New York Dolls
The Soundtrack of Out Lives
Review and photos by Andy ArgyrakisLooking at the massive SxSW music festival schedule an be a tedious though enjoyable task reserved for only the most serious concertgoers or music industry moguls. That's because hundreds of pages filled with tiny text are packed with information overload, touching on over a thousand bands playing at various times on different dates and at a variety of venues. But even in that daunting dilemma (and the subsequent running around from shows to stages to panel sessions) there's no greater feeling than seeing a legend up close and personal or discovering a brand new band for the very first time. Here's a mixture of both categories, along with a little bit of everything in between, further citing the event's vast list of talent spanning all styles, colors and country origins:
In addition to being in the midst of a major 2005 concert tour (which swings through Chicago Sunday, April 17) celebrated tunesmith Elvis Costello also shared stories from his illustrious, twenty plus year career. A particular point of interest was his take on major label shifts and consolations, opinions which come from first hand experience on Columbia, Warner Brothers and many of the Universal offshoots. Most recently, Costello released "The Delivery Man" on Lost Highway, which he also sampled in concert following the speaking engagement.
The fact that The Futureheads cite Devo, Kate Bush and Queen as influences makes them ideal for any 80s' lovers, yet the group possesses a distinctly modern edge steeped in originality. The guys tore apart the Spin party with guitar gunners like "Robot" and "Decent Days and Nights," while crunching with tasteful stadium filling roars on "Le Garage." A self-titled debut is not to be missed, which includes partial production by Gang Of Four guitarist Andy Gill.
He may be best known for breaking into the mainstream smack dab in the middle of the glam-focused 80s, but Billy Idol's began in many punk outfits, most notably Generation X. Rather than choosing one style or another for his latest venture, the veteran has merged both on "Devil's Playground," a project previewed to an anticipatory, nearly overflowing crowd. Aside from unveiling such cuts (which mark Idol's return after a lengthy hiatus) the signature "Dancing With Myself" and "Eyes Without a Face" were enough to incite a "Rebel Yell" by all.
One of the latest finds on Seattle based indie label Tooth and Nail is the explosive and intricate mewithoutYou. Across intelligent songwriting and sly soundscapes, the group pools together the most likeable elements of Interpol and At the Drive-In, occasionally throwing in a reference to old school The Cure. The group came to town celebrating its latest release "Catch for Us the Foxes," a disc directed but the incredibly catchy "January 1979."
New York Dolls
Aside from the Sex Pistols, the flamboyant and outrageous New York Dolls were arguably the most quintessential punk rock developers. And though its original incarnation is no longer (deaths have recently plagued the group in multiple instances) the songs still hold up rock solid today. As a showman, war torn front man David Johansen gave every younger singer in the vicinity a run for their money, while the band's razor licks proved they remain function over fashion. Rumors circulated they'll take the show on the road, which fans hope will be a catalyst for another album.
Though this group originally formed in Austin, they've since shifted line-ups a bit and relocated to Chicago. Fans from each town gathered for a sneak peek at the forthcoming "Twelve Rooms" record, featuring a constantly exciting switch between lush and lo-fi rhythms over a dreamy, chamber pop direction. Windy city nameplate Chuck Harling kept the backbeat, adding a more sophisticated playing style and series of aggressive flourishes into an already enlightening mix.
Speaking of Harling, he returned to action yet again to back local favorite Ellen Rosner who's currently supporting her latest offering "Ready, Steady, Go." Like the troubadour's last two releases, it tells various relationship tales, though this batch of reflections is much more upbeat and at times down right celebratory in direction. The pair pounded out many superb fresh cuts in between some story telling, also relying the fan favorite "Princess" to an appreciative crowd.
New Orleans is a melting pot of jazz, blues and funk fusion and when it comes to trumpet players, few if any can beat the amalgamation presented by Kermit Ruffins. The scene's top star ran through a spirited set on St. Patrick's Day, using his instrument as a toast to those celebrating his delectable, danceable sounds. Each moment of the engagement was completely unpredictable, hopping between Louisiana gumbo, zydeco and horn heavy American roots music.
The Soundtrack of Our Lives
In a day in age where glitz, glamour and lip-syncing are overtaking the music industry, The Soundtrack of Our Lives is a glorious gift sent straight from the heavens. Although the gang is always rambunctious and raring to go, a new CD called "ORIGIN Vol. 1" seemed to spark an additional torch of intensity. With a series of tambourine slaps, scream sessions and even a jaunt into the crowd, Ebbot Lundberg is hands down one of the most electric front men on the rock and roll revival these days.
School was in session when Mavis Staples took the stage to share and sing about her historical journey in the gospel world. This godmother of the genre told tales of growing up with her legendary family (headed by the late Pop Staples) along with spending time with her sisters in The Staple Singers. The aging but still accurate note belter seems elated to have a new CD on shelves (her first in about a decade) appropriately titled "Have a Little Faith."
Fellow New Orleans outfit Supagroup didn't bring its town's most notable characteristics to the colloquy, though it still applied much of the same precision and enthusiasm to a hard rock pedigree. Think of these rebellious fellows as the original AC/DC reincarnated with more gasoline burning each and every second than even an evil arson's pre-meditated fire plot. Cuts like "Let's Go (Get Wasted)" and "It Takes Balls" (both from the upcoming project "Rules") connected dead on with the crowd's jovial drunkenness, while brothers Chris and Benji Lee played off one another's outrageous banter.
One of Scotland's most respected exports continues to be the Trashcan Sinatras (or the Trashies for short) and that's most likely because of their emotive songwriting and instantly memorable soundscapes. Often likened to Radiohead, Coldplay and Travis, the five-piece ensemble provided beautiful arrangements and experimental expertise across many glowing, ethereal selections. The band's latest release "Weightlifting" is on SpinART and has already garnered a slew of critical acclaim, a trait commanded from a truly riveting live experience.
The Soundtrack of Our Lives
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