SXSW Song of the Day: Graham Reynolds and Golden Arm Trio – Caravan

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If your mind drifted to Ocean’s Eleven at 0:45 here, it is working just fine. Duke Ellington’s “Caravan” has been a well-tread standard since 1936. The Golden Arm Trio’s cover has a vaudeville feeling right from the get-go. Through the piano, a twisted Bugs Bunny announces the arrival of the unmistakably long first note of “Caravan”, and then it all goes (even more) nuts from there.

Austin-based Graham Reynolds is as bright and manic in his composition as Ellington’s original is off-kilter, moody and sparse. The baseline rhythm has been sped up to ludicrous speed, and a big band sound really pushes it over the edge. If the original projected the secretive silhouettes of circus musicians creeping behind you on the wall as you walk by in a Pink Panther pastel, this cover alerts you to their presence via a megaphone.

Of course, yours truly keeps seguing into an Egyptian snake charmer mode half way through the trumpet solo. Quite how a cold-blooded animal would be able to move at this breakneck speed is anyone’s guess though. More caffeine may help.

Graham Reynolds & Golden Arm Trio play Elephant Room on March 15 at 10:00pm.

SXSW Song of the Day: red steppes, Leonine

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Photo Credit: Nika Aila States

red steppes‘ “Leonine” starts out under the indie math-rock banner, but it soon reveals its true colors.

Nika Aila States, using the stage name red steppes, triple-distills some awesome construction as well as execution, and conjures a quick storm in 3 minutes. The structure is still very classic, with chorus, refrains separating stanzas and even a bridge. All of these components, however, are incredibly wondrous and light.

That it’s something one would not find out of place if it floated from an open window as one strolled down Signal Hill in San Francisco with flowers and bees in one’s hair (because god-forbid if you walk uphill you would suffer death by perspiration) is perhaps not surprising, as it really WAS mixed and taped in North Cal. States shows nary a hesitation in flowing across the scales, jumping freely to-and-fro with the melody.

Concert Review: Paul Kornmuller, February 21, Theory Bar

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I kind of forgot people go out on Thursdays (or Mondays or Tuesdays or Wednesdays or Sundays… or even some Saturdays) but this week’s live music performance at Chicago’s Theory bar by Paul Kornmuller was a welcome reminder.

Paul took the stage at 6:30 and had the bar rocking well past 9:30 (when I left… honestly he may have rocked it well past midnight but yours truly was snooooozing by then). Mr. Kornmuller and his star singer covered a huge range of favorites, from “Footloose” to “Jack and Diane” with no banter and all swag.

The duo had an awesome knack for pulling together improvised medleys of feel-good-sing-along tunes that had all generations at the bar tapping their feet, doing their best to croon with the pair, and flat-out dancing at times.

Paul’s incredible ease on his guitar and with vocals kept the whole gig smooth and perfect for a rowdy sports bar. While the duo was unobtrusive in their manner, they really ended up stealing the show from the big screens blasting NBA and NHL around the crowd. All eyes were on him and his partner as beers were enjoyed and chicken wings were devoured.

Paul and his band have an active tour going around the Chi-town area at some pretty groovy pubs – check them out! You won’t regret it – and, if you’re like me, you can use it as an occasion to casually mention to EVERYONE that you were out past 8 on a weeknight. #YOLO as the kids say.

SXSW Song Of The Day: Psychedelic Porn Crumpets – Keen For Kick Ons?

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Photo credit: Sam Hesketh

Sometimes, all it really takes for a band to get noticed is having a name that’s memorable for some reason. Psychedelic Porn Crumpets certainly checks that box with a name that is equally excellent and ridiculous, a trait they share with fellow Aussies King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard.

And after giving their latest single “Keen For Kick Ons?” a listen, it becomes clear that the band shares more than just a predilection for silly names with King Gizzard, they also produce the same kind of blissful, fuzzed out psych-rock as their countrymen. Solid stuff indeed.

Psychedelic Porn Crumpets play Hotel Vegas Annex on March 16 at 12:00am and probably a bunch more shows throughout SXSW week as well.