Monday, February 21, 2011

Break Time?

Having a music blog in Austin, even one that practically no one reads, isn't entirely worthless. I've made a lot of good friends in bands and I'm glad of it. But I dedicated all of my time to this project for a full year and the results were not pretty... no job and a trip to the mental hospital.

After my eventful January, I didn't want to give blogging up entirely. I figured I'd keep doing show picks just to have a reason for people to keep sending me CD's in the mail. After a few half-hearted weeks, I don't see much point in recommending shows any more. The listings are easy to find for anyone who cares. Hardworking bands get the message out, one way or another. Most importantly, writing is making me totally miserable and lonely and that was never the point. Since I was 11 or so I always figured I ought to write about music, since I was a better writer than anybody I knew and I loved music more than anything else. But that's not how it works... to succeed as a music writer nowadays I would have to dedicate myself to locating opinions about music that means nothing to me. So before I go completely off the deep end, I'm quitting while I still have these relative shreds left of my dignity.

I'll still pass on show announcements on Twitter and Facebook. But no more Big Western Flavor. The last time I considered stopping, I wrote that the blog had "served its function." I meant that I had learned all I could from it and I wasn't going to make myself any happier in persisting. I may have been right the first time. You can't make inroads into the entertainment business merely by smashing your head against the wall until it falls. That goes for bands as well as writers.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Special for Valentine's

Tonight at The Grand on Airport Boulevard, A Giant Dog and the Flesh Lights play a Valentine's Day formal and it's free to get in. Pretty cool! Anna C. and I will be there. Oh, and a Valentine's treat for you and those you love today: New music from La Snacks! Let's see what we've got going the rest of the week.

WEDNESDAY If you enjoy your music loud and crusty, Eagle Claw and Bridge Farmers at Red 7 is an excellent pairing. The former is instrumental metal and the latter revivalist grunge but they're both really, really high-volume.

THURSDAY It's a record release show for The Sour Notes at Mohawk (more info and a stream here at Austin Sound), with Mother Falcon guesting on strings and For Hours and Ours in support. Meanwhile The Gary and Blue Kabuki hit Carousel Lounge. The Gary have a new record coming out real soon, too. It's called El Camino and I just got an advance... it's their first vinyl release and it was recorded by Steve Albini. The one and only.

FRIDAY The Zoltars, Dikes of Holland, and A Giant Dog play at... Emo's? Not Beerland? That can't be right. Also, We the Granada and Megafauna at Flamingo Cantina, with Sweetmeat. And new band The Magnificent Snails release their debut EP Baby Acid Trips at Club 1808. They have an indie rock-meets-worldbeat sound that's quite now; the EP is worth checking out.

SATURDAY I usually pick rock bands, so for a change of pace how about DJ Nick Nack and Bird Peterson at Beauty Bar? Been spinning Nick's Dearly Departed on and off since he handed me a download card at Fun Fun Fun Fest and it's cerebral, listening music... a contrast to the big beats he lays down as a club and hip-hop backing DJ. You can learn more about his world at the Crowd Control Records site.

Monday, February 7, 2011

In the Flesh

It's a real slow week for shows. I hope you'll write in and tell me if I'm wrong, but other than the XTC hoot night Saturday at the Carousel Lounge, I don't see too much to recommend this week. As for that gig, featuring Baby Robots and Bee vs. Moth among others, I really hope somebody does "Earn Enough for Us." And "Snowman." And "Senses Working Overtime." And the whole Black Sea record. But I digress.

Since there's not a lot of shows this week to write about, I guess I'll spend a second talking about one from last week. That Girls Rock benefit ended up being a heck of a good show, cold weather notwithstanding. I enjoyed all five bands! Bottle Service impress me each time I see them... they have winning chemistry. Planets have morphed from a rickety indie rock band into a hard rock powerhouse in front of our very eyes. Cruddy are a new name to me but I admire the way their discordant songs stop and start on dimes. They have a weird inbred logic working that might not be pretty but is definitely rock and roll. Yellow Fever are a band I've seen before and not liked, but I'm coming around on them. Their singer has an amazing voice, and although I don't like all of their songs I do like their drummer's cleverness and the tricks they pull out to keep being a duo from becoming monotonous. I made my mind up about them before too quickly. That hardly makes them alone among Austin bands. It's a good thing we're making second chances a major theme in 2011.

How about the Flesh Lights, though? What a good example of how writing show previews based on recorded material is doomed to fail. The Flesh Lights' recorded output is really good -- two excellent singles, with the A-side of the green one, "Jaye," standing as the song best lodged in my head by repeated plays -- but it doesn't give you any idea what they're like live. They're a force, with a hurricane starting on the stage sweeping the front of the audience up into it and pretty much everybody front to back shaking like their lives depended on it by mid-set. Their records are good, but they're not wild and primal the way they sound as a live band. The guitar races ahead of the bass and drums and it doesn't really matter when it laps them, because everyone's giving as much as they can. Even late at night on a frosty night, the crowd is ready to move when the Flesh Lights will it. I'm not leaving early when they're late on a bill ever again.

UPDATE Missed some stuff on Saturday: My homeboys in World Racketeering Squad are at the Parlor, the tread-laying post-hardcore kids in Markov hit up Trailer Space, and STEREO IS A LIE bring their high-intensity melodies to Ghost Room. Plus Follow That Bird! and Dikes of Holland at Mohawk. No excuse if you end up staying in on Saturday night!