Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fleet Foxes // "Grown Ocean"

Video for "Grown Ocean," taken from Fleet Foxes's upcoming Helplessness Blues (out May 3 on Sub Pop). With each new song, it seems this sophomore effort will be a veritable stunner, and it may rocket Fleet Foxes into the stratosphere. Couldn't be more excited. Take a gander (and a listen) below.

Fleet Foxes - Grown Ocean from Fleet Foxes on Vimeo.

Monday, March 28, 2011

24 Hours at SXSW '11

Besides our own testimonial, the Austinist offers up this artful video recap done by Jake Roper. Scenes of Austin inter-spliced with educational videos about Stephen F. Austin and scored (partially) by the Black Angels--you've found the triumvirate to steal any Austinite's heart, Mr. Roper.

24hrs at SXSW from Jake Roper on Vimeo.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Episode 31: Smoke Dreams

[paul klee]

After all of the SXSW madness, a little mellow breather is in order. We've got some real weird ones here, including 1950s crooner Ronnie Deauville, who was confined to an iron lung for most of his recording career. Episode 31 is a marathon, not a sprint, best served after midnight. Open the windows and enjoy.

Radiohead // Bloom
Tape // Companions
Broadcast // Come On Let's Go
Boards of Canada // Pete Standing Alone
Ronnie Deauville // Smoke Dreams
Yma Sumac // Ataypura (High Andes)
Mulatu Astatke // Yegelle Tezeta
Caribou // Found Out
Kurt Vile // Society Is My Friend
Dirty Beaches // Lord Knows Best

Total running time: 39:20

Episode 31: Smoke Dreams

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Kurt Vile: Smoke Ring For My Halo

Kurt Vile has made a cottage industry out of his warped folk-rock, releasing a treasure trove of full-lengths, EPs, singles, 7-inches, and cassettes over the past three years. They’re all a varying degree of quality -- the Philly songwriter hasn’t met a song fragment he doesn’t want to put to tape -- but his music is united by his two strongest suits: his expert guitar-playing and his singular voice. Smoke Ring For My Halo is Vile’s fourth record to date and his strongest yet. While he still displays some maddening inconsistencies, Vile hits some truly strident highpoints that bode well for the future.

There’s long been a duality to Vile’s music—one moment he’s slinging audacious six-string solos with his awesomely named backing group, the Violators, the next he’s in full-on folk troubadour mode. His first two full-lengths reflected this, with 2008’s Constant Hitmaker living up to its pop-rock claim, while 2009’s God Is Saying This To You featured his trademark acoustic ruminations. But his Matador debut, Childish Prodigy, packaged these two sides together, and Smoke Ring picks up where he left off.

Gone is the bedroom-recorded haze of Vile’s past releases. Here, John Agnello produces, a wise choice given his resume: records by Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., and the Hold Steady all boast his name, and his steady guidance really makes Vile’s songs burn with intensity. The Violators’ precise groove on “Puppet To The Man” allows Vile to be out front with his rambling sneer, and Agnello goes for the less-is-more approach, capturing the band within a warm atmosphere.

Elsewere, Vile puts his mind to his intricate fingerpicked guitar style. Opener “Baby’s Arms” is a testament to his skill as both a songwriter and performer. He really sells the record’s best melody with his drawn-out warble: “there’s been but one true loooove/ In my baaaaaby’s aaaaaaarmmmms.” The electronics bubbling underneath add so much depth that he repeats the trick a few times, like on the propulsive and soaring “Society Is My Friend” or the dreamy “On Tour.”

But a few of the hats Vile tries on don’t fit quite as well. “Jesus Fever” and “In My Time” are two sides of the same coin: pleasantly soft pop-rock numbers that might have worked better as lo-fi demos. With the increased fidelity, oddly enough, the songs lose their carefree nature. Likewise, the back half suffers from too many acoustic numbers, with “Peeping Tom” even going so far as to pilfer part of the stellar melody from the far superior “My Sympathy” off God Is Saying This To You. The similarities between a lot of these songs are frustrating. He can be a near-perfect songwriter, but he often recycles his melodic ideas when he doesn’t need to.

He’s got some growing pains, but that’s what makes Vile so interesting. His work is definitely on an upward trajectory, provided that he’s still willing to experiment with his sound. It’s easy to see Smoke Ring being remembered as the stepping stone to a transcendent piece of work in Vile’s discography.

[via prefix]

Kurt Vile // Baby's Arms
Kurt Vile // Puppet To The Man

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lonestar Lullabies SXSW Mix

Lonestar Lullabies has put together this incredible mix for your South By Southwest needs. Consider this a primer on Texas bands that are a must-see if you're in town this week. He sez: "Austinites welcome the world (and half of Brooklyn) to our city with open arms, breakfast tacos, and plenty of tall boys of Lone Star. Ironically (but also understandably), Austin bands don't get much of the spotlight. Here's my attempt to remedy that: a mix of mostly recent Austin acts doing what they do best."

Be sure to tune into Lonestar Lullabies every Monday 7-9AM on KVRX 91.7 FM (or, where you'll hear only the finest in Texas music. Track listing below:

Cole Bee Wilson // Addicted
The Jungle Rockers // Nothin's Enough
A Giant Dog // Grand
Marmalakes // Vittoria
Possessed By Paul James // Colorofmybloodynose
Bosque Brown // Texas Sun
Over the Hill // Singin' to the Dead
Literature // Cincinnatti
The Golden Boys // Older Than You
Boonsboro // Sneak-a-Peak
Big Boys // Fun Fun Fun
Frank Smith // Nineteen
Silver Pines // Timefather
Balmorhea // Palestrina
Soft Healer // Grand Isle

Grab the mix here.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Beach Fossils // What A Pleasure

On their self-titled debut, Brooklyn’s Beach Fossils played it close to the vest. Arrangements were spare, with intertwining guitar lines built on a foundation of serpentine bass, lo-fi vocals, and barely there drumming. Not revolutionary, to say the least, but a pleasant listen nonetheless. With such a stylized formula, would there need to be any changes? On first listen, the group’s new EP feels like more of the same, but some subtle shifts reveal a band that’s comfortable in its skin but itching for more.

The first surprising thing about this EP is its cohesiveness. Often, EPs serve as song dumps for bands wanting to exorcise their past, but Beach Fossils have built a solid statement of a record. Introductory instrumental “Moments” serves up some widescreen catharsis that’s unusual for such an introverted band. But that bittersweet build-up is repeated as the coda to “Adversity,” bringing the EP full circle and closing the record on a high note. As a result, What A Pleasure has a definitive path to follow, cycling through some pretty heady emotions in just under 25 minutes.

With the hazy production values, you’d be forgiven in calling it vaguely nostalgic, but the band injects some real darkness underneath. On EP centerpiece “Out In The Way,” lead singer Dustin Payseur gets an assist from Wild Nothing’s Jack Tatum, their bleary voices fighting for air against synths and effected percussion. It owes a tremendous debt to the kind of ‘80s pop that made John Hughes’s films so irresistible, but the emotions are completely earned, sounding like a minimalist M83 by way of the Cure.

Payseur has a real knack for writing memorable melodies and there’s no dearth here. Both “What A Pleasure” and “Calyer” display those trademark surf guitars that are so effective in hammering an earworm home. They even revel in full-on pop-rock on the chiming “Distance,” albeit in a more reserved manner. That sense of restraint is a real plus for the band, but they’ve learned to augment their songs with other ideas, either sonic or thematic in nature. It sets Beach Fossils up for a nice career, one that will be built over the long-haul on solid songwriting and steady, welcome evolution.

[via prefix]

Beach Fossils // What A Pleasure
Beach Fossils // Adversity

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Episode 30: Riverine

[via strange maps]

Mardi Gras is in full swing, so here's an ode to rivers, zydeco, the blues, and folk, meandering among anything that'll strike your fancy. Enjoy.

Clifton Chenier // Zydeco Et Pas Sale
The Band // When I Paint My Masterpiece
Fats Domino // Going To The River
Blitzen Trapper // Black River Killer
Neil Young // Down By The River (Live at Massey Hall, Toronto, 1971)
Kurt Vile // Baby's Arms
John Fahey // Requiem For Mississippi John Hurt (Live at the Matrix, San Francisco, 1968/1969)
Mississippi John Hurt // Farther Along
The Rolling Stones // Ventilator Blues
Augustus "Track Horse" Haggerty & Group // God A'Mighty Drag

Total running time: 35:42

Waterloo Sunset #30

Wednesday, March 2, 2011