Fest Preview Friday: Frontmen Worth The Hype

One week! We’re one week away from another weekend of fun times, great tunes, tasty beverages and tastier foods at Austin City Limits 2018. Have you figured out which bag you’re going to take to comply with the new bag rules? Have you scoped out the list of food vendors so you know what local restaurant you’re gonna support when you stumble through a crowd of hungry people for the goods (hello, yes, I’ll take 8 orders of Kimchi fries plz)? Do you have appropriate rain shoes/gear on deck for when Zilker inevitably becomes a mudpit at the first drop of rain? No? Get to stepping, the time is almost here and to the best of my knowledge our Amazon overlords won’t be delivering to the fest via drone. On a musical note, I’ve got a preview for you today of some performances that I’m expecting to be dynamic and exciting not only because of the sweet tunes they’ll be playing, but because of the men and women who will be commanding the stage. Read after the jump for this lady’s hot take on which performance are must-see for weekend one.

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New Amen Dunes Tune

Amen Dunes is sinking deep into the territory of entrancing psychedelia; the latest single from the group is nothing short of an intoxicating journey deep into the caverns of your own mind. The central groove that operates behind this song seems to have roots in pop music of long ago, almost tribal in nature. Layer after layer of atmospherics and electronic pulses are laid atop that tribal mix, awaiting the slight warble of the vocals. It’s like this beautiful landscape where half the people on the lawn are listening to Spiritualized while others groove to the remnants of acid house. The band’s new album Freedom will be released on March 30th via Sacred Bones Records.

Amen Dunes Announce New Record

It’s been a few years since we’ve heard new tunes from Amen Dunes, but I’m definitely enjoying this track that comes with the announcement of a new LP. The first thing that struck me is the propulsive tone of the percussion; it sets the perfect pace, steady and pushing the tension. It’s fitting because Dylan McMahon’s voice definitely doesn’t seem steady; he holds onto notes and syllables until there’s almost nowhere else for them to venture. He still has a folk affection in the voice, but the sound of this single hints that the band’s new LP might be a little bit broader than what we heard on Love. Sacred Bones will be releasing Freedom on March 30th.

Did You Buy the Jack Name LP?

jackieboyThere were tons of releases this week, whether you wanted orchestrally-aligned pop like Belle and Sebastian or something along the psych vein, like Amen Dunes.  But, I hope you looked into picking up the Jack Name album, as it’s one of the more diverse listens we’re likely to hear all year (I know that’s bold considering it’s January).  There are marks of various influences from glam to funk and beyond, so why not take another listen to the latest single from the album. Be sure to pick up Weird Moons from Castle Face today!

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New Music From Amen Dunes

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Yes, that’s right ladies and gents. Amen Dunes, who recently made our list of top 50 records of 2014, has announced a new EP to serve as a companion to Love. This Cowboy Worship EP is available for preorder here and is set to be released on January 20th through Sacred Bones Records. You can listen to a song from the EP, “Song to the Siren” below, which just so happens to be a This Mortal Coil cover of a Tim Buckley cover. Have a listen and enjoy.

Top 50 Albums of 2014

TOP 50 ALB 14These lists are everywhere, so you’ll be excused if you just roll your eyes and skip on. But, that being said, we always seem to be way off the mark when it comes to our Top 50 Albums of the Year.  Sure, we have some of the sure fire hits on this list like Angel Olsen and Sharon Van Etten, but don’t even read on if you’re look ing to see where Run the Jewels made it…they’re not there. Sorry not sorry.  So, if you’re into arbitrary lists by people who like to push their own agenda, then this list is for you! Read more

Tuesday Night in ATX: Two Great Shows

amenLooking at the schedule, there’s tons of great acts gracing our town this week, and Tuesday night is no exception.   You’ve got a couple of great traveling shows coming through, one featuring a great local act that you should keep your eyes on.  Amen Dunes comes into town with Axxa/Abraxas in tow, which is likely to be a huge success for both bands.  They’re both coming in support of recent 2014 releases, with AD celebrating Love, and Axxa performing their self-titled debut; that show takes place over at the Hotel Vegas.  But, don’t sleep on Streets of Laredo, who’ll be headlining a gig at the Mohawk with one of our favorites, Reservations.  Looks like a great evening for us all…so be sure to partake in the good music. Here’s a tune from Axxa/Abraxas to get you into the mood.

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Amen Dunes – Love

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Rating: ★★★ · ·

On their second album for Sacred Bones Records, a lot has been made about Amen Dunes employing various musicians to come in and help put the finishing touches on Love.  In the end, all of that’s rather irrelevant, as the core of the songs are what standout the most.  There’s a clarity to the songwriting, moving the band in more of a dark folk direction than they’ve employed before.

“White Child” begins the record, and for five minutes immediately establishes the tone of the record.  There’s a dark stomp on the drum, while a slight haze coats the vocal.  And speaking of that vocal, there’s a nice stretch where the vocal is pushed to a rasp, again indicating a more folk appeal that survives on Love.  And, it’s followed by one of my favorite tracks of the year, “Lonely Richard.”  Taken in bits and pieces, this song might be grating to some, with it’s scratching string arrangements, seemingly placed sloppily atop the steady drumbeat and guitar parts.  But, when used in unison, there’s this intoxicating effect that makes it hard to pull yourself away from the number; I love the chorus too.  While I enjoy both tracks, they do wear you out almost immediately, collectively pushing over ten minutes on two tracks, then moving into the shorter numbers.

Still, can Amen Dunes pack the same punch in a short span, as tracks 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, and 9 all fall in under 4 minutes, with some far shorter.  “Lilac in Hand” is a perfect example of how the band can accomplish all their goals in a short moment.  The piano often seems to work in contradiction to the light percussion and guitar chords, at least in tonal quality, but it’s that union once again that enables the listener to find themselves lost within the track.  Similarly, the piano ballad, “Green Eyes,” is beautiful in its simplicity and immediacy.  There’s two vocals parts here, one in a much deeper tone, giving a very solemn haunting to the track, as if that hollow sounding piano weren’t enough. But, just as you’re accustomed to the sadder side of the band, they throw a curveball, “I Can Dig It.”  This song has a shuddering guitar chord and a rise and fall to it, but mostly it’s the spirit of the track that makes it stand out on the album; it’s the most energetic tune on the record, even when they burst off into harmonies while the guitar fades slightly into the background.  For me, it was a nice touch after a sadder number, and it had me wishing there were perhaps one or two more tracks of this sort lurking throughout the album.

Going through Love track by track wore me down a bit, honestly, but that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the quality of the songs.  I got lost a few times in the slow pace, which is why I enjoyed the placement of “I Can Dig It” so much.  But, when you’ve got time to submit yourself to the will of carefully crafted songs, give yourself a chance to thoroughly enjoy this new LP from Amen Dunes.

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