New (ish) Music from The Spits

I’ll acknowledge that this band has been around for quite some time, but only recently did I start to really dig the group after the release of their newest album, IV. Everything about this band works perfectly for a Friday.  The Spits are fast, catchy, and a little bit dark…all things I enjoy.  I just wanted to give those who weren’t aware a little heads up on this killer band.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/01-Tonight.mp3]

Download: The Spits – Tonight [MP3]

New Music from Clinic

Once you get beyond the fact that Clinic gained a lot of popularity for donning surgeon masks during their shows, you’ll also discover that the band has a remarkable discography.  It’s a collection of work that shows a fondness for pop of the past, but mixed in with a sense of musical adventure, along with their willingness to push boundaries.  The group has a new addition to the discography titled Bubblegum, which will hit stores on October 5th via Domino.  Expect something special, as per usual.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/clinic_imaware.mp3]

Download: Clinic – I’m Aware [MP3]

New Tunes from Telekinesis

Telekinesis just released a new EP yesterday, and I just had to pick it up.  The Parallel Seismic Conspiracies EP has a few new tracks from Mr. Lerner, as well as a few covers of Guided by Voices.  You can order the EP over at Merge Records, or grab it from the band while they’re on tour with SSLYBY.  Give it a go.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/01.-Dirty-Thing.mp3]

Download: Telekinesis – Dirty Thing [MP3]

New Tunes from Restless People

I first heard about Restless People because I’ve been following the spin-offs of Professor Murder, mostly because my old lady really digs that band.  The band released a single today, “Don’t Back Down,” (via P4K).  While it does have a whole lot of electronic touches, which I’m trying to ween myself off of this year, you can still find some knifing vocals, a la the Drums, but with a little less surf to them.  Okay, so its sort of just a trendy little dance number, but damn if it ain’t catchy.  You’ll find it on the band’s self-titled debut, which hits the streets on September 14th.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Restless-People-Dont-Back-Down.mp3]

Download: Restless People – Don’t Back Down [MP3]

Land of Talk – Cloak and Cipher

Rating: ★★★½ ·

When we last checked in with Lizzie Powell, she was on the road with Broken Social Scene, playing the role of chanteuse.  Now, she’s returned with her own group, Land of Talk, offering up their latest work since 2008’s Some Are Lakes. The new album, Cloak and Cipher, shows a much more developed band, and one that lives up to the early promise of the band.

When you listen to Powell’s vocals on the majority of opener “Cloak and Cipher” she has that same jazz vocal coating that BSS utilize, but in the chorus you find a much more distinguished lady, coming off a little gentler, a little more intimate.  There’s a driving drum line, that while not the most creative, serves as the driving force behind the track.  “Goaltime Exposure” has a lot of relatives in the Canadian scene, possibly too familiar, but the moment the song is turned on its side, magic is unleashed upon the listeners.  Powell’s voice is beautiful here, and there seems to be some sort of emotional release from the music itself, only to go back into the gentle progression before erupting in joy yet again.

The progression of Land of Talk is the one surprising element that does a great benefit to show the beauty on the album, as well as the strength of the band. “Swift Coin” opens up with a nicely drenched bit of reverb atop pounding drums, then Powell enters, and the mood changes.  Soft vocals provide a different texture to this song, letting the tension build until the chorus crashes in on the listener’s ears.  It’s quite similar, minus the pop element, to “The Hate I Won’t Commit,” which has to be the noisiest song the band has recorded to date.  Swirling guitar textures and effects used on the vocals create an entirely different emotion, until the band switch the tempo on you, giving you a little musical wink before pushing off into the louder spectrum again.  Such changes provide Cloak and Cipher with a lot more variance in the listening experience, making this record ultimately more rewarding than their previous effort.

It all closes with a solemn affair, “Better and Closer.”  Guitars are used sparingly, creating a sort of wall of noise that will accompany Powell’s voice for the duration of the track.  Elizabeth’s performance really sums up her talents as they’re seen throughout the LP. It rises quietly, yet with an angelic quality; it drenches the entire record in a coat of wintery pop tones that go a long way to establish the mood within each song.  Closing out Cloak and Cipher, you can be sure that this band is now finally hitting their stride, coming together in a cohesive manner we’ve yet to see from them.  To date, this is the best collection of songs by Land of Talk, and it goes a long way to establish the group as one of the new powerhouses in Canadian pop music.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/04-Swift-Coin-1.mp3]

Download: Land of Talk – Swift Coin [MP3]

New Music from The Smiles

LA band The Smiles have just released their new Hermosa EP, and we’re trying to help spread the word about this great group of dudes.  It’s everything you want for a nice summer drive along the coast, or in our case, along the I-35 corridor.  There’s sunny melodies, quick turns in direction, and infectious bass work.  Songs this catchy deserve a little love, so here’s to you fellas, and your damned hooks!

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/01-Cala-Cola.mp3]

Download: The Smiles – Cala Cola [MP3]

New Tunes from Fossil Cities

Man, I wish I could find out more about this band right now.  Searching the Internet, you can’t really find much on Fossil Cities, and their myspace page seems to have vanished.  Putting that aside, their sound is absolutely great, and this track from their new Stoners EP is solving my Sunday doldrums.  At first, I fell in love with the simple guitar strumming in the background, and then I fell madly in love with the track as a whole.  Maybe you’ll feel the same as you try to gather your energy up on a Monday morning.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/02-Stoners.mp3]

Download: Fossil Cities – Stoners [MP3]

Jenny and Johnny – I’m Having Fun Now

Rating: ★★★★ ·

What can we expect when our favorite artists fall in love and write music together?  It didn’t work for Yoko and John, but would it work for Rilo Kiley songstress Jenny Lewis and her beau, Johnathan Rice?  Well, I’m Having Fun Now, the first album under the Jenny and Johnny moniker, really sums up the attitude of the duo, as that spirit, at least musically, embodies everything about the album.  Honestly, you’ll probably be having a lot of fun as well listening to this record.

When Johnathan Rice‘s voice kicks in on “Scissor Runner,” it’s a warm entry, and you begin to wonder when Jenny will show up.  Seconds later she greets her man with her distinguished vocals, sounding a little bit more like the Jenny Lewis of yesteryear.  Beginning at this point launches the record in the perfect direction, exhibiting a duo completely comfortable with one another, both in and out of the studio.  They even stop to incorporate some of the current California jangle pop with “My Pet Snake,” the first track that really features Jenny.  Her voice hasn’t sounded this great and confident in years, which may surprise some, as Rice helped her produce the much lauded Acid Tongue.  So far, so good.

“Big Wave” is another one of the record’s great tracks, and it’s one of those tracks that really takes you back.  Jenny sounds a lot fresher with her vocal performance, and while many love her country-fied leanings, she can still carry a solid pop tune.  It’s not the most incredibly innovative songwriting, but the casualness on display suits the duo perfectly; it’s like they were both born to write I’m Having Fun Now.  Even Johnathan sounds great when he takes the lead role, such as on tracks like “Animal.”  There’s a hint of devil-may-care in his delivery, yet there is a certain sense of confidence, perhaps from knowing his lover/best friend is by his side, as Lewis really brings her powers to the chorus here.

An edgier Jenny Lewis, who still writes her lyrics in much the same fashion as she always has, is on exhibit with songs like “Straight Edge of the Blade,” transporting listeners back to the days where she seemed so care-free.  This is perhaps the best accomplishment of Jenny and Johnny, bringing the best out in each other, supporting each other and uniting in strength. “New York Cartoon,” much like parts of “Scissor Runner,” uses vocals from both parts singing in unison.  It’s the perfect accompaniment, and you can clearly see why they’re such a match. These touches of balance and harmony lie in wait for listeners throughout the album.

In conclusion, you couldn’t really ask form more from the two songwriters here.  There’s hints of both their passion in these songs, sometimes edgy, sometimes mellow and warm.  Perhaps you won’t find the music the most innovative out there, but occasionally its those groups who clearly know each other so well that they bring the best out of one another that really hit home for us.  Jenny and Johnny have shown us just that with their organization of I’m Having Fun Now; the record shows the two having fun playing together, which leads to fun for us.  The ball is in your court Ben and Zooey.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/Jenny-and-Johnny-Scissor-Runner.mp3]

Download: Jenny and Johnny – Scissor Runner [MP3]

New Music from Christian Bland

Christian Bland and the Revelators is a little known Austin band, but we all know Christian.  He’s the guy shredding guitars and spreading the noise for The Black Angels.  Recently, he uncovered an album’s worth of recorded material, and will be releasing it as   The Lost Album on September 1st.  It’s going to be super limited to 333 copies, and will include a poster designed by Christian himself.  This is a wonderful glimpse into the mind of one of Austin’s leading musicians.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Christian_Bland_and_The_Revelators-The_Lost_Album-04-I_See_You.mp3]

Download: Christian Bland and the Revelators – I See You [MP3]

Show Preview: Dignan @ the Mohawk (8/29)

Date Sunday, August 29th
Location Mohawk
Doors 1000p
Tickets $? at the door

It seems that Texas’ Dignan has been rocking around the state for years and years, and we’ve grown quite fond of their explorative alternative rock.  Their newest tunes show a great deal of attention being given to every minor detail, which works out great for the group’s sound.  You’ll get  a chance to see them Sunday night in all their glory, accompanied by Farewell Flight and Burgess Meredith.  Make sure you make it out, as we hear school’s back, so you might not get out on too many more Sunday nights.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/04-Two-Steps.mp3]

Download: Dignan – Two-Steps [MP3]

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