Japandroids @ Emos – (10/14)

japandroids_image

Date Wednesday, Oct 14th
Location Emos
Doors 900p
Tickets $12 @ the Door

It’s kind of a mellow week around the Austin music scene, so I thought I’d inform you about the first good show I saw coming our way.  Japandroids are hitting the States, and they’ll be backed by The Coathangers and Mutating Meltdown.  So, if you’re craving some garage rock, or just live tunes in general, head out to Emos tomorrow night.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/02-young-hearts-spark-fire.mp3]

Download: Japandroids – Young Hearts Spark Fire [MP3]

New Tunes from Ola Podrida

daveWith our continued support and love for David Wingo and Ola Podrida, we bring you a new tune off his upcoming LP Belly of the Lion due November 10th.  Not only do we get to support a great local Austinite, but in doing so, we get to support the great local label Western Vinyl.  Here’s to that, and here’s that new tune.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/08-Roomful-of-Sparrows.mp3]

Download: Ola Podrida – Roomful of Sparrows [MP3]

Thomas Function – In the Valley of Sickness

Thomas _F_Cover_StickerMockup

Rating: ★★★★ ·

When I fell across the Alabama outfit Thomas Function last year at SXSW, I absolutely loved what they brought to the live performance.  Their vibrant energy and jangling guitars brought so much force that it was hard to ignore them.  So when Fat Possum sent me their new album, In the Valley of Sickness, I was eager to see if their live stage presence would carry over the recorded material.  Surprisingly, sort of, they do live up to my expectations, if not exceed them.

As soon as you hear the vocals, you’ll recognize them, at least if you’ve been hanging out in the Austin area for the last few years.  The voice sounds exactly like The Strange Boys, with a whole lot of Southern influence, but just a touch more clarity than the Austin kids. Sure, they sound a bit off-kilter, but the energy hiding behind the vocals is enough to push the music along.

As you go track by track through this album, you can tell that these boys are all about having a little it of fun, which is great to see, as this is the least arty record to come out this year.  “Day in the Shade” comes at you full force, and it almost seems as if these boys are going so fast that they are bound to run off the tracks at any moment.  Still, they hold back just enough to finish the song.  You also can’t deny the humor from this album, which shows once again, that Thomas Function is just out there enjoying their rock n’ roll lifestyle.  On “Picking Scabs” the call of “are you going to buy a record or not” seems to show that these boys know their place in the music world, and if you help support them, you’ll keep them out on the road to rock for years to come.

For me, I can’t really go on with this review without mentioning “Belly of the Beast.”  It’s like mellow power-pop with a twist from the Deep South.  Backing vocals are used to perfection, and touches of organ don’t ever seem to hurt a song with jangling guitars.  Similarly, “Two Pigs” is another such tune that shows the band’s abilities, even when they aren’t going full force in your face. Holding back seems to suit the group, if not only to show their diversity as songwriters.  These two songs fit perfectly into the album, and by filling out the sound, it shows Thomas Function knows no bounds.

For all those kids who loved the early Kings of Leon albums, or just enjoy a touch of Southern rock in their punk, you’ll want to find your way to a record store to get your hands on In the Valley of Sickness.  This group is far and above one of the more enjoyable listens for this year, and you’ll treasure all the foot-stomping moments Thomas Function gives you for the rest of your days.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/06-Belly-Of-The-Beast-1.mp3]

Download: Thomas Function – Belly Of The Beast [MP3]

New Tunes from Thomas Function

TFunction_1Back during SXSW, I anxiously awaited Camera Obscura to take to the stage, but while waiting, I was lucky enough to be blown away by Thomas Function.  These cats from Alabama have a new record coming out next week on Fat Possum Records titled In the Valley of Sickness.  Since I just got the album in the mail, I wanted to throw a track everyone’s way, so you can see what I’m so excited about.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/06-Belly-Of-The-Beast-1.mp3]

Download: Thomas Function – Belly Of The Beast [MP3]

The Clientele – Bonfires on the Heath

clientele

Rating: ★★★½ ·

A short while ago, there was discussion that the UK group, The Clientele, would be calling it quits, and perhaps this is still true.  Regardless, I was taken aback, and a little saddened.  I’ve been listening to the group, and their pop soundscapes for some time, so I was happy to know that if they were calling it quits that I would least get one more album; that record being Bonfires on the Heath.

Not surprisingly, the group brought out the same old same old on their latest release, which isn’t entirely a bad thing in my book.  This is one group that’s never needed to change, no matter what they put out.  One should note, however, that their musical etchings are as detailed as the cover art to the current album, layer upon layer of sounds molded together to create one entity.

As I listen to “I Wonder Who We Are,” the opening track, I can’t help but notice that they share some odd similarities to my faves, Belle and Sebastian. Jangling guitars, and a knack for making mono-syllabic lyrics fit so well into the song structure, but what I think is still holding the band back this time is Alisdair Maclean’s vocals.  For some reason they just don’t always seem to fit the music; there’s no correlation at times.

Still, this is the perfect fall piece of music.  As each night brings a variance in weather, so too, does this album.  It’s as if you’re walking with the group through each of their songs.  The title track slowly meanders, as one would on a simple walk through the neighborhood on one of those cool windy nights.  You see, it’s hard to tie down the precise sound of this album, or any of its songs, as you’re clearly affected by the mood they successfully create.

If you had to pick out a standout track here, for me, it would be “Jennifer and Julia.”  It is the one song that I think epitomizes the years of work this group has put into their songwriting.  Subtle horn backing and Maclean’s vocals all seem to fall perfectly into alignment on this album.  This song is what makes you fall in love with this band, and it’s great to see that despite the years, and possible break-up, that they still have the knack for writing something as sublime as this.

Sure, there are tracks one can dismiss, like “Sketch,” which is a track that seems like simple album filler, but when you come to something like “Never Saw Them Before” you can clearly see what people enjoyed about this band from the get go.  If you’re looking for one of those records that changes as often as you do, but clearly keeps you grounded, then you’ll want to check out Bonfires on the Heath, a culmination of pristine, moody pop, years in the making by The Clientele.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/05-Jennifer-And-Julia.mp3]

Download: The Clientele – Jennifer And Julia [MP3]

The Raveonettes – In and Out of Control

The_Raveonettes_In_and_Out_of_Control_Vice

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Listening to the history of The Raveonettes, I can easily see why I have remained indifferent with their career, that is up until this point in time.  They’re a band that seems to revel in their discoveries of various genres, perhaps so much so that one cannot listen to their albums without feeling nostalgic for the traditional influences.  In the past, they’ve come across as a band of mere mimicry, bordering on unoriginality and banality.  That all changed when I popped on In and Out of Control.

Once “Bang” hits your ears, it’s clear that the band brought something else to the table this time around.  Bouncing rhythms run throughout the song, and the sunshine of California seem to reverberate from the vocals.  It’s clearly a fun song; a tune to let your hair down.

So, instead of treading the same ground, they go off into a more fuzzy pop gem with “Gone Forever.”  It clearly sounds like a Pains of Being Pure at Heart song, minus the echo and atmospherics.  Okay, so maybe the echo is there in the vocals, but they are so distinguishable, you can easily attach yourself to the content, should you choose to do so. And such a sweet chorus.  They stay in the same spectrum with “Last Dance,” which is possibly one of the catchiest songs you’ll hear this year.  It won’t blow you away, but you won’t mind listening to it time and time again, garnering a number worthy of year end lists.

For once, the fact that the group doesn’t seem to stay in one place actually works.  It doesn’t veer off too far from where they began, which allows you to see the lines drawn in the songwriting that connect the album together as a whole.  But, the differentiation is wholly refreshing from The Raveonettes. Even the quick “I Buried You Today” is just another mark of a band that clearly is willing to define this record on their terms.

Out of nowhere, this band seems to have escaped the monotony of their past.  At times, what they seem to do here is quite invigorating, as the band finally has the courage to step beyond the shadows of their influences.  This is new ground for them, and it makes for a remarkable listen.  All the songs have a bounce, yet they all seem stylistically different; the fact that the band isn’t trapped for once seems to have freed them to progress in a direction I never expected.  It’s hard with this approach to expect the Joan Jett chorus on “Breaking Into Cars,” just know you’ll love it.

So you can’t be sure where the material from In and Out of Control came from, but one thing can be assured for all listeners.  You’ll find this as a record which allows you to sink into, if the mood so allows, and not get bogged down by nostalgic dreams of the golden days of music…though those influences are still walking around in the background. Now’s the time ladies and gentleman to get on board with The Raveonettes.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/The-Raveonettes-Last-Dance.mp3]

Download: The Raveonettes – Last Dance [MP3]

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]

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