Okkervil River – Lost Coastlines

The highly anticipated release of Okkervil River‘s The Stand-Ins has finally let us get our hands on a single to toss your way. This song has an additional singer on it, or Will has done a lot of work on his vocals. The rest of the song seems really low-key, but in a throwback to old Okkervil River.  

Don’t forget that they will be playing this year at Austin City Limits, and I’m sure they’ll schedule another show around that time for all of us to enjoy.  

The Stand-Ins comes your way on September 9th via Jagjaguwar Records.  

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/lost-coastlines.mp3]

Download: lost-coastlines.mp3

CSS – Donkey

Rating: ★★★★ ·

This album kicks off with “Jager Yoga,” which-in my opinion-could have come off the last record by CSS. It’s got a throbbing bass line, some solid beats, backed by more prominent guitar work. It’s like a continuation, but in that, it kind of prepares you to travel with the band.

Suddenly, the next track brings in some heavy guitar work. This song resembles The Sounds, which bring in the full power of the band, giving them a different route to travel than just the typical dance track. It’s as if they came to rock, to melt faces if you will.

Then they go back to the old pattern with “Reggae All Night,” which kind of takes the album back a step, but sure enough, they bring back out the guitars in “Give Up.” I don’t know if the juxtaposition in songs builds a steady flow for a complete album, but most listeners will see a band with a new purpose.

The next three tracks offer something a little different, something a little aged. “Beautiful Song” and “Move” take the band as close to the eighties as they have been before, and in all honesty, it works for them. You can tell they put a little more focus on the instruments here, still creating rhythms we can all dance too, but without the requirement of blasting the beats in our ears.

“Beautiful Achieve” is a stranger phenomenon than other tracks. They slow it down here, but use the samples and loops that established the band. It’s an interesting touch to this album, throwing in a little variety.

“Air Painter” finally brings it all to a close, but it brings you to a new realization, quite different than the opening track. If I’m not mistaken, The Sounds singer, Maja Ivarrson, makes an appearance. The song is great – hands down, but it does come off a bit like a cover song.

The emphasis for me, and for the reference to that other band, is that this album lets CSS out of the the strict dance routine. Each song is over 3 minutes long, which means the band spent more time writing the songs, and fleshing out the sounds, allowing the songs themselves to carry the beat, rather than the beat carrying the song. I think its an impressive step, even if sounds like some other band did it before  It shows the band stepping out, and stepping up. At this point, there is lots of room for CSS to move towards for their next album, which should be a great one.

This is a good album, especially since it leaves you wanting more from the band in the future. It might not go down in history as their best, but it certainly solidifies them as a band to look out for in the future. Cheers to you Sub Pop Records; just another good release after another.

Check out the single from the album, “The Rad is Dead (Rage)”:

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/rat-is-dead-rage.mp3]

Download: rat-is-dead-rage.mp3

EKE Party @ Mohawk 7/19

Well, apparently we have a lot going on this Saturday. To add to our list of events, this is a party that has been going on in Austin for the last few years. Everyone Knows Everyone features a slew of Austin favorites, including our personal faves Rory and the Artificial Hearts, Young Love, The Visitors and Recover.  There are several other bands playing this little shindig (click here for more information from Transmission Entertainment); it doesn’t hurt that it’s at one of our favorite local spots, The Mohawk.  

You can buy tickets for the show from FrontGate – it’s only 8 bucks.

Deerhunter Covers Jay Reatard

I love Jay Reatard, and I spent my day Tuesday, desperately trying to get my hands on the new 7″ from Matador. That 7″ hits Waterloo Records on Tuesday, but quantities are going to be limited, as the rest are already sold out. The 7″ is a split, with Jay covering a Deerhunter song, and Deerhunter covering his “Oh Its Such a Shame.” Give it a listen. 

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/oh_its_such_a_shame.mp3]

Download: oh_its_such_a_shame.mp3

In other news, buy your tickets for Jay Reatard at Red Seven on August 3rd .

Spies Like Us @ Flamingo Cantina 7/19

Long ago, circa 1996, I had myself a spiky little hairdo, wore a lot of polyester, and had an undying affair with ska music. That’s right, snob that I am, listened to ska, and loved it. One of my favorites was San Antonio’s Spies Like Us. They were more leaning on the surf-rock side, though they still loved those rock steady beats that made you up and dance. Well, that very band, still together today, still rocking like they did in the hey day of ska is playing at Flamingo Cantina this Saturday night. It should be a fun night, taking us all back to the simple little steps of ska.  

For more info on the band, visit them at their Myspace page.

Ra Ra Riot – Dying is Fine

Scrolling across the world wide web, I was reminded that Ra Ra Riot are releasing their debut album on Barsuk Records. It’s your typical blend of pop and indie music, leaning more on the dancing side of things, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good. Their debut album The Rhumb Line comes your way on August 19th, and they have a date in Austin at Stubbs on October 3rd. You can pick yourself up a set of tickets for the Ra Ra Riot show right now; we’ll be sure to remind you. 

Take a listen to their single “Dying is Fine.”  Enjoy!

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/dyingisfine.mp3]

Download: dyingisfine.mp3

Violens – Violent Sensation Descends

Occasionally, and I do mean that, it pays to have friends from New York. Quite like Austin, there are hundreds of bands recording music; all of them trying to make it big. Fortunately, I found my way through all those bands to discover Violens. Apparently, some of these members come from the band Lansing-Dreiden, which wrote really intellectual psych-pop. This is of the same vein, but just a little bit darker.  Let’s hope we hear more from these guys. 

You can get more info on the band, and listen to a few more tracks by visiting Violens MySpace page. Or visit RCRD•LBL’s website to download a tune (sorry folks, they forbid us from posting it here… we know, lame).  

The Go-Betweens – Bellavista Terrace

Rating: ★★★★★

This is another album in our mini-series of old albums that you should probably revisit, or say hello to for the very first time. Our current selection comes from the Australian band The Go-Betweens.

Background information from this album:  First off, this is a compilation of some of their best songs from their earlier albums. It’s a good starting point, as it was the place that I first began. The band revolved around the songwriting partnership of Grant McLennan and Robert Forster. They played together, taking breaks, up until 2006, when McLennan passed away.

The closest comparison I can think of when referencing this band is to say that they come off a bit like The Smiths, which isn’t a bad way to begin if you ask me. I think that comparison deals more with the sounds of the vocals; there is a great deal of resemblance to the way Morrissey sings.

However, they don’t have a Johnny Marr, so the angular guitar sounds are a little bit smoother, which allows room for some really solid melodies. For me, it gives a little bit of a folk feel to the traditional eighties dance mixes. The drums, throughout the album, are extremely crisp, accenting every beat perfectly.  There isn’t a bad moment from the rhythm section on this album.

Every song on this compilation has something redeemable, and I always listen to this album from the first song to the last. Here are some of my personal favorites:

That Way: This is probably the song I dance to the most in my bedroom all year long. The guitar work is very clean, encouraging you to swing your arms about your body in glee. And the percussion work on this song is ridiculous – every time the kick-drum comes in, I’m taken aback.

Draining the Pool for You: This song is all about seeing through that person you’ve pined after for years, and you come to realize they’re a little less special than you thought. The chorus alone makes this song worth every listen.

The House that Jack Kerouac Built: This song has strings in the background to accompany the bands. For me its a very dark song, which I kind of think is the point, as the lyrics ask “to keep me away from her.” This is what Joy Division could sound like if they were mixed differently.

Streets of Your Town: If you wanted a cheesy song to sing along to at your wedding, I think this is the one for you. It sounds a lot like The Church, which is another great Australian band. Every few words, female vocals come into the background, creating melodious moments of magic. I think this is one of their most popular songs.

There are many more songs on this album worthy of mention, but I don’t want to take up all that space. It’s sad that McLennan passed away because this writing partnership gave the world some of the better moments in music history. If you’ve passed them up, start here.  It will get you acquainted with one of indie-rock’s best kept secrets.

Tilly and the Wall @ Emos 7/17

The time has come to throw on your tap shoes and join the ladies of Tilly and the Wall (there are two men too) at Emos this Thursday night. Their folk-pop tap dancing troupe is sure to brighten your evening, or at least give you an excuse to get out of the house for a little bit. And, you’ll be able to catch up with Austinites Belaire and Ringo Deathstarr for this exciting evening of music. 

You can check out our recent review of their latest album O to see what we think and sample some tunes.

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