This little blog is proud to announce to its fabulous readers that tonight at Frank, we will be presenting our first showcase of music. I realize for any football fans out there, today signifies the beginning of the NFL season, and I respect that. But I humbly ask that if you head to Frank or anywhere else to get your game on, you come for your nightcap with three incredible local bands and me.
First up, Ethan Kennedy will wrap you in his gorgeous melodies and prodigious guitar solos. I’ve watched Ethan progress over the past 3+ years, and been amazed by the volume of brilliance that seems to pour out of him. My fingers are crossed for a “Bonnie Mae’s Blues and Greens” throwback, but I’ll be pleased with whatever he gives us.
Next up, the Soapbox Spellbinders will melt your mind with the sounds of their rocking. This trio is just starting out, but they grabbed my attention from their rehearsal sessions alone, as they combined classic tunes in an effortless mash-up of awesome. The guys are slowly becoming veterans of the stage, bringing their unique brand of blues rock that teeters on a pop rock fringe to your ears — and don’t be surprised if you find you just have to move your feet to their grooves.
Finally, Leatherbag will close out the night with folk rock, heavy on the rock. These guys have been headlining shows around Austin for a long time now, and they’ve honed their sound over that time to craft catchy tunes that bring to mind the Wallflowers, if the Wallflowers had grown out of their decidedly 90s sound and gone in the direct Jakob Dylan did on his own. I’m thrilled to have this band on our lineup.
I hope to see many of you tonight. Make sure you say hello if you attend!
It’s been a while since a record review has graced these virtual pages. Luckily, dear readers, a slew of great Austin-based bands have just released delicious recorded greatness, so read on and check ’em out!
Grab your earplugs. The Midgetmen are releasing their fourth album, Loud Enough, at the Mohawk on May 20th.
Austin360 put it best when they described the Midgetmen as “a band that take a good amount of care in making music that’s meant to be kind of messy.” The new record is definitely raucous, but the music is fun and will tug at the heartstrings of pop-punk enthusiasts.
At times, the Midgetmen remind me of a punk version of the Austin Lounge Lizards; perhaps it’s their big personality in the world of social media (check their Twitter), but there seems to be a tongue-in-cheek quality to their work.
My favorite track is “Glue Factory,” which has a Pixies-like sensibility, featuring shouted spoken lyrics on top of grungy rock. “Wheeling Downs” is one of the slower songs on the record, and the way the guitar parts weave in and out of one another makes you feel like you’re floating.
There’s an “everyman” quality to the music of the Midgetmen which has endeared them to fans and fellow musicians alike. And they give the love back — not only is the lineup at their release show a solid showcase of local talent (including La Snacks, the Sour Notes and the Pons), but the band is working with Graham’s Texas Tea/Treaty Oak Rum to provide free beverages on a first-come, first-served basis. There will also be a photobooth (described by the band as “the most drunken photobooth in the history of history”) by Birds Barbershop and Nash Cook, so RSVP here and prepare to have fun. You can also stream the album here.
Waldo Wittenmyer just put out a new self-titled EP, and it really highlights his growth as a songwriter. Many of the tracks give a nod to the beachy ‘60s vibe found infiltrating music by other contemporary bands like Best Coast and the Drums, and Wittenmyer’s gentle, breezy vocals enforce a laid-back summery feel throughout the EP. He’s got gigs coming up, including one tonight at Hole in the Wall. For a full listing, check out his website.
Stereo is a Lie just put out their first full-length record, and it features many of the tunes they’ve been perfecting over the years live in venues around town. The production is glossy, but with enough bite to stay true to the band’s alt-rock sound. Lead singer Glynn Wedgewood’s voice makes him sound every bit the long-lost Gallagher brother, and the band’s music would appeal to an Oasis fan, too.
Some of my personal favorites on this album include “It’s Too Late,” which features a lilting chorus and explosion of aggressive instrumentation, “Get It Right,” which screams (literally, thanks Glynn!) “101x hit,” and “Fine Lines,” which is one of the slower tracks on the album, but still manages to dig its chorus into your brain and live there for days.
The songs on the album are a strong advertisement for catching a live show from this group. Wedgewood and drummer Davy Hamrick are the show-stealers in live settings; Hamrick is a wild child on drums, often leaving the stage with bloody knuckles, and Wedgewood’s sweet offstage personality melts away into a commanding, fearless leader persona onstage, as he stares down audience members and sings every word with spit and vinegar. The group’s next official gig is the Manchester Orchestra/Cage the Elephant Official aftershow; for a full listing of upcoming shows, check their Facebook page.
Finally, Austin’s guitar god Ethan Kennedy just released a new song that shows tons of musical growth, and points to wonderful things to come. The chorus is gorgeous, proclaiming, “It’s the end of the world/And I can’t be there with you,” as threatening guitar feedback squeals in the background. I can’t speak highly enough about this track; it is full of life, bursting with energy. If you’ve never heard Ethan before, prepare to fall in love. He’s got a number of upcoming shows; I’ll be at Momo’s on Monday. See you there.
A while back, I created a short-run Podcast called “Listen Local.” It featured music and interviews with some of Austin’s up-and-coming bands, and I wanted to share it with you here. To subscribe, just follow this link. You’ll hear from Collapsing Horse, Royal Forest (formerly Loxsly), Ethan Kennedy and Ideal Soul Mart. I’m hoping to re-start this project in the future, but for now just enjoy the archives!