Thursday, March 29, 2007
South By Southwest 2007: The Last Days of Indie Rock By Bill Reese
We haven't even left the gate at Kennedy and the arguments begin. "I'm not going to any shows labeled 'Rock' or any bands who call Austin their hometown," bemoans a Brooklyn hipster and music blogger. "Yeah dude," chimes in his buddy in the seat next to him, "Indie rock is totally dead." If these princes of pretension are right and indie rock is dead,then for two weeks, Austin, Texas is the largest conference of zombie sand the living dead this side of a Sam Raimi film.
Regardless of the state of modern music, The South By Southwest(SXSW) Music and Media Conference is music's biggest trade show, a veritable smorgasbord of guitars, drums, amps, demo tapes, press kits,business cards, hair gel and tacky thrift-store clothes. In it's 21st year, the festival engulfs the city like a wildfire,the heart of which lies on the main drag of 6th Street. If you took New York's defunct CBGB, Los Angeles' Roxy and Whisky-A-Go-Go,Chicago's Metro, DC's 9:30 Club and half of New Orleans' Bourbon Street and put them all on the same road, it would probably look a lot like 6th Street. From the highway all the way over to the high-rises to the west, 6th street is bar after bar after restaurant after venue after club. At any point during the afternoon there are five or six bands fighting for your attention along with street teams handing out mini flyers, stickers and tickets for free beer to anyone who will give them an earshot.
After a full day of beer, barbecue, sunburned necks and ruptured eardrums, night falls on the city and the amps get a little louder,the lights shine a little brighter and a savage fight between potential and kinetic energy breaks out on every bar room floor and every makeshift stage. At about 8:00, a panic sets in among the all-access badge-wearers like myself who must decide whether to wait on long lines and sit through shitty bands in order to hear the weekend's big headliners. If you check out a few bands across town there's no guarantee that you can get into the headline acts that usually go on at midnight. The city's aural curfew may be set at 2:00 am, but as soon as the final shows let out, 6th is flooded with people. On any other day,musicians and reporters, agents and DJs, groupies and girlfriends would be separated by our respective professions and passions, but underneath the neon lights of this beer-drenched boulevard everyone is equal. This is the engine of the music industry, and we are the gears.
By the time the sun rises on Saturday morning, the Texan capital is calm. There is an air of exhaustion that hangs over the entire city,almost like a scene out of The Great Gatsby where the overindulgence of music, beer and barbecue has begun to take its effect on everyone.The musicians rest their guitars down at every stoplight, weary from carrying their gear from place to place. The festival's army of volunteers is droopy eyed, burnt out from a week of preparations and the festival itself. At 11:15 am, most of the revelers and a fair amount of the music press are having a Motrin cocktail at one of the hotels in downtown, not yet ready to venture forth into the forth and biggest day of the festival when the University of Texas spring breakers return from Cancun or Panama City, ready to pack the bars and clubs and reclaim the city as their own. The press room is quiet on the third floor of the convention center. The pitter patter of keyboards and the sucking sounds of the coffee machines cover the deep sighs emanating from these purveyors of the printed page.
We have come out to the Texas plains to deliver a veritable "state of the union" message on our music scene. I'm reminded suddenly of the hipsters on the plane from New York. If this is "Independent" rock,why is everyone conforming to the same mold? Why does every 15 year old packing the clubs know more about these underground emo bands than the 25 year old journalists who were there when the scene was born?Why does it seem that the most unique, original and provocative acts relegated to lunchtime showcases when half of the festival has yet to wake up, meanwhile more popular but less talented groups are showcased during the jam-packed evening shows? And God damn it, how the hell are these people drinking this LoneStar Beer, it's worse than a day-old, room-temperature Pabst!
By the time my cab drops me off at the airport before dawn on Sunday morning, you can still see a fog floating over downtown. Perhaps it's just light pollution, or perhaps it's the smoldering ashes of this wild party. Perhaps it's the smoke from the heads and feet of burnt out musicians, festival volunteers and bartenders.Perhaps it's the burning, sinking battleship that is popular music and the Hindenburg that is the music industry, or perhaps it's the moguls behind South By Southwest lighting their cigars with $100 bills, laughing all the way to the bank with their millions of dollars. Or maybe those hipster rejects were right. Maybe indie is dead, and we are all just zombies spreading the sickness around.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
The Fratellis-Costello Music
Modest Mouse- We Were Dead Before Before The Ship Evan Sank
The Clash-London Calling ***If you don't own it already, you have no idea what you are missing, one of the greatest records of all time and a personal favorite. With the weather getting nice out now, go grab this, toss it in the car, blast it with the windows down.***
Bloc Party- A Weekend in the City
The Hold Steady- Boys and Girls in America
Bayside-The Walking Wounded
Monday, March 26, 2007
Much like Lollapaloozas traveling circus was in the early 90's featuring a conglomorate of acts, the "High Line Festival" hopes to do the same featuring comedian Ricky Gervais (Extras, The Office) and a slew of acts from the snyth electro Air to The Arcade Fire. No word yet on when and if Bowie himself will play. Check out the poster with the lineup.
Also, recently Arcade Fire singer Win Butler has come down with a severe sinus and bronchitis infection while on the road in Europe supporting the bands latest critically acclaimed album Neon Bible. We hope both artists a speedy recovery and hope they can get back on the road ASAP.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Click on this link and begin downloading...
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Until then, the band is about to go into the studio with legendary producer Rick Rubin (Beastie Boys, RHCP, Dixie Chicks) to record the follow up to 2004's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, the band hopes to have that record out at the same time as the film, yet Rubin wants to take his time with it. Time will tell.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Probably one of the most important videos to come out in years, thrash punk band Rise Against's latest "Prayer and the Refugee" video from the album The Sufferer and the Witness. Good to see bands still make music videos with a purpose.
Friday, March 9, 2007
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
With the legendary Athens, Georgia band being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame later this month, I thought we would take a look at one of the more overseen albums of the bands three decade career. 1998's Up marks a milestone for R.E.M., a milestone that they unfortunately have not been able to live up to after, its the first album of their career without drummer Bill Berry and its the last great R.E.M. record, period. Since Up the band has releast 2002's unimpressive Revile and 2004's unlistenable Around The Sun. However, Up featured the band, who has always been successful at experimenting with new things for each record, saw them diving into the ambient world, something that bands like Radiohead, Air and Sigor Ros would master years later. Prior to Up, R.E.M. where at the top of their game 1994's Monster (an album I will look into in later months) and 96's New Adventures in Hi-Fi brought the greatest college band of all time to the greatest financial and global success of their careers. Up is and was the album that would calm them down, therapy in 14 tracks, a melodramatic effort that would show the bands more emotional side, something fans and critics had not hear since Automatic for the People. Dealing with the departure of good friend and drummer Bill Berry and trying to uphold the success that touring, acclaimed records and album sales brought forth. The result was one of the most overlooked records of the late 90's and the bands whole career. It was marked by two semi-successful singles "Daysleeper" and "Lotus." Yet, it was the deeper cuts from Up that would provide the motif and direction of the record, tracks like "Sad Professor," "The Apologist," "Hope" and many other tracks that would play as a guide to the band and listener in trying to escape some sort of depression and leading them into an upward emotional climb.
Monday, March 5, 2007
The best bar band you ever herd, Brooklyn's very own The Hold Steady perform what I like to call "Born to Run' for the Jilted Generation" the single "Stuck Between Stations" from a January performance on The Late Show with David Letterman. Notice the keyboard player has a strikingly similar look to porn star Ron Jeramey.
Bjork-Volta (Releasing May 8) Her first work in over three years and a return to "normal" after many experimental records, such as her last, 2004's acapella effort Medulla. The Icelandic princess is ready to release something fun. Working this time with everyone from Timbaland to Lightning Bolt's Brian Chippendale to an all female brass ensemble, this 10 track outfit Bjork is saying "I'd done two or three projects in a row that were quite serious, maybe I just needed to get that out of my system or something. So all I wanted to do for this album was just to have fun and do something that was full-bodied and really up."
The White Stripes - Icky Thump (TBA) The Detroit duo that just signed to Warner Bros. is awaiting on the corporate suites to give a release date on the bands finished product. This, if you are keeping count, is the sixth venture for Jack and Meg.
Beastie Boys - TBA (Summer) The Brooklyn boys are back! And it took them less than five plus years to do so. The legendary hip-hop trio is putting the finishing touches on their follow up to 2004's To the Five Boroughs. The group is slated for a European tour and some Festivals Stateside this summer in support of the new album.
Bad Brains - Build a Nation (May 8) The original lineup of the seminal 80's punk/hardcore/rasta band are back and further proving that 2007 is the year of the reunion. This time however, Bad Brains are joined by Beastie Boy Adam "MCA" Yauch behind the mixer, serving as producer on the bands first album in five years.
Queens of the Stone Age - Era Vulgaris (June) The stoner rock band with more lineup changes than Destiny's Child (Yes I put QOTSA and Beyonces former group in the same paragraph), return with a little help from their friends on the bands fifth disc. This time around Josh Homme and Co., will feature appearances by Trent Reznor, Julian Casablancas, long time Queens collaborator and founding member Mark Lanegan and making another appearance on a Queens record ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons. Hopefully this will turn out better than 2004's Lullabies to Paralyze, maybe a guest appearance from Dave Ghrol or former bassist Nick Oliveri wont hurt so bad.
Thursday, March 1, 2007
The Hold Steady- Boys and Girls in America
The Arcade Fire- Neon Bible
Bayside- Walking Wounded
Currently Listening To:
Bloc Party-A Weekend in the City
Imogen Heap- Speak for Yourself
The Futureheads- News and Tributes
The Rapture - Pieces of the People We Love