I’ve been fortunate with this site, and such fortunes continue with some friends reaching out to have me curate an hour of music featuring SXSW Official Austin acts that I wanted to rest of the world to know about. It also features my horrendous voice, though only for like 30 seconds total. I kind of went all over the map, trying to be as diverse as possible within the realm of my own tastes. The little show will run three times today on SXSWFM (9 AM, 3 PM, 9 PM), which is a great place to get to know some of the artists, not just the Austin ones. Here’s the artists I chose to include: Flesh Lights, Sour Notes, Jess Williamson, Roger Sellers, Mirror Travel, Shivery Shakes, Grape St, Ramesh, A Sinclair, Love Inks, Hundred Visions, Abram Shook, Ssleeperhold, The Zoltars, Warm Soda and The Eastern Sea. Just doing what I can to give a little love to our friends. Special thanks to Brett and Rory for this rad opportunity.
These 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
It’s that time of year when we all toss up our arbitrary lists of what we think is best, and seeing as we’re based here in Austin, we opted to go with our Top 15 Austin Albums first. Why 15? Well, there were a lot of great releases all over the place, covering different styles, and appealing to our different writers. Sure, the list isn’t perfect, and it doesn’t reflect singles and EPs, as that could get entirely too crazy. I included links to the labels so you can buy these albums from the hard-working folks in our town. Also…there are two releases on our label, but I have no qualms about that; I didn’t set out to put out a bad LP, so obviously, they’re going to be in here. And without further meaningless words…here’s the best records from Austin that you should already own!
Modern punk rock seems to have gotten a bit stale, in my opinion. You get tons of reverb on the vocals, you get guitar riffs galore, but you never get a band that embodies everything, until you listen to the new Flesh Lights record. Listeners will find songs that are brash in parts, or tracks filled with arena rock riffs, but most impressive is that Free Yourself shows true musicianship.
You couldn’t ask for a better opening track than “Just About Due.” It’s a power pop gem filled with this huge guitar stomp that really emphasizes the band’s skills with their respective instruments. Every riff begs you to pump your fist, and I’m in love with the solo that breaks through briefly near the end, not to mention the growl of the vocal. Such a tune would fit perfectly alongside “I Wait,” if we were to look at modern album structures, but the band holds off on offering that hit until later in Free Yourself. The lead guitar works its way through a great mini-solo, but the chorus is best appreciated by people screaming at the top of their lungs with their best set of buds.
Still, this isn’t a power-pop record; it’s a record of great rock songs. Flesh Lights kick you in the teeth with tracks like “Middle Age” and “We Go Off.” The former takes a knock at middle-aged wannabes and hangers-on, all the while rocking things with a swagger all their own. Can’t believe these guys are calling me out! “We Go Off” is perhaps one of the record’s most dangerous moments, knifing it’s way through your speakers with these jagged guitar riffs and a ferocious vocal that nears going off the tracks. There’s a stuttering approach that sort of reminds me of the stylings you’d find on an ALL album; just listen through this track to hear the band’s talent.
One of my favorite tracks, “Time Thief” seemingly comes off like an outlier, jamming out in a semi-Ted Leo fashion, at least in regards to the vocal delivery. But, in the spectrum of the album, it fits in perfectly, displaying the band’s willingness to fill Free Yourself with nothing but their twelve best recorded songs. Honestly, you can’t throw a single song on this album to the side; every single song is great in its own right, so sticking them all together in perfect order is yet another reason while Flesh Lights should be considered by all as a band at top of their game.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/02-Middle-Age.mp3]
Free Yourself is available from 12XU.
I know we’ve all got our eyes on the Fun Fest prize, but let’s not forget that there are some great things happening in town, leading up to the night. There’s a great album release, a good local show, and some traveling bands that deserve some attention. If you check below, you can see some of the places on your list…there’s something for everyone. If tickets are available beforehand, you can pick them up by clicking the price. Enjoy your Tuesday. Read more
Our first listen to the newest work of Flesh Lights (Just About Due) had this striking power pop sound that definitely grabbed our attention. But, their new single, “Middle Age” is a blistering tune, both in its sonic quality and it’s verbal attack on “middle age youth.” The guitar work here is sublime, especially when the solos blast through your speakers; I’m also partial to the call and response vocals that come through the chorus. If you’re looking for a rock n’ roll record that never stays in one place, then you better get your hands on Free Yourself; it hits streets on November 4th via 12XU. Seriously. You’ll hate yourself if you don’t buy this LP.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/02-Middle-Age.mp3]
The last time I jammed to Flesh Lights, I felt like the band was offering some gritty punk rock. That grittiness is still apparent in the sounds they’re creating, but on their latest single it sounds like they’ve upped the power pop and hooks. I’m not going to lie; I was floored by this single right off the bat; it’s got everything you need; you can jam it loud, you can rip off your own guitar solo and every lyric is clean enough to sing along to at the top of your lungs. With songs like these in their repertoire, it only makes sense that the end of 2014 and beyond should belong to the group. Look for their latest LP, Free Yourself, in stores on November 4th via 12XU Records.
We’ve been working harder this year on being sure we get more coverage going, not just internationally, but locally as well. With that in mind, I wanted to point out a couple of shows that are desperately seeking your attendance on Friday night, in case you didn’t have plans. These shows all offer a bit of different sounds, but each features some of our favorite local acts, so be sure to do your best to support our local scene. Or, you could go see Widespread Panic. Seems like an easy choice to me, but it’s your life! Here’s my suggestions on what to hit up:
Genuine Leather, Ponderosa, The Hereticks @ The Parish Underground – Doors are at 8 PM – Cheap
Here are some jams by Letting Up to get you in the mood.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Letting-Up-Despite-Great-Faults-Visions.mp3]
I’m posting this jam from The Best just because, well, I can–you need to hear it. I feel like Austin, and beyond, haven’t had a great chance to fall in love with this band, although the varying parts of the group have definitely had their share of adoring press. Take members of OBN IIIs, A Giant Dog, Bad Lovers, Flesh Lights and basically any other band that kicks ass…throw them together and you expect big things. The Black Triangle 7″ came out last year, but there’s still a few floating about, so take a second to check out Twistworthy Records and get your hands on the goods.
We are pretty lucky to live here in Austin. Friday night, the wife and I started out at the friendly confines of The Mohawk, caught a kick ass set from Flesh Lights, chilled at a picnic table, had beer, whisky, and Topo Chico with good people that also love our music scene.
Click though for evidence…