Well, it’s not exactly a traditional from the closet, as The Mozz is still around and kicking out great tunes, but we here at ATH feel like we need to honor the man this week with his very own segment. Morrissey will be making his way to Bass Concert Hall this Sunday night to belt those songs out to all you lovers, and odds are you won’t regret the price of the ticket. Whether you love him from the Smiths or his solo work, we all have to give in to the fact that his voice alone influenced hordes of indie kids for years to come. For that, and for your great songs, we bring you Morrissey, out from the closet.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/19-the-more-you-ignore-me-the-closer-i-get.mp3]
Occasionally the overseas hype makes its way to these Eastern shores, and in those cases it rarely amounts to much. This time, I Was a King, aim to put all that hype to rest, as they have an album of such quality that it’s hard not to immediately fall in love with every single song on the album.
From the opening moments of the album, there is a definite haziness to the production, as if the album was washed in a dense Irish fog; that sentimentality will remain throughout the record, though the album definitely breaks through in a major way.
More than likely, you will find that this album borrows largely from the late 90s Brit-pop as the guitars carry a certain amount of fuzz, and you would be hard pressed not to find some similarities between the band and Teenage Fanclub. There’s elemental grit on almost every single song that comes your way, but beneath it sleeps that great pop beast that is near and dear to our hearts.
One issue that some might take upon immediate listens is that the lyrics are not openly decipherable; one must listen closely throughout the entire album in order to get a hold on the precise subject matter. But isn’t this what we all want from our music? Does music have to be so immediately accessible? No! This album answers that time and time again, as it unfolds with rewarding moment after rewarding moment. And those vocals are so warm and inviting that they recall little known band The Comas, so much so that one might confuse the singers as the same man, but alas, there is a great distance between the two.
It’s difficult to describe such an album that goes all over the place and yet remains stationary. The album artwork in this case is a sufficient descriptor of the album, as each song is full of different colors and sounds. In part the album is 90s power-pop, but psychedelic moments shine through from the same core, only to be outdone by the space fuzz guitarmonies that cradle the vocals. This is an album that refuses to be defined, and it refuses to sit in one place. Here you have ADHD recorded, perfected, and sold to appease your ears.
No matter what you find enjoyable, you will find that this album is perfectly suited for you and your listening. It’s not overtly abrasive where you can’t sleep with it at night, nor is it near mellow enough where you don’t want to crank it all the way to eleven; you won’t be able to put this one down. Please, spin it again and again.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/14-norman-bleik.mp3]
Download: I Was A King – Norman Bleik [MP3]
Conor Oberst and his Mystic Valley Band have a new album, Outer South, coming out soon, and the Internet just keeps popping up with songs for us to listen to prior to the actual release. This new song is titled “Nikorette”, and it’s a lot like the last one, with its usage of full on band. But, if this song piques your interest and you want to listen to the entire album, or preorder the thing, just head on over to Merge Records to listen to the whole streaming album.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/08-nikorette.mp3]
Download: Conor Oberst – Nikorette [MP3]
Personally, I am a huge fan of John Davis. His drum work in Q and Not U was phenomenal. His pop leanings in Georgie James made me warm inside. Now we have word that he has a new group together called Title Tracks, and they’ve just released their first 7″ off legendary Dischord Records, so you have to support them if you want to keep your street cred. You can head over here for a few samples, or just check the Myspace. Just a heads up on the tunes; it’s got a Ted Leo/Jam feel, which you need to learn to love.
Sometimes a seasonal change will require a certain approach to listening to music; sometimes it will require that you ask something extra of your most recent purchase. Here Anonymous, the debut album from Eulogies is precisely that record; it’s the one you have been waiting to blast from your speakers as the windows roll down on that perfectly sunlit afternoon. It’s packed full of melody, throbbing bass lines and a certain sense of catchiness that just won’t let the album leave your head.
Bass and vocals open up the album on “Day to Day,” but it’s not until the guitar begins to chug along in unison do you really get a sense that you’re in for an afternoon joyride. Once you’ve taken a brief listen, your ears will require you come back for more.
It would be easier to type-cast this band; they are the next Tokyo Police Club; they sound a lot like Ra Ra Riot; these are all completely understandable, yet entirely unfair. The one thing that differentiates Eulogies from other such bands is that they don’t seem to come across as overly repetitive. Where as some bands in the same sphere of swirling guitar pop have a tendency to rehash the same moments from time, this band escapes it. This is largely in part to singer Peter Walker, who is able to change the pitch just enough so as not wear one down with his voice.
Another attribute that allows for the band to push through the more monotonous moments is the bass-work. It would be easy to use the angular guitar approach throughout the record, as this is a commonly used tool, but here, the bass seems to lay the ground work for a lot of the songs. This is beneficial because, well, you can’t go wrong with a solid rhythm section, but also because it allows for more space for the other instruments to meander and do as they please. A much more interesting listen.
Just to make sure you don’t get bored with the upbeat tunes, they toss a couple of slow-burners your way for kicks. “Two Can Play,” “Goodbye” and “The Fight” all have mellow moments that leave time for you to turn down the stereo long enough to see if the rest of your friends in your car need to stop for a drink. The latter is probably the more memorable of the slower songs, though the shared male/female vocal on “Two Can Play” is likely to hit home with some.
Now, the one detractor from the album, if you were to find one, is that the band isn’t breaking any particularly new ground with this release. They will draw numerous comparisons over and over, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing to have peers. Still, Eulogies benefits from the fact that at least they keep the game interesting. And they’re sure to keep you interested, at least the first two dozen times you play this on your drive home for Easter.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/07-out-of-character.mp3]
Download:Eulogies – Out of Character [MP3]
It’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 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]
Throw 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]
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]
Did 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]