SXSWinner: Steel Train | Trampoline
After being told about this record more than a few times, I finally "got" the album last month after listening ten times with one ear but not getting it, so I was primed to see them and catch a "Black Eye." Caught a daytime set at Red Eyed Fly, the club sound was merely average, the stage was miniature but the band's sound is big and getting bigger. Oozing New Jersey in their wifebeater t-shirts, this was honest rock and roll, songs about how the planes hit the towers and people actually died. There's an honesty in realizing one's mortality, but their songs seemed to be a trampoline of positivity after these negative experiences. It struck an honest chord for me, beyond the introspective songs, the honesty of admitting on your SXSW application that you're from Teaneck, NJ (when every other band claims to be from Brooklyn), there are few things that make me more proud than people who are proud to be from the Garden State. Trampoline is a great record, there are a half-dozen great songs on the album. People say Steel Train is a power pop band, not sure about that, but there are catchy tracks like "Kill Monsters in the Rain" and "I Feel Weird" that will get you singing all day long. - TK

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SXSWinner: Dusty Rhodes and the River Band
Sat, March 16, 2008 7:45pm

It is not often that I hit the record button and get a true gem, a moment in time, a man just preachin from his soul. Well, this man, he was a righteous man, and his name appears to me as Dusty Rhodes. Not the wrestler. Check the sermon kick off with "You, Me...and Obama! We will legalize marijuana!" I want to go see this man sermonize one of these Sundays. And the band was the perfect backing band for Dustin Apodaca, his River Band plays the honest, rootsy rock of The Band with a modern Oakley Hall kinda setup, rock and roll with violin and banjo. Sessions for their Side1Dummy record First You Live, first began in 2006 with producer Ikey Owens, keyboardist from The Mars Volta. They put on a great show, this clip was from Dusty and the River Band kicking off the JamBase Showcase at SXSW. - TK

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The Weather Underground | When I was a Soldier (EP)
I cannot stop listening to this band. Number one favorite new find of the year, pyched to see them in Austin this week. They've just got "it" (not that I can define what "it" is, but you know what I mean). The tracks are great, and even better, this band is great live. I'm telling you every song had the right mix of genres old and new, every kid in the band has a different cultural background, the band mixes well together, they really had charisma on stage. They were part Otis Redding, part young Elvis with rock and roll influences from the Who to the Beatles, but it doesn't sound regurgitated like so many wanna be indie rockers. Get into it. - TK
One Track To Start: "When I Was a Soldier"

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Stephen Malkmus | Real Emotional Trash
The beauty of a Malkmus album is that you always know what you're getting: clever rhyming digressions, guitars that meander as much as the lyrics and more than occasional sloppy swells. Nor is there ever a bad song; merely a few that are less good than others. Real Emotional Trash might surprise you, at least a little: It's as psychedelic as he's ever been with the Jicks ("Hopscotch Willie" and "Dragonfly Pie"), and there are even a couple Pavement-esque moments ("Out Of Reaches" and "We Can't Help You") to break up the six- to 10-minute jam sessions ("Real Emotional Trash"). - Dan Shumate

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