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).
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.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/ashottothestars.mp3]
Download: Whitley – A Shot to the Stars [MP3]
Album of the year nominess, Silver Jews, are making a much anticipated stop in town Friday night at Emo’s. Tickets for the show are only $12 and can be bought from Ticketweb. If you care to know why we’re so excited about this show, read our album review of the band’s latest effort Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea.
You peoples in the internet world probably know we here at ATH are big fans of Sera Cahoone, so of course we have to let you know when she comes to town. It also doesn’t hurt when Sera is playing with another great artist in Sam Champion. Treat yourself to a great evening of live music on Friday night at Emo’s Lounge with Sera Cahoone & Sam Champion. You can buy tickets to the show right now for only $10.
The nice folks at Skybucket Records have a sweet little sampler you can download from their website. The sampler features tracks from Through the Sparks, Dan Sartain, The Dexateens, and a whole slew of others. Standout track “Slender Thread” from The Dexateens can be found below for your listening pleasure.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/06-slender-thread.mp3]
Download: The Dexateens – Slender Thread [MP3]
It’s one thing to cover the Ramones, but entirely different to cover the Shirelles and Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac, but that is just what the French Kicks are doing. Fresh off their release of Swimming, their newest album from Vagrant Records, the band is releasing a covers EP. Here is their cover of “Trouble” by Lindsey Buckingham.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/french-kicks-trouble.mp3]
Download: French Kicks – Trouble [MP3]
We just discovered that the White Denim show posted on the Mohawk website is actually a free by RSVP show put on by ATX Converge. The lineup is pretty dang impressive: White Denim, Black Joe Lewis, Freshmillions and Belaire will all be on hand. The show isn’t until Friday, but you better RSVP now before the window closes. Make sure you get in line early since those RSVPs rarely guarantee you get in anything. Doors are at 8.
Kings of Leon’s trajectory has been a strange and relatively quick one. Following 2003’s Youth & Young Manhood, they took the sexual swagger out of the garage for the next year’s Aha Shake Heartbreak, which proved that they were in fact more than the “Southern Strokes,” (though both not so secretly harbored arena-rock intentions). Heartbreak, especially songs like “King of the Rodeo” and “Razz,” saw Kings adding nuance and precision to their sound; they became a garage rock band with a an impeccable sense of melody and no pretensions. How could you not like them?
Then something happened. Last April’s Because of the Times saw the band sharpening even tighter their sound, and in the process supplementing their straight-ahead rockers with some out-of-left-field creative rhythms (“McFearless,”) and true-to-form stadium singles like “Black Thumbnail,” (a perfect show opener, which it was for years). So they were toeing the line, experimenting and staying true, but toeing it well, growing and taking fans along for the journey.
But they seem to have hit a wall on Only By The Night. Rather than coalesce their forward-thinking intentions with four-on-the-floor burners like Aha Shake’s “Four Kicks,” and “The Bucket,” Kings of Leon have fully embraced a sort-of mechanized hybrid of rock: the rhythms are constantly creative thanks to drummer Nathan Followill, but the soul, the danger, the mess – they’ve all been stripped away.
Songs like “Be Somebody,” “17,” and “Revelry” lack any semblance of the tenacity and passion of much simpler, direct songs like “Razz,” or Youth’s “Molly’s Chambers.” On “Be Somebody,” singer Caleb Followill’s optimistic chorus sounds pallid and forced. (Even on Aha Shake’s “Soft,” when he was signing about erectile dysfunction, at least it was heartfelt. At least he was into it, so to speak).
Gone also are the rave-ups like “Spiral Staircase” “Velvet Snow,” “Taper Jean Girl,” “Pistol of Fire,” and “Wasted Time”; taken their place are songs like “Manhattan” and “I Want You” – essentially worn-down Because of the Times sequels (note that rhythmic similarities between “Manhattan” and Times’ “Fans”), and the paint-by-numbers slow-blues exercises of “Cold Desert” and “I Want You,” which, despite its title, has little heart besides a true desire to do something different in the studio.
There are a few wonderful moments on the album, included entirely in the first three songs. Synthesizer-led opener “Closer,” makes a strong case for their pursuit of the ambient, non-traditional rock song, and “Crawl,” despite the somewhat nonsensical lyrics – is it fair to even dissect them? – pounds with the distorted intensity of the Secret Machines song “Sad and Lonely.” Even “Sex on Fire,” retains some of the bounce of Times’ standouts “Ragoo” and “Fans.”
But with the dirt wiped clean and the gears on display, Only By The Night shines in an uncomfortable, affectless way. There is no build, no climax, no sweat, no come down. There’s only the intricate and precise instrumentation of an incredibly well recorded sound that, like their singer’s trademark indiscernible screech/wail, says very little.
Emo’s is the place to be this week! After checking out Throw me the Statue on Tuesday night, why not make it two nights in a row with another sure to be killer set by These are Powers? Local Austin band, When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, will also be playing during Wednesday night’s events. Tickets look to be sold only at the door.
Corey Taylor of Slipknot recently stated that the record labels are to blame for music piracy. Corey says the problem is that the bands that are being promoted aren’t “up to standard”. You can read what he has to say here. Hmmm, I could probably take that argument a bit more seriously if it were coming from, say, anyone other than a member of Slipknot…