Monday, March 28, 2011

Transmontane - Live at SXSW 2011

SXSW 2011 ended just over a week ago, and all reports indicate that it was notably chaotic and overblown this year... a gatecrashing near-riot at The Strokes, even more so at Death From Above 1979, the total mess that was Kanye West's show, Ben Weasel's belligerence and punching of two women, hipsters wearing capes (why?), general excessive drunkenness and stupidity... it's understandable why so many of us Austin residents breath a sigh of relief when the whole circus leaves town.

Fortunately, though, there was one show that was worth the trip out for us, being decidedly more relaxed and trouble-free. Former WVFI DJ and enthusiastic SBP90s music fan Ryan Duncan brought his one man band, Transmontane, down to Austin for a lazy Saturday lunchtime performance on a quiet patio on North Guadalupe, well enough away from the folks already waiting in line downtown to see Kanye go on at 2am.

In addition to it just being a real joy to see Ryan again after such a long time, his music was a pleasure to experience as well. Here's a synopsis of the new Transmontane album, Lo Specchio Circolare:
Lo Specchio Circolare translates to "the circular mirror" in Italian, which is quite appropriate as a title for this collection of 12 songs by Transmontane (AKA Ryan Duncan from Chicago), for the lyrics and the mood on this debut record tend to be reflective in nature. The mood here is introspective, but at the same time it points toward certain elements of the soul that are universal. There is definitely a tone of desperation present, but it does not arrive without an underlying vibration of hope as its constant companion. As profound as our desires may be, when salvation seems to be a million miles away, we must always remember, that at the root of our existence is an eternal wellspring of hope, a fundamental love that exists within us and can never be broken.

These simple, honest songs are simply one man’s attempt to reflect this light back out into the world at large. Look into them, and perhaps you might find your own voice.
The first video above is of one of my favorite cuts from the album, "R.W.S." The one just below here is of the non-album song "Genealogy," which Ryan premiered in live form during SXSW. The shaky video footage comes courtesy of the 2-yr-old troublemaker throwing Hot Wheels at my feet while I was recording.

I encourage everyone to check out the Transmontane album, it was the laid-back jam in my headphones all last week. You can stream or buy the songs via the Transmontane bandcamp site, or splurge for the limited edition vinyl LP, which is really packaged quite beautifully.

Transmontane - Lo Specchio Circolare LP

Transmontane on Facebook

Thursday, March 3, 2011

90 Day Men - Live at the Canary House 12-13-1997

90 Day Men drove down to South Bend from Chicago on a couple occasions. From what I remember, the first time was to play with Sweep the Leg Johnny and a ton of other bands, including the Mad Dogs, Bessie (Bessie's set from that night is here), Obstruction and a briefly reunited emiLy, at Clifford the Big Red House.

90 Day Men returned in December 1997 as part of a show at the Canary House with Braid (hear their set from that night here), Kind of Like Spitting, The Butterfly Effect, and Florida Evans.

The recording kicks off with some idle banging on the bell of the ride cymbal, snippets of conversation in the crowd, and the eventual confession from the singer of 90 Day Men, "Our keyboard's kind of broken. So fuck it." The band then launches into a tight 8 song set, a good portion of which consists of new songs with no words.

At one point, the band dedicates a song to fans of the band Rush, which got a big yell from certain members of the crowd. Someone called out a request for "2112 ... the whole thing!" As was the case with many SBP90s house shows, the crowd was quite enthusiastic and appreciative.

The sound quality on the tape is quite good, especially considering Ron Garcia recorded it with one room mic.

90 Day Men - Live at the Canary House 12-13-1997

see also:
90 Day Men on Myspace
90 Day Men on Allmusic