Ram Vela & the Easy Targets Drop New Tunes

As long as we’ve run this site, there’s been a Ram Vela in our lives. He’s been buds with RayRay forever, and his old band Whitman played countless ATH shows. But, he’s been quiet for a bit, focusing on other things. But, as of late he’s been working with his new band Ram Vela & the Easy Targets; he’s been in the studio with Taylor Muse from Austin’s Quiet Company. As of today, he’s got two pop rock nuggets ready to go for you; they’re heavy on riffs and hooks, two things you can always count on Ram to give you in his songwriting. I love the breakdown in “Garage Apt,” while “If I Fail” is more anthemic, built for crowd sing-a-longs. Ram and the band will be playing at Mohawk next Friday with Quiet Company.

Whitman – Weekends

Rating: ★★★½☆

It’s been quite a while since locals Whitman put out their debut album, Torch Songs. Since then their style hasn’t really changed too much; they’ve maintained a classic alternative sound while not getting too serious. Weekends is no exception to this style, delivering quality tunes that fall easy on the ears.

The album creeps out slowly, with Ram Vela’s vocals whispering through layers of echoes and atmospheric sounds on “Technicolor Blues.” It’s as though the band is feeling its way into your ears, analyzing the space that they are going to fill before they really kick into things. This kicks comes in the last forty or so seconds before the first song has met its completion. At this point, it’s clear that Whitman has woken up, and continues to pick up the pace on the second song, “NW Thurman.” Jumping right into things, Vela’s Ted Leo-esque raspy chords leads you right along, bounding atop bouncing piano and some “Ooh la la’s” in the background. Immediately on this track, there is that ‘good times’ mentality that this band perfects. It’s the perfect kind of song to bob your head easily along to and perhaps dance a little if you’re feeling up to it—it doesn’t demand anything.

This easy rock-n-roll continues through the duration of the album, exploring highs and lows, crazy times and falling-outs. “Barstools” comes across as a bitter recollection of a friendship gone astray. As Vela sings honestly that he would “rather be falling off barstools than hanging with you,” the electric guitar growls, the cymbals crash violently, and some synth all rage along with him, and it feels as though the song consists entirely for the purpose of driving this hated friend away, making sure he knows he isn’t welcome anymore.  Later on, Whitman slows things down a bit on “Manchester-By-The-Sea,” whose soft nature serves as a nice little meander from the consistent full-tilt pace. This song relies on a gentler strumming of acoustic guitar and instrumentals that stray from the buzz of before and we see a more delicate Whitman. The album finishes up with “Day Drink Part 1” and “Day Drink Part 2” which brings things back up before it reaches its conclusion.

Weekends is exactly what its name entails: relaxation. There simply isn’t a song on here that requires more than a good attitude to enjoy. With the weather warming up around here, count on this album to be perfect for blasting out of your open car windows.

Show Preview: Whitman CD Release @ The ND (4/13)

Date 4/13/12
Location The ND
Doors 9pm
Tickets $10 @ Door

It’s no secret around these parts that Whitman are amigos of ours who also happen to make some pretty sweet power driven rock music.  They’ve been doing their thing around Austin for longer than most and have built a faithful following of hood rat fans.  This Friday, the band is celebrating the release of their brand new LP Weekend with a release show at The ND in Austin.  Joining the guys are fellow local legends Golden Bear, The Couch, and Slowtrain.  Needless to say, this shit is going to be epic.  You can also get in your pre-order for the new album via the Whitman bandcamp site.


Download: Whitman – NW Thurman [MP3]

New Track from Deep Time (formerly Yellow Fever)

It’s been a great couple of weeks for Austin artists (depsite Michael C.’s hatred); releases by Whitman, Zoltars, Literature and leaks of songs by Eastern Sea, Little Radar (coming tomorrow) and now Deep Time. Formerly the group was known as Yellow Fever here in our fair city, but as they’ve signed to Hardly Art, it’s time to move on up in the world–and move in new directions.  As Deep Time, the duo will release a self-titled debut as a sign of new things to come; it’ll be in stores on July 10th. I really like the sound of Jennifer’s voice on this track, and it’s definitely a stronger (if only in production) sound for the group. Congrats Austin…seems like you’ve got a lot going on afterall.


Download: Deep Time – Clouds [MP3]

Friday Top 5: Austin Artists to Watch in 2012

Usually the year begins in January, but I typically don’t get my musical gears started until after SXSW.  So I started thinking about the Austin scene, and honestly, I think it’s really struggling right now (and I don’t quite know who to blame).  But, I wanted to give a shout out to five bands that I think are going to make a huge impact this year in Austin and/or Texas, at least that’s what I’m hoping to see from them.  These aren’t in any particular order, so just go with it, and if you see that one of these bands is playing…do Austin a favor and actually go watch them play. Oh, and we included one Houston act because they’re here all the time and we love them. Deal with it.


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Show Pics: 2nd St. Showdown @ SxSW 2012 (3/16)

I was a happy kid. Sure, things could have gone a tiny bit smoother with sponsor issues and sound-guy car troubles early, but we pulled together like a community and put on an excellent day of music. Big thanks to all involved, my +1 for bartending early, the bands for helping each other out, whatever it took was whatever it took and the party felt like SxSW of old.

So here are a bounty of pics from the 2nd St. Showdown

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ATH SXSW Show & Sampler (3/16/12)

It’s that time again folks, time for SXSW and another awesome show by yours truly here at ATH.  This year we’re teaming up with our amigos over at local label Sonora Records to bring what is arguably the best SXSW show around.  We’ve got a sweet lineup that’s been worked on behind the scenes for months now with some equally incredible local sponsors.  Here are the deets on the show after the jump.

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