The most dangerous letter in the DIY Greek alphabet, XETAS are greeting 2017 with their sophomore album and spring tour, serious as a heart attack and more fun than the drugs they give you in the hospital after the medics bring you back to life.
Pumping through Austin’s clogged Red River arteries since 2014, the Austin firebrands have temporarily broken their vows of Shaolin silence with ten tracks of unadulterated defibrillation –an electrifying monument to distorted melody and verbal hooks brought to a full boil.
This, after spending most of 2016 dedicating their lives to anonymity and heated discussions as to whether the city’s most indispensable soundperson sleeps in his jacket.
Propelled by a new drummer -O.D.J.- who will one day drum a hole to China solely using jazz brushes, XETAS seemingly are on a collision course with the halls of power, despite the absence of any campaign coordination with the Russian ambassador.
Add in the blitzkrieg guitars, bass and vocals of D and K respectively and you’ve arrived at a collection of tools of the trade turned weaponized instruments the likes of which are sure to provoke many a sleepless night at NATO Headquarters.
Recorded over a 24-hour period in the fall of 2016 with engineer Ian Rundell (Carl Sagan’s Skate Shoes, Spray Paint, Empty Markets), the 37-minute, 10-track album was recorded in less than than 7 minutes –a testimony to the band’s energy and capacity for bending time and space after years of monastic devotion.
The melodies are dirty, distorted and delicious, dishing on the world in a jolting and at times unnerving manner, speaking truth to power, assuring a nation already grappling with insomnia under new federal management that it never sleeps again, in soundman Max’s jacket, or otherwise.- Paul Stinson
(EDITOR’S NOTE : While our talented team of technicians feverishly attempt to determine why the 12XU website has been down for the past 2 weeks, they’ve been instructed to highlight the label’s March 24 releases in this otherwise-dormant space. Since none of them have been paid in ages, however, I’ve had to do so myself. FUCK ME. – GC)
16 song, career-spanning compilation dragging together the most malevolent bits this Mobile, AL assemblage has released on Gary Wrong’s own Jeth Row label as well as assorted sides for Total Punk, Bat Shit, Scavenger Of Death, Pelican Pow Wow and 3 NEVER BEFORE AVAILABLE COMPOSITIONS. Apocalypse-level murky madness from one of the U.S underground’s most crucial characters. RIYL : sending .zip files to help Levitation Fest’s creditors thru a spate of bad, bad news.
Brisbane’s Thigh Master make their first U.S. tour this spring and no less an authority than Sir Douglas Mosurock has said the quartet’s ‘Early Times’ debut LP “is loaded with sunny, ragged hooks and big, sloppy singalongs,” likening the combo to, “a lost Flying Nun band.” Both songs on this 7” dial up the ragged / dial down the singalong, but you’re free to try anyway.
Hailing from Melbourne, Borzoi are a bunch of rite yung fucks who sing about goon sacks and shrimps on barbies. ther new bonzer of asingle ‘sout on 12xu, hit the turps n give it a burl!
(EDITOR’S NOTE : Borzoi are actually from the far northwest corner of Melbourne known as Austin, TX. “Rite” should be spelled, “right”. I have no idea what they mean by “burl”.)
That said, I haven’t seen a better live band in the last two years. That I’ve been under house arrest during that stretch should not diminish the importance of that statement. Either way, Borzoi have pivoted from a powerful debut 7? for Austin’s Pau Wau label to a genre-obliterating, pneumatic noisy-as-fuck-all 4 song EP on 12XU this Spring (more Ron Jonnson than Ron Santo, though I sincerely doubt they’re fans of either). catch the trio on tour this May or watch ‘em from the back of the room like a smug, self-satisfied cultural tourist at SXSW this March.
Once upon a time, cantstopthebleeding.com was one of the nation’s top sports blogeterria (blogoterrarium? blogtoxcity?) destinations, appealing to the friendless and socially challenged and/or persons hungry for LOTS & LOTS RECRIMINATIONS. As the nu media wars wore down, the site retreated into near dormancy, maintained by an automated system devised by the same brilliant minds behind Do512 the Atari Jaguar
I’m not sure how familiar you are with the phenomena of “artifical intelligence”, but about 9 years ago the cyborg in question began organizing an annual free show in the middle of March at a respected Red River venue. From day one the event was sponsor free and impervious to the crony-heavy network of booking agents, garbage labels and the like. In short, it made no sense whatsoever but since the bill is always super hot and there’s no cover, hardly anyone complains.
However, I won’t lie to you folks, times are tough. I’m still paying off the legal fees after last March’s embarrassing vomiting-on-the-Mr. Robot-ferris-wheel incident, and as such I’ve had to partner up with two dubious organizations this year. One is some bogus “indie” label no one’s ever heard of, the other some shadowy lobbyists who may or may not be funneling money to assorted hate groups. I need to do a little more research. At least the bill is super strong, and since none of you give two fucks about how the sausages are made, that’s all that matters
Past participants have included but not been limited to Dan Melchior, Complete, the Homosexuals, Tyvek, Spray Paint, Protomartyr, Obnox, Golden Pelicans, The Muffs, The Blind Shake, TV Ghost, Puffy Areolas, The Spits, Endless Boogie and far too many examples of yes-you-totally-blew-it-by-going-to-see-the-Oh-Sees-for-the-50th-time-instead. This year’s lineup is no different, except perhaps in that it is THE GREATEST EVER. And it’s after dark. And yes, there the aforementioned affiliation with a bogus indie label and an alleged paper-cup advocacy group that might be a front for something well & truly evil.
Portland based Rebecca Gates is perhaps best known for her amazing run of 1990′s recordings as the voice/guitar behind The Spinanes. That’s all well and good but her subsequent incarnation(s), including but not limited to 2012′s 12XU LP, ‘The Float’ have solidified her status as one of music’s sharpest minds. Her Central Texas appearances are rare — at least those we’re allowed to tell anyone about more than a few hours ahead of time.
Outer Spaces (Baltimore) — spearheaded by ex-Witches vocalist/guitarist Cara Beth Satalino, Outer Spaces are coming off one of 2016′s best albums in the form of ‘A Shedding Snake’ (Don Giovanni) and a run of East Coast dates supporting Ted Leo & The Pharmacists. I’m beyond thrilled they’re taking part in this show (especially the part about not having to pay them).
Thigh Master (Brisbane) – no less an authority than Sir Douglas Mosurock has said their ‘Early Times’ debut LP “is loaded with sunny, ragged hooks and big, sloppy singalongs,” likening the combo to, “a lost Flying Nun band.” High praise, but not hype. There’s a new 7″ on 12XU coming in March, and with any luck this won’t be their only Austin show that week. Also, if you’ve got a couch they can crash on, HIT ME UP.
Street Eaters (Oakland) – a few years back, the duo of Megan March and John No opened for Cruddy’s LP release show here in Austin and it was nothing short of one of those, “did anyone get a look at the gaudy advertising on the side of the bus I just missed?” moments in life (especially as I actually missed their set while watching that movie about the guy who invented the intermittent windshield-wiper blades). But everyone who was there told me they were awesome and subsequent visits to this part of the world revealed those folks weren’t lying. And their records are killers, too.
Xetas (Austin) – this is not the time or place to leak new music from Xetas’ forthcoming 2nd 12XU LP, ‘The Tower’. For starters, no one’s reading this. More to the point, why make everyone else on the bill look feeble by comparison? (NOTE FROM PAPER CUP COUNCIL EDITOR : take that part out before publication).
The Gospel Truth (Austin) – how do these guys manage to top one of 2016′s most stunning albums, the filler-free ‘Jealous Fires’? To paraphrase Michael Angelo Battio, giving you the answer would be handing over the keys to the Lamborghini. Suffice to say subsequent new material from Mark Tonucci and collegues reveals they’re not even close to peaking.
Borzoi – I haven’t seen a better live band in the last two years. That I’ve been under house arrest during that stretch should not diminish the importance of that statement. Borzoi have pivoted from a powerful debut 7″ for Austin’s Pau Wau label to a genre-obliterating 4 song EP on 12XU this Spring ; catch the trio on tour this May or watch ‘em from the back of the room like a smug, self-satisfied cultural tourist this March. Better yet, why choose?
12XU, possibly the region’s 14th or 15th most important independent label (sliding down the ranks from last year, anyway) is once again marking the holiday season with a FREE SHOW at Beerland. You’re asked to bring a can of food (or two) for the Capital Area Food Bank Of Texas* but as always, such donations are entirely voluntary (which isn’t to say I’m above shaming non-donators on social media).
Much like past editions, this year’s cast of participating players is a collection to be reckoned with. LET THE RECKONING COMMENCE
UNHOLY TWO (Columbus OH) – ONLY TEXAS SHOW
Hot on the heels of their instantly sold out ‘Tongan Death Grip 2016′ cassette (Loki), Unholy Two interrupt the finishing touches on their long-feared follow up to ‘Talk About Hardcore’ (due in 2017) with an all-too rare Austin visit.
It’s been an uncharacterically quiet 2016 (on the recording front, anyway) for Cleveland’s Lamont Thomas but next year promises amazing new albums for 12XU and Ever/Never, a long-rumored summit meeting at Electrical Audio and more periodic reminders that Bim’s an unparalled live performer. Through the auspices of ECONO AIR, he’s dropping in for this special one-off appearance.
Understatement of the century to say this trio are operating at the peak of their powers and their forthcoming Ian Rundell-recorded 2nd LP (early 2017) is going to leave jaws agape. Not Richard Kiel, however, he’s been dead for a couple of years now, and I’m told he prefered environmental music.
After a couple of years worth of impossibly great shows and a criminally overlooked debut 7″, these fellas have now scaled heights their peers can only dream of (ie. being asked to play a free show for a food bank during a time of year normal people are on vacations and shit). New material coming via 12XU in the new year.
One of the nation’s foremost songwriters/guitarists/multi-instrumentalists whose tenures in Come, Codeine, The New Year, Pullman, Martha’s Vineyard Ferries, playing alongside Thurston Moore, Jennifer O’Connor, J.R. Robinson etc. have sealed his all-around MVP status. We don’t know exactly what he has in store for December 17, but it’ll be a clinic of one sort or another (and chances are very strong you’re overdue to visit a clinic).
World premiere of an all-star ensemble featuring Stephen Svacina, Garrick Thurston, Alison Eden Copeland and Gabe Pastura. You may or may not know some of the above from their prior/ongoing works with Sweet Talk, Slow, Que Pasa? and Church Shoes, though if your answer is “not”, chances are I didn’t invite you anyway, in which case I could give a flying fuck what you’re doing that night. In the words of Eric Bogosian, “how about a movie or something groovy / chinese food or a quaalude?” There’s a world of choices out there!
(UPDATE : YOUR DJ FOR THE EVENING IS THE ONE & ONLY JOHN VOMITNOISE)
Chris Brokaw’s on at 9:15pm sharp. We’re giving away a pedal of to-be-determined awesomeness from Earthquaker Devices, Waterloo Records has graciously provided us with a $50 gift card and Xetas have a surprise stocking stuffer for the first 25 people who donate a can of food for the Capital Area Food Bank.
(* – if you cannot or would not rather attend but would still like to assist the Capital Area Food Bank, donations are accepted here)
(there’s a reason why the members of The Star Spangles are to this day flossing their teeth with $1000 bills, while the members of Shellac toil in unforgiving day labor – read below)
Like many of my friends, I was saddened this week to learn of two of my favorite bands were going on self-described hiatus. Both are trios composed of awesome human beings with the sort of talent, ingenuity and wit we should never, ever take for granted, not for a second.
Their respective reasons for putting stuff on pause are certainly no one else’s business and neither band owes us anything — not after the countless amazing shows (and in the elder band’s instance, a run of 6 astonishing albums in just 3 years). That said, I cannot help but point a finger of blame in the direction of “Miami” Steve Van Vandt, who laid the groundwork for this turn of events with his open letter to participants in the 2004 “Underground Garage Festival” at Randall’s Island (“it is extraordinarily unlikely for anyone to make it as a three-piece band”) in which trios were encouraged to “add a fourth or even fifth member if at all conceivable.”
“If your band does not have a ‘look’ this might be a good time to consider it,” warned Van Zandt, who went on to state, “one of our main goals is to continue to establish a new infrastructure that allows Rock and Roll bands to make a living playing music,” (“the better your songs are, the better you look, the more musical you sound, and the more exciting your performance, the better our chances of winning this war we are waging against the exclusive domination of hard rock, hip hop, contemporary pop, and rootless, soulless, mindless, lifeless, hopeless, joyless mediocrity in general.”)
Fast forward a dozen years later and we all know how things turned out. Every band you know is making a decent living playing music. Much the way Little Steven vanquished apartheid and managed to pull off other miracles-against-all-odds (for instance, making Nils Lofgren look relatively cool by comparison) today, Rudi Protrudi earns a salary in the high six figures presiding over the Fuzztones Fantasy Camp. Hip hop and contemporary pop are mere rumors on the cultural landscape compared to the Chesterfield Kings revival that’s swept the world ever since.
Against this backdrop, I think it’s fair to say that Carl Sagan’s Skate Shoes and Spray Paint never stood a chance. I appreciate their quixotian struggle and do hope in the years to come, Van Zandt’s stranglehold on the public’s imagination is finally broken.
OK, I’m trying to put tomorrow night’s rare Austin visit by Cleveland’s Cobra Verde into some kind of perspective for you :
a) it’s a big enough deal that I unloaded my tickets to see Black Sabbath for the final time – FUCK BLACK SABBATH, THEY’RE NO COBRA VERDE
b) when you add up John Petkovic’s vast cultural contributions — from Death Of Samantha to Cobra Verde to Sweet Apple to journalism to storytelling — his importance to the region rivals that of LeBron James (ok, that’s a bit much — would you settle for J.R. Smith?)
c) Richard Lynn — a man as magnanimous as he is dedicated, could otherwise reenact the front cover of ‘Be Here Now’, but instead chose to put Cobra Verde on an airplane in order to enrich our lives during deeply troubled times.
Big congratulations to the wonderful folks at Austin’s End Of An Ear on the opening of their new & improved (ie. a shorter drive from my house) Clawson Road shop, conveniently nearby Terry Sayther Automotive, Vulcan Video, Blazer Tag and one of Central Texas’ top A&W franchises.
Dark Blue follow up their debut LP, ‘Pure Reality’ (Jade Tree), with ‘Start Of The World’ (12XU) – a soundtrack of a decaying United States. Each song drips with the realities of atrocities happening all around us ; John Sharkey III (Vocals, Guitar) pushes Dark Blue far beyond the post-punk meets oi sound they perfected on their earlier releases, and adds elements of brit-pop and shoegaze. Recorded by Jeff Zeigler (Kurt Vile, Nothing), ‘Start Of The World’ is a pop album that makes no apologies.
Dark Blue. photo by Autumn Spadaro
Boot stomping opener “Union of Buffoons,” sets the political tone for this album with an anthem for workers’ rights. Sharkey’s biting lyrics: “You can’t fight this, you can’t win…screw you once, they’ll screw you twice,” is a reference to human expendability in the face of deregulation and the stagnancy of labor rights. “Never Wanted to Hurt You” is a pop song in the highest order with guts and an undeniable chorus that would make Noel Gallagher jealous even at his most jaded.
The 50′s doo-woop and surf rock sound of “Bombs on the Beach” initially feels like a left turn for the band, evoking a playful innocence against a sunny backdrop. But the lyrics prove this is truly a Dark Blue song, tearing through any cheerfulness as jarring and abrupt as words can be to describe the reality of dropping missiles on a beach of unsuspecting Palestinian children. Sharkey’s voice is heavy with the despair of survivor’s guilt: “Now I’m holding my baby’s hand, as he lies bleeding to death in the sand.” This is another pointed song full of sentiment as much as it is an impassioned call for accountability for the crimes against humanity in the Gaza Strip.
While this album shows off new and varying degrees of Sharkey’s vocal intensity, Andrew Mackie Nelson (Bass, Ceremony) and Michael Sneeriger (Drums, Strand of Oaks) shine, guiding the songs in ways other releases haven’t shown before . Tracks such as “Be Gone Everyone” and “Western Front” underscore just how comfortable the band has gotten.
‘Start Of The World’ is the kind of record that Dark Blue has always promised: a collection of smart, fully realized songs that tell real stories. With the world falling apart around us, Dark Blue continues to give voice to neglected perspectives, many unnerving but all necessary to hear. We need a defiant record like this to remind us that just as there was start to all of this destruction, there can also be an end. – Sean Gray.