New Tunes from Jay Reatard

jayrulesIt doesn’t take a genius to figure out that we love Jay Reatard. RayRay has posted about him numerous times, and we even rocked out to his eardrum busting show last year at Red 7. Now, news comes our way that Matador Records will be releasing his new album, Watch Me Fall, on August 18th.  Here’s to you Jay, and future coverage.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/jay-reatard-it-aint-gonna-save-me.mp3]

Download: Jay Reatard – It Aint Gonna Save Me [MP3]

New Tunes from YACHT

yachtYears back nothing seemed as bubblegum delicious as B.L.O.W. , so when one of the members parted ways to form YACHT, everyone took notice. Now it seems that the one man show of Jona Bechtolt has evolved into a duo, including Texan Claire Evans. Since the new line-up is set, it would only seem appropriate that the group release a new album on July 28th titled See Mystery Lights. Here is a hint as to what that album might sound like, as this is the first released single.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/yacht-psychic-city.mp3]

Download: YACHT – Psychic City (Voodoo City) [MP3]

Viva Voce – Rose City

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Rating: ★★★ · ·

Portland, Oregon duo Viva Voce spent the past few years building, creating new things.  First, they created their own backyard studio, perfect for the husband/wife combo to record new tracks.  They continued the building process by adding two permanent members to their line-up, solidifying the group for the recording of an entirely new album.  That new album is titled Rose City, and it demonstrates a band experimenting with their proven recipe for tunes, as the band travel to sonic regions not explored in the past.

Once the album opens with the lead track “Devotion” it becomes rather clear that this isn’t the same group you came across back in the day.  Distortion billows from the guitar this round, and the percussion has this permanent beating echo that seems ominously powerful.  For the first time, Kevin Robinson sounds like someone other than himself, as his voice comes across like a man covering Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.  It’s fitting to the music, which explains the change in delivery, as the sound has clearly changed.

“Die a Little” seems a tad bit like what you would expect from this band. It’s rather catchy, and the bobbing bass lines that go throughout keep you tapping your foot at the base of your chair.  Also, vocal duties are split between Kevin and Anita Robinson, so it approaches the aesthetics of the male/female vocal a bit more. Even so, there exists a boundary of sound and feedback the band has yet to explore.

Once you come across a song like “Midnight Sun” you can imagine what the songwriting process was like; the band seems to be painting sounds upon a blank canvas, filling empty space with various elements so that the album sounds full, yet not repetitive in the least bit, allowing for the empty space to resonate with a sound all its own.  But, you can juxtapose that with “Good as Gold,” which seems to take a line or two from the Pixies closet of bass lines, not that anyone could get upset by that.  This song takes on a more traditional Viva Voce feel since it doesn’t seem to have as much of the sonic exploration even though some of the guitar parts have a new sharpness to them.  Just make sure you save yourself for “Flora,” a song that comes at the butt of the album.  There is something spectacular about this song that just yanks at your emotions.  It’s one of the moments that really makes this album worth listening to for repeated listens.

There are some misguided moments here and there throughout this album, which one owes to the band’s desire to explore new sonic elements.  You have to respect that, and you have to hope that the promise that clearly exists on this album will only be pushed further with future recordings, as this album clearly has great moments worthy of your ears.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/09-flora-1.mp3]

Download: Viva Voce – Flora [MP3]

New Tunes from Dead Weather

deadweatherIn further antcipation of their upcoming album, Horehound, ultra-hip group Dead Weather are offering you a chance to hear yet another new single off said album.  This one definitely has that rocking element, and it features vocals that seem to be predominantly Jack White.  Either way, the hard hitting track, “Treat Me Like Your Mother,”  is a sign of more good things to come.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/02-treat-me-like-your-mother-1.mp3]

Download: Dead Weather – Treat Me Like Your Mother [MP3]

Here We Go Magic on Daytrotter

magicDaytrotter has just put up a brand new session with Luke Temple and Here We Go Magic. Lucky for the fans, this session has a brand new track to offer you, not to mention it has a few reworkings of other tunes from the band’s self-titled debut, Here We Go Magic.  If you like what you hear from this band, be sure to check them out on tour in Austin with Grizzly Bear in June.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/03-collector.mp3]

Download: Here We Go Magic – Collector [MP3]

Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

phoenix

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Phoenix is a Frecnh pop group.  That being said, it seems more likely that their success lies in the United States, far away from their homeland.  Their third album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, is sure to tie the band into your consciousness for the duration of the upcoming months, if not for the rest of the year.

The best one-two punch of the year comes via the band’s first two opening tracks, “Lisztomania” and “1901.” “Lisztomania” has a stomping affect that likely entails itself to handclap moments amongst your friends as you dance in the living room.  That is until the keyboard comes in for the chorus, and the impending crescendo have you all flailing your arms about.  “1901” is just one of the most solid tracks to come around in a long time.  Finding a beat this good is hard to do, and they combine it all with the catchiness of the chorus as singer Thomas Mars shouts “fallen” over and over again.  You won’t find two tracks back to back that sound this good on another record this year.

But then the band step it back a bit, so as not to blow you away too quickly.  They toy with a little bit of sensuality in “Fences and the lengthy slow-jam “Love Like a Sunset,” which quite possibly gets a bit over indulgent.  Still, at this point, the band seem to just want to show their range, demonstrating to us all that they are more than just a one-dimensional band of singles and such.

And then we’re right back into it.  Slow jams are gone, and the pace returns with “Lasso.” This song, like those before it and those after it exemplifies everything in which the group succeeds; their songs build and build, seemingly increasing the pace as the song, along with Mars’ vocals, races to the end.  It’s as if their formulaic songwriting allows the band to push for the optimal amount of punch and pop sensibility.  Even when they find themselves in the middle-ground, such as on “Girlfriend” you can still see the skeletal remains of their capabilities.

While some may wish that the band could go beyond their normal stylings and push for even more in the dance-pop spectrum, such as their massive single “1901,” it’s still nice to see the band sticking to what they do best. Although they’ve yet to write a complete album where every song is perfect, this is the closest that they’ve come; Phoenix continues to write great songs and progress as they move forward.

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

Download: Phoenix – Lasso [MP3]

Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest

bears

Rating: ★★★★★

At this point in the year, it seems pretty redundant to discuss this album, especially considering all the accolades it has received during the time in which the album leaked onto the Internet.  But, be that as it may, one really has to take a look at this album; you would be doing yourself an injustice to ignore Grizzly Bear at this point, and your record collection would be worse off for not adding Veckatimest to your catalog.

Even on the first track, it is hard to find negative commentary on the album, no matter how you wish to label this band and their hype.  “Southern Point” has various elements to the entirety of the song, be it ornate guitar picking or the back and forth piano work.  You’ll come to find that the various layers that were present during Yellow House have now been polished, to the benefit of every minute of the album.

Then comes the first single, “Two Weeks.” You could count this song as one of the best songs of the year, based merely upon the multiple layer harmonies that go throughout, but that probably wouldn’t do the song any justice.  Each layer of sound just seems to compile more melody as the song inches along like a caterpillar; the song builds with “ooh oooh oooh oohs” until the end, and when it’s complete, you feel a little bit worn out.

You find yourself two songs into the album, which most will prematurely title as best of the year.  From this point on, you cannot go back into the past; you cannot look back into the music of this year, for nothing will seem as complete as this album. Songwriter Daniel Rossen, who also fronts Department of Eagles, definitely has left his mark on this album, or at least you can see his maturity throughout the evolution of this album. What once seemed like quiet bedroom songs now have blossomed into full compositions, each worthy of standing on their own.

“Dory” seems like a simplistic enough song, but the magic in the vocal harmonies carry it above your average tune, into a new level of greatness few bands have yet to achieve.  “Ready, Able” has this brooding rhythm beneath the surface of the song, but with the intricate additions to the song, the tension is released, and the song courses on into one of the albums more beautiful moments.  “About Face” is the perfect song, with subdued percussion backing the song; the band has paid attention to the most minute detail, which, of course, makes each song stronger than the one before it.

You can hide behind the hype, declaring that the band is just riding the waves of popularity by the Internet popularity they’ve garnered, but listening to Veckatimest, you will truly see that Grizzly Bear deserves every kind word that was written about them.  Very few people will find that there is anything negative to say, and in that statement, you have the best album of the year.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/08-about-face.mp3]

Download: Grizzly Bear – About Face [MP3]

New Tunes from Personal and the Pizzas

pizzaIt’s Friday, and as you cruise into the weekend, you definitely need something meaningful to carry you all the way to the end of the day.  Well, let the wonderful sounds of Personal and the Pizzas put you on their backs and carry you into the weekend.  Sure, it’s a bit derivative, but if you don’t like this song you aren’t a United Statesian.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/personal_and_the_pizzas-i_dont_feel_so_happy_now.mp3]

Download: Personal and the Pizzas – I Don’t Feel So Happy Now [MP3]

Electric Owls – Ain’t Too Bright

owls2

Rating: ★★★½ ·

When The Comas decided that it would be best to call it quits, at least for the day, I knew that I would miss their fuzzed-out space pop.  Ever since their first break on Dawson’s Creek, I was absolutely in love.  Luckily, leader of the bunch, Andy Herod, opted to take on the Electric Owls moniker and release Ain’t Too Bright on Vagrant Records.

As soon as this album kicks off, the fuzz begins, coating the acoustic strumming before Herod’s distinctive voice jumps into song.  For a fan of this man, it’s good to hear these familiar vocals, and the return of that space-age pop sound that Herod and friends perfected with Spells.

It’s great to see that Herod and his new posse haven’t neglected that quirkiness that made his old band so interesting, using electronic samples and other sounds to add an atmospheric background to the scope of each song.  But still, they maintain the feel of all the current bands. “Halloween Mask” easily fits in the modern pop landscape, dancing not far away from the works of Rogue Wave.  This song reminds us of Herod at his best, crafting careful cool hits with a hint of futuristic hipsterdom.

Reading notes about his return, it would seem that Herod needed this return to music.  His first foray had left him and his mates exhausted, but as all great writers do, he got the itch to write again.  That personality breaks through the surface of this album, as more traditional songs have been penned.  Songs like “Darken Me” with it’s folk leanings and foot stomping percussion remind listeners of the personal touch that music can bring. “Two Stories” has that similar personal stretch, with the song being drawn gently from personal experience of the narrator, presumably Herod himself.

This outing is less intense than the past efforts that have involved Herod, but this is not entirely a bad thing, as he first warmed his way into my heart with A Def Needle In Tomorrow long ago, which seemed to be a stripped down affair in comparison to his later work.  Still, it’s great to have the voice of an old friend bringing back memories of simple pop tunes with a space-age edge.  You never know how much you miss a particular songwriter until they make their way back into the music industry; we gladly welcome back Andy Herod and Electric Owls to the foray.

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

Download: Electric Owls – Darken Me [MP3]

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