Top 50 Albums of 2016

top50You’ve all been waiting, anxiously. Waiting for our arbitrary list of the opinion of four folks who run this site, and what we think were the best albums of 2016. It’s really really important. We’re going to make our site great again with this list. We’re going to win, bigly. But really, it’s just a list of the stuff we loved the most that we covered throughout this year on our site. The comment section is open, so feel free to tell us where we’ve gone wrong or what we’ve got right or anything else fitting. Read more

ACL WE2 – Friday In Photos

acl-we2-121aAre you ready to reminisce?

Let’s kick off more photos from the front for Austin City Limits on Weekend Two. Friday was the day. Let’s name drop – Radiohead, Die Antwoord, M83, Foals and more. A whole day of headliners for me and I was super excited. I had one “break” where I decided to get photos of Banks and Steelz to fill in the gap. Oofah. Do I have a story.

How about you read past the break? I had to suffer for my art. Heh.

#pukeandrally #radiohead #cantstopmenow

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ACL 2016: Weekend One From The Crowd

nd4_0348Kicking off some official ACL coverage beyond our social media blitzes from the world. Weekend One was the version of ACL where we get to see bands, spend time with friends and get snarky about the future of America and the music industry.

This gallery will feature some artists, mostly crowd related action and some highlights, calling out Lucy Dacus. Lucy’s set at the BMI stage was great. She and the band were sweet people and we’re fans.

Click through for the shots and a couple of random notes…

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Gimme 5 ACL: Corbu

unnamedAs we get ready for ACL this weekend, team ATH has been trying to find new ideas for providing coverage for this year’s festival in unique and exciting ways. An idea was given to me recently to have a group highlight some of their favorite bands on the bill by way of a 5 song playlist. I jumped at the idea and asked New York City based outfit Corbu to be our very first playlist band. Maybe you’ll find something you like or rediscover an oldie that you forgot about. Check out the band’s words and playlist after the jump.

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ACL Festival Preview: Lucy Dacus

lucyACL Festival is this weekend, and while a great deal of the acts are well-known, the fest is still scoring some great acts on the undercard, like Lucy Dacus. She’s been writing some incredible songs that seem to have gone about rather quietly, which is unfortunate, for you. Matador Records released No Burden earlier this year, and it’s filled with these tracks that take personal recordings, and expand them into something wholly intoxicating. I mean, just listen to “I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore,” and tell me that you’re not rushing to find out more about her. I included the track below to do some of the work for you. And while you’re all about Radiohead this week, don’t forget you paid to see tons of tunes, so schedule yourself some time at 2:30 over on the BMI Stage on Saturday.

Festival Recap: Day 2 of Primavera Sound 2016

Photo by Eric Pamies

Photo by Eric Pmies

A nine hour flight turned twelve hour flight prevented me from posting this yesterday as planned, but travel woes aside I’m still living in the past weekend in Barcelona. Friday, the second day of the festival, was every bit as jam packed as the first day of Primavera Sound, with the promise, once again, of a huge name in the rock world at the spotlight of the day. As someone who calls herself a casual Radiohead fan, I’ll admit I was fairly stoked to see what the band had in store for their headlining evening at Parc Del Forum, but they weren’t the only exciting moment that Friday had in store for festival goers. Read on to hear some of the highlights and see some pictures from Day 2.

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ACL Lineup is Here!

untitledThe Austin City Limits Festival lineup was announced earlier this morning, and as rumored by everyone, Radiohead will be headlining both weekends. As usual I’m digging on the undercard with bands like Frightened Rabbit, Mr. Conor Oberst, and Saint Motel as highlights for me. And it looks like we’ll getting some Flying Lotus action back in Austin after the unfortunate turn of events around Levitation Festival. Once again the festival has put together two weekends worth of solid music. Tickets are now available here for both weekends. Full lineup here or click on the image attached.

Show Pics: Other Lives @ Erwin Center (3/7)

Most unfortunate, the approval to shoot Radiohead didn’t come through. All was not lost as friends of Austin Town Hall, Other Lives, were opening. Into the bowels of the Erwin Center I headed to get shots of a band that everyone should experience live.

And should I mention I saw Major Applewhite again? Yeah, I did. He was kicking it with Manny Diaz.

Anyway, click through for pics of our friends on the big stage…

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Show Notes: Radiohead @ ACL Taping (3/7)

As I regroup and prepare my brain for a second night of Radiohead mania, I wanted to reflect a bit on our evening the Moody Theater. Getting be one of the relative few that got to go, I carried a bit of reverence into the venue, no doubt one of the smallest they will play on this or any tour. I was soon disappointed that not all concert-goers shared this feeling of privilege.

Click past the break and I’ll reveal my highs (the band) and the lows (the crowd) and the set list.

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The Twilight Sad – No One Can Ever Know

Rating: ★★★ · ·

A brief synopsis of the Twilight Sad has some ups and downs.  They burst onto the scene with the explosive Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters, filled with squalling guitars and blissful pop.  But, then they took an odd side-step with Forget the Night Ahead, which was a more straightforward approach.  Now, officially three albums into their career with No One Can Ever Know, the band is still treading the darker side of humanity, just with much more polished edges and electronic flourishes.

James Graham’s vocals have always been a vital part of the Twilight Sad, and it takes the lead on opener “Alphabet.”  More important, however, is that the guitars work that made the band such a bombastic group is now being replaced by shades of electronics, at least in the foreground of this track.  You can’t claim that this is a poor track, but the absence of the dynamics that flourished early in the band’s career really aren’t present on No One Can Ever Know. Still, with Graham’s prowess, it’s hard to dislike anything the band puts together.  “Sick” almost feels like it’s utilizing some of the electronic playfulness we found on Kid A or Amnesiac, combining grooves, beats and strengthened vocals. Just one listen to the chorus and you’ll surely find yourself fawning over this number.

Even though it’s easy to see the differences from album one to album three, the band’s not completely lacking energy on this effort.  In “Another Bed” you’ll find a pulsating rhythm brooding beneath the number, and melded with further electronic swaths that cut through the track.  Similarly, “Don’t Move” uses the same stylistic accompaniment, although the pounding of the drums definitely provides hints of a darker force just waiting to explode on No One Can Ever Know.  Yet, there’s something amiss, even as you see the band is aided by their craftsmanship. The whole of the record feels really sterile, and lacking a bit of passion, which drew me to the band long ago.  “Kill It in the Morning” is perhaps the only track of the collection that really sees Graham pushing himself, and it doesn’t arrive until the end.  But, you should definitely give it a listen as there’s hints of Trent Reznor in the production of the song; the ending where it drops off and you get Graham again is also a special moment.  You just get the feeling that the band is capable of so much more.

For what it’s worth, No One Can Ever Know is an enjoyable listen, and one that brand new fans will surely appreciate.  But, followers of The Twilight Sad might be a bit disheartened by the listen, as the group still seems like they’re trying to find their footing in the current musical landscape.  I appreciate the dark quality musically and lyrically, but it’s placed too simply, lacking much of the force you know the band is capable of producing.  Perhaps this is just a stepping stone to greater ambitions, and only time will tell. For now, we can be pleased, just not blown away.

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