Archive for ACL 2009 Preparation

State Radio

State RadioThe prevalence and popularity of reggae music is always something that has boggled my mind. I simply don’t see the appeal of Bob Marley or Sublime, and when I stopped by Slightly Stoopid’s ACL set in 2008, I felt even further vindicated in my disdain. State Radio don’t buck the trend enough to make me interested but I did wanna give them some props. Their album The Barn Sessions is reasonable and, at times, even engaging. I would never have expected myself to say that about the reggae-rock epics they’ve recorded.

Some of the tunes are downright reminiscent of the random reggae deviations you find on albums like The Clash and My Aim Is True. The difference, though, is that those tunes are the exception and not the rule. When I listen to State Radio, the songs seem lengthy for the sake of filling up a 74-minute disc.

THE VERDICT: Seriously, I never thought I’d speak this favorably about a reggae album.

The Soul Stirrers

The Soul StirrersShame on me, I guess, for having no clue who The Soul Stirrers are. Evidently, they’ve been going strong (with varying lineups, of course) since 1926. Sam Cooke even headed them up for awhile and, although I really don’t know much of anything about soul music, I’ve heard that name before, therefore he is important.

Let’s keep the context, though. I’m, frankly, not sure which album I’m listening to but it seems to be a self-titled one. The album is a cappella and, judging by the warmth of the recording, must have been cut in the ’60s, at the earliest. Who knows what I’d be getting if I went to their set at ACL? I’d loosely expect a backing band and, beyond that, four guys who have only cursory connections to the original group. As much as I like the gospel sound, I probably have to pass on this.

THE VERDICT: I really do like ’em but I’m just not sure I wanna bother with the current version.

Alberta Cross

Alberta CrossCrack open a brew, sit back in your lawn chair, and cool off to the folk-rock groove of Alberta Cross. Meanwhile, I’ll be checking out The Virgins, blissfully unaware of the middle-aged Texan-fest going on at the Barton Springs stage (oh, by the way, the schedule has been released!). It’s not that I dislike slow-paced music, as a rule, but to have an entire catalogue of it is silly.

Admittedly, the deck was stacked against these guys. Saturday’s already a tough day to compete during for my mindshare and, as luck would have it, they were put up against The Virgins, whom I’ve already lauded. The lack of upbeat tunes isn’t helping the Alberta Cross case at all, though.

THE VERDICT: As much as I’d love to awkwardly stand around and pretend like I’m into it, I’ll pass.

The Henry Clay People

The Henry Clay PeopleI’ve never really liked punk rock all that much (well, save for Me First and the Gimme Gimmes) and I have a hard time classifying The Henry Clay People as much else. At this point, I’ve listened through For Cheap or for Free and didn’t care; then I listened through some weird live album and continued not to care.

To their credit, they seem to have a slightly more versatile sound than standard old punk rock — “This Ain’t a Scene” sounds downright Tom Petty-esque. As much as I admire a willingness to deviate, though, it almost certainly won’t be enough to attract my eyeballs in person. I guess if I’m particularly annoyed with the alternative acts at that point, I’ll head over.

THE VERDICT: Highly doubtful.

The Dead Weather

The Dead WeatherTo set the record straight, I don’t particularly like the Raconteurs. Broken Boy Soldiers is boring and, even though Consolers of the Lonely is much better, I just expected more as a big Brendan Benson/White Stripes fan. I was even surprised at how unenthralled I was at the Raconteurs set at last year’s ACL. Add to that the last-minute cancelation of the White Stripes show in 2007 and, well:

The Dead Weather had better get this right.

Horehound is a gem and it actually gives Jack White a side-project chance to shine on stage as opposed to the ho-hum Raconteurs who can’t decide who to feature. I’m not so deluded to pretend that I don’t really just want the White Stripes (and, let’s be honest, the Dead Weather aren’t all that far from it) but I’m still looking forward to this show.

THE VERDICT: Jack White owes me.

The Avett Brothers

The Avett BrothersEmotionalism isn’t the latest album by the Avett Brothers (see: I and Love and You) but since the “latest” one isn’t out yet — and nobody seems to have a preview copy — the tracks I’ve actually heard include “Die Die Die”, “Paranoia in B Major”, “Will You Return”. Make no mistake: they’re really good and generally upbeat which is not what I’d expected.

I wasn’t sure how much I’d buy into this indie-folk kind of thing, considering how burnt out I’ve been on Rilo Kiley and the like (I’m looking at you, Saddle Creek Records). The Avett Brothers have a fresh sound to my ears, though. They’re adequately hip and bluesy at the same time and I’m definitely fine with that.

THE VERDICT: Sounds like a good afternoon possibility.

Jypsi

JypsiPretty standard country fare. Don Imus likes Jypsi and he’d know better than I would. Their tunes are catchy and they use a fiddle and they’re all siblings — like pretty much every other country act you’ve ever heard of.

Not that I tried incredibly hard but I couldn’t find a free copy of their new album, I Don’t Love You Like That, which, I don’t know, I guess I’ve come to expect during this whole project. Admittedly, I’m one of those awful people who just generally doesn’t spend money on music but still. It seems like a relatively unknown country group would be willing to front the tunes.

What do I know.

THE VERDICT: Not for me.

Deer Tick

Deer TickI don’t think I’ve ever really heard Kings of Leon (although: forthcoming!) but my prejudice has decided that Deer Tick sound just like them. Uh, for whatever that’s worth.

Take some old-timey rock-and-roll, add a country twang, pulse for thirty seconds, and you’ve got Born on Flag Day. And, yeah, I really don’t know what else to say. There are a couple of choice tracks (“Easy”, “Straight into a Storm”) but it all seems so standard. That’s what makes my “job” hard, too, because these guys are almost the definition of my borderline.

I’m gonna say “no” on this one but I’ll live with the fact that I’ll probably end up checking them out anyway.

THE VERDICT: These guys are from Rhode Island? I’m so confused.

Vince Mira

Vince MiraThis kid (17 years old) has pretty much nailed the Johnny Cash sound. It only takes a couple of songs to realize that Vince Mira has real talent. There’s a catch, though: it’s so unbelievably clear that he’s trying to emulate Cash that you really just want to hear cover songs. It’s not exactly the same as Paul McCartney playing his solo stuff instead of Beatles tracks but it’s the same sort of idea. Some sounds are simply inseparable from their originators.

At the least, it seems that he’ll be able to do those covers. Mira’s Cash Cabin Sessions EP was actually produced by John Carter Cash (Johnny’s son) — which is noted in very prominent wording on the cover — so I guess the family is cool with him. For me, the EP has the same problem as Johnny’s studio catalogue does: it just works better as a live performance.

Good thing this is live set!

THE VERDICT: Please play “Wreck of the Old 97”. Please.

Q Brothers

Q BrothersI guess this is an Austin Kiddie Limits thing but I actually can’t tell. While there does exist visual evidence that Q Brothers have performed “AKL” in the past, they reference “busting my balls” in their songs and, I don’t know, that just doesn’t seem like it’s for the kids. But then they talk about where bruises come from. Wow.

“Hustlin'” might be one of the worst songs ever produced, for children or otherwise, and “You Make Me Feel Good” is of a similar terribleness. If the kids (the literal ones) go nuts over this, then fine, but I’m not going to take any part in it.

THE VERDICT: No. Absolutely not.