Wednesday, January 25, 2012

It Comes and It Goes

OK, so your's truly has been doing this blog for one entire year. That's 50-ish posts, one a week, typically on a Wednesday. Spotty quality, admittedly. Some have been good. Some not so much. It comes and it goes, the inspiration.

Because that's why we do it here. Inspired, by the likes of the indie musicians we've spied, trailed, stalked, studied, and Googled from the safety of our Land of Cubes.
And Yes, "inspired by" is the proper phrase for what we've seen in the lot of ye. Creative, talented, hard-working practitioners of rock in all of it's sundry forms; playing on small bills for small bills; little heard artisans performing their arts, with an abysmally-skewed dedication-to-reward ratio.

It started with the guys and gals we knew about: Panjoma, The Future Process, Before Dawn, Watch Out For Rockets, Mr. Bear. And once we started looking around, we found that our set of "these guys deserve some attention" was missing some uber-talented folks. Killa Dilla, Art vs. Industry, Knifight, BK & Mr. E, Synthetamine. Texas Microphone Massacre, The Clouds Are Ghosts, Tin Can Phone. Zlam Dunk, The Pons, Quiet Company, The Beat Dolls, The Sour Notes, Not In The Face -

This could turn into a full time gig.

And then there's the guys we found out about but just couldn't do justice to, the acts that we're not really qualified to comment on. DSGNS, Serafia Jane, E.B.M.. Frank Smith, Marmalakes, Anneji, ...

The year has come and gone. Time to assess the damage.

On the plus side, we've made some awesome new friends. People we ran across who are just plain ol' cool and good and everything you want in a friend (or acquaintance or family member). Daniel at Vivogig, Anthony at Eye in the Sky Collective, Guillermo of Laserz, Sarah Oehrlein, Melissa Cox, Emily Heilman, Jenna Carrens, Ross Bennett, Ryan Cano, Ritchard Napierkowski, Amarah Ulghani...

But it hasn't been free, keeping up with you dudes and dudettes. Oh, sure, we spent a few dimes here and there, but the real cost has been in time. And at our age, that's the coin of the realm.

With a full-time job, plus other projects we've been dying to do - Some music related, most are not - we have to pull the plug somewhere. And, sorry to say, it's this blog that must needs be unplugged. [And, yes, we're savoring the irony of that statement.]

We'll keep it around for the sake of the linkage you've been kind enough to share. But as for new posts, they'll become rare. The same fate awaits the podcast.

That said, let's be clear about our goals: We'll still promote Austin-based indies, probably via Facebook, or perhaps some other as-yet unknown method. We'll still buy local, and pay our own way into venues to see you rock. And maybe we'll become so inspired as to pick up the keyboard again and generate some more words. Who knows what a day may bring forth?

It's been cool. We've learned a lot, met more folks to love, and heard some of the best music ever produced anywhere. And it was all here, in the Live Music Capital of the World.

Faithfully yours,

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Problem with Christian Rock

Oh yeah. If you can't spot the "rack up the hits" bait with THAT headline, then you need to brush up on your SEO.

It's got "Problem" and "Christian" in it. That's drama AND religion. AND music. What's not to get frothy in the mouth about??

But back on topic. Don't know if you've noticed, but "Christian Rock" gets dissed on a regular basis. It's like the red-headed stepchild of music, the little sis to Rock Star, the Beaver to Wally Cleaver.

Never heard that one? Huh. Here's a couple of tweets we've seen in our interweb trollings -
Just bought an album I dug from a Christian rock band. There's a first for everything
Why are you starting a Christian rock band, Landry? Christian rock is the worst thing ever.
(Buzzkill Made Flesh)
Overheard last nite (from a vegetarian): "I have had good vegan food, but a good vegan meal is like a good Christian rock band"

What's with the contempt?

That's kinda rhetorical. This is a blog, and a blog is an opinion. Which means you're about to read one. So if you skip out here, if you decide to quit reading this drivel and move on, then you're off the hook, no one will throw stones at you.

OK, so you can blithely spit out "There are no good Christian Rock bands", and someone might buy that. And we're not experts on all things Christian Rock, but we have heard some exceptional music that bears the "Christian" label. Check out the latest from The David Crowder Band, "Church Music" - In some circles it's even been labeled as "too disco", which suggests a bleeding-edge endeavor from our typically-conservative brothers.

Or for something a little less preachy, try out Skillet. Or bang your head to some metallic Red.

OK, so there is some good Christian rock. Maybe it's a ratio thing? As in, %99 percent sucks, the rest is merely OK.

Dunno about you, but we're always leery of absolute statements. Always.

No, it can't be that - We'd guess that the good-to-sucks ratio is probably the same as it is for non-Christian (or "secular") music. Probably.

And we say that with absolute authority.

OK then, whaddup?

We say there are at least 2 factors that lead to the contempt.

1) "Christian Music" is a market, not a genre. You gotcher Christian Rap, your Christian Metal, your Christian Pop, etc. Why isn't it just Rap or Metal or Pop?

Because it's not just the genre, it's who's buying it. It's a label for an industry, not a stylistic rendering of an art form. It's the brainchild of a label executive, eager to do damage control for those PARENTAL ADVISORY stickers forced on them back in '85, not an artistic achievement.

[We could go on and discuss the ethics of this kind of behavior, but then we'd be wading into ethics discussions, and we're just not pure enough to pull that off.]

2) "Christian Music" can be propaganda. Not art, not a furtherance of the form, but merely a conveyance of a message into an unwary consumer's mind, a pill that carries a payload of rhetoric. It's not art, it's an agenda. We hate the Nazis for doing this, we hate it in our movies, and, yes, we hate it in our music.

So there ya go. An absolute answer to the question.

Tune back next week for less of our barb-witted, SEO-baited repartee.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

EP Review - Language Room's Skin & Heart & Lungs

New Year, new music, and Language Room is there for you.
[Photo by Abel Longoria]
That's them. All these guys can sing, but (left-to-right) Scott Graham does guitar + keys, Todd Sapio does guitar, Sean Hill pounds on the drums, and Matt Graham handles the bass + keys.

Graham and Sapio moved here from LA back in '07, and have since shifted some personnel, released a CD ("Language Room" available on iTunes and Amazon), and have melted some faces in our finer venues. In a nutshell - These guys have been there, done that, and know how to produce the Good Stuff.

Which is what the just-popped-out "Skin & Heart & Lungs" is, the Good Stuff:
It's just a 4 song EP, so it'll only set you back $3.96 (on either iTunes or Amazon). So go ahead and pick it up - It's a smart, hook-filled rock-pop collection, bulging with passion and gleaming with top-shelf production values.

"Open Air" is the opener, an anthem-istic pop number that fluctuates from tinny glockenspiel to thumping bass and sharp guitar lines. "Kerosene" follows, a quietly-started/loudly-ended rock-powered pop number that's more rock than pop. The title song is #3 in this collection, a hauntingly brilliant number that you will be tempted to bring to your next karaoke party. "Breachers" ends the set with excellence; a spooky, bass-lead progression, punctured with sinister-stabbing guitars and overlaid with excellent vox.

Here, give "Skin & Heart & Lungs" a hear (or three) before heading out to Amazon for your own copy:

Find out more about Language Room Facebook or Home Base.