Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans
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.
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