Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Washed Out and Memoryhouse at the Mohawk

Recently, one of my co-workers asked me what I thought about Washed Out and my response was that they are the best live band of all of the "chill-wave" bands. Generally, I like most all of the bands who have been dubbed "chill-wave" and I have seen many-most of them throughout my years here in Austin and last fall's performance by Washed Out at the Mohawk definitely stood out. In the live setting, Washed Out sounds much less warbly and self-conscious compared to their recorded sound. The band is driving, energetic and just bad-ass in an over-arching way. Ernest's vocals are usually kind of buried on the Washed Out records but in person you can hear his voice much more clearly and it sounds good! Unfortunately, if you don't already have tickets to tomorrow night's show at the Mohawk then you won't know the joys of seeing Washed Out live because it's already sold-out. Sorry to be a buzz-kill y'all but this is why you really need to pay attention to those handy little planning ahead ticket-roundup posts I write.

Washed Out - Amor Fati video via YouTube

I'm just as excited about tomorrow night's support act as I am about Washed Out. I have been a fan of Memoryhouse since I first heard last year's cinematic EP, The Years. However, that EP only hinted at the full sound that is evident in their full-length, The Slideshow Effect. The vocals are much more pronounced and frequent, the music is more propulsive but still balances the elements of ambient music that made the EP so great. In other words, for the love of Oprah, make sure you get to the Mohawk early enough to bob along to the sweet sounds of Memoryhouse tomorrow night. In the meantime, read my interview with the band from last year.

Memoryhouse - The Kids Were Wrong video via YouTube

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Review: Tennis at the Parish

Last night was my third time seeing Tennis perform this year and I had so many thoughts throughout the show. The first one is superficial but I was somewhat fixated on it. Does Alaina get spiral perms or is her hair naturally curly like that? Or perhaps both? My next thought was about her singing. Did she perform in church as a child or just listen to a lot of Whitney Houston? I had a vision of a younger, more awkward looking Alaina as a child, in her bedroom singing along to Whitney records into a hair brush. Her voice is so plain but so powerful and she really delivers when she sings live. I feel like if you met her on the street, or she were your co-worker at Starbucks you would never suspect that she had such a powerful, soulful voice, which is part of the appeal of her as a singer.

Musically, the band is always on point. They aren't reinventing the wheel with their synth fueled surf-pop but what they do have in abundance is restraint. It's pretty obvious that all of these musicians could play much more complex arrangements but they stick to their wrote parts perfectly. Tennis' music does not fit neatly into any specific genre box, with elements of pop, surf, and jazz but one thing you can say is that if any element is out of balance it throws off the entire composition. In other words, it's difficult to play stuff that is so simple on the surface.

In terms of reviewing the crowd, I give them a B+, A-. This wasn't your typical, let's chat through the whole show kind of crowd, that you find at most Austin shows. People were largely attentive and rapt with the band's performance. I feel like sometimes Austin audiences can be a bit unnerving to some bands because we don't, necessarily dance around a whole lot, we tend to be either laser-focused on the performance or largely disinterested and chatty. My biggest complaint with the crowd last night has to do with one girl who was between myself and Tennis who had her iPhone right in my line of sight throughout 3-4 full songs, repeatedly trying to take the perfect cell-phone photo. Obviously, I like to take shitty cell-phone photos at shows and it can be tricky to get a good one but there is a line of respect for your follower patron that was crossed by that one girl last night. Don't leave your fucking phone in my fucking line of sight throughout an entire song or an entire set of songs. You pop the phone up, you shoot a couple of photos then you get it out of my fucking face. This is even permissible at several points in the show but have some fucking dignity and respect. Your shitty iPhone shots are an embarrassment to you, to Apple, to the band and to your fellow patrons.

So, other than that one girl the crowd was cool, the sound was impeccable, the lights were fancy and the drinks were out of my price range. In other words, it was a typical show at The Parish. Check the Tennis tour page to see if they are playing your (non-Austin) metro-area.

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MSTRKRFT, Araabmuzik at Emo's

Alright y'all, so I wasn't going to preview this show until a bit later in the week but if you buy tickets today you can get them for $10 less. Just use the promotional code "PARTYHARD" and you could be partying hard at Emo's on Saturday night. MSTRKRFT has been making asses shake since 2005 with one of the dudes from Death From Above 1979 and the dude that used to produce their records hitting buttons, turning knobs and dropping beats. Together these Canadians have remixed some of the biggest names in music from around the globe and seeing them live is always a party.

MSTRKRFT - Back in the USSA video via YouTube

Arrabmuzik has been making music in Providence, RI since 2006 but it was only last year that his star began to rise. He is known for his YouTube videos showing him using the MPC to create complicated live drum patterns. His Electronic Dream mixtape made a lot of Best of 2011 lists and has even been reissued in a deluxe edition with 6 bonus tracks. His sound is bases in hip-hop and he likes to use vocal samples from soul records (who doesn't?). Lately he has been working in the studio with some hip-hop heavyweights producing backing tracks for them to rhyme over. Look for his name in the production credits of lots of upcoming hip-hop releases.

AraabMUZIK - Flippin a Beat video via YouTube

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Monday, May 7, 2012

Tennis at the Parish

You may remember from my SXSW 2012 coverage that one of my favorite trends in indie-rock right now is the proliferation of excellent female musicians. What was once a boy's club now has a lot of really talented women taking over and I highly approve. Denver-based band, Tennis is one of the truly fantastic, female-fronted acts that I saw during SXSW this year. Their music is pop perfection, with infectious melodies and really hooky choruses. Their latest album Young & Old sounds instantly classic and the band truly delivers in a live setting. Don't take my word for it, go to the Parish tomorrow night. For a mere $13, you can grab yourself a ticket and bask in the glow of Tennis' sunny song cycle.

Tennis - My Better Self video via YouTube

I don't know a whole lot about the support act tomorrow night other than I just discovered Vacationer via Spotify and I really dig it. Their music mixes singer-songwriter vocals with hip-hop beats, it won't be for everyone but I enjoy it and I bet it will be big on college campuses. Perhaps it is already for all I know. Regardless, you should arrive early enough to form your own opinion on Vacationer.

Vacationer - Good as New video via YouTube

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