Show Review: The XX at ACL Live (05/11)

Thursday saw indie pop giants The XX performing for the secondnight in a row at a sold out Moody Theater. Flying high off the release of their latest album,I See You, as well as a series of announcements of headlining spots at festivals (cough cough ACL Fest), the three piece brought with them an air of swagger and professionalism that matches their sleek and ever-sexy sound.

Read on for some thoughts about the show and some pretty photos from a new to ATH contributor, Ismael Quintanilla III.

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The Zoltars Land on Slack Capital Again

Slack Capital 2 is a compilation of music by 27 of Austin’s most wonderful bands. All proceeds from the comp go to SafePlace, which provides support for victims of domestic and sexual violence. We’re unveiling one song per day, leading up to the comp’s release on April 14.

Song of the day: The Zoltars – “I See You”

Perhaps no artist on this comp is quite as “slack” as Jared Zoltar of the Zoltars. With a super laid-back delivery, ghostly “oohs” floating in the background, an acoustic guitar straight out of Beck’s closet, and drums that sound like someone shutting a cabinet door in the next room, “I See You” feels like a lo-fi lullaby sent via transmission from some rigged-up VHS tape in a basement somewhere. I don’t want you to get the wrong idea, though. Like the best Zoltars songs, this one has an earnest heart at its core, and the refrain — “I see you/ I see you/ I like you/ cuz you’re like me too”– is both addictive and sweetly simple. 10/10 would recommend for a key spot on your next summer love mixtape. –Eric Braden

Pre-Order Slack Capital 2 HERE.

Come to the Release Party on April 14 at Barracuda.

The xx- I See You


Rating: ★★★★ ·

When your first album is a sweeping success, how do you move forward and create something that both steps away from your past hits yet strikes the same sort of resonance with your painstakingly huge fan base? This seems to be the question that plagued the ever-huge The xxon their sophomore album–while new tunes from these indie rock darlings immediately grabbed my attention and affection, these feelings didn’t bring me back to continued listening. Third time around, it seems like these South Londoner’s have shaken off the chains of their past catalogue and pushed into exciting new space.

With I See You there is a key caveat–to really dig into the songs, you need to be willing to accept the pop simplicity that the band has tried their hand at this go-round. Before, it sounded as though the band made their own sound, which shaped and happened to appeal to pop listeners, but here they’ve put their own spin on pop music itself. On this album, the tight and intricate guitar-work that first drew in early fans has been supplemented with sampling, and more synth breakdowns. However, for The xx, this feels like a natural and logical progression.

The band launches straight in with dance-ready opener “Dangerous” with sampled horn sounds. You’re rooted to the track by the prevalent bass line, pulled closer by the ever-enticing male/female tradeoff in vocals that this group has always excelled at. These vocals are punchier than you’ve heard them before; more commanding and compelling. This grip that The xx puts on you holds strong through the first four songs. Single, “Say Something Loving,” isone of the superstars of the album, again the vocals are demanding and so strong, begging you to scream along with them. The samples are integrated with the vocals seamlessly, hitting you ears with ease and not distraction.

 

Later on you get tunes like “Replica,” and “I Dare You,” which rely on the bands’ knack for sleek guitar riffs. “Replica” is a simmering dark track with shimmering interludes of lightness. This song may not hit you hard with immediacy on your first spin of the record, but provides a less obvious treat for the next listen with its detailed lyrics. On the contrary, there’s “I Dare You,” which stomps into the penultimate and will immediately jump into your favorite track place. The percussion on this song is a steady beat of what sounds like sampled handclaps, which puts a dance-rythym immediately into play. Those sleek guitars mirror the vocal melody, playing into the pop aesthetic, an the result is pure bliss.

 

Overall, I See You is a bright and bold move for The xx, striking an easy-listenable balance between intricate and simple–offering hooks for your first listen and subtleties that will hold your attention and have you coming back for more. Like the ‘new love’ high that a lot of the lyrics touch upon, you want to stay with I See You for the long haul; “don’t let it slip away.”

Spot On Quirky Folk From Bonny Doon

Before today, I wasn’t too familiar with the likes of Detroit’s Bonny Doon, but now it’s safe to say that they’re on my radar for sure. The group is a four piece that began out of the ashes of several other punk bands, the members of Bonny Doon reportedly discovering their sound by playing as quietly as possible. The result is brilliant folksy indie rock, which you can hear for yourself on “I See You,” below. The song is a like an intricate tapestry of great one-liners that add up to a beautiful story. With soft spoken vocals and gentle guitars, it’s a melancholy track that’ll linger in your head for a while. Take a listen and look out for the band’s self-titled debut, which will be out March 10th on Salinas Records.