When Deerhunter first burst onto the music scene in 2007 with their über-hyped Cryptogram, I was a bit skeptical. Every review/interview focused on the back story of Bradford Cox, a young man suffering from Marfan syndrome writing songs about isolation and loss over the echoing madness within the cacophonous guitar cavern that is Cryptogram. Add to the storyline the death of former bassist, Justin Bosworth, and you have all the trappings of a music journalist’s wet dream. I had seen artists like this come and go in the blogger rat race to discover the next big thing, and I figured Deerhunter and its quirky back story would be forgotten within months.
As a true testament of Bradford Cox and company’s talent, the band returned with more focus and a more refined sound on the following two albums, Microcastle and Weird Era Cont (released together as a double album). Deerhunter were officially more than a cute little anecdote; they were the real deal. In 2010, Halcyon Digest solidified their place atop the indie rock hierarchy, proving that they could take their wandering, spacious spirit and rein it in for their most accessible album to date.
When you think about Austin (the live music capital of the world) and festivals, one of the first events to come to mind is probably the Austin City Limits Music Festival. Starting 11 years ago, the first two day festival didn’t draw huge names but instead brought in acts that fit within the TV show’s tradition of Americana and Alt-Country. Ticket prices were low, and the focus was solely on the music. In 2004 I attended the festival and caught a more indie line-up of acts like Cat Power, Modest Mouse, and The Pixies. But it seems with the recent release of the festival’s 2013 line-up and its avarice plans to have two separate three day weekends that ACL has lost its way. Only a week prior to the line-up release I attended Psych Fest in Austin, and as I basked in the warmth of the psychedelic sounds from the stage, I had a realization – ACL is no longer the best festival in Austin: in my opinion, it ranks 5th.
Ghostface Killah & Adrian Younge
Twelve Reasons to Die
[Wax Poetics; 2013]
Rap music lends its self naturally to the narrative form, so it’s no wonder that many modern MCs have created conceptual albums focused around an overlying story. The problem is that these attempts at concept are usually failures in terms of following the traditional story arc. Tyler the Creator’s psychiatry session Goblin was a haphazard, sloppy mess; Kanye West’s mental breakdown on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was entertaining but a little bit too self-absorbed (go figure), and Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d. city lacked any sense of character development or maturation. Maybe they could all learn a thing or too about storytelling from the legendary raconteur Ghostface Killah with his 2013 masterpiece Twelve Reasons to Die.
This month’s episode of BDWPS Podcast is chock full of choice cuts. In fact, start to finish, it may be the best playlist yet. Check it:
Wavves “Afraid of Heights”
Kaleidoscope “Dive Into Yesterday”
Youth Lagoon “Dropla”
Kurt Vile “Never Run Away”
BOAT “Inside of an Aquarium”
Slayer “Spirit in Black”
Bob Dylan “Jokerman”
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