Archive for Care

White Lies

White LiesAs I listened through the first few tracks of To Lose My Life…, the debut album from White Lies, I was readying a favorable post. I was gonna talk about how I didn’t understand what everybody’s problem was with this post-punk sound — example: Pitchfork thinks the entire Killers catalogue is mediocre and they generally didn’t like this record. It seemed fun enough to me and I really kinda dug the grandiose tunes.

Then, around track five, it started to hit me. They all just sound the same. I get tired of hearing myself say that but it’s just so true. “Death”, the opener, is totally not a bad song at all. In fact, if I’d heard it on the radio, I’d probably have thought to myself, “wow, that Killers song was actually pretty good!”

Hm, yeah, now I’m starting to understand.

THE VERDICT: Eh, I’d still kinda like to stop by. What can I say?

Walter "Wolfman" Washington

Walter \"Wolfman\" WashingtonIt’s strange how vividly I’m able to predict how some of these acts will fit into my schedule. With a very high degree of certainty, I can say that Walter “Wolfman” Washington will garner at least a few songs worth of my attention at the WaMu tent on Friday afternoon. I mean, I say this not taking into consideration the other Friday acts and, of course, having no idea what the actual schedule will be, but I’ve been through this song and dance before. Funky blues will get a hold of my ears and not let go.

It’s not even that Wolf Tracks is that interesting to me (it’s fine but I wish it was more upbeat). I can just clearly imagine the set being engaging, having huge solos and audience interaction, and just generally being a fun time. It certainly doesn’t hurt that twelve-bar blues is one of my favorite sounds. I guess my high school obsession with Tower of Power is still latent in some capacity.

THE VERDICT: Pretty much automatically.

Walter “Wolfman” Washington

Walter \"Wolfman\" WashingtonIt’s strange how vividly I’m able to predict how some of these acts will fit into my schedule. With a very high degree of certainty, I can say that Walter “Wolfman” Washington will garner at least a few songs worth of my attention at the WaMu tent on Friday afternoon. I mean, I say this not taking into consideration the other Friday acts and, of course, having no idea what the actual schedule will be, but I’ve been through this song and dance before. Funky blues will get a hold of my ears and not let go.

It’s not even that Wolf Tracks is that interesting to me (it’s fine but I wish it was more upbeat). I can just clearly imagine the set being engaging, having huge solos and audience interaction, and just generally being a fun time. It certainly doesn’t hurt that twelve-bar blues is one of my favorite sounds. I guess my high school obsession with Tower of Power is still latent in some capacity.

THE VERDICT: Pretty much automatically.

Daniel Johnston

Daniel JohnstonWhere do I begin?

I have to admit that I must be a terrible Austinite. I had no clue where the famous “Hi, How Are You” mural came from before I started looking into Daniel Johnston a few days ago. Let’s get this clear: Songs of Pain is really good. I imagine I’ll enjoy a decent chunk of his other albums when I go through them (I already know I love “Walking the Cow”). Beyond that, some of the covers of his songs are wonderful — see: TV on the Radio’s “Walking the Cow” and Beck’s “True Love Will Find You in the End”. Johnston is, it seems, an Austin icon in every sense.

That said, I seriously can’t decide if I want to see this set or not. By all accounts, Johnston is a severely overweight man whose mental health is sharply deteriorating and, frankly, I just don’t know if I want to experience it in person. I was already afflicted with Bob Dylan a couple of years ago and I see this being eerily similar: a bunch of people cheering and applauding because the man is trying his best. I suppose I can’t very well say that I “don’t care” about Johnston’s show but, wow, I’ll have to keep thinking about this.

THE VERDICT: Ick. I guess so. I’m pretty terrified, though.

Secret Agent 23 Skidoo

Secret Agent 23 SkidooAh, 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.

The Virgins

The VirginsI 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.

Dan Auerbach

Dan AuerbachI don’t especially care for The Black Keys and that one song they copy and paste eleven times on each album. I stayed for one tune at their ACL set last year and I still wonder why. Apparently, though, none of what I dislike about them carries over to Dan Auerbach‘s solo album Keep It Hid. I’m as surprised as anyone but the record is hip and fun and, for lord’s sake, not boring at all.

It’s impressive. It’s freely streamable, too (for the moment). I’ll even recommend some tracks: “Trouble Weighs a Ton”, “Mean Monsoon”, “The Prowl”, and “My Last Mistake” should all get you riled up. Most importantly, though, I’ll be checking out this set with my head held high.

THE VERDICT: You betcha.

Nelo

NeloThese guys may be on to something. Formed in Austin, Nelo will have a career there as long as they want. They have exactly the laid-back jammy sound that Austinites tend to go crazy about and, honestly, they’re closer to Dave Matthews Band than I’m comfortable admitting. I like what I’ve heard — hooray pop songs, boo “messages” — and I can already envision them being just what the doctor ordered for the hottest hours of Friday.

For the interested listener, their tunes might take some searching. I’ll start you off with a couple of choice tracks, though: “Roots” and “The Note“. It’s really a shame that the biggest following around Nelo will almost certainly be UT frat-boys who are intrigued by this urban version of country music. Whatever.

THE VERDICT: Looking forward to it.

The Raveonettes

The RaveonettesI 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.

Brett Dennen

Brett DennenIn a way, Brett Dennen is a perfect act for ACL. His songs are shockingly reminiscent of Paul Simon. Calm and easy-going, it’s just the thing that the dad-rock aficionados can chill out to in their University of Kentucky fold-out chairs and 20-ounce Coors Lights.

I’m not knocking the guy, though. His tunes are pleasant and he takes himself only as seriously as a folk-pop artist should. “San Francisco” gives us an alternative Frommer’s Guide for the Bay Area (and, disappointingly, is not a cover song) and sets a fun tone for Hope for the Hopeless. I could see Dennen being one of those sets I stop at for a minute and end up staying at for a while.

Also, knowing the way they give out Grammy awards these days, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this guy nominated for one soon. Just saying.

THE VERDICT: Why not? Maybe he’ll even be on the BMI stage and I can sit on that little hill and cool off.