The 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.
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.
Pretty 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.
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.
I 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.
I guess this is another one of those local-ish choir groups put in the WaMu tent. I’m pretty sure of that and, as is expected with acts like this, I can’t really find any music to listen to.
In the interest of writing a minimum of two paragraphs: I doubt they have anything to do with the Linux text-editor by the same name, although maybe they’re somewhat related to this Diakonos Counseling thing? At least in the ministry sense? I don’t know anything about this stuff.
Oh, also, these guys don’t even seem to be on the lineup anymore. It seems weird that a small act like this would bother to cancel a set at a major festival but I guess they did. Weirdos.
THE VERDICT: Barton Hills Choir II.
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.
More Austin Kiddie Limits stuff. It’s kind of strange, though. I feel myself lowering my standards for music intended for kids — understandably so, I think — and yet I still could see some label like Saddle Creek having no problem signing Lunch Money. Maybe that’s just because “A Cookie as Big as My Head” sounds a lot like Rilo Kiley to me.
Truth be told, the indie pop sound is pretty irresistible in this context; it’s almost like if Tenacious D were targeted towards 9-year-olds (wait a second..). In a predictably deferential sense, though, I’ll pass. I love the aspiring hipster kids and all but, you know, I grew tired of stegosauruses long ago.
THE VERDICT: Cute but nah.