New Tunes from Oberhofer

Oberhofer makes the perfect music for a Friday afternoon, well, any afternoon, but its pertinent, seeing as today is Friday.  You’ll find his single, “I Could Go” builds with a bit of throbbing samples and moving rhythms, designed to lift you up out of your office chair, albeit for a five minute span.  As his chanting vocals come in, bouncing in the seeming background of the song as cymbals crash, you’re hooked; you’re stuck with this song in your head.  It’s a good Friday after all.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/I-Could-Go-1.mp3]

Download: Oberhofer – I Could Go [MP3]

New Tunes from Young Man

Chicago native Colin Caulfield is going to be blowing you away this year.  He’s playing under the name of Young Man, but there’s nothing that sounds entirely young, so to speak, as the melodies go way back in the history of American pop music.  His debut Boy EP will be coming out on Frenchkiss on October 12th, so you better accustomed to hearing him now, as we’re sure that he’s just beginning to rise into the forefront of it all.

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

Download: Young Man – Hands [MP3]

Secret Cities – Pink Graffiti

Rating: ★★★★ ·

You have to love it when your favorite labels discover little gems that you probably wouldn’t have gotten your hands on, which is precisely the case here as Western Vinyl have released Secret Cities new album Pink Graffiti.  Coated in psychedelic influences, with a huge leaning towards chamber music for bedrooms, this is an unexpected surprise that will be spinning in my head for months.

“Pink City” begins our journey through this beautifully crafted second album by building upon the backbone of a really solid drumming, yet ever so carefully the drums are peeled away, in favor of what sounds to be hand claps.  There’s a gentle coat of fog atop the song, yet the detailing of this song pushes it into the spectrum of more than atmospheric pop, making it a genuine winner in its own right.  You almost stumble right into “Boyfriends” using really light vocals and a tambourine to slowly climb your way to the top of this pop mountain, the peak of which comes near the 3:25 mark, taking you bounding down the other side, whistling all the way to the end.

What’s interesting here is that instead of filling an album full of songs blending melodies, psychedelia and coated noise, Secret Cities are happy to just explore their own musical direction.  They pause mid-album to offer you up “Wander,” which has a dark sound created by the tone of the piano.  You’d be close to call this music of soundscapes, but placed amidst the rest of the songs on Pink Graffiti, it allows you refresh yourself and take a moment to ponder what is you’ve just experienced.  Then we’re off and running again, as the ringing guitar from “Color” begins to soar into the front of your speakers.  MJ Parker’s vocals are magnificent, almost like fine crystal, but not in an overly dramatic way.  It’s a pleasure to see such restraint from a band who could easily fall the way of self-indulgence.

Really, you’re meant to listen to this album all the way through, and you really should.  Aside from “Wander,” Pink Graffiti is well organized.  So much so, that “Pink Graffiti Part 1” is out of order, but it’s energetic pulse provides a great energy to give you the extra lift towards the end of the album.  Something about the melody here that is so strong allows you to almost ignore the vocals completely, still capturing the essence of this brilliant song, which seems to have a bit of a cut and paste to it.  And you’re final landing will come with “The End,” a song that finds MJ again using her remarkable pipes to propel the song into an otherworldly region that will most certainly haunt you, that is until you press play and listen to entirety of this great work over again.

Secret Cities needs more recognition, and surely their craftsmanship on Pink Graffiti will earn them some notice from all walks of listeners.  Pieces emit a quiet beauty, while other moments demonstrate the band’s affinity for layering sounds on top of sounds, and others are adorned with psychedelic flourishes of the best type.  Do yourself a favor and let the wonderment of this record slowly sweep you away into a place of pure bliss.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/WV72.PG_.PT1_.mp3]

Download: Secret Cities – Pink Graffiti Part 1 [MP3]

Show Review: Silversun Pickups @ Stubbs (7/19)

As I prepared for my evening at Stubbs, I pored through several different albums.  A few tracks from Silversun Pickups, all the Against Me, and the solid new album from Henry Clay People. I didn’t know what to expect necessarily, caught in nostalgia for my punk days, but not so amped for the main course. Still, I love a good live show, so I just had to be there.  Follow the jump for more.

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New Tunes from Bewitched Hands on the Top of Our Heads

Awhile back I brought you tracks from the French band Bewitched Hands on the Top of Our Heads, and while I’m not a huge fan of their name, the music is really doing it for me.  The latest single is called “I Don’t Know,” and it definitely has a dark psychedelic quality to it that will haunt you in the way that only good music can. The bands Hard to Cry EP will hit US shores next Tuesday, but you can preview the whole EP by clicking HERE.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/The-Bewitched-Hands-On-The-Top-Of-Our-Heads-I-Dont-Know.mp3]

Download: The Bewitched Hands On The Top Of Our Heads – I Don’t Know [MP3]

Free EP from Guards

We all love free tunes, so you can’t really turn away from this great new band, Guards.  Their sound is a bit of lo-fi, but they definitely do their part to include a bit of strong melody in those tracks.  The self-titled EP from the band has seven tracks, and each one has a bit of a different spin than the preceding number, so you don’t get bogged down in monotony.  Definitely give this group a try.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/04-dont-wake-the-dead.mp3]

Download: Guards – Don’t Wake the Dead [MP3]

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.

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