Shame 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.
Crack 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.
I’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.
I 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.
Yep, it’s indie folk, alright. Impressive as For Emma, Forever Ago may be, I’m shaky, at best, on going to the Bon Iver set. It’s a Fleet Foxes thing — they’re pretty and cute and fun to listen to with headphones but, when it’s 98 degrees outside, standing in the sun watching a few somber guys play down-tempo music is just not what I’ll be looking for.
Who knows, though? The hipsters think this guy is important and, really, “For Emma” could be a perfectly uplifting song to hear. I’ll plan to stop by but I won’t be at all surprised if it’s one of those 5-minute affairs.
THE VERDICT: Yeah, okay, fine.
I guess I just don’t like trip-hop. Artifact is a perfectly accessible and listenable piece of work and I was surprised at how much I didn’t hate it. Unfortunately, that only puts Sound Tribe Sector 9 somewhere between “boring” and “okay background music”. Let’s be honest, here: this is stoner jam music. I don’t care for that type of crowd at ACL and I’ll be happy not to come into contact with them.
To that end, I wonder to what extent I’d be excited about seeing, say, Pink Floyd — in their prime, let’s say — when I know that a ton of their audience are only there because “this band’s a trip, dude”. Maybe I’m too judgmental here and just need to cool out to the groove. Then again, maybe people need to grow up and stop catering to this demographic.
THE VERDICT: God no.
The Departed was a fine movie but maybe it wasn’t worth it. Flogging Molly contributed the trademark tune “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” to the soundtrack and now you hear that song all the freaking time. Whether it’s playing on the radio loudspeaker at the bakery or being used as a minor league ballplayer’s intro music, the city of Boston is happy and I simply don’t care for that.
Oh, wait. That’s a Dropkick Murphys song. How embarrassing.
Am I gonna check out the Flogging Molly set? Yes, for a few reasons, not the least of which is that sometimes punk shows are just inexplicably fun. In the spirit of this guide, though, do I especially care whether or not I see the show? I really can’t say I do.
THE VERDICT: I don’t care but I’ll likely end up there anyway.
Ah, yes. I was wondering when the Austin Kiddie Limits stuff would start showing up. As far as a children’s entertainer goes, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo isn’t bad at all. He touts his music as “hip hop for kids with the sound that’s all grown-up” and, really, he’s not far off. If you’ll allow that the rhymes are gonna be cute and uplifting, “Gotta Be Me” is actually a pretty fresh song. “Luck” and “The Last Dragon” aren’t as catchy but, you know, I’m glad somebody is tapping this market.
Will I bother, though? Admittedly, it wouldn’t be the first time I trekked over to the Kiddie Limits stage. I made sure to see what Ben Kweller was up to over there a couple of years ago. If the timetables are permissive, I could see myself catching a song or two. I bet the kiddie breakdancing floor (a real thing) will be going nuts.
THE VERDICT: I wouldn’t say I’m “looking forward to it” or anything but, yeah, we’ll see.
I admit I’m probably a sucker for dance rock but I still think The Virgins are legitimately good. Although I’m a year late hearing about their self-titled record, I’m glad I did. The whole album is absolutely worth listening to but, if I’m picking out some highlights, don’t you dare miss “Rich Girls”, “Fernando Pando”, or “One Week of Danger”.
The production is polished and the licks are sharp, sure, but let’s not miss the point: this set is gonna make people get up and dance. There’s no way I’m missing that. I just want to entertain the delusion that I’m on to these guys before anybody else.
THE VERDICT: Oh, absolutely.
I actually have some past experience with The Raveonettes — one of my anonymous coworkers has both Chain Gang of Love and Pretty in Black on his iTunes share. I remember being unsure of which one I preferred: the former is catchier and more upbeat (“That Great Love Song”, “Let’s Rave On”) but the latter shows more polish and basically acts as a send-up of the 1950s (“The Heavens”, “My Boyfriend’s Back”). Oh, and then there’s Lust Lust Lust which is a sort of shoegazing type thing.
These kids are weird and, although I can’t say any of their records melted my cares away, I think they could put on one heck of a live show. Naturally, I’d like for them to stick mostly to the garage rock stuff but, you know, it’s all good. I wouldn’t even mind if they decided to have their entire set list be played at 140 beats per minute. They seem to dig gimmicks like that.
THE VERDICT: See you there.