The last time we were able to catch M. Ward was at the shores of Ladybird Lake during SXSW, and the intimacy of his tunes was missed as his guitar seemed to drift out onto the shores of on-lookers-most of whom knew very little of the man. Upon his return, we had heard he would be rocking solo, but we were greeted by so much more.
Glasvegas has been around this web site for a long time now, and we’ve praised them on many a level, but we hadn’t seen them headline their own set just yet; we were lucky to catch them last night at Emos before we have to endure their tour with Kings of Leon in the fall. Ida Maria served as the evening’s appetizers, much to the joy of all those in attendance.
The Raveonettes have been around for a long long time, always sticking to their guns. Their newest album In and Out of Control is coming your way October 6th on Vice Records. Although they stay true to what they know, this single is a lot more upbeat with the female portion of the duo rocking it in an old school R&B sort of way. Based on the title of this song alone, it’s going to be an upbeat affair.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/the-raveonettes-suicide.mp3]
Download: The Raveonettes – Suicide [MP3]
As summer draws to a close, there always seems to be a swell of folk-tinged outfits putting out releases, but none sound nearly as good as this new tune from Port O Brien. This is the first single off their upcoming album Threadbare, which should hit the streets near us on October 6th.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/port-obrien-sour-milk-salt-water.mp3]
Download: Port O’ Brien -Sour Milk/Salt Water [MP3]
It seems that Scott Reitherman has finally found a consistent group of musicians to flesh out his songs, as the new Throw Me The Statue album, Creaturesque is steps above the band’s first album, Moonbeams. Sure, it’s their second album, so we’re expecting growth and maturity, but it’s so far beyond where that first album began that it’s worth giving credit where credit is due.
When the guitar tinkering begins the album on “Waving at the Shore,” you begin to wonder if you’re in for another lo-fi production a la every other record this year. But, clarity coincides with the introduction with Scott’s vocals. His control over his inflection and delivery is noticeable throughout the song, and it’s one of the more charming aspects of the group. Here, you will also find a steady barrage of carefully crafted horn blasts; it’s just a slight extra element, but it elevates the song.
Inclusion of extra elements typically is meant to add a certain sense of depth, and while Throw Me the Statue could surely hold their own without it it, these little flourishes complete the sonic soundscape of the album as a whole, bringing it to completion by filling in every inch of space, yet never becoming overbearing. “Ancestors” is the prime exhibit of this tactic. The song waivers in fullness and depth, but then switches to the intimacy of singer-songwriter near the end, complimenting both elements by capturing a diverse sound in song.
Oddly, one of the elements that has been predominant since the band’s inception, the keyboard/electronica, is one of the drawbacks that exists here. For instance, “Hi Fi Goon” opens with this little piece, but the sound itself is sort of juvenile and generic. Sure, it’s definitely meant to help push the songs in a certain direction, but when it’s used so often, it seems to act as a cloak for some of the weaker moments in the group’s song dynamic. It would be great to see the band stripped of this crutch, as Reitherman surely has the intoxicating pipes to keep us interested.
“Baby You’re Bored” is one of the album’s shorter songs, but it is the pure contradiction to the previous paragraph, as it’s a stripped down song entirely. It recalls a more contained Band of Horses or early Built to Spill, both which hailed, at one point or another, from the Norhwest just like Throw Me the Statue. The song is a success, and one can hope that the approach may be used more often in the future.
Creaturesque is a solid record, surely, despite a few little missteps. It’s clever where it needs to be, and it’s wonderfully constructed from beginning to end. One more album and the group will surely be on their way to winning over everyone with their electronic-folk pop.
Or, The Whale reminds me a lot of The Dutchess and the Duke, with a little less stones, and a little more country-pop thrown in the mix. They have a new, self-titled album coming out on September 22nd, and we’ve got ourselves a hold on one of the new songs. Enough of the comparisons, let’s hear those tunes.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/02-datura-1.mp3]
Download: Or, The Whale – Datura [MP3]
AU will be hitting the road soon with Why?, and as they are about head out, they’re offering up a sweet new tune to go with their upcoming Versions EP slated for release on October 8th. This track, “Ida Walk Away” is layered with sound, and it seemingly swirls in a condensed format before rising, and then falling again. Try this on for size.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/ida-walked-away-promo-1.mp3]
Download: AU – Ida Walk Away [MP3]
Desolation Wilderness is prepping for their tour this fall, and as most bands do, they’re releasing an album to promote themselves. This record will be titled New Universe and is going to be released by our friends over at K Records this week. We’ve got a little sample to throw at you right now![audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/desolation-wilderness-boardwalk-theme.mp3]
Download: Desolation Wilderness – Boardwalk Theme [MP3]
Jay Reatard, the supposed bad boy of garage rock, returns this year with his new album, Watch Me Fall. Unlike his last few releases, these are sets of new songs, which show a similarly new side to the band. While Bloodvisions was fueled by a sense of madness and fury, here we find a more subdued effort; it shows that Jay Reatard is more than just a one trick pony, and the group is destined to go beyond the stereotypical garage sounds.
When the record opens with “It Ain’t Gonna Save Me” we meet the same Jay Lindsey we’ve known for years. Energized and blasting his guitar licks as quickly as he can, speeding furiously towards the end of the song. Oddly, it’s one of the few songs of this set that offers us a glimpse at the garage-punk element of Jay Reatard, as the rest of the record seems to veer into the realms of garage-tinged power-pop.
“Before I Was Caught” is a rime example of the new direction, and let’s say it, the softer side, of the band. Sure, the guitar is still chugging along, but it’s not done with the same intensity as it’s been done in the past, which isn’t a bad thing in the least bit. Sure, the high-pitched yelp of Lindsey comes into play here, but his delivery outside of the chorus demonstrates a more relaxed approach to songwriting.
Coming across a song like “Can’t Do It Anymore” yet again portrays a poppier world for the group, even with the excruciating feedback in the midst of the song, the overall tone of the song is a bit more uplifting, though the lyrics might not portray the exact same sentiment. You can pile this on to the chorus of “Faking It,” which again shows a Lindsey who isn’t screaming with force in the face of his listeners. Finally, we’re presented with a likable attitude, one that is more endearing to a multitude of listeners in contrast to the band as of a short bit ago.
We even find ourselves visiting the land of balladry in this collection of songs. “I’m Watching You” is a perfect gem of power-pop goodness, and although there is some sonic exploration as guitars meaner mid-song, it still encompasses an overwhelming feeling of a strong ballad. You can place such moments right alongside the album’s closer, “A Whisper (There is No Sun).” It’s probably one of the most accessible songs in the Jay Reatard collection to this point, and despite partially indecipherable lyrics, you still can gather the emotion from this song.
To sum it all up, we have a new band here, or almost. There’s a bit of calling out, there’s a bit of remorse, but overall, there is a shift in the direction of the songwriting, ultimately making the album much more rewarding to listeners than anything that has preceded the group. Watch Me Fall is a gem of power-pop stirred inside a garage smoothie, and surely worthy of accolades and adoration.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/12-there-is-no-sun.mp3]
Download: Jay Reatard – A Whisper (There is No Sun) [MP3]
In the current state of the music industry, we’re all overly concerned with singles, rather than the completed album. But, long ago, people put thought and art into the creation of the ending of an album, the summation of their musical statement. We all have sat in our rooms, at least I hope, waiting for that last song, that last breath of music, in hopes of the perfect summation to an album. A brilliant closer almost always warrants a brilliant album, and we’ve compiled a list of our favorite album closers that always guarantee we listen to said album all the way through until the needles hits the vinyl and emits that hiss signaling the end of the record.