A2W: FreshMillions!

We spend a lot of our time focusing on the rock around Austin, but rest assured, we love to shake it just as much as the next guy does.  Recently, the Austin scene has been boosted by the rise of FreshMillions! , and their main guy Geoff Earle.  They’ve been hitting the town with the likes of Focus Group and L.A.X. (who they will be supporting May 19th), making a name for themselves with electrifying shows that leave the audience drenched in sweat and coated in euphoria.  Not to mention that a lot of people love the fact that Bryan Ritchie of The Sword (and Skate or Die) helped produce the record, but as much as we love Bryan, you have to know that those groove-tastic bass lines and electric shine were all there beforehand.  Be sure to check out the band’s self-titled debut record, and attend one of their live shows because pretty soon, the whole town will be aboard this dance-a-riffic party bus of fun.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/02-The-Helicopter-1.mp3]

Download: Fresh Millions – The Helicopter [MP3]

L.A.X @ The Parish (5/20)

Date Thursday, May 20th
Location The Parish
Doors 900p
Tickets $8 @ the Door

We’ve been playing a lot of the A EP from local group L.A.X, and it’s time that you get your hands on the album yourself.  Luckily for us all, the CD release for the band has finally arrived, and you can find yourself in a hot mess by heading to the Parish this Thursday night.  Expect to find yourself sweaty and smiling by the time you leave, not to mention the fact that you’ll have a brand new disc to spin around the house.  Get there early as you’ll really want to see A2W FreshMillions, as well as Missions. Hope to see you there supporting the local scene.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/01-Im-Sorry.mp3]

Download: L.A.X. – I’m Sorry [MP3]

New Tunes from Light Pollution

James Michael Cicero surely has a lot going on in brain.  Just listening to the latest single from his group Light Pollution gives you hints that despite all the madness and cacophony that there is an underlying since of beauty, and that becomes visible with extended listens to the underlying melodies and various hooks.  The group has their debut album, Apparitions, scheduled for release on June 15h on Carpark.  Judging by this song, it wlil be chock-full of experimental wonderment.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/lightpollutionohivory.mp3]

Download: Light Pollution – Oh Ivory [MP3]

Band of Horses – Infinite Arms

Rating: ★★½ · ·

The week of May 16th features several artists, long considered favorites by many indie rock fans, returning to the fold with new albums.  Not only is Band of Horses coming back with their new album, Infinite Arms, but they are also coming in with a new record label, having completed their agreement for Sub Pop.  Would the change signify a distinctive shift in sound, or would we get more of the same?

On the opening track, “Factory,” you get the since that things haven’t changed too drastically since the last album, Cease to Begin.  It’s got that slow paced Americana, expanded by the addition of string arrangements, and accompanied by Ben Birdwell’s exquisite vocals.  He’s got something in the way his voice seems to fall off with just the tiniest vocal inflection, and it always gets me.  Similarly, one of the other singles, “Laredo,” approaches the most-rocking moments of the album, with a steady percussion beat creating the backbone of the tune.  Oddly, the melody and the structure seem super-connected to “No One’s Gonna Love You” off their last record, but then again, even with Birdwell’s strong vocals, the band does have a tendency to blend into itself.  Still, this is a bit of re-hash in these eyes.

From here Infinite Arms takes a jump into a more folk-driven sound.  Pace is slowed down a bit for numbers like “Blue Beard” and “Infinite Arms.” Each song has some gentle strumming, and the latter sound has some recording effects that give you the feeling that it was all recorded in some backwoods area.  Don’t get me wrong, these songs have some strengths, particularly the recording of “Infinite Arms,” but there just isn’t some grand statement that is being made.  In the past, there was always a Band of Horses track that made you wonder why this band wasn’t absolutely huge.  Everything comes off really mild-mannered, and for some that will be a bit disheartening.

Give or take two tracks (“Dilly” and “Northwest Apartment”) the record really kind of stays in the vein of slow-core Americana.  Honestly, this is probably the disappointing element.  Yes, they always dabbled in folk elements, but nothing quite like the woodsy “Trudy.” It lacks lyrical depth as well, but that’s sort of par for the course with this collection of songs.   Where is the balance of swirling melodies that raise into the heavens, only to crash down in some sense of quiet?  It’s not there at all, and in fact, the most rocking you get on the latter half of the album is “Northwest Apartement,” aptly named for its blatant Built to Spill sonic allusions.

Don’t get me wrong, as Infinite Arms is a pleasant enough record.  There are a few moving tracks that will still do enough to satisfy old fans, but then the rest of the record really feels like the group is just sort of treading water. Band of Horses seems to have run out of ideas, or in changing directions, the group doesn’t seem quite as confident as they once did.  All this make for an uneven record that suffers from a general enthusiasm, but that could just be my own lackluster thoughts after going through this album hoping to find one more great gem.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/01-Factory-1.mp3]

Download: Band of Horses – Factory [MP3]

New Tunes from Perfume Genius

Seattle’s Perfume Genius is a little bit mysterious.  His website doesn’t give a lot of background info, nor is their much on the gent as publicity goes, but his latest single, “Mr. Petersen” has a lot of promise.  For some reason, I feel as if he’s channeling his inner Neil Young, but that could be just wishful thinking on my behalf.  Regardless, if he keeps writing songs like this, he’s sure to make waves. You can hear more from him when his album, Learning, comes out on June 22nd.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/perfume-genius-mr-petersen.mp3]

Download: Perfume Genius – Mr. Petersen [MP3]

Fang Island @ Emos (5/18)

Date Tuesday, May 18th
Location Emos
Doors 700p
Tickets $10 @ the Door

Not a whole lot has really been said or talked about in regards to Fang Island, of course, that’s if you ignore their glowing review on Pitchfork.  Their combination of guitar hooks with various electronic touches is precisely what you expect a band like this to be.  They’ve got larger than life swinging melodies, gang vocals (which you know are all the rage) and an overabundance of hooks.  Why wouldn’t you want to be there?  You can even catch sets from other bands such as Hollerado, Zlam Dunk and Agent Ribbons.  The best part seems to be that doors open early, so you can catch some great tunes, then head right back home for a decent night’s sleep. So you really have no excuse.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/04-Life-Coach.mp3]

Download: Fang Island – Life Coach [MP3]

LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening

Rating: ★★½ · ·

It’s really hard to imagine the 00s without James Murphy.  Whether he was bringing Daft Punk to your house, or whether he was manning the boards for someone else, it seems like Murphy was always around.  Now we come to what he is calling the swan song for LCD Soundsystem, This Is Happening.  Will it be enough to leave us with lasting memories of fondness, or will we turn towards indifference as his star begins to fade on the horizon.

“Dance Yrself Clean” begins the record, and while it could be a whole lot stronger, this isn’t the worst way to begin the new album. It begins with just some minimal percussive elements, which go on for what seems like an eternity, while lyrics are sort of spoken, as opposed to sung.  At the 3 minute mark, the song turns into a club banger.  While you can appreciate the development of sonic textures that Murphy has placed emphasis on with his last two album, one can’t help but feel that getting straight to the point would have left the record to start with one of his best complete tracks.

You jump right into the single from there with “Drunk Girls,” which sort of seems like a haphazard song.  The beats seem reminiscent of songs past, while the lyrics don’t really offer too much, no matter how many drunk girls you claim to know.   And from there you go on to “One Touch;” yet another song that doesn’t do a whole lot to further Murphy’s credentials in the musical annals of time.  Sure, showing the masses you can make a dance song go for 8 minutes is something to tip your hat to, if the song doesn’t do too much, it all seems irrelevant, and such is the case here.

But, then LCD Soundsystem takes you for an entirely different ride.  “All I Want” doesn’t seem to far of a stretch from some of the more exploratory tracks on Sound of Silver, and you can really find yourself sliding inside this song despite a the length and a touch of redundancy. “I Can Change” follows suit with a bit more exploration, and even pushes the dancier side of the things.  Murphy’s vocals don’t come off in that shouting chant he’s usually known to release, and it creates a joyous song that brings back the nostalgia of bands like Depeche Mode and OMD.

Then, he takes a U-turn, and sort of goes back on the promise of the last two tracks.  “You Wanted a Hit” has some redeeming qualities towards the middle of the song, and while I appreciate his stance on not trying to make hits, choosing instead to follow his own path, I’m not sure he always chooses the best options, especially when he has such quality tracks to offer, as he did in the middle of the This Is Happening. Don’t even get me started on “Pow Pow;” I think I’m owed an extra amount of time in my life just for listening to this track.  Ugh.  “Somebody’s Calling Me” just continues the downward slide from there.  It just seems like he could have done so more, and at time, the song just sounds like even James himself was bored with writing it.  Then again, that just might be personal taste.

Then he comes back with “Home” to close out the album.  It has a bit more of a singing vocal here, and the beat has this underlying hook that sucks you back into the album.  If you add the length of the song, you can clearly see what kind of dance party ensues here, and that’s precisely what you wanted from This Is Happening.  Unfortunately, the brightest spots on this record don’t really break through the inadequacies of the rest of the tracks.  Personally, it seems like such a shame, as the last decade wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun without having LCD Soundsystem in our lives, and perhaps this is why he’s walking away, as James Murphy hasn’t convinced anyone with this effort that his heart is still in it.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/LCD-Soundsystem-I-Can-Change.mp3]

Download: LCD Soundsystem – I Can Change [MP3]

Caribou @ Emos (5/16)

Date Sunday, May 16th
Location Emos
Doors 900p
Tickets $15 from TicketWeb

For those of you into collage music, and we know there are many of you out there, you’ve got to be salivating at Sunday night’s show over at Emos.  First, you get to share a night with the very exciting Toro y Moi, which everyone loves more than Sleigh Bells (that’s saying a lot).  Then, to close off your night, you get to let Caribou close out your night with a spectacular blend of electronica and pop melodies.  He’ll probably play a great deal of material off his recent album, Swim. Sure, the show probably fits better as music for your Sunday morning, but why not wind down a glorious weekend of fun by closing the curtains at Emos?  Exactly, we’ll see you there.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/04-Found-Out.mp3]

Download: Caribou – Found Out [MP3]

New Tunes from Miniature Tigers

The Gum just tossed this Miniature Tigers song up this morning, and I’ve been rocking to it ever since then.  The great thing is that it was produced by adopted Austin artist Alan Palomo of Neon Indian fame.  It sort of reminds me of something along the lines of an electronic version of Human Highway.  Basically, that means it rules.  This jam is set to come out on the group’s album Fortress, which hits stores July 27th.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/play.mp3]

Download: Miniature Tigers – Gold Skulls [MP3]

New Tunes from Math and Physics Club

Seattle is usually known for a harder edge sound, perhaps even with a blend of hippy in there somewhere, so its no surprise that Math and Physics Club haven’t gotten too much attention out that way.  Luckily, we’re here to set things straight, as their breezy pop jams always bring a ray of light into our days (not to mention a little good-hearted nerdiness).  The band has a new album titled I Shouldn’t Look as Good as I Do, and it will be released on June 12th by my favorite label Matinee Records.  Enjoy the sun.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/mapc07.mp3]

Download: Math and Physics Club – Jimmy Had a Poloaroid [MP3]

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