Black Joe Lewis – “Electric Slave” Review

blackjoelewis

Where do I begin with this band. I first saw them in 2009 thinking I was going to see some smooth blues guitarist, and instead I saw a cuter, hipper, younger James Brown with a fuzz pedal and a white tank top (who can play some smooth blues for sure, though). First things first, Black Joe Lewis no longer has and the Honeybears in their name. Don’t worry, the Honeybears are still there, and I asked the very talented former Honeybear and baritone sax player Joseph Woullard today about the name edit, and he spoke about how the cohesive sound they had didn’t really require a modifier, stating “We knew what we were getting into, and welcome the discussion. Objectively speaking, the majority of people don’t even know who we are anyway, so we might as well be who we want to be”. I’d say that’s all the discussion needed, and apparently what they want to be is the dirtiest, funkiest garage rock band I’ve ever heard a saxophone even step near. The album kicks off with that wonderful electric guitar sound signifying someone is plugged in, and then “Skulldiggin'” kicks off with a thick fuzz midtempo beat, giving a taste that this album is going to be a little harder and more raw.

The next song “Young Girls” instantly reminded me of “Boogie”, one of my favorite tracks from their album Tell ‘Em What Your Name Is. It’s a fast paced boogie woogie with taunting vocals and lyrics of lust, classic BJL. “Guilty” is a great tune that really lets the horn section shine with great bursts of melody turning into a ominous, growing buildup of sound in the latter portion of the song. These guys can get such raw, pure sounds out of their instruments, they make it sound like brass and distortion were invented to be together. New party anthem “Come To My Party” is also a standout, it’s got a great confident swagger and is full of Black Joe Lewis saying improvised things that don’t always make total sense, but he sounds really cool saying them (one of his strongest talents, in my opinion). “Vampire” takes it down a notch with some dirty, slow southern blues, the horns giving you the feeling of walking late at night in the French Quarter without a friend alive. Wait- I just described a vampire’s night, the song works! I can’t wait to hear “The Hipster” live, it’s one of those fast paced dance numbers that end up turning into mosh pits at the shows sometimes. This album has made me so homesick that I have tabs open with flights to Austin, the album releases tomorrow, check it out if you are a fan of the blues, garage rock, guitar, fuzz, Austin, good times or good showmanship. Black Joe Lewis rules.

The Octopus Project “Fever Forms” – Band to Watch

20130712-134726.jpg

The Octopus Project are one of Austin’s most interesting bands. Part performance art, part experimental pop, part pure magic. On July 9th, they released their fifth album Fever Forms, and I can’t get enough of it. Their songs are not necessarily verse-chorus-verse, sometimes just instrumental, repeating a musical theme, and then layering and layering sounds and instruments until you get the most glorious peaks and dense, lush soundscapes. On top of that, it’s danceable progrock. The album opens with “The Falls”, an onslaught of electric guitar licks, aaaaahhh’s, and fantastic frenetic beats. There’s a very epic feel to “The Mythical E.L.C.”, all charging drums and bouncy basslines layered upon each other until they create a wall of blissful sound. And that’s before the vocals have even started! My favorite track on the album is the more traditional “The Man with the Golden Hand”, a great major key bonanza that is reminiscent of Passion Pit and Generationals, as bleeps and bops from synths come from every angle. Makes me think of dancing in the sun. “Sharpteeth” closes out the album with catchy, poppy synths rocking out until only one is left, trailing off into the night, leaving a great ending note on the album. As you can see, lots of adjectives describe The Octopus Project. While they have a great cult following in Austin, this album really represents their live show well, and will definitely garner them new fans.

Check out the first single: “Whitby”

And watch the video for their second single: “Sharpteeth”

And by all means, go see them live!

Tour Dates

08 06 13 NEW ORLEANS / ONE EYED JACKS
08 07 13 MOBILE / ALABAMA MUSIC BOX
08 09 13 ATLANTA / DRUNKEN UNICORN
08 10 13 KNOXVILLE / PILOT LIGHT
08 11 13 CHAPEL HILL / LOCAL 506
08 13 13 PHILADELPHIA / JOHNNY BRENDA’S
08 14 13 WASHINGTON / DC9
08 15 13 CAMBRIDGE / TT THE BEARS #
08 16 13 BURLINGTON / HIGHER GROUND
08 17 13 NEW YORK / MERCURY LOUNGE
08 19 13 COLUMBUS / KOBO
08 20 13 PONTIAC / THE PIKE ROOM
08 23 13 CHICAGO / SUBTERRANEAN
08 24 13 MINNEAPOLIS / 7TH ST. ENTRY
08 25 13 KANSAS CITY / THE RECORD BAR
09 05 13 BRYAN / GRAND STAFFORD THEATER
09 07 13 SAN ANTONIO / LIMELITE
09 11 13 NORMAN / OPOLIS
09 13 13 DENVER / LARIMER LOUNGE
09 14 13 SALT LAKE CITY / KILBY COURT
09 16 13 SEATTLE / CHOP SUEY
09 17 13 PORTLAND / MISSISSIPPI STUDIOS
09 19 13 SACRAMENTO / HARLOW’S NIGHT CLUB
09 20 13 SAN FRANCISCO / CAFE DU NORD
09 21 13 LOS ANGELES / THE ECHO
09 22 13 SAN DIEGO / SODA BAR
09 24 13 PHOENIX / RHYTHM ROOM

My All Time Favorite Austin Musicians Have a New Single!

20130612-145435.jpg

Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears are my favorite Austin-based band, as well as one of my favorite bands ever. With a full horn section and the best scream in the business, Black Joe can tear the roof off a venue. My husband pretty much only likes Talking Heads and the Grateful Dead, and even he never misses their shows, it’s like going to the funkiest church built. He has a new album coming out and just dropped the first single, and it’s quite a departure from the old sound. Like a punk rock James Brown, he commands the stage while giving his fantastic band time to shine, and I can’t WAIT to hear the new album. Bummer there are no Denver dates on this tour. Maybe next year!

New single “Electric Slave”

And for comparison, Black Joe’s former sound that is still there at his live shows (and also a ridiculously catchy song): Sugarfoot

Shoes for Shows

I’ve been asked about the best shoes to wear at concerts by a few people, so I thought I’d show the ones I wear. There are quite a few schools of thought. Some go barefoot, flip-flops, sporty offroad style sandals, and then the closed toe shoes and socks people. I’m the third one, as I tend to get my feet stepped on a lot, and my bones get tired so I need some support. I LOVE flip-flops, lived in them year round in Texas, but they just don’t cut it when you need to jump over a barrier, one always falls off. Anyway, I don’t like wearing the same shoes day after day, so I’ve found lots of options. Below is an extremely long catalog of shoes I’ve worn to concerts that worked.

20130425-174937.jpg

Nike Air Max Sunrise – these are my VIP’s. They’ve seen 50+ shows, great support, good quality, and cute. In Charlotte this standard dirty hippie guy came up to me and said “excuse me, but are those the Air Max Sunrise? Well done!” and in Ohio a venue worker found them on her phone, she wanted them for work. That’s all the approval I need!

sold out, here are a bunch of other color combos though

20130425-175427.jpg

I’ve had a pair of checkered Vans in my arsenal off and on since I was a kid. Once you break in the back, these are the best. Cheap, you can toss them in the washer and dryer, and they match everything. These even stood up to the high tide coming up to our ankles at Jones Beach for Phish. Journey’s. I worked there when I was 16 and they were great to work for, thus I buy vans and tube socks there, they have a quota on socks that is tough to make.

checkered Vans

20130425-175738.jpg

The lace-up Vans are just as good. Since these come in men’s sizes, you will often meet a dude in the same shoes. This requires you to put your shoes next to each other, then do the Kid’n Play and high five. You will probably see this guy in two more cities and Kid’n Play each time. Journey’s as well.

20130425-180041.jpg

Jordans. This is when you want to make a statement. These are pricey shoes to be wearing in sticky arenas, by wearing white ones you are showing you are stupid and frivolous and do not care. When I wore them at SXSW, I got stopped multiple times to get my picture taken for streetstyle blogs. This did not happen in any other shoe. Sold out, eBay with inflated price

20130425-180334.jpg

These are for classier shows, where you will be dancing, but people will be older and in control of themselves, like a Medeski, Martin and Wood show or Spiritualized. These all live in their shoeboxes, and it’s taken years to collect. Whatever you do, take care of your shoes.

gold high tops

20130425-180602.jpg

Speaking of Red Rocks, it’s slanted, so I like to have a cowboy heel when I’m there. I’m obsessed with ankle boots that don’t make your legs stumpy. I liked these MIA boots so much, I bought both colors. If you like something, buy all the colors, you never regret those purchases. This style is no longer for sale, but these are similar and even better. That’s also a really good price!

MIA ankle boots

20130425-180812.jpg

If only they came in more colors.

20130425-180844.jpg

Since they don’t come in black, I wear these Vince Camuto Marcin boots. Softest leather I’ve ever felt, they are like wearing a slipper with spurs. They look really funny in the airport x-ray machine.

starting to get low on sizes

20130425-181027.jpg

Oh hey! The same boot in a Chelsea style in cheetah print! I had to wear thick ski socks for awhile breaking them in, they are great for running around on steps in the dark.

these were $60 when I bought them, keep your eyes open

20130425-181213.jpg

Speaking of running around in the dark, these are great for sneaking around quietly and quickly. However, they get demoted a point because they stain when someone spills their drink on you.

I like all of their stuff

20130425-181345.jpg

Here are their fancier cousins, these are so freaking fun for dancing. I thought they were stupid looking, but after I kicked around in them it was on. I can’t recommend these enough, they come in a ton of colors.

that color is no longer available, but these are pretty

20130425-181534.jpg

As we get further into taller boots, these get worn to metal shows and anything that’s going to get crazy. Buy Frye boots on eBay for much less, and you get the added bonus of someone else breaking them in.

20130425-181732.jpg

Final concert shoe. These are the best boots I’ve ever owned. Frye leather is awesome, if it already looks like they came from the Gold Rush, then they look good forever. Comfortable, cute, and warm, these are my go to for winter concerts.

I hope this helps at least one person, and keeps them from breaking a pinkie toe (happened in flip-flops), stepping on broken glass and bleeding everywhere (happened barefoot at a small outdoor venue), or getting tetanus (hasn’t happened). At a concert, you want to have fun and dance to great music, not complain that your feet hurt. Have fun out there!!

Shakey Graves Concert Review- He’ll get in your SOUL

20130404-081141.jpg photo by leslieloudspeaker

Shakey Graves is a one man band to be reckoned with. Just when you think there are enough folk/blues singer/songwriters, someone like Shakey Graves fires through proving you wrong. Hailing from Austin, he’s recently finished a residence at The Parish and went on to become a big buzzed about musician during sxsw. When he walked up to the Denver show in his cowboy hat and leather jacket, fans were stopping him to shake hands, take pictures and tell him thank you. The word has really gotten out! The venue was packed clear back to the soundboard at Hi Dive, filled with people who had heard about this guy and his drum suitcase. He didn’t disappoint. Playing with ease and singing with conviction, he had the audience clapping and in awe, leaving them yelling for an encore, which he gladly played. Next time he comes through town, he’s going to have a big show, and it definitely won’t be free.

On a personal note, when reading his bio, I came across his old headshot. I knew Alejandro instantly from old castings and working on Spy Kids 3. Small world! I’m glad the ghost of Shakey Graves decided to haunt him, guy has talent galore, and I’ve gotta say, the ladies LOVE him, I saw y’all all swooning at the front last night!

listen to his album free here

20130404-082025.jpg photo by leslieloudspeaker

20130404-082105.jpg photo by leslieloudspeaker

20130404-082136.jpg photo by leslieloudspeaker

20130404-082208.jpg photo by leslieloudspeaker

Cactus Feathers- Johnny Pfirman’s new collaborative

20130401-115203.jpg photo by hope irish

Johnny Pfirman was in one of my favorite Austin bands (well, two), Til We’re Blue or Destroy and Radar Radar. He moved home to El Paso, built a house with a recording studio with his own hands, and created the soon to be released album Beach Fire. Isolation sounds good on Pfirman, for his new album he’s incorporated bass and drum parts (not that bass and drum) with long time friends Scott Lindsey and Aaron Grossberg, familiar partners in crime who were former bandmates of Johnny’s in Boulder’s The Leprechauns. Sending each other their parts from state to state, they have uniquely created the collaborative Cactus Feathers. These lo-fi recordings of yearning, dreaming and escaping with lyrics that give me that nice melancholy feeling of home hit the heart, subtly making me miss Austin. Check out the song “Stuck in Tallahassee and a Gunshot” I’ve uploaded to soundcloud below. Hopefully we get this former Boulder citizen back to the Front Range soon.

“Stuck in Tallahassee…” by John Pfirman

New Black Angels Album Streaming Now

20130326-130532.jpg photo by Black Angels

When I moved back to Austin in 2009, an old college friend introduced me to Christian Bland the very first day. All I knew was that he was a tall, sweet guy who could really rock a striped shirt. 20 something The Black Angels shows later, I am a total fangirl. These guys caused the resurgence of psych rock in Austin and run Austin Psych Fest, now 6 years running. Couldn’t be more proud or more excited about their success and only see them getting bigger. The new album is streaming today, and it’s wonderful as expected. Root for these guys, they work hard and are kind people.

free stream of the new album

link to Austin Psych Fest