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Monthly Archives: May 2012

Freepress Summerfest is this weekend!! Get ready to sweat! And to rock!

“But wait”, you of course are saying, “what does a column about old people SLASH old music have to do with a big city, modern day music fest?”

Good question! Though also, pipe down, I’m trying to work here.

Anyway the answer is the Descendents! They’re old and they’re playing! SYNERGY!

The Descendents are from California and are pioneers of what I lovingly call pop-punk. Back then it wasn’t called pop-punk and that term has become somewhat derogatory (being of course conflated with what I bitingly refer to as mall-punk).

But just like you can’t blame Lenin for the crimes of Stalin, you can’t blame the Descendents for bands like Sum-41. Look it up. Read More

When people talk about “summer anthems,” they’re usually talking about the type of songs that are going to be played often and loud at summer parties.  Take a look at Stereogum’s yearly picks - LCD Soundsystem, Phoenix, Yeah Yeah Yeahs.  But these songs don’t quite say summer to me.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good party jam, and I will still make a fool out of myself dancing to “Last Night” or “Lisztomania” when they come on the stereo.  But a summer jam should have the qualities of summer – laid-back, breezy, blissful.  It’s the song that makes you stop, relax, and enjoy – if only for a few seconds.  Last year, my jam was Dirty Gold‘s “California Sunrise” – a song featured the very first post I wrote for this blog.

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Free Press Summer Fest, Houston’s largest music festival, is coming up this weekend at Eleanor Tinsley Park.  The festival is in its fourth year, and it seems to be getting bigger every year.  With more than 100 bands on 8 stages over 2 days, it’s a good idea to get familiar with the lineup ahead of time.

You’re probably already familiar with the headliners – Snoop, Willie, Avett Brothers – but you might not be as familiar with some of the other bands, especially some of the really excellent local bands.  So I put together a short list of acts I recommend checking out at FPSF.  Take a look and a listen below, then check out the complete schedule to make your plans.  And come say hi to me in the VIP Blogger tent.*

*What?! There is no VIP Blogger tent?!  That’s crap –  I was promised free Vitamin Water & Tito’s.

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There is no reason I should like The Tallest Man On Earth, the moniker of Swedish musican Kristian Matsson.  It hits way too many points on my “do not like” list.  Singer-songwriter?  Check.  Acoustic guitar?  Check.  Lack of drums?  Check.

But despite all this, I have adored pretty much everything he’s put out.  To me, that says that he must be rocking his genre to such a degree that even non-fans like me are impressed.   The gorgeous, Dylan-esque voice and thoughtful lyrics don’t hurt either. Read More

Smashing Pumpkins… Wow. What can I say about them?

If you are reading throwback thursday regularly you already know that I’m old. Besides that you should know intuitively that bands can be really really good some years before you discover them. So if you picked up Machina/The Machines of God and were like ‘what’s all the fuss about?’ then you know what I’m talking about.

If you want to know what all the fuss was about, be 18 in 1991. Sure you might can understand it without that but you can REALLY understand it if you were 18 in 1991 (or I will allow 18 in ‘92 or ‘93 as well).

I have almost too much to tell in this post but I’ll stick to two quick stories – the sad one and then the happy one.

I was 18 in 1991 and in Houston there was a bar called Emo’s (it was related to the much more famous Emo’s in Austin). In the early days of Emo’s, all shows were free if you were over 21 and $5 if you were under. It was an amazing system that I miss…

Anyway, in May 1991 Smashing Pumpkins released Gish on Caroline records. They had released two singles prior to that – one, “Tristessa” on Sub-Pop. Of course then they toured. Well the tour, for some unknown reason, brought them to Houston, TX in June (or maybe July…) of 1991.

My friends told me they were great and I should go. Sadly, my thinking at the time was that $5 wouyld buy me a six pack of beer and who were these Smashing Pumpkins people anyway?

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Today, we’ve got a great track from The Allah-las, an LA-based quartet with a ’60s garage sound.  “Tell Me (What’s On Your Mind)” is a laid-back, retro tune that would be perfect on a summer mixtape.  It would also be the perfect soundtrack for that montage of vintage surfing clips you’re gonna put on Youtube.  Either way.

You can stream it or grab the mp3 below, courtesy of Aquarium Drunkard.  If you’re digging it, you can get it on vinyl, b/w the instrumental track “Sacred Sands”  via Innovative Leisure or grab the digital EP via iTunes.

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We’ve gotten to hear a few songs from The Walkmen‘s upcoming album Heaven, which will be out on May 29th via Fat Possum.  The title track will also be released as a 7″ single, and now you can hear the B-side to that, “The House You Made.”

In contrast to the other recently released tracks, this one is much more of a slow jam.  And as much as I love the anthemic qualities of many Walkmen tracks, it’s wonderful to hear those elements slowed down to create such a wonderful ballad.

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UK indie pop duo Summer Camp, which made one of our favorite releases of 2011 Welcome to Condale, are back with something new for us.  This track, “Life,” is from their forthcoming EP Always, which will be out July 9th via Moshi Moshi (UK) and July 10th via Apricot Recording Company (US).

The new song has a slightly different feel than the Summer Camp you met on Welcome to Condale and Young.  The 60′s and 80′s references are more muted now, replaced by a heavier dose of electronic sound.  If that concerns you, it shouldn’t.  Elizabeth Sankey’s strong vocals and Jeremy Warmsley’s catchy beats make sure it doesn’t stray to far from the Summer Camp you came to love.  I love how the lyrics turn what is at first glance a poppy love song into something darker, with Sankey singing, “My bloody hands reach only for you / my dark soul longs only for you / my icy breathe whispers your name / my cold skin wants to tough you again.”

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I have no idea what took me so long to click play on this new track from Purity Ring.  But don’t let my mistake become yours, because the synth beats of “Obedear”  are ready take you to another place.

Prior to “Obedear,” the Halifax/Montreal based duo –  Corin Roddick and Megan James – had only released three tracks, all to critical acclaim.  Give an listen to any of those songs over at their Soundcloud and it’s easy to hear why.

Now, Purity Ring will be releasing their debut album, Shrines, via 4AD on July 24th [pre-order], and if “Obedear” is any indication, it’s likely a Best of 2012 contender.

You can stream the track the below, or grab the mp3 courtesy of 4AD.

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One of my favorite pasttimes used to be creating the perfect breakup mix.  No, I wouldn’t make them when I had just broken up with someone.  I would make them when I was single or in a relationship, in anticipation of some   I figured that if I could make the absolute perfect breakup mix, then I could get over any breakup in less than 60 minutes.

Okay, maybe not so realistic.  But I had a plan!  I would start with the really desperate “I want you back” songs, then move on to the sappy “my life is over” songs, and finally into the triumphant “you’re a jerk and i’m better off without you” songs.   And yeah, there might have been some Kelly Clarkson in there.

Anyway: all this is relevant because I just found the most fantastic to end any break-up mix.  It’s a new track from Swedish pop due Icona Pop, and you need to clear out your schedule for the next 30 minutes, because this one’s going on repeat.  Infectious doesn’t even begin to describe it.

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