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Tag Archives: Austin

Stephen and The Jicks playing “Church on White” off of their 2001 album Stephen Malkmus.

For Stephen Malkmus, the pavement may have stopped a long time ago but the road must go on. With the release of last year’s Mirror Traffic, the former Pavement front-man and crown king of indie rock has built himself a catalogue of five full-length albums with his Portland-based backing band The Jicks. While each release has been met with different levels of acclaim, it is safe to say that they have all been successful and that Stephen Malkmus and his eccentrically awesome songwriting are here to stay.

I snagged part of the setlist and it is now taped to my fridge.

The songs are definitely different – as former Pavement percussionist Bob Nastanovich told Spin in a 2010 interview, “Stephen does not write songs for Pavement anymore, or in the Pavement mindset”. The Jicks are less juvenile, with long bluesy guitar solos filling the spots where there was once more sloppily chopped chords and punk rock howling. For Pavement fans, it may be difficult to ever recapture the ragged glory of the Slanted and Enchanted days, however we should all still take some solace in the fact that Malkmus is still writing songs in his trademark idiosyncratic style. And kicking ass in live shows, as I recently got to witness at the Mohawk in Austin.

St.st.st.st.stephen and the Jicks!

The perfect haircut for the king of white boy indie rock.

Check out that GOLD tracksuit. Came in handy when they closed with Elton.

After the show he talked to fans and posed for pix. Really friendly dude.

Portland-based trio Nurses was one of the openers along with T.V. Torso. They have been described as Grizzly Bear or Animal Collective’s “shaggy younger cousin”.

Texas rockers T.V. Torso were the first opening act.

Check out our Youtube channel for more videos from the show to come.

- Erik Keithley

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Mike Doughty’s Memoirs – The Book of Drugs Review

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Courtesy of goodreads.com

So, Mike Doughty has just released a book. The book is called The Book of Drugs, and yes, there are lots of drugs in the book. And sex, and some more sex, and even a little bit of rock and roll sprinkled in between (a book can’t just get by on drugs and sex after all or else Tucker Max would qualify as an author).

And as incredibly exciting as it is to read one of alternative rock’s most distinguished early 90s pioneers recount tales of ecstasy and excess, the book stands on much more than just sensationalism alone. For although it is at times is a thoroughly lurid story full of after-breakfast cocktails and cocaine sunrises (my favorite is Doughty’s three page rundown of his more memorable female conquests,) it is also a thoroughly lucid story of artistry and human will.

For in the maze of Doughty’s muddled memories lies more than a few golden grains of truth as to the nature of art, love, and the dangers of being a musician. Delivered with the wry wit of his songwriting and an even more impressive vocabulary (seriously – I complemented him in my interview question,) these memoirs are written with poignancy and great passion.

Mike explains why he would rather not remember the Soul Coughing years…

Touching on everything from his scattered youth as the son of a military family to his early days in New York City, the book goes a long way in illuminating the pitfalls of rock and roll and exploring the human spirit’s capacity for resilience in the face of addiction and really, really low times. One of the most important aspects of the memoirs is the attention that Doughty pays to explaining how singers and songwriters are so easily taken advantage of by unscrupulous A&R reps, and bloodthirsty record companies.

In Doughty’s case, he specifically recounts the emotionally scarring and morally bankrupt relationship that his critically heralded band Soul Coughing was for him. From remembering a series of shrinks he was sent to by record executives (for problems they caused,) to recounting to how his band members would often try and claim they had written the band’s songs, we get a good idea of the insanity that Doughty has dealt with in his career as a professional musician.

At 252 pages, this is a book I highly recommend for anyone wishing to take a wild and emotionally illuminating ride into the heart of rock and roll.

Acoustic Set/Reading/Q&A – The Cactus Cafe, Austin TX

After reading Doughty’s book in one night, I armed myself with a copy and went into the acoustic heaven that is the Cactus Cafe in Austin. This is the sort of venue where an audience of little over a hundred sits down to watch shows at candlelit tables, and where you could be kicked out for your phone going off. So, you can imagine how great of a place it was to see Mike Doughty read excerpts out of his newly released memoirs and play acoustic versions of songs for a hushed audience. Luckily, they allow cameras in the Cactus, so I was able to capture a lot of the show for the greater good of the blogosphere.

Performing “Sunken-Eyed Girl” off Haughty Melodic (cool fact – Haughty Melodic is an anagram for his name, Michael Doughty).

Doughty takes a break from reading the Book of Drugs to sing “The Book of Love” (Magnetic Fields). Was one of three covers along with “Real Love” by Mary J. Blige and a song by NYC band the Student Teachers.

I got to meet him after the show at which point he signed my copy of The Book of Drugs and answered my question about whether or not he thought the drugs helped or hindered his songwriting. Doughty’s response to the goofy guy in front of me was hilarious – “Oh you want more than an adjective….live music is astonishing, and weird and confuses your mind and like partial muscle memory but it’s also astral projection…does that work!?”

Check out our new Youtube channel (ManikMusic1) to see a few other videos from the show, including Doughty’s performance of “I Hear The Bells,” “Real Love”.

- Erik Keithley

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thenjunderground.com

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Since the early 2000s, Ben Kweller has put out four distinctly different pop albums. Each album has little in common, save Kweller’s quirky charm. Almost every track on Go Fly A Kite, his most recent release, embody the specific sound of one of his earlier albums. Whether it’s the power-poppy Sha Sha­-ness of “Jealous Girl,” the raw, twangy On My Way rock of “Free,” the clean Ben Kweller pop of the soft and soulful “Justify Me,” or the alt-country Changing Horses-esque “Full Circle,” each song’s got a little dose of the Kweller albums we’ve come to know and love.

So, will Ben Kweller fans be happy with this album? Yes. Why? Because we love him and, at this point, we don’t seem to believe he can do any wrong. And for those of us who’ve had a chance to meet the man himself (which is probably a good amount because he’s such a nice damn guy), it’s even harder to find something wrong with his music. He’s a down-to-earth, easy-going, hell of a guy who’s clearly just tryin’ to make music that both he and his fans can enjoy.

What will the Kweller fans love? “Jealous Girl,” a stand-out track on the album, is where the album really starts. “Mean to Me” and “Out the Door,” the first two songs aren’t bad, but the horns at the end of “Mean to Me” and a good portion of the lead guitar on “Out the Door” give them an overproduced sound that’s very unlike past Kweller records. “Jealous Girl” brings the listener back to the glorious pop of 2002’s Sha Sha with a solid, catchy chorus and the type of vocally layered breakdown that reminds us of “Wasted and Ready” or “Falling.”

After “Jealous Girl,” Kweller continues in the vein of his pop rock roots with “Gossip,” another high-point of the album. “Free” chugs along after “Gossip,” slowing the album down a bit but bringing us back to the slightly more mature sound of 2004’s On My Way. Although “Out the Door” has a Changing Horses vibe to it, “Full Circle” is the song on the album that Kweller hones in on his alt-country side and nails it.
“Justify Me,” the Ben Kweller (2006) sounding track of the album stacks a simple piano part with building layers of strings, percussion, electric and acoustic guitars, and some really nice, soft Kweller vocals to create a more soothing track than the previous songs.

The album ends with “I Miss You” followed by “You Can Count on Me.” “You Can Count on Me” isn’t exactly a great way to end the album, but “I Miss You” shows a new side of Kweller. The McCartney-esque, opening vocals of “I Miss You” are potentially the most mature-sounding and unexpected part of Go Fly A Kite. This song may just be a sign of what’s to come from Mr. Kweller once he gets tired of all the pop rock he’s been putting out for the past ten years.

Overall the album doesn’t break boundaries and certainly won’t inspire future generations of hearthrop pop rockers, but it does what I’m sure Kweller intended it do – kindly please the ears.

- Dennis Mizzoni

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Here are a few quick pictures of the always lovable Ben Kweller from a special show I attended last night in Austin. In order to get a ticket to the show, you had to go to one of several record stores around town and buy Ben’s latest album Go Fly A Kite, at which point you received a special invitation and a wristband to the show. More pictures, a full concert review and album review to come…

How could you not love that curly hair, those bright red pants and the sugar-coated pop/punk gems he has such a knack for writing?

Photos by Erik Keithley

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