• ATX 2016: The Christmas Gift Guide

    As year-end lists get more and more arbitrary, I decided I didn’t really want to play that game with our local Austin scene. Instead, I wanted to celebrate the excellent

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  • Top 50 Albums of 2016

    You’ve all been waiting, anxiously. Waiting for our arbitrary list of the opinion of four folks who run this site, and what we think were the best albums of 2016.

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  • Slack Capital Is Here!

    When I was preparing to release Big Bill’s Weird Walk/Mainly Manly 7″, I began to talk to Eric Bill about the idea of creating an Austin compilation. Well, we released

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  • SxSW 2016: Welcome to the Jangle

    Thank you, Spider House. Thank you, Mother Nature. Thank you, bands. The weather was absolutely perfect. We were given blue skies, the occasional cloud, a lovely breeze to pair with

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  • SxSW 2016: ATH Takeover @ The Nomad

    Next bucket of awesome comes fromRayRay’s neighborhood bar, Nomad. A friend owns the place and we were ready to take things on the road at a place that we knew

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New Bit of Poppy Noise from Bastards of Fate

I think perhaps the greatest thing one can do as a hunter of music is find a band that begs to be pigeonholed, yet you’re unable to really label them…such is my fascination with Bastards of Fate. Watching this video, you get drawn into the opening moments of quirky bedroom pop, but it soon blasts into a noisier, crashing against your eardrums while an undercurrent of pop sensibility keeps the song level. Just as you’re fixed on a sound, the band offers up a haunting bit of doo-wop, as captivating as the earlier moments, and possibly even weirder. The band’s 3rd LP, Suck the Light Out, will be offered up from the very reliable HHBTM Records on February 24th.

Solemn Ballad from Gold Star

This new track from Gold Star is a stunner, and I haven’t been able to turn it off since I first pushed play. There’s a sense of longing and dreaming in the way the guitar chords bend and fade away into the mix, and the voice of singer Marlon Rabenreither makes it hard to pull yourself away. Being captured by a track is one of the best things that can happen, and there’s a huge relief washing over me as I play this number. His new album, Big Blue, will be released on March 24th via Autumn Tone Records.

New Video from The Walters

The Walters are a Chicago act that’ve been on our radar for some time, due mostly to their undying support for our boys in Summer Salt. Just last week they unleashed this pop-tastic hit with it’s accompanying video, a prelude to what’s to come from the band. It’s hard to ignore such huge hooks from the band, and the exuberance in the video perfectly portrays what I’ve come to expect from the band. It doesn’t hurt that this tune was also recorded by legendary Phil Ek, all the more reason to give these guys some love going into the rest of 2017.

The xx- I See You


Rating: ★★★★ ·

When your first album is a sweeping success, how do you move forward and create something that both steps away from your past hits yet strikes the same sort of resonance with your painstakingly huge fan base? This seems to be the question that plagued the ever-huge The xxon their sophomore album–while new tunes from these indie rock darlings immediately grabbed my attention and affection, these feelings didn’t bring me back to continued listening. Third time around, it seems like these South Londoner’s have shaken off the chains of their past catalogue and pushed into exciting new space.

With I See You there is a key caveat–to really dig into the songs, you need to be willing to accept the pop simplicity that the band has tried their hand at this go-round. Before, it sounded as though the band made their own sound, which shaped and happened to appeal to pop listeners, but here they’ve put their own spin on pop music itself. On this album, the tight and intricate guitar-work that first drew in early fans has been supplemented with sampling, and more synth breakdowns. However, for The xx, this feels like a natural and logical progression.

The band launches straight in with dance-ready opener “Dangerous” with sampled horn sounds. You’re rooted to the track by the prevalent bass line, pulled closer by the ever-enticing male/female tradeoff in vocals that this group has always excelled at. These vocals are punchier than you’ve heard them before; more commanding and compelling. This grip that The xx puts on you holds strong through the first four songs. Single, “Say Something Loving,” isone of the superstars of the album, again the vocals are demanding and so strong, begging you to scream along with them. The samples are integrated with the vocals seamlessly, hitting you ears with ease and not distraction.

 

Later on you get tunes like “Replica,” and “I Dare You,” which rely on the bands’ knack for sleek guitar riffs. “Replica” is a simmering dark track with shimmering interludes of lightness. This song may not hit you hard with immediacy on your first spin of the record, but provides a less obvious treat for the next listen with its detailed lyrics. On the contrary, there’s “I Dare You,” which stomps into the penultimate and will immediately jump into your favorite track place. The percussion on this song is a steady beat of what sounds like sampled handclaps, which puts a dance-rythym immediately into play. Those sleek guitars mirror the vocal melody, playing into the pop aesthetic, an the result is pure bliss.

 

Overall, I See You is a bright and bold move for The xx, striking an easy-listenable balance between intricate and simple–offering hooks for your first listen and subtleties that will hold your attention and have you coming back for more. Like the ‘new love’ high that a lot of the lyrics touch upon, you want to stay with I See You for the long haul; “don’t let it slip away.”

Premiere: Meet Magic Rockers of Texas

Like all great songwriters, you can’t keep them down for long, so we’re glad Jim Campo has emerged from the end of Berkshire Hounds to bring together another collection of folks to create Magic Rockers of Texas. This is a fast paced bit of indie rock, fueled by guitar chords that cut across the risk as huge vocal hooks blast through during the chorus. The band settles into a mini breakdown in the song’s latter half, only to burst through once again with a huge wall of memorable pop. You’ll hear from the bandon theirnew Rugged Braids EP, which is slated for a release on March 3rd, but you can only get this jam directly from the group!

Bright New BOYO Tune

BOYO have graced these pages before, and with this great new single, I’m giving him some more love today. This track is our first listen to the music he’s preparing for his next album (Summer 2017), all recorded after personal battles with addiction and anxiety. It’s interesting to see someone come out on the other side of such issues crafting this bright pop music…perhaps there is solace lurking in every corner, and songwriter Robert Tilden has found that. You can watch the song’s accompanying video HERE, or just enjoy the beautiful stream below.

Some More Free Week Pics…

I still love Free Week. Went out and about again and saw a whole different set of random people. I learned a friend’s girlfriend’s dad goes by the name Bush Pounder. I learned a kind soul was leaving us for Puerto Rico, but would be returning for fests and touring gigs. Little known fact, flights to cities in the US from Austin are about the same as flights from Puerto Rico.

It was a whole different set of bands and a different chunk of venues. Here is the rundown: Empire to see out friends in Bali Yaaah and Hours Quiet, Barracuda for Midriff, ATH Records’ Pollen RX, Stiletto Feels, Otis The Destroyer and Flesh Lights with a quick jaunt to Swan Dive to see what Casey Beans was all about as a solo thing.

Click through for all the pics.

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Hooked On Louie Louie

This song from Louie Louie came to me with the promise of maturity and brattiness all wrapped around a tight ball of pop yard. It’s precisely that, which is why it’s so lovable. I mean, for one, it opens with what I can only describe as a barely audible dinosaur roar before belting into a bubbling bit of classic female doo-wop stylings. I love the way the guitar bends and glides behind the melodies at various parts of the song. This group of ladies will hit the road for a huge East Coast tour starting here in a few days, so stay tuned to see if they’ll be coming your way. You’ll find this tune on Friend of a Stranger, which hits on February 8th.

Country Croon from Dougie Poole

As a Texas boy, whether I like it or not, the history of crooning country balladeers runs deep in my blood (I like it, just so you know). Listening to Dougie Poole‘s latest single, I think it’s time we adopt him, and take him in as our own. The structure of the song is calming and slowed down to a horse’s trollop, filled in with some backing atmospherics to add a bit to the track. His voice is other-worldly, something so unique in the modern setting that it’s hard for me not to rush right to the phone and send this one to my mother; it’s going to make you want to cry in the arms of someone you love, which builds promise for Wideass Highway, out on February 17th via JMC Aggregate.

Show Preview: Ne-Hi/American Wrestlers @ Sidewinder 1/14

Yea, I know you’re all about making the most out of your Saturday nights in a city that always gives you more than one great option for music. However, I’m here to tell you that your best option is at The Sidewinder tomorrow night to catch two great touring acts as they pass through our city. First off, you get the ever-delightful Ne-Hi out of Chicago, who are blowing up in the music world with their youthful jangly indie rock. They’re about to release their sophomore LP,Offers, just around the corner in February, so you can bet we’ll get to hear some fresh tracks off of that album.

While that should be enough to get you out to the Sidewinder, let’s not forget that American Wrestlers are the second half of this great bill. This groupout of St. Louisreleased their sophomore record, Goodbye Terrible Youth,last fall to some mighty praise, so you know you’re going to be in for a night of high energy indie rock.

 

Doors are at 9pm and tickets at 12$ here. No excuses!

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