Austin City Limits is a live music show on public television. They have pretty good taste and the show has been around for a long time. Based in Austin, they seem to spotlight a lot of Texas bands. Lyle Lovett has probably been on a lot, Stevie Ray Vaughan was on it. They had The Pixies when they got back together. So if something seems remotely interesting I’ll try to record it. (For a while another PBS show had a similar lineup of well-chosen talent called Sessions at West 54th, but it disappeared after a couple of years.)
Friday’s show had The Killers. I know Nicole has probably told me about this band, but I didn’t know anything about them other than that I should record them and see what the deal was. I’m glad I did. They have that 80’s post-punk sound that is a mishmash of Oasis, The Pixies, Green Day, The Cure, and U2, with a result that they sound a lot like The Strokes or Franz Ferdinand. The first song was “Smile Like You Mean It” which sounds a lot like a Cure song. The next was “Somebody Told Me” (you had a boyfriend / who looked like a girlfriend / that I had in February of last year). It’s an interesting line and they must think so too because they repeat it a lot. I was watching and thinking “This sounds just like music I would like.”? The next song was “Under the Gun” and now I started thinking that not only did they sound like a band I would like, but I did actually like them. Next up was “Mr. Brightside” and that song cinched it: this was a good band. It is a fast-paced but nice song that has a piece at the end that sounds kind of like Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”. Then they played a kind of overly catchy song called “Glamorous Indie Rock & Roll”. The last song in the 30-minute set was “All These Things That I’ve Done” which sounded like U2 or Big Country and finished up by bringing a Baptist choir out on stage to provide backup vocals. It really worked.
So before I could see the second act of the hour-long show, I went to the internet to do some research. They only have one album, called Hot Fuss, which came out last year. But this year they released a Limited Edition of the album with three more songs, including two songs they played on Austin City Limits (“Under the Gun” and “Glamorous Indie Rock & Roll”). AllMusic gave the original edition three stars and said they were just a Duran Duran imitation (they didn’t have a review of the Limited Edition). I think they’re more punk than Duran Duran, but I would agree they kind of look like Duran Duran. I don’t see why you would hold a band’s looks against them though. I found a few other favorable reviews, but many of them pointed out the sound was derivative, one saying that it seemed too early to have a Strokes tribute band. But most reviews seemed to agree that there were some good songs on the album.
Amazon had the CD for $11.99 but since they are incredibly slow, I went to Target to get it. They had one copy of the original version for $13.29. Not a good value. I went to Best Buy who had the limited edition for $13.99 but they had a sale going where it was only $11.99 so I got it (more on that later). Austin City Limits got most of their best songs (with the exception of the album’s first rate lead-off song “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine”). Their album sound seems a little over-produced compared to the more stripped down sound in concert, but it was still a good purchase. Since they only have the one album I didn’t want to end up buying 3 or 4 songs from iTunes and then wind up buying the whole album.