Review: Austin City Limits Sarah McLachlan/Duffy

Austin City Limits “Sarah McLachlan followed by Duffy”
Saturday, Feb. 14, at 7 p.m.
Additional air dates: Wednesday, Feb. 18, at 10 p.m.; Friday, Feb. 20, at 11 p.m.
Preview the show at austincitylimits.org

For fans of intelligent, passionate songcraft, Sarah McLachlan hardly needs any introduction. The Canadian singer/songwriter has been an award-winning, critically-acclaimed, multi-platinum artist for two decades. Her 1987 debut album Touch launched the classically-trained Nova Scotia native as a star in the Great White North; subsequent albums Solace, Fumbling Towards Ectsasy and the Grammy-winning Surfacing made her an international sensation. Hits like “Possession,” “Into the Fire,” “Fallen” and “Building a Mystery” remain staples of adult album alternative radio. In addition to creating her own music, she’s recorded numerous songs for soundtracks, including the Oscar-nominated “When She Loved Me” from Toy Story 2, curated the Lilith Fair music festival, launched a children’s choir and percussion ensemble as part of a Vancouver-based outreach program and supported or established various charities around the world. Now, in support of her recently-released greatest hits album Closer: The Best of Sarah McLachlan and its single “U Want Me 2,” she comes to studio 6A for her long-awaited debut episode of Austin City Limits.
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Review: Austin City Limits Nick Lowe/Swell Season

Austin City Limits “Nick Lowe followed by The Swell Season”
Saturday, Jan. 31, at 7 p.m.
Additional air dates: Wednesday, Feb. 4, at 10 p.m.; Friday, Feb. 6, at 11 p.m.
Preview the show at austincitylimits.org

As much as we love presenting new and promising acts on Austin City Limits, it’s great to have a veteran trodding the boards. Singer/songwriter Nick Lowe has earned that designation in his 40 years in the trenches of the music business. The Englishman began as a teen idol in the 60s band Kippington Lodge, which evolved into pub rock pioneers Brinsley Schwarz, for whom he wrote his enduring anthem “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding.” Though not a punk rocker himself, the affable Lowe played a role in birthing the British punk movement through his production of the Damned, the Pretenders and, chiefly, Elvis Costello. In the late 70s he inaugurated a prolific solo career with his debut solo album Jesus of Cool and the British hit “(I Love the Sound of) Breaking Glass.” With cheeky roots/pop tunes like “I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock ‘n’ Roll),” “All Men Are Liars,” the American smash “Cruel to Be Kind,” “Heart” and “When I Write the Book” (the latter through Rockpile, his band partnership with Dave Edmunds), Lowe continued as a respected songsmith and performer through the 80s. more

Review: Austin City Limits with Manu Chao

Austin City Limits “Manu Chao”
Friday, Jan. 30, at 11 p.m.
Preview the show at austincitylimits.org

Though not a common name in households whose primary language is English, Manu Chao  is one of the world’s bestselling musicians in the vaguely-monikered “Latin alternative” movement. A truly multicultural artist, Chao’s work combines punk rock, salsa, reggae, ska, French chanson and Algerian raï, among other styles, and he’s as likely to sing in Portuguese, Arabic and Wolof as in Spanish, French or English (or some combination of the above). Born in Paris to parents of Basque and Galician origin, Chao grew up in a multilingual household often visited by artists, intellectuals and political activists. As a teen he was entranced by the 70s U.K. punk scene, particularly the Clash, and formed his first band in the mid-80s. With his brother and cousin, Chao moved on to the ambitious, wildly eclectic Mano Negra, with whom he signed to Virgin Records, toured Europe and the Americas, had a French hit single “Mala Vida,” and went top 5 in Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. After Mano Negra’s demise, Chao drifted around South America with his guitar and a 4-track recorder, researching and absorbing the roots music of his heritage. His solo career launched in 1998 with the award-winning album Clandestino, followed in 2001 by the European hit Próxima Estación: Esperanza. In 2006, Chao set about conquering America, with tours that culminated in well-received sets at the 2006 Lollapalooza and 2007 Coachella festivals. We’ve been chasing after him for a couple of years, and now, in alignment with the release of his latest album La Radiolina and his appearance at the 2008 Austin City Limits Music Festival, we’re pleased to finally showcase this unique artist live from Studio 6A.

– Michael Toland

About the Reviewer: Michael Toland is manager of national productions for KLRU and contributes music reviews to several online and print publications.

Review: Austin City Limits with Aimee Mann / Iron & Wine

Program: Austin City Limits
Date: Saturday, Nov. 15
Time: 7 p.m.
Also Airs: Wednesday, Nov. 19, at 10 p.m.; Friday, Nov. 21, at 11 p.m.
Preview the show: AustinCityLimits.org

It may not seem like it these days, but in the music business, perseverance pays off. Consider Aimee Mann. The Virginia-born, Berklee School of Music-trained musician had a hit in the 80s right out of the box with her band ‘til Tuesday’s debut single “Voices Carry,” but it’s her journey as a solo artist that’s ultimately gained the most attention. After 1993’s Whatever and 1995’s I’m With Stupid, her first two solo albums, attracted reams of critical acclaim but few sales, Mann left the major label system behind for good. Befriending film director Paul Thomas Anderson, she made significant contributions to his infamous movie Magnolia, including the Grammy- and Oscar-nominated “Save Me.” Mann then started her own label Superego Records, through which she’s released three studio albums, a Christmas record and a live CD/DVD set. She’s found more success than ever before and become a model for artists who want to do it themselves. With her colorfully-titled latest LP @#%&*! Smilers in hand, at long last Mann brings her intelligent, intricately arranged modern pop to the Austin City Limits stage. more