New Tunes from The Superimposers

It’s funny how you can search for the perfect record to listen to, and then out of nowhere, you come across something new, something wonderful.  London’s The Superimposers won me over today as I grabbed a few tracks from their newest album Sunshine Pops.   This is just classic pop in the best way, the kind that makes you see double rainbows on the horizon.  One listen, and you’ll surely feel the same.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/04-The-Beach-1.mp3]

Download: The Superimposers – The Beach [MP3]

Lower Dens – Twin Hand Movement

Rating: ★★★½ ·

It’s unfortunate that people have given Texan Jana Hunter the freak-folk tag, as clearly she’s done a lot to move beyond her early days, clearly trying to establish her own sound.  We find her now leading the Baltimore group Lower Dens, and if you can look beyond her darkened voice, you’ll find that there are no remnants of folk on Twin Hand Movement.

“Blue and Silver” immediately begins to indicate that the sounds within the group’s album will fill up quickly with dense discord, sprawling in which ever direction Hunter leads the band.  Metronome-like drumming keeps the pace steady, allowing for the guitars to seek out their own direction, cutting back and forth across the landscape of the song, all the while Hunter moves in and out to fill empty space with her voice.  Arriving at “Tea Lights” you see some similarities with label-mates The Papercuts, especially in the way the pop element is darkened, leaving just enough room for melody to spring up.  At times, Hunter’s lyrics aren’t necessarily decipherable, yet their appeal exists in the ability for them to alter the mood of the song.  One listen to this track and you’ll gladly take a journey with Lower Dens.

While one might still complain about Hunter’s vocals, there are some performances on Twin Hand Movement that really demonstrate her range as a singer.  “I Get Nervous” is quite the subtle number, barely moving along without the presence of high-hat and snare, but in the middle of the song Hunter takes complete control of the track.  Something in the way she delivers in such an understated manner is extremely appealing, and she uses the song as a showcase for herself.  You’ll find the same scenario on “Hospice Gates,” though the song does have the benefit of a bit more pacing in comparison.  Ringing guitars provide the true backdrop to this track, leaving room for Hunter to give her best vocal performance, mostly based on the fact that the clarity is probably the strongest of all album tracks, excluding the slow-burner “Truss Me.”

Lower Dens is also willing to throw you some surprises in the mixture, utilizing the brooding track “Plastic and Powder” to give the listener a bit of a haunt if you will.  There’s is an eerie quality here, perhaps in the way guitars seemingly bounce quietly in the background, or in Hunter’s dark croon as the song trickles passed. “Rosie” also has a far away feel to it, almost as if it’s meant to be a soundscape song, that is until you hit the 1:15(ish) mark.  Steady drumming accompanied by the typical ringing guitars gives listeners the chance to hear a focused group in the midst of possibly their best work to date.

Twin Hand Movement lives up to the promise of lead single “Tea Lights.”  Hunter’s vocals keep a sense of brooding throughout, but the guitar work as it pokes and prods in the listener’s brain keeps the you wrapped up in the wall of sound Lower Dens has created.  If you’re in search of a dark-tinted album with ringing guitars that will echo in your bedroom, then I suggest you get on it.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/lowerdenstealights.mp3]

Download: Lower Dens – Tea Lights [MP3]

FT5: Ted Leo Albums – An ACL Preview

Are you ready for Austin City Limits Festival?  Well, we certainly are, and we’re working with the fine folks at the festival to guarantee that you’re filled in on all the great sights and sounds coming our way.  We’re bringing you an introduction, to those who don’t know him, to Ted Leo, one of my personal favorites, and admittedly, my man-crush of many years.  I’ve seen him solo, in the club and at a festival, and he never fails to win me over.  So, I’ve decided to rank his 5 albums, excluding his work with Chisel, so if you’re a newcomer, you’ll know where to start, and if you’re not, then you can throw out your two cents to make your case. Be sure to follow ACL Festival for more updates on great bands, and we’ll do our part to keep you updated as well.

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Silversun Pickups @ Stubbs (7/19)

Date Monday, July 19th
Location Stubbs
Doors 700p
Tickets SOLD OUT

Well, I’ll be honest, Silversun Pickups is not necessarily my cup of tea; I mean, there are a few catchy songs, but overall, it just doesn’t do it for me.  I will tell you that in going to this show, I’m really excited for the two opening bands.  Against Me is bringing their punk goes electric sounds to the stage as the middle act, and killer nice guys in Henry Clay People will bring their own hot tracks to the stage as the opening band.  Luckily, you can catch HCP at Waterloo Records on the day of the show at 5 PM for free, and we suggest you make it out there, as they’re a band you need to check out.

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

Fun Fun Fun Fest Leak

You know one of Austin’s best festivals is actually Fun Fun Fun Fest right?  Well, they’re slowly starting to leak out news about who will be taking the stage, and you get to hear it right from Bill Murray on this video.  Looks like we’ll be hosting Best Coast, Slick Rick and Suicidal Tendencies, so that’s a pretty solid start, especially considering how everyone is soon to fall in love with Best Coast.  We’ll keep you posted on more updates.

Delta Spirit @ Emos (7/17)

Date Saturday, July 17th
Location Emos
Doors 900p
Tickets $12 @ Ticketweb

There’s a bundle of really solid rock shows this weekend, but the one recommendation I can give you is that you need to end up Emos on Saturday.  Delta Spirit is headlining a show in support of their great new album History From Below.  Not only do these guys put on a great show that has one them fans all over, but they are playing with none other than David Vandervelde.  He’s been sort of a shapeshifter of late, originally coming off as Bolan, but trying to go a little softer in his current state.  Regardless, why not go enjoy the night with a couple of great bands worthy of your time?  Exactly, so let’s do this.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/05-someone-like-you1.mp3]

Download: David Vandervelde – Someone Like You [MP3]

Mystery Jets – Serotonin

Rating: ★★★★½

Years ago Mystery Jets began as a father/son project, influenced by the father’s classic tastes on Zootime.  They followed that up being influenced by the masses and the trends on Twenty One.   Now, we find them with Serotonin, matured and self-assured.  The latest release provides one of the most consistently enjoyable albums for all sorts of listeners.  Having stepped into their own, there is no telling where we’ll go from here.

You can barely hear the trickle of noise as the album opens, but as the vocals slowly climb on “Alice Sings” you can feel the rising tension.  Enter crashing drums, and we’re off into a blissful romp of a tune fueled by knife-like guitars and Blaine Harrison’s maturing voice. It’s really this maturity, and not only with Blaine’s voice, but with the band’s sound as a whole that makes this one hell of a listen. “Too Late to Talk” begins with a bit of cheesy keyboards, but they provide a certain sense of vibrance here, as opposed to the kitsch factor that was evident in previous listens.

There’s stylistic touches all over the record that keep the listening fun and frivolous, yet this doesn’t mean that the whistling on songs like “Flash a Hungry Smile” do anything to detract from the overall quality of the songs.  Really, it provides a deeper devotion to the purity of pop music.  They know they can use clever tricks, but if they focus on the rest of the writing, then they escape clear of cliches.  “Serotonin” has a similar little keyboard element kicking the song off, but the rest of the song sounds sort of bleak and dark, despite the subject matter.

Near the middle of the album, after you’ve been won over by song after song of special goodness, you hit the trifecta of amazing pop moments, surely the best moments on Serotonin.   That little bit of a jangling guitar in “Dreaming of Another World” along with Harrison’s rising vocal melody makes this song stick out, for some reason, right in the middle of the album.  Final production touches like the rolling drum beat near the end only make the track all the better. “Lady Grey” has this bubbling quality to it as the band sort of chugs along, but the kill factor comes during the chorus when Harrison asks “will you still love me in the morning.”   His vocal delivery is one of the best you’ll hear from him, even going back to the early years.  You’ll cease swinging your arms here if you listen to this chorus on repeat.  Finally, the third of the brilliant moments here comes via “Waiting on a Miracle,” slow pop polishing, just before Harrison belts out “I think you’re waiting on a miracle.”  Search all you want, but you probably won’t find pop music this good, indie or mainstream.

Closing out this album, it’s hard to find a single place where Mystery Jets took a misstep.  Every song has its own personality, and in that, they all carry bright choruses fastened to tight songwriting of the pop-leaning sort.  Serotonin is one of the most vibrant records of the year, built on the back of a band who seems to finally have come into their own as songwriters.  Perhaps this isn’t what everyone expected from them, but we should all be thankful that there are bands still willing to make music as lovable as this.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/07-Dreaming-of-Another-World.mp3]

Download: Mystery Jets – Dreaming of Another World [MP3]

New Tunes from Screaming Females

We first caught a glimpse of the power behind Screaming Females when they opened up for Ted Leo.  They wowed us then, and they are here to wow you as well.  The band has a new album titled Castle Talk coming out on September 14th, and its going to be killer.  One listen to single “I Don’t Mind It” and you can see why they’ve been winning fans all over with their classic alternative rock sounds.  Get ready for this band to win your heart.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/screamingfemalesidontmindit.mp3]

Download: Screaming Females – I Don’t Mind It [MP3]

New Tunes from The Biters

Who likes power pop? I do. I do.  Seriously, when I heard The Biters, I just went straight to iTunes and grabbed their EP.  I mean, its part Exploding Hearts, part Gentleman Jesse, and all parts just awesome.  There’s nothing arty or dancy, or even intricate for that matter, it’s just straight ahead rock n’ roll, like the good old days.  It fuels you with energy, and it’ll make your smile large. You gid?

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/The-Biters-Hang-Around.mp3]

Download: The Biters – Hang Around [MP3]

New Tunes from The Boat People

What can I say about Australian pop?  Man, it sucks me in every single time, but I won’t complain.  My newest find is The Boat People who just released their album Dear Darkly overseas. It’s got this atmospheric quality to the staple indie pop sound, and on the single “Soporific” the chorus is completely juxtaposed to the regular versus.  It’s a splendid style of songwriting.  Give this a try.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/02-Soporific-1.mp3]

Download: The Boat People – Soporific [MP3]

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