ACL WE2 Sunday in Photos


Austin just went through another “festival” with what appears to have been a rather successful Formula One race weekend. I am an F1 fan and the three days out at the circuit are treated as a staycation for the wife and I. Why am I telling you this? I do not know.

Back on topic, The final batch of photos from ACL are ready for your consumption. Sunday was a sleeper day. The fest was sneeky-fun and I had a great day with my photo friends. The weather was amazing again and we had some big WE2 exclusives.

First, I did not go anywhere near that crowd for Willie. It was INSANE!!! A friend went up in a cherry picker and took twenty some-odd wide angle photos and stitched them together into an impressive panorama. Instead, I watched the set via festival TV and relaxed. Ra Ra Riot, on the other hand, was an early in the day highlight of festival hits. Amasa Hines was the surprise, think blues guys doing Interpol covers. Also on the BMI stage, Atlas Genius drew the biggest crowd I have ever seen at our favorite stage at ACL. NF did an Eminem impression, just grabbed photos on the way to Pete Yorn. Local Natives ooh-ahh’ed straight into our hearts. St. Paul and The Broken Bones brought the soul review to life, though I was concerned the Saint’s jaw would unhinge and swallow one of us whole. Miike Snow filled a gap; too much fog. Young the Giant got sexy and dirty to a fanatical crowd obsessed by frontman Sameer Gadhia while the band seemingly went through the motions.

And finally the second bucket-list shoot, LCD Soundsystem gave us the end-of-the-fest dance party. Seeing their set two weekends in a row, you realize that it is scripted and I guess that is understandable given the number of synth, percussion and instrument changes required. Didn’t stop WE2’s dance party from being any less awesome…

Click through for the pretty photos.

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EZTV – Calling Out

EZTZ-Calling-OutRating: ★★★★☆Sometimes the best creations happen out of happy accidents, which may be the case for the origin story of EZTV. What started out as the project of Ezra Tenenbaum was only able to come to life via the meeting of other band members Michael Stasiak and Shane O’Connell at an audition to be part of J. Spaceman’s backing band for a Spiritualized tour. Luckily, these gentlemen didn’t make the cut, but kept meeting as a band to flesh out the tracks that Tenenbaum had already made a dent in; enter EZTV’s Calling Out.

Calling Out  is a collection of twelve songs that each span about the length of three minutes and provide a piece of the puzzle that the band’s crafted of indie rock, glam rock, and hints of punk rock all packaged neatly for you in the form of nifty pop tracks. There’s a lot of good things going on here in this debut album and a lot of it has to do with the easy-listening style that EZTV spin onto the tracks. “Bury Your Heart,” the first track up for your ears is a testament to this. Tenenbaum greets you with the perhaps stoic proclamation of “You’ve got to bury/ bury your heart now,” in his warm, sun worn vocals. Meanwhile, the instruments on this song take what you’ve heard in regards to breezy pop and thread it with the subtle darkness of glam rock. The electric guitars are twangy and distorted, foiling the sweet sounding vocals. Percussion wise, the drums fill the rest of the sound space with airy lightness and the faint tinkle of tambourine so the track doesn’t float too high, but dips and soars evenly. At first listen the darkness may not be hyper audible, but upon further listening, you can hear the way it creeps in via the guitars.

Another style of track that you’ll find on this album is that which employs pop hooks in the best fashion. “The Light,” does this exceedingly well, and the vocals almost sound jazzy in fashion. Something about this track reminds me of early tracks from Ra Ra Riot, and the band leads you into the catchy chorus with the ease that’s omnipresent through the duration of the record. Later tracks evoke some sort of urgency in pace and tone, but still neither rushed nor harried. Take, “Dust In The Sky” or “Long Way to Go,” as examples of this: the former of these two has a bassline that pulses at the bottom of the mix, but then the guitars still meander in and out of the track. The latter of the two lets the guitars propel the track with speed but then there are percussive clops and those mild lyrics to bring it back to the subtle rock you’ve come to love on the earlier tracks. Subtlety and pure sound are the meat of the album, and with these at the core of the record makes listening to it feel as though you’ve rediscovered a long lost classic favorite.

If you were looking for a record filled with novelty– that is to say, one that gives you something that’s never been done before, then perhaps Calling Out isn’t really for you. Rather, these gentlemen have crafted an album that plays on the genre of indie rock that’s been done a thousand times and make it fresh with the melding of storytelling and bright pop instrumentation. There’s a reason straightforward indie records have been done so much, and here is an example of just why that’s the case; there are still things left to be said, and well said at that.



Show Pics: FFF6 Day Two

Fun Fun Fun Fest photo coverage continues at Austin Town Hall.

Made it through another day of pics. Day Two includes attempts to indeed Keep Shelly in Athens, a little time on Future Islands, Fugazi’ing solo, rolling in the T’Bird, being Formidably Joyful, Tuning the Yard, Egging on a Riot, rolling on the M83, pic’ing up some Girls, paparazzi’ing Ms. Li and salvation from The Damned.

Head past the break for the pics, a link to many more pics and a commentary…
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Friday Top 5: Fx3 Bands To See

Fun Fun Fun Fest starts today, and not like tonight, it kicked off around noon. You’re already late! Some of us are disappointed that the festival was forced to move away from its stomping grounds at Waterloo Park, and now set up at the large landscape of Auditorium Shores. No matter how dusty or crowded it gets, there are so many great bands performing that will keep you bobbin’ your happy little head. Here are the top 5 acts that I am most stoked about seeing.

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Show Preview: Ra Ra Riot @ Emos (10/26)

Date Tuesday, October 26th
Location Emos
Doors 900p
Tickets $15 from Ticketweb

Okay, so everyone will probably be running around town trying to get their hands on this Jonsi character, but I just can’t do it.  I think I’ll pass my time with a little bit of pop tunes, and a nice dose of orchestral touches.  You see, Ra Ra Riot are playing at Emos on the same night.  The band just released The Orchard, their sophomore effort, and while it may seem them trying new ground, it still has a lot of upside, not to mention the band’s great live  potential. Also on the bill are up-and-comers Givers and one of my favorite new groups, Villagers.  This sounds like a more low-key place to be Tuesday night, so get on out there folks.


Download: Ra Ra Riot – Boy [MP3]

Ra Ra Riot – The Orchard

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

It hasn’t been too long since Ra Ra Riot released The Rhumb Line, but you’ll notice a few sonic shifts when taking on their new record, The Orchard.  While their first album featured a lot of dark imagery furthered by the string arrangements, this new record doesn’t seem as dense, and the clarity of the vocals, while impressive, sort of seems forced.

While “The Orchard” isn’t the longest song on this latest effort, it definitely drags on.  Vocals and strings are the predominant players here, but the song doesn’t really show a lot of movement, and it almost has the feeling of a spoken-word piece.  But, if you’re looking for the bubbling bass from their debut, it does exist , such as on the following track, “Boy.” That being said, there’s not a lot else that comes to the forefront of the song, and again you find the band struggling to establish themselves with any sort of distinct sound.

It’s clear that Ra Ra Riot are in a different place entirely on The Orchard, and you’ll discover that sentiment just listening to the production of the record.  Vocals are dominating throughout, and the arrangements are a lot more sparse, allowing a lot of the instrumentation to blossom within the songs themselves.  The problem with this approach is that it sort of removes the sense of beautiful chaos that earned the band a lot of early praise after the release of their first EP.  On “Foolish,” for instance, there are spots where you could say a lot is going on, with strings, drums, etc, but thrown altogether, they just don’t have the same punch that the group once championed.   Even the pace of the majority of the tracks seems far removed from where the band left off, and this creates the sensation that a lot of these tracks are forced into completion.

One entry that does stand out is remarkable is “You and I Know,” which features vocals from cellist Alexandra.  It’s a nice change in the overall feeling of The Orchard, but it’s far too polished.  The band’s web site had a look at some raw recordings of the track, and they evoked a stronger emotion upon listening to that recording, as opposed to the one that makes the final cut of the record.  Therein lives the great problem of this record as a whole.  It’s too clean, and too earnest to please.  The Boy EP had a great song titled “Saccharin and the War” that gave hints at bigger things going on for the band, but it didn’t make the cut.  Whether Ra Ra Riot felt it didn’t fit the cohesiveness of this collection of songs is no matter, as it’s absence, and songs more in that manner definitely leave much to be desired here.  In all honesty, none of the record is horrible, none of it is bad, its just, well, there.  That’s sort of where this record lives, in a place where it was unable to distinguish itself from the other music of like-minded bands out there today.


Download: Ra Ra Riot – Boy [MP3]

New Music From Ra Ra Riot

A long time favorite of the ATH kids, Ra Ra Riot, are finally planning a followup to their surprising debut LP from 2008.  Below you’ll find the first taste of new material from the band in a couple years in the form of new song “Boy”.  I can’t really say I’m feeling this new tune just yet, but maybe it’ll grow on me.  Ra Ra Riot’s upcoming LP The Orchard hits stores on August 24th via Barsuk Records.


Download: Ra Ra Riot – Boy [MP3]

Discovery – LP

discoveryRating: ★½☆☆☆

When news that Rostam from Vampire Weekend and Wes from Ra Ra Riot would unite to create an album under the name of Discovery, the Internet was afire with fans of both bands, all hoping that they could combine the magic of their individual outfits into something that would supersede both.  LP is the title of said album, and while there are definitely moments that seem worthy of accolades, it’s unclear at this juncture just how far the adoration will carry the group.

Opener “Orange Shirt” hits from the opening with musical beats reminiscent of Passion Pit, except it goes beyond that similarity, as Wes actually has a quality vocal to place atop the beats.  However, the beats just don’t seem to hit too hard, nor do they really go anywhere; it’s sort of a stationary song in itself, and doesn’t quite build.

“Can You Discover” is somewhat of a remix, as the lyrics come from Ra Ra Riot‘s “Can You Tell.”  Unfortunately, once you strip away the textures from the original, the song seems really simple, as if it was sort of an afterthought in its production.  Also, using auto-tune on the vocals seems like a huge injustice, ruining the power of Wes Miles’ voice.

The middle of the album seems to be where you find the meat and potatoes of the album, or maybe it’s just the potatoes.  “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” features Angel from Dirty Projectors, which adds a different touch to the monotony of the album, and it probably has one of the stronger beats on the album, but the keyboard meanderings get a little tiring. “Swing Tree” is in this section of the album, and it probably carries the most interesting production, at least up to this point in the album.  The high pitched electronics don’t sound too basic, though the beat looped in seems to be one of the most common element throughout the album itself.  And here, you also find “Carby” which has vocals from Ezra of Vampire Weekend.  It’s probably one of the gems on the album; probably one of the few songs you could throw into a club mix.

In it’s entirety, the one thing that this album doesn’t have is the catchiness factor, which both members exude in their own right with their main gigs.  Almost every beat seems mundane, as if they just took the samples from the radio, and reran them through some sort of mixer.  It takes the heart out of the music itself, and all the moments of joy that we usually associate with these two artists are rendered useless for the most part.  Overall, the album comes off as a generic stab at taking indie bands to the dance floors of the world, but ultimately, it seems like this might fail.


Download: Discovery – Carby [MP3]

Death Cab For Cutie @ AMH 5/1

death-cabEveryone’s favorite indie kids Death Cab for Cutie are playing a sold out show at Austin Music Hall on Friday.  The show should be made more enticing to you music fans as ATH favorite Ra Ra Riot will be joining the band on the stage.  Matt Costa will also be playing right before the headliners.  Music starts at 8pm.  Check out craigs list for some tickets buying options.


Download: Death Cab for Cutie – Little Bribes [MP3]

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