Frantic Clam – Anatomica EP

Rating: ★★★★ ·

This is the second EP from new Austin band Frantic Clam, and this one easily demonstrates that the horizon could be endless. Anatomica screams of a young band progressing, moving beyond their influences in order to discover their own sound.

Opening stomper “We Own the Night” still maintains the roots rock remedy of their first album, but the increased focus on the vocals show the band pushing beyond the boundaries they faced on their previous effort. But, they don’t just rest with their old styling, as they push forward into “Korean Beauty Queen.” Many will see a TV on the Radio vocal similarity, but there is more beneath the vocals. Slick guitars seem to cut through the song, creating space for the rest of the band to fill out the sound with various elements.

Then you encounter a song like “Indiana,” which goes in a completely different direction than the earlier tracks on the EP. It’s a mellow number that shows a band who knows when to hold back, bringing in the listener closer. The chorus gets a little muddy in the middle, but each verse really is able to stand on its own as a perfect piece of modern pop. The title track “Anatomica” is unlike any song on this short collection. It’s a bit like early Kings of Leon, emotionally, but it has it’s own attitude-an attitude altogether Frantic Clam. Throw in a sing-along element, and you have an inspiring song.

Lyrically, you can tell that the band has fallen upon hard times, which is unfortunate, as we wish that upon no one, but perhaps this has led to the focus of this new EP. One thing for sure, is that this band is set upon leaving themselves with varying directions to pursue. You can tell by listening to this effort, along with their last, that they are not eager to be pigeonholed, which is refreshing in and of itself. Congratulations to the band for another positive step forward.

Stop by the Beauty Bar this Wednesday, January 14th, to get your hands on this new EP. Not to mention a slew of other shows they have lined up for your listening pleasure.

The Donkeys @ The Mohawk – 1/13

This Tuesday evening California’s The Donkeys will make their way into Austin. Something about this band begs to be noticed, and perhaps it’s the sunshine of bands like Beulah that make this a show we should all attend as winter dances in and out of our lives. The show goes down at The Mohawk, on the inside stage no less. Our friends over at Transmission Entertainment tell us the show kicks off at 10 PM.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/08-nice-train.mp3]

Download: The Donkeys – Nice Train [MP3}

New Jeremy Jay Tune

If you didn’t catch our year end list, you might have missed out on how much we love Jeremy Jay. In our excitement, we almost overlooked the release of his new 12″ on K Records titled Love Everlasting, which will hit stores near you on January 20th. All this is in preparation for the release of his new album, Slow Dance, set to come your way in March. Check out this keyboard infused genius!

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/01-love-everlasting.mp3]

Download: Jeremy Jay-Love Everlasting [MP3]

Silent Land Time Machine – & Hope Still

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Occasionally you miss a release of a deserving band, and you spend your time thinking it over, wondering how it escaped you. Luckily, Silent Land Time Machine‘s & Hope Still is here to help you with your troubles. It’s not begging to be accepted by you, it simply carries on patiently, awaiting your listening experience.

Unlike most who create musical landscape music, the remarkable thing is that this project was created by one individual.  There is not a slew of musicians willing to provide input, this is simply a wonderful creation by an individual.  That being said, it also might be the one possible detractor, as occasionally the songs drag on a little bit, repeating patterns.

It’s hard to describe the exact sound of this record, as one would find it difficult to decipher every instrument being used and at which point.  Then throw in some vocal samples bubbling underneath the structure of various songs, and you would be hard pressed to label this band as anything.  One might be able to draw comparisons to M83‘s Before the Dawn Heals Us, but take that allusion, and leave it out in the woods to grow for several years.  That is as close as one can proximate a definition for this band.

Seeing as it dwells in the creation of a soundscape, here is what one might picture as they listen to the album: You jumped in your car, as the day was sunny and clear, intent upon escaping the city, if only for a few hours.  As you drive, the music kicks in, and your thoughts cease to remain relevant.  The music is carrying you along, through densely wooded hills, across grasslands blowing in the breeze.  Suddenly, the mood strikes you to pull over near a struggling stream.  You watch atop an ancient bridge as the water trickles into nothingness.  Seconds, minutes, hours all pass you by, but the only thing you feel, or hear, is the music on this album.  You’ve drifted away, but as the album ends, it’s time to return.

You see, there is something about this album that provides an overwhelming warmth emotionally.  It evokes something that very few albums are able to do, as it asks for nothing but your listening participation.  Through its peaks and into its valleys, if you follow closely, you will be rewarded ultimately, as nothing soothes like the gentle sounds from & Hope Still.

Don’t forget that Silent Land Time Machine will be playing at Emos on January 23rd.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/01-everything-goes-to-shit.mp3]

Download: Silent Land Time Machine – Everything Goes To Shit [MP3]

New Tunes from Will Sheff

We all love Will Scheff and his band Okkervil River, but Will recently released a split 7″ with Charles Bissell of The Wrens. Will covers The Wrens “Ex-Girl Collection” while Charles covers Okkervil’s “It Ends With a Fall.” The release is already out in stores, but if you want, you can head straight over to Jagjaguwar Records to purchase your very own copy. 

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/ex-girl-collection-the-wrens-cover.mp3]

 Download: Will Sheff – Ex-Girl Collection [MP3]

Built by Snow – Mega

Rating: ★★★½ ·

When it comes to the Austin music scene, it’s pretty difficult to break into the scene out of nowhere, as most bands that make it out have spent years winning over audiences in our town. Built by Snow is set to be one of those bands, as they release their album Mega on January 20th.

The first actual track, “Something in 3D” immediately catches any listeners ears, as their angular pop melodies infectiously invade your head. The backing vocals of “whoos” and “whaas” add the perfect compliment to the song’s structure. It’s a song reminiscent of early Rentals material.

Another solid track, “All the Weird Kids Know,” follows with a similar strength, as the band goes all the way back to traditional 80s pop sytlings as they create a number that most bands would kill to create on their own. This is one of those songs that everyone yearns to hear, and it’s sure to be a crowd pleaser as they seek to etch out their place in the local Austin market. Besides, who doesn’t love a well-done gang vocal?

They slow it down a little in the middle, allowing space and Nintendo-esque keyboard work to provide the skeletal workings of their gentler numbers. Sure, there are some gaps here that show a necessity for further song exploration, but even the base of a song like “A-Beta” shows a band that is willing to work on all aspects of their album, rather than just settling for the same patterns over and over.

In all actuality, the band has reference points left and right, though they never seem to rest solely on the forefathers of their sound. Hints of The Rentals dash in and out due to the keyboard work, but then they push you in another direction. “Invaders” recalls a less catastrophic version of Los Campesinos, as the band spins you around your room with fists in the air. Once again, they win you over with their willingness to keep it simple and clean, all the while keeping it as catchy as possible.

One of the best things for this band’s album has to revolve around the fact that they don’t misstep once. It’s possible that the infectious hooks might not be for everyone, but for those that adore this genre, they will be pleased to know that it’s solid through and through, which is a great accomplishment for any band, especially such a small fish in a large pond. At the end, we can all be thankful for a new band worthy of our time and adoration here in our home town.

Look for the band around town as they have sets this Thursday at Beauty Bar and their CD release party on January 24th at Club Deville.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/03-all-the-weird-kids-know.mp3]

Download: Built By Snow – All the Weird Kids Know [MP3]

Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavillion

Rating: ★★★★½

How does one truly classify a band like Animal Collective?  Let alone, how does one place a name on something that is easily unidentifiable?  You can’t, which has often led to praise for this band, as many love that which we don’t completely understand, yet sounds so beautiful.  Merriweather Post Pavillion is the first Animal Collective album that fully reaches beyond and into the masses.

From the get go, the band quickly falls into their typical IDM driven pop music. However, from the first entry on this album, there is a certain clarity to the vocals.  Animal Collective obviously has pushed beyond their own borders, grasping onto the vocal element with a clearer sense of purpose than before.  It’s a breath of fresh air, with a presence all it’s own.

This oddity in styling is reemphasized by the band choosing to also stay a little closer to the mainstream with the lyrical content.  Not only do the vocals sound better, but the lyrics aren’t coated in outsider allusions.  Oddly, this is the closest the band has come to writing meaningful lyrics that will translate to the laymen.  Don’t fret though, the band still primarily seems to use the vocal as an instrument in itself, as lyrics repeat time and time again.  This is where many people will find the Brian Wilson comparison obvious, though they’ve clearly expanded with spending time writing lyrics.

Many will claim that the album closer “Brothersport,” which caused loads of Internet controversy with its leak is the most accessible of the songs present here.  It would be hard to argue that all songs are not accessible this time round, but also consider “Summertime Clothes” as another popular ditty as the mini-chorus of “I want to walk around with you” dances along.

While this may be the first complete album the band has put out, there are always going to be detractors to an album by this group.  Occasionally, the band repeats itself too often, making the listener lose focus in the progression of the song.  It goes on a bit long, and many will get detached as they listen.  In all likelihood this album will be best on vinyl, listened to one side at a time. This is fortunate for all us fans because the band releases the vinyl version on January 6th, while Domino Records will release the CD version on January 20th.

As usual, the band has the knack to suspend listeners in a pop-induced trance, as rhythms steadily pound in your ears, accompanied by the vocal as an instrument.  It’s difficult to predict how some will react, but most can admit that there are many beautiful moments created by clever crafts of Animal Collective.

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