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The Sleepers of Austin City Limits

Submitted by admin on September 27, 2010 – 7:18 pmOne Comment
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It’s that time of year again. Get ready for the deluge of generic Austin City Limits coverage from every local news source in Texas. Well, maybe it’s a bit early but I’ve decided to strike a little before the iron gets hot to spread the word about a few bands on the bill that you may have overlooked.

I won’t conceal the fact that I do indeed have tickets to the first two days of the festival and have talked incessantly about it to everyone I know since January so this may just come off as the mad ramblings of a tactless music dork but there is so much to say about this year’s lineup. There are a few very obvious must-see acts playing such as The Flaming Lips, The Black Keys, Phish, and of course Sonic Youth but there are also handful of truly excellent lesser-known acts that are also must-sees in their own rite.

One of the most exciting bands for me personally is Atlanta “Flower-Punk” band Black Lips. Certainly not as big a name as Sonic Youth or the Flaming Lips, Black Lips have a gotten pretty good cult following over the past ten years. They’ve recently broken into the mainstream a little more with contributions to the soundtracks of “500 Days of Summer” and “Scott Pilgrim vs the World”. These guys are also known for their ridiculous stage antics which include but are not limited to urinating on stage or kissing each other. They were actually forced to flee from a tour they did in India after almost being imprisoned for their behavior onstage.

I got see The Ettes open for the Dead Weather this year at House of Blues and it was truly a treat. I was delighted to see that they were set to play on the third day of ACL. With a gutsy female vocalist that crosses Blondie with Joan Jett, The Ettes have a loud but catchy rock sound that almost anyone can get into.

Getting some of their first major recognition only in 2009 from Pitchfork Magainze, experimental Brooklyn band Bear in Heaven mixes rich electronic textures with the spaciness of krautrock. Most of the work is instrumental and a bit esoteric but on their latest album Beast Rest Forth Mouth they wrote a song called “Lovesick Teenagers” which might help make them more accessible to new listeners. The atmospheric nature of the band’s music will certainly make for a good outdoor performance.

I only stumbled across Swedish folk band, First Aid Kit, after buying my tickets and looking at the rest of the lineup. No-nonsense singer-songwriter stuff, FAK is comprised of simple but beautiful acoustic melodies and bright  female vocals. I’ll be at Zilker early to catch these guys at 12 PM.

With the potential to be soft and sweet or fucking loud as hell, Girls has a raw sound that doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not. It’s satisfying indie rock not preoccupied with be profound or “deep”. It’s hard to explain but there seems to be a heavy 50’s and 60’s pop influence in the music and the vocals are a little reminiscent of Jonathan Richman, especially on tracks like “Lauren Marie“.

Shearwater is an Austin band I’ve been listening to for over two years now. Their sound is quiet and contemplative but can explode into very dramatic almost operatic tones. I’m so in love with these guys and could write a book on them but instead I’ll just direct you to a song called “The Snow Leopard“. It’s the best song they’ve ever done and could stand up pretty well against some of the best songs I’ve ever heard, period.

I know we’re normally all about Houston but don’t worry, Summer Fest will one day eclipse ACL.

-Jack Daniel Betz

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