SXSW 2019 – A Recap

Yet another SXSW is in the books and it’s time for the ATH crew to reminisce a little and offer some highlight from the week behind us. I think we’ve had enough time now to take a few deep breaths, collect our thoughts, and delve through tons of notes and photos. As we’ve done in the past, we’ll offer up awards to bands, venues and events worthy of such praise. It will be glorious. Hit the jump for a full recap with photos.

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ATH Day Party is Tomorrow

Everyone is buzzing about the city as we speak, clamoring to find the cool thing to do. Well, luckily, we’d like to bring you a cool hang session with some really great music over at Barracuda on 7th Street. We’ll open doors at 11:30 AM, that way you can be the first to see the greatness that is Daphne Tunes. Check out the line-up right below, and a nice little playlist to familiarize yourself with the band gracing our stage! Also…word on the street is there’s some giveaways to the first 50 or so folks coming our way. It’s free, it’s all age, so come be our friend.

Inside Stage:
12pm Daphne tunes
1pm Sudakistan
2pm Weakened Friends
3pm Murray A. Lightburn
4pm Jackie Mendoza
5pm Boogarins (photo by Dylan OConnor)

Outdoor Stage:
12:30pm Seazoo
1:30pm Henrik Appel
2:30pm Dentist (Band)
3:30pm Pool Holograph
4:30pm Rosie Tucker
5:30pm Deeper

Brand New Murray Lightburn

I wonder if people are overlooking Murray Lightburn because he led the Dears…one of the many great Canadian acts everyone adored in the 00s. If that’s the case, then they’re surely missing out on something truly special, as Murray’s composition here illustrates what a great craftsman can accomplish. His guitar playing is almost hushed, letting it sort of ride on the back of his vocals; it allows him to really pull at every emotion within you as his voice billows through your speakers. This is a timeless classic, and it’s only just dropped; excuse me while I go press play one more time (or ten, probably). Look for Hear Me Out via Dangerbird this Friday. Also, because it seems like everyone is…Murray will be in town with his brilliant voice for SXSW.


New Single & Video From The Dears

518parish_06I know I’m incredibly late getting this news out, but when it’s a band we love as much as The Dears, I’ll share despite my extreme tardiness.  With that out of the way, I’m pumped to be sharing with you today a brand new single and video for the band’s first new material since Degeneration Street from 2011.  The track, “I Used to Pray For the Heavens to Fall”, is a class Dear’s song full of tons of emotion and charisma.  Welcome back.

The Dears will drop Times Infinity Volume One on September 25th via Dangerbird Records.  Volume Two will be coming early in 2016.

Video and song after the jump.

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Top Songs of 2013

best songs ath 2013We’ve put our pretty little heads together ladies and gentlemen to bring you our favorite songs from this past year.  It was a difficult task with our ever growing staff, but we feel like this list best represents the diverse taste of our staff.  Love it or hate it, it’s ours to call our own.  Hit play and put your head down or dance or shimmmy or drool or whatever works. Most of all we hope you hear something you missed, something you want to buy or something you want to see live.

Scroll past the playlist for full the run of the bestest songs ever this year.

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Murray A. Lightburn Drops New Solo Track

518parish_06Murray Lightburn from The Dears has always been a guy, and most ATH members would agree, is highly underrated in the indie scene. He has a huge discography with his Canadian band and has always understood charisma and what it takes to be an engaging frontman. Let’s also not forget about his ability to craft unique and rather incredible pop tunes. With that out-of-the-way, you can understand our excitement to hear about Murray taking a leap into his first ever solo venture. The project is credited to his own name, but the concept/album is labeled as MASS:LIGHT. Below you can find the first taste of this new solo material with tasty track “Motherfuckers”. To me, it seems like a song in which you can hear Murray wanting to give the middle finger to anyone who has ever doubted his musical prowess. Or it could just be about a girl…

This great new track also has an accompanying video available on youtube that was directed by Murray himself. Stay tuned for more details on his new solo project as we receive them.


Download: Murray A. Lightburn – Motherfuckers [MP3]

The Dears – Degeneration Street

Rating: ★★★★½

When the last Dears record, Missiles, came out, we all knew that there were obvious issues that needed to be addressed.  Amid line-up changes and more time spent collaborating with members old and new, the band have emerged with what might possibly be their best record to date.  Degeneration Street is full of squalls of feedback, great melodies and everything you’ve come to expect from the band.

You’ll begin the journey, and believe me, it’s a trek, with “Omega Dog” offering up a tight little angular guitar riff as Murray Lightburn does his best to approach a nice little falsetto.  There’s a nice little groove, and the guitar riff will definitely resonate with every listener.  Of course, the Dears never stand in place for long, going off into a darker corner of the song for the closing minute, with a fierce little guitar solo accompanied by noisy atmospheric elements.

But, one of the things that makes Degeneration Street so stunning is its ability to shift gears, much as the band does on the second track “5 Chords.”  While other bands bash out their hits in less than thirty minutes, here you’ll find a band building their sound, not only within individual tracks, but with the album as a whole.  This number definitely fulfills the happier pop element present in the record, with sweeping harmonies.  A stomping drum beat helps keep the pace through it all, but please, pay great attention to Lightburn, as its clearly his voice that deserves all accolades in this song.  Similarly, “Thrones” does a great deal to take the somewhat prog-leaning elements into a bit of melodrama, but that’s mean in a respectful sense.  Tiny guttural yelps from Murray signify his playfulness, which we can hope relates to his joy with writing this entire collection of songs.

You’ll never think that the band has gone completely soft after listening here, as sharp-edged guitars are a constant throughout.  Take “Stick w/ Me Kid,” which chugs along a jagged guitar line.  The keyboard or programmable element only furthers the tension in the song, keeping listeners on squirming.  Okay, so the operatic element in Murray’s voice definitely allows you to see a bit of light within the song, as we can imagine him standing in the middle of the audience, controlling us all with his voice as the band rages furiously on stage.

In the end, what stuck with me the most about Degeneration Street was the sense of jubilation that lives within the tracks, despite the usual lyrical content remaining.  Let’s face it, Murray hasn’t always been one for optimism, but even with similar themes intact, you can’t tell me that songs like “Yesteryear,” with its almost danceable beat, don’t portray a man who’s having a blast writing the record he always wanted to unleash.  Just try and tell me that “Easy Suffering,” in title alone, doesn’t paint the picture of a happier frontman. I blame this freedom and joy for one of the stronger tracks I feel the band have written, “Tiny Man.”  It’s a solemn tune, one that surely comes from Lightburn’s personal writing, but his vocal delivery, and the mood just creates something wonderful to witness, especially after following the band from their earliest years. Perhaps I’m a simpleton, but sometimes a step back from traditional habits allows for great moments to burst forth.

Such sentiment seems to pervade Degeneration Street.  At times in the past, they seemed victim of their unstable footing, but musical prowess never fell by the side.  It’s always lived in the writing of Murray Lightburn, and it seems that perhaps with a strengthened Dears line-up, he’s finally been able to fit all the pieces together, as we all hoped he would do.  It’s a sixty-minute affair, with varying styles, various approaches, all settling in the end, leaving listeners with one of the most rewarding listens that I’ve heard in a really long time.


Download: The Dears – Omega Dog [MP3]

FT5: Indie Rock African Americans

This is a serious subject, and one I don’t plan to take very lightly.  As I’ve attended several shows recently, even small local ones, I began to look at the racial dynamic in the Austin music scene.  Oddly, one giant sore thumb sticks out: the lack of African-American attendees at these shows.   This is probably the same way in every city across the land, and I tend to think it’s quite unfortunate.  I’m not here to debate how to solve the problem, if you deem this a problem, but rather to honor my Top Five African-American participants in the realm of indie rock.   This is just my opinion, but I immediately banned the guy from Bloc Party because he put out two bad records and continues to make bad electronica music.
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