It took two days to recover from the fun, sun, and music, but this years Austin City Limits Music Festival is still strongly resonating in our thoughts. Although the festival opened and closed with rain showers, the clouds parted for most of the weekend allowing the shining sun and gentle breezes to provide the perfect atmosphere for some of the most exhilarating live music we've ever experienced. Phoenix played a terrific set, blending old tracks (Run, Run, Run and Funky Square Dance) with new tunes ("Napoleon Says" and "Long Distance Call") and embraced the crowd, who returned their energy despite the mid-day heat. We caught up with Laurent Brancowitz (Guitar) in the artist lounge where he told us he was really looking forward to the rest of their US tour dates so make sure to check them out in a town near you. Nada Surf followed shortly there after definitely had us singing along to "Inside of Love" and "Killians Red", and humored us with some adolescent skateboard stories before toping things off with the hit song "Popular". Things were in full swing at the festival and it was only to get better!
Chance is that even though you've never heard of Explosions in the Sky, you've probably heard their music whether it be on the masterfully done soundtrack to Friday Night Lights or most recently in a Cadillac advertisement. In reality though, the Austin, TX quartet of Mark Smith (Guitar), Michael James (Bass), Munaf Rayani (Guitar), and Christopher Hrasky (Drums) have done their best to avoid the commercial spotlight, despite numerous requests to feature their music. It is this sole dedication to creating rock symphonies that has most likely led them to be so successful since they formed in 1999 despite mass media exposure. Their performances don't consist of separate tracks, but melodic transitions that provide a never-ending, completely unique performance at every venue. Described as passionate, romantic, loud, melodic, powerful, tragic, and beautiful, Explosions in the Sky is one of the "greatest instrumental rock bands in modern history". Of their five albums and one soundtrack I dare not name favorites due to the perfection of each and every track!
New Hampshire born, Ray La Montagne's acclaimed 2004 debut, "Trouble", quietly sold over 250,000 copies, thanks to word of mouth praises from grassroots fans. Ray, who was working at a shoe-factory was inspired to pursue music by a 4am epiphany set to the soundtrack of Stephen Stills, "Tree Top Flyer". He quit his job and immersed himself in the sounds of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, Otis Redding, and Joni Mitchell and got himself a coffee house gig in Maine. His follow up album, set to be released in late summer, is sure to be full of emotional vocals, and intriguing words and melodies, but will be a totally new album. "It's definitely not "˜Trouble Part 2'," Ray promises. Being compared to the likes of Elliot Smith, David Gray, and Van Morrison, who will also be performing at this years festival, LaMontagne's "quietly devastating", soulful tunes should provide for an amazing show!
On Tour Lab strikes again with their autumn / winter 2006 collection of tees, sweatshirts, and hoodies dubbed Big Mouth Ontour. This season is a tribute to those who say the wrong things at the wrong time and never keep their mouths shut and is full of chatty mouth graphics and big camo-toothed printed track jackets. Favorites from the women’s collection include the “Cherry Bomb” sweatshirt and the “Flytrap” long sleeve tee and for the guys the “Dentist” zip hoodie (shown here) or the “Trumpet” sweater are not to be missed. There’s dental warfare, chattering teeth, flytrap plants, comic swearing signs and big bites all over the place this season so make sure to check it out and satisfy your fashion appetite!
Several "Wolf" bands have crept into the music scene over the past year, but few with the talent of the Montreal based Wolf Parade. The indie sets choice band began when Spencer Krug (vocals, keyboards) was asked to open for Arcade Fire, so recruiting Dan Boeckner (vocals, guitar) the two wrote a myriad of songs utilizing a drum machine before calling Arlen Thompson in to play drums. Hadjii Bakara (sound manipulation) joined in 2004 with Dante DeCaro (guitar, percussion) completing the quintet in 2005. Their 2005 debut album, Apologies to the Queen Mary, on Sub Pop Records, exemplifies everything good about the rock scene and demonstrates the vocal talent of both Dan and Spencer. Our favorites include "I'll Believe in Anything" and "Grounds for Divorce", but to truly enjoy, start at the beginning and just let it play to the end and you'll receive a pleasant surprise with every track!
If you haven't noticed our obsession with scooters, especially the Honda Zoomer, than you might need to have your eyes checked. Right now the guys over at skater and rocker online clothing shop Fresh Cotton are giving away a Honda Zoomer "Mosquito" customized by our friends over at ONTOUR LAB. These mad wheels sport a custom black and gray mosquito print with a bright purple seat and come with a matching t-shirt because your scooter and clothing have to coordinate. All you have to do is purchase a tee from Fresh Cotton and you're automatically entered for a chance to win. Gambling starts the 15th of September so make sure to check out the goods and don't miss your chance to win one the most "fly" scooters out there!
A regular staple here at JoshSpear.com, our fried Jason Thielke has really been working out his artistic muscle as of late. This month he's joined forces with Scot Lefavor for the "Alliance" Dual Show. The show kicked off September 1 at the Art and Soul Gallery and features new works by both Scot and Jason. "Jason's street influenced portraits and landscapes are portrayed in a unique style the he calls "˜a reversal of traditional graffiti', while Scot's narrative paintings are based on advertising styles of the 1950's and early 60's infused with contemporary commentary." This complementary duo offers a fresh look at the local art scene and is sure not to disappoint. If your in Boulder between the 1st and 30th of September stop by the gallery, 1615 Pearl St and feast your eyes!
We couldn't think of a better way to kick it off our ACL coverage than by letting you in on Austin's little secret, Ghostland Observatory. The inventive partnership of electronic and rock is brought to us by front man Aaron Behrens and producer / drummer Thomas Turner. Seeing Ghostland live is simply amazing and the pig tailed Behrens and silver-caped Thomas grab you from the get go, hitting you with beats that would have even those without a pulse dancing. Their albums Delete.Delete.I.Eat.Meat and Paparazzi Lighting deliver an array of sounds and are both not to be missed. Delivering just the right mix of electronics, synthesizers, guitars, drums, and vocals, Ghostland Observatory will definitely be the undiscovered gem of ACL 2006 so go brush up on their sound at Trashy Moped Records. We can't wait for this one!
That's right ACL is literally right around the corner, September 15"“17, so to get you ready for the upcoming festival we'll be highlighting the big, the small, the known, and the yet to be discovered of this years performers. Not only that, but we'll make sure to throw in some information on how to make the weekend a little more comfortable, where to go when the sun goes down, and festival updates. Even if you can't make it to the shows it's still worth taking a listen to some of these amazing acts. We hope you're as excited as we are and check in daily for updates!
Last week our good friend The Columnist had a chance to meet the Creative Director and Graphic Designer Etienne Mineur at his Paris studio. In 2000, Etienne, along with some good friends founded Incandescence Creative Studio which has since become one of the premier studios in France. Mainly working for the web, he's known for being the mind behind the Issey Miyake web site for six years now and has recently done work for Renault, the Robin d'Esbly website, and John Maeda. On top of all the creative activity Etienne runs his own blog chalk full of graphic design, multimedia, and animation. Check out The Columnist for the full article and don't miss Incandescence online portfolio which screams talent!