Chaos in Tejas Preview: Screaming Females

UPDATE: Apparently Marrissa had to cancel due to illness, but we’ll leave this up because we love the band. We’re just a few short days away from Chaos in Tejas, but we still have a few bands we think should be on your radar. Screaming Females is one such act, and one that you surely have to be aquainted with by this point…but if not, here’s the good word.

The New Jersey trio have been working tirelessly since o5/06, with five full lengths to their name–including this year’s excellent, Ugly LP. There’s all kinds of ways you can label the band, from punk to garage to perhaps metal (if you consider their recent tour with Tragedy), but the band has one key element that makes them something entirely unique, something you might consider a spectacle; they have Marissa Paternoster.

Marissa is probably one of the most unassuming women in rock n’ roll, that is until you catch the band live.  She stands about 5 foot tall, average fashion sense, almost shy in appearance.  But, when she steps onto the stage, something transforms her into one of the most powerful women in rock n’ roll.  She slings her guitar around as she furiously strums, and that voice, dear lord that voice.  I remember the first time I caught the group as they were opening for Ted Leo a few years back (and you all know I love Ted) and she almost blew Ted off the stage.  This by no means indicates that Jarrett and Mike (the other two) don’t own their instruments as well, but if you’re looking for a live performance that will change the way you look at music, then you don’t need to go any further than by watching Screaming Females.  I promise you, if you want to catch one band, it’s this one.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Screaming-Females-Expire.mp3]

Download: Screaming Females – Expire [MP3]

Whitman – Weekends

Rating: ★★★½ ·

It’s been quite a while since locals Whitman put out their debut album, Torch Songs. Since then their style hasn’t really changed too much; they’ve maintained a classic alternative sound while not getting too serious. Weekends is no exception to this style, delivering quality tunes that fall easy on the ears.

The album creeps out slowly, with Ram Vela’s vocals whispering through layers of echoes and atmospheric sounds on “Technicolor Blues.” It’s as though the band is feeling its way into your ears, analyzing the space that they are going to fill before they really kick into things. This kicks comes in the last forty or so seconds before the first song has met its completion. At this point, it’s clear that Whitman has woken up, and continues to pick up the pace on the second song, “NW Thurman.” Jumping right into things, Vela’s Ted Leo-esque raspy chords leads you right along, bounding atop bouncing piano and some “Ooh la la’s” in the background. Immediately on this track, there is that ‘good times’ mentality that this band perfects. It’s the perfect kind of song to bob your head easily along to and perhaps dance a little if you’re feeling up to it—it doesn’t demand anything.

This easy rock-n-roll continues through the duration of the album, exploring highs and lows, crazy times and falling-outs. “Barstools” comes across as a bitter recollection of a friendship gone astray. As Vela sings honestly that he would “rather be falling off barstools than hanging with you,” the electric guitar growls, the cymbals crash violently, and some synth all rage along with him, and it feels as though the song consists entirely for the purpose of driving this hated friend away, making sure he knows he isn’t welcome anymore.  Later on, Whitman slows things down a bit on “Manchester-By-The-Sea,” whose soft nature serves as a nice little meander from the consistent full-tilt pace. This song relies on a gentler strumming of acoustic guitar and instrumentals that stray from the buzz of before and we see a more delicate Whitman. The album finishes up with “Day Drink Part 1” and “Day Drink Part 2” which brings things back up before it reaches its conclusion.

Weekends is exactly what its name entails: relaxation. There simply isn’t a song on here that requires more than a good attitude to enjoy. With the weather warming up around here, count on this album to be perfect for blasting out of your open car windows.

Friday Top 10: Fun Fest Bands

Our Fun Fest coverage is nearing an end, but we have yet to give you a top artists post in typical ATH fashion.  So here ladies and gents is your ATH top 10 fun fest acts.  This is a list compiled by all of our writers and collaborators who did their best to check out as many bands as we could this weekend.  Keep in mind that we see as many bands as we can, but certainly can’t blanket the whole fest.  Follow the jump for list.

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Show Pics: FFF6 Day Three

Fun Fun Fun Fest photo coverage concludes at Austin Town Hall.

There is dust in every crevice…

…of my camera gear. Day three had a weird blend to it. Starting with an interview with WWPJ, We caught OBN III and Davila 666 at Black Stage followed by WWPJ’s set, Mate of State segued to MNDR and Austra. Jumpcut to Ted Leo,dial it back to dance party with Architecture in Helsinki, back up again for Hum and then Easing out with Black Lips and Slayer (?).

You know what is past the break.

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Leatherbag – Yellow Television

Rating: ★★★ · ·

In the aftermath of Hurricane Rita, back in 2005, lead singer Randy Reynolds relocated to our great city of Austin. Lucky for us he did, because after this, he formed the American Rock band known as Leatherbag. Six years, various changes in the band and multiple albums, later, the band consists of three members: Reynolds, Drew Emmons, and Daniel Blanchard. Together, they craft a classic rock record in Yellow Television, which reflects on the general current state of things in the world.

The first number is dubbed “Imitation Generation” and kicks things off quickly and with the flair that one would expect of Leatherbag. A solid drum beat, angled guitars lead your in what seems calmly, but then it has those yelled catchy choruses with group vocals adding some texture behind Reynolds’ vocals.  As the name already suggests, the song comes off as more of a social comment on the repetition of any creative work by this generation. He remarks that “love is dead and so is rock and roll,” which is a bit grim, but gets the point across that we are in need of a little originality, perhaps to be delivered by this band in some form? It’s a good opening beat, but it isn’t exactly spectacular.

Then Leatherbag transitions to the title track “Yellow TV,” which relies on that catchy chorus to pull you into this band’s style if they hadn’t already. From here on, the rest of the album is relatively similar to these first two songs; which is a double edged sword. There is still the alluring rock style, which at some points reminds me a bit of Ted Leo, on jams like “Waxing Nostalgic.” However, it gets a bit redundant when the beginnings of most of the songs start out in the same way; it gets hard to discern one song from the other. Some are just too similar for their own good and you can get lost on the natural order of this album. That being said, stick around for “Sincerity,” which is ten minutes of bluesy guitar and the variety you’ve been missing up to that point.

Overall, it’s a pretty solid American Rock album. You can find the slightly grunge guitars and the sincerely indelicate vocals that you’d expect as well as some surprising freshness that you wouldn’t.  Albeit, there are some weaker tracks, and it gets a little repetitive at points, but there is still something worth enjoying on Yellow Television.

Fun Fest Lineup Is Here

We’ve all been waiting for today, and we’ve all been super hyped on the 2011 Fun Fun Fun Fest. Honestly, the leaks and the info today on turntable.fm all seemed a little heavy on the hip-hop/electro side of things for me.  But, now that the line-up is on its way, there are some great gems. I mean, my man crush Ted Leo will be there. I’m stoked on seeing Cloud Nothings and Radio Dept, so much so, that I’d go alone for all that. But, as Transmission always does a great job putting this together, everyone’s going to find their own genre/niche of bands to get excited for.  So, do yourself a favor, head over to the SITE, and see who your favorites will be. Then leave us a comment and let us know…maybe you can give us a heads up on what’s hip. Also, don’t forget tickets go on sale for the 3rd round today.  Label me officially stoked!

Gold-Bears – Are You Falling in Love

Rating: ★★★½ ·

With summer break looming over us all, it’s the perfect time for a twee-punk band like Gold-Bears to make their debut. As this is their first ever album released, this band is brand new to the music scene and looking to win a spot in your heart as well as your stereo. Surely you have room left for some jangly guitar and hazy percussion in there?

From the very first song, you can hear the clear alternative punk soundings of Gold-Bears. “Record Store” begins with flat sounding drums along with gentle acoustic guitar, and then some raging, yet even-toned, electric guitar streams in. Then the song picks up, and you have the carefully placed cymbal crashes along with breaks in the raging melody to that of the delightfully soft beginning. Meanwhile, the suiting vocals blend together with the instrumental aspects of the jam. After this lovely opening tune is finished, the band moves to “All Those Years.” On this one, some gang vocals continue the energy and are instantly reminiscent to bands like Ted Leo and Pharmacists. They’ve got that crash pop beat mixed together with the percussion of a more punk style band, which is noticeable on the third song.

After a pretty positive and upbeat start for Gold-Bears, they slow things down as they approach the middle of the album. The title track certainly stands apart from the rest of the songs in this body of music, as it is filled with foggy feedback and jingling tambourine that is sure to serve as an appropriate break from the quickness of the fast paced start. It’s the perfect placement of such a song that slows the listener back down for a breather, if only so they can jump back in at double time on the next number, “East Station Attendant.” This one is the direct opposite of its predecessor, fast, short and rocking.

Gold-Bears continue this impressive debut with more standouts like single “Tally,” that relies on gang vocals once more to carry the streaming beat. They close strong, yet delicate, and leave their listeners happy to have taken a chance on this band. For a first album, it is nothing short of appealing. So when you reach the end with them, and reflect on Are You Falling In Love?, you can answer with a yea, I’m pretty sure I am.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/GoldBears-SomethingToThinkAbout.mp3]

Download: Gold Bears – Something To Think About [MP3]

Title Tracks – In Blank

Rating: ★★★ · ·

It’s weird to say this, but John Davis finally seems to be finding his own voice, his own way.  After working with Q and Not U, he then formed up the pop-duo Georgie James, then went on to write the first Title Tracks record.  Here, on In Blank, the approach is much simpler than previous works, just giving you straight-ahead power-pop, and in doing so, he’s giving you what seems the best demonstration of himself.

A pounding drum, quick rhythmic guitar and a somewhat spoken lyric begins on “Shaking Hands,” but it’s when John’s voice actually takes on the singing depth that the song begins to take flight.  It’s an energy fueled rush that grinds to a nice sudden stop.  You’ll then take on “Turn Your Face,” a song that really represents the abilities of John, and one of the things that attracts so many to his music.  While the song has a similar, though more rugged, approach to the first track, it’s the ups-and-downs of his voice that make his tunes more than re-hash power-pop.  He finally has control of his distinctive voice with all its little flips, and this is the song where it all seems to come together in perfect pop harmony.

While the first Title Tracks record definitely had a jangling punk troubadour sound a la Ted Leo, In Blank, as previously mentioned, begins to give John a voice that he can claim is his own.  “I Can’t Hide” seems to take the best of his two latter projects and twist it all tightly in a nice little ball of good pop. Sure, there’s that straight pop-punk drumming element, but the guitar work alone begins to take on an attitude of his own.  Lyrically, he’s talking about a lady and his emotions, but the song definitely seems to represent his inability to hide his own musical ideas from the world anymore.  It’s at this point where John Davis has eclipsed all preconceived notions of himself.   More of this follows when you arrive at the next track, “Forget the Ghost.”  There seems to be a hazy little fog floating atop the song, and vocal delivery definitely begins to offer glimpses of a more developed musical palate. If you were looking for more power-fueled pop songs, then John’s here to show you he can do anything he wants, and with great success.

Of course, John’s not one to forget his roots and his early passions, bringing us that punk element in various different forms as In Blank draws to a close.  You’ve got explosive power-pop, you’ve got jangling tunes, and even a bit of pop-swagger by way of “It’s Wrong.” Closing out the record, you end up having a nice little smile upon your face, happy that John Davis has been able to continually push himself, and really happy that there are some exceptional songs throughout the latest in the Title Tracks catalogue.  Good album from a guy that keeps writing his own good story.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/titletracksalltricks.mp3]

Download: Title Tracks – All Tricks [MP3]

ACL Wrap-Up: The Top Ten Acts

Well, we’ve finally recovered, and we hope your sunburn is peeling and your liver is resting quietly in a tub of water.  After a long weekend, filled with good memories, tunes and pretty much anything else we needed, we got down to the nitty-gritty. That’s right folks, after careful collaboration, and tireless hours of discussion, we bring you our Top Ten Acts of Austin City Limits 2010.

FT5: Guys I’d Go Gay For

We’ve dedicated some time in the past to Hot Ladies of Indie Rock, which, well, is totally acceptable for a heterosexual male.  But, one of my homosexual brethren, Marcus, brought to my attention that I need to give some respect to some of the men of indie rock.  So, in discussion with my lady friend, I decided upon the five guys that I would be willing to go gay for, with, of course, the lady’s permission. It might sound a touch ridiculous, but come on, its a fun subject to discuss, albeit, one that will likely not come to fruition.

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