A year ago, I had never even heard of The Autumn Defense, but one of the better features of Spotify is its ability to suggest and recommend bands to you based on bands it knows you already like, and at some point Spotify told me I would like the Autumn Defense. I’m not going to say that Spotify has always been spot on with its recommendations to me, but it was right about the Autumn Defense-I not only like them, I LOVE them. So when I saw that they were playing on Rainey Street at the Clive Bar for the Filter on Rainey showcase sponsored by Filter Magazine, I had to make the walk over from the Convention Center. They were already on stage and performing when I arrived, but with it being a day event, I had no problem getting in and getting into a good location near the stage. The band performed songs from their newest album Fifth which came out this year, as well as songs from all of their previous albums, before closing with a cover of the Fleetwood Mac/Bob Welch tune “Sentimental Lady”.
Also on the Arts Memphis stage of the Memphis Music and Heritage Festival was a local indie rock band called Bean, which I seem to recall hearing at a previous Memphis Music and Heritage Festival. Their music seems upbeat and tuneful, and they have a 7-song self-titled EP which can be purchased for download here.
As I walked back toward the Gayoso Stage at the Memphis Music and Heritage Festival, I noticed a rock band on stage that featured an amplified cello, which is not the most common instrument in rock. The band proved to be Mouserocket, a Memphis indie band that combines melodic pop with symphonic touches and a certain amount of aggression. Their debut album Cicada Sounds was recorded in 2011, and is available here.
In the vacant lot beside Clarksdale’s superb Rust Restaurant, a New York City band playing Hill Country blues was playing. They proved to be Pork Chop Willie, a band led by guitarist Bill Hammer and violinist Melissa Tong. The band’s sound is a joyful melange of traditional blues with a somewhat-alternative sensibility.
The first time I was ever in Austin, I wanted to go to Waterloo Records first. I had already heard about the shop long before actually going, from somebody who said something like “If they don’t have it, it’s not worth having”. They may be a bit of an overstatement, but the selection at Waterloo Records is truly amazing, particularly in this era of closing record stores and declining sales. Of course the tremendous offerings take some getting used to, because Waterloo is no ordinary record store. For one thing, new and used discs are combined together in the bins, so don’t go looking for the “used section.” If they have any used discs by your favorite band, they’ll be with that band’s cards in the ordinary racks. Also, with few exceptions, there are no genre divisions. Country, jazz, rock, hip-hop, Tejano- you’ll find them all present filed alphabetically by the artists’ names in one system of bins. Finally, the newest used discs to come in are filed by the day they came into the store in the “new arrivals” section, which can be the most fun section to browse. It must be added that Waterloo Records also sells plenty of DVDs (especially some that were featured in previous years of SXSW), books about music, and tickets to local shows and events. They also deserve special mention for the superb outdoor stage line-up they present every year during South By Southwest. Waterloo Records is located at 600A North Lamar at Sixth Street in Austin, directly beside the 24 Diner. Call them at (512) 474-2500 (A word about the name- When I first visited Austin, Waterloo Records shared its business with a Waterloo Ice House restaurant. I had thought they were owned by the same people, but later I came to learn that it was merely a coincidence. But the frequency of the name “Waterloo” on businesses intrigued me, as I couldn’t imagine the reason for the significance. Later, I learned that Waterloo had been the original name of the village that would one day grow to be Austin.
Criminal Records (@CriminalRecords) has been Atlanta’s alternative music store for nearly twenty years. Featuring both new and used music, it is the place for indie rock, funk, Americana and other niche genres, and its large indoor stage is the perfect place for occasional instore concerts.
This charming debut album from Mississippi folk-alternative band Marlowe and the Sea was one of two discs that I picked up last Saturday at the Cups coffeehouse on Old Canton Road in the Fondren neighborhood of Jackson, Mississippi. I’ve learned over the years that you usually can’t go too wrong buying discs from a coffee house, and this was no exception. The brief album is 24 minutes and 7 exquisitely-crafted songs written by Brad Ward, with tuneful guitar and vocals, and on some tracks, added effects like live brass and piano, and while the mood tends somewhat to the melancholy, there’s a fair amount of humor beneath the surface, such as in “The Contest”, whose lyrics state that “I built a frame to hang the pictures in your dreams, but then the frame fell from the wall with all the weight. You said the frame was frail, I blamed the wall, so we chalked it up to fate.” The title track “The More Things Change” has a Dylanesque air about it, while the following song “The Kindest Words” has a beautiful spaciousness that is still tinged with the sadness that seems to pervade the whole work. The seventh track is not listed on the cover, and is presumably a bonus track. This is Marlowe and the Sea’s debut CD, released in what would seem to be a hand-designed sleeve on the little Elegant Trainwreck imprint, and it is one definitely worth getting acquainted with. RATING: 3 out of 5. Visit http://marloweandthesea.bandcamp.com/ for further info, or like them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Marlowe-and-the-Sea/125485327521334. For more information on the Elegant Trainwreck label, go to http://www.elegant-trainwreck.com.