Tegan & Sara – Sainthood

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Rating: ★★★★ ·

My affair with Tegan & Sara began when I first got my hand on the largely acoustic-based So Jealous.  When they switched it up on The Con, I could sense a move in a new direction, and while I liked the album, it didn’t seem like the girls had quite gotten to where they wanted to be. Now, with Sainthood, you can finally see the progression as its come to fruition.  From the opening moments of the album, you can see that they’ve continued to progress, and the production throughout is spot on.

“Arrow” opens the album, and you can hear the poppiness pumping from your stereo, and the emphasis from the bits and pieces of electronic samples (or sounds) brings out the strengths in the song.  You can feel the turning and whirling of the song as it grabs ahold of you, refusing to let you loose until you’ve absorbed all the pop goodness it has to offer.

And the first single, “Hell” is one of the hardest hitting songs the girls have ever put together.  Initially (as in a few weeks ago) it seemed out of place on its own, but when placed in the whole of Sainthood, it’s one of the best songs the girls have written.  The stutter step delivery of the lyrics propels the song forward, and the backing vocals fit perfectly into the greater spectrum of the song.  It might be awhile before you get this song out of your head.

Suddenly, the pacing of the album seems to take a step.  After rushing forward with their stories of love and loss (and possibly the role of playing the martyred lover) they seem to put on the brakes.  “On Directing” through “The Cure” are classic Tegan & Sara, stripped to some of their basic elements, the girls continue to find a way to draw you into their storytelling and catchy melodies.  Then they move into some new direction, a place we haven’t seen them.

“Night Watch” is a short number, backed up to one of the most straightforward pop-punk moments of their career with “Northshore.”  There is a brooding quality here, and the music seems so sparse that you have no choice but to focus on the lyrical value here. The dual vocal delivery of the chorus is precisely what makes this song attractive, although it’s the fact that the girl’s explored some empty space that will fascinate many.

From this point on, the rest of the album runs from hit to hit until the end.  Personally, “Sentimental Tune” reminds me of a great Albert Hammond Jr. (get well buddy) driving song.  Jangling guitars and captivating hooks provide diversity that other albums have lacked.  It proves that Sainthood is one of the most complete albums the Tegan & Sara have put together.  Their maturity shows, and with lyrics that everyone can relate to, this is the record when everyone will truly fall in love with Tegan & Sara, if they haven’t already.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/11-The-Ocean.mp3]

Download: Tegan & Sara – The Ocean [MP3]

New Tuns from The Uglysuit

uglyI know that being from Austin, we’re supposed to ignore all things Oklahoma, but you can’t really ignore great music, regardless of local mores.  So, now that Stereogum has thrown up a new tune from an unreleased EP by The Uglysuit, we had to jump on it.  This tune is a lot quieter than their work in the past, but it has an ornate quality, which definitely brings pleasure to the ears of us here at ATH.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/The-Uglysuit-1902-Deep-Ocean.mp3]

Download: The Uglysuit – 1902 Deep Ocean [MP3]

The Get Up Kids on Daytrotter!

tgukSure, we love the in-house sessions on Daytrotter, but they’ve outdone themselves, at least in our nostalgic eyes.  They just ran The Get Up Kids session, which includes classic tunes like “I’m a Loner Dottie, a Rebel,” not to mention the inclusion of a Vitreous Humor song.  To top it all off, there is a brand new song, said to be one of nine. Could it be? Are they back for good?  I hope so!

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/the-get-up-kids-your-petty-pretty-things.mp3]

Download: The Get Up Kids – Your Petty Pretty Things [MP3]

FFFFest Spotlight: Les Savy Fav

lessavyfavAs we look forward to the debauchery that will be Fun Fun Fun Fest, there can be only one band that will bring the best time to all those in attendance: Les Savy Fav.  Forget the fact that they bring their own spin of angular punk and indie grit to the sound board, and just focus on the fact that they have one of the single most entertaining frontmen of all time.  Tim Harrington will bring his sweaty bald head and parade around the stage, and the crowd, like nothing else anyone has ever seen.  You should love the band for their tunes, but you’ll fall in love with them as soon as you see this one man show.  Case in point, last time I saw LSF, Tim hung upside down from the rafters of the venue and screamed the lyrics before dropping to the floor, stuffing a pillow beneath his shirt so as to be with child, and took shots with the crowd. Enough said, be there.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/07-One-To-Three.mp3]

Download: Les Savy Fav – One To Three [MP3]

New Tunes from Motion City Soundtrack

Motion-CityMake no mistake about me, I was a dedicated pop-punk fan throughout my days, and still hold dear to many of those mainstays.  Sure, I’m more likely to get into Descendents as opposed to all the new stuff, but even some of the new stuff gets me.  Motion City Soundtrack is one of those bands, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they do on their new album My Dinosaur Life. This track is just the beginning.

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

Download: Motion City Soundtrack – Disappear [MP3]

Junior Boys @ Mohawk (10/19)

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Date Monday, October 19th
Location Mohawk
Doors 800p
Tickets $12 @ the Door

If you need a little bit of dancing this Monday evening, then there is only one place you absolutely have to be, and that is at The Mohawk. Danceable duo, Junior Boys will be breaking it down all night with Circlesquare and Missions, guaranteeing you a rocking night of killer dance tracks.  And if that’s too early for you, the band will also be DJing over at Beauty Bar after Midnight. Put those dance shoes on and hit the floor.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/05-In-The-Morning.mp3]

Download: Junior Boys – In The Morning [MP3]

Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson – Summer of Fear

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Rating: ★★★ · ·

Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson burst onto the scene a few years ago with the support of the New York hierarchy.  Now, as he releases his second album, Summer of Fear, which is his first for Saddle Creek, he goes and grabs Kyp Malone of TV on the Radio to aid in production duties.  Would having such a producer ultimately effect the aesthetics of our new favorite troubador?  How would Malone put his own touches on the record, or would he?

Upon first listen all the way through, you can immediately tell the difference between Summer of Fear and Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson.  Sure, there are ecclectic touches, no doubt influenced by the presence of Malone, but there is a certain sesnse of urgency lacking in these songs.  “Shake a Shot” opens the album without making that statement you expected, although you can still feel the passion in the lyrics.

“Always an Anchor” is the second song, and it happens to be one of the more powerful song on the record. You can hear the struggle of daily life in the guttural power behind MBAR‘s vocals, which is precisely what made his first effort so powerful.  This time around, it’s a bit more sparse than you would otherwise want, or rather, expect.  If you listen to it closely, you can almost hear the “Wolf Like Me” guitar chug in the background.

What does seem more pronounced on this album, or perhaps clearer due to the clarity of the voice is the clarity of the lyrical content.  We all know by now about MBAR‘s struggles, but it’s how he spins those around to churn out great tunes which is admirable.  Not only that, but he sings about the despair of humanity, but in doing so, he seems to sing it with such conviction and understanding that you can’t really be worried about it any longer.  It’s as if he has come to accept it more as fact, and the listener should too.

Listening to this album, you will find your songs that you like, and you’ll find flourishes of things un-MBAR, such as the various string elements, seen in songs like “Hard Row,”  that occasionally seem out of place mid-song.  Still, the more songs this guy churns out, you feel as if the better off we all are, as Summer of Fear, though hindered by various elements, demonstrates the songwriting capabilities of Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson; we should all be grateful for such an emerging voice.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/03-The-Sound-1.mp3]

Download: Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson – The Sound [MP3]

New Tunes from Phantogram

phantogramUsually on the weekends I browse the net for new tunes to bring your way, and I found this little gem from Phantogram to share with you.  It was the killer bass groove that initially got me hooked here, but after awhile, the fuzzy female vocals just kept getting stuck in my head.  You’re sure to dig on this track, and we’ll keep you posted on more news from the group.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/02-When-Im-Small-1.mp3]

Download: Phantogram – When I’m Small [MP3]

Pinback @ Emos (10/19)

Pinback

Date Monday, October 19th
Location Emos
Doors 900p
Tickets $14 @ the Door

I’ve been in love with Pinback since I was a young budding music fan, so now that the band is older, as am I, I always take in a chance to go see one of my favorite bands play a solid set.  Their intricate maneuvering behind their songs always gets me moving, so maybe since there wasn’t much going on last week, you’ll jump at the chance to catch a great band tonight.  Bellini, the opener, will hit the stage at 10 PM.

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

Tim Williams – Careful Love

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Rating: ★★★ · ·

Tim Williams has a slew of releases under his belt, and the acclaim he earned off the last album left many lying in wait to get their hands on Careful Love. It’s hard to classify the man and his tunes, but press releases lean towards the description of coffehouse pop meets classic singer/songwriter. This is a fairly solid description, but you can see flourishes of musicianship that push beyond those stereotypical boundaries.

When you listen to the first track, it seems at first as if the vocal inflection of Tim is leading you towards a stronger identity.  “I Hit the Wall” lies somewhere in the vein of Telekinesis or Spoon, catching you with a bobbing hook.  This all leads you into “Ozone Street,” which sounds an awful lot like a cleaner version of Tim Kasher’s early work with The Good Life.  By this point, one thing that is disappointing is the lack of realism that stems from the recording of the drums.  Sure, programmable drums are easy to do, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go get some solid work from somebody in a studio.

Still, if you can step aside from that factor, you’ll find some songs on here that definitely grab your ears, due mostly to the gentle voice of Tim Williams.  Sure, it sounds awfully clean and polished, but with the rest of the musical accompaniment, that works to great effect here. Songs like “Oceans”or “8 x 10” have infectious grooves and tonality that find a way to lodge them inside your head.  The latter track is probably one of the most exceptional on the album, but you’ll find me yearning for a stronger drum track to back this.  A crashing cymbal here or there could have made this song brilliant; instead, it’s just pretty damn good.

Listening to Tim Williams new album, you find something for almost every taste.  Slow moving songs with touches of piano and female backing vocals are abundant, as are the pop gems that most people associate with Tim’s work.  This is just another solid example of a man who is crafting his own path, and what a bright path that proves to be when listening to Careful Love.

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

Download: Tim Williams – I Hit Another Wall [MP3]

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