Category: Perspective

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Nominee sparks warmth when we need it most

I don’t know when or how it happened, but the live music experience has changed. The warmth that used to fill venues, a tangible energy that bubbled and blossomed in the bonds made between strangers, has been replaced by a prickly and sticky heat that exerts itself in the form of cranky elbows to the ribs and an unspoken agreement not to interact with those around you (unless they have a doobie you’re trying to sneak a puff of). Maybe it’s just that we are the first generation that values the video—the tangible evidence of attendance—more than the experience itself, and this means audiences are never fully present, their experience mediated and dampened by the screen held in front of their first. I fear that this loss of this vitality is symptomatic of a larger (and unnerving) societal trend of people growing apart from one another, too invested in hollow interactions mediated by a vacuous internet to interact and engage with other humans in the real world. It is depressing to think that the venues where I grew up (in both literal and figurative senses) and which hold my fondest memories might one day be obsolete, replaced by videos and virtual reality, but I would prefer that than to see the state of live music continue its current trajectory and end up void of all meaning.

Or so I thought.

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Wonderbitch resurrects the 1980s in fun, luxurious style

If any readers regularly follow On Vinyl’s Vinyl List, it will already be blindingly obvious that my own passion for music stems from and resides somewhere in the capability to create entire worlds for an audience to imagine, to inhabit and (ideally) to learn from. These worlds can be based in mood, shepherding listeners and eliciting particular emotions, or they can be based in thought and wonder, transporting listeners to a place that feels almost-physical. The best music, I would argue, is that which combines the somatic and the spiritual, carefully constructing a soundscape and a corporeal experience that appeals to both.

With their upcoming LP Oceansoft, Wonderbitch have committed mind and soul to creating this all-encompassing musical experience for their listeners through a modern reimagining of 1980s new wave synth-pop that they affectionately deem “new yacht rock.” The transportive nature of their music is both physical and temporal, their shiny blend of new whisking listeners away to “an alternate dimension 1980s where money doesn’t matter and nature is taking over civilization,” and what an adventure it is. 

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Austin City Limits 2017: Top 10 local Austin acts

In the wake of the Las Vegas music festival shooting, the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history, Austin City Limits brought together legendary performers from all generations and proved that people will not be intimidated from coming together to enjoy music because of evil in the world.  Boasting performances from Jay Z, the XX, Solange, Ice Cube, Martin Garrix, The Killers, The Gorillaz, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chance the Rapper, and more the festival drew fans from around the world to Zilker Park.  However, this festival also showcased more than a dozen local Austin groups and musicians.  Below I highlight the profiles of 10 local musicians and groups that played for Austin City Limits.

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Balmorhea guides us through their sonic universe

As a firm believer in the power of music, I love to see and hear the ways in which people derive meaning from music. The experience is different for everyone: from minute details (eyes open or closed; the way in which people attach themselves to particular instrumental tendrils) to overarching patterns of interaction, music influences both physical affect and mental emotion. Evidence of this is abundant in our experienced world: athletes use music to center and motivate themselves as part of pre-game rituals, while parents’ lullabies soothe and settle children at bed-time. This is where so much of the beauty of music lies: in its ability to be a visceral tool, capable of interacting with both the mind and the body in deep, profound ways.

While this capability is inherent to all music, there are artists who realize and intentionally expand upon that visceral potential so that their music resonates intimately within their audience. Their music creates a world of its own, transporting listeners to a headspace that feels as if it manifests itself both physically and emotionally. Austin’s post-rock ensemble Balmorhea has spent the last decade flirting with this potency, and with the release of their new LP Clear Language they invite their listeners to a fully-fledged universe of the band’s own dreamy devise.

Read More the fate of streaming services

Analyzing the trends, trade-offs in digital music consumption

Streaming platforms, which continue to grow as a primary revenue stream for record labels, have successfully disrupted the music industry.  Streaming refers to music consumed legally over the internet and cloud with applications that track users listening habits and data. However, these streaming services must overcome a variety of challenges to be sustainable businesses.  First, we shall discuss the shortcomings of the top digital streaming platforms; then, we will highlight the trends that position this disruptive industry as a sustainable presence in the music industry.

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BUHU finds ungrounded footing on ‘La Truth’

Remember “Bop It”? That game you played as a kid where an energized gameshow host voice yelled at you to twist and pull different knobs and levers at an increasing pace until someone messed up? Beyond the agonizing weeping which ensued upon failing one yank away from the record, the most entertaining aspect of that game stemmed from the crazy, eclectic sounds the Bop It would make. Every flick, spin, and bop created its own unique noise, and amazingly this random assortment of tones organically morphed into a real pattern of beats that, though not entirely smooth, sounded good.

Perhaps BUHU played “Bop It” in the process of creating their new single “La Truth” as a macro view reveals a core similarity between the game and the track: sounds that don’t quite fit together but still create a pleasant whole.