Friday, October 28, 2011

FunFunFun Fest Preview: Cloud Nothings

If you're a regular reader of this site, then you know how much I adore indie-pop, which is why I want to draw your attention to, Cleveland-based artists, Cloud Nothings. The band is basically one handsome fellow who started making music at his parent's house using non-professional recording gear. The songs were tightly structured, bad-ass indie-pop and due to the shitty recording style Cloud Nothings have been lumped into the lo-fi category, which technically, is true. Once the songs started to gain buzz online that one dude, Dylan Baldi formed a band to play his songs. They have only been performing for a little more than a year but there have already been several singles and EPs released on various baby-labels. If you find physical media from Cloud Nothings it's probably rare so you should buy it. Some of these singles and EPs have been compiled and can be purchased as Turning On. There is also an eponymous album floating around in digital format that you might find at your local record shop as well. If you're a fan of Real Estate or some of the better songs from Wavves then you will definitely enjoy Cloud Nothings.

Cloud Nothings - Should Have video via YouTube

If you want to see Cloud Nothings at FunFunFun Fest, then meet me at the Orange stage by 2:20pm on the Friday of the festival. Of course, you'll have to have a ticket to get in but presumable since there are only 7 days until the festival, you already that taken care of. Hey cool kids, I'll see you at Auditorium Shore!!

Cloud Nothings - Hey Cool Kid video via YouTube

By the way, if you listened to the songs I posted here and you're thinking this probably isn't for you, don't be fooled. The thing about these lo-fi bands that's sort of ingenious is, with such shitty sounding recordings when you hear them play live it sounds amazing. I hated Wavves' recordings, then I saw them play at SXSW and I was incredibly impressed. The same is true of Cloud Nothings, the live performance will truly showcase the songwriting and musicianship that is, somewhat, masked by the "lo-fi" recordings.

Read more!

Zola Jesus & Crystal Antlers at Mohawk

As I mentioned yesterday, this weekend is loaded with bad-ass live music experiences for you to enjoy. I featured Wild Flag at La Zona Rosa yesterday. Today, I want you to pay attention to what's going down at the Mohawk tomorrow night. There's not one but TWO fantastic shows at for you to see tomorrow night. First on the Mohawk's outside stage, the ethereal sounds of Zola Jesus will be wafting passed your eardrums. I'm not a fan of the musician's stage-name but the sounds she produces make me weak in the knees. Her music is haunting, moody and elegant all at once. If you're a fan of atmospheric, electronic sounds and gorgeous female vocals then you better grab some tickets before they're all gone. Zola Jesus is coming off a very successful round of CMJ Festival appearances so the buzz around this show will be deafening by Saturday night and I expect the tickets will be long gone by the time the doors open. Her latest album, Conatus came out early in the month and if you act fast, you vinyl nerds can get yourself a limited edition copy on colored vinyl.

Zola Jesus - Vessel video via YouTube

After your collective minds are blown all over the outside area of the Mohawk try to close your, slack-jawed, mouth and head to the inside stage. The psychedelic sounds of Crystal Antlers will fill the intimate, inside space. They're touring in support of their latest full-length LP, Two-Way Mirror. There's an accompanying 10", which MAY be available at the merch booth and if it is, you should grab it because there are only 500 copies. That's called, Son of the Mirror and it can also be acquired as part of a Deluxe Packaging purchase, which I linked above. I should also note that the album is available on clear (translucent) vinyl.

Crystal Antlers - Two-Way Mirror video via YouTube

Read more!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

FunFunFun Fest Preview: Girls

Wow y'all, there are only 8 effing days until FunFunFun Fest. That means I only have 7 more candies in my Fun Fest advent calendar, which is good because I'm seriously putting on the pounds. Yesterday I featured an artist playing on Saturday and today, I'm doing the same. At first I thought I would plan these out more methodically but then I realized, that's not my style and I want to do a feature on Girls.

When Girls put out their first album, Album I was completely smitten. Their songwriting is beautiful and their production sounds classic. They have taken the 70's AM radio aesthetic and brought it into the 21st Century. Most of the songs have women's names and the band itself is composed of homeless looking, vagabond bi-sexuals. What's not to love, right? With each successive release Girls have honed their craft, the Broken Dreams Club EP was the perfect hold-over between full-length records. They'll be playing Fun Fest in support of their latest LP, Father, Son, Holy Ghost, it features more songs about relationships, neuroses and even features a song called Vomit. They are one of the hardest bands to Google, which I generally abhor but their music is so beautiful and perfect that I completely forgive them.

Girls - Honey Bunny video via YouTube

At Fun Fest, you'll find Girls on the Orange stage Saturday afternoon. They are part of that dream line-up I mentioned yesterday. With so many amazing artists playing back to back, I expect Auditorium Shores is just going to be covered in hipster orgasm Saturday night. Yeah, you read that right and when you're knee-deep in it in 9 days, remember where you heard it first. I would be remiss to not scold those of you who don't have your tickets yet. I know procrastination is a lifestyle decision but your mother worries about you.

Girls - Morning Light video via YouTube

Read more!

Wild Flag This Saturday

There are so many great shows this Saturday night, I have to start highlighting them on Thursday morning. I wanted to start with the Wild Flag show at La Zona Rosa because I feel like it's the show most likely to sell-out before Saturday. So, before you continue reading get your tickets. I'll be here when you return.

As you may know, this Wild Flag show was, originally, booked at Emo's outside stage but was moved to La Zona after the outside area of Emo's was boarded up. For those of you who already bought tickets to see Wild Flag at Emo's you will have to exchange those tickets at the La Zona Rosa box office. Presumably, that can be done the day of the show so don't fret, just plan accordingly.

Wild Flag - Electric Flag video via YouTube

For those of you who don't know, Wild Flag is an indie-rock super-group the likes of which we may never see again. Ok, so that's a bit dramatic but so is their debut album. The group itself consists of Carrie Brownstein, Rebecca Cole, Mary Timony, and Janet Weiss. Perhaps you don't know these individuals names (although you should) but you certainly know the bands they have played in, including: Sleater-Kinney, Helium, Quasi, The Minders, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks among others. If this group were to fill out applications for the job of indie-rock legends their resumes are fucking stacked. Mr. S. is in love with their album and I expect to find it on his best LPs of 2011 year-end list. Even if you're not familiar with Wild Flag's music as you read this, you should check out the show simply because there won't be very many opportunities to see them perform. That's the thing about super-groups, they really don't have to tour their records and they may not make a 2nd one, so you if they come to your town you best get your ass to the show.

Wild Flag - Romance video via YouTube

Read more!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Get This Record: North Highlands

As someone who writes a music blog I am solicited by lots of public relations people to listen to the bands they represent. Lots of times I am not even marginally interested, sometimes I get to hear music from bands I already love before the records are released and sometimes I am sent unsolicited material that completely blows me away. Late last week I was sent a link to the Bandcamp page for a band, I had never heard of, called North HIghlands. Their record, Wild One came out last Tuesday and the full album is streaming on the, aforementioned, Bandcamp page. Well, I listened to the whole thing on Saturday, then I went back to the first song and listened to the whole thing again. It's exactly what I look for in indie-rock, it's cleverly written pop music, it's jangly, it's fun but it's not corny. It sounds instantly familiar but you can't quite put your finger on why. I rarely write album reviews on this site and I'm not even sure this counts as one but I just want to do my part to get the word out there about North Highlands. So, if you like indie-pop, female vocals, clever songwriting and lush production values then you need to GET THIS RECORD.

I'm not the first blogger to post about North Highlands but I certainly won't be the last either. I expect that we'll have a chance to see this Brooklyn band in Austin in the near future. Although, they have nothing scheduled here at the moment, with a new record to promote and some cold, wintry months on their way in up in New York it only seems logical that bands would start heading our way to showcase their music. Otherwise, we can count on seeing them at SXSW 2012.

Since North Highlands are just recently on my radar I'm not going to try to paraphrase the information I know about them, instead I'm going to do something I rarely ever do, which is simply to copy and past the info from the initial e-mail I received. I know it's a cop-out but in this instance, it's the most efficient way to get the information from me to you. So, here's all you need to know about North Highlands, biographically:

North Highlands-the place, not the band-is, as Malvini puts it, "a gnarly suburb trapped in time. It sounds like a beautiful name but it's not a beautiful place." Located just outside of Sacramento, North Highlands once housed a military base, and also Brenda, who relocated to New York City as quickly as the town would let her out. She went to NYU, where the majority of North Highlands-we're talking about the band now-also went, all of them "graduating or not graduating," as they put it, a couple of years ago. Brenda was writing songs, but keeping them secret, until a friend booked her a show and said, "Do it." Unable to resist, Brenda enlisted her friends to fill out the bill. Mike Barron helped out on guitar, Jasper Berg on percussion, Daniel Stewart on guitar, violin, and mandolin and Andy Kasperbauer on bass.

(Photo Credit: Adam Wissing)

The result of the show was the band, and later, the record. Brenda rewrote the lyrics to the songs right before recording them, which might contribute to their casual, communal, spontaneous feel. Her voice is like a cross between Jolie Holland's gravelly birdsong and something softer-she sings like a woman who is weary but not too much so yet. She's still audibly young. 'Benefits,' the band's first single, is about that weariness. Brenda puts it simply, "it's when you work hard your whole life and then it isn't enough." It's not a sad song, though, not exactly. "You realize that," and you can hear her smiling when she says it, "and you just say fuck it and go dancing." 'Benefits' also comes with a counterpoint. 'Bruce' is also about the sad realization that everything just sucks sometimes, and about how sometimes you can't go dancing, you just have to give it up, say fuck it, and hide in a hole for awhile.

Read more!

FunFunFun Fest Preview: tUnE-yArDs

I'm still trying to convince Mr. S. to love tUnE-yArDs but I recognize they're not for everyone. I watched that video of the duet with Yoko Ono last week, from some music festival in Iceland and it made me want to stab sewing needles in my ears. With that being said, I had the chance to see tUnE-yArDs perform at the Central Presbyterian Church during SXSW and it was one of the most powerful concert experiences of my life. I will admit that Merrill Garbus has a strange, androgynous voice but when you hear her perform live, that strange voice is one of the most powerful instruments you will ever hear. She sings with such passion and fury, you can not help but take notice. The songs on w-h-o-k-i-l-l are already interesting compositions but when you hear them constructed live they will take on a new shape that makes them even more intriguing. I know lots of you, reading this, are already fans of tUnE-yArDs but I am looking forward to the new fans who are simply drawn in and then blown away by tUnE-yArDs at FunFunFun Fest.

tUnE-yArDs - Gangsta video via YouTube

If you already have tickets to FunFunFun Fest, you can see tUnE-yArDs on the Orange stage, Saturday at 4:00pm. That's right after The Joy Formidable and right before Ra Ra Riot. I tweeted this awhile back but the run of tUnE-yArDs -> Ra Ra Riot -> Girls -> M83 -> Lykke Li -> Spoon on the Saturday of Fun Fest might be the best successive line-up of any music festival in the history of mankind. Possibly.

tUnE-yArDs - Bizness video via YouTube

Read more!

Minus the Bear Play La Zona Tonight

Good news! Tonight's Minus the Bear show at La Zona Rosa is not sold-out yet. That means, you can still get yourself some tickets and help the band celebrate their 10 year anniversary. I'm not gonna front and pretend $22 isn't a lot of money for a ticket but I think we all know that La Zona Rosa is inherently pricey and this is the day of the show, which means tickets are more expensive than they were initially. In any case, as someone who has seen Minus the Bear perform at La Zona Rosa before I can assure you that you will experience an extremely high-energy show filled with all of your favorite songs. Their website says that in honor of their 10 year anniversary they are even playing Highly Refined Pirates in its entirety but I'm not sure if that's at every stop on the tour so don't be disappointed if that is not the case tonight. If you have to work tomorrow and you're thinking you need to get sleep, fret not, La Zona shows are always over before midnight. In fact, you can probably expect Minus the Bear to take the stage between 10:00 and 10:30 tonight.

Minus the Bear - Hold Me Down video via YouTube

If you arrive early enough to La Zona tonight, and I encourage you to, you will catch The Lonely Forest. These guys have a radio ready sound and they are signed to an imprint of a major label. This could be a great opportunity to see a band on their rise to the top. It could also be a great opportunity to see a band before the major label system rapes and pillages them. Either way you look at it, their songs are pure hooky pop-rock and their looks are swoon-worthy so get to the venue within 30 minutes of the doors opening to see how they are live.

The Lonely Forest - We Sing in Time video via YouTube

Read more!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

FunFunFun Fest Nite Preview: Memoryhouse Interview

You should know by now that we have less than 2 weeks before Auditorium Shores is over-run by the coolest people on the planet for FunFunFun Fest 6.0. You should already have your tickets by now, which means you are also entitled to enjoy all of the after-show activities. That's right, for those of you living under a rock, all of the FunFunFun Fest Nites shows have been rolled into the ticket price for the festival itself. That means you don't have to pay a cover for the after-shows and if you don't have a Fx3 ticket, then you can't go to the show. Sorry Charlie. On the plus side, if you have a ticket for an individual day of the festival, you can get into the after-shows for that particular day. If, you're doing a little mental math right now, you're probably realizing that there are way more festival attendees than there are spaces in the after-show clubs. So, you'll have to focus on the show you most want to see because club hopping will, most likely, be unfeasible.

I want to draw your attention to a, particularly awesome, after-show on Saturday night, curated by a, particularly awesome, blog. Of course I'm referring to, our neighbor to the North, Gorilla Vs. Bear. They are hosting a party at Empire Automotive that promises to be fantastic. The line-up is amazing and the venue is newly converted. It was literally an automotive shop and it is now a music venue. Oh Austin, you so crazy!

Memoryhouse - Quiet America video via YouTube

I had the chance to interview, the wonderful, Memoryhouse, who will be playing at Empire Automotive on Saturday night. They are not playing the festival itself but their musical aesthetic fits in perfectly with the overall oeuvre of FunFunFun Fest, exemplifying how the Nites shows are, truly, an extension of the festival itself. Their latest EP, out now, is called The Years and it is absolutely beautiful.

Memoryhouse has a very cinematic sound. Are you inspired by film? If so, what films?

We are definitely inspired by film. Denise is a film major in school so we inevitably end up playing with a lot of film references when we're working on music. I think Denise would probably want me to use Sunrise as an example of a film that's inspired our work. On the whole, we really like films of the Silent Era, so we can come up with our own soundtracks to them.

What was your first powerful musical memory? A song, a video, a musical family member, anything that left a lasting musical impression.

Probably Vince Guaraldi's score to "A Charlie Brown Christmas". I think I was four; I vividly recall reacting to the music (a mix of jazz and boogie woogie) as something beyond the compositions themselves. It transformed into something somewhat dark, and moody. It definitely left an impression, I still listen to that record quite a bit.

Who are your musical role models, sound-wise or career-wise?

That's a good question, I don't think I've ever really thought about it. Sound-wise, I always liked how those mid-80s U2 albums would gracefully balance ambient abstraction with monster-sized hooks. Career-wise, it's hard to say, I guess Brian Eno? Not because of the catalog of excellent music, but moreso due to the fact that he's seemingly never satisfied until he's tried everything. I admire that.

If you could collaborate with anyone living or dead, who would you choose and why?

Hmm, maybe Prokofiev. Or perhaps Van Dyke Parks. I really like what Van Dyke Parks did with the arrangements on Joanna Newsom's "Ys." It sounds like Joanna is in one room playing harp, and Van Dyke Parks is conducting an orchestra in another room down the hall, creating a peculiar sense of disconnect that somehow manages to coalesce perfectly. I'd like to do that with Prokofiev.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Did you always know music was in your future?

I guess I wanted to be a writer; music still provides me an outlet for that so I'm reasonably contented.

What can Austin expect from a live Memoryhouse show? 2 people? Full band? Live strings?

We'll be performing as a three piece for this tour. There will be lots of guitar, and really great live drumming. Denise plays bass, synths, and guitar, often in the same song, while somehow managing to sing, so it's always fun to swee how she pulls that off.

Read more!