Jay Reatard – Watch Me Fall

watch

Rating: ★★★★½

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]

FT5: Album Closers

0731top5coverIn 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.
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New Tunes from Music Go Music

musicWe got word yesterday that a final street date had been announced for Music Go Music‘s new album Expressions.  Said album comes out via Secretly Canadian on October 6th, and it features the wonderful song “Light of Love.” It absolutely reminds me of some sort of candy-pop from back in the day; the sort that recalls various montages in movies throughout history, particularly the birthday party scene in Problem Child.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/01-light-of-love-1.mp3]

Download: Music Go Music – Light of Love [MP3]

New Tunes from Mountain Goats

mountainI’m not sure how many songs John D. has under The Mountain Goats moniker, but I’m always thirsty for more.  His witty lyrics and gentle guitar strumming never cease to please.  He’s got a new album coming out titled The Life of the World to Come on 4AD on October 6th.  Apparently all the songs have biblical references, but he swears it’s not some newfound devotion.  Here’s the new track.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/02-genesis-3_23-1.mp3]

Download: Mountain Goats – Genesis 3:23 [MP3]

The Most Serene Republic – And the Ever Expanding Universe

serene

Rating: ★★★½ ·

Canada’s The Most Serene Republic have spent the majority of their career flying just below the radar of most indie music fans, but at their newest album, And the Ever Expanding Universe, demonstrates, this young group has continued to mature in more ways than mere age, honing their craft of compiling mini-suites of pop.   Such a progression alone warrant accolades, but the fact that the band has continued to form into a tightly knit group with songs to back it up is an entirely different achievement in and of itself.

“Heavens to Purgatory” is the second track on the album, opening with gentle guitar strumming and Adrian Jewett’s vocals sweeping highly.  Enter drums and female vocals from stage left.  Then the vocals of Emma Ditchburn take over, leading you towards the chorus and insurmountable joy.  Dripping off is a gentle usage of horns a la Broken Social Scene.

Up to bat next is “Vessels of a Donor Look,” a song with a certain amount of swing to it.  It’s as if the band combined their own touch of multi-instrumental indie rock with lounge tropicalia.  You’ll find that this song is one that demands repeat listens, begging for you to grab a cocktail and enjoy the rest of the show that is And the Ever Expanding Universe.

The longest song on the album, “Patternicity,” again seems to be constructed of multiple arrangements within the arrangements themselves.  It’s as if the band approached the writing here with a touch of a composer’s attitude, which makes sense since rumor has it that band constructs their songs around piano pieces.  Although instrumental, this song ultimately rewards in its ability to shift from one perspective to another. Uplifting.

And for their third album, the band begins to wear some of their influences by fellow Canadians a bit more openly.  “Four Humours” sounds oddly like an outtake from an early Stars record, but make no mistake, the band owns this song. Their moderate flourishes of musicianship appear in the middle of the song as the bass takes a short walk just before the song returns to the fold.

Two things are amiss on this record.  First, Jewett doesn’t take nearly as prominent a role as he has in the past, which seems odd considering his live showmanship.  Second, there appear to be a lot of electronic flourishes throughout the album, which isn’t bad as a whole, just a continued departure from where the band began in the early years.

All said and done, And the Ever Expanding Universe is perhaps the most complete album the group has produced to date, leading most to assume that the group will only continue to climb further as they grow.  We’ll surely be hearing from The Most Serene Republic again.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/03-vessels-of-a-donor-look.mp3]

Download: The Most Serene Republic – Vessels of a Donor Look [MP3]

New Tunes from Princeton

princetonPrinceton is a group out of California, which explains a lot about the warm-bred pop they are offering on their latest track “Calypso Gold.”  This song is going to be included on the group’s debut, Cocoon of Love; the album is going to be released by Kanine Records.  If this song is any indicator, then there’s lots to look forward to with the release on September 29th.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/princeton_calypsogold.mp3]

Download: Princeton – Calypso Gold [MP3]

The band will also be playing at Emo’s on September 24th with some band named Ra Ra Riot. Never heard of em.

New Tunes from Division Day

divisiondayYet another group hailing from Los Angeles, Division Day, have matured since the release of their first album Beartrap Island. This song, “Chalk Lines,” is a dense little number, surely indicative of what is to come on their newest album, Visitation, which comes out August 18th on Dangerbird Records.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/division-day-chalk-lines.mp3]

Download: Division Day – Chalk Lines [MP3]

New Tunes from Fresh & Onlys

freshFresh & Onlys have already released one album this year, and their ready to release more tunes for you on September 15th when Woodsist puts out their Grey-Eyed Girls record. It should be full of brooding rock with that deeply haunting voice that you’ll hear in the song “Invisible Forces,” which we’ll happily toss your way. 

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/freshonlysinvisible.mp3]

Download: Fresh & Onlys – Invisible Forces [MP3]

YACHT – See Mystery Lights

yacht

Rating: ★★ · · ·

When Jona Bechtolt left B.L.O.W all these years back now, no one knew what direction he would pursue, as his music seemed perfectly fitting for the duo.  He wowed many with his clever YACHT debut, I Believe in You…, but could he proceed in a similar direction while achieving similar success when he added Claire Evans to the mix? See Mystery Lights is the answer to that question, though not necessarily the answer many were seeking.

The predominant factor on this set of ten songs is the usual inclusion of various blips and bleeps fused with clever pop elements throughout, much the same recipe used on the debut.  This round, the beats don’t really sound as progressive and interesting as they once did.  Perhaps this is due to the similarities of recent releases by other electronic based groups such as Animal Collective. Electronic collages are gradually wearing listeners down, and themselves, becoming watered down.

Redundancy seems to be one of the factors that contributes to the decline in creativity on See Mystery Lights. “It’s Boring/You Can Live Anywhere You Want” carries on for entirely too long, and never really seems to break into any new territory throughout the eight minutes of the song.  “Psychic City” opens with beats that seem reminiscent of The Knife, but then there is an utterly annoying water drop sound that continues to drip for the entirety of the song while Evans imitates early Debbie Harry.

“Summer Song” has easily one of the more enjoyable beats on the album; it’s probably one of the songs you would pick to play at a party, but even still, the promising beats don’t seem to really take off and go anywhere. It’s as if the whole record seems to be treading water, in danger of drowning itself in monotonous beats and repetitive lyrics.  What once garnered interest and enjoyment now seems tired and basic. One can go through the whole album without feeling as if any time has passed at all; musically, the album has stayed in the same place, as have you, the listener.

And in the end, you find two renditions of songs that were already presented on the album, which don’t particularly add anything to the originals, if you are to say that they don’t detract from those songs.  It seems that See Mystery Lights just didn’t quite come together for YACHT, and one might possibly say that the group suffered to come up with new material for an entire album, as clearly they ran out of songs.  It’s not a horrible offering, but it’s one that won’t really add much to your listening experience on this Earth.

Magnolia Electric Co @ The Mohawk (7/25)

magJason Molina brings his band, Magnolia Electric Co to the Mohawk this Saturday night in just one of the many shows about town. Not only do you get to see his band for the measly price of $8 (or $10 at the door), but you also get to see the likes of Monahans, and our personal favorites The Donkeys. It might be a mellow affair, but it will definitely be one you’ll enjoy thoroughly as you celebrate the end of the week. Here is an old MEC tune to get you in the mood.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/magnolia-electric-co-the-dark-dont-hide-it.mp3]
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