Posts Tagged ‘austin’

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Hikes – Hikes EP

hikes

Rating: ★★★½ ·

Sometimes I like to test out a band on my fist listen by putting on their album while I am preoccupied. Its a little game I like to play called “Can you grab my attention?” The idea behind it is to see if the music is interesting or powerful enough to climb to the top of my cognitive pyramid. It also is also a great way to divine the most immediately noticeable tune of the album.
I decided to put on Hikes’ EP during a slow afternoon at work. I had heard the name tossed around in conversation and decided it was time for a listen. I popped in one ear bud and hit play while I caught up on email. That was the plan at least. Halfway through the intro of Spring Forward I had popped in my second ear bud and stopped working. Sorry boss, thank you Hikes.
It’s hard to find something I don’t like about this EP. Which is honestly strange as Hikes employs a few musical pet peeves of mine. First off, they are undeniably Prog. Ok sorry, they are math folk, but let’s be honest the “math” genre is a bunch of Prog players trying to avoid being called progressive rock. Second, as a guitar player myself, I almost unilaterally hate tapping. It always make me think of an Ibanez add of an airbrushed Steve Vai with awkwardly long, highlighted hair. Tapping is a flashy technique that almost always results in an audible loss of tone. And you know what? It’s a guitar, not a piano.
That being said, Hikes has managed to meld intricate tapping melodies and counterpoint with standard picked riffs and rhythms in a way that does not detract from their tone. My hats are off to the Hikes guitar players.
Hikes’ songwriting style is expansive and free flowing. They note water as being a main inspiration, and it’s easy to hear that in their songs. Their songs go through quiet, thoughtful phases that evoke a slow moving creek wandering through pastures. Then, they surprise you by turning the bend and quickly transforming into a rushing rapid of notes and syncopation. As a listener you feel very much like a passenger on this river, drifting off during the gentler sections only to be pulled back in through stretches that demand your active attention.
After making it through the lengthy EP, I couldn’t help but wonder how these songs would work out in an album setting. The 4 track EP is already nearly the length of most pop albums, clocking in at just over 25 minutes. I am not sure that a full album worth of Hikes’ intense, meandering songs could captivate the average listener’s attention for more than a few songs at a time, or even for the entirety of a 8 minute song. That may be the point, though. Hikes’ is surely not your average band. While searching and striving for the zenith of musical creativity, they appear to be intentionally ignoring the lowest common denominator. If you are someone who enjoys a challenging listen, I would recommend this EP. If you are someone who prefers to consume his audio in 3 minute bits… you know what, give yourself an aural stretch. It’ll be worth it.

 

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Austin Spotlight: Meet Decisions Decisions

decThose of you waiting for The Rise to reunite will have to…wait.  But, in related news, one of the former members of that heralded post-rock outfit from Austin has begun a new venture with members of Hides, Hour of the Wolf,  and The Program (all West Coast hardcore acts).  Decisions Decisions formation only recently came to my attention, and I’m quite stoked to hear what these guys do going forward.  They’re actually playing their first show at Liberty this Sunday for House Party Sundays; you can check out the event HERE. As of now the band only have a few demos to share, but look for more in the near future.

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Download: Decisions Decisions – You Were Saying [MP3]

 

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Austin Weekend Show Spotlight

Austin, I love you.There’s just too many shows to really talk about any singular show above any other, so we’ll point you in the right direction (in our opinion) of where you’re likely to have the best time this weekend.  There’s worthy shows Friday thru Sunday, so we’ll get right to it.  Read More

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Austin Spotlight: Alex Napping Ready Album

punktummyAustin musicians have had a pretty rad week. Although we’ve mostly dealt with the rocking side of things with Spray Paint and Jonly Bonly, but today we get a glimpse at an emerging Austin pop act, Alex Napping.  That being said, we’ve already caught the band’s great live set…not to mention talked about various members of the band in their other projects (Major x 3, anything w/ Andrew Stevens).  I love how this tune is drawn out over five minutes, gradually building pace after a soft little opening.  Alex Cohen’s voice couldn’t sound any better; she don’t need no auto-tune.  Look for the band’s debut album, This Is Not a Bedroom, to come out via our friends at Punctum Records in late September.

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Austin Spotlight: Spray Paint Return with New Album + Show

normanwanklordIt’s been rather a slow year for Austin’s Spray Paint, considering they released two great LPs in 2013.  But, we don’t have to wait anymore, as the band are readying their new album for release in September via Monofonus Press. The track begins with a bit of angular propulsion, almost in the vein of a repetitive stutter. But, the song opens up with a bit more discordant noise just after the minute mark, only to quickly return to the steady drive of the track.  The record is titled Clean Blood, Regular Acid, and it’s sure to make a lot of local year end lists, not to mention getting the Norman Wanklord seal of approval.  AND…if you’re in Austin tonight, you should check out their live show this evening at Hotel Vegas with Flesh Lights and more.

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Show Preview: The Antlers @ The Parish (7/20)

antlersIt seems like a few years ago, The Antlers were on top of the indie rock world.  They’d crafted two great records, won over countless fans, but with their latest album, Familiars, they didn’t seem to get as much fanfare as one would hope for.  Personally, I think that’s quite sad, as the ornate qualities of the record have made it a repeated joy to listen to time and time again.  They’ll be bringing their careful craftsmanship into town on Sunday night over at the Parish, which seems like the perfect venue for their sound. The show will start off at 8 PM with Thus Owls, so if you’ve got tickets, be sure to get there early to catch them as well.  You can see the latest live video as a reason why you need to show up early  HERE.

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Austin Spotlight: Stream Southern Boutique’s Album

sbThere’s always been a bit of mystery in the work of Southern Boutique, comprised of members of the now defunct act, Tiger Waves; they’ve always remained relatively hidden, choosing to focus on recording great songs.  So, it comes as no surprise that they quietly began to stream their album today, asking for little other than your pure enjoyment, and enjoy you will.  I’ve always admired the boys for their craftsmanship, and their focus on perfecting every inch of tape is evident throughout the entirety of this LP.  There’s no word on when it’ll have a physical release, but just take some time today to drift away this afternoon with one of Austin’s best kept secrets.

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Austin Spotlight: Love Inks at it Again

loveinksIt’s been a great week for Austin acts, with Basketball Shorts and Letting Up Despite Great Faults all releasing new tunes, and now we have another one of our beloved locals returning to the fold, Love Inks.  Of course, the star of this slow-core show is going to be Sherry, who’s vocals dominate all the bands work, but I personally love the restraint that’s being shown.  Guitar lines are relaxed, moving beneath the pulsating electronic beat; it’s a great atmosphere for the group to showcase just how powerful they can be, without actually being, powerful, in regards to volume.  Their new album, Exi, will be out on September 9th.

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