Top Live Shows in Austin in 2012

Our year end coverage begins with the three chiefs over at the ATH offices reveling in what was an incredible year in Austin, musically speaking.  Tons of rad bands blew us away with their live sets, and, well, there were just tons of bands.  I think we did more show coverage this year than in previous years, but as always, the great thing about our site is diversity.  We’re also linking back to our full reviews and photos of some of these nights, so you can get more of a feel of our thoughts, not to mention, checking out Brian’s great photographic 2012. Read on for thoughts on live acts from the three main contributors.
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Show Pics: Wild Nothing at Red7 (8/29)

Late night for the photo guy, album reviewer, significant others and assorted friends.

Wild Nothing last played Red7 on the coldest day of the year in 2011. I remember icy sidewalks and legit need for wool hats. This time around, the show moved to the larger outdoor stage to accomodate demand with a swing of the weather pendulum towards 90F at show time. Austin’s Boy Friend and Super Lite Bike opened.

Click though for a few thoughts and plenty of pics.

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Show Preview: Wild Nothing @ Red 7 (8/29)

Date Wednesday, August 29th
Location Red 7
Doors 900 pm
Tickets $10 from Transmission

I’m sure you’re probably tired of us always raving about Wild Nothing, but I promise you this is a show you need to be at.  I was skeptical at first, knowing the group was mostly a bedroom project, but Jack and his buds totally killed it that night, making me a life-long fan for sure.  I know all of us at ATH couldn’t do anything but rave about it for a good solid month.  Plus, two great ATX bands will help get you in the mood: Boy Friend and Super Lite Bike.  Please get there early to support all the bands…it’s always appreciated.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Nowhere.mp3]

Download:Wild Nothing – Nowhere [MP3]

Wild Nothing – Nocturne

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Perhaps one of the greatest things about listening to Wild Nothing is being aware that the project began as an intimate bedroom affair, possibly not even meant for mass consumption.  But, as with all good things, it’s made its way to our ears, and with Nocturne the sounds have become more fleshed out, creating a more dynamic sound that bodes well for Jack and friends.

With a title like Nocturne, you immediately get a darker image than what you might have gotten from the early works such as Gemini.  “Shadow” works with that meaning, both in title and in its emotional pull.  Sure, there’s still a bit of an angular guitar chiming in, but the lush string arrangements bring out an undercurrent of heavier sentiment.   Similarly, the title of “Midnight Song” implies the exact sentiment, but there’s something more energetic lurking here.  I’m not sure if it’s the guitar sounds, or Jack’s vocals, but I feel as if there’s more emphasis in this tune; it’s a personal standout for me.

But, one of the things I like from this new recording by Wild Nothing is the smallest of tweaks that demonstrate a branching out of sorts for the group.  If you skip through the album to “Paradise” you’re going to find an entirely different guitar line than what you’re used to from the band.  It’s almost as if Jack switched up his homage to C86 bands, trading it in for some Northern Soul guitar licks.  That being said, the electronic wash present on the track, and the deeper vocal tones still tie it nicely into the thematic darkness of the entire album.  It’s a good song to contrast with earlier numbers like “Only Heather,” which gains its energy from the frenetic pace of the drumming here.  I can see how the vocals have a similar weight to them, but the guitars are much brighter, and your toes won’t be able to avoid a bit of tapping as you listen to the record at your desk.

Personally, I think there’s sort of a magical quality to Nocturne, and I don’t mean in the sense that it’s going to possess your soul, though it just might.  Lyrically and emotionally it seems to carry with it an other-worldly quality that combines bits and pieces of the group’s earlier works with touchstones of its contemporaries.  Yet, with all those bits and pieces, something inevitably captures you, pushing your thoughts beyond the mundane.  Perhaps wistful is a fitting term to use here, as the title and the mood are affected by a feeling of sadness; I honestly don’t know how to put my finger on it, but I think listeners will completely understand the sentiment after a few runs through.

For those that expected Nocturne to be a complete return to where Wild Nothing left off with Gemini, you might be disappointed.  It’s definitely an album consumed by the nature of the title, offering a fair balance between beauty and the vague hints of darkness.  Light splashes of energy come and go, but what you’re left with is a record that immediately transports you beyond your status quo; such is the quality of truly great music that can consume us wholly, yet still maintain its intimate qualities.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/08-Paradise.mp3]

Download:Wild Nothing – Paradise [MP3]

New Number from Wild Nothing

We’d be remiss if we didn’t hit on the big news of the day, the return of Wild Nothing to the music-making fold.  When Pitchfork premeired the track earlier today, they talked of main songwriter, Jack Tatum, working in a professional studio for the first time.  I’m not sure how I feel about that, as I felt like a lot his charm came from the fact that he crafted those sounds in his bedroom.  Still, after listening to this track, so far everything seems well; I’ll be pleased if its half as good as Gemini, their first full-length.  For now, expect this single to come out via Captured Tracks, in order to hold us over while the band is recording.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Nowhere.mp3]

Download: Wild Nothing – Nowhere [MP3]

Seapony – Go With Me

Rating: ★★★ · ·

Jen Weidl and her posse in Seapony definitely have something wonderful going on in their debut for Hardly Art, Go With Me.  After lots of critical acclaim on the net, it would be easy to throw this band aside as just another band making bedroom pop, which they do for the most part.  But, if you can discard similarities to various other bands, you’ll find that lay in wait, waiting to carry you off.

“Dreaming” begins the entire affair with what is probably the most energetic you’ll find the band, and at times, the guitars emulate Mike Sniper and Blank Dogs.  Those pounding drums, twanging guitars, well, they’re all nice and clean, but what will really get you is the pop sensation.  You can forget about comparisons, as Weidl’s voice definitely gives a new spin on things here.

There are easily a lot of tracks on this record that one might identify as ripping off various other acts, or at least being easily influenced, but a special song is a special song, regardless of whether it was made by Seapony or various other bands out there.  “Into the Sea” is one such track, with guitars maneuvering along the sunny coastal region, and the hazy Jen warmly singing atop it all. In all honesty, Weidl is the savior of Go With Me.  She does it again on “Go Away,” which sort of sounds like a cross between Best Coast and Girls Names, but her girl-group approach to vocal delivery, not to mention the nod to such things with her lyrics, makes tracks standout beyond the masses.

There’s tons of comparisons that can be made all over the place when listening to Go With Me.  You might find a Best Coast reference here, or even a Wild Nothing allusion, but what probably sticks out the most is how similar Seapony comes to sounding like a happier version of Blank Dogs.  The recording of the angular guitars in songs like “Always” or “Where We Go” almost plays like a Sniper remix, but perhaps that’s why it’s so easy to dig this record.  Everything sounds familiar, and yet it doesn’t sound familiar at all. Lyrics aren’t typically this adorably put together, and girls usually don’t work well, at least not as of yet/late, in this genre.

Even with all these noticeable nods to the indie landscape of today laced across this album, I’ve found myself spinning it again and again.  Part of me has a soft spot for any music of the ilk, part of me finds some odd connection between Camera Obscura and bedroom pop of the now.  It’s precisely the kind of record you can listen to while swinging your significant other around the living room instead of hitting up the bars. For that alone, Seapony and Go With Me deserve a nice little spot in your collection, not to mention the fact that you can include any number of tracks all across your summer mixes.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/SP_BlueStar.mp3]

Download: Seapony – Blue Star [MP3]

Show Preview: Wild Nothing, Abe Vigoda @ Red 7 (2/4)

Date Friday, Feb 4th
Location Emos
Doors 900p
Tickets $8 from Frontgate

February has already kicked off with some great shows, but I reckon to bet that there won’t be a better ticket in town than this, whether it’s snowing or not!  First, Wild Nothing won over fans last year with Gemini, and continued kicking ass with the Golden Haze EP.  Their combination of bedroom pop and electronica just fits perfectly into our lives.  Then, you have the incredible Abe Vigoda, and since this is their first tour since the release of Crush, you know they’re going to bring their A game.  On that alone, two amazing bands for $8, you should go.  But, because life sometimes can get better, you have two of the hottest bands in town opening with Bali Yaaah and Superlitebike.  Haven’t gotten to see Bali Yaaah just yet, but Superlitebike is ridiculous live.  Do it folks, lets keep each other warm.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Wild-Nothing-Golden-Haze.mp3]

Download: Wild Nothing – Golden Haze [MP3]


New Music from The Soft Moon

After releasing two 7″s, it’s time for Luis Vasquez to bring on his debut record as The Soft Moon.  Of course, there’s a lot of dark undertones, created by the ominous atmospherics carrying the faintest hint of melody in the background.  The Soft Moon album will hit the streets on November 16th via Captured Tracks, which is home to other great artists such as Blank Dogs and Wild Nothing.  If you’re looking for that post-punk sound, riddled with haze and smoke, then you’re going to really enjoy the work here by Luis. Take a listen to the newest track.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/thesoftmoontinyspiders.mp3]

Download: The Soft Moon – Tiny Spiders [MP3]

New Music From Wild Nothing

Jack Tatum and his project known as Wild Nothing is grown in fame all over the internet as you’re reading this.  The guy recently dropped one of our favorite LPs of the year Gemini and already just released a new EP entitled Evertide.  Needless to say, the guy’s been a busy bee.  Enjoy a new track from the EP out now on Warmest Chord below.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/Your-Rabbit-Feet-1.mp3]

Download: Wild Nothing – Your Rabbit Feet [MP3]

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