New Tunes from Dent May

dentIt’s hard not to love a man with a ukulele. First, there was Stephin Merritt, and now the indie world has given us Dent May. We loved his debut album, and right now we’ll gladly get our hands on anything the man will put out, so when Daytrotter released an unreleased song, we jumped on it so as to bring it to you. Here is “Eastover Wivez.”

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/dent-may-and-his-magnificent-ukulele-eastover-wivez.mp3]

Download: Dent May – Eastover Wivez [MP3]

Telekinesis – Telekinesis!

tele

Rating: ★★★½ ·

Telekinesis is more or less made up of one man, Michael B. Lerner, who gathered what one can assume is a group of close friends to flesh out his debut album.  The self-titled album, well, save for a change in punctuation, is the first most will hear from Mr. Lerner, and with such a solid album, we’re sure to hear more from the man and his band in the future.

“Rust” is the album opener, and it sets the mood, or revels in the setting of the music, as it would be hard not to place the music on this album somewhere in the Northwest.  Here, you’ll find the band sounding a bit like old Earlimart bedroom recordings.

Then listeners will come across what we will call the meat of the album, which is probably the most consistent tracking on any album this year.  Kick starting our hearts is “Coast of Carolina,” which begins with gentle acoustics before kicking right it in with its energy legs. There is an element of lo-fi recording to this song, and to the majority of the songs that appear on this album, but they also have a surefire pop sensibility.  Rock songs like “Look to the East”  will remind some of us of early Ben Kweller recordings before he thought coke and country was where its at.

“Foreign Room” is another song that clearly locates the album and its narrator, as Lerner does his best to emulate Eliott Smith; the wavering in his voice will be the first key to this comparison.  But, he doesn’t just rely upon Smith’s old tricks, instead pushing forward with a quick paced guitar.  It’s like the entire Northwest went pop as the rain made way for a years worth of sunshine.

Just as you get used to the harder moments on the album, or the faster elements one should say, Lerner slows it all down with “Great Lakes.”  His voice is pitch-perfect here, and the space on the song is all filled in such a fashion that one would be hard pressed not to adorn the band with praise just like the rest of their cohorts along the Northwest Corridor. And so the album closes with an acoustic number that bookends the album precisely the way one would expect.  Through all the peaks and gorges, it’s hard not to appreciate such a subtle ending as this.  A love song no less.

And with the entirety of this album, each listener will find something that they can appreciate, as Telekinesis appeals to many different styles and many different tastes.  It’s an album that many will appreciate, a few will love, and most will respect; the best thing about the album is it leaves the door wide open for future accomplishments by Michael Benjamin Lerner.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/05-awkward-kisser.mp3]

Download: Telekinesis – Awkward Kisser [MP3]

New Tunes from Throw Me the Statue

throwThrow Me the Statue is one of those bands that you’ll find difficult to define immediately. They’re part Sufjan, part elctronica and stirred in a pot by the Northwest. It’s an interesting recipe for some great tunes, which is reason enough to post a song off the band’s latest Purpleface EP, which is out now via Secretly Canadian.

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

Download: Throw Me the Statue – Ship [MP3]

The Thermals – Now We Can See

now

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Ever since they first released More Parts Per Million The Thermals have stuck pretty close to home as far as their sound goes, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  On Now We Can See, the band’s fourth album, we finally get the benefit of listening to the culmination of years on the road and in the studio honing their skill.

Finally the band seems to have reached their apex as far as maturity goes, and it this is probably the most complete album the band has been able to put together.  Singer, Hutch, seems to have a great deal more control over his voice in comparison to years past, and the clarity with which he sings allows for the cleverly composed lyrics to shine through.  This has always been one of the band’s more overshadowed attributes, but those that have been listening all along will surely be aware of Hutch’s prowess as a wordsmith.

Much will be made about the somewhat gothic approach, as the lyrics tend to show narrators looking back upon life from the beyond; still, the focus seems to look back with a sense of nostalgic accomplishment.  The lyrics don’t seem to look back with a sense of resentment or disappointment, but rather reflect a coming to terms with the life one has led, which is probably the best way to approach such morbid subjects.

Of course, most listeners will immediately flock to to the infectious pop single of “Now We Can See” with it’s “oh way oh whoa” chorus of catchiness.  This is probably one of the better songs the band has put together, but we all know the band can churn out at least five or six solid tracks per album.  What other tunes will listeners identify with you ask?

“At the Bottom of the Sea” is surely a track that exhibits the more mature side of songwriting that the group has taken on in recent years, as the song bares no resemblance to the brashness that accompanies the rest of the album as a whole.  It’s as close to a ballad as the band has come, but it still shines with Hutch’s voice bursting through at the appropriate moments.  “Liquid In, Liquid Out” is another shocking song, settling in at just under two minutes.  This is the most simplistic power-pop the band has produced to date, and the clean quality demonstrates the ability the band has to go off into different ranges.

Fortunately for us, The Thermals seem to be at their best when they are having a blast.  Catching their live show, you will immediately pick up on the shared energy between the members in the group.  This is the first album where you can really hear the vibrance of the band come through from the studio.  You can picture the band having a blast in the studio, and we’re all better off letting them have fun and create such joyful listening experiences.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/09-liquid-in-liquid-out.mp3]

Download: The Thermals – Liquid In, Liquid Out [MP3]

New Tunes from Jay Reatard

jayDid everyone know that I love Jay Reatard? Okay, so if you follow ATH, it’s pretty clear that I’m a huge fan, and I had promised not to throw his name around for a bit, but I can’t help it. Jay is re-opening his past, meaning he’s relaunching Shattered Records so that everyone can get their hands on his extensive back catalog. Not to mention, he’s offering a subscription to a Singles Club for $75. And, and, he’s giving away a new tune.  Here is that new track!

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/jay-reatard-youre-gonna-lose.mp3]

Download: Jay Reatard – You’re Gonna Lose [MP3]

Other Lives – s/t

other

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Other Lives have gone through exponential changes since their early debut under the name of Kunek.  Back then, the band was known for enchanting audiences, willing them into a silent submission.  The power of the band still exists, though their self-titled debut [of sorts] shows that the band is willing to crawl out from beneath the Radiohead similarities into their own bright future.

We can get that comparison out of the way immediately; the only resemblance the band has to Thom Yorke’s posse is in the resonance of singer Jesse Tabish at certain points, but that is probably where you must draw the line in the sand.  Sure, the sounds are familiar, but they are approached with an entirely new set of lungs that allows for the band to breathe on its own.

Take, for example, “Black Tables” which begins slowly with a darkened piano progression, as strings wrap themselves tightly around each note, clearing the way for Jesse Tabish to lay down his lyrics. Almost two minutes pass in the song where there is little else besides the piano, strings and vocals.  Then, at the 2’48 mark in the song, the drums kick in, and the song takes off like a rocket blasting into the atmosphere of dense sounds.   This is precisely where Other Lives will take you, as they don’t rest on the traditional songwriting strategies.  Instead, they create an album full of miniature movements; these movements sometimes exist within songs themselves, often changing on the spur of a movement.

“E Minor” is one of the highlights, well, if you were to pick up a particular highlight, as close listeners will hear the strumming on the guitar as the piano playfully meanders through the background.  Tabish’s voice hits a different pitch at several moments, exposing his versatility.  This immediately followed by “Paper Cities,” which seems to broach the subject of war, or at least the loss of certain aspects of a modern society.  One could consider this a single, if the band were capable of creating something as basic as a single, but even this song seems to go beyond those expectations of traditional singles.

The band even has the ability to throw a more light-hearted tune in the end when they offer up “AM Theme.”  Sure, it maintains the solemenity of the earlier tracks, but there is something brighter bubbling beneath the surface of the song itself.  Perhaps the brevity of the tune allows for it to open up quickly, before its able to branch off into something more epic; it does go into the song “Epic,” however, which ends the album.

This album is sure to be an eye-opener to many, as the band gradually begins to pick up fans along the way.  It’s an interesting listen to say the least, and one that changes with each song.  Other Lives have created an album of diverse sounds and uniquely moving muiscal movements.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/03-black-tables.mp3]

Download: Other Lives – Black Tables [MP3]

New Tunes from John Vanderslice

vandersliceSinger-songwriter John Vanderslice is set to release his 7th album, Romanian Names, via Dead Oceans on May 19th.  This album supposedly is crafted of shorter songs, some more upbeat, but this song here isn’t that at all. This is the album’s longest, and possibly slowest, tracks.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/john-vanderslice-fetal-horses.mp3]

Download: John Vanderslice – Fetal Horses [MP3]

Merge Score Covers Pre-Order!

coversOne of our favorite labels, Merge Records, has compiled a great set of covers as part of their subscription series SCORE! Unlike the rest of the series, Merge will be offering up this series of covers to the masses, but only a limited amount will be released. Not to mention, all proceeds will go to the charity of the curators choice! Good tunes and humanitarianism? Count us in. Head over to pre-order the album now. And in the meantime, check out this new Shins cover of Tenement Halls. 

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/the-shins-plenty-is-never-enough.mp3]

Download: The Shins (Tenement Halls Cover) – Plenty if Never Enough [MP3]

Bob Mould on Daytrotter

bobNormally we wouldn’t just throw Daytrotter session after session in your face, but that site is the place to be, as they’ve gathered two greats in their studios. Earlier this week it was Stephen Malkmus, and now it’s our Number One Gay Dude That Rocks, Bob Mould. The man goes into the studio to play four new songs off his upcoming album for Anti Records titled Life and Times. This track is a great preview into the album, as is the entire session.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/bob-mould-i-m-sorry-baby-but-you-can-t-stand-in-my-light-anymore.mp3]

Download: Bob Mould – I’m Sorry Baby But You Cant Stand in My Light [MP3]

New Old Tunes from XTC

xtcBack in the day, the great band XTC recorded a few albums under the moniker Dukes of Stratosphear, pressing their music in the way of 60s psychedelia. They recorded two albums, under this name, 25 O’Clock and Psonic Psunspot, both which are pretty hard to come by nowadays. Lucky for us, a certain Andy Partridge of XTC fame will be reissuing said albums on Ape House. Also, staff-writer Corey would be mad if we didn’t also tell you to check out XTC album Black Sea, which he loves. Here is one of the tracks from The Dukes of Stratosphear.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/xtc-as-the-dukes-of-stratosphear-brainiacs-daughter.mp3]

Download: The Dukes of Stratosphear (XTC) – Brainiac’s Daughter [MP3]

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