Tag Archives: Dana Falconberry

Top albums and artist discoveries of 2011

Once again I had a hard time counting to 10 as I started thinking about my favorite albums of 2011, because I continue to commit the sin of buying whatever music I want, without considering whether it’s new or not.

So, here are my here are my top five albums:

1. Tune-YardsWhokill
Unique album from a talented and creative artist. There’s something naive and complicated at the same time about Tune-Yards’ African-influenced indie rock. It’s as if Merrill Garbus found some uncontacted tribe in the African rainforest and instead of going the Deep Forest ethnic-ambient direction, turned it into something off-kilter and funky. I guess I would have to say this is not for everyone, since a couple of people I tried to turn onto this album didn’t seem to take to it. Maybe they’ll come around.

2. Rebirth Brass BandRebirth of New Orleans.
This was an impulse buy at Waterloo Records. I picked it up last July and I still can’t seem to get enough of it. It’s a jazzy mix of New Orleans second line, funk and hip hop. Mostly instrumental, but with some great shouted choruses, in songs like “Why Your Feet Hurt” and “I Like It Like That.” I gushed about the the band a little bit in in a blog post which includes an awesome video of the band in the streets of New Orleans.

3. Sarah JaroszFollow Me Down
Very impressive sophomore album. I love her voice. Her original material continues to impress me, but her covers are amazing, especially her cover of Radiohead’s “The Tourist.” I also love “Annabelle Lee,” adapted from the poem by Edgar Allan Poe. She also has some really good bluegrass musicians backing her up.

4. Pickering PickTiger Balm

This one caught me off guard. Sam released this in June, but I just discovered it a few weeks ago. As always, excellent songwriting, beautiful melodies and sweet vocals. This time he had a new studio and you can really hear it in the production. He’s busy updating the equipment, so the next album will sound even better. I love every song on the album, but “Like a River” is truly amazing.

5. Daughters of the SunGhost with Chains
Nice album from one of my surprise discoveries at this year’s Psych Fest. And by the way, they are very impressive live. It’s partly psych, partly ambient, but with tribal-sounding percussion and shoegaze vocals. To look at them, you expect some kind of heavy metal, but instead you get this hypnotic psychedelia. Catch them if they come to your town.

And here are my top five artists discovered in 2012:

1. Sleepy Sun. I found this group at Psych Fest in Austin back in April. Awesome, trippy, acid-drenched blues. Fever has become one of my favorite albums and it would’ve made my top five of 2010 if I had discovered it in time. Check out their website which has an embedded live version of “Marina.”

2. Atash. Kickass Austin-based group I discovered almost by accident during SXSW. I was hunting for free and cheap shows and was just about to give up when I found them giving a free performance at Central Market on North Lamar. They put on a HELL of a live show. Their music seems to have Gypsy, Persian, Indian, and other influences. I downloaded Republic of Love off Amazon.com and I’ve really been enjoying it.

3. Chubby Knuckle Choir. A great local find. As I said about them in June, they have such an odd fusion of sounds, yet they sound like roots music, like roots music from a country that never existed – but should have. They are performing in Bastrop, Elgin and in the Austin area. You can hear what they sound like and download some of their tuns on their Reverbnation page.

4. Dana Falconberry. One of the musicians featured in the wonderful documentary Echotone. There were actually several new artists in that soundtrack that impressed me (Belaire was another), but Dana’s “Possum Song” was especially wonderful. I got a free soundtrack album from Paste Magazine (I think it still works – enter your e-mail and see) and I’ve been playing the hell out of it for months. She just came out with an EP, Though I Didn’t Call It Came, which I have yet to get my hands on.

5. Jogja Hip Hop Foundation. This was a recent discovery, one of those truly startling discoveries. The idea of melding hip hop with gamelan music never even occurred to me. They’ve created something unique and vibrant and I think we’ll be hearing from these guys for years to come.

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Echotone documentary gets extended run at Alamo Drafthouse, heads to Houston

Just got word that Echotone, a documentary about the impact of rapid growth on Austin’s music community, is about to get an extended run at the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz on 6th Street, May 6-12. It will also be shown in Houston on May 7 at 14 Pews and May 13-15 at Alamo West Oaks.

I recently gave my take on the movie  after a screening on April 27. (I loved it.) Go see this movie if you get the chance. It’s beautifully shot, full of great music and has a lot of food for thought.

And don’t forget to download the free soundtrack. It features music by Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears, Belaire, Sunset, The Black Angels, White White Light and Dana Falconberry.

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Echotone – excellent documentary shows collision of Austin’s construction boom and vibrant music culture

I saw Echotone last night and just as I expected, it was beautiful and thought-provoking. Named for the transition between two adjacent but different types of landscape, the documentary explores the collision of Austin’s downtown construction boom and its music culture. The cinematography is incredible — much of the movie was filmed from the top of construction cranes. Echotone also has one of the best indie soundtracks I’ve heard, featuring music by Belaire, Sunset, The Black Angels, Dana Falconberry, Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears, The White White Lights and more (you can download it for free from Paste Magazine).

The movie gives us a close-up with musicians with different outlooks and situations — Black Joe Lewis, recently signed to Universal and already huge, but still so broke he makes ends meet delivering fish; Dana Falconberry and Belaire’s Cari Palazzolo, so independent, just trying to make music they think is beautiful without starving; Sunset’s lead singer Bill Baird, whose band Sound Team was apparently headed for the big time before getting abruptly dropped from Capitol after the label merged with EMI, still making music, a bit sadder and a lot wiser than he used to be. All affected by the economy and the music industry’s woes, as well as the changes in Austin.

There was also a Q & A session after the film, featuring director Nathan Christ, band manager and producer Daniel Perlaky, blogger Chris Apollo Lynn of Republic of Austin and Paul Oveisi of the musician advocacy group Austin Music People (AMP).

When I went into the theater I already had an idea of what I was going to say about it later. I was cooking up a little rant — about all the spoil sports moving into Austin, wrecking the music culture and ruining the city I love. I was just looking for ammunition. As it turns out, the documentary was a lot more nuanced than I expected. I ended up leaving the theater in a strangely hopeful mood. Yes, Austin is changing rapidly and times are tough for local musicians and the people who care about them. But not all the changes are negative, and musicians are beginning to organize and find their political voice.

All those high rises and condos in downtown Austin changed the character of the city, there’s no doubt about it. They made housing in central Austin more expensive, putting the squeeze on musicians — and families too, for that matter. But if they hadn’t been built, think of the added sprawl, all the land that would’ve been gobbled up, trees chopped down, wilderness paved over. It’s not all bad.

I’ve grumbled plenty of times about people moving into high rise apartments in the entertainment district and grousing about the noise at city council meetings. It wasn’t some anti-musician conspiracy that led to that situation. As Oveisi noted in the Q&A, it’s simply the fact that when all that downtown growth was being planned, musicians didn’t have a place at the table. The city didn’t have staff dedicated to musicians (now they do) and musicians haven’t been especially organized or politically active (something AMP hopes to change).

There are things that can be done to save Austin’s music culture. Musicians can get organized and vote, become more entrepreneurial. Fans can do the same, as well as supporting the bands they love by turning out for shows and spending a bit on albums and cover charges.

Change is inevitable. Maybe instead of bemoaning and cursing it, Austin’s creative class can learn to adapt. It’s definitely worth trying.

If you live in Austin and didn’t get in to see Echotone yet, the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz Theater scheduled an extra showing on May  1 after theater sold out for the third time in a row. The film will also be shown in some festivals around the country, including the Hill Country Film Festival in Fredericksburg, April 28-30.

See the trailer and find out about show times at the Echotone website.

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What is growth doing to Austin’s music culture? ‘Echotone’ documentary explores the issue

Austin is famous for it’s music — the Live Music Capital of the World, or so they say. But the city is also the fastest-growing city in Texas and all those new people and that high demand for real estate is changing things, making it tough for musicians and music lovers. Thanks to a discussion on 91.7 KOOP this afternoon I found out about a documentary called Echotone that covers that subject and gets great reviews. It will be shown at the Alamo Drafthouse several times in the next few days and I plan to see it. It features music from Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears, Belaire, Sunset, The Black Angels, Ghostland Observatory, Dana Falconberry, The Octopus Project, and others.

Looks pretty good doesn’t it? It will be shown in a number of upcoming festivals around the U.S. Here is the website for the movie if you want to learn more.

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