Wednesday, March 31, 2010
March 2010: See Issue Here / Letter From The Editor / Dining: Tarka Indian Kitchen / Curry In Hurry / Improv in Austin / Johnny Depp Interview / Local Music: Fulton Read / CD Reviews / Tech
Cover Story:Texas Rockfest Interviews & Texas Rockfest Bios
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
(UPDATE: Here's the Fulton Read-hosted FLASH MOB that occurred on the streets of Austin during the big music festival)
By Sean Claes
Led by the unique raspy voice of Anthony Erickson, Austin-based piano rockers Fulton Read subscribe to the idea that music should be free.
The idea goes something like this: You give away your music = people share said music = more fans= more people at your show = merch sales = you get more popular = you win.
They also try and make their live shows an event. Past ideas included “Fulton Read in 3-D” where there was a 3-D light show accompanying the music and December’s Christmahannukwanza show where Erickson dressed up at Santa Claus and Austin’s Annie Ray had a photo booth.
Anthony Erickson took a few moments to talk with me about the band and the new free-EP release Synchronize.
Sean Claes: How did you arrive at the band’s name?
Anthony Erickson: Well, over the years we've debated the name but it has stuck with us. When we first formed our original guitarist Lou was a pop-culture buff, and threw out Fulton Read. I liked it and I think it rang well as a name and reminded me of our friends Ethan Durelle with a person's name that was no member of the band as their band name.
Turns out it's one of the Bash Brothers from the Mighty Ducks. So now we get a lot of people either having no idea what that means, or freakin out that its from their favorite Disney movie, OR the really clever ones that just start a slowclap chant of quack.... quack... quACK.. QUACK!
Claes: You're band has been called "Texas Psychedelic Piano PowerPop." Care to elaborate?
Erickson: Well we're from Texas. When I was teenager I ate some psychedelics forever changing my perspective on music and everything. I play the piano. Duffy definitely brings the power. And the… well …the rest of us bring the pop.
Claes: You've been giving away your music online... the online release of "Synchronize" on January 31 an example. Tell me about your "Free Music Model."
Erickson: As many music futurists have acknowledged, music is ALREADY FREE. The major music industry players are in denial, fighting a brick wall and ignoring their customers. They need follow every other industry where "the customer is always right", embrace changing technologies and realize music as a service not a product. I hope with Fulton Read to push forward through aging industry standards and see the "music like water" ideology come to fruition.
With this intention, we will be releasing all our future music as Creative Commons works, freely shared, remixed, modified and recreated for non-commercial purposes. I believe this will promote a better climate for artists' creativity and the industry as a whole. And don't expect the music to be lacking cuz as they say "the best things in life are free"
Claes: Live, you always seem to turn it from a show to an event, putting together art and music like Fulton Read in 3-D, and the Christmahannukwanza show. How important is it for you to marry the two?
Erickson: Oh yeah, we always try to give you something more than the record live, and part of that has to be a good concept and a crazy sick light show. I'm hoping to marry it all in to one big Icescapade Musical someday. I'm only half kidding.
Claes: You had a worldwide Synchronize Graffiti contest to kick off the release of your free online EP. How did you hatch that idea?
Erickson: The graffiti collaboration came about while musing some ideas for an interactive element that everyone could help take part in for the release of Sychronize. Better yet, something everyone could do on the same day in semi-"synchronized" fashion. And so this idea was born.
We're not ya know, promoting illegal vandalism....exactly. And I think it's a pretty good idea, kinda like the "OBEY" graffiti, except less Andre the Giant. and I mean, its not the worst idea we've had. That would be “Operation Hobo Promo” (feeding the homeless to feed you free music).
Fulton Read is: Justin Von Kennel (guitar), Ryan Gilmore (bass), Candy Sanders (backup vocals), Greg Williams (Sax), Josh Davies (Trumpet), Javier Stuppard (Trombone) backing up the jamming/writing/producing duo of Stephen Duffy (drums) and Erickson (Piano/Vocals).
Look for Fulton Read playing all over on 2010. Check http://www.fultonread.com for more information.
Monday, March 22, 2010
Here's some photos and videos from day 3 (Saturday March 20, 2010) of Austin's Texas Rockfest.
These were shot by INsite's Sean Claes. If you go to the photo page, each picture is downloadable in high-resolution if you like. Please just credit "Sean Claes of INsite Magazine http://www.insiteaustin.com" if you place is anywhere online or in print.
Waiting For August (at Pure)
A Good Rogering:
Friday, March 19, 2010
Monday, March 15, 2010
Happy Zappin’ – (Part I of II)
by Radames Pera – Tech EditorSo you’ve got a TV, a DVD/Blu-ray player, a satellite/cable box, a surround sound receiver, and maybe a VCR or CD changer still hanging around – that means you’ve also got a motley crew of remote controls scattered about to run each one. Maybe you’ve gotten one of those felt-lined “remote corrals” in the middle of your coffee table ‘cause somewhere Momma taught you to put things back wherethey “live.” That’s all very nice, but you still have to reach for different remotes all the time – and how cool is that really?
Regardless, it’s never been fun exactly to turn the whole system on and off, particularly if you don’t happen to be “the techie” in the household. And when that person’s not around, there’s a high probability the system doesn’t get much use at all, right?
Well, this article is intended to help – both the techies and the technically-challenged among us.
Consolidating remotes, that is getting one remote to do the job of two or more would certainly simplify things a bit, wouldn’t it? How about one that works them all – wouldn’t that be awesome?!
What about a remote that can turn the whole system on and off with the push of a single button? “Is that even possible?” Yes, it is. “It probably costs a fortune.” Actually, it’s less than you might think. Ask yourself how important is real ease-of-use (enjoyment) and peace of mind (no tension around the remotes) to you? If you happen to be the technically-inclined one, think of how nice would it be to stop getting those phone calls every time someone at home wants to use the system.
Let’s start with “free” and go from there. “Free? Nothing’s free,” you say. Well, if you’re a Time-Warner customer, you might be one of many who don’t realize that your cable box came with a remote that can control basic functions on about five different AV components, even raise & lower the volume on the AV receiver! Though the techie in your life could easily program this remote, you can call Time-Warner’s customer service yourself, get a live person on the phone and have them walk you through the fairly simple process: pressing two buttons on the remote at the same then time and entering a 4-digit number… something you do every day already. Before making the call, be sure to have the brand names of each component written down first. Remember that you’ll only get the most basic controls over those components; you’ll still need to access the other remotes for more involved functions.
If doing away with remote wrangling completely is appealing to you, paying something to achieve that end starts to make sense, doesn’t it? (Particularly if the idea of turning everything on and off with one button gives you and your significant other tingles.) You’re both beginning to realize that the cable remote isn’t going to cut it…not by a long shot.
Let’s address the “power user” now – one who changes source inputs on the TV and AV receiver a lot, regularly switches between different surround modes, and occasionally fiddles with the black-level output on the DVD player – for them it’s a different game entirely: only a robust programmable remote will do. And for the person who lives with the “power user”, the right remote can empower you, too.
Line-of-sight (IR – infra-red) remotes can be divided into three categories:
“Dedicated” are the ones that came with the equipment. Some, like the TV remote for example, may have a few extra buttons on it to control a same-brand DVD player. Occasionally, a remote will come with one of the better AV receivers that can be programmed to control limited functions on other-brand devices – though they all do it rather awkwardly at best.
“Programmable” are ones you can buy at an electronics store for anywhere between $8 and $300. The cheaper ones will work like the cable remote, while some of the expensive ones require you to go online, register, and then go through a tedious series of questions before you hook up a USB cable between your computer and the remote to download your equipment configuration into it. When properly set up, these can work pretty well, and even do some trouble-shooting with you, but they’re limited to the way the remote designers think you should interact with your equipment, leaving little room for real customization – and it is only with such customization that a remote can truly serve your needs, rather than the manufacturer’s.
“Custom Programmable” – terms like “bees knees”, “badass”, and “why didn’t we do this in the first place?” come to mind. Unless you’re a talented enthusiast, you will need a professional AV expert to program this kind of remote – but the result will be so worth it. Remotes like these fall into the $175-and-up category, plus an hour or two of the programmer’s time. Think of your friends, relatives, or even the baby-sitter for a moment – imagine handing them a remote and saying, “Just push this button to turn everything on, and this one to turn it all off.” Then ask how much that convenience is worth.
So far, we’ve only looked at IR remotes that must be pointed at the equipment to do anything. But what if you don’t like seeing a hodgepodge of electronics in front of you all the time? Or if the system is in a nice cabinet but you hate that the door always has to be open to run it? There’s also the spectre of Carpal Tunnel from always angling your wrist just so each time to change a channel. Furthering the cause of health, décor and convenience are remotes that use radio frequency (RF, like your wireless phone) to talk to equipment that is completely out of sight! Only higher end remotes have this capability. And while the RF accessory adds about $100 to the equation, being able to look at the remote at eye level and not having to point it in any particular direction is pretty sweet, indeed.
So this has been the primer. In Part II next month, we’ll break it all down into a few specific brands and models, the pros and cons of each, and home in on the remote that’s exactly right for you. Remember, happy zappin’ is the goal here!
Over the past 22 years, Radames has professionally designed and installed hundreds of fine home theaters and multi-room audio systems across America. Please address questions and comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
IN THE AIR TONIGHT
LATINO LEGEND GEORGE LOPEZ ON THE LATE NIGHT FRAY
By Bret Love
You don’t have a career like George Lopez’s without being a fighter.
Born in 1961, the Mexican-American was abandoned by both parents by the age of 10 and raised by his maternal grandmother. Though he began his comedy career in the ‘80s, it wasn’t until Sandra Bullock gave him his own sitcom in 2002 that he achieved mainstream fame. Cursed with a genetic condition that caused his kidneys to deteriorate, Lopez not only received a successful kidney transplant courtesy of wife Ann in 2005, he also brought social awareness to the issue with a storyline on his hit show.
So you’d be a fool to bet against the guy as he enters the late night fray with his TBS talk show, Lopez Tonight, which debuted in November with a promise to re-energize the lagging format by “bringing the party back to late night.”
Lopez admits his journey to the top of the comedy heap has been an arduous one, but insists that the difficulties he faced along the way ultimately made him better. “The only way to improve as a comedian is to suffer and learn on the job. Every comedian’s biggest fear is walking into a nearly empty room, and you’re like, ‘I’m gonna eat it…’ But you have to eat it! You’ve gotta have that ‘I’m gonna knock ‘em out’ mentality. But there are a lot of hard knocks along the way.”
What did you learn from your years on the road that prepared you for all the projects you’re doing now?
Life on the road really teaches you to be self-sufficient. A lot of guys get sidetracked on the road– they drink too much or do drugs– but I used that time to make myself better. I knew I was better than just being a road comic, even though I was still doing it after being on Arsenio 16 times. But nothing was happening for me career-wise, and it was frustrating because I had to work harder to prove that I could be better.
You didn’t land your first TV show until 2002, when you were 41. What were the benefits of becoming famous later in life?
It gave me the perspective of age. I probably would’ve destroyed myself if it had happened when I was in my twenties. It just made me go through some of the hard knocks of life so I could appreciate everything instead of just blowing up and becoming an overnight success. It gave me an appreciation for the value of working hard. The first car I bought, or the first house, or the first time I got a nice watch– all those material things– I didn’t take them for granted. But the greatest benefit was the way it impacted my desire to become a better performer. Now, I appreciate what I have even more because I worked hard for it.
Time Magazine named you one of the 25 Most Influential Hispanics in the world. Do you see yourself as a sort of ambassador for Latino culture?
In the beginning, like 20 years ago when I was still basically a kid, we looked different from middle America because we weren’t as heavily populated as we are now. TV was very different back then, but now telenovelas and all those other Spanish language programs are huge! They get higher ratings than all the nightly news programs combined, and they’ve become an entity unto their own. As an English-speaking Latino who also speaks Spanish, I see an opportunity for my show to be inclusive rather than divisive. I want to bring the black, white, Latino, Asian, Middle Eastern and mixed race audiences together, and I want my show to look like what their lives look like every day.
Is that something you see missing from the late night talk show format?
Definitely. The format is a little down in the ratings, and the problem is all the shows are fighting over the same basic percentage of the pie. Some of their audience may come over to check out my show, but they don’t have to, if you check out the demographics TBS already attracts. They’re 20 years younger than the Tonight Show’s audience, with a huge number of African-Americans and Latinos, even before I get there. With the success of my sitcom I’ve managed to pull a lot of different demos together, but I still have that sort of underdog quality that Latinos love to support.
What does it mean to you to be this icon of your culture that young Latinos look up to?
It means everything to me! I watched guys like Desi Arnaz and Freddie Prinze, Jr. when I was growing up, and I hoped and dreamed that one day I could have a career like this. Very few people in this life get to live to see their dreams come true, and I’m proud to say that I’ve managed to do that.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
THE BELLEVILLE OUTFIT
Time To Stand
The Belleville Outfit has a really cool sound to them. Some of their tracks have a Squirrel Nut Zippers (without the Zoot Suit) vibe while others have a piano-driven rock ballad feel. It’s like ragtime babies were playing with the folk and rock kiddos together in the same sandbox and they decided to pick up instruments.
Confused now? Well… pick up Time To Stand. It’s a good 13-song introduction to The Belleville Outfit.
The songs all flow well together but each have a very different vibe. Vocal duties are traded off between the folksy vibe of Rob Teter and the timeless beauty of Phoebe Hunt. Separate they sound good... in harmony it’s exquisite.
The musicianship that this band shows is also amazing. These guys aren’t just going through the motions of being in a band; they all have a very good grasp on their instruments and know how to play together very well.
On to the songs. “Once and for All” is a classic folksy ballad. “Let Me Go” has a Steve Miller Band “Abracadabra” vibe to it. The fun cover of Louis Prima’s “Nothing’s Too Good For My Baby” is a great addition.
On songs like “Fly On” the violin is amazing while she plays a mean fiddle on “Outside Looking In. Hunt’s ability to jump from the classic violin sound to the country fiddle vibe reminded me of a little joke Buddy Huthmaker (http://www.huthmakerviolins.com/) once told me. Do you know the difference between a violin and a fiddle? The nut holding it.
All jokes aside, it’s hard to choose a song that rises above the rest on Time To Stand, as they really are all very good. But... if pressed I’d have to choose “Two Days of Darkness.” The piano and violin melt together as well as the pairing of Teter and Hunt’s voices. “Two days of darkness since you went away / I feel the same for you now as I did then / Heart in a prison won’t you let me escape / Come on home it’s been two days of darkness.”
The Belleville Outfit (bellevilleoutfit.com) is Teter (guitar, vocals), Hunt (violin, vocals), Connor Forsyth (keys), Jeff Brown (bass), Marshall Hood (guitar), and Jonathan Konya (percussion). – Sean Claes
Some people seem born to be farmers, teachers, engineers, and yes, even politicians. But some are born to be musicians…guitar slingers to be more precise, and Andy MacIntyre is one of those people. It’s a real challenge to sit down and write a review of his latest project Revolution because no matter what I come up with in the form of carefully considered criticism (and there’s several things that deserve mentioning, to be sure), the fact remains, I just can’t get enough of this guy’s guitar playing. He may not be the best songwriter (but he’s getting better all the time…), and he may not have the most distinctive voice (but he really moved me with the front porch-style acoustic cut, ‘109’, and actually made me cry with his tender ‘4th of July’ tune). It’s also obvious this guy practices…a lot. He’s fluid, versatile, and gutsy - he never lets technique trump what he wants to express. And did I forget to mention, Andy can play really fast as well (listen to his searing cover of Freddie King’s ‘In the Open’). But he’s not just showing off - every note has a purpose and comes straight from the heart. Its more like his guitar has so much to say that he wants to fit it all in before the song ends…and we get to go along for the ride! WOW.
Focusing on some bothersome details: the title of the album doesn’t work – there’s nothing ‘revolutionary’ about the style of the music (rockin’ Texas blues w/ some impressive finger-picking), and there’s certainly no sign of politics either. Since the record does a great job of showcasing Andy’s wide- ranging talents within the genre he’s chosen, ‘In the Open’ might have served better and tied into the cover art more effectively (another provocative design by Andrew Stearns).
The first track, ‘Makayla’ is beautifully complex and compelling (a little too compelling as an introduction to an artist you may have never heard), and it’s poorly mixed – the drums sound compressed and thin. The up-tempo, straight ahead ‘Sing Like A Bird’, or the catchy and heartfelt ‘Call My Name’ (which needs to be on the radio, pronto!), would have worked better as openers. There’s a real art to ordering an album and this one seems to have gotten jumbled up somehow. Since I’ve listened to it dozens of times now, I came up with another order: 4, 2, 7, 3, 1, 5, 9, 6, 8, and burned a copy…it’s awesome!
The song ‘Revolution’ is actually one of my favorites - a grinding, swampy, downbeat blues that gets under your skin with some unexpected chord changes, rhythmic stutters and change-ups, a soulful vocal performance, and tasteful guitar embellishments. Song for song, this dynamic second effort by Andy MacIntyre is heads and shoulders above his first record, Set Me Free. There’s much more thoughtfulness and maturity on display here and I can only imagine where his guitar will take him in the next few years…I plan on being front and center to see it! - Marsha Mann
The Jeremy Miller Band
Way Too Fast
Cut from the same cloth as Red Dirt rockers like Reckless Kelley and Cory Morrow, The Jeremy Miller Band comes out of the gate like seasoned veterans with Way Too Fast. It really is amazing to know this is their self-released freshman effort.
The tunes kick off with the driving title track. It’s a half-ballad, half-rocker that sets the pace and the theme. These are songs about losing, loving, and leaving. Typical country fodder, but these guys have a little different twist. Lyrically and musically this album is on par with the guys in the big leagues.
“Sorry” is a powerful ballad about the end of a relationship. The unapologetic “Life I Lead” is a snapshot into Miller’s world. “Little Bit” is a beautiful duet with Beverly Hensley.
The Chuck Berry infused rocker “No More” is a funny little ditty about being on the deserving end of the cold shoulder. With lyrics like “I probably never meant it when I said, your best girlfriend was better in bed. Baby don’t you love me no more?”
But to me the standout track on this album is the final one. “17 Wheels” is the story of a trucker who was a part of a horrific accident caused by a flat tire. “You can’t stop 17 wheels from rolling, when the 18th is on the ground”
I really dug this CD. There isn’t a song I don’t like between the 10 tracks. They’ve got that Red Dirt sound down well, Miller’s voice is just the right tinge of whiskey stained and his lyrics are framed within the country/rock/jam music played by guitarist Sonny Bihl and bassist Seth Tobin.
Take a listen to it for yourself at thejeremymillerband.com. You can also see where to catch them live from there as well. – Sean Claes
Adrian and the Sickness
From second one of “Modern Freedom,” the first track of B.F.D., by Austin’s Adrian and the Sickness, they musically kick down the door and throw you up against the wall.
Led by the dreadlocked Adrian Conner, this all-female power trio has been trudging through the muck and the mire of the Austin scene for a half a decade. Somewhere along the line the band caught the ear of a member of one of the most famous all-female bands - Kathy Valentine of The Go Go’s. Valentine produced B.F.D. and it does not disappoint.
On this release the band easily walks the line from an in-your-face punk sound with shredding guitars (“Rice and Beans,” “Not Sure”) to a friendly and fun pop feel (“Listening,” “Talk To Me”). The Valentine influence is very apparent in the latter.
I like the Adrian-A-Go-Go’s sound of the lighter stuff, but I’ve got to say, they shine the brightest when Conner’s guitar work is able to be at the forefront. Songs like “What Ya Do To Me” and “Turn It Up” should be played at high volume. Preferably in a residential area (Yes.. that’s a Dr. Dre line. It just fit here). And if you can’t get into their cover of Golden Earring’s “Radar Love” you should just turn the radio to the talk station and give up on music altogether.
My favorite track on B.F.D. is the Led Zeppelin-esque “Loser.” Musically it’s a great jam and lyrically it’s the classic tell-off song. “Did I tell you that I really don't give a care? / Your game is old / come and yell at me if you dare. / You will it’s your way / I cannot wait / until I never ever see your face.”
Obviously I’m digging B.F.D. The vocal harmonies rock, the musicianship is great, and the songs meld well together. I’m actually kicking myself for not catching them live yet. I hear their show is amazing. If it’s half as enjoyable at this CD, it’ll totally be worth the cover.
Adrian and the Sickness is Conner (Vocals/Guitar), Heather Webb (Bass), and Melodie Zapata (Drums). Check out their website to find out more about them and see where they play next - http://www.adrianrocks.com/. – Sean Claes
George Palmer Macias
I’d never heard of George Palmer Macias when I this CD arrived a few months back. Then I got busy and it got lost in the shuffle of life. I was looking for a new CD to review for my 52 CD reviews in 52 weeks project and I came across Firefly in a stack of other CDs. I decided to pop it into my player.
I don’t know what I expected to hear, but Macias’ smooth Americana tone was a nice surprise - his voice has a very soothing Roy Orbison feel to it. Much more than this, the lyrics, all penned by Macias (save for 2 sentences in “Ringtail”) are inspired.
The musical journey that is Firefly takes a path down several different musical genres. Songs like “Break This Bottle” and “The Way The River Flows” could have been recorded by Orbison himself. “Don’t Touch The Money” has a Latin Texas Tornados flair to it. “Where in the World” is a Do-Wop Carmen Sandiego treat that tests your geography knowledge. Firefly even has a biographical song about Texas founding father Martin Parmer in “Ringtail.”
Musically, my favorite track on Firefly is “Take This Town.” It’s an up-tempo Los Lobos-meets-Neil Young jam. Lyrically, “Milky Way” holds top billing for me. “Slow down this planet is spinning to fast. / I reach for the stars but they slip my grasp. / Just some matter, some blood, some clay. / Ball of dust in the cosmic fray. / Spinning around in the Milky Way.”
And to think… I almost didn’t give this one a chance. Make sure you don’t make that mistake. If you’re a fan of the Roy Orbison rock-meets-country sound, you’ll like Firefly.
Although this is his first solo album, Macias was a member of The Regulars, which was a group who played the happy hour slot every Friday at The Saxon Pub for about five years.
For more information about Macias or to hear a few tracks off Firefly visit his website - http://www.texisscafe.com/artist/georgepalmermacias or check him out on Facebook - www.facebook.com/gpmacias – Sean Claes
The first time I saw Tom Gillam live, it was at Gruene Hall in the summer of 2006. He had just died. Really. In March 2006 he died on the operating table of a heart attack. Of course, the doctors were able to bring him back and he resumed his music career… eventually moving to Austin.
Gillam wasted no time in getting friendly with the locals when he arrived in town. Guest musicians on Had Enough? include the likes of Guy Forsyth, Ed Jurdiÿ (Band of Heathens), and Micky Braun. His backing band, Tractor Pull, is nothing to sneeze at either. Regular member include producer Joe Carroll (guitars), Alejandro Escovedo alum Al Durham (guitar), Tim McMaster (bass), Craig Simon, and Dave Latimer.
That said, Had Enough? continues the progression of Gillams sound, which is decidedly roots-rock with an Americana twang to it. It’s got that Eagles feel to it with Gillam’s vocals sounding like a cross between Tom Petty, Todd Snider and Ian Moore.
On Had Enough? Gillam is able to easily jump from rocking roadhouse jams like “Had Enough” or “Ride” to ballads like “Million Miles Away” and “Tear In The Rain.”
How do you choose standouts on an album with 11 really well crafted songs? How about I choose a rocker and a ballad?
“She Was A Dancer…” is a toe-tapping jam seemingly about a stripper that includes the line “I’d spend a fortune just to get her to turn around.” On the flip side “Ready To Begin” is probably the song I took most to heart. Everyone deserves a second chance (in Gillam’s case he literally got one) and this track is about making the change in your life to become…well... who you actually are. “Time to be allright in my own skin. “The road behind has finally led me here / The road ahead you never know / I was blind once now I see things oh so clear / I think I know the way to go.”
Gillam has lived in Austin for about a year now and we’re glad he’s here. But, as he said when I saw him on stage in 2006, I’ll bet he’s just happy to be anywhere.
He’s playing several shows in Austin this month. check him out at http://www.tomgillam.com. – Sean Claes
Odd Augmentation, Inc.
This freshman effort from seasoned emcee Ratarue (A member of Austin’s Spin Alley) is a solid throwback hip-hop effort. I say throwback because his sound doesn’t subscribe to the current trend in the rap/hip hop scene. He doesn’t swear every three words. He doesn’t form tracks around objectifying women or spit meaningless self-masturbatory lyrics. It’s not mindless repetition backed by a heavy bassline. More Tribe Called Quest and less Lil Wayne. More Del The Funky Homosapien and less Soulja Boy.
The 18 song album (15 + 3 bonus tracks) is chock full of great tracks. He tips his hat to Jimi Hedrix in “Jimi’s Warning,” talks about lost love in “Time Heals A Broken Heart,” and calls out someone with a girl who has “stink breath like Frodo Baggins” in the battle-rap “Opiates and Flatbeds.”
Yes, there are songs about making money (“Maintain Scrilla”), sex (“Mad Eps”), and fame (“Radio”) but they are done with complex lyrics layered with some impressive scratches, mostly by Austin’s DJ Trouble. Ratarue seems set on elevating hip-hop and Odd Augmentation, Inc is his calling card.
“800 Pound Gorilla” is a standout on Odd Augmentation. It’s got a really nice acoustic guitar loop overlaid by drums and scratches. But, the lyrics are the most impressive. “Invigorating, elaborate, conscious is my approach / To put him in denial is to get your body broke.”
I also really dug “One Bite At A Time,” a track about making it in life. “The ego is an ugly troll that lives under a bridge between your heart and your mind. A rabbit’s foot is a sad substitute for horse’s sense. How to eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
Odd Augmentation was released on January 25 at an INsite Night in Austin. It can be found at Waterloo Records. If you’re a fan of hip-hop with meaning, you should pick this one up. For more information about Ratarue, visit his MySpace (http://www.myspace.com/ratarue). – Sean Claes
A Good Rogering
Suffering Dog Records
I first met Skunk Manhattan a few years back when he was playing with Austin’s Quartershackle (he still does). I never actually got his real name. Just “Skunk.” Of course the name was personified by his Mohawk w/blond stripe running down the middle. At that time I thought, he’d stand out in any band with that.
I ran into him again last March and he introduced me to his other band – A Good Rogering where Manhattan is the lead vocalist and guitarist. In this outfit he is joined by bassist “Chef Bull R.D.” who wears a plaid red oversized chef’s hat and a drummer that goes by the name Mr. Nub. So much for Skunk being the standout in the band.
Last week I got their debut CD Long Overdue in the mail. It’s going to be released this month. Coming in at just under 30 minutes, this seven-track debut album by A Good Rogering is really riding the cusp of EP vs. LP. It also begins with “Pilot” - a 40 second introduction to the band done in a 1970’s television theme-song manner. Pretty funny, and just what I was expecting from a band in costume.
When I didn’t expect was what came next. “Born To Follow” kicks in and it’s a fantastic Rob Zombie-meets-Metallica-meets Pantera rock anthem. The guitar-rock continues through “Never Miss” and “Salt & Rust” before slowing up for the 007-esque Bjork cover “Isobel.” Yes, they cover a Bork song. Well, I might ad. Once the Bjork-break is over the album ends on a brutal note with “Survey The Remains” and “Stop Scratching.”
You know.. sometimes a band has a gimmick to draw a crowd and can’t back it up with the music. I’ve got to say, A Good Rogering has something special. They may get your attention with the skunk stripe and chef hat, but once they have your attention, they’ll likely keep it with their talent. They can do in-your-face hard rock as well as pull off a technical and beautiful ballad. Heck.. I found a video on YouTube where they do a darn nice rendition of Digital Underground’s “Freaks of the Industry.”
Visit them online at agoodrogering.com to see where they play during Texas Rockfest. I know I’m going to try and catch them soon. – Sean Claes
If you’ve been around the hard rock / metal scene in Austin for a bit you’ve heard of or seen Powderburn. They’re a love/hate band. If you have an opinion about them it’s usually a pretty strong one. Kind of like Vallejo or Bob Schneider. For the record, I fall in the “love” category for all three. So, it makes sense that I choose Powderburn’s One Fix to review for the review that will be posted during Valentine’s Day.
Released late last year, Powderburn has really matured on this CD. It’s their first release since 2007’s Echoed In Red EP. One Fix has Powderburn coming off less like a metal club band and more like someone that could hold down a stage at bigger venues. They’ve got that Metallica-meets-Alice In Chains –meets- Breaking Benjamin sound that is too soft for Ozzfest but too hard for Austin City Limits Music Fest. Which is, perhaps, why they are still rocking the smaller clubs.
But don’t get me wrong, this band is sponsored by Jagermeister and does a show up right. This isn’t just four guys with instruments that stare at the ground. A Powderburn concert is an event with lights, shots, and many times scantily clad women giving away schwag.
But… on to the CD. One Fix is a good ten-track 45-minute ride full of sweet hard rock. The album kicks off with the five minute “Black Untold” that gets your blood pumping before going into the title track. “Slowly Divide” could be a Metallica ballad. “One By One” will have people in the crowd at a live show chanting.
My favorite track on One Fix is “Break Away” a jam that seems to be about a blackout and waking up not sure where you are. Growing up on the border, I can appreciate this song. “Then you wake up famished / and your friends have vanished / the girl speaks Spanish / and you can’t understand a thing.”
The epic seven minute “A Small Victory” ends the album nicely. I’d complain that they’ve only put out 4 albums in 10 years, but it seems Powderburn is doing things on their pace in order to turn in an album full of well structured and well thought out songs. As the old school saying goes “all killer and no filler.”
If you’d like to get the album, there are a few packages available on their MySpace Page (http://www.myspace.com/powderburn) and if you scroll down, you can get the whole thing as a download for free by signing up to their mailing list. – Sean Claes
Ray Wylie Hubbard
A. Enlightenment B. Endarkenment (Hint: There is no C)
Ray Wylie Hubbard is the only person I know that can put as much passion into singing about the Apocalypse as singing about a wasp nest on his back porch. He takes a song about baptism as serious as one about banging pots and pans. With A. Enlightenment B. Endarkenment (Hint: There is no C) he explores these subjects and much more.
The title track is the classic song about life being a choice, this time in a very Edgar Allen Poe manner with a black sparrow coming to him in a dream. In “Drunken Poet’s Dream” Hubbard rhymes “gasoline” with “mescaline” “scream” and “dream” and you can’t help but sing along. “Tornado Ripe” tells the story of a natural disaster. “Wasp’s Nest” is a crawling blues song about… well… wasps. “Pots and Pans” is simplistic and amazing. “Every Day Is The Day Of The Dead” is one of the tracks he wrote for the upcoming movie he wrote called Last Rites of Ransom Pride (http://www.lastritesfilm.com/).
It amazes me how Hubbard can grasp and sing about deeply religious themes in such a moving way. Between his raspy voice, the hauntingly beautiful music, and the words he chooses to paint the picture it’s an amazing listen. On A. Enlightenment B. Endarkenment (Hint: There is no C) he gives us two such tracks – the revival inspired “Whoop and Hollar” and “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” the song taken from the pages of Revelation. “Black and Red, White and Pale. Death and War, Famine and Pestilence. The end will begin with the sound of approaching hoof beats of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”
The rock and roll song akin to his “Live and Die Rock and Roll.” “Rock and Roll’s A Vicious Game” is the killer “Loose.” It’s actually a post-death memory of someone who never stopped living the “rock and roll” lifestyle. “Now the girl walked like she was on Bourbon Street. In those days she had grown men kneeling at her feet. She took to an old profession as a source of revenue. Now all she’s taking with her is a dress from Sacks Fifth Avenue.”
A. Enlightenment B. Endarkenment (Hint: There is no C) was released in mid-January. For more about Ray Wylie Hubbard, visit his website - http://www.raywylie.com/ – Sean Claes
Twang Twang Shock-A-Boom
Me So Twangy (20th Anniversary Edition)
Folks that lived in Austin in 1989-1990 probably have heard of the eclectic acoustic jam band Twang Twang Shock-A-Boom. Others who are dedicated Davíd (Dah-Veed) Garza Fans possibly know this band as the band he was in before he embarked on his own impressive and quirky solo career.
In late 2009 the boys of Twang Twang re-released their 1990 Me So Twangy on CD it’s the 20th Anniversary Edition. It was originally only on tape. They did it in style with four sold-out shows at Austin’s soon-to-be gone Cactus Café in December.
Me So Twangy is not only a great timestamp of Austin music (I hear their busking in the West Mall was a thing of legend) but I believe it stand up to today’s music. The real music with people actually playing instruments, not the electronically playback dance grooves. I’d align it with the Matt The Electrician, Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz, Southpaw Jones, and Todd Snider.
Me So Twangy is a highly danceable music… the acoustic flamenco-meets-1960s rock-kind of dance music. Forget your cares for about 40 minutes and let your body and mind be taken on a ride. Release your mind and your legs will follow. The album gets your feet moving with “Always Give Your Love Away,” and keeps that high-energy throughout the disc. Other jams include “Blue,” “It’s No Secret,” and “Nicotine Queen.” It’s not all dance jams, they slow it down for “While My Hair Grows Long” and “Quiet.” Of course there’s the obligatory why-can’t-we-all-get-along song “My Wish” (it’s a college student thing).
The most fun track on Me So Twangy and my favorite has to be “Fishsticks.” It’s the epitome of strange and fantastic. “If I were going to a jewelry store / I’d buy you a big diamond ring / If I were going to a candy store I’d make sure to get you some gum and a pair of Shrinky Dinks / But I’m not going anywhere, at least, at least not yet / I may be going to a grocery store, but if I do I won’t forget my fish sticks.”
The CD ends with “Bigstick,” a stream of consciousness spit where Garza proclaims his love for chunky peanut butter among other things.
The disc can only be found at Austin’s Waterloo Records (where it sat at the top of their “Local Top Ten” list for seven weeks). Follow them on Facebook – http://www.tinyurl/twangfacebook for more information and to reconnect. – Sean Claes