By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Let your freak flags fly: Remember March's Wall of Sound Festival 2006? If your memory's hazy, that's probably for good reason; expectations were a little high, crowds were a little skim and the thing ran a little too long, but the heart--and the bands, dammit--were worth it.
We can't help but be reminded of the WoSF as two similar semi-festivals take place on Friday and Saturday nights--the Metrognome POPFEST! and Strategies of Beauty Vol. 1, respectively. It's not a perfect comparison, though--the shows are quite a bit cheaper (at five bucks each, you can enjoy both fests for less than a large pizza), the shows start later than noon (whew), and the genres are much more specific.
Friday night's shindig at the Metrognome Collective in Fort Worth is called a POPFEST! for a reason--the Happy Bullets, Fishboy and Man Factory are the marquee local acts in this twee 'n' glee 11-band blast, which means songs about anthropomorphic Christmas trees and high school crushes will be the standard. A few catchy out-of-towners fill out the schedule, and of those, Austinite Maya Bond will certainly be the most memorable--how often do you see ballistic 6-year-old girls front indie-rock bands? But the locals at this show get us the most excited, particularly Dallas' Hardin Sweaty and the Ready to Go, whose crush on the Minutemen sounds mighty promising.
If POPFEST! is the weekend's endorphin rush, then the following evening's Strategies of Beauty is the big, brutal comedown. Mike Seman, one half of Denton husband-wife band Shiny Around the Edges, was struggling to land gigs earlier in the year--his band's ability to build momentum with only a few guitar notes, some feedback and simple percussion, while stunning, isn't winning over radio airwaves just yet. Since he knew a lot of like-minded acts with the same problem, "We thought, heck, let's just do it ourselves," he says.
Thankfully, booking has gotten easier in recent months for SoB acts like Shiny Around the Edges, Stumptone, Chris Garver and Fra Pandolf--bands that would be just as happy hearing walls of noise at a Glenn Blanca show as they would the melodic poetry of Joni Mitchell. But if ever there was as cohesive an assemblage of noise and folk music since the Melodica Festivals of the '90s, we ain't seen it, so open your minds and hightail it to Rubber Gloves in Denton starting at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
We've said a lot about Astronautalis lately, but Mighty Ocean proves how much pub the guy deserves. His genius sing-song indie-rap approach, bursting with more melody and wit than most rappers and rockers combined, is even more addictive on this sophomore disc. If his new songs don't blow you away, then his manic freestyles will. On Thursday, visit Unfair Park to hear an exclusive freestyle we recorded with the chap.