New Song from Elba

There seems to be a small amount of buzz growing behind Seattle group Elba, and I’m here to further their endeavor.  In September, the group will be releasing their self-titled album, which will hopefully put the band’s name out there.  On this track, the ringing guitar floating is mesmerizing, while the quieted backing vocals provide a new level of depth to the song’s sound.  Like me, you’ll scour the Internet for more tracks; you can find one on their BANDCAMP, and another HERE.  All signs point to a great release to further our already busy listening schedule in the fall.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Elba-From-A-Sinking-Ship.mp3]

Download: Elba – From A Sinking Ship [MP3]

New Jam from Wavves

Finally! I’ve got something on Nathan Williams! I’ve actually met Dave Grohl. Twice. Why does this matter you ask? Well, Nathan, and his band, Wavves, just released a new track tonight, “I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl,” which will appear on the band’s Life Sux EP, which hits the stores on September 20th. Honestly, I wasn’t entirely convinced of Williams’ talent until the last year and a half or so, but he’s cleaned up the production, and included great hooks, like those you’ll find here.  His star was rising long ago, but I feel as if this will only continue if he progresses the way he’s been heading.  I mean, come on, just look at that face.  Put that with a track like this and you’re bound to be a huge success. Now, if only I can get that girl from Best Coast to be my girlfriend.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Wavves-I-Wanna-Meet-Dave-Grohl.mp3]

Download: Wavves – I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl [MP3]

Devon Williams – Euphoria

Rating: ★★★★☆

Devon Williams has gone seemingly unnoticed, or he’s lived just below the lines of indie success.  Now, however, he seems poised for a breakthrough; Euphoria just might be that perfect blend between bedroom sensitivity and blissful pop.  If not, then perhaps things weren’t meant to be, but you can tell that Williams has perfect control over his craft with his latest release for Slumberland Records.

As if the cover art wasn’t enough, “Revelations” willingly sets the mood, bringing about the central theme of euphoria, musically speaking.  There’s a cleverness to the song’s construction, that’s both playful and, dare I say, pretty. “Your Sympathy” continues along the note, but the guitar sounds definitely will find a home with fans of the bedroom-pop of today.  That guitar will ring throughout the song, but it’s the “ooohs” of Devon Williams, not to mention solid drumming that move it beyond the recordings of your average boy and his four-track.

While “Dreaming” furthers that bedroom pastiche, “Sufferer” takes it even further.  There’s fantastical elements all throughout, with various effects on the guitar crafting the soundtrack one would find in a land such as that on the cover.  It’s bright, yet there are dark hues and hidden patches only close listeners might fine.  For the most part, Euphoria really sticks in this musical vein, not straying too far off.  That is until you get to “Right Direction.”

In this tune, you’ll find an entirely different guitar sound, one that’s much warmer in tones, rather than slightly angular.  It’s sort of the middle ground between Euphoria and his Williams’ last record, Carefree. There’s a more moving pace, but there’s definitely that affectation for sweeping sounds.  It comes at the perfect time, breaking up the possibility of monotony that stems from too many like-minded tracks.  Which is precisely what this track seems to do, as the rest of the album is more of a mix of sounds and styles, making it the more exciting half of the album.

“How Is There Always Room” seems intent upon reliving various soundtrack moments from 80s movies, yet Williams has a different vocal approach, allowing the song to evolve beyond cliche.  “Tired of Mulling” is more of a casual ballad, accompanied by lush string arrangements.  It’s a track that stands out on its own, in so far as it doesn’t sound remarkably like anything here, though it easily fits into the collection.  And as Euphoria draws to a close, everything seems to have fit, falling nicely into the theme defined in the very title of the album.

Devon Williams didn’t always sound like this, but he always possessed the talent and the songwriting to make such huge leaps and bounds. It’s an album that refines the bedroom-pop of today, adding forceful percussion, lush arrangements and, honestly, solid production.  While at times it may blend together too nicely, it’s an excellent effort, making Euphoria worthy of accolades from this writer, and surely many more.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Your-Sympathy.mp3]

Download: Devon Williams – Your Sympathy [MP3]

More New Music from Gross Magic

A few weeks ago I brought you a jam from UK up-and-comer Gross Magic.  I’m going to go ahead and take credit for pushing this band on the masses, as they seem to be exploding on the Interwebs at this moment. As we get closer to the American release date of the Teen Jamz EP on October 11th via Fat Possum, more music is floating out.  One listen to this beat-laden track, and you’ll begin to realize precisely why I find GM so interesting, making the sound more than just your average pop collage piece.  This is definitely one of my favorite short EPs of the year.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/03-Sweetest-Touch.mp3]

Download: Gross Magic – Sweetest Touch [MP3]

Show Preview: Bad Sports @ Beerland (8/27)

Date Saturday, August 27th
Location Beerland
Doors 900p
Tickets CHEAP

You all know how much I love my punk rock, and probably the best place in town to enjoy such bands, for me, is Beerland.  It’s the perfect place to catch the gritty power-pop of Bad Sports, the Texas band who’ve been blazing away after the release of their recent record, Kings of the Weekend.  As if one great band wasn’t enough, you’ll get two, with Wax Museums opening up the evening just after Bang Bang Theodores. It’s going to be cheap, there’s going to be booze, and some of the best bands around, so you better get there!

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/bad_sports_teenage_girls.mp3]

Download: Bad Sports – Teenage Girls [MP3]


New Chamber Pop from Miracles of Modern Science

You’ve got to love the progression of modern string instruments, moving beyond classical music and into the mainstream with bands like Arcade Fire and Final Fantasy.  This trend continues with your introduction to Miracles of Modern Science, a band bred in the Ivy Leagues.  They’ll be releasing their new record, Dog Years, next week, and it’s definitely going to catch the ears of many, as it employs creativity and hooks that grab you right away.  Clever instrumentation can only go so far, but it’s clear that this band has so much more to offer, so spend some time with this track below in order to fall in love like we did over here at ATH.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/sr20110825_mp3_miraclesofmodernscience.mp3]

Download: Miracles of Modern Science – Eating Me Alive [MP3]

ACL Spotlight: Death From Above 1979

It’s that time of year folks! Hopefully the heat will subside, even if for a few days, and we can get full-on into our celebration of Austin City Limits, free of heat stroke. We’ll be bringing you interviews and more over the next couple of weeks, highlighting bands we think you should check out over the festival, so read on for info on our first spotlight, Death From Above 1979. Read more

New Tunes from ARMS (Todd Goldstein of Harlem Shakes)

In case you missed out on the now defunct Harlem Shakes, I’m here to let you know you missed something quite special.  For now, we can all make due with ARMS, the project of Todd Goldstein, formerly of HS.  He’s done some work on his own, but he’s now recruited a few friends to help flesh out the sound of ARMS.  His new moniker in tow, he’ll be releasing Summer Skills on November 8.  Some of the tracks, like the one below, you can find on a free EP over on the group’s BANDCAMP, but as for the rest, you’ll have to wait until November before you get to fall wholeheartedly in love.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/ARMS-EP-02-Heat-Hot-Water.mp3]

Download: ARMS – Heat & Hot Water [MP3]

Stephin Merritt – Obscurities

Rating: ★★★☆☆

For some, Stephin Merritt probably ties into their lives at every corner, as he seems to craft brilliant tunes at almost every turn.  Yet, despite his work with Magnetic Fields, the 6ths, and various other projects, he remains largely a cult hero to most, and an oddball to dissenters.  That being said, fans of his work will probably find endless enjoyment in Obscurities, while other will, sadly, continue to look the other way.

“Forever and a Day” begins the record as only Stephin can, offering up a solemn bit of ukulele, meant to accompany many on their way to the altar.  It’s easily one of the standouts on this collection, demonstrating how delicate his songwriting can be.  If you wished for someone to write the perfect love song for you, the odds are Merritt has it stored away somewhere.  Even those longing for the love of nature will find their needs met with “The Sun and the Sea and the Sky,” an ode to the remarkable powers of the environment to shine into our lives.

Perhaps one of the things that has kept the masses from adoring Stephin Merritt is his tendency to amuse himself with either his writing or his instrumentation.  Take, “When I’m Not Looking, You’re Not There,” for instance, which seems to have sort of a glitch approach to Merritt’s typical construction, filled with beeps and blips, oddly uniting to fit the song’s goals.  Even the touches used on the out-of print 7″ track ” I Don’t Believe You” seem to disjoint the song, but I suppose that my own love of the later version that appeared on I, which is one of my favorite works by The Magnetic Fields.

Still, even when he’s crafting mock numbers, such as “Plant White Roses,” which alludes to the works of Patsy Cline, he’s successful.  Yes, there’s a female vocal here, but Merritt’s always employed that touch in parts on his work, so it truly is the crafty melody that warms you over.  Or you can take a look a listen to “Rot in the Sun,” just to see what he’s been able to accomplish, using electronic sounds oddly reminiscent of “Eye” by Smashing Pumpkins.  For me, it illustrates his ability to start somewhere, either a bar or his bedroom, using the melody to build the song, and using whichever instrument fits the melody the best.

In the end, Obscurities, is definitely a collection piece.  It’s not nearly as thematically cohesive as the majority of his work tends to be, so this, in my opinion, is not the place to start your love affair with Stephin Merritt.  However, those who adore him will find pleasant things, was nostalgic, and revisit his entire collection.  Merritt’s one of those musicians who you can’t ignore, and even here, on a haphazard collection, you’ll find him sinking beneath your skin, finding his way to your heart.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Stephin-Merritt-Forever-And-A-Day.mp3]

Download: Stephin Merritt – Forever And A Day [MP3]

New Dream Pop from Work Drugs

When I first listened to this record by Work Drugs, I thought they surely had something going with Captured Tracks; it captures that minimal sound with warm melodies and quiet vocals. But, I was wrong, as these guys are going it alone, so your best bet is to get out there and support them.  They’ve just self-released their album, Summer Blood, and you can grab it for yourself over on the group’s BANDCAMP page.  If you’re looking for something in the vein of bedroom construction to wrap up your summer, then you better get on it soon, as this band is doing a great job crafting that sound.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Work-Drugs-Summer-Blood-02-Rad-Racer.mp3]

Download: Work Drugs – Rad Racer [MP3]

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