ACL Battles: LCD/Bordello/Monsters/Bazan

So every year ACL festival has a few tough choices to make when they schedule two really great bands playing at exactly the same time.  Typically we’re stuck with making a choice between two bands, but this year we have been faced with a choice between FOUR great bands.  The first thing that came to mind when I saw the ACL schedule was this huge conflict between these four heavy hitters on Saturday.  So let’s see what we have here… First up for consideration is a performance from incredible gypsy-punk band and awesome live group Gogol Bordello beginning at 6:30 on the AMD stage.  Then you have the option of stopping by the Austin Ventures stage at 6:00 for the two hour long Monsters of Folk show.  Or maybe you fancy a solid veteran songwriter in the form of David Bazan beginning at 6:40 on the BMI stage.  Last but not least, you can check out great live performers LCD Soundsystem on the Budweiser stage at 6:30.  So what’s it gonna be?  Some are saying you could maybe check out a few songs from each?  Maybe you want to check out a bit of one and then slide over to catch the end of the Monsters of Folk set?  I personally don’t like a lot of migrating during sets so I want to make a choice and stick with it.  I’m honestly still torn on this one… You guys have any insight?

LCD Soundsystem @ Stubbs (6/8)

Date Tuesday, June 8th
Location Stubbs
Doors 530 PM
Tickets SOLD OUT

Obviously everyone is really excited for this show, as tickets have already SOLD OUT, but we know there are people on Craigslist waiting to get rid of their tickets if you’re willing to pay the price. LCD Soundsystem always puts on a ridiculously great show, owed largely to the performance of James Murphy.  If you’re into this band, you better get into this show, as rumor has it that LCD might be no more after the recent release of This Is Happening.  You’ll also be treated to a good little opener by checking out Holy Ghost! If you’re there, hope you have fun; I’ll be hanging with my moms for her birthday. And if you’re not, rest assured there are lots of great shows coming up in town this week.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/drunkgirls.mp3]

Download: LCD Soundsystem – Drunk Girls [MP3]

LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening

Rating: ★★½☆☆

It’s really hard to imagine the 00s without James Murphy.  Whether he was bringing Daft Punk to your house, or whether he was manning the boards for someone else, it seems like Murphy was always around.  Now we come to what he is calling the swan song for LCD Soundsystem, This Is Happening.  Will it be enough to leave us with lasting memories of fondness, or will we turn towards indifference as his star begins to fade on the horizon.

“Dance Yrself Clean” begins the record, and while it could be a whole lot stronger, this isn’t the worst way to begin the new album. It begins with just some minimal percussive elements, which go on for what seems like an eternity, while lyrics are sort of spoken, as opposed to sung.  At the 3 minute mark, the song turns into a club banger.  While you can appreciate the development of sonic textures that Murphy has placed emphasis on with his last two album, one can’t help but feel that getting straight to the point would have left the record to start with one of his best complete tracks.

You jump right into the single from there with “Drunk Girls,” which sort of seems like a haphazard song.  The beats seem reminiscent of songs past, while the lyrics don’t really offer too much, no matter how many drunk girls you claim to know.   And from there you go on to “One Touch;” yet another song that doesn’t do a whole lot to further Murphy’s credentials in the musical annals of time.  Sure, showing the masses you can make a dance song go for 8 minutes is something to tip your hat to, if the song doesn’t do too much, it all seems irrelevant, and such is the case here.

But, then LCD Soundsystem takes you for an entirely different ride.  “All I Want” doesn’t seem to far of a stretch from some of the more exploratory tracks on Sound of Silver, and you can really find yourself sliding inside this song despite a the length and a touch of redundancy. “I Can Change” follows suit with a bit more exploration, and even pushes the dancier side of the things.  Murphy’s vocals don’t come off in that shouting chant he’s usually known to release, and it creates a joyous song that brings back the nostalgia of bands like Depeche Mode and OMD.

Then, he takes a U-turn, and sort of goes back on the promise of the last two tracks.  “You Wanted a Hit” has some redeeming qualities towards the middle of the song, and while I appreciate his stance on not trying to make hits, choosing instead to follow his own path, I’m not sure he always chooses the best options, especially when he has such quality tracks to offer, as he did in the middle of the This Is Happening. Don’t even get me started on “Pow Pow;” I think I’m owed an extra amount of time in my life just for listening to this track.  Ugh.  “Somebody’s Calling Me” just continues the downward slide from there.  It just seems like he could have done so more, and at time, the song just sounds like even James himself was bored with writing it.  Then again, that just might be personal taste.

Then he comes back with “Home” to close out the album.  It has a bit more of a singing vocal here, and the beat has this underlying hook that sucks you back into the album.  If you add the length of the song, you can clearly see what kind of dance party ensues here, and that’s precisely what you wanted from This Is Happening.  Unfortunately, the brightest spots on this record don’t really break through the inadequacies of the rest of the tracks.  Personally, it seems like such a shame, as the last decade wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun without having LCD Soundsystem in our lives, and perhaps this is why he’s walking away, as James Murphy hasn’t convinced anyone with this effort that his heart is still in it.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/LCD-Soundsystem-I-Can-Change.mp3]

Download: LCD Soundsystem – I Can Change [MP3]

More New LCD Soundsystem Tunes

Gotta say, that first track “Drunk Girls” we posted from LCD Soundsystem’s upcoming LP wasn’t really doing much for me.  This new jam “I Can Change” is however starting the hype machine back up for Mr. Murphy’s new joint.  It sounds a little like the best material from last effort Sound of Silver; albeit a bit more slowed down.  LCD Soundsystem’s new LP This is Happening will hit stores on May 18th.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/LCD-Soundsystem-I-Can-Change.mp3]

Download: LCD Soundsystem – I Can Change [MP3]

New Tunes from LCD Soundsystem

We’ve heard the news about the possibly final LCD Soundsystem record that drops May 18th, but we’ve only been able to hear snippets of tracks. Luckily, 130bpm leaked the track today, and so now we have it up to offer you guys.  This song recalls hints of Bowie or Eno for me, but you be the judge.  I know I like it, but we’ll see how the rest of the tunes turn out.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/drunkgirls.mp3]

Download: LCD Soundsystem – Drunk Girls [MP3]

Free Energy – Stuck On Nothing

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Since they released their first 7″, the name of Free Energy has hit all across the blogosphere, garnering hype as a straight ahead rock ensemble a la Thin Lizzy or Cheap Trick.  Backed by the production talent of LCD Soundsystem‘s James Murphy, no one had any idea how far this band could really go. Finally, Stuck on Nothing is upon us, and it lives up to all the accolades for the most part.

That first riff off “Free Energy” hits you hard, with a little rock emphasis thrown in by the excessive cowbell. It’s easily the most hook-laden on the record, and it’s one you could easily find lying on mainstream radio channels alongside the likes of Weezer.  Sure, that seems frightening nowadays, but you know you liked the blue album too!  I mean, its filled with the exact same sort of mediocre guitar solos in the middle.

They don’t stop bringing you their cookie-cutter rock moments for the first several tunes on Stuck on Nothing.  Despite the originality in the opening minutes, you’ll find that songs like “Dream City” just have that sort of hook that you imagine your parents got stoned to during college, which probably means you did the same in high school at some point. But, you’ll find that the band is just more than a nostalgic throwback once you get to “All I Know.”  Yes, it does have a very similar riff aesthetic, but slowing down the pace of this track reveals that Free Energy can grab your attention without being overtly in your face all the time.

From here on out, the record begins to really hit its groove.  The band discarded the balls out fury they opened the album with, opting instead to push their sound just a little bit further by working on those guitar solos, and in fact, in doing so, they’ve made the rhythm guitar moments sound a great deal more effective.  It’s this sort of song construction that creates ultimately more enjoyable moments than those fueled by cock-rock.  Sure, you can hear all sorts of Thin Lizzy over “Young Hearts,” but Free Energy somehow manage to make it all their own (most likely due to a singer that is not Phil Lynott). “Hope Child” is another step into the band developing their own sound entirely.  They take the classic guitar stomping moments that have been present throughout, but they throw a bit of California punk vocals atop the whole mix.  It’s an effective move, one that makes the band sound a infinitely more relevant in today’s musical climate.

As you can see, the one thing that the record really lacks is excessive creativity.  That being said, no one is going to deny that you’re going to have a whole keg worth of fun jamming to this record all Spring long.  Occasionally it’s okay to let go of all pretense and just let your hair blow in the wind, and Free Energy is here to be that band for you.  Stuck On Nothing brings you exuberance for days, and as the sun comes out in March, could you ask for more?

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/free-energy-free-energy.mp3]

Download: Free Energy – Free Energy [MP3]

New Tunes from Free Energy

freeenergyFrom the ashes of Hockey Night comes the straight-nostalgic rockers Free Energy. Word on the street is that the man behind the production of the groups self-titled 7″ is none other than James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem. You’ll find all sorts of reference points on this album from the days of old, but probably not the ones you would expect.  Try this one on for size.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/free-energy-free-energy.mp3]

Download: Free Energy – Free Energy [MP3]

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