ACL 2018: An ATH Playlist

Only a few short days now ladies and germs. Only a few short days away from the glory that is Austin City Limits Music Festival. We’ve been doing things a little differently this year and changing up our coverage with unique previews and playlists in place of our usual interviews and band previews. Hopefully you’ve found something interesting to prepare you or a loved one for the upcoming weekend. I spent most of my morning compiling a huge playlist of bands I plan to see over the course of the festival and yes, Disturbed is on the list. And Lisa Loeb…Fight me. Consider yourself prepped.

You can trust my genius musical skills and play in the given order, or click on the first video and shuffle the order to your liking.

If you’ve been living under a rock for month, tickets are still currently on sale for both weekends of ACL.

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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The ACL Lineup Is Here

One of Austin’s favorite festivals has announced their 2018 Lineup. We already know that ACL Festival will happen on October 5-7 and October 12-14…but now we know what we’re getting! Personal highlights include David Byrne and Metallica/Deftones (I’ve recently been traveling down a secret metal wormhole with a lot of teenage reminiscence). A return of The National is never a bad thing, as they’ve delivered some of my favorite ACL moments in the past. B. Gray will be super stoked on Sylvan Esso and CHVRCHES. We’re also bound to love some of the acts lurking at the bottom of the list, like Sharon Van Etten, or my pick of the fest, Shame! If this whole thing is up your alley, then perhaps you’ll want to grab some tickets right HERE.

BGRAY NOTE: Post was staged before the full announce, let’s take a moment to react. The variation and diversity here is the best it has been in years. Sir Paul McCartney, Metallica, David Byrne, Twin Shadow, St Vincent, The Breeders, Blood Orange, Arctic Monkeys, Sharon Van Etten, Janelle Monae, Childish Gambino, Father John Misty – this is the best lineup on this side of the Atlantic. Get those three days now, cuz who knows if one-days will even be made available.

St. Vincent – s/t

St-Vincent-album-cover

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Recently quoted, when Annie Clark was asked why her fourth full-length solo album was self titled, she responded with something along the lines that this record felt the most like who she is. If this is the case, the version of St. Vincent that the public eye can see has undergone a sort of metamorphosis since Strange Mercy. Call it touring with David Byrne, or whatever you will, but Clark has gone regal in her style. If the pastel-bleached untamable curls or her seat atop a throne on the cover wasn’t enough to show this, just start listening.

“Rattlesnake,” opens the album with the classic sound that audiences have come to know with St. Vincent: buzzing and eclectic guitar work. What are new, however, are some jazzy sounding synth riffs that make up the backing soundscape. Clark then spins a tale of broken isolation with her distortedly beautiful vocals that are a mirror to the instrumentation; it’s choppy and sporadic, as if you were to take a hammer to a cohesive synth-rock song and break it up into pieces. Regardless, it’s a hell of an opening track, peaking the interest of newcomers and established fans alike.

If the opener was choppy and up and down, the follow up and single-ready “Birth In Reverse,” is an all out cohesive triumph that combines Clark’s turbulent style with the qualities of a pop song. From the start, you have the gritty guitars, but it is joined with a rapid pace beat seems to hold everything together. Even as we are lead through the up’s and downs of the jumps from verse to chorus, it feels like a natural path to be taking, and will make you dance—what more could you want?

I could go on about the other single, “Digital Witness,” with it’s jazzy horns and killer grooviness, but chances are you’ve probably heard it, and if not, get to it. A later track on the record that captures the overall sound of this release and that will have you grooving right along with Clark is “Psychopath.” It’s a softer, more approachable tune, but it is not devoid of the rough prowess you’ve already grown fond of. Instead, the vocals are pushed further back in the mix, letting it sit on equal footing with the instrumentation and the driving synth beat, so that when Clark enters the choral arches of the song, the effect is a gentler build and an interesting balance unparalleled by the other tracks.

At the end of this record, one thing is clear—St. Vincent has indeed turned herself inside out—the ferocity that once seemed buried beneath the innocent softness of an alternative-rock star is no longer hidden, but cherished. The result will have you playing this album on repeat for days; all-hail Queen St. Vincent.

Friday Top 5: Psychopath Songs

Nothing brings out our core values like the holidays. Halloween, for example, is a day to celebrate the most important American values. Values like fake blood and childhood obesity. Come to think of it, there’s something unsettling about Halloween. Why do people dress their children up like monsters and parade them around the neighborhood to extort candy from strangers? And what about adults who willfully engage in dressing like zombies, or slutty nurses, or slutty nurse zombies? That all sounds a little. . . you know, crazy.

It’s one thing for us to invent Vampires and Werewolves. But the real monsters, the Dahmers and Mansons, that look just like us? That’s a little harder to get a handle on. I guess that’s why people write songs about psychopaths. They want to get up close and personal to get a big whiff of crazy. If you embrace lunatics, you demystify them. The ghosts just become people in bedsheets. With that in mind, here are five songs about psychos for your Halloween weekend:

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FT50: Songs of 2009

bestof2009cover_songsWe have to start this list off with a disclaimer.  We have three writers, all with different tastes, so the list should reflect that a little bit.  Also, these are our opinions, and by no means, are they meant to be seen as an “end all be all” to the question of what were the best songs of 2009.  That being said, we like our list quite a bit.  Sure, it’s got some expected numbers at the top, but the rest of the list is genius.  We’ve got some of the songs streaming for you, and the rest take you straight to youtube.  Follow the jump for full list.

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New Tunes from David Byrne and Dirty Projectors

David ByrneThey first teamed up together to create a brilliant track for the Dark Was the Night project, and now they’ve gone at it again; Dirty Projectors have collaborated with Talking Head David Byrne. This new tune is not of the same vein as the formerly released track, “Knotty Pine,” but it showcases the skills of both groups.  Don’t forget, you’re supposed to be anticipating the upcoming album from the Dirty Projectors, Bitte Orca.  More on that later; here’s “Ambulance Man.”

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/dirty-projectors-and-david-byrne-ambulance-man.mp3]

Download: Dirty Projectors and David Byrne – Ambulance Man [MP3]

Envelopes – Here Comes the Wind

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Envelopes is a little known band from France, so little known that no one wants to release their record in the United States besides iTunes. However, their second full length, Here Comes the Wind, is definitely one of the more complete releases of 2008.

If one was to label the band’s sound, you would be pretty close if you threw it under the genre of jangle pop. The melodies are bubbling full of brightness, making the joy of the songs immediately accessible for listeners. Throughout the album, the band presents you with hook after hook, encouraging you to bob your head in shear ecstasy.

Vocally, they combine male and female vocals, as if they were trading roles. At times, the vocals recall Frank Black’s Pixies yelp, but at other moments it’s the croon of David Byrne they seem to be evoking. Despite reference points, they seem to mix it up enough to keep you interested, as no song sounds exactly the same, which is what most of us seem to enjoy.

Lyrically, the band has never been one to provide the deepest meaning in their songs, which we could blame on the fact that the band is working with a second language. Still, the lyrics are easily distinguishable, which allows listeners to hold onto certain songs, and sing them loud for all of your friends.

Most noticeably, you can feel a true influence of the Pixies. The bass lines sound as if the band jumped Kim Deal and stole her stylings. Angular guitars crash into each other, creating waves of beauty. But, at the core of it all is a true pop sensibility, free of the darker elements that went with their immediate influences.

This album is wonderful through and through. It won’t wear you out after hundreds of spins, and each time you put it on, you seem to get more out of it. A complete album is a rarity nowadays, so head on over to iTunes and pick this one up before your friends get hip.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/10-03-heaven.mp3]

Download:  Envelopes-Heaven [MP3]

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