New Tunes from The Cave Singers

cavesingersWe’ve mentioned The Cave Singers before, and we loved their set a few years back at Fun Fun Fun Fest, so when news came about concerning a new album, we were excited. This new album, Welcome Joy comes out via Matador on August 18th, and we’re sure it will be nothing short of delicious. On the new song, there is a bit of an edge to it, which isn’t surprising considering the past of the trio.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/the-cave-singers-at-the-cut.mp3]

Download: The Cave Singers – At The Cut [MP3]

Tiny Vipers – Life on Earth

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Rating: ★★½ · ·

Tiny Vipers is the project of Seattle’s Jesy Fortino; she is the possessor of one incredible voice, wavering between high notes, and those from the depths of her diaphragm. Her new album, Life on Earth, checks in precisely where she left us the last time around, filled with careful guitar strumming, soft-spoken piano chords, and, of course, her astonishing vocals.

In this instance, the artwork on the cover pretty much seems to some up the album as a whole.  There is a girl in the middle of a dense shadowy hillside; we’ll let the girl play the role of Fortino.  Off in the distance, you can barely make out the band name and record title.  Rising flames play the role of Jesy’s voice.  For the most part, the album has a lot of absent space musically, which really ties in the statement of the artwork and the music.

No one will take away Fortino’s voice, and its clear quality.  The way she wavers between pitch and tone with songs like “Development” is something very few other musicians can imitate, though recent folk movements have seen many try their best.  It’s soothing quality is clearly something many listeners will find appealing, though perhaps more in the midnight hour than the morning drive to work as they prepare for the day.  Overall, it has a cleansing quality for one’s ear, removing beats and shuddering guitars in trade for a naked guitar and vocal approach.  Therein lies the drawback to such an album.  Placing the beauty of voice aside, there is no real pacing to the effort here, which allows for a lot of the songs to slowly drift into one another, making for one collage of extreme vocal exploration with very little else.

If in your search for music you seek out minimal instrumentation, slow pacing and a strong vocal presence, then this is precisely the album you have been looking for in all these years.  No one will be able to mimic this effort, as Tiny Vipers has few peers that can rise to meet her in this place.  Still, a lack of pacing makes for a drawn out listening affair, which may be just what some of us need at the end of the day.

Tiny Vipers will be playing with Castanets at Mohawk on Friday, July 24th.

New Tunes from Julian Plenti

jpJulian Plenti is the new name for Interpol frontman Paul Banks. He is set to debut his new album Julian Plenti is…Skyscraper on August 4th via Matador Records. I wonder if it will be in the realm of people like Albert Hammond Jr and be an Interpol lite album?  Based on this track, it seems JP is going off on his own a bit, which is a good thing in our book.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/julian-plenti-games-for-days.mp3]

Download: Julian Plenti – Games for Days [MP3]

Men @ The Beauty Bar – 7/22

menMen is two parts Le Tigre, and they will be making their way to Austin this Wednesday night at the Beauty Bar. It seems that the group is predominantly the work of JD Samson, but there are other contributions from her former band-mates. Men will be hitting the stage with Gretchen Phillips. Sounds like a danceable way to spend your hump day.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/men-off-our-backs.mp3]

Download: Men – Off Our Backs [MP3]

Generationals – Con Law

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Rating: ★★★★ ·

New Orleans duo, Generationals, seem to have flown beneath the radar for quite some time, that is until Park the Van Records, home to Dr. Dog, decided to release their album Con Law.  The record crosses various rivers of genre, yet always staying familiar in the listener’s ear.  Here we have a complete album of pop celebration that will surely tide us over for the rest of the summer.

When “Nobody Could Change Your Mind” begins, the tinkering of electronic keyboard makes it seem like just any other neo-electroni-pop album, but then the horns kick in, stepping the album out of a purely cliche realm of music. Vocals here have a bit of an echo, which may give them a lo-fi title, but the band is nowhere near that mark.

“Angry Charlie” switches gears, and recalls the best moments of MGMT, although if you listen to this on repeat several times you will see that the usage of the organ and bounding percussion give it an entirely different light, moving the band beyond their peers.  Yet, this group immediately allows for the staleness of such styles to veer in different directions.  The half-hearted stomp of  “Faces in the Dark” demonstrate that the band is far more than a one trick pony; they have a barrage of approaches in the writing of Con Law, allowing for the album to take on a more long-standing importance for fans.

By the time you meet the mid-section of this record, you start to wonder exactly why you hadn’t heard anything about this band up until this point in time.  “”When they Fight, They Fight,” and “Our Time (2 Shine)” are both solid tracks that exemplify just how special a listening experience this will be.  Both songs hold tightly to some really great hooks, while still paying homage to classic beach sounds.  They might take a slight misstep from here with “Wildlife Sculpture,” as it’s one of the very few songs that doesn’t immediately make you want to press repeat on your player, whatever format.

Just as the album seems as if it will stay with electronic flourishes, “Exterior Street Date” sweeps in with ringing guitars.  The vocals will take the key role for the majority of the song here, but the subtlety of the chorus somehow manages to stick inside your head.  This duo is the key of under-spoken pop gems, accessible and discernible, only for those with careful ears.  Following this comes “It Keeps You Up” with its bouncing piano work and vocals that appear to be sung by a mass group of fans, though it’s just one voice.  Such care went into the patchwork of these songs that it’s no wonder you find yourself listening to them again and again.  And such is the story of the album, you find yourself rushing back and forth to play that track over and over, wondering to yourself if it really was that good.  The answer for the songs, and the album is yes!

Generationals play at Stubbs Indoors on August 6th.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/02-angry-charlie.mp3]

Download: Generationals – Angry Charlie [MP3]

7/19 – Foreign Born/The Veils @ Mohawk

og_v_fb_06Sunday night wrapped up a rather moderate week of live music in Austin, but let’s not forget that we’ve had a pretty awesome summer of live music. Fortunately for us at ATH, we were able to catch Foreign Born, The Veils and Other Girls at The Mohawk on Sunday night, just after we did our best to pretend to be entertained by the Anarchy Wrestling Tour outside of the Mohawk. You can’t argue with $1 Pabst or good tunes. Follow the jump for our take on the show and a few snapshots.

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New Tunes from Islands

islandsWe’ve been closely following news that Islands will be releasing Vapours this September on Anti Records. Anything Nic Thorburn lays his hands upon turns up to be genius in our books, be it this band or Human Highway or the much missed Unicorns. This new track is a different approach to songwriting for him, with the empty space left open for his voice to soar.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/islands-no-you-dont.mp3]

Download: Islands – No You Don’t

New Tunes from The Flaming Lips

lipsAs much as I was disappointed by At War with the Mystics, I still have a soft-spot, mostly due to my friends, for The Flaming Lips. Every once in awhile they come up with something brilliant, such as The Soft Bulletin; it seems now that they have a title for their upcoming album in the fall, Embryonic, it’s time for tracks to make their way to the web. Thank to our good friend over at Covert Curiosity for giving us the heads up on the new tracks. Enjoy the promising “Silver Trembling Hands.”

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/03-silver-trembling-hands-1.mp3]

Download: Flaming Lips – Silver Trembling Hands [MP3]

The Fiery Furnaces – I’m Going Away

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Rating: ★★★½ ·

It’s hard to follow The Fiery Furnaces, as their genre hopping and musical expeditions tend to lead followers in several directions, occasionally at the same time.  However, you’d be reluctant not to notice the prolific output of the group, and their continuous relevance musically.  Their latest album, I’m Going Away, is chocked full of deviating paths and piano-laden hooks.

I’m Going Away beings with a song referencing the title, but it’s more of a statement song, allowing listeners to get just a brief taste of the band’s latest affair shortly before ending.  “Drive to Dallas” is the first exemplary song on the album, as the Friedbergers bounce back in forth between lounge piano work and lightning noise-infused guitar licks, just as Eleanor picks the pace of the song up with her vocals.  It’s place back to back with “The End is Near,” which sounds an awful lot like it could replace one of the various theme songs from your favorite sitcom of the eighties.  You should take a listen to Eleanor here, as her voice is remarkable once again, contrasting against her brother Matt’s as they trade verses and share roles during the chorus. Moments like this come about so rarely, but be thankful for a song such as this.

Speaking of voice, you have to wonder why Ms. Friedberer doesn’t get more love in the vocal department these days.  Her vocal range is spectacular, from the lounge-y hints during “The End is Near” to her close Costello approximation on “Charmaigne Champagne.”  She goes back and forth across tracks throughout the album, and you can’t help but envy the pipes she possesses.

Coming across “Even in the Rain” you will be pleased to find the band at possibly their most accessible during their entire career.  It’s a fairly simple song accompanied by Eleanor’s trademark poetry and very light percussion.  In fact, it almost sounds like the sort of song you might find (or wish) that Wilco was creating nowadays.  Similarly, “Ray Bouvier” hits at the hearts of listeners, gentle in progression and light in its texture.  The bare bones of the group appear to be the brightest this go round, and the entire album bursts forth thanks to this approach.

Epic songs such as “Take Me Around Again” or “Lost at Sea” surpass expectations of what one expects from a long Furnaces song.  After years of honing their skills, they group seem to bring it all in closely, barely deviating as far as we remember them doing on various other numbers.  It’s this newfound ability to hold back and focus that seems to have created some of the stronger songs on this side of the band’s career.

I’m Going Away is the most accessible Fiery Furnaces record to come out in a long time, largely driven by piano driven tracks and an ability to hold back the reins when the band would normally go into a schizophrenic foray into the outer realms of our pop indulgence.  It’s good from front to back, and you know you won’t complain about that.

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

Download: The Fiery Furnaces – The End Is Near [MP3]

Dead Weather – Horehound

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Rating: ★★ · · ·

Did you say Alison Mosshart? Yes please! Wait, Jack White too? Absolutely! These were the thoughts of many as news broke of a collaboration between the two, to be named Dead Weather.  Now the band have released their debut, Horehound, and for many, this album will be precisely what you wanted to get from the band, but for others, it might seem like the blues-rock version of Phish.

As the album opens with “60 Feet Tall” Mosshart makes her presence known.  Her sexually toned lyrics are full with the spirit of the blues, much as they were on the The Kills first album, Keep On Your Mean Side.  Sure, the song is full of ear-splitting guitar work, but it kind of seems as if the band is trying to indulge in their classic-rock chops just a bit too much, leaving Mosshart as the standout for the album within the opening minutes.

“Hang You From the Heavens” was the first single from the album, and it definitely packs a bit of a punch.  Fuzzed out guitars burn up and down through the song, meeting with the vocals of Alison as the seems to writhe in the negative space of the song. Perfecting the single is Jack White’s drumming, which will never be confused for the most exhilarating, but as he shows in this song, he knows just how to put the right touch on a song; he’s done this for years, and we can assume he will continue on that path.

“So Far From Your Weapon” demonstrates the lackluster elements of Horehound. Slow pacing and sparse instrumentation definitely make the tracks a lot weaker, as if the band’s meandering through their pantheon of influences took too much of the focus away from the band’s songwriting.  But, it’s juxtaposed with “Treat Me Like Your Mother,” a stomper of a song where White and Mosshart’s vocals collide in a furious explosion before guitars splice up the song, albeit momentarily.  But, yet another fault is that this song goes on way beyond where it should.  The groups seems to carry on, treading the proverbial water of this song.

So you come to the latter half of the album with songs like “Bone House” and “3 Birds.”  The only thing that goes on for a majority of this part of the album is the vocals of Mosshart.  In “Bone House” it’s her come-hither-howl that draws any attention to the song at all.  “3 Birds” as an instrumental song doesn’t seem to tell a story at all, as most instrumentals should do, instead it just exposes the lack of creativity that seems to be thrown into the mix far too often for the liking of most listeners.

This all sort of sums up the record as a whole.  Mosshart saves the album, as her dominating vocals never seem to lose their touch on the ear of listeners, but the music itself doesn’t seem to be much more than an exploration, and a poor one at that, of styles long gone away.   Sure, blues and classic rock have their place in the history of American music, but this album can’t kiss the feet of either of those two genres.

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