The Crayon Fields – All The Pleasures of the World

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Rating: ★★★★½

In a year that offered lots of mediocre albums, 2009 had so many new records that it was hard to digest them all in due time for reviews.  Yet, I always intended to touch on this album, as I’ve loved The Crayon Fields since Animal Bells came out a few years back. 

“Mirrorball” made the list of our Top 50 songs of 2009, and it still draws a lot of power, months after it first hit our ears.  Singer Geoff O’ Connor has a real breathy vocal projection (like a pop whisperer), one that will recall Colin Bluntstone of The Zombies for many listeners…it’s just one of the many touchstones for the group.

One thing that differentiates the characterstics on All the Pleasures of the World from Animal Bells is that there seems to be a little bit of darkness lingering beneath each of the songs.  On Animal Bells, you had songs like “Living So Well,” which were full of sunny beach pop and gang vocal effects, but this doesn’t fit here.  On the album’s title track, amidst singing of pleasures, O’ Connor seems sort of resigned to see the pleasures, though not necessarily take part in them.  Perhaps the extra layering of instruments has made a more dense soundscape from which the band took off this round (some of the best being from the solid bass work). Just a guess.

When one comes across songs like “Celebrate” you can see how a Clientele reference might creep up in a review, but you might also note that the similarites are existant, yet polarizing.  Where The Clientele often feels extremely cold, and their melodies have a sense of brooding danger, The Crayon Fields put a little bit of energy into their artistry.  By this I really mean one thing: The Clientele gives you foggy melodies; The Crayon Fields blow the fog away with a touch of beach-side sunshine. 

You’ll also find a lot of the guitar-work of Glaswegians Belle and Sebastian lying beneath this album.  You can almost pick up on the homage being given in songs such as “Disappear” where there is a hint of swing and sway to the general atmospheric creation.  It’s not a bad thing to highlight, as I’m a fan of the former band, which also probably shows why I’m a huge fan of the latter.  Really, is there any ground for originality nowadays?

So, here I am, a few months after the release, though you will still find it hard to get a hold of All the Pleasures of the World in the U.S.  Be that as it may, you’ll do yourself, and the dollar, justice if you go out to your local hotspot and purchase the latest from The Crayon Fields, and the last one while you’re at it.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/crayon-fields-mirror-ball-7_-version.mp3]

Download: The Crayon Fields – Mirror Ball [MP3]

2009 Top 50 Albums

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Creating a Top 50 Albums list is never easy.  You have to battle with what you think the world believes, and what you truly believe in your heart, to be solid jams.  We have even more trouble because we have to three writers, all who have different ideas, and we have to make those ideas fit into a neat box.  Well, we got it done, and honestly, our criteria was based on two things: how great we thought the album was, artistically speaking, and how long we listened to it without getting bored.  That’s it. It’s fool proof; you might not like it, but it’s our list, so here it is… Read more

New Tunes from Title Tracks

l_323827bb9f6144e49ed9925dd32c6643John Davis used to rock the world in Q and Not U.  Then he played some catchy tunes with Georgie James, but now he’s finding that middle ground with his new group Title Tracks.  His first album with the new group comes your way on February 9th, and fans of his later work will find precisely what they need here.  “Piles of Paper” has a lot of remnants leftover from the Georgie James days, which is never a bad thing, as I enjoyed that work too.  So get ready for It Was Easy coming your way real soon.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/04-Piles-Of-Paper.mp3]

Download: Title Tracks – Piles Of Paper [MP3]

12/12 – The Dutchess and the Duke @ The Mohawk

dutchessduke08This here is a story of heartbreak, a story of fallen heroes.  The Dutchess and the Duke made their way once again into Austin amongst strong praise for their recent release Sunset/Sunrise.  Our expectations were high, and we promoted the show as best we could, hoping many would see the greatness that was D&D.  Unfortunately, the night fell far short of our expectations, or mine at least.  Follow the jump for full review and photos.

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New Tunes from Papercuts

papercuts1It’s probably not enough that I put Jason Quever’s Papercuts in my top 50 of 2009. I’ve been all over this group, or is group really, since their second release.  Just as I thought I couldn’t get enough of the guy, he puts out a great 7″ with a new single.  There’s a lot more string arrangement on this song, at least in the forefront, and if this is the direction he’s going with the next album, I can already see it in my top 10.  I grabbed White Are the Waves at Waterloo, but you can also get it Gnomonsong.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/Papercuts-White-are-the-Waves.mp3]

Download: Papercuts – White are the Waves [MP3]

12/11 – Ola Podrida @ The Mohawk

olapdrida08It’s always an anxious evening when you are preparing to see one of your favorite bands for the first time.  Will they play your favorite song?  Will the show resemble the album precisely as you want it to sound?  Will you walk away with the same respect as the moment you entered?  Such were my thoughts as I spent Friday night preparing to see Ola Podrida at the Mohawk.  The bill included Martin from Brazos and local favorites Balmorhea.  Follow the jump for review and show pictures.

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New Tunes from Postdata

h1jq_postdata_7Paul Murphy spends the majority of his musical career in Wintersleep, an award winning band from Canada.  But, this time around, he’s decided to work with his brother under the moniker Postdata. Their self-titled release will hit stores on January 26th, and  you will want to give this band a thorough going-over.  This tune, “Tobias Grey” has a deep acoustic tone, but a wintry vocal that one can only associate with a group from the vast wilderness that is Canada.  It’s a short tune, but one rich in emotion, so listen til the end.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/Postdata.Postdata.TobiasGrey.mp3]

Download: Postdata – Tobias Grey [MP3]

Obligatory New Harlem Tune

1301blog_harlemAs if they didn’t have enough going on already with their steady stream of shows all over town, Austin’s local band du jour, Harlem, are prepping the release of their debut album, Hippies,  for Matador Records. While I’m not always a fan of their live show, this new tune shows a lot of promise, and a whole lot more focus, musically, while still maintaining that garage-band sound that has won them a slew of fans.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/Harlem-Friendly-Ghost.mp3]

Download: Harlem – Friendly Ghost [MP3]

New Tunes from Lightspeed Champion

devIt’s almost 2010, and  one of my most anticipated releases is the new album from Lightspeed Champion.  Dev Hynes just hits a nerve with me, especially after watching THIS VIDEO.  So, while I wait for that new album, I’ve got something to hold me over until then.  Dev released an entire album of bedroom recordings while housesitting for a friend.  It might not go down as the best work of all time, but for a fans of Lightspeed Champion, it will definitely hold you over. I’m including my favorite track from the album, but if you want it, you can grab it for free over at Dev’s site.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/9.Is-This-Really-Me_.mp3]

Download: Lightspeed Champion – Is This Really Me [MP3]

Top 10 Austin Albums Of 2009

1204top5coverWe thought about this long and hard, thinking over our favorite releases from bands located in Austin over the last year.  Blood was spilled, jabs were thrown, but overall, we feel like we got our hands around the best releases that we feel epitomized the Austin scene in 2009.  Don’t forget, we’re particular to our tastes, so while you may disagree, we reserve the right to stand by these ten acts and their albums from 09′.  Follow the jump for full list.
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