New Tunes from The Authors

authorsWe spotlighted The Authors a few weeks back as one of our favorite new local acts we think you should check out if you get a chance.  Speaking of chance, they play this week at Art Disaster No. 9, which is Thursday.  Until then, we hope to hold you over with one of their newest tracks.  We hope you support these guys, and if not, at least you have a sweet new track to grab onto for the day.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Feels-Like-Running.mp3]

Download: Authors – Feels Like Running [MP3]

Richard Hawley – Truelove’s Gutter

Richard-Hawley-Trueloves-Gutter-483869Rating: ★★★★½

After he released Lady’s Bridge, it seemed that the British crooner Richard Hawley could do no wrong with me.  As the release drew near for Truelove’s Gutter, I wasn’t quite sure what I expected from this new record.  Would it be similar to his previous work, or would he branch out into a new direction, much as his friend Jarvis Cocker has done?

Well, as the odd soundscape opening of “As the Dawn Breaks” began, I will say that anxiety crept into my throat.  Sure, this dabbling in sonic structuralism was indeed a new direction, but from a man who has blanketed his albums with lush orchestration, it seemed a step too far off.  Still, as the song progressed, the music almost loses its focus, bring Hawley’s throaty baritone to the forefront. Perhaps this is where the album would go?

When “Open Up Your Door” came on, you could hear the instrumentation that so often backs Richard, although it seemed to be in the distance here, that is until the slow drum work came into the picture.  It’s at this point that I found Hawley completely stepping into the role of a modern-day Leonard Cohen. You hang on every syllable, on every gentle note; and eventually, it all breaks into the dense orchestral movement you would expect.

It seems fitting to me that this record was already causing me to waiver on my decision to love this album or not.  Richard Hawley is not a taste for everyone, though surely everyone can find beauty in his voice, which sounds as guttural as anything you’re likely to find out there.  Perhaps the way the instruments traipse about, barely catching your attention until the song requires them to do so, seems striking to most. Almost unimportant. But, how can such songs evoke so much emotional toll on a listener?  It made Cohen great. It made, for some, Waits a classic.  Surely Richard Hawley will find his place, though his lyrics are that of the forlorn lover.

And so it went, to the point where I arrived at “Remorse Code,” the second longest song on Truelove’s Gutter. How does a nine minute long ballad capture you, wrap you around its finger, and throw you upon its back until the end. Listening to the subtle guitar work, I found no answer, only that I adored this song absolutely, as I adore the man singing the words.  I didn’t have to go far, one song past, to find “Soldier On.”  There’s some biblical allusions here, or at least some references to Christianity, though not in the overt sense. Hawley seemingly walks through this album, pacing himself, creating tension for the listener. It’s as if we’re merely meandering through this tune, until you reach just past the four minute mark where the song crashes into you.  It releases you in a wash of cymbals and emotions.

By backing it all into the finer moment that is “For Your Lover Give Some Time.”  I don’t particularly want to go into the detail of this song, as I’m sure, as with most Hawley tunes, each person will get out of it what they will.  It’s such a personal song, for me as a listener, that I don’t dare ruin your impression of it, or what it may offer you.

Thus the album walks into the longest song, the perfect ending to Truelove’s Gutter. The epic failure that could be this album’s bookend is not there.  Although it may be long, it encapsulates everything you wanted from the end.  Your time with Richard Hawley has come to an end, and though you want it to last forever, you needn’t fret, as you can simply relive it time and time again by pressing repeat.  I know I will.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/07-For-Your-Lover-Give-Some-Time-1.mp3]

Download: Richard Hawley – For Your Lover Give Some Time [MP3]

Monsters of Folk – s/t

Monsters-Of-Folk-Monsters-Of-Folk-483560Rating: ★★½☆☆

Let’s face it, rarely do collaborations with bands you love to death ever truly work out.  Sure, Queen and Bowie pulled off a song, but could they pull off an entire album?  I doubt it.  Now, we’ve been presented with Conor Oberst, M. Ward, and Jim James, along with Mike Mogis, joining together as Monsters of Folk.  Could these boys rise above the hype and fulfill our dreams?

First off, I’m not sure where to begin with Jim James vocals as of late.  Sure, he definitely has a bit of range that I didn’t expect, but it’s not nearly as warm as it once was, especially if you listen to the album opener “Dear God.” He just sort of lost me after Z, so it’s hard to get into his vocals on this album.

Conor Oberst, of late, has let me down.  I once swore by his name, and bought every little bit of music he put his hands on, especially when Mike Mogis was at the helm.  Still, his work with the Mystic Valley Band has taken a turn for something that I just really get behind at all.  You’ll find that a lot of the tunes on this record sort of seem like they branch off of the ideas he’s been throwing at us lately.  “Temazcal” appears to be a left over from his time in Mexico, and it’s one of the stronger tracks on this album, as it features minimal input from the others.  Sorry Conor, but your strengths lie when you leave the band behind you.   I mean I know it’s not about record sales, but have you noticed sales dropping since you did that whole double album thing?

To be frank, M. Ward seems to be the only one here who has sort of won me over lately with Hold Time.  His guitar stylings and delivery are definitely consistent on this album, especially when you look at songs like “Baby Boomer.”  This easily could have been on any of his last few recordings, except when Conor Oberst interjects during sparse moments.  You have to love the warmth of Ward, and the controlled warble of Oberst does provide a decent counter-point.  His trademark sound is all over this album, but since he doesn’t get to give it the full go, it doesn’t quite have the same impact as you think it should.

As you can see, there are obviously great musicians all over this album, which is precisely why there are going to be some pretty decent moments on this album.  You can’t have two great songwriters, and Jim James, put together in a room to come up with just random slop.  But, the album doesn’t really connect the way that you want it to in the end. A lot of the sounds showcase the recent missteps of the various authors, instead of allowing for their individual talents to open up and rise above the group.  For me, it seems as if they are all huddled to close together, not allowing each other the necessary breathing room to push each other as you would hope that they would do.  If they aren’t going to push one another, why not just write songs for each other to share?  I think the outcome there might have been more effective.  In the end, you’ll listen to this record a few times, find your favorite tunes, and then put it away.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/02-say-please.mp3]

Download: Monsters of Folk – Say Please [MP3]

New Tunes from Holopaw

holopawWhat can you do when you’re part of the great roster at Sub Pop but continue to be overlooked by the masses?  Well, you switch up labels (Bakery Outlet), and you just keep writing great tunes.  That is precisely the way of Holopaw, who are set to release their new album Oh, Glory. Oh, Wilderness. This new tune, along with the upcoming album, makes me want to go revisit their old catalogue it’s that good.

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

Download: Holopaw – The Art Teacher and the Little Stallion [MP3]

New Tunes from Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson

MilesBenjaminAnthonyRobinsonLast year, Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson swept into our top albums of the year, and he looks like he’s trying to make it for two years in a row.  He’s about to release his new album Summer of Fear on Saddle Creek Records (it’s already available on iTunes) on October 20th.  The production on “The Sound” is a lot stronger than the previous album, and you might just be able to pick out a few of Miles’ friends.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/03-The-Sound-1.mp3]

Download: Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson [MP3]

New Tunes from Free Energy

freeenergyFree Energy busted out their self-titled 7″ off DFA recently, and we brought you that track, and all its glam-rcok swagger, but we’re here now to throw you the other side of the coin.  “Something in Common” is the B-Side, but it’s completely different, wearing the tag of maybe an Albert Hammond Jr. pop influence, which knowing us, is sure to win our hearts. Get into it.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Free-Energy-Something-In-Common.mp3]

Download: Free Energy – Something In Common

The Twilight Sad – Forget the Night Ahead

twilightsadRating: ★★★★☆

From the depths of the Glasgow music scene burst forth another band in 2003.  Since then, The Twilight Sad have slowly been building up a reputation for their melodic rock meets shoegaze, creating beauty surrounded by squalling guitars.  Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters won over many critics, and the world was eager to see if Forget the Night Ahead could keep the band riding the wave of popularity into the hearts and ears of everyone.

As “Reflection of the Television” opens the album up, you can see the screaming feedback you can see that the band still has some of their traditional elements in place.  But, you will also notice that those elements no longer live in the foreground of the song, as they did on previous efforts.  Singer James Graham now has his vocals standing before you for all to see, and while it dramatically changes the aesthetics of the release, you still catch onto the power of music.

“I Became a Prostitute” is the band’s first single off this album, and you can see that it definitely has a presence that can rise above the indie status. Like Glasvegas, it’s a grandiose number full of wave upon wave of guitars accompanied by Graham’s vocals, which just so happen to crash atop the song as well during the chorus.  All in all, it’s a softer approach to writing than the group took in the past, but for most listeners, you will find that it’s equally as effective.

Fortunately for us, this album is longer than their previous affairs, despite the fact that each song reaches well beyond the mark of 3 minutes, with most running near the five minute mark. However, the dynamics of the atmospheric guitar flourishes combined with Graham’s new vocal presence do make some of the songs blend into one another, making it hard to differentiate between the album’s best numbers.  Don’t take this to mean that there aren’t standout tracks in abundance.

“That Birthday Present” is a clever song, with the majority of the tune relishing in the bouncy guitar work.  All this comes to light even though this also happens to be one of the noisier songs on the record.  The Twilight Sad at this point seem sort of like a cross between M83 and Mogwai, except they rely upon a more traditional songwriting structure.  It allows their songs to breathe, instead of wallowing before they fade into obscurity like other bands that implement noise attacks.

“Floorboards Under the Bed” is different than most tunes you’ll find in the groups catalogue.  It seems to wear the influence of tour-mates Frightened Rabbit, but then it fades into a piece of tinkering flare.  Albeit an interesting opening, the song quickly disappears into the back of your mind.  All the build up will lead you into the final three tracks.  Of the final three, “The Neighbours Can’t Breathe” is the stand out, although the closer, “At the Burnside,” has an emotional appeal, with a hint of Glaswegian balladry wrapping it all up.

This album has some really beautiful moments, more than way out the few weak points.  The Twilight Sad are able to build upon their own sound, pushing the shoegazing into the realm of a more pop-centric world, and Forget the Night Ahead wins because of its ability to step into these new realms, encouraging the band to become more than just another stagnant noise-rock act.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/reflection-of-the-television-1.mp3]

Download: The Twilight Sad – Reflection of the Television [MP3]

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