I’ve never met the Austin, Texas band The Eastern Sea but if sounds tell the story, I bet they are really nice guys. I know another band of really nice guys – Death Cab for Cutie – who I saw perform at Bernie’s “back in the day” (an old guy like me can say that and truly mean it) and I remember them sincerely thanking the audience for paying attention after each and every song. It comes as no surprise, then, that The Eastern Sea sort of occupies that same sonic space as Death Cab – nice and dreamy guitars, pretty harmonies, very non-threatening vocals.
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You may know producer Mike McCarthy‘s name from his many collaborations with Spoon. Or maybe his work on Columbus band The Sun’s Don’t Let Your Baby Have All the Fun. McCarthy was also the one who introduced Sam Brown to Britt Daniel in Divine Fits’ embryonic stage.
This year McCarthy also launched his own label, Western Medical Records, just so he could release something from two of his favorite female-fronted, New Wave/punk bands in Austin: Crooked Bangs and Feral Future. Western Meds describes Crooked Bangs as, “Europe 1978 layered onto America 1965 and delivered to a punk scene that’s dissatisfied with 2012” and Feral Future as “heavily rooted in the traditions of anarcho-punk and riot grrrl.” Sounds about right to my ears. Plus a lot of French in Crooked Bangs. I can think of quite a few people in Columbus who will dig this.
McCarthy pressed 500 of Crooked Bangs’ self-titled LP and another 500 of Feral Future’s EP. Pick them up at tomorrow night’s Ace of Cups show, where Philadelphia’s The Eeries open. 9pm, $5.
Last night Britt Daniel, Dan Boeckner and Sam Brown showed up at the Continental Club in Austin billed as “The Hot Skull,” then played their first ever Divine Fits set, pulling off a 12-song secret show that actually remained pretty secret until just a few minutes before the band took the stage.
Here’s a not-too-shabby live video of “Flaggin a Ride” (via CoS), track 2 on A Thing Called Divine Fits, out Aug. 28 on Merge. Boeckner told me recently that writing and rehearsing “Flaggin” was one of those moments where everything clicked, and he realized this band is a real band — a real and awesome band:
“We did this super-early version of it, which is pretty much what ended up on the record, minus some overdubs. The bass just stays the same through the verses, and the guitar was just this weird, clicky, rhythmic, one-note thing that would shift every now and then. We were writing it and just kept stripping away guitar parts until there are actually no chords. I don’t think I play many chords on any of the songs [on the album], except maybe “Civilian Stripes.” Anyway, we kept stripping “Flaggin a Ride” back and back and back. Finally, it was like, this sounds fucking great. I was really excited about it. There’s no guitar chords in that song. It’s all implied. That made me really happy. When we could play that song all the way through, that was when I was like, yeah…”
In Columbus, the question people have been asking is, how did this band come about, and how did Sam Brown — a guy everyone in the Columbus scene knows is one of the best drummers around — get hooked up with the frontmen of Spoon and Wolf Parade/Handsome Furs?
Can’t really knock it when you’ve scored the opening slot on a buzzed-about tour even if the only consumable music you have out there for people to preview before seeing you is a 3-song EP. Hundred Visions have found themselves in the honored position as the guests of fellow Austin-ites White Denim for a round of touring that drops them into The Basement on Wednesday night (4/18).
While hanging out in Toronto early this week, Hundred Visions singer Ben Maddox answered some questions about his band, Austin, White Denim and his love (or at least appreciation) of Pantera.
Word on the street is that White Denim is hot shit live. Do you concur?
That rumor is fucking founded. I used to watch them at clubs in Austin before we started Hundred Visions and be equally inspired and discouraged by their show- inspired to start my own band, and discouraged that I might never be that good.
Those who have Googled “Hundred Visions” have hopefully stumbled across the Bandcamp page and have digested the 3-song EP you’ve got up there. What’s the best you can expect for out of a crowd whose only exposure to Hundred Visions thus far has just been a trio of songs?
Hopefully to dance, to bob, to move. Something like that.
The start of a new year usually brings a flood of tour date announcements from publicists. We received a few of those emails today, many of which had dates that included Austin during SXSW week. Here’s the latest list of bands that you can expect to see at SXSW:
- Hotel Cafe tour featuring Ingrid Michaelson, Sara Bareilles, Cary Brothers, Joshua Radin, Dan Wilson (ex-Semisonic), Meiko, Priscilla Ahn, Kate Havnevik, William Fitzsimmons, Jessie Baylin, and Jim Bianco – March 13 @ The Parish
- LA-based Radar Bros. whose new album, Auditorium, will be released on Merge Records later this month. Check out “Warm Rising Sons” (MP3) from that album.
- Canada’s Born Ruffians
- Also, got an email from Todd of Model/Actress saying his band would be making the rounds this year. Here’s the band description from MySpace: EX-MEMBERS OF BRAINIAC + BULLET LAVOLTA + CHAMBERLAIN + GOBBLEHOOF = this fine collective with little ambition and even fewer redeeming qualities. Special guests on the debut EP in DAVID YOW (Jesus Lizard, Scratch Acid) and JOHN SCHMERSAL (Enon, Brainiac).
SXSW is slowly starting to trickle out info about bands performing in Austin in March. New to the SXSW site is the announcement that Domino Records will have a showcase featuring some of it’s hottest new artists. Scheduled to perform are: The Kills, White Williams, Lightspeed Champion, Sons & Daughters and These New Puritans.
The Kills new video for “URA Fever”