St. Vincent Has Mastered the Art of Playing By Her Own Rules

Categories: Columns

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Rhombi Survivor
St. Vincent was one of the highlights of Austin City Limits last weekend
Annie Clark is having all the fun these days. She does her best to hide it, be it as a would-be cult leader or a guitar-shredding robot. But, as happened on several occasions at Austin City Limits last weekend, it still comes through with the occasional smirk or beaming smile: when she lifts her guitar up and aims it at her fans, as though opening fire on them; when she marches around stage in unison with her bandmate Toko Yasuda; or when she climbs down into the crowd to take a selfie. Being St. Vincent is serious business, but it's also a blast.

And why shouldn't it be? Her latest album, February's St. Vincent, is arguably the best of 2014, and her reputation as an artist is nearly impeccable. Remarkably, she's managed to completely liberate herself and her art in so doing, and she's done it all on her own terms.

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Does Dallas Want Its Own Austin City Limits?

Categories: Columns

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Rhombi Survivor
Music fans flocked to Austin over the weekend for ACL
The past few weeks have been pretty good to Texas music festival goers. The last two weekends of September saw North Texas welcome in two of its most promising events, with Oaktopia landing in Denton the first week and Index Fest taking over Deep Ellum on the next. While still young -- only two and three years old respectively -- both festivals boasted big lineups, plenty of ambition and, crucially, noticeable growth from past years. If anyone wanted signs of that elusive "signature" North Texas festival in the making, there was reason to be optimistic.

And then there was Austin City Limits Festival, which held its first of two weekends of music this past weekend for those compelled to make the trip down south. Now in its 13th year, it's hard to argue with how ACL does business; it's inarguably the state's most prominent festival outside of SXSW. Which begs the question: What can our local festivals learn from ACL? And do we even want an event like it in Dallas?

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The 10 Biggest Country Stars Who Live in Texas

Categories: Columns

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Photo courtesy of EB Media
By Chris Gray and Matthew Keever

HONORABLE MENTION: SUNNY SWEENEY
Thus far mainstream success has eluded Sunny Sweeney, but not for lack of either talent or trying. According to her Facebook page, Sweeney (a former standup comic) has now played the Grand Ole Opry 41 times but continues to reside in Austin, where she did an acoustic set at Waterloo Records last month to celebrate the release of her third LP, Provoked. Both Country Weekly and NPR have come calling since then, so Sweeney -- also a 2013 nominee for the CMA's New Female Vocalist -- can't possibly stay under the radar much longer.

Facebook fans: 106K


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Goodbye CD Source: 1993 - 2014

Categories: Columns

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Alexandra Olivia of Dallas Morning News
Lance Price is preparing to say goodbye to his beloved record store, CD Source

It was 10:20 on Friday night when I found out. I had just left the Meyerson when I looked at the clock: 10:00. "Just enough time." The new Aphex Twin album had just dropped and I realized that with the right amount of luck, will and vehicular skill I could just make it to CD Source before its 10:30 closing. This is a race I've run countless times over the last 15 years, always a last-minute dash to grab this or that before closing time. Only this time the finish line looked different.

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What 35 Denton Could Learn From Oaktopia

Categories: Columns

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Ed Steele
If you build it, will they come? Denton music fans attending Oaktopia in 2013

In the fall of 2011, I got a gig as an in-house scribe for 35 Denton. It wasn't paid, save for a complimentary wristband to the four-day festival (which is damn near a golden nugget for any young music fan). One of our tasks leading up to the festival's weekend in March was trodding around Denton and asking strangers what they thought of the recurring announcements for bands on the fest's bill. Walking up to strangers is generally a more terrifying experience than being the last mother with a Playstation 4 in Walmart on Black Friday. To make matters worse, most people had no goddamn idea what a 35 Denton, Julianna Barwick or Cities Aviv was.


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Dallas R&B is Bursting with Talent, So Why Aren't More People Listening?

Categories: Columns

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Ashley Upham
Local singer Kirk Thurmond sees a racial divide holding back the R&B scene
Everybody loves to see somebody from their city or town "make it." That's more or less a subjective thing, "making it." Essentially, whenever an artist manages to get the attention of the New York and Los Angeles tastemakers, they wear this vicarious success like a badge of honor. At The Prophet Bar's weekly Wednesday night jam session and open mic night I hear a story that has the makings of local lore, its details battered by years of being retold over and over and over again.

The story goes that in 1995 (or '96 or even '97) Erykah Badu opened for Naughty By Nature (or maybe it was Outkast) at the Bomb Factory and got booed off the stage. A few months later, after catching some steam in the major markets, she started to become the hometown legend she is today.

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The Old 97's Ken Bethea is Still Blown Away By the Toadies' Rubberneck

Categories: Columns

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Jeff Scroggins
Ken Bethea, pictured in 2013 during recording sessions for the Old 97's "Most Messed Up"

This weekend, the Old 97's take part in Dia De Los Toadies Festival at Panther Island Pavilion in Fort Worth as the Toadies wrap up their 20th-anniversary celebrations of Rubberneck. With the Old 97's preparing to reissue their first album later this fall, guitarist Ken Bethea reflects on his memories of the Toadies and their classic album.

When the Toadies' Rubberneck was released in the fall of 1993, it landed farther out of the periphery of the Old 97's than most other music fans in DFW. We were going on our first couple of tours and preparing for the release of our debut record, Hitchhike to Rhome. This was in a pre-internet world, mind you, where getting information about bands was fairly difficult, but we also only had AM radio in our van so we pretty much just listened to whatever came on that.

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Is Garth Brooks' GhostTunes Genius or Chris Gaines Part Two?

Categories: Columns

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Courtesy the label
Chris Gaines, the ghost in the machine for Garth Brooks
After at least six years of radio silence, Garth Brooks brashly stormed back onto the country music scene with with last week's announcement that he would be going on a world tour before releasing a new album in 2015. On the heels of that announcement, Brooks also released his first new music since 2001's Scarecrow, a single called "People Loving People."

In a somewhat surprising twist, he also announced that his music would be available for digital download for the first time on a brand-new platform called GhostTunes. Brooks had long refused to make his music available for download or streaming on major sites like iTunes and Spotify, largely because he didn't want people downloading individual songs from his albums.

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The Serial Silliness of Brad Paisley

Categories: Columns

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Image via Arista Nashville

When Brad Paisley isn't writing and performing sweet, tender songs that make women melt into a big pile of love -- or even haunting songs about death -- he's writing some hilarious, off-the-wall, kind of stupid songs about the things happening to or around him. That's the charm of Paisley, though: He's the perfect balance of sweet and salty. While other country crooners might be singing about a woman's tight jeans and lipstick (not that Paisley doesn't sing about that, too) Paisley's strength is observing his surroundings and singing about them with some, or a lot of, humor sprinkled in.

His songs aren't necessarily accidentally stupid in the way that they are, say, accidentally racist, but they can be purposefully silly. It's something Paisley clearly aims to nail, and he succeeds at it. Ahead of his visit to Gexa Energy Pavilion this weekend, here are some of his silliest moments.

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Is It a Music Festival or a Local Promoter Party?

Categories: Columns

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MIke Mezeul
Now this, this is a music festival
It seems like we've been here before: On Saturday afternoon, Club Dada will be taken over by 13th Floor Music for a "music fest" that includes 15 local bands. As you may recall, a very similar thing happened last Saturday, when King Camel Productions put on its own little showcase. This is not a bad thing, of course; the more music we're able to go see for a decent price the better, not to mention that both lineups have been pretty damn great.

But there are a lot of shows going around these days labeling themselves festivals. How are we to know which are legit festivals and which are just really rad parties being thrown by some generous local promoter? Like, what's even real anymore? Fear not. We have the answers for you.

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