Man I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m super excited for Thursday and the start of the new look Levitation Festival in Austin. The lineup is absolutely loaded with great music with not a single day, or even hour, lacking of some quality live music. For real, this is a lineup ya’ll. As we typically do with festivals in town, we plan to preview a few things for you to help you better plan for the weekend. Today I am extremely pleased to share with you an expertly crafted Levitation playlist from our old friends A Place to Bury Strangers. The band really nailed it with this one and offered us way more songs than we normally ask for. This could be your definitive playlist for the weekend and should help you discover some new tunes/bands you maybe weren’t expecting to check out. Enjoy the words and playlist after the jump.
As per usual for this time of the year, there’s a powerhouse of rock n’ roll shows in Austin. Some featuring great local acts, others featuring great touring bills. Check out our suggestions.
Big Bill/Pollen Rx Tour Kick Off with Caroline Says, Being Dead @ the Electric Church – 9 PM
A Place to Bury Strangers, Prettiest Eyes, Xetas, Jo Passed @ Barracuda – 9 PM
Dezorah, Honey and Salt, Through a Glass Darkly, Claire Puckett @ Swan Dive – 9:30 PM
PT Banks, Tres Oui, Ama, Spirit Ghost @ Spiderhouse Ballroom – 8 PM
The Posies, Terra Lightfoot, Marmalakes @ the Parish
Speedy Ortiz, Anna Burch @ Barracuda – 7:30 PM
Peach Kelli Pop, Go Fever, Mean Jolene @ Cheer Up Charlies – 7 PM
As this new album from A Place to Bury Strangers begins to take shape before the Interwebs, I’m starting to really be drawn into the goings-on. This track opens up with an emphatic drum march and discordant chords swirling about. Vocals enter in a spoken fashion, with a more prominent role for Lia Simone quite noticeable. The trio let loose on the noise too, but in a much more controlled fashion than we’ve previously heard from the band; it leaves you to focus on the band’s message in this track: “there’s only one of US.” Pinned definitely feels like its that proverbial onion with layers waiting to be peeled; it drops via Dead Oceans on April 13th. They’ll also be part of this year’s SXSW festival…playing near 100 times.
I’ve always been a casual fan of A Place to Bury Strangers; I’ve loved some singles, but never felt truly convinced by the fan. That might change if their new single is any indicator of what’s in store on the group’s fifth album, Pinned. They’ve always had a nod to industrial vibes in their craft, but this round, that comes out in a more ominous way; it’s almost like the group are gasping for their last breath as the central guitar groove drives home the minimalistic percussive element. It’s a striking number, surprising in the limited instrumentation…a sign that this new LP could be something special; look for its release on April 13th via Dead Oceans.
Friday night was jam packed with album releases and rad locals, so Saturday night slows down a wee bit, though there are still several shows worthy of catching your attention. It’s supposed to be cold, so bundle up, grab a friend and head out on the town…here’s my personal highlights of the weekend, including their meaningless genre guesses. Read more
The noise, the noise, the noise! For more than a decade now, these New Yorkers have been dishing out a steady supply of loud and rambunctious rock music. But you already knew that, or you should, as they’ve become somewhat of a staple band when it comes to experimental post-punk revival noise rock. Transfixiation is far from short on the loud and punch-you-in-the-face rock and roll, but does it push A Place To Bury Strangers past where they’ve already been?
They open up with simmering “Supermaster,” which has the band’s dark post-punk grit toned down to a pop level, giving it a newfound accessibility that was missing before. This song plays with the concept of bursting forth into the explosive rock that we know the band to be capable of, but instead, they stay treading water just below of the surface. Oliver Ackermann’s vocals stay low in the mix, and the whole song crawls along forebodingly, building up the suspense as squalls of electric guitar slice through the mix. Alluringly, this song piques your interest and sucks you in before APTBS ever really launch in.
But not to worry, “Straight,” the second track up has the band taking this newfound pop accessibility to a different level. This song is a great middle ground for the band; neither too hot nor too dull in terms of gritty noise rock or a watered down version of their original sound. Instead, it takes the band to a different level, combining the grit with the streamlined to make for quite an enjoyable track. There are other tracks on Transfixiation that fit this mold in the best way, like late burners “We’ve Come So Far,” or “Fill The Void.” Both of these songs combine a newfound pop sensibility to the mix while maintaining the band’s core sound, and open up the band to a new hybridity we had scarcely seen before. Other times, you get the band holding on to their loud roots unabashedly. Take songs like “Love High” or “Deeper,” in which the grungey elements are in full force.
So, the answer to the question I posed at the beginning of this review is both a yes and a no. There are some tracks on Transfixiation that clearly stick out and sail above the classic noise they’ve come to be infamous for. However, part of the album feels so steeped in feedback and coated in grit that you’ve already gotten to know; a half step in a different direction rather than a full step. It’s up to you to decide if that’s a good or a bad thing.
After some albums where I felt like A Place to Bury Strangers hit some middling ground, they finally nailed it, for me anyways. The noisy propulsion of this track is remarkable, driving the song forward while the shadow of the vocals haunt you from the back of the mix. It’s definitely a spin on modern psych music, utilizing the genres combination of noise juxtaposed to the softness, or subdued quality of the vocals, as is the case here. This should make the release of the band’s new album, Transfixation, something to behold; it’s release date is set for February 17th courtesy of Dead Oceans.
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Brooklyn’s A Place To Bury Strangers are back with the announcement of their newest addition to their extensive collection of work, Transfixiation. Apparently, this new album is supposed to be a step in a new direction for the band, as they recorded it with the mentality of keeping things pure and not too over-processed. This album is slated to come out February 17th of next year via Dead Oceans, but they’ve given us a taste of what to expect with single “Straight” that’s below. If you listen, you’ll still find the dark gutter rock that this band has mastered, but the squall of the guitars and the ferocious drum beat gives it a garage-y, lo fi vibe. If this is the precedent for what’s to come with this new album, I’m ready to see just what they have in store for us.
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This year, I was able to relax a bit on Friday as I was with out photo pit access. Once all that was remedied, it was full steam ahead. I had plenty of fun chasing the sound. We’ll start with a Top 5 bands and then hit on festival observations.
I had a busy slate of things I wanted to check out on Sunday. I started bright and early to catch favorite locals on the upswing and kept after through the headliner. Final installment of shots from FFF7 will bring you Flesh Lights, Ume, Balmorhea, Cult of Youth, Bleached, A Place to Bury Strangers, Class Actress, Trust, Deerhoof, The Promise Ring, Omar Rodriguez Lopez, Black Angles, De La Soul and Edward Sharpe.
Tons of eye candy after the break.