The Allah-Las To Release 501-415

New Single From The Allah-Las

On our last visit to SxSW in 2013, the laid back, vintage jangle and classic pastoral psychedelia of the Allah-Las was a real treat to catch live and made us big fans in an instant.

So from our perspective a new album (September) and a new single (August) are great news. The former will be titled Worship The Sun and the latter is the first track to surface from it, called 501-415, it is a fuzzy, shimmering slice of LA cool, flecked with surf and breezy undertones.

Perfect.

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The Twenty Best Things We Heard, Saw, And Discovered At The Green Man Festival

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Our first visit to the brilliant Green Man Festival. Here are the twenty best things we heard, saw and discovered over the weekend.

1. The Parquet Courts live up to the hype
Like the Ramones on speed, the four-piece transcended all the hype with the set of the weekend – a thrilling, occasionally ramshackle, breakneck excursion into punk, slacker pop and moshpit heaven, and in Stoned and Starving they have a ready made classic for years to come.

2. Dancing Bears at British Sea Power
An epic, brooding, cinematic set brought to a stunning, and appropriately eccentric climax as, during Carrion, two seven foot Grizzly Bears appear amongst the audience  to dance, grapple and lead an impromptu conga.

3. John Cale and Roy Harper still cut the mustard
They may be advanced in years, but both the old boys demonstrated just why the main stage was still the perfect stage for them. First up an amiable Harper showed just why he is a primary influence on so many of today’s folk stars from the Fleet Foxes to Joanna Newsom, finishing his set of pastoral, freak tinged folk with the classic, and beautifully poignant When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease. Then Cale, dressed in a fetching pink suit jacket and tie with denim shorts reeled through a set that built to a fabulous pulsating climax with Fear Is A Man’s Best Friend, Nookie Wood, Satellite Walk, and a stunning version of Jonathan Richman’s Pablo Picasso.

Mikal Cronin 14. Cover versions aplenty
Cover versions abounded everywhere at Green Man. As well as Cale’s brilliant Pablo Picasso, we had Roy Harper doing Dylan’s Girl From The North CountryNeil Young covers from Low (Down By The River) and Band of Horses tearing through Powderfinger, Fanfarlo covering Orange Juice’s Rip It Up, and Mikal Cronin delivering a superb Whole Wide World, but perhaps best of all was Mo Kenney’s melancholic, acoustic take on Bowie’s Five Years – simply mesmerising.

5. Grass House are destined for big things
We’ve loved Grass House for a long time and our first chance to see them live is everything we hoped for. Outsider pop it may be, but the effortless way the band mix dusty, western twang with sinister gothic noir and use them both to weave mournfully surrealistic tales means the crowd is soon gripped. And in the hypnotic and transfixing Spinning As We Turn, the gothic blues of And Now For The Wild and the tense, sinewy I Was A Streetlight they have three singles that should be the envy of just about every other up and coming band out there.

6. James Yorkston’s Dad sings along
A wonderful set by James Yorkston and band is capped by his Dad shyly joining them on stage for a full tent a capella sing-a-long of the Ivor Cutler classic Hold The Barrel Steady.

7. Arbouretum get heavy
Sometimes you just need long hair, cool as fuck riffs, guitar shredding and fantasy led lyrics. Arbouretum were all that and more and in False Spring provided the best air-guitar moment of the weekend.

8. Public Service Broadcasting get funky
Brilliant use of humour, sound samples, computer conversations with the audience, guitar riffs, banjo and persuasive percussion meant Public Service Broadcasting managed to get the entire walled garden crowd on their feet and dancing within two songs. Whether it was a self-conscious shuffle or a full on funky freakout, resistance to tracks like Signal 30, The Now Generation and London Can Take It, proved utterly futile.

9. Barry-Sean is a Whooper
We didn’t know it before, but gradually over the three days we started hearing a few whoops and hollers from Barry-Sean. Sure he started quietly, with a couple of muted efforts for Parquet Courts and then the next day for Grass House and a couple of others, but by the tail end of the festival he was in full voice, hollering like Foghorn Leghorn for Darren Hayman, Public Service Broadcasting and British Sea Power

10. Sam Amidon’s surreal banter
Amidst a lovely set of muder ballads, love songs and a capella gospel tunes, Sam Amidon entertained royally with some surreal between-song banter, none more so than the tale of the messages he receives from Kirsten Dunst’s eyes during her films.

Green Man Main Stage11. The Green Man Stages…
Really are sublime. The Mountain stage nestles at the base of (you’ve guessed it) a mountain, the walled garden stage is simply perfect, the courtyard a delight, the hills, the steps, the views, and this year even the weather meant it was everything we hoped it would be, but expected it wouldn’t.

12. Low really are a classic band
In the press tent one desperate-to-impress young thing opined that despite the new songs not being very good, Low were still a classic band. “Really“, asked another scribe, “do you know the new songs?“, the young thing confessed he didn’t and gently, but firmly, the scribe pointed out you can’t know how good the new songs are if you don’t know them at all. Touché.

And anyway, while the set did contain bonafide classics in Monkey, Over The Ocean and Murderer, at least one of those ‘new songs”, Plastic Cup is destined for the same status.

13. Boutique camping…at our age – hell yes!
Confession time. Barry-Sean paid extra for our four man tent, already put up and waiting for us in the Tangerine field. No more cramped, and crap, single skin pop-up tents that leak and then refuse to return into the carrier you brought them in. Our smugness was unbearable when the one serious downpour of the weekend happened about 2am on Saturday night…we woke dry and warm. The most comfortable festival we’ve ever been to.

14. Edwyn Collins ripping it up
As well as Fanfarlo, Edwyn Collins treats everyone to Rip It Up during a brilliant set in the late afternoon sun.

15. The ever growing popularity of Phosphorescent
As the burgeoning crowd testifies, and indeed the number of them singing along enthusiastically to most of the set, Matthew Houck’s Phosphorescent have delivered a true masterpiece with most recent album Muchacho, and stepped up to the big league. As the majestic Song for Zula floats out across the hills beneath the setting sun, it is probably the most perfect way to capture the enchantment and good-natured magic of this lovely festival.

16. Darren Hayman’s King Charles rap
Illustrating why he is a British songwriting treasure, Darren Hayman introduces Henrietta Maria one of the standouts from 2012 historical concept album The Violence with a role-played soliloquy as King Charles that is as good as it is slightly creepy.

17. Midlake and Band of Horses rock out
Two bands joyously grabbing their headline (or near headline) opportunities on the Mountain stage to deliver crowd-pleasing country-rock with a backwoods feel. Muscular as it was tender, and perfectly matched to the atmosphere and setting of the Brecon Beacons.

18. The Allah-Lahs get groovy
Closing the night on the Walled Garden stage, the Allah-Lahs treat us to some seductive, surf-tinged psychedelia that somehow manages to be both laid back and carefree, and melancholic and nostalgic. Perfection.

19. The art of Nick Reed
In the vintage tent were a host of little stalls. In a corner were t-shirts and postcards from Nick Reed, pre-dating the wonderful David Shrigley, his is a brilliantly warped worldview told through the eyes of a scribbled dog and some scalpel sharp observations. T-shirt for teenage son duly purchased.

20. Marika Hackman enchants in the Rough Trade tent
With a crystalline voice like Nico, and lyrics that are as dark as anything we heard all weekend, Marika Hackman enchanted all who were present when she played a short acoustic set in the Rough Trade tent.

And some of our favourite songs…

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Videos of the Day: Pickwick || Turnstile Junkpile || Allah-Las || Ski Lodge

Videos of the Day

Short films of the musical variety today come from Pickwick and their genre bending video for the brilliant Lady Luck, and some classic Americana from Turnstile Junkpile. A European jaunt is the scenic backdrop for one of our new favourite bands Allah-Las and their video for Sacred Sands, which is another brilliant slice of West Coast inspired psych-rock. Lastly, some classic jangle-pop from Ski Lodge and their video for new single Just To Be Like You.

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SXSW Day 5: Experiencing One Or Two Technical Difficulties

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The final day of SXSW and I’m on a quest. Phosphorescent play their last show today and I have tried and failed to get into four previous ones already. So it is the long walk away from downtown and up to the San Jose Hotel day party, I arrive hot, bothered and five hours early…but I’m in!

No matter either because Shakey Graves is on and he has been a longtime fave on MM, with an easygoing line in between song banter and exuding good natured bonhomie he sets the day up perfectly with a perfectly judged mix of story songs and folk tales including the wonderful So It Goes. And another band I’d been hoping to catch were up next; The Allah-Lahs had been described as the most laid back band at SXSW and it was easy to see why as they delivered a fantastic set of west-coast inspired 60s rock that outjangled the Byrds at times. A true hippy treat in the Texas sun (“It’s been a long, long journey and I don’t know where I left my mind“), and with Tell Me (What’s On Your Mind) and Long Journey I have two more songs added to my imaginary set-list of the best songs of SXSW.

Next up is Lucius who offer a fizzing blend of indie pop with touches of soul and folk, and plenty of catchy harmonies, before another band on my must-see list Foxygen are due on stage. Except they’re not because they can’t be arsed to show up and so we’re treated to some stand-in Texas blues boogie that consists of a set of covers from Bowie to the Killer Bees and fine though it is, it ain’t what I came to SXSW for…and nor is Lissie who is up next with a set of country rock standards that I can’t recall the moment she and the band have left the stage.

C’est la vie so they say. But finally here is Matthew Houck and Phosphorescent who prove that all good things are worth waiting for with a sublime set opening with Terror In The Canyons from forthcoming album Muchacho, then Pictures Of Our Torn-up Praise, taking in a majestic Song For Zula, and closing with an epic version of Los Angeles.

Satisfied at last I headed back towards downtown, stopping at the gas station for refreshments. Behind me in the queue (or line as I like to say here), a man fell into me and to the floor, I helped him up and was overwhelmed with the smell of sour sweat and alcohol (or liquor as I like to say here). Despite being no more than thirty, he was totalled despite protesting “I’m not intoxicated“. He carried two cans of beer in his hand and two or three crumpled dollars in the other, and mumbled something else at me before saying more clearly “I’m thinking I should move away and start again, tho’ I ‘spect it will be just the same, whaddya think?” Before I could answer (like I’d have a clue) he went on “yeah, I have myself a couple of opportunities, a couple of opportunities if I can sort out one or two technical difficulties.” He looked at me quite lucidly for a long moment and then said “Course those difficulties is I’m a drunk and I don’t got nowhere to live.” As we neared the counter he offered some final words for me, “You know they say the greatest gift is God’s love. You know, loving one another and looking out for ‘em and shit. Well I think the greatest gift would be a buck from you so I can buy this beer, whaddya think?

Having stood outside in the sun all day (again) and I decided to finish my evening in as mellow and as relaxed a way as possible, which meant folk music in the splendour of the Austin Central Presbyterian Church, where a number of people had told me the acoustics were fantastic. Taking my seat in the pews seemed a little weird but a solid set of folk tinged with ambient electronic washes from WALL confirmed what I had been told about the acoustics. Next it was a wonderful set of back-porch Americana from the Milk Carton Kids who received a standing ovation for their mix of wry, self deprecating humour and bittersweet songs of perfect pitch and harmony that were somewhere between the Everly Brothers, the Louvin Brothers and Simon and Garfunkel. Memoirs Of A Once Owned Dog will stay with me for a long time to come! You can download two albums for free from their website here.

Freak-folk artist Devendra Banheart, by contrast, seemed a little out of sorts and while he undoubtedly possesses a rare talent, tonight his attention seemed elsewhere and he struggled to get, or keep, any momentum. While his thoughts and emotions clearly lay very close to the surface and this, combined with his fragile voice, is capable of creating something of unique, heartbreaking beauty, it didn’t quite happen this time.

And so to my last show of SXSW, and an acclaimed legend of contemporary singer-songwriters in Iron & Wine who seemed as much at ease and content as Devendra had been anxious and fidgety. He opened with two brand new songs, and although I wasn’t too familiar with his work, the second of these (provisionally titled Lowlife Buddy of Mine), was as good as anything I’d heard all week. He happily took requests from the packed audience and ran through a back catalogue of fabulous songs including Grace For Saints And RamblersJesus The Mexican Boy, Fever Dream, Woman King, the Postal Services’ Such Great Heights and closing with Lion’s Mane.

Fittingly another standing ovation and out I go into the warm night. I negotiated my way back through the frenzy of Sixth Street for a final time: through the shouts and screams, the rap music, the rock music, the punk music, the house music, the man playing a grand piano in the road, the woman dressed as a gargoyle, the hustlers, the arguing, the angry, the buskers, the bouncers, the old, the young, the drunk, the crying and saddest of all, the man desperately handing out posters for his lost dog.

Despite a couple of “technical difficulties” of my own at times, SXSW has been everything I could have hoped and more. Cheers Austin…

Free HGTV & Paste SXSW Sampler

HGTV & Paste Free SXSW Sampler

HGTV and Paste have combined to put together a fantastic free sampler to promote their ninth annual series of day parties in Austin during SXSW next week.

Offered via NoiseTrade, this sampler of nearly thirty artists who will be appearing at The Stage On Sixth March 13-16. It includes a number of MM faves such as Mac DeMarco, Hurray For The Riff Raff, Brendan Benson, Josh Ritter, Billy Bragg, and Ivan & Alyosha, to name but a few.

Just click here to grab it for free, or check out three of our own favourites below.

Download Matthew E. White – Big Love mp3 (from HGTV/Paste SXSW 2013 Sampler)

Download Josh Rouse – Simple Pleasures mp3 (from HGTV/Paste SXSW 2013 Sampler)

Download Allah-Las – Busman’s Holiday mp3 (from HGTV/Paste SXSW 2013 Sampler)