I Was A Tourist In My Own Town

Formula OneI know FFF9 is upon us, but I would like to reflect on Formula One. It is something you here on the news. It is what many of you mistakenly call that thing out there on the east side of the airport. A long time fan, F1 weekend is just like a music festival to me. It is three days of party and day-drinking. But F1 weekend, with help from Transmission, has actually been able to provide a bit of music festival to go with the festival of speed.

You see, having Circuit of the Americas in Austin is a rather special thing. It is the only track to host Formula One in the United States and that means nearly a half-billion worldwide viewers know where we are and what we do. It hosts MotoGP, Tudor United and World Endurance Championship. It also has a big-ass music venue and that cool Loch Ness monster looking tower. Like I said, it is kind of a big deal. COTA is also nice enough to host Fan Fest downtown. This year, I hit night one with the Haloween crowd Friday and was lucky enough to check out Duran Duran Saturday. You will get a few DD cause I already posted the big gallery, but you will get plenty of Broncho, Devotchka, De La Soul, crowd shots and stuff from the track. I skipped Kid Rock, though regretting that a little. O_o

Read more

Show Pics: Duran Duran @ ACL Live (11/1)

Duran DuranIt was Formula One weekend in Austin. If you are oblivious, F1 is the biggest thing to hit Austin from a worldwide awareness perspective, ever. People from everywhere know that Austin is Live Music Capital of the World and has the best BBQ, period.

One other thing F1 brings is a few added festival type events, we’ll get into Fan Fest in a later post, but a special event like Duran Duran at ACL Live? I gotta go. I have proclaimed my love of DD before when they came for SxSW a few years back. They have influenced so many of the current crop of indie/pop/dance acts out there, no doubt. Throw in getting to see local boys Knifight open was an added treat.

Click through for pics and more thoughts on the evening from me and +1.

Read more

Friday Top 5: Best Pics of 2011

The photo guy has to have his best of list, right?

The five photos featured are my favorite moments shooting music this year. I want to share some background about them, what was going on when they happened. These aren’t the “best” photos I have taken, but they are all my best memories captured. Thank you, 2011 Live Music, and thank you Austin Town Hall for inviting me to be part of the team.

Break it for the rundown and a gallery of other favorites…
Read more

31Knots – Worried Well

Rating: ★★★★ ·

The Bush years have done a number on the psyche of 31Knots songwriter and guitarist  Joe Haege and it shows in the nervous energy that permeates Worried Well, the latest long player from the Portland/San Francisco trio. Using complicated rhythms, off kilter time changes, and borrowing as much from CAN and Sonic Youth as they do Fugazi, 31Knots manages to maintain and build upon the unique sound first laid out on 2005’s Talk Like Blood.

The album kicks off with a 43 second A capella hand clap session and brief rumination about the corrupting power of your money before kicking into the album proper. On the first full track “Certificate” you get a sense of the angular guitar work of Haege, complex bass lines provided by Jay Winebrenner, and the amazing stop and start drumming style of Jay Pellici. You may also get the notion that Dick Cheney is tapping you phone calls.

Lyrically Haege touches on themes of evil corporate backrooms, a war obsessed oligarchy, and a nation under surviellence. It’s the use of intelligent allegories that keep this commentary from slipping into the pretentious. Much like how Fugazi’s Guy Picciotto can tell you about how Capitalism is killing you in a round about way without inducing an immediate eye roll, Haege possesses this magical power as well.

Describing 31Knots to another person can be a bit problematic and this is why they are often categorized in indie/prog/math rock category, which essentially means these guys have managed to create a truly distinctive sound. Musically the album is filled with irregular guitar pulses, noisy synthesizer elements that build up then collapse, a small tickling of the ivory here and there and even a little Latin drumming. Tracks such as “The Breaks,” “Strange Kicks,” and “Worried But Not Well” are the high points that find 31Knots at the top of their game. On the whole they seem to be refining and perfecting the sound laid out in their two previous albums.

While a few tracks stray from their previous sound, most notably the Duran Duran inspired “Upping the Mandate” most of the album finds them on familiar territory mixing and matching the better elements of their catalog. Unfortunately the album closer, “Between 1&2,” is a bit of a slow Eno influenced toss away, but the rest of the album is strong enough to forgive the filler.

The only problem with the uniqueness of 31Knots sound is that by default they end up aping themselves over the course of a few albums. If you created a Venn diagram of their last three releases the amount of overlap is what keeps this album out of the great category, and into the very good. Pick up a copy of Worried Well, if a band’s dilemma these days is that they have such a distinctive sound that it lends itself to a little repetition, it’s a fine problem to have.

Have a listen to a new track from the album entitled “Compass Commands” :

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/31knots-compass_commands.mp3]

Download: 31Knots – Compass Commands [MP3]

Mystery Jets

Are you looking for that dance hit of the summer? If you are, I think Mystery Jets can provide it for you. The band released a single called “Two Doors Down” earlier this year off their new album Twenty One which has already hit stores in the UK. We have no idea when this album will be coming to us in the US so enjoy what you can from the Mystery Jets. You should also check out the video for the song on youtube in all its Duran Duran/A-Ha awesomeness.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/06-two-doors-down.mp3]

Download: twodoorsdown.mp3