New Music from Dirty Gold

It seems like everyone is working on giving us their best summer jams at this time, as those hot months are hiding just around the corner.  Dirty Gold is no different, using a bit of island percussion and a hazyily warm vocal to kick off the release of their new EP, Roar, which will be coming out next week on Autumn Tone Records.  Just imagine yourself taking a seat on your beach chair, even if its in the backyard, and settling down for a sunset, or sunrise as the song suggests, with a cold beverage in your hand.  You’ll definitely be listening to this track for the next few months. And while you’re at it, go grab another free track from the band HERE.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Dirty_Gold_-_California_Sunrise.mp3]

Download: Dirty Gold – California Sunrise [MP3]

ATH Interviews: Papercuts

ATH: You’re four albums into your career, which is a great deal further than a lot of bands get to go nowadays.  Is there a special formula that keeps you motivated for writing, or are you luck insofar as you’re the predominant musician/writer?

Jason: Well I just try to make the focus on enjoying the process of writing and recording albums, so my level of motivation and enjoyment stays in my own control. If I focused on the ups and downs of my “career” or what I thought of the business side of things, it would probably be a bit harder to stay productive. I just try to focus on the process and enjoy it, if it stopped being fun I’d probably stop, even if the material aspect was tempting… Also I’ve never made hype friendly music, maybe that’s enabled me to keep rolling without feeling like my time has come and passed…

ATH: Listening to your catalogue, one of my favorite things has to be your voice, aside from the overall awesomeness of course. It seems have this sort of raspy/whispery (is that a word) resonation (I mean this in a good way) to it? When you first began recording yourself at home, was this just the general nature of your voice, or were you modeling the tones after anyone in particular? Any effects used on it in the studio?

Jason: Thanks, I don’t really attempt to make it do much except sound as good as I possibly can with the voice I have and the material i come up with. I, like most people, dislike the sound of my own voice, so I just like to use reverb or echo to make it transform into something else a little. That way I can try to hear it as something other than my own voice, like another instrument.

ATH: You record a great number of LPs for other bands. Does the recording process differ greatly when your working with other people’s work as opposed to your own? If so, how?

Jason: Well I certainly am in totally different roles in the two situations, especially for this new record. When recording other bands I tend to try and be a positive figure in the room, someone looking after the band to try and facilitate a good atmosphere and interesting sounds, but with an ear to technical details. Getting Thom Monahan to co produce enabled me to become more of a performer than ever before, focusing on playing instruments, singing, writing and arranging, etc… I loved being able to walk away from being a technical person for my own record, and try to look at the big picture…

ATH: Similar question here, sort of….it’s odd, but despite how much I’ve listened to your records, I don’t know a whole lot about you as a person, other than your recording/songwirting prowess. Tell us…what are some things we don’t know about you: Favorite meal, first musical memory, thing you can’t leave at home when you head out on tour?

Jason: Favorite meal, well this may look like pandering but I had an amazing hamburger when I was at sxsw, it was a diner near waterloo records, I forget the name of the place. Oh my god, we are going back when we’re in austin again. My first musical memory is the Beatles, I became obsessed really early with “Revolution”, the loud one… I can’t leave home without my ipod now (thanks Dana!), I need to hear the Vashti Buynan rarities record every few days, it puts me in a peaceful place…

ATH: I’ll gladly admit that I’ve listened to your records year round, but they seem to have this odd seasonal quality to me that makes them perfect for either winter weather, or those cool autumn nights before the winter has completely taken over (which it never does in Austin). With this in mind, do you ever think about such a thing as seasonal listening when you’re writing a new record? Or are there any other odd things you reflect upon, such as where the song is best listened to, i.e. a small venue, bedroom headphones, etc.?

Jason: I listen to my demos when I go for long walks in my hilly San Francisco neighborhood. I usually decide if a song is good or not listening to headphones walking around so I guess that’s probably what I think of when I think of people listening to the record. I love spring and summer the most and think of it as that kind of record, though maybe other people think of it as a darker thing than I do, which is totally fine!

ATH: Obviously, you should be proud of your work, and especially with the Fading Parade being so recent, this might be sort of a ridiculous question, but, is there one particular record of the four major Papercuts albums that your more proud of than any other, if perhaps you were going through a difficult time, or one where you can acknowledge you made huge leaps and bounds as a songwriter?

Jason: Well I feel most happy with fading Parade, probably because I was in a really good place writing it, and recording it I had the help of Thom as well as Frankie Koeller and Graham Hill, who played on the record and helped me arrange some things.  The album You Can Have What You Want was written at a very sad and dark time in my life so in one way I’m glad I had the record to help me work some heavy things out, in another way it’s hard for me to think about what a bad time it was when I wrote it. So I think about records in terms of how things were at the time more than a rating system, you know?

ATH: Having toured a fair amount myself, is there any one thing you dread about being on the road with your band? Personally, those long stretches from say Arizona to Texas always sucked the life out of me. What do you guys do in the van to entertain one another?

Jason: Being the leader of a band, I dread those bummer drives and uninspiring shows and gross back stages mainly because I dread the others in the band being depressed on the road. I feel too responsible for everyone having a good time, which is impossible to do all the time when you are on tour for a month…. I have ups and downs myself too, sometimes I wonder if I can face people on stage and pretend I like myself, but somehow once we are actually playing, I usually remember why I’m there in the first place and enjoy it….

ATH: Seeing as its difficult to really carve out a niche for one’s self nowadays with the massive quantity of bands on the Internet, is there any alternative life that you could see yourself living should this ever prove to be insufficient, for whatever reason?

Jason: I really can’t imagine doing anything else and being slightly happy, it’s the thing I love doing so I work pretty hard to keep being able to do it! If I couldn’t make records I’d probably become a beach bum, move to san diego and play guitar on the pier through a pignose amp pinned to my fanny pack while on roller skates….

Photo credit goes to Robert Loerzel @ Under Ground Bee.

New Song from James Irwin

I’m not going to act all tough here and pretend like a soaring voice with really gentle accompaniment doesn’t get me every single time.  When I heard this new James Irwin track, formerly of My People Sleeping out of Montreal, I got really excited, sort of like the first time I heard the latest from F. Dangerfield. This song comes from Irwin’s new record, titled Blue Dust, which should be out this June, so get yourself ready. Personally, this is just the kind of track I like to hear mid-week, carrying me past all the nonsense that pops up during the week, hitting me with good golden pop.  Then again, that’s just one man’s opinion, so you give it a try.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/JamesIrwin-BlueDust.mp3]

Download: James Irwin – Blue Dust [MP3]

New Music from Teen Girl Scientist Monthly

My girl Christen got me hooked on this great band Teen Girl Scientist Monthly from New York today.  First I got hooked on the track “Can’t Sleep,” from their recently self-released Pioneer Ghost EP, but now I’m just playing “Safari” over and over again.  Just imagine a less-spastic Los Campesinos with a bit more female vocals and you’ll definitely get the picture.  Oh, and a “whoh-oh-oh” chorus never hurts an old pop-punk kid.  Listening here, it’s young and vibrant, and there’s nothing wrong with that as we get ready for the Spring weather.  Go head over to the band’s Bandcamp page, and grab the EP for yourself; you’ll be glad you did!

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/TeenGirlScientistMonthly_Safari.mp3]

Download: Teen Girl Scientist Monthly – Safari [MP3]

New Track from Bare Wires

Just a few weeks back we got to witness the powerful pop of Bare Wires, and they just barely missed out on making our Top Ten Artists of the event.  I can remember listening to their newest single, kicking out below, and thinking what a gem of a song it was.  I imagined myself in some dirty old club shouting the chorus along with the band, amped up by their performance and those gritty guitar chords.  Well, if hearing it live wasn’t enough, the recorded version is precisely what I remembered, making me fall head over heels into a pile of Lone Star tallboys, waiting for this group to come back to town. You can do yourself a favor and grab the band’s Ready To Go single, featuring the lead track we’ve got for you today.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Bare_Wires_-_Ready_To_Go.mp3]

Download: Bare Wires – Ready to Go [MP3]

King Creosote & Jon Hopkins – Diamond Mine

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Earlier this year King Creosote returned with the absolutely amazing Thrawn, an album that will undoubtedly be spinning for quite some time in houses across the globe.  But, in what could be his most prolific year, King aka Kenny Anderson has teamed up with ambient producer Jon Hopkins to reform/rehash some old tunes that have been laying around the house. Together they completed Diamond Mine for Domino Records, and if anything, it just makes the return of King Creosote that more powerful, as we won’t find too many people writing such incredibly emotional songs.

The first real track on Diamond Mine is titled “John Taylor’s Month Away,” and from the minute you play it, you can tell Hopkins has aided here, as gulls echo in the far-off distance, prior to the entrance of a steady strum from Anderson, along with his magical vocals.  One could try and continuously analyze the lyrics, but there’s an emotional tug that overcomes all the meaning one can try to extract. But, it’s not nearly as touching as “Bats in the Attic.” While King Creosote definitely has the ability to win you over on his own, just light touches such as the static in the background of the piano really forces you to acknowledge Kenny’s vocal quality, which is soon matched by a female counterpart.  You’ll find a softness to the presentation that surely will fit your playlist during those emotionally trying times, or perhaps just a winter mixtape that needs a bit of grace.

One of the things to appreciate about the King Creosote & Jon Hopkins collaboration is that it seems to have allowed Mr. Anderson a bit of time to wander about, such as in the folk-ish track “Running on Fumes.”  While the musical accompaniment is understated, there’s a fragility to Anderson here that seems so sincere that it the lyrics wrap around you, drawing you into the wilderness of the song itself.  Somehow you’ll drift off, just as the song crackles a wee bit; moments such as these don’t exist too often nowadays. Juxtaposed with the quieter element is the more electronic-laden “Bubble.”  It may not be the strongest track here, production wise, but at this point, you’ll pretty much do anything to listen to the vocals over and over again, haunting you until the end of your days.

Closing out Diamond Mine are two of the record’s shorter numbers, but they seem to fulfill the promise of the more developed songs that have been completed throughout.  If you’ve made it this far, as you clearly should have, you’ll likely find yourself caught up in the gracefulness of everything King Creosote seems to touch. Compile that with the studied touch of Jon Hopkins, and you have yet another startling release from a man who can’t seem to stop winning over every single listener he encounters. Let’s just hope the string of excellent releases, such as this one, keep coming down the pipeline for some time to come. Otherwise the world will probably seem a whole lot less beautiful and serene.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/03-Bats-In-The-Attic.mp3]

Download: King Creosote & Jon Hopkins – Bats In The Attic [MP3]

Diamond Mine is out now via Domino Records.

New Music from Something Fierce

It’s odd, but Houston is the oft-overlooked town in Texas, in regards to music, but over the last few years, the local scene has been putting out some great tunes.  One of the one’s I’ve recently been turned onto is Something Fierce.  They’re a bit of punk rock, a bit of pop rock, and switching of male/female vocals.  It makes for a really solid blend of sugary-punk, but not the kind you’d find in Hot Topic, the classier kind.  The band is set to release their album Don’t Be So Cruel in April via Dirtnap Records, which has already released some great albums by The Mind Spiders and High Tension Wires this year.  Also, check in on the band, as they’ll be heading out on tour this summer.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/12-Empty-Screens.mp3]

Download: Something Fierce – Empty Screens [MP3]

Show Preview: Papercuts @ Emos (4/5)

Date Tuesday, April 5th
Location Emos
Doors 900p
Tickets $10 @ the Door

If you’ve been following our site, or just the Internet in general, the odds are you’re well aware of Jason Quever and Papercuts.  His control over melodies, as well as his lush arrangements in the studio, have made me a huge fan of everything he does.  He’ll be in town at Emos on Tuesday, supporting the recent release of Fading Parade, and it’s a magnificent album, as you can read HERE. Jason’s a busy fellow, so he doesn’t tour too often, which makes this a must see show, aside from the fact it’s going to be ridiculous anyways.  Also, you can catch another up-and-comer, Banjo or Freakout, who’s been making waves over the last year or so.  Sounds like a pretty decent way to kick off this most excellent April music line-up in Austin.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/01-Do-You-Really-Wanna-Know.mp3]

Download: Papercuts – Do You Really Wanna Know [MP3]


New Song from Savoir Adore

What? You don’t have enough pop goodness in your every day listening habits?  Well, we’ve got the band for you, and a wonderful new track to boot.  Savoir Adore are one of New York’s brightest new stars, blending all sorts of elements into a whirlwind of pop. It’s the kind of thing that starts you off with a bit of a head nod, then a toe tap, and suddenly your swept away in the magic.  This seems like the perfect way to start off our week, so we hope you enjoy this promising new act as much as we do.  And, if you go to their site, you can grab another wonderful track, “Loveliest Creature” for free, so do yourself a favor by visiting them right now.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/savoiradore_sparrow.mp3]

Download: Savoir Adore – Sparrow [MP3]

Bill Callahan – Apocalypse

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Listening to a record from Bill Callahan can often be a daunting affair for all, as his songwriting is superb, but often overshadowed in his work by his abilities as a wordsmith.  Once you indulge in Apocalypse, it’s definitely going to be difficult to find your way out, which is precisely what makes this one of Bill’s strongest releases to date.

Kicking off the album is “Drover” and the lyric “the real people went away/I’ll find a better way someday.”  If you’re looking to unravel Bill’s meaning, especially in regards to the themes within, you’ll probably begin to think Callahan is trying to reclaim America for himself, for his types.  It’s such a beautiful idea, expressing hope amidst a country that’s possibly in decline.  Toss this in with the strumming of the guitar, the occasional string flourishes and light percussion, and surely you will recognize what a strong track this is.

“America!” doesn’t stray too far from this theme, though the discussion seems to reflect upon the great exports of our world from a man missing his homeland, though when referencing someone like David Letterman, it’s difficult to see how seriously we should take the lyrics.  The song itself uses sort of a carnivalesque stomp and some cascading guitar solos to move everything along, all the way to cacophonous end.  It’s odd, as it leads right into the softer “Universal Applicant,” a track that utilizes a hint of flute beneath a shaker of sorts, yet this isn’t the entire story of the track.  A light-hearted guitar chord takes over a few minutes in, with some extremely minimal drumming, providing the track with a bit of an emotional boost, while Callahan sort of walks his lyrics through the rest of the number.

After so many spins, it’s hard not to fall in the love with the latter-half of this album, one of the strongest statements of Bill’s career, in one man’s mind.  “Riding for the Feeling” sort of hovers over the guitar work, clinging to gentle stringing and some careful arrangements that bring the story of Bill’s world in the Apocalypse to life.  It’s pointless to influence you with thoughts on emotional meaning, as each listener will surely bring their own interpretation to the table, but regardless, you’ll want to play this song again and again. Then skip ahead to “One Fine Morning,” nearly 9 minutes of Bill Callahan writing at his best.  Heading out on his journey, Bill seems to be looking over the landscape of America just as much as he’s looking back over his life.  Amidst the quiet dance of guitar strumming and piano, he seems to realize that he, like us all, has to confront “the hardest part,” hoping that when it all comes to an end, there will be a little sun left on the horizon.  It wraps up a wonderful album, by wrapping up a wonderful track.

“One Fine Morning” serves as the final statement here on Apocalypse, and while the record might slowly fade into the background, you’ll reach over and immediately play it all over again.  Slower pacing seems to suit Bill Callahan, his voice especially, allowing him to give us an honest account of his thoughts in a way only he can pull off.  Nothing more needs to be said; it’s just an endearing listen from start to finish.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Bill-Callahan-Babys-Breath.mp3]

Download: Bill Callahan – Baby’s Breath [MP3]

Apocalypse is out on Drag City on 4/5.

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