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Review: Band of Horses/Midlake @ Verizon Center

11 Apr

We have another great review from Tommy Garcia today. And, again, sit tight because we have a big project in the works that will not disappoint you.

By Tommy Garcia

Band of Horses and Midlake played to a capacity crowd at the Verizon Center in Grand Prairie Thursday night. Both bands expanded their signature sounds to project to a massive venue that surely would have dwarfed lesser acts.

The show opened with North Carolina based singer songwriter Tyler Ramsey. Ramsey shuffled between several open-tuned acoustic guitars throughout his concise six-song set. Carrying the banner for this generation’s obsession with and emulation of Neil Young, Ramsey gently finger picked through melancholy, laconic tunes, often times recalling a stripped down version of Fleet Foxes. Ramsey’s smooth vocals and reflective folk musings provided a nice back drop as the audience slowly streamed in.

Denton’s own Midlake peeked their heads out from Panhandle House Studios, where the band is hard at work crafting their next album, to support their friends Band of Horses. The band opened their set with “Winter Dies”, from last year’s polarizing release The Courage of Others. The band stuck to songs from Courage and their break-out album, 2006’s The Trials of Van Occupanther. As the band kicked in to the driving “Roscoe”, lead singer Tim Smith joked, “This is the song that made us rich and famous.” Continue reading

Live Review: Smith Westerns, Yuck & Sunset @ The Loft

9 Feb

By Callie Windle

{{Sunset}}, Yuck Smith Westernsand played to a packed crowd last night at the Loft.

Yuck definitely stood out among the three, playing an energetic show with a musical performance true to their recorded sound. Harmonies were on target, and they took advantage of the venue’s bass heavy sound mix. Heads moved in time with the beat, and on multiple occasions the crowd seemed to sway in unison. The band members’ English accents only added to the experience.

Critical darlings Smith Westerns put on a good show, but that was about it. I was disappointed with their live performance—the vocals fell flat a few times, and were usually drowned out by loud guitar. But the crowd didn’t seem to mind (perhaps the pot I kept smelling had something to do with it?).

Their performance felt like an Indie sock hop, with skinny, teenage couples swaying back and forth and making goo-goo eyes at each other and the band. Phone cameras were always at the ready, and tipsy girls ran their hands through their hair in that “look at those hot 18-year-olds” kind of way. Lead singer Cullen Omori’s on-stage grooves (and constant hair in his face) completed the vibe.

They’re good musicians, and their latest album, Dye It Blonde, is a fun mix of ‘60s rock and ‘80s pop with a garage feel. But their performance leaves something to be desired. They’ve got attitudes that are too big for their britches. And while a bunch of Dallas hipsters may be all right with that, I’m not sure how well it will serve them.

Live Review: Wild Nothing

8 Feb

by Dave Howard


Wild Nothing‘s live show doesn’t stray very far from their studio work. And that is not a bad thing because their debut full length, Gemini, is a beautiful album full of sweet, dreamy goodness.

Wild Nothing is Jack Tatum’s vision, Gemini is his baby. He does all the studio work himself. It’s just the way he does his thing. Thankfully he decided to use friends for live shows, forgoing the one man and his laptop thing.

And the band is tight! The guitar interplay between Tatum and Nathan Goodman is kind of like watching squirrels chase each other around a tree, pausing, reversing the game, and starting all over again. Bassist Jeff Haley definitely has the most exciting presence of the quiet bunch – bending over the edge of the stage, twisting his torso, Indie rock bangs covering his face, turning his back on the crown to set a groove with drummer Max Brooks. His Hall and Oates, white boy soul bass lines perfectly complimenting the dual guitars but never playing over them.

Wild Nothing reminds me of the softer, Summer Sun era Yo La Tengo. A comfy blanket on a cold winter night as well as a kick ass summer love soundtrack.

If you haven’t already, check out Gemini or the 4 song ep Golden Haze (on red vinyl!).

Track of the Day: Blonde Redhead–Here Sometimes

1 Dec

Today’s track of the day is also a mini review of last night’s Blonde Redhead show at the Granada.

By Jesseca Bagherpour

Having seen Blonde Redhead at the Granada in 2007, I knew I should expect a beautiful show. I started the 2007 show with in the balcony with a friend, but we were soon drawn to the stage by the band’s charisma.

See, there’s an intangible element to a Blonde Redhead show. They have an aura about them that extends beyond the stage and sweeps through the audience. And I felt that same energy at last night’s show. Much of that comes from the lovely, adorable and cool Kazu Makino, but twins Simone and Amedeo Pace have their share of charm as well. The only thing they were missing was an avant-garde white plastic mask with long tusks of white hair (which Makino wore for the opening and closing songs).

And last night topped the previous show because they added an element of spectacle that I don’t recall being there before. The lighting setup, with lighting umbrellas covering the walls and providing a gorgeous backdrop, flickering bulbs surrounding the band, and colorful lights playing across their white clothing.

If you weren’t lucky enough to have been at the show, you can get an idea of what it was like from a live session presented by 4AD, the label that released Penny Sparkle. The songs I chose is “Here Sometimes”, which is my pick from the album (probably because it reminds me of Björk). And since I know you love free mp3’s, a download of the song is below the video.

Blonde Redhead–Here Sometimes

Album Review: Daniel Folmer- Danny Rush and the Designated Drivers

16 Nov

By Junior Varsity

The first thing you need to know about Danny Rush and the Designated Drivers, the new album from Denton’s Daniel Folmer, is that it is essentially a country album; at least that’s what I think he’s going for here. The album is full of slide guitar, fiddle and classic country-style lyrics of love and especially heartbreak.

After adjusting to the country feel of the album, the first thing that stands out are the lyrics. Songs such as “20 Karat Ring” show Folmer at his finest in this area, using his well-crafted lyrics to break the hearts of his listeners.

In the chorus to the song, he sings, “I’ve got a 20-dollar bill that says you will, a 20-karat ring that says you won’t. If you can’t find a reason to go on with life without me, why should I?” This chorus just wants to be listened to repeatedly and contemplated over. I find myself returning to this song more than any other on the album.

Daniel Folmer–20 Karat Ring

Other songs on the album don’t fare quite as well lyrically. On the hymn-like track “Count on Jesus,” Folmer repeats the same lines throughout the majority of the song without ever really grabbing the attention of the listener.

He uses lyrical repetition for much of the album, which turns out to be both his strength and weakness. On songs with interesting and well-thought-out lyrics, the repetition is welcomed. But while listening to lyrically weak songs, I find myself waiting for something that never comes.

Musically speaking, the album as a whole has the same dichotomy in play. Many of the country influenced songs sound a little too similar to each other and by the end of the album end up blurring together. The stand-out tracks are the ones that really don’t fit into the country mold.

“District County Court”, for example, is reminiscent of older material from Folmer. The country vibe is shaken off for this track and a more general pop/rock feel takes its place. This song is the most enjoyable listen on the album, featuring guitar solos, full band rhythm section and distorted vocals. This is the song that I expect to find used on various blogs and radio stations to promote the album (Editor’s note: see below). It is by far the catchiest track on the record.

Daniel Folmer–District County Court

Overall, this is an album that has a lot of material that falls short of Folmer’s potential, but the few songs that do reach that place that Folmer is looking for are worth putting on repeat.

Danny Rush and the Designated Drivers will be released by Gutterth this Saturday at Rubber Gloves. The free show will feature Daniel Folmer, Caleb Ian Campbell, Burnt Siena Trio and Spooky Folk.

Dr. Dog at Southside Music Hall 11/11/10

15 Nov

I first saw Dr. Dog in September of ’08 at Lola’s. I hadn’t heard of them until two days before, and I left that night with all of the CD’s that were available at their merch table. Their presence on stage was mesmerizing.

I wouldn’t have thought it would be possible, but Thursday night’s show was 10 times more impressive. Their almost constant tour schedule over the last few years definitely shows in their professional and polished cooperation on stage. Bassist/singer Toby Leaman’s infectious energy and MVP-award-worthy talent mixes well with the more relaxed and almost shy stage presence of guitarists Scott McMicken and Frank McElroy. With big shoes to fill after Juston Stens’ leave of absence for a solo career, new drummer Eric Slick proved himself worthy to share the stage with the other accomplished Dog veterans. I honestly think Dr. Dog band may be the tightest band I’ve seen this year.

It’s hard to adequately explain the level of energy and enthusiasm the band were commanding over the whole venue. At some point almost everyone was dancing–including some of the bartenders and the men’s room attendant. Though the comparisons they often garner to classic garage and pop bands of the ’60s may be somewhat overused, it’s almost impossible not to feel that this energy must be nearly identical to what crowds must have felt the first time they saw those bands.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how impressed I was with the evening’s opener, Here We Go Magic. To be completely frank, I  wasn’t expecting much from them after seeing their name. As soon as we entered the venue, though, I understood why Dr. Dog selected them as their tourmates. They kind of reminded me of a mash-up of the Talking Heads and other New York bands from the same era and garage psych-rock bands from the ’60s. The simple fact that they kept most of the crowd focused on them when we were all clearly in anticipation of the headliner was proof in itself of their quality.

Jesseca’s Fun Fun Fun Fest Recap

12 Nov

Fun Fun Fun Fest is always a crazy time, and this year was no exception. In fact, it was crazier in some regards this year than last year. I found myself running around like a mad woman trying to see all the bands I wanted to and getting interviews, as well as spending time with my friends who didn’t have backstage access (and others who weren’t at the fest). This year’s recap is a lot more succinct than last year’s. I’ve listed the bands (and novelty acts) I saw and a brief (or not so brief) take on their performance.


The Apples in Stereo

The set was very short, which may have been why it also seemed to lack a lot of heart and power. Rob said they were all here from another planet to rock us, but it didn’t feel that way. This was my first time seeing them and I’d been waiting for a while, so I was utterly disappointed.

Chris Hardwick

I was also looking forward to seeing Chris Hardwick, but he kind of bombed. He wasn’t getting a lot of audience feedback, which probably affected his performance. He also went for too much crude, cheap humor (which means a lot coming from me). Seriously, I love a good dick joke as much as the next guy. But tossing around the word “dick” does not automatically make a joke funny.

Weird Al

This was one of the most exciting performances of the fest, and one of the best I’ve ever seen. And as much fun as I thought it would be to see Weird Al, I didn’t realize how captivating it would be. There were times when I thought I couldn’t take any more Weird Al, but he always reeled me back in. He is a true showman who went through more songs and costume changes than any band I’ve seen. As I said after his set, since James Brown died Weird Al is the hardest working man in showbusiness.


Devin the Dude

Devin was going before I made it in to the fest because of a late night and subsequent late lunch and arrival. But I could hear him from the street, and what I heard was awesome. I wish I’d seen his set.

Anarchy Championship Wrestling

My boyfriend made me go to this. I felt like I lost several IQ points after I watched about 15 minutes of it. But I can still see the appeal, I guess. I think it’s supposed to be a way for hipsters and punks to “ironically” enjoy wrestling.

Slick Rick

I have to say, Slick Rick seemed to have just come to the fest for a paycheck. The set (or what I could stand to watch of it) felt like watching a bad Slick Rick impersonator. He didn’t even slide on his eye patch until right before he got on stage. But he was wearing about 500 lbs. of bling and it was still pretty cool to be in his presence.

Ariel Pink

I feel awful for not catching Ariel Pink’s entire set. I was restless at this point and only caught a few songs. What I heard was pretty solid, and I was told later that this was one of his best live sets. I’m going to have to finally catch him live when he comes back to DFW because after hearing his latest album and talking to him for a few minutes, I’m now a fan.


I can’t really say I “saw” this band because they were surrounded by a throng of people during their entire set. But what I heard was spectacular, even if it did sort of sound like one long song. And the lead singer is a total mental case (in the best possible sense).

Os Mutantes

This was hands down the best performance of the fest. Even though the band has a different configuration from the original (which is understandable since they disbanded in 1978 and didn’t play again until 2006), the songs still sound just as beautiful and tight as before. And Sergio Dias is one of the most joyful front men I’ve had the privilege of seeing live. As one of my friends said, it was like seeing The Beatles live. It was a truly mind blowing experience.

Big Freedia

As fun of an entertainer as “The Queen of New Orleans bounce” is, I can only watch so many people bounce their asses in front of me before I have to walk away.

The Dwarves

This band was every bit as kickass as I thought they would be. They’re raw but technically tight and lead singer Blag Dahlia was every bit as perverted as I expected. Sadly, HeWhoCannotBeNamed was not nude with a lucha libre mask on nor was he even donning a jockstrap. Instead, they brought out a chick in a bikini and mask saying he had gotten a sex change. It was a bit of a cop-out, but maybe Transmission requested that they tame down their act.


Typical hipster fare. I only stayed for half a song. I can see how it’s fun to dance to, but I had to move on.

Man Man

Jaime is crazy about Man Man, and now I know why. I didn’t catch the full set, but what I heard was pretty awesome.


Gwar is basically a novelty act–grown men in costumes spewing fake blood and pus. But they are technically gifted and I have no problem with good, loud punk. But Dirty Projectors were playing at the same time so I only caught part of one song before I had to leave for the other, superior band.

Dirty Projectors

This was my first time seeing Dirty Projectors after being a fan for years now (ever since a close friend gave me a mixtape including one of their full albums on one side) and they did not disappoint. Dave Longstreth’s vocals and guitar skills are inspiring, and Amber, Angel and Haley were like three beautiful sirens. I was entranced by this set more than any other.


Before Congratulations came out, I don’t think I respected MGMT enough as artists. But after hearing that album and now having seen them perform live, I get it. Their lyrics and music are mature and thought out, as well as just plain cool. And they have a knack for paying homage to the legendary musicians who influence them without sounding derivative. They’re also easy on the eyes, which doesn’t hurt …


I knew I had to catch this set because I have missed RJ every time he’s in DFW and because I was supposed to interview him after (I ended up interviewing him the next morning, and I will post that interview on Sunday). RJ understands the importance of putting on an interesting show during a DJ set and he did just that. His music is great enough to stand on its own, but he enhances it with what he calls “parlor tricks” (i.e. playing the Donkey Kong theme while wearing Mario and Donkey Kong hand puppets) and film playing on a projector screen.

Bad Religion

Apparently Bad Religion had some sound issues early in their set, but by the time I caught them everything was fixed. As my brother mentioned before, Saturday marked their 30th Anniversary. I wish all bands could be so tight and sound so fresh after three solid decades.


Jean Grae

I almost missed Jean Grae’s set because we were running later than usual, but luckily so was she. She had just started as I was walking towards the media entrance. While the set started off strong, upholding her reputation as a great female MC, it sort of petered out halfway through so I left to go find my cohorts. (It still beat seeing Slick Rick though.)

Best Coast

I don’t want to waste too much time talking about Best Coast because they are completely uninteresting live, mostly thanks to lead singer Bethany Cosentino (along with lazily written material). I thought I liked this band, but after what seemed like a 30-minute sound check and then a dull start I changed my mind.

The Bronx

I quickly abandoned Best Coast for The Bronx and I didn’t regret it. Powerful, loud punk was the perfect antidote to generic, anemic, “grunge” drivel.


Although they’re part of one of my favorite labels, I’d never heard of Polvo before. I gave them a listen before the fest and I liked what I heard. However, their music seems better suited for listening at home and while driving than live. While they played each song perfectly, their performance lacked a little something and it made me lose interest.


Like Polvo, Deerhunter sounds amazing on recordings. They are stellar musicians and I don’t want to knock them in any way. But, as I told a couple of friends, their music seems better suited to lying in bed and zoning out. Watching them live made me restless and ready for The Hold Steady. And I don’t even like The Hold Steady.

High on Fire

I didn’t hear even a full song by this metal act, but what I could hear from the yellow stage was killer. And wandering back to listen to them for a few seconds at a time helped me stay awake during Deerhunter’s set.

Alamo Drafthouse Air Sex Contest

This was sad and creepy. The intro from host Terp2it was confusing and nauseating. And the only competitors I caught were guys on stage alone doing things that most women would not find appealing.

The Hold Steady

I have never liked The Hold Steady. It’s not that I think they’re bad. I recognize that they’re good musicians. But something about their bar rock sound and “Party!” attitude bugs me. But I decided to give them a shot, since so many people I know are crazy about them. “Wait until you see them live”, they said. Well, I saw them live. And I still don’t like them. As Nic (aka my older brother) already mentioned, I kept calling them dad rock. And that’s mostly due to lead singer Craig Finn. He looks like someone’s nerdy dad/science teacher. And his mannerisms annoy the shit out of me. As a fan of GBV (a much older band that loves drinking and partying and has a former teacher as lead singer), it seems hypocritical of me to hate The Hold Steady for the reasons I mentioned. But I don’t care.

Suicidal Tendencies

This band kicked the piss out of The Hold Steady, and I knew they would. Their guitar skills almost literally made my mind explode. And they had almost too much raw power and testosterone for me to take. But, alas, after a while their songs felt repetitive and Mike Muir got a little too talk-y (well, I guess it was scream-y) and I had to walk away.

The Descendents

This was definitely the highlight of the night for me. I wish I had been 15 when The Descendents first hit the punk scene (rather than … not being born), when I got into them, or even when I saw them at the fest. I think the show would have had more of an impact on me. As it was, I could appreciate their music and the fact that, after taking a six-year hiatus, they played like they had never stopped. They even compelled me to mosh … for about five minutes … then I got claustrophobic and had to escape the smelly, sweaty throng.


I had no idea what to expect from this band, but they managed to draw my attention away from The Descendents (partially because they were so damn loud that I could almost hear them from the orange stage, where the other band was playing). These guys are some of the most brilliant musicians I’ve ever witnessed, and they move between various genres without even blinking. Most of what I heard Sunday was bone-crushing metal. I’d love to see these guys play a two-hour set.


Sometimes I kick myself for saying, “I don’t even know who that is. Pass” about a band, musician or DJ. This time, I at least caught part of the DJ’s live set rather than hearing how great it was later. As exhausted and restless as I was, A-Trak compelled me to dance and wowed me with his superhuman scratching skills.

Nic’s Fun Fun Fun Fest Summary

10 Nov



We got to the park in time to see The Apples in Stereo. I’ve always liked these guys, but their set was somewhat lackluster, in my opinion.

After we watched The Apples, we wandered around the park a bit and got back to the Orange Stage just in time to see Chris Hardwick having a less than spectacular set. He was dying up there! He managed to somewhat save it toward the middle, but the crowd started to lose interest again. I think part of it was the fact that crews were setting up for Weird Al on the stage next to Chris’s and the other part–as Jaime pointed out–most likely was that he went on an extended diatribe against hipsters (You’re in Austin, bro. Bad idea.).

Weird Al’s set was amazing! I was more thoroughly entertained than I expected to be. There was a great mix of costumes and video clips (which were used when Al and the band were changing costumes). I have to say that this may have been the highlight of the weekend for me. I’m not saying that it was necessarily the best performance of the festival, but it brought me back to when I was nine or 10 years old, listening to Weird Al’s records and watching UHF to the point of memorizing it. I must admit that movie is still one of my favorites to this day.

After the show, I met up with my good friend Zac and we went to a couple of the bars on East Sixth Street. I wasn’t feeling it, honestly. Maybe it was my mood after driving for several hours and then standing for a few hours, but it made me miss Denton and especially Dan’s. Maybe I’m just not cut out for a bigger city.


For most of Saturday, I surfed around from stage to stage checking out a few different acts. There were so many I wanted to see! I had to stop surfing for a bit so I could catch all of Os Mutantes’ show. There was such a terrific vibe coming off of that stage! Musically, they exhibited all of the best elements of the Grateful Dead, CSN&Y, and the psychedelic garage bands of the ’60s with a healthy measure of Afro jazz thrown in. Watching them perform live makes it clear which artists have been influenced by them (Stereolab immediately come to mind).

After Os Mutantes were finished, I hung out with Zac at the Misprint booth. Really, it was a gazebo in the park that these guys had cleverly commandeered. It would become our rally point for the rest of the festival. If you aren’t familiar with Misprint, I highly recommend you visit their site. Through their magazine, they poke fun at pretty much everyone and not just in the Austin scene. They were responsible for the official FunFunFun Fest Guide this year and it is, without a doubt, the most entertaining festival guide I’ve ever read.

After we hung out with the Misprint guys for a while, we went and checked out comedian Matt Bearden at the remotely located Yellow Stage. This guy is one of the funniest comics I’ve seen in a long time. I like my comedy a little on the risque side, and Matt Bearden delivers that in spades. From his explanation of why his infant child is a horrible person and his tear-inducing story of his first disastrous acid trip to his puppet show interpretation of “Dear Mr. Jesus”, Bearden proves himself to be worthy to stand in the same limelight as David Cross, Brian Posehn, Patton Oswalt and other popular comics with acerbic wit.

Unfortunately, I missed all of RJD2’s set and only caught a bit of MGMT, but I saw most of Bad Religion’s show (granted from a bit back at the Misprint booth) and that was a lot of fun. Appparently, it was their 30th anniversary that night.


We got to the park a little late, but I still got to see The Hold Steady and, even though my sister (Editor’s note: aka his managing editor, Jesseca) says they’re “dad rock”, I thoroughly enjoyed them. We were close enough to see the hairs on Craig Finn’s arms quiver as he flailed his arms around.

After The Hold Steady finished, they were followed almost immediately by The Descendents and, all of a sudden, the somewhat sleepy vibe of Sunday’s events washed away in an amped up mob of people who seemed to come from nowhere. At one point, I looked back at the crowd and then looked at my friend, Zac, and said “We aren’t going anywhere.” I would have to say that this was probably the most impressive show I saw over the weekend after Weird Al. Eventually, I had to get out of the crowd because the pushing, shoving, crushing and smell of unwashed hair were beginning to overwhelm me.

We started to exit the park in time to catch the end of A-Trak’s set and it made me wish I’d caught more of it, but that’s the way music festivals like this are: there are dozens of acts you want to catch, but most of them are going on at the same time.

All in all, I’d say that my first Fun Fun Fun Fest was a blast, although it felt like we were scrambling to keep up with the schedule for most of the trip. I hope this will not be the only one I’m able to attend.

Fun Fun Fun Fest Recap: Part 1–Junior Varsity’s take

9 Nov

While the rest of us were driving back and napping, our youngest writer, “Junior Varsity”, was hard at work on his Fun Fun Fun Fest recap. The rest of us will post ours, as well as our interviews in both video and print form, over the next few days.

I got the privilege to attend Fun Fun Fun Fest this past weekend.  For those who are not too familiar with the festival, it is a growing event in Austin that focuses on up-and-coming bands. This was my first time to attend and I can definitely say that it is as enjoyable, if not more so, than any large festival in the country. I definitely recommend going next year. OK, on with the wrap up. Continue reading

Live Review: Deerhunter/Best Coast at The Granada

8 Nov

Photo: Mark Jay Shukla

By Judson Valdez

I’ve been a huge fan of Deerhunter for a while now and am not ashamed to say that I recently jumped on the hype-machine that is Best Coast over the summer as well, so I was very excited to see this show at the Granada Theater.

Sonny and the Sunsets, the opener for the night, are a band that I have been hearing about lately in the buzz world so I was curious to check them out.

I arrived right around the start time of their set to a fairly light crowd. Their sound was fairly simple rock with the currently trendy punk/surfy sound that seems to be in every band coming around these days.

Though they were very well put together in their performance, I have to say I was a little disappointed in their set, probably due to the fact that they do sound so similar to most of the other trendy bands right now.

Next up was Casino Versus Japan. I’ve never heard anything about this act so I had no idea what to expect coming in to the night. The curtain opened to a table full of gear to one side and a very normal looking guy standing in front of a microphone in the middle of the stage. Continue reading