Show Pics: The Head And The Heart @ Red Rocks

When I go abroad, meaning when I leave the Austin city limits (cwutidid), I like to check show calendars for the strange new land I am off to to see what bands coming through the same town I am to give me a reason to bring my camera with me. For my trip to Denver last week, I hyper-focused on arguably the most iconic venue in the US, if not the world, Red Rocks. Luckily, friends of the program from way back, The Head And The Heart (a band I have shot in the past at one of our iconic venues Stubb’s) were rolling through Denver at the same time, so the emails went out and I crossed my fingers. The approval to shoot meant controlling excitement while I was in day-job meetings; I was going to shoot at a bucket list venue for most concert photographers.

Read on for the story and plenty of pics.

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The Head and the Heart – Let’s Be Still

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Rating: ★★½ · ·

If you haven’t heard Seattle band, The Head and the Heart, I’d be pretty surprised, as they are one of those groups that has undergone a Mumford and Sons leap from small timers to radio-played ‘indie folk band,’ consumed by the general public. Though they made said jump, their 2010 self-titled debut did not garner the popularity nor the recognition that the singles did, which allowed for the band to fall a little off the map since that release. Let’s Be Still offers the opportunity for this group to prove themselves to their fans and the general public that they are more than a one trick pony. Will they take that opportunity?

They start out on a positive note, with two back-to-back numbers that seem to show some growth from the band. “Homecoming Heroes,” starts out with the bouncy piano and violin work that the band made their signature. Raspy male vocals guide you along through some easy rhymes, while backing vocals smooth the background over with some ‘oohs.’ It’s a fun number, starting things out with an instrumental break at the end that is quite enjoyable. Second track, “Another Story,” is reminiscent of a simpler Cave Singers song, with slightly rambling lead vocals, which works well for this band—it gives a dose of chaos and unpredictability that you wouldn’t expect from them, proving to be the best track on the record.

Though, on the whole, the album falls into the same chasm that their debut did, just without those superstar crowd pleasers. The songs on Let’s Be Still aren’t all bad, but they do combine to make for a bit of a boring album. Those spunky numbers that spiced up their initial release just aren’t there, or if they are, they aren’t as bright and passionate; pun intended, the heart seems a missing from this album. Track after track it seems like all the numbers blur together in one massive, slow tempo, folksy pile. The smaller nuances that drew in audiences are lost when there is little differentiation from song to song. Even the brightest of numbers from the album, such as “Friends,” seem a little flat. They’ve lengthened the album, but thirteen mildly interesting tracks don’t make for an effort I see myself coming back to listen to regularly, or even at all.

Perhaps you’ll think differently, but this is not the strong sophomore effort that I wish for bands of this nature, and it seems as though The Head and the Heart have missed their chance to win me over. The enticement was there from their singles, but I couldn’t take that bait to really bite into their first album; Let’s Be Still doesn’t offer me much of a worm.

New Track from Head and the Heart

headAdmittedly, I’m not completely sold on The Head and the Heart, but they have two things going for them.  For one, they’re trusted by Sub Pop, which says a lot considering the label’s home to some of my favorites.  Second, this song is just really solid and hard to ignore.  My issue with the band was that I felt their first release was a little uneven, but both the tracks I’ve listened to from their forthcoming Let’s Be Still have been super impressive, leading me to believe that this could be the record that cements the group as a huge act across the globe.  If you’re into folk-influenced pop music then I think this one’s for you.

ATH @ ACL 2011 – Sunday

The news of the Longhorns’ victory lifted spirits, Cut Copy killed it – Saturday was a good day. I was tired, yet nervous and excited. The rain, though nearby and luckliy watering our lawns, never really pounded the grounds. Sunday was a day with a few bands I knew I wouldn’t see otherwise.

Head on past the break for the final batch of images from Sunday.

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Show Preview: The Walkmen @ Stubbs (3/4)

Date 3/4/11
Location Stubbs
Doors 7pm
Tickets $18 @ Frontgate

A night that many of us have been looking forward to for quite some time has finally come with the Walkmen show at Stubbs on Friday night.  Opening support for the night will be provided by The Head and The Heart and Austin’s very own up and comers TV Torso.  Making the night even more enticing is a set by friends of ATH Whitman on the inside stage immediately after the Walkmen finish up outside.  More good news is that you’ll get in free to the Whitman show with a wristband from the outside show.  Make a night of it people.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/The-Walkmen-Stranded.mp3]

Download: The Walkmen – Stranded [MP3]