FT5: Trios

I’ve always been impressed by musical groups who encompass only three artists and continue to rock as hard as the next. It blows me away that a three-piece can create such a forceful sound that some bands can’t find within five or six members. I know this list doesn’t do justice recognizing some of the greatest trios of all time; however, these are five of my favorite.

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FT5: Songs That Make You Dance

0205top5coverIt’s Friday night. Whether or not you are the host of a party, en route to a social gathering, or made sure to pack a few extra bucks to load up the bar jukebox; you have a few songs in mind that are gonna be played. Everyone has their own fist pumping, head rocking, “make up your own dance moves” go-to tracks that you know everyone will dance to without shame. The following are a few songs that will make you dance your pants off, with or without liquid courage. Follow the jump for the full list (in no particular order).
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1/29 Girls @ The Parish

girlsshow_bannerGirls brought the stoned out and sunny, but never too sunny, sounds of their debut Album to life at the Parish last Friday.  With support by The Smith Westerns and Magic Kids it was a night of bright shards of pop bouncing off the Parish’s newly re-decorated walls.  A great night for a reverb drenched acid trip lead by the eccentric weirdness of Christopher Owens and his mighty side kick Chet White.   Follow the jump.

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FTC: Hellbender

hellbenderHellbender, for this writer, has always been more connected to personal memories than the love of the actual music.  Listening to the band I am reminded of inside jokes, handmade t-shirts, missed opportunities.  Even now, sitting at my desk listening to Hellbender, I am transported back to community college (Jealous?), skipping class, watching friends smoke, and thinking about my new girlfriend (now my wife of seven years!). Of the bands three albums and numerous EPs I only really love one release, 1997’s Con Limon.

On Con Limon you can see the three members of Hellbender already pulling away towards their personal tastes: bassist Al Burian would later co-found Milemarker and Challenger/Auxes as well as continue publishing his long running zine Burn Collector; drummer Harrison Hayes would join jangly rockers Les Savy Fav, and guitarist Wells Tower would practically leave music all together and focus on writing. But the songs on Con Limon use each of the members separate personalities and playing styles to produce a fun and at times heart-wrenching punk record. I highly recommend checking it out, if you can find it.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/01-fake-i.d..mp3]

Download: Hellbender – Fake I.D. [MP3]

ATH Intervews: J. Tillman

jtillman_interviewWe had the incredible opportunity this week to speak with solo songwriter J. Tillman about his musical endeavors.  Mr. Tillman talks about his new solo record Year in the Kingdom and his work with indie powerhouse Fleet Foxes.  This interview should serve as a nice preview to the J. Tillman show coming up on Friday at Mohawk.  Follow the jump for full interview.

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FT5: 2009 FFF Fest Highlights (From the Future!)

1106top5coverWe all have friends on Twitter, right? Sure you do! Well, one of my Twitter friends, Burton Parker (@welvis), on occasion, tweets from the future. Most of the time it’s fairly asinine, but there are some genuine moments of hilarity. So for this week’s Friday Top Five I decided to jock Burton’s style and recall some of my favorite moments from 2009’s Fun Fun Fun Fest…from the future!
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Fun Fest Interviews: The Jesus Lizard

FFFFest2009_jesuslizardWhen one gets the opportunity to speak to a legendary band such as The Jesus Lizard, one most make the most of that opportunity with some quality questions.  Oh and questions about Halloween costumes… Such was the task assigned to us when we had the chance to send 5 questions to veteran bass player and founding The Jesus Lizard member David Sims.  I think you’ll find that David still likes to keep things pretty old school.  Follow the jump for full interview.

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Atlas Sound – Logos

walkabout-coverRating: ★★☆☆☆

I must preface this review by stating that I have never been a fan of the work of Bradford Cox.  I realize that this is heresy in today’s indie scene, but I really just have a difficult time giving a shit when there is so much more quality music to which to listen.  Now I’m not saying the man isn’t talented, he is.  His work with Deerhunter is listenable, but I feel like I have heard it all before, and better. I have listened to Deerhunter’s entire catalog and all I am left thinking “Man, this would be great, if My Bloody Valentine had never existed.” Then I go and listen to My Bloody Valentine instead.

So with the release of Bradford Cox’s solo project, Atlas Sound, new album, Logos (Kranky), I approached it with trepidation. Surely the My Bloody Valentine influences would be stripped from the sound and I would finally be able to see what Bradford Cox could really bring to the table creatively.  Plus there were numerous high profile guest appearances, most notably Lætitia Sadier of Stereolab and Noah Lennox of Animal Collective, which warranted, at least, a cursory listen.

You know what? On the first listen of Logos, with the lack of My Bloody Valentine influences, it tricked me into actually liking this record.  I wanted to listen to again. It was light and airy. There was room to move around in it rather than the oppressive wall of sound that is a Deerhunter album. 

But on subsequent listens this album felt familiar for all the wrong reasons.  I know that artists rely on their influences. It’s what makes them who they are.  But there is a huge difference between being influenced by an artist and mimicking.  Bradford Cox continues to come off as an imitator, a highly talented one, but an imitator, nonetheless. While what he is releasing is good, it feels like he has yet to find a voice of his own. 

The majority of Logos sounds exactly like Joan of Arc b-sides and not awesome How Memory Works b-sides, but shitty Live in Chicago, 1999 b-sides.  When joined with Lennox (Walkabout) or Sadier (Quick Canal), we have the highest points of the album, but ultimately the songs sound like the sum of their guest musician’s full time bands.

I hope Bradford Cox finds an original voice soon, because people will soon tire of a band that continually pull too liberally from way more interesting sources.

Atlas Sound will be playing at Fun Fun Fun Fest on the Orange Stage this Sunday at 3:00 p.m.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/Walkabout-w_-Noah-Lennox.mp3]

Download: Atlas Sound – Walkabout (w/ Noah Lennox) [MP3]

Do Make Say Think – Other Truths

Do Make Say Think - Other TruthsRating: ★★½☆☆

I’ve always had rule with the music to which I have chosen to listen.  This rule can be encapsulated into a single word: variety.  Having limited space on an mp3 player makes for a stringent selective process.  You can’t have too much metal, indie rock, hardcore, country, or hip hop for fear of over saturation of that particular genre.

This rule applies even more strictly for “epic” (mostly) instrumental post rock.  The bands in this genre (Godspeed You Black Emperor!, A Silver Mount Zion, Explosions in the Sky, etc.) ask a lot of their listeners.  When your compositions range from 10-20 minutes you are begging for patience, since the songs pay off is often buried somewhere in the middle or the end. Frankly, too much off these type of bands can kill the shuffle function of an iPod, so I usually keep only about two or three of these bands in a rotation.

Since the release of 2000’s Goodbye Enemy Airship the Landlord is Dead, Toronto’s Do Make Say Think, have struggled to fit into this rotation (I know they have been eager to make it!).  Every album DMST put out is a solid release. They are great albums to put on and get creative, but aside from a few really strong tracks, they tend to be ultimately forgettable. That is until 2007’s You, You’re a History in Rust and it’s accompanying 2008 EP, The Whole Story of Glory.  These two releases stood leaps and bounds above DMST’s  previous ventures. They felt like whole releases rather than a couple of bright spots held together by solid, but meandering, interludes. The high bar set by You… and …Glory had me tremendously excited for what would come next from Do Make Say Think.

The four tracks, clocking in 43 minutes, of Other Truths (Constellation) brings me both excitement and trepidation. The first time I put the album on and listened to the album opener “Do”, I thought that this album would definitely make my year end best of list.  “Do” is probably on of the best songs this band (or any band, for that matter) has released in their long career. It is propulsive, carrying along the staccato guitar riffs and fuzzed out bass to epic heights (Seriously, this song is [EXPLETIVE DELETED] unbelievable!). Unfortuneatly, like with most of Do Make Say Think’s albums, Other Truth’s peters out into the comfortable territory of jazzy noodling and repetitive phrases that lead us nowhere.

It’s a shame that bands in this genre become so comfortable with just being background music. It is possible to provide atmosphere without being tremendously boring and predictable.

FFFFest Spotlight: Coalesce

coalesceAll right people, with only two weeks left until Fun Fun Fun Fest, we here at Austin Town Hall are feverishly finalizing our concert schedules.  Running down the line up of the four stages I see many bands that get me truly excited. Gorilla Biscuits! The Jesus Lizard! Danzig!(?) But if I had to choose one band that gives me reason to subject myself to two days of loud music and sleepless nights I would have to choose Kansas City’s own Coalesce.

Coalesce has released some of the most innovative records that hardcore has seen. From the blistering speed and ferocity of their debut, Give Them Rope (1997) to the groove-laden, but no less heavy, Functioning on Impatience (1998) and 0:12 Revolution in Just Listening (1999), Coalesce have firmly planted themselves as stalwarts of the hardcore scene.  After a lengthy hiatus, Coalesce has returned this year with OX, their first full length in ten years, as well as their most accomplished records to date. OX mixes the band’s intensity with their new found appreciation of the music of America.

I haven’t even touched on the band’s intense stage presence.  I have driven thirteen hours on two separate occasions to witness the spectacle that is Coalesce live.  You would be hard-pressed to witness a more energetic live band than Coalesce, so do yourself a favor and head over to the Black Stage on Sunday, November 8th at 4:50 p.m. and prepare yourself to see four guys giving their all for something that they love.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/03_Wild_Ox_Moan.mp3]

Download: Coalesce – Wild Ox Moan [MP3]

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