New Music from The Soundcarriers

I came across the British group The Soundcarriers when I was checking in on another act, but I’ve since found that the latter can’t hold a candle to my new favorite UK import.  The Soundcarriers use a combination of warm male and female vocals to push their songs forward, using a quiet hush over each song to allow room for small specks of melodic beauty to work through.  The band just released their newest LP, Celeste, and it’s been keeping me nice and cozy ever since I got ahold of it.  Give this a try.


Download: The Soundcarriers – Morning Haze [MP3]

New Music from Apex Manor

When your band calls it quits, its difficult to know precisely what to do.  Luckily for Ross Flournoy, formerly of The Broken West, he’s got his head on straight, heading in direction of power-pop bliss. His new outing, under the name of Apex Manor, will be releasing their debut, The Year of Magical Drinking, on his his old label Merge Records. The first single offers up a steady back beat, cleanly distorted guitars, and popaholic bliss.  Look out for the record on January 25th in the New Year.


Download: Apex Manor – Under the Gun [MP3]

Diamond Rings – Special Affections

Rating: ★★★★☆

In a world currently dominated by millions of people with laptops creating music, one has a hard time finding the perfect blend of electronica and pop.  Luckily, the hype behind Diamond Rings has brought John O’Regan to the forefront, just in time for him to drop his debut Special Affections.  It’s clear that his sound might not be the most innovative, but one thing is for sure, it’s definitely well-executed, leaving listeners with an album to spin over and over and over again.

Beginning with “Play by Heart,” you get a slow intro, with some tribal drums filling in the space left by the electronic atmospherics.  O’Regan’s deep voice, which often shifts tones, playfully discusses his heart-on-sleeve romance with a former lover. It establishes the mood of the entire record, walking along with personal retrospective lyrics and craft blended electronic pop.  Still, “Wait and See” is where the album really begins to take off, using a little bit of guitar riffage, and heavier beats.  The change in vocal tone, with additional layered vocals, during the chorus really brings the track home, offering up one of Special Affections best moments.

“On Our Own” keeps up the pace here, giving us more driving beats and blips, along with touches of orchestration to provide the record with a little more depth.  The chorus here has a delivered hook, similar to something you might have heard on Julian Casablancas’ solo record.  Surely this song will make you want to break into slow-dance mode with your buddies, shaking your hips and kicking up your feet.  It leads right into “You and Me,” which is one of the more playful songs in this collection, but once again its a shift in the tone of the vocal that provides just enough differentiation to make Special Affections interesting.  Simple beats and spoken-word delivery can wear you down, but John O. does well to twist in turn, whether it’s with his change in voice, or his carefully painted flourishes of additional sounds.  One listen to his twenty second electronic-rap near the end of the song, with a raised voice to end it all exemplifies his willingness to take his songs beyond the average band.

Despite his best efforts, it does seem that Special Affections has the ability to wear you down, especially when the slow songs begin to evolve.  Tracks like “Pre-Owned Heart” aren’t off songs by any means, yet they do get a touch redundant, as the extra touches present elsewhere seem to have dissipated.  Don’t give up on the record though, as Diamond Rings still has more to offer you in songs like “It’s Not My Party,” a track filled with a bit of electronic haze, O’Regan’s voice, and it only picks up from there, though never quite going too far.  The restraint showed here allows you to see how gifted a songwriter he is.  And it all ends with “All Yr Songs,” the shortest track here, but it illustrates his range, giving off a bit more of a summery appeal, as opposed to the earlier slow-club bangers he fills the album with up until this point.  As the song closes to an end, you’re probably noticing a smile on your face, noticing that you had fun listening to this track, and to Special Affections.  Not a bad way to end a solid debut.


Download: Diamond Rings – All Yr Songs [MP3]

New Music from Mammal Airlines

I always try to keep an ear out for what’s going on over in New Zealand and Australia.  Secretly, those two countries are putting out some really great works, so I’m always stoked when I come across a new one that needs some love. My recent discovery comes via Mammal Airlines. They’re putting out their Life of Mammals EP, and it’s got some great tracks on it, with those jangly guitars and a bit of fuzz to rock your socks. Get hip to Oceania folks. And, if you like what you hear, you can get their music for free from their label Papaiti.


Download: Mammal Airlines – Brobama [MP3]

New Music from The Soft Moon

After releasing two 7″s, it’s time for Luis Vasquez to bring on his debut record as The Soft Moon.  Of course, there’s a lot of dark undertones, created by the ominous atmospherics carrying the faintest hint of melody in the background.  The Soft Moon album will hit the streets on November 16th via Captured Tracks, which is home to other great artists such as Blank Dogs and Wild Nothing.  If you’re looking for that post-punk sound, riddled with haze and smoke, then you’re going to really enjoy the work here by Luis. Take a listen to the newest track.


Download: The Soft Moon – Tiny Spiders [MP3]

New Music from Pomegranates

Ohio band Pomegranates are just now releasing their new album, One of Us, on Afternoon Records.  I’ve really been enjoying this record a lot, as its got this sort of mellow post-punk vibe to it, but sort of using modern pop fixtures like speedy choruses and atmospherics to add an extra bit of depth to each of the songs. You’ll find that the single has a nice little ring to it, and everything you hear in “50s,” you’re likely to hear on the album as well, with a little extra twist of fun waiting to unfold before you.  Trust me, this is an album waiting to be enjoyed over and over.


Download: Pomegranates – 50s [MP3]

Show Preview: We Are Scientists @ Emos (10/28)

Date Thursday, Oct 28th
Location Emos
Doors 900p
Tickets $13 from Ticketweb

We like We Are Scientists, and we’re pretty sure that the band is going to put on one hell of a show for you all, but the real reason to get excited has to be the opening band Twin Tigers.  They blew us away at SXSW, and their album. Gray Waves, was about as perfect a debut as you can get.  Their feedback squalls, wrapped tightly around pop sensibility, is sure to give you something to remember.  It’s not often that we fawn over a band, but this is one I’ve been all about, so you can guarantee that I’ll be there in attendance.  Also, Rewards will open up the whole evening, so you have yet another good reason to get yourself to Emos.


Download: Twin Tigers – Everyday [MP3]

New Music from Generationals

I was all about Generationals when their catchy album Con Law hit the streets, and now it seems like there is even more reason to be excited. They’ve got a new EP coming out soon on Park the Van, and it was recorded by our very own Austinite Bill Baird!  This new track, “Trust,” shows the band bringing a grittier bit to their pop du jour.  Pounding drums, clever vocal delivery, and those angular guitar lines cutting through one another just make this the perfect end of fall to winter jam.  The Trust EP will be in stores on November 16th!


Download: Generationals – Trust [MP3]

Show Preview: The Fresh & Onlys @ Emos (10/27)

Date Wednesday, October 27th
Location Emos
Doors 900p
Tickets $8 from Ticketweb

On the midweek marquis at Emos this week, you have to come out. There’s no way around it, The Fresh & Onlys are going to be playing.  They just released their new album, Play It Strange, which is surely going to be in our Top 20 of the year, and I can’t get songs like “Waterfalls” out of my head.  Recorded, there definitely is a bit of haze to their sound, but live, they’re an entirely different animal; it’s something you definitely need to see in order to understand.  Also in attendance will be Royal Baths and Rayon Beach, so two more reasons to get out to this show. The touring year is winding down, and this looks to be one of the best shows Austin has left, so don’t miss out!


Download: The Fresh & Onlys – Waterfall [MP3]

Show Preview: Ra Ra Riot @ Emos (10/26)

Date Tuesday, October 26th
Location Emos
Doors 900p
Tickets $15 from Ticketweb

Okay, so everyone will probably be running around town trying to get their hands on this Jonsi character, but I just can’t do it.  I think I’ll pass my time with a little bit of pop tunes, and a nice dose of orchestral touches.  You see, Ra Ra Riot are playing at Emos on the same night.  The band just released The Orchard, their sophomore effort, and while it may seem them trying new ground, it still has a lot of upside, not to mention the band’s great live  potential. Also on the bill are up-and-comers Givers and one of my favorite new groups, Villagers.  This sounds like a more low-key place to be Tuesday night, so get on out there folks.


Download: Ra Ra Riot – Boy [MP3]

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