Chuck Haralson and Ken Smith were inducted into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame during the 43rd annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism
I swear, sometimes you can practically see the neighborhood's pubescent boys peeking through the cracks of these girls' backyard fence. Made up of three sisters, their brother and their cousin, the family DuPree have built a name for themselves by painting ethereal portraits of the hidden nooks in suburbia, all melancholic, harmony-heavy and smelling of swimming pools and hot Toyota suede. The bulk of it is attractive stuff, written with wide-eyed minor chords and no shortage of a Stevie Nicks sense of wonderment, all the while resonating with a Sunday morning chastity that's at once coy and mysterious. Yeah, it's a band with a low-emission engine, fueled by that type of evocative imagery. And, through it all, it's not really a bad thing. They're supported by orchestral indie prog-pop from fellow Tyler, Texans The Lion & The Sail and a solo set from the youngest of the family, Christie DuPree.
When A+ Setup released its debut LP, "Language," in 2006, the band put out, bar none, one of the best, most essential Arkansas albums of the aughts. About the last thing you'd expect to zoom out of Booneville, it's a frayed-edge album of catchy dance commanders with serious post-punk jitters, all jammed to critical mass with some of the wryest lyrics this side of Manchester, England. ("My baby joined the Ottoman Empire/She's marching away/She doesn't need a man when we've got a country.") And live? They were the realest of deals, ripping a shimmy out of even the most stone-y of regulars. It was a band out to dominate an audience, not just three dudes playing dress-up for a Factory Records party. But after two years with a replacement drummer and an unexpected break-up, A+ Setup has reunited (now with an additional member on keyboards) and the state is all the better for it. Their re-debut goes down at Music Fort Smith this Friday at a fund-raiser to benefit the burgeoning West Arkansas music venue. If you're in for a Friday night road trip, you could do a lot worse than trucking up the interstate for the post-punk resurrection. A slew of bands lead the way, with indie surf rock from Taifas, indie poppers Physical Science, an acoustic set from No Hickeys and soundtrack-rock from Silent Waits the Archer.
It's damn near impossible to find Drive-By Truckers' name in print without finding a Skynyrd reference trailing behind. But heavy are the shoulders that wear Ronnie Van Zant's "Tonight's the Night" shirt. For the last number of years, the Athens, Georgia, act has been the mayor of Southern rock — even though the band shrugs off that idea. But you can't very well have songs called "Dead, Drunk and Naked" and "You and Your Crystal Meth" without being as Southern as a barbecue behind a baptismal. Their sound is a three-guitar powerhouse drawl that sounds like it could be recorded 10 miles away from wherever you're reading this right now. It's sweat-glazed and highly relatable. In fact, I bet when the band's principal songwriters, Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley, were teen-agers, they could burp the tracklist to Molly Hatchet's "Greatest Hits" and maybe even fart all the major characters in the Snopes trilogy. But what's most astounding about the big-time cult is their ambition seemingly knows no bounds — we're talking "let's make a two-disc concept album about the decline of the South in the 1970s, using Lynyrd Skynyrd as a metaphor" ambitious. It's that kind of work ethic that makes Drive-By Truckers worthy of every bit of their enormous, feverish fanbase. Songbird Amy Wood opens the night.
Since 1977, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band has gone from a second-line Crescent City outfit to a house band, named after their Dirty Dozen Social and Pleasure Club, to one of the most influential troupes to ever spread the good news of NOLA. And now the band's back on the road to celebrate the 25th anniversary re-release of its epochal release, 1984's "My Feet Can't Fail Me Now," the debut that popularized New Orleans brass bands far beyond the reach of Louisiana (especially Europe and, as fellow "Treme" fans know, Japan) thanks to the funk and soul file mixed in the brass collage of sound. Since, DDBB has become favorites at jam festivals, provided backup for Elvis Costello, featured on Modest Mouse's breakout album, "Good News for People Who Love Bad News," and recorded Marvin Gaye's album "What's Going On" in its entirety as a response to the aftermath of Katrina. Other than that, the band's always a safe bet for a huge damn chunk of fun. Beloved pop-slop weirdos Appetite for Orange provide a head-scratchingly appropriate opener for the night's buck jumping.
If you just heard the sound of breaking glass, that'd was me, blasting my impartiality out the window. For months now, I've been evangelical — into this keyboard and to friends — about Life Size Pizza. It's my single favorite local band and one of the most divisive acts this town's ever bickered about. Either you love the fellas' goofy, drunken stabs at that weird space between hyper slack-rock and hedonistic garage or — hopefully not — you're the type that'll shrug off to the other room with the rest of the joyless, tin-hearted, arm-crossing bums who just don't deserve rock 'n' roll. Yeah, they jack riffs from B-52s' "Rock Lobster" ("Rock and Roll") and The White Stripes' "Hello Operator," ("Eddie's Song"), yeah, they're usually sloppier than not and sure, sometimes it gets downright impossible to hear lead singer/drummer Jack to the Future mumble into his mic. That may not be everyone's bag, but those into LSP's forbears from K Records or their local uncles-in-spirit, The Rockin' Guys, know this band's the real deal. No other act is going to sing an ode to Jesus with lines like "fuck you, hippie, he's pure of heart/and he's good at Quiz Bowl 'cause he's really, really smart/He's Jesus/He's our man." And now, after months of gigging, the guys finally release their debut, "Queer Ideas." It's an addictively repeatable affair, crammed with engaging, dynamic tracks about love, banjos, blue laws and being on the lam as seen through a hilarious, totally Southern lens a la Charles Portis. It's a ridiculous affair; I love the hell out of their unassuming brilliance and hope you do, too. The raucous drum and bass duo Androids of Ex-Lovers open alongside the stumbling proto-garage outfit, Frown Pow'r.
In the theaters, we're a nation that likes our sugar extra sickly sweet and our lovey with as much dovey as possible. So how in the world did a movie so nihilistic, so unwaveringly dark and with such a complete lack of resolution manage to resonate with an entire country? After all, towards the end, when Batman harnessed Patriot Act technology by tapping into every cell phone in Gotham, it was hardly a fist-pumping moment of superhero ingenuity. With that scene, not only did the Adam West archetype get thrown from the highest tower of Arkham Asylum, the entire popular superhero mythos, the sum of all comic book cartoon levity was run out of town with it. This movie is a stark character study, a criticism of society's decaying morality and an indictment against mass apathy that, like "The Wire," is played out on a taut chain made of unforgiving sociopaths and players in a corrupt civic system. So how exactly did this type of dank pessimism manage to gross over half a billion dollars at domestic box offices alone? Because it's one of the best, most engrossing action movies since "Jaws" and it's meant to be seen on the biggest screen you can plop down in front of. Done and done. Go see it again.
Best known for its unavoidable 1997 hit — and one of the better late-'90s M.O.R. singles — "All For You," the act refused to follow its one-hit wonder comrades into the dark, instead steadily releasing albums since, each keeping in step with a carefree, Southern-kissed vibe of optimism and long afternoons. In fact, their last album, "Release," is their most successful, highest-charting so far. This all, thanks to the sound that resonates with the radio-ready set and, surprisingly, with an unlikely audience in the jammier factions of the college-aged crowd, in spite of the fact that Sister Hazel is not a jam band by any stretch of the headphones. It's a familiar sound, inoffensive almost to a fault and easily digestible, filling ears without ever nourishing them. But in the realm of musical junk food, you could do worse than this Gainesville, Fla., troupe. Femme poppers Aslyn open the night.