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Kaiser Chiefs – Education, Education, Education & War

April 9th, 2014
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Offbeat in Transition

By monetary accounts, Kaiser Chiefs have done it. The band, whose most recent years saw them floundering to the point of extinction, are at the top of the UK charts. Critics are tasked with reviewing their fifth effort in comparison to… what? The fact that frontman Ricky Wilson let himself go for a bit and that their original drummer’s been gone for over a year? Sonically, Education, Education, Education & War is a far cry from their debut masterpiece, Employment. Though it starts out quite promising with opener “The Factory Gates,” which is damn near as catchy as “I Predict A Riot,” by the time “Ruffians on Parade” rolls around some of that oomph is gone. Read more…

By April Siese Posted in Reviews ,

Desert Noises – 27 Ways

April 1st, 2014
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A Ways to Go

For a young band, Desert Noises are surprisingly aware of their surroundings. The trio of twenty-somethings hail from Provo, Utah; a vast expanse of natural beauty entrenched in Mormonism. For that reason, the band may come across as rather tame as far as folksy rock outfits go. There’s certainly little edge in their SQE debut, 27 Ways. Opener “Grandma Looks” starts off with a string of arpeggios mirrored by frontman Kyle Henderson until the harmony-soaked chorus. At times Henderson veers into Tom Petty territory. You can practically hear the chill perma-smile in his voice, even on sadder songs. Read more…

By April Siese Posted in Reviews ,

Future Islands – Singles

March 27th, 2014
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No Red Herring

Like many who attended this year’s SXSW, I was regaled by festival darlings Future Islands, a band whose buzz now rivals frontman Samuel T. Herring’s robust vocal prowess; it’s perfect timing for a band looking to release their fourth album. Their first release on 4AD, Singles points to what’s more often than not missing in the pseudo-indie scene: pure artistic confidence. Not a single beat swings too badly out of time, as with Herring’s deliberately off-tempo howls in second track “Spirit.” Think of opener “Seasons (Waiting On You)” as almost an amuse-bouche for what’s to come. Read more…

By April Siese Posted in Reviews

The Buku Music + Arts Project 2014, Day 2

March 26th, 2014
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Crowds were slow to return to Mardi Gras World Sunday afternoon, presumably because the festival operates with such extreme late night programming that arriving at 3 or 4pm is still considered a rather early entrance. While last year’s crowds threatened to overtake the entire riverfront campus, this year’s were far more spotty. Read more…

By April Siese Posted in Reviews, Show Reviews , , , , , , , , , ,

The Buku Music + Arts Project 2014, Day 1

March 22nd, 2014
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The first thing that greeted me when picking up credentials for 2014’s incarnate of the Buku Music + Arts Project was perhaps the longest contest winner and guess pass line I’d ever come across. Two friends were at its mercy while some system or other rebooted, a testament to the sheer overload of interest this year. Upon entering the gates, getting my lay of the land, and heading to an overstuffed photo pit for Nas, my cell signal plummeted to the depths of practically unusable, and any hopes of truly instant Instagrams diminished. Buku had officially become a larger festival.
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By April Siese Posted in Reviews, Show Reviews , , , ,

SXSW Off The Beaten Path

March 16th, 2014
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There’s a certain fanboy/fangirl endurance that goes into committing to waiting on an artist for nearly three times the length of their actual set that I’m just not that into; especially on as packed of an occasion as SXSW. For those who’ve been turned down access to a venue before they could turn up, there’s a maddening listlessness to having your meticulous show spreadsheet dwindle into nothing more than a crumpled document ink-stained with failures. My first night was every typical SXSW and then some: arriving late, capacity crowds, restrictive access and my own exhaustion. Read more…

By April Siese Posted in Reviews, Show Reviews ,

SXSW 2014: SPIN Party at Stubb’s BBQ Featuring Against Me!, Future Islands and More

March 15th, 2014
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There’s no party like a SPIN party, with free BBQ, breakfast and booze at perhaps one of the coolest venues in Austin: the iconic Stubb’s. Openers Radkey approached their set like a playful eight-year-old presented with a fresh can of spray paint. Just about every track was prefaced by frontman Dee Radke saying exactly what the song was about, moving his mouth from mischievous grin to hard-edged lyrics as an ouroboros of a line of folks awaiting free BBQ nodded to the beat. The band of brothers won over a lot of fans with their all-too-brief set, only to be evenly matched straight across Stubb’s by The Orwells.

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By April Siese Posted in Reviews, Show Reviews , , ,

SXSW 2014: Paste Showcase Featuring Lydia Loveless, Papa and Sam Roberts Band

March 14th, 2014
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Sometimes it feels like the entirety of the music experience at SXSW is one giant, convoluted speakeasy. You’re just one password, one wristband, and one bit of access away from greatness. Timing is everything, so it’s incredibly frustrating to run to a showcase only to realize the band you adore or were looking to discover had already played without much warning and all you could hear was how good they were thanks to the people around you. In this regard, SXSW is a giant exercise in the bullshit acronym FOMO, or, fear of missing out.
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By April Siese Posted in Reviews, Show Reviews , , ,

SXSW 2014: Crave Online Showcase Featuring Semi Precious Weapons, MellowHype and Surprise Guests

March 13th, 2014
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The rumors were true. I’d been tipped off earlier in the day about MellowHype being more than they appeared and Semi Precious Weapons bringing a friend to watch their performance. Given the timing for MellowHype and the fact that this was the only SXSW showcase Semi Precious Weapons would be at this year, I had a good feeling about things. Rusty’s was more than ready for some more sonic magic after an already impressive start, care of Antiquiet’s daytime showcase. Read more…

By April Siese Posted in Reviews , , , , ,

SXSW 2014: Antiquiet’s Never Official Showcase Featuring John Flanagan, Nicole Atkins, Ume and Grieves

March 13th, 2014
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Call me a biased source, but Antiquiet sure as hell gets it right. Their unofficial daytime showcase showed no weak links with a line-up stacked deep and varied with primarily West Coast musicians. (shoutout to The Coup for seriously and proudly repping Oakland). Opener John Flanagan’s simple act of sound checking was enough to get unsuspecting souls to wander into Rusty’s. A rather impressive, far more fiery cover of The Darkness’ “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” cemented Flanagan as a master of his instrument. The man’s vocals are enough to get him gainfully employed singing for Disney and gain a following across the age spectrum.
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By April Siese Posted in Reviews, Show Reviews , , , , , ,