Tilly and the Wall – O

Rating: ★★★★ ·

I’ll be honest, on the last release from Tilly and the Wall, I was a little underwhelmed.  Sure, they stepped out of their box for a second to confront the masses, but overall, it just didn’t have the intimate appeal of their debut record.  Now, the opening track, “Tall Tall Grass,” instantly returned me to the days of glory for this band.  Acoustic guitars with an irresistible female vocal.

All of a sudden, “Pot Kettle Black,” just knocks you out of your chair.  It’s a straight rock song, well, as much as a band with tap dancers can rock.  The song appears to be a warning against an unnamed enemy.  Still, this has a certain cleverness to it that makes it enjoyable.

Right after that they whisk me right back into those rhythmic tap-dancing songs.  Clearly, this band is at its best when they stick to their guns.  And this new batch of tunes has a hint of maturity to it, without trying to go too far away from the band’s roots. They continue in this traditional vein for a few more minutes, still mixing it up enough to make this album interesting.

“Chandelier Lake” is one of those songs where they walk that line of trying to push themselves too far.  It’s got a fuzzy guitar swirling around the song, with some decent piano work added to it.  Still, its the kind of song I just don’t really expect from them; actually, I’ll give them credit for that–just not sold yet.

Then they follow that up with what is their closest effort to a dance song with “Dust Me Off.”  The tap dancing gets a bit tedious here, and I almost wish I could trade them in for some synthesized drum beats, or even real ones.  I like it-this is what they do well on this album–they pick up where they left off, and go forward.

The end of the album goes a little too far off for me, until the second to last track, “Blood Flower.”  The vocals here are really being pushed here, which gives it a different feel–once again going further with what I once thought was a really minimal sound.

Another cool tip is that each album comes with special artwork designed by local artists in their town.

Check out the band this Thursday, 7-17, at Emos.  You can pick up your tap shoes and head out to the show; just don’t forget your tickets.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/pot_kettle_black.mp3]

Download: pot_kettle_black.mp3

Brothers and Sisters @ Waterloo 7/16

Tomorrow afternoon at Waterloo Records we are fortunate to welcome local folk favorites, Brothers and Sisters, to the stage.  Of course, it’s free! They just had a CD release party for their newest album, The Fortunately LP, and odds are that you might be able to get your hands on it prior to the actual release date of August 19th; if not, then at least you can get your hands on one of those free beers that always comes with a Waterloo Instore performance. So stop by and support local business and local music.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/brothers-and-sisters-one-night.mp3]

Download: Brothers and Sisters – One Night [MP3]

Pelle Carlberg – 1983

Apparently Sweden is trying to corner the market on pure pop music.  Pelle Carlsberg is no different; he comes off more Belle and Sebastian than Jens Lekman, although neither seem to be in his vein, with the latter comparison coming from his lyrics.  His debut album comes out August 27th on Labrador Records.  Just enjoy the breezy pop this afternoon, as it might cool you off just a bit! Well, probably not, but its a good tune. 

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/1983.mp3]

Download: Pelle Carlberg – 1983 [MP3]

Lucero, Sleepercar @ Emos 7/16

For those of you who grew up in Texas, or those of you who just like good rock music, you should know the lead singer of Sleepercar; it’s Jim Ward, formerly of At the Drive-In and Sparta.  He’s been a staple in the Texas rock scene for many years, and while his new band is a little more mellow than those previous efforts, it’s still worth seeing.  On top of that, you can see the countryfied post-punk of Lucero.  That sounds like a great bill. 

You can still buy tickets from ticketweb, and here is a Sleepercar song to boot!

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/wasting_my_time.mp3]

Download: wasting_my_time

Sebastien Grainger Lets Loose Digital EP

Sebastien Granger is best known for his work as drummer/singer for Death From Above 1979, but he’s recently emerged with a solo career that is sure to be just as solid. You can go and pick up the American Names EP here or you can just sample a bit of the sweet tunes from us.  

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/mapoftheworld.mp3]

Download: Sebastien Grainger – Map of the World [MP3]

For more information on Sebastien Grainger click this spot.

Reviewin’ Old Tunes

Well, it’s a bit slow around the music business during these sweltering summer days. So, with little to review, I’ve opted to disclose some of my old favorites.  The first up is The Glands self tilted album from 2000. Hopefully, we will have these reviews popping in and out during the next few weeks as new releases are scattered and scarce. 

The Glands – The Glands

Rating: ★★★★★

The Glands released this album in 2000.  I came across it a little after that via good taste.  This has been an album that consistently comes into my playlist year after year after year.  For me, it’s the perfect album, and one I will listen to for years.

When the alarm bell rings in “Livin Was Easy” you know that you’re in for an awakening.  Here we come across the dirty driving guitar work made famous by Built to Spill on Nothing Wrong with Love. Singing about a time when things were easier, Russ Shapiro wins you over on the opening track.

Then comes “Swim.”  It’s full of a trouncing piano beat that keeps the pace for the entire song.  There’s no choice other than to bob your head with this track.  I often use this on mix tapes for friends, and I’ve never heard a complaint.

Suddenly, the pace is flipped up.  The band offers a slow burner here in “Mayflower,” which resembles a lot of present day dream pop.  The guitar shoots off into the background of the song, as Shapiro slowly soothes you with his voice. Special.

“Lovetown” is up next.  It sounds an awful lot like Dear Catastrophe Waitress-era Belle and Sebastian.  The difference is that The Glands were here first.  Lyrics are kind of sparse here, but the song drives on through, pushing you with the fuzziest of bass lines.

Afterwards, you get the rushing pace of “Straight Down,” which is just a solid rock track.  Everything about this song epitomizes what indie pop was all about in the early days, before it got too bogged down with seven member collectives and such.

If you like a little alt-country in your ears, then you can grab hold of “Fortress.”  The vocals match every inch of this song–almost as if Shapiro is walking you slowly escorting you through his words.  He brings it down just a bit, then blasts straight into “Work It Out.”  Everything about this song sounds extremely modern, yet it precedes its own sound.

“Ground” is a song that brings us back to a lot of the dreaminess in pop music.  You could leave out the lyrics and still find yourself traveling through this song with ease.  I guess a popular way to label this song is to throw out that word ambient. There you go, I did it.

I love “Favorite American.”  It’s an acoustic number accompanied by some interesting reverb on the vocals, which give it that dark bubbling effect that Black Rebel Motorcycle Club seem to have perfected.  It’s got a political undertone, but it’s one that would only become relevant a few years following the release of the album, so decipher the code.

In the closing three minutes, “Breathe Out” kind of lets me out.  It’s not a bad song by any means, it just doesn’t hold up to the rest of the album.  There is some light synthesizer that awkwardly keeps track of time, while the vocals just sort of float in midair.

Fans of Grandaddy, Modest Mouse, Built to Spill, Flaming Lips, Wilco and The Wrens will all find themselves loving this album.  You can even say that a lot of those bands followed in the steps of The Glands, but their short-lived career makes it hard to assess their lasting effects.

I know it’s hard to take the words of another man on buying something that you’ve never heard of in your life, or perhaps you have, but take my word here.  Go to iTunes and buy this.  You will thank me for it later on, or I hope you do.

New Glasvegas Tunes

I’ve been following this band recently, and now that they have a release date for their album (September 9th in the UK) I thought I would throw it out for a listen.  I expect some really solid tunes from this album, and I can’t wait until it gets here.  Just another reason why September is shaping up to be a good month, musically. 

Here’s the track, Geraldine, for your ears. 

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/glasvegas-geraldine.mp3]

Download: Glasvegas – Geraldine [MP3]

The Dutchess and the Duke – She’s the Dutchess, He’s the Duke

Rating: ★★★★½

Before giving in to a dear friend’s suggestion, I hadn’t heard much about The Dutchess and the Duke.  Sometimes a lack of knowledge is precisely what you need to come across a brand new album with open arms, awaiting the approach of greatness.  Thanks Corey.

Here is some background information, though limited.  The band hails from Seattle, although they resemble very little of that signature sound.  Currently, they are touring our nation in support of Fleet Foxes.  Apparently, they’ve been friends for a long time.  That’s about all I’ve come across.

The opening “Reservoir Park” immediately brings to mind the Rolling Stones, which isn’t a bad place to start off an album.  The chorus, with dual harmonies, is absolutely perfect.  I believe that this song is going to be in my Top 5 Singles of the year.  I’ve placed it their already.

After opening appropriately, they switch it up–they go off sounding more like a product of Nashville or Louisville, filled with American traditional country pop goodness. The interplay between Jesse Lortz and Kimberly Morrison on the following songs is precisely what makes this so special. I feel like it’s everything that She and Him were built up to be, but here it’s much more real–much more authentic.

“Strangers” has them returning to that Stones flavor.  It’s everything you want in a song, with both singers harmonizing the whole way through the song.  There isn’t a bad thing to say here.  And they follow that up with “Back to Me,” a song about trying to recapture that great love of your life.  Sure, its cliche, but the earnestness wins you over.

And all of a sudden, they bust out the ghost, well soul really, of Bob Dylan.  “Mary” is the perfect song at this moment because it switches the sound, though not too much.  The band maintains their personality here, keeping the album interesting.  This band has an arsenal of classic musicians to reference, but never once does it feel as if they faked it.

The album closes with “Armageddon Song,” which, for me, is the exact ending I wanted to this album.  It’s an acoustic affair full of harmonies and whistling–its the song where they seem as if they’ve completely shed their influences, just to let you in closer to themselves.

Despite wearing their heroes on their sleeves, The Dutchess and the Duke have created a wonderful debut album; this is one that is sure to hold up as one of your favorites for a long time to come.  Don’t take my word on it; please please please listen.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/01-reservoir-park.mp3]

Download: reservoir_park.mp3

Ratatat – LP3

Rating: ★★★★ ·

What does one actually have to say about instrumental music that can garner any attention? How on Earth do you come across a Ratatat record and give it any justice without completely losing the point of the album? I’m not sure how to do this, so I am going to take a different approach.

Shiller: The curtain is pulled back immediately, revealing a lonely woman in a chair. A light appears just above her heart, and it pulsates with the rhythm. Her eyes blink candidly, occasionally shooting towards the window at the back of the stage as lightning strikes. Towards the end of the scene, rain falls hard against the window; her heart beats on.

Falcon Jab: This is a Lance Armstrong commercial. He is pedaling slowly uphill, fighting the winds in his face. Down he cruises through the town, racing past buildings on all sides. Stopping, he takes in a few short breaths, then continues on his journey.

Mi Viejo: While in Mexico for summer vacation a few years back, I sat outside a local bar at the outskirts of Saltillo. Empty, I opted to sip slowly on my Negro Modelo. Suddenly, two dancing sirens entered the bar, bright flowing dresses circling their ankles as they pulsated to a silent rhythm. Mesmerized, my beer grew warm. I opened my eyes and they were gone.

Mirando: This is the sequel to Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Tired of the l label of classically trained aliens, only able to play symphonic harmonies, the aliens step it up. Instead of their traditional beeps, they opt to add some guitar; all riffs taken from their latest version of Guitar Hero.

Flynn: This is what it feels like to be on mushrooms in the middle of nowhere, as your college roommate plays guitar by the firelight. He thinks he is the next Bob Marley.

Bird Priest: I’ve never been able to beat the game of Zelda. I bought Nintendo Power Magazine because it had all the maps to get through the game in the quickest fashion. I’m not good with directions, and my father never told me how to read a map, so I just sat there watching the credits roll down my anti-HD TV.

Shempi: Iv’e been sitting in my room all week trying to write music to dance to with my friends. I’ve got some solid loops going in the background; the basic beats aren’t anything special. Still, when I threw those bongo beats in at the end, we grabbed our glow-sticks and shook it until my mom told me to turn it down.

Imperials: DJ Shadow is a close friend of mine. We like to get together and blow a lot of bubbles while lounging in the comfort of his home. Occasionally, we just chill out while he lets the washing machine make the bubbles for us. Today was one of those days.

Dura: When you hang out with Stephin Merritt of Magnetic Fields you think that he is only good for one thing; brilliant ukulele songs. This is not true. On off nights in New York City, he likes to write serious electronic music. I still hear the ukulele.

Brulee: Girls love to jump rope, especially when its double-dutch. Sometimes they jump and jump and jump, and the rope becomes a blur on the horizon of the suburbs. At some point, they have to catch their breath, pouring water over their heads to cool off in the summer heat.

Mumtaz Kahn: Electronic dragons are the biggest thing in Japan right now. Instead of roaring and shooting flames, which we know is not good indoors, they now purr like kittens. It’s the perfect house pet, and sure to keep the neighbor’s minding their own business. Of course, they all come with their very own Mongolian Kahn.

Gipsy Threat: Do you like to listen to Beirut? I do. The problem is, I only have a computer; there isn’t money enough for real instruments. I spend my days trying to write Beirut cover songs with Garage Band. I made you this one for you.

Black Heroes: We all know that Bruce Leroy defeated Sho’nuff in their epic battle during the eighties, but most never saw this side of the two enemies. In the Criterion Collection of this movie, it has a flashback scene where Sho’nuff and Bruce Leroy were making lemonade in their neighborhood. This is just before they parted ways, most likely due to a poor profit margin.

Now you try.

Hear opening track “Shiller” below or listen to “Mirando” elsewhere on our website:

You can also stream the whole darn thing over on spinner.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/01-shiller.mp3]

Download: shiller.mp3

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