It’s that time of year again, time to unleash the Fun Fun Fun! For us, that means the means the Fun Fun Fun Fest Live Blog, keepin’ it real like it’s 1998 up in here. Let’s face it, though, for something as awesome as the F3 Fest, we just can’t do it justice in 140 characters and some twitpics, so we’ll be out at Waterloo Park this weekend bringing you awesome pics and quick reviews of the action as it goes down. And what a weekend it promises to be! We were bummed that Devo had to cancel their headlining spot, but Transmission pulled a nice one by slipping in the Descendents in their stead. And the rest of the lineup is, in our opinion, their best yet as the Fest celebrates its 5th year. The weather looks like it’s going to be great, even if a little chilly in the evening (layer up kids!), but if you can’t make it down, just stay tuned here to see what all your missing. Or if your one of those folks checking your phone during the show, we can show you what you’re missing in front of you! Check out the schedule for the action here, and let’s have some Fun Fun Fun Fun!ACL Interview: Balmorhea»
Early in 2010, Balmorhea released Constellations with local imprint Western Vinyl, their fourth album in as many years. The quintet’s sold out release show at the Central Presbyterian Church was a testament to how popular the instrumental outfit has become in Austin, inspiring a fervid but reverential fanbase enthralled by Balmorhea’s intricate, classically-based expositions. With Constellations, principle songwriters Rob Lowe and Michael Muller turned to a much more subdued, if no less impressive, stylistic compositions, peeling back the dramatic build that had increasingly crescendoed on their previous works. Yet what still emerges most from Balmorhea’s tunes are vivid imagistic and emotional episodes, fleeting narratives that arise through their subtle constructions spearheaded by guitar and piano. We spoke with Lowe and Muller via email about their recent work, the philosophy behind the band, and their place in the Austin music scene. Balmorhea will be making their Austin City Limits Festival debut on the Austin Ventures Stage on Saturday, October 9 at 11:20am.
If you survived the pre-partying (and you better have as we’re just getting started!), then you’ll be out there flooding the streets and back alleys today as we officially kick off this little catastrophe we call SXSW. Wednesday Dayshows are generally the best to catch the bands you really want to see if they are playing, as not all the yahoos have yet arrived in town. Below, we’ve thrown down our top choices of shows that are going on, though we recommend also cherrypicking a few of your must sees and knocking them out today if you can. Among our top picks for Wednesday are (of course) the Midgetmen’s annual SXSW Jump Start party, The Austinist’s teaming with the Windish Agency, Forcefield and Terrorbird’s show at Red 7, and Fat Possum, who are taking over Club DeVille. In fact, the venues look pretty much like our typical Red River weekend rounds, with the exception of the local off-the-grid, but sure to please showcase by those kids over at Skanky Possum. C’mon and jump, you know you wanna.
Jack Wilson splits his time between the comfy, southern warmth of Austin and the cooler, sopping city that is Seattle. While he’s in Seattle, he’s backed by the Wife Stealers, and elsewhere, it’s pretty much just him. On his latest self-titled, Wilson zig-zags between full-on Americana rock, and solemn, poetic lullabies about places and people of timeless impact. He opens his album with the sound of footfalls on loose gravel — a sound that is immediately evocative of distance and mindful wandering — a more than appropriate prelude to an album that looks to transport the listener to the image of Americana locked away in Wilson’s head.
Things get dark and heavy on the Gary’s second EP, El Camino. With these six songs, recorded by Steve Albini at Electrical Audio in mid 2010, it sounds like the weight of the world is pressing down on the band. Coming hot on the heals of their criminally overlooked debut full length, Logan, El Camino burns slowly with most songs feeling more like “Hurricane Sunrise” than “QSB” (both Logan standouts). And make no mistake; sounding like the product of a long haul Austin-to-Chicago roadtrip is not a bad thing. The Gary have consistently excelled at making songs for the darkest hour of the night, when the last drops of beer have run dry and it’s time to go home and face our realities. El Camino is no exception.
On their sophomore LP, Candi and The Strangers jives out powdery synth-pop blended with muted disco and causes one to beg, “More Moog.” 10th of Always purveys movement through space, and its done remarkably well through fleshly synthetic melodies and vibrantly blurred rhythms. Because of all the dripping fuzz and boomeranging reverb on 10th of Always it’s hard to know whether Samantha Constant is saying ‘glide’ or ‘dive.’ But somehow it doesn’t matter. Part of the fun of the album is the ambience, and part of the ambience is traveling on a space ship or Milky Way vessel, as the Strangers beckon, “welcome to my dream, relax and float downstream.” The album is true mood music — much like Al Green or Radiohead — it changes the tone of a room. After succumbing to it, the listener buys into a new world of possibility. At times the album is uncannily reflective of shoegaze greats while simultaneously referencing pop culture icons like Nico and Candy Darling. These retro-familiar elements paired with a coded musical and vocal rhetoric craft an album that is otherworldly but altogether mellow mosh crowd ready.