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SXSW day 4: She and Him, SVIIB, Andrew W.K., Steve Conte + more

The penultimate day of SXSW took a turn for the frigid, making the festival challenging to endure. Bright and early, I froze in a two-block long line for “Mr. and Mrs. T and Rachael Ray’s Feedback Festival” at Stubb’s BBQ where Steve Conte and the Crazy Truth (NYC, bottom picture), School of Seven Bells (NYC), Andrew W.K (NYC), Street Sweeper Social Club (LA), Jakob Dylan and Three Legs, She and Him (Portland, top picture), and many more hit backyard and indoor stages. Miniature pulled-pork “sammies” and chicken quesadillas were almost unattainable, but a lucky taste test of the hearty h'ordeuvres satiated me for a short shopping spree at the American Apparel Flea Market and evening events. I caught a glimpse of The Cringe at The Texas Rockfest outdoor stage, and later, a full list of trios including New Madrid (NYC), at Mugshots Bar. The day’s highlight was an unforeseen recording session on the Lifestream AOL bus with Black Taxi, who astonished all aboard with their infectious songs and instrumental resourcefulness. - Meijin Bruttomesso





SXSW day 3: a ton of bands from Deli-cities + some big cats!

Day three of SXSW left me speechless. A mid-day slot at Rusty Spurs with Deadbeat Darling lifted my spirits before a two hour wait for LA’s leather-and-sunglasses-clad Black Rebel Motor Cylce Club the Filter Magazine Party. I stepped foot in Hyde Park Bar and Grill ONE more time for the “NYC Mixer,” another show I had co-arranged. The gig united bands from across the country, serving Texas a sample of Miss Derringer (LA, top picture), Pearl and the Beard (Brooklyn), Middle Distance Runner (DC), Outernational (NYC, bottom picture), Milo and the Fuzz (NYC), and The Frontier Brothers (Austin). Jetting back downtown to an over-packed Ghost Room, an all-star line-up, including Middle Class Rut, Jason Heath and the Greedy Souls, Michael Stipe (REM), Chris Shifflet (The Foo Fighters), Billy Bragg, Tom Morello and Boots Riley’s project, Street Sweeper Social Club, and more played mini-sets and jammed for Jail Guitar Doors, a program that rehabilitates inmates with music. To top off the night, a photo-op with Tom Morello preceded an after party at The Belmont. – Meijin Bruttomesso






Album Review: Boy Eats Drum Machine, "Hoop + Wire"

 

 It’s been two years since we last heard from Jon Ragel, but boy was it worth the wait. The multi-instrumentalist’s one-man band, Boy Eats Drum Machine, released its fifth album (second via Portland-based record label, Tender Loving Empire) earlier this month, and it very well may be Ragel’s best to date.

Hoop + Wire encompasses the avant-garde, hip-pop staggering that sets BEDM apart from his Portland electro-pop counterparts, but this release is a bit more accessible than the rest. The first, and title, track begins with a catchy guitar riff atop tinny drum machine beats that seamlessly mesh into electronic blips with Ragel’s breathy vocals soaring over the music. And whereas most of BEDM’s tunes possess a poppy air, they tend to have too much going on to make them traditionally danceable, but “Hoop + Wire,” is a hard song not to dance to.

The third song, “ABQ,” illustrates Ragel’s hip-hop influence, as well as his talent on the turntable. The track is a 2:20 minute-long sample mash-up of crunchy drums, pounding synths, and opera-like vocals that the turntable-ist somehow manages to spin into a smooth, coherent tune. The track flows effortlessly into “Syncopated,” which features yet another of Ragel’s musical talents, the baritone sax.

The album takes a turn back to BEDM’s abstract, experimental art-pop with “Gold in the Hills,” a jumbled mixture of surf-rock guitar riffs, fluttering keys, saxophones, and manipulated vocal samples. Ragel’s voice makes its first appearance halfway through the song and adds a layer of darkness to the track with its deeply sung, minor key.

The album continues as a series of emotional and musical ups and downs, but each song shares a theme—the thoughts, feelings and experiences of a road trip. Ragel dreamed up this album on a cross-country drive.

With this in mind, it only makes sense the album ends with a track entitled, “70 Miles an Hour.” This song is more fluid and lucid than its predecessors, with beautiful flowing keyboard blips in the vain of The Postal Service, and Ragel pleading, “Look out, the hills you see, I’m only on the other side, will you be faithful to me?” The answer is yes, Jon, as long as you continue releasing albums like this.

-Katrina Nattress

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SXSW Day 2: NYC to ATX party + MoTel Aviv, BlackBells, Deadbeat Darling

Day 2 was the day of honing navigation skills. The Baeblemusic.com Party at the Scoot Inn lined up promising acts that alternated between indoor and outdoor stages. A park-style area was decorated with paper lanterns and framed by two bars and a food cart, and listeners relaxed on tree stumps and patches of grass. Seabear, a sextet from Iceland, melded strings and acoustic guitars into a pleasant and exotic folk rock. Inside, Washington DC’s These United States upped the energy with a Southern rock lilt and grimy Gospel flavor, and back in the sunshine, Australia’s Dappled Cities played avant guarde electro-pop. Off the main drag at the 21st Street Co-Op, a “clothing optional” shindig hosted Austin natives, MoTeL Aviv (pic below), in an abstractly painted dorm common room. I found the city’s friendliest taxi-driver en route to Hyde Park Bar and Grill (South) for The Deli’s second sponsored show, and completed my night with some 6th Street sight-seeing.

The Deli Magazine and CitizenMusic joined forces to educate Austin on some of the best artists from New York at Hyde Park Bar and Grill (South). A spacious restaurant and bar, home to the best French fries around, opened into a patio where a tent housed the live music for the evening. A SXSW suppertime party, the “NYC in ATX Showcase” entertained a group of all-aged diners, families, and rock ‘n rollers with five Big Apple acts, including Blackbells (picture below), New Madrid, The Shake, Deadbeat Darling, and Black Taxi. Blackbells offered guests free EP’s and a superb set after traveling thirty hours straight to Texas. The fiery New Madrid pushed forward with outstanding vivacity, and The Shake’s second evening at Hyde Park resulted in enthusiastic feedback and a new population of fans. The wind picked up and carried Deadbeat Darling’s blissful and stirring reggae-rock throughout venue, and Black Taxi almost blew a fuse with their high-powered instrumentation and charisma. Mission “Rock Austin” accomplished. - Meijin Bruttomesso





SXSW 1st day: Suckers, Black Taxi, Roky Erickson, Okkefville River

The first day of SXSW is like the first day of school; you’re excited, nervous, and seemingly prepared. Unlike school, however, SXSW is never boring. After my first ever flight through Detroit and an early morning dash to registration at the Austin Convention Center, I scampered off to Rusty Spurs for Deli sponsored Music Tech Mash Up party, where line-up improvements kept me corralled. The event spanned two days and squeezed in fifty bands at Rusty Spurs, a tri-room gay saloon (how cool is that?) decorated with cowboy boots and Texas trinkets. The Mash Up party celebrated the collaboration of various industries, music, merchandise, and new media technology. Upon arrival, sound spewed from every corner of the venue as bands performed on the main indoor stage, in the lounge, and on the outdoor patio. Mid-day, the barbeque was fired up to feed South by South West goers with free burgers and chicken while they enjoyed the second day of the extravaganza’s hefty line-up. Some of the early-morning performers included LA-based, disco-influenced pop-rockers, Foster the People, dancey R'n'B from Toronto, Curtis Santiago, and Las Vegas’s new-wave, electro-pop, Imagine Dragons. Pleasant surprises added at the last minute, such as Brooklyn’s Black Taxi, and Washington D.C.’s alternarockers, Hotspur, caught the ears of those passing by and reaffirmed excitement for SXSW.

Following a quick Tex-Mex bite and nearly sun-burning in a line for the Paste Magazine Party at The Galaxy Room, I witnessed the last of the Suckers’ (top pic) set and the first part of rock-meets-singer/songwriter Austinites, Roky Erickson with Okkervil river (bottom pic). The day pushed on as I went off the beaten path to Hyde Park Bar and Grill(South) where The Whiskey Rebellion’s evening of music and literature featured NYC’s The Shake who enlivened the venue’s calm St. Patrick’s Day. Due to overcapacity venues back on 6th Street, my night was curtailed. Tomorrow would be a new day with much music to hear. - Meijin Bruttomesso

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