Releasing a CD is bound to be something special for those involved, so Austin band Balmorhea needed something special for the release of their new album, All is Wild, All is Silent. The band chose to use the acoustics of Ballet Austin, offering the most intimate atmosphere possible to its fans. Intimate settings can play out in various ways, as we will see shortly. Follow the jump to read our full show review.
When Grandaddy broke up, we all thought we’d never hear from Jason Lytle ever again, but lucky for us, he moved off to Montana to sit back down with his guitar. This new track is set to come out on his forthcoming album from Anti Records. Welcome back old friend.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/vc45-jason-lytle-brand-new-sun.mp3]
Download: Jason Lytle – Brand New Sun [MP3]
The last album Alight of Night from Crystal Stilts was one of those magnificently beautiful records that sort of crept around your brain for a period of time during 2008. The band are set to release a new single this Spring on Slumberland Records, and we’ve opted to throw a sample of the track your way. Listen closely as the lyrics swirl around the dense fog of energy.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/crystalstiltsloveisawave.mp3]
Download: Crystal Stilts – Love is a Wave [MP3]
Fresh from the hills of California comes more gentle pop tunes. People have referenced Elliott Smith when discussing Willoughby, but this song shows that there’s more to the songs than simple reference points. Sit back at your desk and just let the soothing voice in the song take you away.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/02_story.mp3]
Download: Willoughby – Story [MP3]
Everyone seems to love Surf City lately, and they are picking up a lot of press over here in the states, which isn’t entirely rare from a band straight out of Oceania. We, too, are really excited to see what they can come up with when they release their full length to throngs of fans stateside. Here’s just a little sample off their self-titled EP.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/04-canned-food.mp3]
Download: Surf City – Canned Food [MP3]
Elvis Perkins finally has a band to back up his soft-spoken folk leanings, but that isn’t too say that he’s moved entirely away from his original sound; in fact, he hasn’t traveled that far from where he once began his journey into the musical world. His latest release, Elvis Perkins in Dearland, is just another reminder of how capable a songsmith the man truly is.
Opening the album is “Shampoo,” which starts off with a mellow little progression on the acoustic guitar, as an organ fills out the background. Suddenly, the band kicks in, and Elvis’ voice comes sweeping in with a slightly more country-fied tinge than most listeners might be used to at this point in his career. It’s a testament to the man’s capabilities when he’s backed by a complete band, and it’s a phenomenal start, nearly a perfect song.
The next few tracks find Elvis walking the lines of his past, as he slows the numbers down so his voice can unfold before listeners. You can tell that he’s yearning for more, reaching for more with his voice, which is perhaps the reason why he brought in a complete band for the recording process of this album. Steady percussion fills in the space where Elvis previously was forced to fill it all with his voice.
His trademark six minute song, “Send My Fond Regards to Lonelyville” is just another example of how wonderfully he can craft a song. Simple strumming typically doesn’t have the lasting power to garner your interest through six minutes, but when accompanied by his voice, and his attention to lyrical details, you find that you are drawn into the depths of the song. Horn arrangements added midway only build upon the already sound structure of this song.
Each time you listen to his voice, it seems to waver just a bit, much like Devandra Banhart, but with a less aggravating persona behind it all. It’s surely the focal point of each song, but his ability to maneuver in and out of different pitches is what makes the entire set of songs listenable, as he clearly understand exactly when to pull back. It’s an emotional attack on the listener, and it succeeds on almost every level. Listening, your drawn into the strength of the songs, but your mostly attracted to his voice, and that feeling is certainly not fleeting.
You’ll find that every song along the way has extra details added in to create an ornate composition. The folk stylings are merely just the beginning, as the backing band here has fulfilled the promise of Elvis Perkins, pushing his songs far beyond anything he’s written to date, and the listeners will be rewarded time and time again, as each listen unfolds new little secrets.
This Melbourne, Australia group has been on my mind a lot lately, and it was recent brought to my attention that they released a new single not too long ago. I had to have it, and I had to bring it to your attention; here is the newest tune from The Crayon Fields, who are set to release another album later this year. We’ll keep you posted on that front.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/crayon-fields-mirror-ball-7_-version.mp3]
Download: The Crayon Fields – Mirror Ball [MP3]
Dan Boeckner and his wife/girlfriend/whatever, Alexei Perry are releasing their second album, Face Control, on Sub Pop Records under the Handsome Furs moniker. The first outing had a lot of interesting moments, carried mostly by Boeckner’s voice. Interestingly enough, you don’t find the band breaking new ground with their latest release.
The instant the album kicks off with “Legal Tender” one will immediately note that the beats on this round are a lot more prevalent than on the last outing. That’s not to say that Dan doesn’t throw in some slicing guitar licks, as he surely does so on this track, but they seem merely as extra moments. It’s as if the beats support the entire infrastructure of the songs, while the guitar seems to be an afterthought.
Still, one has to question whether or not this is enough to carry an entire album’s worth of songs. Answering this question will more than likely divide a lot of people, as the better tracks coming from this album, such as “Talking Hotel Arbat Blues” or “All We Want, Baby, Is Everything,” are really fantastic, displaying how some of the more thought out moments on the album can rise above the simplistic formula.
And yes, there is Boeckner’s phenomenal voice. As part of Wolf Parade, he’s pushed his voice to the limits, sometimes letting his voice curl into a bit of a yelp. This is not so on the Handsome Furs work, where we find him restraining himself quite a bit, allowing for the vocals to pull out every ounce of emotion from both his voice and the listener. Clearly the power of his voice is capable of serving as the backbone of an entire album, but probably not as the sole focus of said album.
“I’m Confused,” for instance, relies upon Dan entirely, using his voice to carry the entirety of the song until his guitar work angularly cuts through the background of the song. It’s an interesting sound, but it fails in the fact that it comes across as if the whole song was just merely a momentary thought; it has no flesh or filling. This is not what one asks for in such cases. Sadly, this is the feeling a lot of listeners will be left with when listening to this album all the way through, time and time again. There are moments when you can’t help but to be taken aback by the songs, but other moments exist when you might ask for a bit of density to the songs, a little exaggeration if you will.
You’ll come to the end finding that you’ve enjoyed the album as a whole, most notably for previously mentioned tracks, but you won’t find yourself dying to listen to it over and over again, only asking yourself questions about whether the band could have done more to fill some of the blank space that stands motionless throughout the album.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/03-talking-hotel-arbat-blues.mp3]
Download: Handsome Furs – Talking Hotel Arbat Blues [MP3]
In case you didn’t follow our list of best albums of 2008, odds are you missed one of the gems of the year, Jeremy Jay. He’s got a new record slated this Spring off of K Records, and its been kicking around in our heads over here at ATH for the last few weeks. It’s a slow-burner, but as with all Jeremy Jay outings, it reveals more each listen.
This time out, he’s got a bit more of a step to his tunes, which is sure to delight audiences, as his unique stage dancing is one of the many reasons he’s so endearing. His understated speak-sing delivery is reminiscent of Calvin Johnson. His reliance upon classic R&B musical stylings, is more than just a throwback, as no one seems to do it with more passion. Simply put, its this passion and classic tinged tuneage that makes Jeremy Jay worthy of your time during SXSW.
He’ll be playing Wednesday, March 18th at the Beauty Bar at 1 AM.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/05-slow-dance.mp3]
Download: Jeremy Jay – Slow Dance [MP3]
Frontman for punkers Avail, Tim Barry, is making his way to Austin this Tuesday night. He’ll be doing his folkier side of things, but that won’t make it any less punk rock, as those who caught his set at Fun Fun Fun Fest can attest. His charm will win you over in a minute, and his songs will win you over the next. Also on the bill is Austin Lucas, who made waves earlier this year with his joint venture with Chuck Ragan. The show is at Emos, with tickets costing a recession proof $8. Doors are at 8 PM and show starts at 10 Pm.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/01-texas-cops.mp3]
Download: Tim Barry – Texas Cops [MP3]