Your friendly neighborhood ATH staff members have emerged from SXSW week and I think we’re all finally ready to reminiscence on what transpired. As we’ve done in the past, it seems like a perfect time to hand out some awards for the festival with superlatives that we made up like 5 minutes ago. Keep in mind we saw a lot of bands, had a bit to drink, and ventured out to more venues than we can possibly remember. So buckle up, hit the jump and see who we deemed worthy and deserving of our very prestigious awards.
If you’re looking for shows to attend this week, odds are you’ve found something to your liking. But, before the work week starts back up, there’s a nice little show over at the Parish featuring Wye Oak that you should catch. They’ll be playing with Pattern is Movement, and you can buy yourself a ticket to the show right HERE. We caught up with Andy real quickly for some questions about their tour, and their latest album, Shriek. Read on for the interview. Read more
In 2011 we welcomed Wye Oak’s stunning third full length release, Civilian, which was a record of huge growth and refinement for Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack. After such a great album, it’s often hard to imagine where a band will travel next, especially one so small as this duo. This forth time around, the two have gone electronic, ditching the guitars from before and replacing them with atmospheric and electronic sounds. It is an interesting choice, especially after the success of their last release and one that comes with its rewards and drawbacks.
They open slowly this time around with “Before,” and immediately the new style is audible; a synthetic soundscape fills your ears as this duo transport you to a space of tranquility and effortless sound. The percussion is distant, with a faded, subtle quality that offers a dreamy kind of mood to the tune. Of course you have Wasner’s indistinguishable vocals that confess the opening and closing line of the song: “This morning/ I woke up on the floor/ thinking I’d never dreamed before.” The mood of the album is elucidated in that brief lyric; the whole thing feels a bit like melancholic and unpinned nostalgia expressed via delicate sound.
I was quite impressed with the first half of the album; while the sound is not overwhelmingly complex or drastic, the songs they’ve crafted are a solid step into the electronic side of things. Title track, “Shriek,” picks the tempo up a little while maintaining that dream-upon-waking atmosphere. Lead single and my personal favorite track, “Glory,” will have you dancing along to the beat while the vocals craft a bit of drama to latch onto, propelling the song from just being a groovy number.
While there are still some pretty good tracks on Shriek that beg for repeated listening, the sweeping majesty that was introduced on the past album isn’t really matched here. I find myself missing the clean guitar and Wasner’s crisp and elegant vocals that Wye Oak did so well the last time around. After the mid point of the album there is certainly a drop off in the level of intrigue in the tracks and the minimalist sound becomes a bit bleak. That being said, I appreciate the last song, “Logic of Color, ” as the electronic elements take a backseat to the vocals and round out the album with a track reminiscent of those encountered earlier on the album.
Shriek takes Wye Oak down a different path than we’ve seen them go before, and it is enticing for the most part, but I wish a few of the tracks went a little further down this trail and out of the box.
Coachella is again using the two weekend format and will feature Outkast, Muse and Arcade Fire as headliners. I get Outkast and Arcade Fire, but please stop booking Muse at every festival. Please. It has to stop. I walk out when I hear Muse; it is my “you’re drunk, go home” alert. Or maybe that is why they are booked as headliners. “Hope you had fun, this is your queue to leave and rest up for tomorrow.” So many lasers. So many.
The festival is getting spendy, passes are $375 and $435 with daily shuttle service. Yikes. Weekend One only has the passes with shuttle service available. VIP will run you $799 with $150 more for parking.
Notables for me on the lineup, as with most festivals, are further down the list: Flume, Jagwar Ma, Dum Dum Girls, Wye Oak, Holy Ghost!, Blood Orange, Mogwai, Chvrches, STRFKR, Daughter, Poolside, Surfer Blood. Mid-levels I’d be stoked on are Bryan Ferry, The Knife, Pet Shop Boys, Beck, Neutral Milk, Motorhead and Little Dragon. You going to the desert? You wearing flip-flops?
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.
I really can’t seem to get enough of Jenn Wasner as of late. After the recent show in Marfa with her veteran band Wye Oak, I found myself returning to the band’s back catalogue and falling in love all over again. Her songwriting is always superb and her voice is easily one of the best female voices in the game. This post is about Flock of Dimes though, which you may or may not know, is the more experimental side project of the Wye Oak leading lady. A new tune by her solo endeavor called “Curtain” can be found below in a handy soundcloud streamer. It’s a great little number that somehow garnishes even more respect from this guy. You can pick up a hard copy of this tune on 7″ via Merge Records on September 25th.
Last night’s show at Emos was a much-anticipated gig, featuring two huge acts touring together. Wye Oak served as the appetizer for the Dirty Projectors, setting us all up for what would be a pretty solid evening all around.
Read on for more thoughts, and for great pics by B. Gray.
With more show pics and a review coming later this week from their Austin show, I’m going to focus more on my overall Marfa experience culminating with the Dirty Projectors show at the Crowley Theatre. I’ll be as brief as I can since the Marfa experience is really something best witnessed first hand and not by an amature blogger who happens to love a great show. Follow the jump for my thoughts and some photos by contributor Mair.Heard.
|Date||Thursday, August 2nd|
|Tickets||$20 from C3|
I’m sure this show probably doesn’t need much of an introduction, as it’s one of the hottest tickets around, but we thought we’d give you a friendly reminder about one of the big shows coming into town on Thursday. If you’ve recovered from Divine Fits at Beerland, you should definitely check out Dirty Projectors, the indie art-pop act who’ve been making waves pretty much since their inception. They come into town fresh off the recent release of Swing Lo Magellan, their latest record. And as if that wasn’t enough, you can also, and should, catch the marvelous opening duo, Wye Oak. It’s been awhile since Civilian came out, but just hearing those songs live brings everything back to life. We’ll definitely see you there folks![audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/05-Civilian-1.mp3]
Download: Wye Oak – Civilian [MP3]
It’s been about three whole years since we last heard from Raleigh’s Bowerbirds; their last effort Upper Air definitely warmed all our hearts. After one listen to The Clearing, you’ll be glad the band waited; this record’s assuredly the best thing they’ve put together with their unique blend of folk, strings and sweet melodies.
Momentarily a guitar is plucked as “Tuck the Darkness In” begins, but the band quickly adds a minimal percussive stroke to the track. A gentle piano accompanies Philip Moore on his vocal foray, just before strings join in to sweep you away in a stupendous melody. Moore’s voice is often united with Beth Tacular too on this number; they’ve created one of the most beautifully warming songs of 2012. But, Bowerbirds aren’t just going to let their melodies swell over and over again, as you see on “In the Yard,” where Beth takes the lead singing role. Their approach here is less grandiose, yet the union of Moore and Tacular again creates moments you’ll have a hard time getting out of your head.
The Clearing has the group really working with their sound, providing more intimate details to the negative space, crafting a sonic experience not unlike Wye Oak. “Brave World” holds this quality, especially with the percussive element and the piano that flesh out the song itself, though clearly you can say that Moore’s vocals steal the show. Similarly, the following track, “Hush” goes about things in the same manner, allowing the song to really come to the listener, rather than forcing melody on us. While it remains clear through moments like this that Bowerbirds have changed their musical dynamics here, such progressions really highlight the band’s writing gifts.
You’ll still find the band working with their bread and butter, however, especially with songs like “Death Wish” and “Sweet Moments.” The latter uses little more than a strummed guitar and some oddball additives to fill the space, but it remains mostly a folk-driven track. “Death Wish” has some deep string arrangements that provide sort of a haunting emotion, which perfectly juxtaposes the soft quality of the Moore’s voice. I’m moved each time I listen to that darkened string element creep into the track.
It all comes to a fitting end on the closing track, “Now We Hurry On,” which is sort of a track that’s compiled all the elements that are present on The Clearing into one final statement by the group. There’s tinkering piano parts, traditional folk moments, and yet quietly fades out in the end, just as a perfect record should do. After a three year absence, the time appears to have been well-spent for Bowerbirds; they’ve advanced their sound to a degree that will surely find them reaping huge rewards. It’s truly a listen that will reward you time and time again.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/01-Tuck-the-Darkness-In-1.mp3]
Download:Bowerbirds – Tuck the Darkness In [MP3]