lines of “Golden Age” with its funk skeletal backbone might have pushed some listeners away, but those that used the surface value of this song as a statement on the album will surely miss out on some of the more amazing moments that come out on this record.

At the end of the day, TV on the Radio have answered the question in regards to the necessity of having a driving single to push album sales. With or without a huge hit, this is an album that shows superior growth in an entirely new direction, as the band continues to open new doors for themselves.  It’s all up to them to see where they can go.  I expect those new progressive moments to be as beautiful as the Gill-Young Wedding I attended this past weekend.

Pecan Street Festival

The Pecan Street Festival goes down this weekend and the huge lineup of vendors, artists and musicians is yet again quite impressive.  The event takes place all day Saturday & Sunday on 6th street in Austin.  Headlining band for the festival is none other than Tommy Tutone… Not familiar with Tommy Tutone?  Watch this video to refresh your memory.  You can see a full list of vendors and artists schedules over on the Pecan Street Festival website.

Calexico – Carried to Dust

Rating: ★★★★½

This is the Calexico I know and love. This is the Calexico I fell in love with when I was just a little lad. No offense to those of you who enjoyed the more rock oriented stylings of Garden Ruin from 2006, but I personally found that album mostly boring and too ordinary. No no, give me that band I used to know from the days of The Black Light or Feast of Wire any day. Much to my delight, newest album Carried to Dust shows a return to that missed form. The guys even hark back to the old Mexican themed album covers after the random black bird on the cover of their last album.

The sound I’m talking about is that dusty, old, spaghetti western, Quentin Tarantino movie soundtrack makin’ sound that’s been the staple of Calexico since their very beginnings. When listening to some of the tracks on this album, specifically tracks “El Gatillo” and “Man Made Lake”, can’t you imagine these as a build up to a bloody shoot out? Or our hero riding off into the Mexican sunset? I can’t seem to get it out of my head.

Another huge highlight on this album, and something I can’t remember Calexico pulling off before, is the sweet dueling vocals of “Inspiración”. The song almost seems like a Spanish version of a song that came out earlier this year called “You Want That Picture” featuring Bonnie “Prince” Billy & Ashley Webber. I loved that song and I can’t get over this one either. Maybe I’m a sucker for good male/female blended harmonies.

Then there’s Sam Bean of Iron & Wine.  Sam shows his face later in the album on standout track “House of Valparaiso”.  The song sounds like it could have easily been something left over from the 2005 Calexico/Iron & Wine EP.   Sam Bean’s rusty and worn voice fits perfectly with the intimate feel of this track.   If I had my way, Iron & Wine would merge with Calexico and take over the world.

I can’t really find any holes in the album, maybe besides random filler song “Sarabande In Pencil Form” and a possible throw away in “Writer’s Minor Holiday.”   Calexico can speed things up with the best mariachi bands and then bring you back down with a heart felt serenade. Here’s to hoping for more of the same from Calexico.

Xemumba ’08 Afterthoughts

The Latin music festival known as Xemumba can best be summarized as an audio/visual extravaganza that takes hold of your senses and never lets go. One minute you’re sipping on a beer listening to the latest salsa coming out of Cuba, and then your running upstairs to watch the UT ballet folklorico cuttin’ a rug. Oh and then you have tasty South American treats to munch on, while watching a Spanish documentary made by local film makers. Xemumba even had opportunities to help out less fortunate young hispanic girls in the community. Not impressed yet? After the jump is a quick review of each band we saw on Friday at the festival with photos (Saturday unfortunately was postponed to a later date. We’ll of course let you know when the event is rescheduled). 

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Whitley

This Aussie gentleman, Whitley, has been getting a lot of buzz lately so we thought it’d be a good time to jump on the hype machine.  Some of you may know that he put out an album about a year ago in Australia called The Submarines that received a ton of critical acclaim.  Now we the people of the United States will finally get our hands on this album September 30th.  Catch a preview of the album with “A Shot to the Stars” below.

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Download: Whitley – A Shot to the Stars [MP3]

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