Friday, April 20, 2012

Shabazz Palaces at the Mohawk

photo by David Belisle

It's been a little more than a year since I first saw Shabazz Palaces at SWSW and their music still sounds incredibly fresh to me. When I first saw them perform my impression was just that it sounded weird but I wanted to explore it more. In the last year, I have listened to everything they have on Spotify and I bought Black Up on vinyl. Shabazz Palaces are bending the notion of what "Hip-Hop" is and what it CAN be. They don't sound like anyone else, they aren't making club bangers they aren't making pop-radio music they are making headphone hip-hop for the present from the future. I know Sunday night shows can be tricky, what with work/school on Monday but I implore you to be at the Mohawk this Sunday night to see Shabazz Palaces. Also, tell everyone you know to check out their album Black Up. Especially your friends who won't STFU about Drake. I get it, Drake is talented and he's entertaining but Shabazz Palaces is making more challenging, interesting, futurist music than Drake could ever dream of. Grab yourself some tickets now. Let's hang out.

Shabazz Palaces - Swerve...the reeping of all that is worthwhile (Noir not withstanding) video via YouTube

So, maybe (for some reason) you're not sold on Shabazz Palaces but you like dance-punk. Well, lucky you because in what might be the oddest pairing in ages, !!! is playing the support slot for at the Mohawk Sunday night. As far as I know, their latest full-length album came out in 2010. However, they might be touring in support of their follow-up to Strange Weather, Isn't It? According to their Twitter feed they were hard at work in the studio two days ago. Not really sure what to expect from !!! on Sunday but they always put on a fun and energetic show.

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Heartless Bastards at La Zona Rosa

Photo Credit: Nathan Presley

The title of this post may lead you to believe that I am referring to the people who set the drink prices at La Zona Rosa and they ARE heartless bastards. However, coincidentally, the band Heartless Bastards play La Zona Rosa tomorrow night in support of their latest album Arrow. The album was recorded and produced right here in Austin by Jim Eno of Spoon so, if you're a Jim Eno spotter you'll probably want to be at tomorrow night's show if only for that reason. For those of us who were lucky enough to catch the Heartless Bastards' set at Fun Fun Fun Fest last year we can attest to the fact that the band is in top form. The new songs are fantastic live with loads of energy and the band has never sounded like a more cohesive unit. If this sounds like something you might be interested in, you should probably get yourself a ticket to tomorrow night's show.

Heartless Bastards - Parted Ways video via YouTube

Playing the support slot for tomorrow night's Heartless Bastards show will be David Vandervelde who you might know from his work with a little band called Wilco. Perhaps you've heard of them? Ok, that's a bit misleading. Vandervelde has actually worked with Jay Bennett who is IN Wilco, which is way closer than you've ever been to working with Wilco so back off! Vandervelde is touring in support of an upcoming album. For now, he has released More Than You Can Feel as a digital single via Secretly Canadian records. You can download that song for free right here

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Record Store Day Saturday

This Saturday is Mr. S.' favorite day of the year. It's a holiday that was invented in my home-state of Maine, that's right kiddos it's Record Store Day! That special time of year when, the usually, nocturnal record collector rises early to get into their favorite shop as the doors open in hopes of grabbing an assload of rare and exclusive vinyl. Each year there are more and more unique collectable pieces. I'm talking colored, numbered pressings, unique packaging exclusive remixes, all sorts of good stuff. I'm not going to go through EVERY cool piece that will be available but I'll highlight some cool things that you'll want to get your grubby little mitts on.

The first thing want to highlight is what you see pictured above and below these words. Rather than try to explain this beauty in my own words, here is the illustrious press release:
Smugglers Way is Domino and Ribbon's first ever limited edition zine made exclusively for Record Store Day (April 21st) featuring FIVE individual, multi-colored flexi discs of EXCLUSIVE, UNRELEASED songs from Dirty Projectors, Real Estate, Cass McCombs, John Maus, and Villagers. The zine comprises 24 pages of original art and prose from Domino and Ribbon artists. Highlights include a short story penned by James Yorkston; a long form poem by Laura Marling; short form pieces by Alex Bleeker (Real Estate), Ade Blackburn (Clinic), and Tom Fleming (Wild Beasts); illustrations from Alison Mosshart (The Kills), Andrea Estella (Twin Sister), Conor O'Brien (Villagers) and Jon Hopkins; photography from Jana Hunter (Lower Dens), and an original arranged score of music by Owen Pallett. Bjorn Copeland of Black Dice designed the cover and Rob Carmichael at SEEN is responsible for the art direction and layout.

Smugglers Way - Record Store Day Exclusive video via YouTube

For the rest of the Record Store Day highlights, I'm going to consult the list Mr. S. printed and literally highlighted using two different colors. One color is labeled as, "Must Have" the other is listed as "Possible." So, here is what Mr. S. considers a "Must Have" this Saturday:

Must Haves:

  • Ryan Adams - Heartbreak a Stranger b/w Black Sheets of Rain 7" colored vinyl
  • Arcade Fire - Sprawl II 12"
  • Beach House - Lazuli b/w Equal Mind 7" Blue Vinyl
  • Karen Elson - Milk and Honey b/w Winter's Going 7" Milk & Honey Colored
  • The Flaming Lips - The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends 2x LP, Custom Jackets
  • Aretha Franklin/Otis Redding - Respect 7" Gold Vinyl
  • M83 - Mirror 7" Etched
  • mclusky - mclusky Do Dallas 150g White Vinyl
  • Shabazz Palaces - Live at KEXP 12"
  • Sigur Rós - Hvarf/Heim 2x LP Colored Vinyl
  • Various Artists - Empire Records Soundtrack 2x LP Orange Vinyl
  • Various Artists - Pretty in Pink Soundtrack 12" Pink (duh) Vinyl
  • Various Artists - The Breakfast Club Soundtrack 12" White Vinyl
  • Paul Weller - That Dangerous Age 7" Red Vinyl
  • Sara Watkins ft. Fiona Apple/The Everly Brothers - You're the One I Love 7" Olive Green w/Black Splatter
  • The White Stripes - Hand Springs/Red Death at 6:14 7" Black and Red Swirl
  • Gorillaz ft. James Murphy & Andre 3000 - Do Ya Thing 10"
  • Jukebox the Ghost - I Love You Always Forever 7"
  • The Mynabirds - Generals 7"
  • Caitlin Rose - Piledriver Waltz 7"
  • Ra Ra Riot/Delicate Steve - Valerie/The Big Ship 7" Hand-Numbered, White


  • Afrika Bambaataa/MC5 - Kick Out the Jams 7" White w/Splatter
  • ABBA - Voulez-Vouz Extended Dance Remix 180g 12" 45rpm translucent w/blue glitter

Clearly there is a lot more that Mr. S. "Must Have" than what he finds to be a possibility. There are only a few things that I might add to this list and I consider them all to be "Possibly":
  • Brendan Benson - What Kind of World 7"
  • Bowerbirds - Bend 7"
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. - We Almost Lost Detroit EP 12"
  • The Hives - Go Right Ahead 7"
  • Mastodon/The Flaming Lips - A Spoonful Weighs a Ton 7" Baby Pink
  • Of Monsters and Men - Into the Woods EP 10"
  • Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros - One Love to Another 7"
  • St. Vincent - KROKODIL 7" Red
  • Lydia Loveless - Bad Way to Go 7"
  • Neon Indian - Hex Girlfriend 10" Translucent Blue
  • Oberhofer - Away Frm U 7"

So, there you have it. Several months rent spent on one day but seriously, it's great to spend money on music. It's also great to spend money on small businesses in your community, this is the best of both worlds. With that in mind, don't be a total fucking dick-bag ass-hat loser-face by putting your Record Store Day purchases on eBay. That's what assholes do. REALLY BIG ASSHOLES do all of that BEFORE Record Store Day. In a similar vein, don't buy Record Store Day exclusives from ass-hats on eBay, that's lame as fuck. Happy shopping and line-up early if you expect to get any of the rare stuff. Oh, and I forgot to mention that Waterloo Records will have Garbage in-store at 3pm on Saturday to sign stuff. Their new record isn't out but they will have a white vinyl 7" of Blood for Poppies. However there are only 1000 copies of that on the planet, so good luck getting THAT signed.

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Review: Chairlift and Nite Jewel

Tuesday nights are great nights for going to see shows in Austin. You can park downtown with relative ease, there are fewer drunk bros in Ed Hardy clothes clogging up the sidewalks and it's Tuezgayz at Barbarella so the people downtown tend to be mirthful gays and gay-allies. All of these things are pluses in my book so, the fact that there was a great show at the Mohawk was icing on the cake as it were. Last night, I had the pleasure of seeing Bell, Nite Jewel and Chairlift on the Mohawk's outside stage. I must say, as I did after SWSW this year, that 2012 is the year of women in indie-rock. There are so many fantastic female-fronted bands on the scene right now and I couldn't be happier about it.

First up was Bell with whom I am not very familiar but her quirky energy really won me over by the end of the set. Dressed in a shirt that reminded me of Punky Brewster's mis-matched Chucks with an overall dress atop, she used a sampler, keyboards and key-tar to create funky, minimalist electro-pop music. Her voice was beautiful and her lyrics was very clever. The audience was thin at 7:30 when she took to the stage but Bell seemed genuinely appreciative of the audience's attention. My favorite song was called Sweater Man which was about, "...a cold, cold man."

This next thought may seem heretical but I was most excited to see Nite Jewel last night. They played the middle set starting at 8:30. I'm really a big fan of their album One Second of Love and was looking forward to seeing how it translates live. I am pleased to report that not only do they pull it off live, they bring a brand-new energy to the songs. When you hear recorded vocals that are sultry and haunting often times it's just done with studio-trickery. This is, most certainly, not the case with Nite Jewel. From the moment Nite Jewel's Ramona Gonzalez opened her mouth to sing I knew she was legit. She hit every note beautifully and made a nice headphone album truly engaging. She sang with passion, she moved but she was authentic about it. I feel like if Nite Jewel can release another album that is at least as good as their latest then they will certainly become a headlining act within the next couple of years. For now, they were the perfect meat in a Chairlift, Bell sandwich.

Chairlift took to the stage at 9:30, using an incredibly loud rendition of Mr. Sandman, which deconstructed into a chaotic din, as their entrance music. According to all of their press materials they are a 2-piece band and I'm sure that is true in the studio as well but if you've listened to their latest record, Something then you know they couldn't play those songs as a 2-piece. Their live band consisted of 5 people, including Bell on keys. The audience was completely enthralled, screaming, singing, jumping and dancing throughout the set. Chairlift was a ball of energy bathed in the glow of purple, black lighting. Chairlift's singer, Caroline Polachek lifted herself on the balls of her feet, threw her arms up and twirled like a ballerina marionette while the band propelled the music forward. They played a blend of new and old material with the newest stuff sounding the most fun. They opened with Sidewalk Safari, which really set the tone of the set and they kept they energy moving for a full hour.

The Chairlift tour still has a few more dates left before the band eventually winds up at Lollapalooza so, if you want to catch the in your metro-region check here for tickets and info.

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Chairlift and Nite Jewel at the Mohawk

The latest album from Chairlift, Something sees the band moving forward in a big way. They've taken the lessons they learned on previous releases and expanded upon their ideas considerably. Instead of being cooped up in traditional studios, recording all night they took a more guerilla approach. Recording in the back of an antique store, doing vocals in the back seat of a moving car and generally spending more hours in daylight. The result is a much more expansive sound, with songs that sound bigger than Chairlift has ever sounded in the past. They will be back in Austin tomorrow night playing at the Mohawk. I know Tuesday isn't necessarily an ideal night to head downtown for a show but look at the bright points. First of all, you won't have to feed a parking meter, also since the show is on the outside stage it will be done early enough so you can get some rest before heading to the office early on Wednesday. Also, isn't living in Austin all about going to see an awesome band on a Tuesday night? Hopefully, you see my side of thing, which means you're going to grab some tickets and meet me at the Mohawk tomorrow night.

Chairlift - Met Before video via YouTube

Playing the support slot for Chairlift tomorrow night will be Nite Jewel. Their latest release, One Second of Love, is a moody, dark, 80's-inspired, electro-pop masterpiece. The title track will be trapped in your brain for days after you hear it and I'm hoping they deliver in the live show department. Arrive early if you want to found out.

Nite Jewel - One Second of Love video via YouTube

Speaking of moody, dark, 80's-inspired, electro-pop, stick around after Chairlift for Austin's-own Love Inks on the inside stage.

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