FTC: Violent Femmes

FTC_violentfemmesFrom time to time, you just find yourself going back to those albums that meant a lot to your music evolution.  I can’t say enough about how much I loved listening to the Violent Femmes, whether it was their clever humor or just the overall feel of the music they presented.  Sure, I’d love to say that I heard this when it first came out, but I didn’t get into it until 1994 when I was a high school freshmen.  I had been sidetracked by grunge and other metal influences, but their self-titled album got me right back on track.  If you can’t love this song, and this band, then you’ve lost your way my friend.

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

New Tunes from Sleep Whale

sleep-whaleNovember is going to be a busty month for our local label Western Vinyl.  They already have plans to release the much anticipated Ola Podrida record on the 3rd, but now we have news that they plan to also release the new album by Denton duo, Sleep Whale.  According to release info, Houseboat is slated to hit our streets on the 10th.  Take a sample.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/Sleep-Whale-Cotton-Curls.mp3]

Download: Sleep Whale – Cotton Curls [MP3]

New Tunes from The Subjects

subjectsThe Subjects just released their newest EP, New Soft Shoe. I’ve been jamming to it a lot this evening, in my post ACL haze (sorry I skipped you Pearl Jam, but I had never heard of you).  Anyways, this tune is actually as smiley as the picture, which is good since we all need a nice pick me up on Monday.  Be sure to check the group out on October 23rd when they come to town–we’ll remind you again closer to the date.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/The-Subjects-Winter-Vacation.mp3]

Download: The Subjects – Winter Vacation [MP3]

New Tunes from Chuck Prophet

chuck-prophet1While spending time in Mexico City, Chuck Prophet fended off the swine flu craze, instead choosing to pen a new set of songs. His new album, Let Freedom Ring!, is set to come your way on October 27th.  Supposedly, the lyrics will hit out at the realization of the American Dream, but we’re sure Chuck won’t be shoving anything down your throat, as he’s not that type of guy.  Try the album’s title track!

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/04-¡Let-Freedom-Ring.mp3]

Download: Chuck Prophet – ¡Let Freedom Ring! [MP3]

New Tunes from Vampire Weekend

VampireWeekendEven though the new album, Contra, doesn’t officially hit stores until January 12th, Vampire Weekend are slowly starting to leak out the hype.  They let loose the first single, “Horchata” via their web site, and the site hints at future leaks, not to mention touring random Californian towns.  Personally, this tune doesn’t reach out and grab you like “A-Punk,” but perhaps it’s one of those that gets better with time.  You decide.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/01-Horchata-1.mp3]

Download: Vampire Weekend – Horchata [MP3]

Headlights – Wildlife

headlights-wildlife

Rating: ★★★ · ·

When Headlights released Some Racing, Some Stopping, they showed hints of absolute pop glory.  “Cherry Tulips” was one of the best songs I heard that year, and I still use it, but could they build on the continued promise and move forward with their third album Wildlife?

Whilst recording the album, turmoil struck the band, and they lost a guitarist, so it won’t surprise many to see this album as a side-step, rather than a natural progression.  Erin Fein’s presence is definitely felt here more prominently than I expected, as each song is filled to the brim with her fusion of keyboards and angelic vocals. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a record you can dismiss, it just doesn’t necessarily live up to the dreams in my head; then again, little does.

“Secrets” is one of the songs you’ll definitely fall in love with once you get your hands, and ears, on it.  Slowly it builds with keyboards and rimshots, but the faster the handclaps go, the faster the song seems to pick up the pace, before it bursts forth.   Juxtaposed to this tune is “You and Eye,” which builds on some of the haziness from the band’s first album, Kill Them With Kindness.  It’s a song that seems to trod along, built upon the voice of Fein and her little electronic flourishes.

One of the standout tracks comes just as early, but the oddity here is that Tristan Wraight seems to take the spotlight from Fein.  His voice recalls the sunny-side of pop music, and the song is structured carefully around the percussion and guitar work.  This definitely is the direction I saw the band heading when I got my hands on this album, but unfortunately it’s one of the distinct moments, only because there aren’t many songs that live up to it on Wildlife.

By the middle album, the group seems to have taken the middle ground between Emily Haines solo work and Stars. Not all will find this as a disappointment, as those bands deserve as much acclaim as they get.  But, the problem with songs such as “Long Song for Buddy” or “Wisconsin Beaches,” which is an acoustic number, is not that they aren’t enjoyable or artistic, but rather that they seem to be a lackluster performance in comparison to the brighter moments of the record, and the promise of the record before.  Clearly, the lyrics point to a darker side of the human relationship, dealing with love and loss throughout as the subject matter, but one can still discuss such things with a certain panache.  The fact that it’s not there is what holds this album back from being one of the great indie-pop albums of the year, but if you take a careful look inside, you’ll find that Headlights have left you with plenty to be happy about.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/04-Get-Going.mp3]

Download: Headlights – Get Going [MP3]

New Tunes from Princeton

princetonPrinceton have just released their new album Cocoon of Love, and we’ll definitely get a review of it up shortly.  This new tune is little bit more laid back than the previous “Calypso Gold” single, and it features the vocals of Meredith Metcalf.  You’ll definitely want to check out the record if you enjoy this tune, as this is definitely a group with a rising star.

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

Download: Princeton – Sadie and Andy [MP3]

The Dutchess & the Duke – Sunset/Sunrise

dutchess-duke-sunset-sunrise

Rating: ★★★★½

When The Dutchess and the Duke burst onto the scene last year, creating havoc for every person using Microsoft Word, we couldn’t have been happier.  Their acoustic duets recalled The Rolling Stones, but with a little bit more with portrayed in the lyrics. Now, they return, with their second album, Sunset/Sunrise, willing to do it all again.

“Hands” opens the album, and it’s clear that the sun has gone down on this duo.  Lyrical messages hint at dark times for the narrator, but as the chorus bursts through, you see the same formula from the hits off their first album. Sure, there is a hint of guitar soloing, but it’s just enough to show hints of change, without altering the game completely.

“Scorpio” exists as one of the finest moments on the album; you would call it the brightest were it not for the lyrical imagery.  Flourishes of orchestration (a violin perhaps) fittingly add a bit of melancholic tone to the tune, hinting at the gravity which exists at the heart of the song.  So when you come across “Living This Life” you can see that the distance referenced in “Scorpio” has finally come to sit in with the band.  Everything about this album seems to exemplify a distance, be that with family or lovers. As the guitar meanders, seemingly over a horizon afar, you can feel the emotional change of the group.

As you hit the album’s almost title track, “Sunrise/Sunset,” the picture of a shift in the writing process has come to complete fruition.  Kimberly Morrison has taken over vocal duties for this song, as well as “When You Leave My Arms” Although her smoky vocals are a perfect accompaniment to Jesse Lortz, these two songs demonstrate that she has a knack for pulling every bit of emotion out of her songs.  It’s a refreshing twist to Sunset/Sunrise, clearly deepening the repertoire of the group, rather than labeling them as re-hashers of classic rock.

Unlike the last album, which hit you in the face real hard up front, the new record seems extremely even. From start to finish, there seems to be some sort of focal point for the group that allows for such balance, which ultimately might make this album stronger than its predecessor.  And you come to the perfect ending with “The River.”  The song is treated by some soft touches of piano, perhaps providing it with a touch of the epic ending.  Ultimately, this song serves as a summary for the album.  Questioning one’s existence, and one’s relationships to loved ones, all wrapped up in one final tune.  Perhaps it was written for the soon to be child of Lortz, who, like us, will look on Sunset/Sunrise with pride, longing, and perhaps a little bit of reflection.

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

Download: The Dutchess and the Duke – The River [MP3]

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