It’s a really busy time of year, just before it gets ungodly hot. Well, it’s already ungodly hot, but so be it. There’s tons of great acts to catch, so we’ll give you our suggestions below.
Cutlture Wars, Marmalakes @ Stubbs – 9 PM
Carry Illinois EP Release w/Andy, Middlespoon and DJ Girlfriend @ Cheer Ups – 10 PM
Okkervil River, Benjamin Lazar Davis @ Mohawk – 8 PM
Name Sayers Album Release w/ Feverbones, Brickwaller, DJ Ramesh – 10 PM
Total Abuse, Missing Pages, Crooked Bangs, Lace @ Beerland – 8 PM
Caleb de Casper Video Release w/ Goth Dad @ The Electric Church – 9 PM
I’m a huge fan of Carry Illinois, and happy to see them back after last year’s Garage Sale. I was instantly caught by the guitar chords that opened the tune, drawing me in and setting the scene for Lizzy Lehman’s vocal performance. Thematically, it’s a strong statement about loving yourself, despite those instances of self-doubt. It’s an impressive introduction to the band’s new EP, Work in Progress, which is slated for a release later this Spring. This group continues to impress me with their attention to sonic details and huge production.
Trying to be more on the ball so you folks know where to go when your afraid the music’s dead, so wanted to point you in the direction of these two great local gigs tonight. I’ll be short and brief…sort of.
Carry Illinois got a lot of love from us earlier in the year, plus that show includes the esteemed Lindsey Verrill, Marijuana Sweet Tooth and Rain Collectors. It’s over at Holy Mountain; it’ll have sort of a mellow/folk/pop vibe. Be sure to go to HM before it closes.
Or. You could find yourself over at Empire Control Room for 101X Homegrown. Say what you will about the radio station, Diedre’s got her finger on the local pulse. Just look at all these rad bands: Sphynx, Letting Up Despite Great Faults, Shivery Shakes, Alex Napping, Gold Beach, Slomo Drags, Young Tongue, Tamarron, Velo.
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Carry Illinois is an electric departure from the singer songwriter, acoustic guitar strumming scene that Lizzy Lehman has been a part of for years as she has developed as a musician. For this ensemble front woman Lizzy eschews her Martin Acoustic for a Fender strat. On the Alabaster organs swell and pianos sweeps chords providing the harmonic foundation while Lizzy’s lyrics and melody carve out the details above the sounds and rhythms of the songs. Lizzy draws on the everyday struggles and tedium of modern living on Alabaster. She has a knack for illuminating truths through a portrait of another as deftly as she can on her more autobiographical songs. For this album Lizzy leans more heavily on introspection and personal insight than with her previous solo work, which is an interesting irony. One might wonder if donning the costume of Carry Illinois has created a confidence that allows for more personal work to shine through in Lizzy’s song writing.
Musically Alabaster is an album that sits somewhere between Brandi Carlisle Americana and Dr. Dog’s breed of harmony infused indie pop rock. Alabaster is a big step forward from the Siren EP release in 2014. Both Alabaster and Siren represent a departure from the singer songwriter womb of the Austin via Kerville folk scene. I prefer the clean vocal sounds on Alabaster over the harmonica miked and red line hitting vocals on Siren. Lizzy’s is a voice that is best served clean and pure. While I preferred a safer choice for the vocal stylings, I found myself wanting a stronger step forward and reach just a little farther on most of Alabaster song arrangements. As a whole the album tends to lean a little too hard on the tropes and clichés of the Americana genre. Similar tempos and rhythm patterns blended songs together and listening to the album as a whole you’ll find yourself wishing for a break from the organ drones under sprinkles of piano.
There were three big stand out tracks for me. The first – Darkened Sky – hits all the notes of classic Americana. The track starts off with the recognizable strumming rhythm of Lizzy’s guitar and is quickly enhanced with a country train beat and layered strings and keys. The vocals are right in the sweet spot on this tune. Lovers of the Austin Americana scene will be drawn to this song like whiskey lovin’ hipsters to an Eastside Honky Tonk. Another of my favorites is the painfully sincere Lost and Found. Any listener with a small town childhood will connect with the message of emotional emigration in search of a meaning outside the comfort of youth. Lizzy grasps greatness on this song when the bridge crescendos from a pure, slow folk tune to a psychedelic, flanging power ballad.
In stark contrast to, and immediately preceding Lost and Founds psychedelic yearning we have the perfect pop gem that is Sleepy Eyes. From the first horn build to the last splash of the cymbals, this song had me hooked. Lizzy’s vocal sit nice and present in the mix, in a range high enough to make it immediately distinctive from the rest of the album. The dynamics are beautiful driven by a horn ensemble and the groove is wonderfully consistent with just enough sizzle on the cymbals. I should really let this song do the talking for me, so put it on right now, and while you add it go ahead and hit shuffle and let it ride. It’s an album that’s sure to grow on you and make it into the rotation of this year’s great Austin albums.
Wednesday March 24th will see the unofficial launch of indie/folk outfit Carry Illinois’ first full length album “Alabaster”. Fronted by local folk stalwart Lizzy Lehman, who has a slew of solo records as well as an album with the now defunct the Blackwells, Carry Illinois brings the best of pop rock to the soulful foundation of folk song craft. Carry Illinois will be supported by other great acts such as the Loblolly Boy and the Deer. Lovers of Americana, folk, and pop rock will not want to miss this show. Currently Carry Illinois has released two tracks for streaming on their Soundcloud Page to whet your whistle. Physical copies will be available at the show at Cheer Up Charlie’s on March 25th and the official release is slated for April 7th. Music starts at 9pm with Loblolly Boy, followed by the Deer at 10pm, and Carry Illinois will cap the night off at 11pm.This show is a free one so no excuses y’all!
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