Monthly Archives: April 2013

The Endless Bummer’s Summer Mixtape Vol. II and Literary Vignette

1. Someday by The Growlers [00:00]
2. Ruby Soho (Rancid Cover) by Jimmy Cliff [04:47]
3. To The Lighthouse (Millionyoung Remix) by Memoryhouse [07:47]
4. Bucktown by Smif-n-Wessun [11:22]
5. Shitty by Pangea [15:53]
6. With Your Suit and Tie On (Marvin Gaye x Justin Timberlake) by RRod [17:53]
7. The Beach by Jonathan Richman [22:02]
8. Hearts of Fools by Still Corners [24:47]
9. Shawty is Da Shit (Giraffage Remix) by The Dream [28:39]
10. Two Weeks by Scott & Charlene’s Wedding [33:43]
11. Step to My Girl by Souls of Mischief [36:45]
12. Took My Heart by Travis Bretzer [41:56]
13. I Never Dreamed by The Cookies [44:42]
14. The Error by CJ Fly (Prod. by Cookin’ Soul) [47:28]
15. Girl Watcher by The O’Kaysions [50:47]
16. Memories by Hunter Cottle (Prod. by The Ambassador) [53:20]

Independence Day

The clock’s hand was at a 90 degree angle. Mickey’s red 8-speed rolled along the black tar top of Clovercrest Park with a gentle glide. It was morning; the neighborhood’s alarm clocks had not quite rung, but Mickey was far above the lazy sleepiness of his suburb, he was wide awake. With coffee in his blood and sleep lifting off his eyes, he began the summer’s daily route. The first stop happened to be his family’s friends, the Burtons. The 8 speed’s front tire came to a stop, parking itself directly in front of the family’s walkway. Mickey lowered his arm back, grabbed a newspaper and flung it toward their home. Inside, Mickey saw Patrick Burton, the father, drinking coffee and watching CNBC. The man waved at the diligent teenager from inside his home. Mickey went on and rolled toward his favorite part of the route: Garden Street. It was a long downhill road, the canopies of large oak trees bent over the road as if trying to kiss, the houses hidden by vines and suburban vegetation, peeked out from behind the arms of their green captors with mysterious curiosity—it was something out of a movie. Today, however, was different.

Mickey peddled for a good fifteen minutes but never reached the beautiful trail’s conclusion. No end in sight. House after house. Brown roof after brown roof. The clock’s hand now rested at 180 degrees. Mickey passed a family barbecuing outside. The wife’s bosomy red and white picnic patterned dress waved hello to him as he passed. He smiled and continued peddling. He came upon a group of shaggy haired elementary students perfecting their kick flips in the middle of the street. They waved and said what’s up dude and continued their fun. Strange, Mickey thought, he had never seen any of these people—where were the Cheevers? the Thortons? He began to wonder if he had taken a wrong turn. The red 8 speed rolled through a public sports field complex. Families were laughing and swimming and pissing in the country club’s chlorine tank, big brothers were dunking little brothers. Kids ran around the diamond field. It was something out of a movie. White-Anglo-Saxon-Protestant families bounced fuzzy green balls across white nets. Mickey had never passed this in previous paper runs, he knew he was lost in his own suburb.

Mickey was still rolling down Garden Street when the sun began its gradual sink into the ground. He became worried. He’d never been late to his house. His parents would be worried sick. The 8 track came to a halt and the front wheel swapped spots with the rear wheel. He began driving back toward the bosomy red and white picnic patterned dress, but he didn’t come across the sports complex, the shaggy haired elementary kids or the barbecue. On the right, Mickey glanced at the golf course, it’s vibrant green obscured by the black of the night. Atop the largest mound he observed three teenagers smoking a funny looking, crooked cigarette. He continued down Garden Street. He came upon a large twinkling mansion with a boat named The Swimmer parked out front. He hit the brakes and observed the window to the right of the boat. He saw four high school graduates breaking into their parents’ liquor cabinet. The gang snagged a bottle of Jose Cuervo, mixed it with orange juice and guzzled it down.

Distressed and tired, he hopped onto his 8 speed and began peddling faster than he had ever before. His white sneakers blurred in a circular collage along the chainset. He peddled and peddled and peddled for what seemed an eternity until suddenly, Mickey recognized his own home—on Garden Street. He lived on Magnolia Street. But the paperboy was too exhausted to question the oddness of the scenario and the 8 speed came to a stop in front of the house. He opened the door and called out for his parents. No answer. He heard laughter coming from his backyard. He cautiously approached the back door, and peered through the blinds. His adolescent eyes lay upon the sight of a naked man and woman bouncing in the smooth water of his pool. They got up and approached the screen-door. Mickey darted behind his mother’s closet and rested his eyes between the door’s blinds. The naked pool intruders were the Burtons. Mickey leapt out from behind the closet causing Mrs. Burton to let out a frightened scream. Mickey demanded answers. Mr. Burton asked Mickey if he was lost. It was something out of a movie.

-Ryan Ricks

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Stuff that Rocks: Ben Kweller

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I don’t remember exactly when or how I began listening to Texan/Austinite Ben Kweller, all I remember was that I was one cool kid jamming the insanely catchy pop-rock tunes on the middle school bus, annoying the shit out of the kid sitting next to me. I would purposely blast “Penny On a Train Track” and “Sundress” in an attempt to educate all the other lame kids sitting around, providing them with an example on what real music sounded like. Through my juvenile eyes, Kweller’s path as a musician seemed quite awkward. I remember him playing huge festival stages like ACL and Lollapalooza, playing with a huge sound, and even I knew he was onto something big. But as years past his name only seemed to minimize in the press, I took this as a hint that he had fallen off, or perhaps even given up on making it big. Eventually Ben’s music became something I just seemed to outgrow, something that I was too cool for.

Well, I’m in college now……. and what the fuck was I thinking?

After hearing that he would be playing a free show on the lush lawn of my small, liberal arts school, I became generally excited to take part in what sounded like another boring campus event. I began to remember the images of the Austin City Limits Festival in 2006 when Ben had an unfortunate nose bleed that cut his set short. The dude asked all the ladies in the crowd to throw him a tampon, which he ensued to plug up his nose. At the time I didn’t really get what was happening or why everyone was laughing their asses off, but when I look back at that moment I can’t help but not smile and laugh out loud a little to myself (Youtube it). It was refreshing to witness the one time slacker Indie-rock kid, who is now a father, and his band take the small stage and play to a crowd of roughly 50 to 60 people. He played a well balanced set of oldies like “Commerce, TX”, “Falling”, “Hospital Beds”, “On My Way” and some new-ish material, and it rocked, just like it did back in middle school. But what really won me over was his personality, and genuine openness with his audience. Jokes were cracked, and his awesome kids danced around the stage in support. He even accepted a request, “Rock N Roll All Night”, from one of his kids and a wonderful singalong commenced. The dude was being himself, relying on nothing but his positive words and guitar. That’s something I rarely see anymore.

Too often I find that an artist’s image can overwhelm a listener’s perspective of the music, for better or for worse. Lana del Rey, Odd Future, any mainstream rapper, any Urban Outfitter sponsored band, all somewhat rely on their personal appearance to create a brand in the listener’s mind, which in return compliments or kills the music they create. I’m not downplaying this strategy or saying its wrong (Daft Punk worked out well, right?), I’m simply trying to point out that these artists who market themselves this way are not the artists that I will remember when I show my kids the stuff I jammed to as a kid. It’s artists like Ben Kweller, artists who are willing to be themselves, artists willing to sacrifice commercial success and image in return for a personal connection with their audience, artists who choose to use their words rather than their boobs/ass for attention, who will uphold the simple joy of music for our future generations. I forgot to mention he has some insanely catchy indie-rock songs about drinking jager all day, having a pet hedgehog, and being “wasted and ready”, which is pretty god damn awesome, and something that I’m totally not too cool for. You da man Ben.

Too Hard to Find by Travis Bretzer

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The chubby Asian kid in School of Rock hit it right on the money when he famously said, “People in bands are cool.” It’s a goofy but true statement; people in bands are monoliths of cutting-edge coolness. Who didn’t think the Stones were cool when they ditched their Beatles hairdos and prom night suits for shaggy DIY haircuts and raggedy skinny jeans? Or when Lou Reed gave the industry a big middle finger by releasing 1975 avant-garde masterpiece, Metal Machine Music? Musicians are badass. It’s indisputable. And it’s time to welcome Travis Bretzer into the hip world of musical badass-ery. The under-appreciated 2010 hidden gold, Saucy Tasters oozes with such cigarette burning hipness that one can’t help to feel cool when listening to it. “Too Hard to Find” is a bumbling garage rock tune that sounds like an Exile on Mainstreet-Nuggets lovechild. Bretzer has a unique voice that epitomizes hipness. Jagger, Casablancas, Iggy are obvious influences and Bretzer wears them on his denim sleeves with refreshing confidence. Just one listen to Saucy Tasters and you’ll want to quit your day job, pick up a drug habit, shave one side of your head, and return your Polo hoody for a denim jacket. It is an incredibly hip sounding record but it never falls victim to pretension. It’s catchy and gorgeously melodic. Definitely look forward to future releases from this guy.

Open as a Door by Thom & the Tomcats

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A tape recorder hiss and a cheap electronic metronome constitute the greeting sounds of the eclectic lo-fi crusade, Thom & the Tomcats on the intriguing and pleasantly enduring album, Recurring Dreams. “Open as a Door” is an outsider’s lonely reflection on memory and its repression. The song begins with a melancholy Casio flute cadence and somber guitar arpeggio before being accompanied by a youthful, Maureen Tucker-like vocalization. Meghan Hollet, the woman behind the song’s vocals, exhibits a perfect amount of quirkiness; she’s not a Juno obsessor but she’s no plain-Jane. Her words feel   childish but are in no way immature. In her quaint yet distinguished voice she sings, “memory is more like a scar than a tattoo/in the end it’s like a friend that you can’t hold on to,” revealing the struggle that occurs when the mind tries to make sense of time. The entire album is entertaining and full of philosophical one-liners that wouldn’t be hurt by annotation. Thom & the Tomcats and their unique take on lthe lo-fi scene stand strongly apart from the stereotypical Daniel Johnston imitator, and it’s an extremely refreshing distance.

Here is a link to the band’s band camp, good stuff: Thom and the Tomcats Bandcamp

Silent Wave by Uwue

It’s amazing how we are able to connect music to the settings that surround us in our everyday lives. Whether it’s through digital media or physical beauty, there is certain music that is simply enhanced by or enhances things we observe. What would the major motion picture “Friday Night Lights” be without the inspiring soundtrack of Explosions In the Sky? Would the film hit as hard without the melodic post-rock sound? In my opinion, probably not. Some people out there may find it immature that my geographic surroundings control what I choose to listen to throughout my days, personally I believe that’s just how it should be. In my home town of Austin TX the sun has began to peak out of the clouds and the temperature has risen moderately to a steady 75 degrees. The season of Sprummer (the transition from Spring to Summer) has taken over, and  I couldn’t be any happier sitting outside under the oak trees writing about this wonderful new song from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania band Uwue. Silent Wave is a sweet, tender piano driven tune that everyone should be listening to outside, in the sun, or under a tree. Front-man Caleb Cossick’s high, falsetto vocals are truly a breath of fresh air as they command the slow, lush piano progression. A steady backing drum beat, and bass-line complete what is one of the most addicting songs I’ve heard this entire year. To fully appreciate the beauty behind Silent Wave, you must put yourself in a bright, natural setting in order to feel the true connection between Cossick’s plush creation and the rich liveliness that Spring presents. So go to Uwue’s bandcamp, download the It’s All Lore/Silent Wave 7” and chill with the sun, flowers, trees, and maybe even your cute, local forest animals.
Also check out Tree Cover Records – http://www.treecoverrecords.com/#

Anyway Now by Lil Texas

 

 

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There’s a great Portlandia skit where Armisen and Brownstein’s hipster caricatures continuously bump into fellow twenty somethings whom incessantly promote their hip, late night DJ sets. Although it’s exaggerated, the skit stands strong with how the modern DJ world works. It seems like everyday there’s a new scratchmaster featured on the home screens of the biggest blogs, boasting a cutting-edge remix or production sample. Technology equalizes the musical playing field; an extensive musical knowledge is no longer needed in order to be a DJ; all you need is MIDI pad, a kit of 808’s and some dark synth samples and you’re golden. This universal accessibility has flooded the blogosphere with tons of mediocre DJ’s and made the great ones tougher to pick from the crowd. But have no fear, Lil Texas is here. Lil Texas is a young producer from the streets of Dallas, Texas. “Anyway Now” is a standout chunk of tropical production that feels ironically professional. The glossy track features dirty south 808’s, dreamy vocal rips, and a melodic flow that blends together like a strawberry banana smoothie. It’s sweet and refreshing but never stops being anthemic. On “Anyway Now,” Lil Texas creates something comfortably familiar yet uniquely original.