King Khan and the BBQ Show – Invisible Girl

kingkhan

Rating: ★★★ · ·

If you haven’t heard of King Khan in the last several years, you’ve probably been living in some remote region of the world, the Falkland Islands perhaps. Here we are again with another King Khan and the BBQ Show release, the more R&B influenced of Khan’s two monikers.  Invisible Girl is precisely what you would expect from the group, but the jury is still out on whether that is precisely what people are looking for from the BBQ Show.

One of the things to love about KK & the BBQ Show is just how much they can throw in a touch of soul into their stomping garage workings.  Such an endeavor could create a bit of cacophony, yet they never seem to go that route, always holding back enough to make the group seems like one of the tighteset around.  Take “I’ll Be Loving You,” a song that seems better suited for the high school proms of the late 50s.  It’s got a great vocal performance, but that beat just makes you shake something fierce.  “Spin the Bottle” is somewhat similar, mostly in the nostalgic feelings created by the incessant handclaps.

And we can’t forget the humor that makes Khan and associates such an enjoyable listen.  On “Animal Party” the narrator is hosting a party with a roomful of chickens, and yes, there are animal noises mimicked in the openingi moments of the song.  Still, the song doesn’t come off as a huge joke by any means, and once you move beyond the silliness of the lyrics and the noises, you get to the heart of a pretty solid song.

Yet there is something that doesn’t sit quite right on this album, at least for this listener.  Every song on here is easily considered a good track.  They each stand alone on their own individual merits.  But, when thrown together amongst each other, they seem to blend in together throughout the entire album.  There is a great sound here, but there is very little differentiation in the writing of the songs, so you find yourself lost in the album, trying to find your way out of the mess.  Don’t get me wrong, you can listen to this album over and over, time and time again, as I have, but at some point it blends together.

All that aside, this is just another good performance from King Khan and the BBQ Show.  Perhaps I’m expecting something entirely new and different, some sort of evolution, but that’s just my dream.  Khan has his own purpose on Invisible Girl, and while I might find that it runs together after repeated listens, it doesn’t mean it’s not better than most of what’s out there nowadays.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/King-Khan-BBQ-Show-Invisible-Girl.mp3]

Download: King Khan & BBQ Show – Invisible Girl [MP3]

Free Dirtnap Records Sampler

1253911409-internI’m forever indebted to Dirtnap Records, as I hold them responsible for bringing me the sweet rocking tunes of The Exploding Hearts.  Sure, it’s just one album from those guys, but it’s one hell of an album.  For those of you into that sort of music, you can grab the free sample from the label HERE.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/04-youre-black-and-blue.mp3]

Download: The Exploding Hearts – Youre Black and Blue [MP3]

Julian Casablancas – Phrazes for the Young

julian-phrazescover

Rating: ★★½ · ·

It’s been a long long time since the essence of cool was brought back by The Strokes.  No longer do we have to listen to stagnant rock on the radio, and the indie underground seems to have grown substantially.  We owe a great deal of that to Julian Casablancas.  His new album Phrazes for the Young creates a certain sense of nostalgia; it makes you look back to those days when it all seemed new and vibrant. 

Hands down, the first three songs on this record, “Out of the Blue,” “Left and Right in the Dark,” and “11th Dimension,” are all ridiculously good songs.  You can say that they have a more pop-centric leaning than most of the work done by Casablancas other band, but you can’t deny that the infections hooks are in abundance on these first three tracks.  If you take “11th Dimension” alone, you can see that combining the swagger of The Strokes with the electronic pop of Phoenix packs a huge punch.  This is such a killer opening to the album, that it really makes the latter half of the album fall flat on its face before our eyes.

Once you get to the last five songs, the pace is gone, and with it, the depth that seemingly existed from the outstart.  “Ludlow St.” has sort of a throwback feeling to a summer folk string, almost as if The Beatles have just entered into Julian’s lexicon, while the lyrics are reminiscent of Whitman’s Song of Myself.  It’s clever, but it is not a song that will last long in your memory.

“River of Brakelights” does sound exactly like some of the more straightforward rock songs that eclipsed the gems that were on First Impression of Earth.  Unfortunately, Julian Casablancas has a difficult time as it is differentiating the tones in vocals, and this song makes that all too apparent, which lead to the damage that devours this track. 

All this seems to head towards the trudgingly slow “Tourist,” a song that is lyrically akin to “Ludlow St.” All the punch is clearly gone at this point, and you can feel your heart sink as the album draws to a close.  It’s a shame actually, as the record began with such a promising start that you wanted the entire thing to be successful, but our luck has run out here.  Still, for those die-hard completists, you will find the voice of The Strokes living in a different place, one that at times, is as exciting as we’ve ever heard him.  Perhaps such moments make it onto the new work of either of his bands.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Julian-Casablancas-11th-Dimension.mp3]

Download: Julian Casablancas – 11th Dimension [MP3]

Langhorne Slim @ Mohawk (11/11)

slim

Date Wednesday, November 11th
Location Mohawk
Doors 800p
Tickets $12 @ the door

Whilst most of us are still recovering from the FFF Fest, music must go on here in town.  Luckily, there is a pretty solid show of the laid back sort for all of us to enjoy this Wednesday, as Langhorne Slim makes his return to town.  Not only will you get Langhorne, but you get the fabulous Austin Lucas, as well as Dawes.  Seems like a chill way to spend hump day.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/04Shoulders.mp3]

Download: Austin Lucas – Shoulders [MP3]


New Tunes from Jump Clubb

jumpNo one really knows anything about the California band Jump Clubb, and in fact, they try to keep it that way.  I guess that seems a little ridiculous to me, but still, they recently released this killer Elliott Smith cover “Angeles.”  It’s not what you would expect, but it seems like an appropriate way to wrap up a Friday.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/Angeles.mp3]

Download: Jump Clubb – Angeles (Eliott Smith Cover) [MP3]

Ola Podrida – Belly of the Lion

belly

Rating: ★★★★½

David Wingo easily won me over with his first album, Ola Podrida, but at the time, he was living in New York, working on various film scores and what not.  He’s returned to Austin, which makes me love him even more, and he’s just released another album, Belly of the Lion, that shouldn’t go unnoticed. Be it the warmth of his voice, or the emotional landscaping he creates with his tunes, you’ll find something enchanting throughout the duration of his second album under the Ola Podrida moniker.

For some reason, and this isn’t meant in a disenchanted way, this album feels ultimately louder than the self-titled album, well, as loud as Wingo seems to get.  “The Closest We Will Ever Be” seems like a more complete version of the songs on his first record.  Much as most of the songs are, this song has grown to include various layers to accompany David’s vocals.  Perhaps some might see this as a less-intimate affair, but rest assured, getting inside the listener is something he accomplishes with ease.

“Your Father’s Basement” was the first single to be let loose from the wonderful label Western Vinyl, and this is just one of the many tracks that will standout in your mind.  As usual, you’ll find precision guitar strumming, creating a comfort zone within the song; it’s a place for all the listeners to sit and rest.  And as you do so, you’ll find it difficult not to fall in love with Wingo’s unique vocals.  There is a familiarity in his delivery, perhaps one indebted in Texas folk musings; regardless, this song stands up to the expectations set forth by the former album’s “Jordanna.”

Songs such as “Monday Morning” and “Sink or Swim” definitely demonstrate that Wingo has done some work in the film industry.  While “Monday Morning” uses various backing tracks to create and emotional appeal throughout the story of the song, “Sink or Swim” fits perfectly into the intimate moments between a romantic encounter, one that is likely to take place in some sort of wintery wonderland.  Such is the strength of the album, as Wingo has included more in the bedroom listening he provides for his audience.

For this listener, “Lakes of Wine” is a remarkable track, aside from the fact that I consider them ALL remarkable.  He gently picks at the heart of the guitar, drawing your ears closely into the song itself.  And in doing so, you find yourself absorbed before the lyrics even jump into the tune. There is something extremely personal in both his delivery and his lyrics here, as he waxes nostalgic; you, too, will travel back into the past with him.  Such is the true art of David Wingo.

While it seems that too few people have had a proper chance to expose themselves to Ola Podrida (such is the tragedy of technology’s effect on our listening habits), Belly of the Lion is an example of a confident piece of work that was carefully crafted to draw upon every human emotion, plugging it into each song.  You’ll want to have this album on hand as we prepare for the winter, and as you prepare to make your record collection complete with masterful pieces of art.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/WV67_YFB.mp3]

Download: Ola Podrida – Your Father’s Basement [MP3]

FTC: Nick Drake

FTC_nickdrakeEvery once in a long while you hit upon something that triggers your memory, and you open up the door to your past; you revisit old haunts, and most importantly, you revisit old bands. You see, I grew up listening to Nick Drake, as my dad always played it around the house, so I was always a huge fan. His intricate guitar playing and his spectacular voice. Sure, Pink Moon is the most well-known album for this artist, due largely to Volkswagen, but all those who appreciate his music will surely find gems in the rest of his tunes. So young, so tragic, and yet so beyond brilliant. Every one needs a Nick Drake album in their collection. I’d like to thank the superb Pink Moon book from the 33 and 1/3 series for reminding me of Drake and his sublime talents.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/02-Place-To-Be.mp3]
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