Saturday, February 25, 2006

On the road less traveled, once again

Readers who follow the link to my "World Cup Finals" ink-splash, from this week's Austin Chronicle, may find it a little redundant. Already there's a bunch of bands that made the published dispatch to be found below -- Auktyon, Los de Abajo and Jason Forrest (aka Donna Summer). But from now on, we'll be sorting primarily domestic talent. Stay tuned....

(Illutration by Michael Sieben, courtesy the Austin Chronicle.)

Friday, February 24, 2006

I'm in love and don't care who knows it

Her name is Sabina Sciubba, and she is the only girl in Brazilian Girls, a NYC-based band with an international sound that refuses categorization. Sabina is not Brazilian, however, and her three bandmates are all men (though not Brazilian either). Still, being a far cry from the Brothers Gibb, these next generation BGs have their sultry samba sounds down pat; the keywork by Didi Gutman, the only bona fide South American among them, provides an echo of Thievery Corp. But its the songs about sex and marijuana that have me considering whether to proposition Sabina when she comes to town. Just listening to cuts off the band's appearance at Seattle's KEXP studios has me thinking about a vacation, walks on the beach and umbrellas in my drink.

The fact that Sabina -- may I call you that, Sabina? -- born in Italy, and raised in France and Germany, speaks five languages only adds to my growing wander... er... lust. Seriously, Sciubba is what Grace Jones would have sounded like if she had been a jazz singer, and that's no joke.

Click here to check out the new Brazilian Girls video; add'l tracks from KEXP are here and here. The BGs play the Fox and Hound (a bar I really dislike) on Thursday, March 16, at 12:30 a.m. Fortunately, they're also playing the Verve Forecast showcase at Eternal the following night, as are Rhett Miller of the Old 97's and blues belter Susan Tedeschi.

P.S. For those that missed the news, SXSW 2006 wristbands sold out in record time. If anybody has a line on a couple at reasonable rates, I'm looking. Leave contact info in the comments section.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The new dental floss tycoons

These Missoula, Montana, boogie-rock specialists are the last remaining survivors of a scene that sprouted long ago in a country far, far away. Call them the biggest fish in the small river that runs through it, if you like, you'll still want to lock away your women and chilluns when this Big Sky five-piece storms down from the Rockies. The new disc, recorded in Bellingham, Washington, is called Cobra Blood Hangover, but is yet to be realeased. Soon-to-be-classic tracks, however, with irresistable titles such as "Whörehäus," "The International Playboys get a bottle of wine go to the beach and get fucked up" and "American king cobra," pretty much speak for themselves.

The fine-dressing International Playboys play Spiro's on Red River Street, midnight on March 15. You've been warned.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

You don't know how lucky you are, boy

With regard to this Russian octet, I'm just going to rip this off directly from a 2005 article by my dear friend Zach Dundas: "Of all the things a person could do in 1983 -- get heavy into legwarmers, write a bestseller about coke-snorting stockbrokers, whatever -- forming an avant-garde Russian rock band ranked very, very low on the advisable-activities list. Soviet authorities... well, they took a dim view. After all, Marx said very little about how jazz fusion/folk/psychedelic/punk/performance art (mp3) might help build True Socialism [emphasis added].

"A bunch of artsy Leningrad boys decided they didn't care. More than 20 years later, Auktyon -- the band they formed and, arguably, built into Russia's most critically acclaimed -- has outlasted both the old regime and its home city's old name. In Russia, Auktyon is famous for its absurdist stage show, blue-hot musical intensity (another mp3), fearless genre-splicing and slavishly devoted fans. In a place where entire geopolitical systems have gone to die, this band endures as a godfatherly influence on a whole rock nation." Nuff said.

Pioneer, the band's first US release, is due out later this year. Auktyon plays Carribean Lights on Sixth Street at 10 p.m. on March 16 (part of the KUT World Music showcase). Thanks Z.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Add it up... add it up

Not since the heady days of Festival Express (that's the film site, the Apple trailer requires Quicktime) has the term "collective" been thrown around with such abandon. Amid the lesser and weirder lights of SXSW attendees Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Animal Collective, there's a superb underground supergroup that first deserves your attention: The Minus 5.

Fire when ready.

Led by Young Fresh Fellow Scott McCaughey of Seattle, backed by an all-Americana crew comprised of Jeff Tweedy (Wilco), Peter Buck (REM, requires Flash), Colin Meloy (The Decembrists) -- and too many other collaborators to name -- the Minus 5 have just released The Gun Album (Yep Roc). The album is some manner of ode to John Lennon, whose composition "Happiness is a Warm Gun" is a touchstone for McCaughey. Most of the songs feature a jangly drive that splits the difference between cloying Beatles-like harmonies and slithering mod-rock guitar, ultimately cutting through the golden smog. Here's an NPR review (Windows Media).

The Minus 5 play a midnight show, March 16, at the Continental Club. Currently in the midst of a national tour with Robyn Hitchcock, after SXSW they will be joined by The Silos.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Touch me, I'm sick

Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne virus that afflicts nearly 100,000 people each year around the world. Symptoms from D.F. include raging headaches, vomiting and a 100-plus degree fever. In other words, not a good thing. But somehow an LA-based six-piece band named Dengue Fever has turned this condition into something all the more attractive. Fronted by Chhom Nimol, a Cambodian popstar in her own right (pictured), the band has a snaking international style that borrows equally from Bollywood, Bitches Brew era Miles Davis (this sample features guitarist extraordinaire John McLaughlin) and a whole lotta garage rockers. I was first infected by the band's self-titled debut a couple of years ago; this past fall came the outstanding collection of original tunes Escape from Dragon House. Hit this link for the "Sni Bong" video.

Dengue Fever plays Caribbean Lights on Sixth Street as part of the KUT/The World's All Music is World Music showcase on March 16 at 1 a.m. Find full SXSW listings here.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Hometown shout-out

O' brother, I can't imagine the potential smackdown if The Meat Purveyors were to be lumped in with other s0-called New Grass revivalists.

In any sort of caged match, my money would be on singer Jo Walston and her punked-out band, armed with mando and upright bass. For the better part of our young century, this speedy, whisky-bagging batch of Austin musicians has been sawing through original comps, notching some excellent releases on Chi-town's Bloodshot Records, not to mention rousing covers of everybody from George "The Possum" Jones to Fleetwood Mac. In addition to their SXSW gigs, the Purveyors play a Feb 24 benefit at Emo's for the Austin's fire-devastated Sweatbox Studio's, and on March 4 at the Carousel Lounge, a perfect place to hear them. Just don't forget your bottle.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Love to love you baby

With this blog-ject underway, let me lay down a few ground rules: Austin's annual music and media conference SXSW takes place over a long weekend in mid-March. The bands and so forth featured here will be playing, but the schedule is not yet set; when the gigs are posted, I will do my best to update the site. In the meantime, I will do my darndest to keep things interesting.

This is Jason Forrest. Stop. Look. (animated Quicktime madness.)

Forrest is ein Berliner. Previously a DJ on WFMU, a NY/NJ public station, his greatest claim to fame has been an identity-theft stunt, recording rock-and-roll mash-ups under the pseudonym Donna Summer. His Austin appearance is part of Forrest/Summer's first full-blown US tour. In addition to making crazy genre-defying records, he runs a label called Cock Rock Disco. Ahem. Listen.

(Note: This clip features lovely Laura Cantrell, from Forrest's new Shamelessly Exciting disc.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Quien fue aquí

Talking Head David Byrne described Los de Abajo as "punk salsa," which admittedly sounds silly. But this Mexico City combo gone done something ingenious, combining ska and mariachi horns on their latest; my public-radio man Marco Werman on The World profiled them Feb. 8 (that's a WMA file). Go to the last link of the audio section of the LdA site to hear them "Take over the Asylum." Fun, boy, three!

A Starting Point

We're gonna start out with a little weirdness from the East. Japan's Afrirampo is the sort of band that would anchor Kill Bill if QT weren't such a damn poseur. Click here (requires Real Player, download) to hear these twisted sisters play a mad set on Brain Turner's WFMU show. More int'l, national and local coverage -- and many mp3 links -- to come. (Image courtesy Tzadik.)