Saturday night was probably not the most enjoyable evening on which to catch a show, as it was freezing cold here in Austin, but many brave souls opted to push through the wintry weather in pursuit of a good evening of music. Those in attendance were able to catch Dawes, Other Lives and Delta Spirit honing their skills on stage. Here are our thoughts on the evening.
Britain’s The Boy Least Likely To have made waves in the past with their multi-instrumental pop tunes, and their back at it again with their latest release The Law of the Playground. Their sound clearly hasn’t evolved too much on this album, as they rely upon the same set of tricks that gained them popularity in the first place.
Once you press play, those of indie-pop should surely find a resemblance in vocalist Jof’s delivery, as his voice is a clear descendant of Matt Sharp of Rentals and Weezer fame. Even the musical accompaniment encourages this association, but its nice to have a familiar voice singing in your ear, even if it comes from someone entirely new.
Musically, you can find lots of similarities to various bands. The usage of multiple instruments throughout the album recall memories of other groups such as Architecture in Helsinki or I’m From Barcelona. All three groups rely upon an extensive use of layering in order to complete the accomplished goal at hand. And their is no shortage of bells and whistles here, not by a long shot.
You know the saying “everything and the kitchen sink,” well, it certainly applies. There indeed are bells and whistles, and it seems as if the band uses any thing at their command to create infectious melodies. Add some horns, and you’ll find that every single instrument you could imagine to find on a pop album is utilized here. It’s great in concept, but it has a tendency to wear the listener down. Just saying.
Now, looking deep in the lyrics will be hard to, as there really isn’t a great deal of depth swirling around the presentation here. Let’s take a song like “When Life Gives You Lemons I Make Lemonade.” Can you work a larger cliche into song than that one? Probably not. Which is precisely where this band loses you; their lack of interest, or seeming disinterest, is where you start to feel frustrated in listening to the band. They’ve built these perfectly crafted songs, yet they can’t ever seem to close the deal by attaching quality lyrics to such melodies.
Two albums into their career, the band have created a wide array of pop gems to their name, each built with precision and attention to every melodic detail. Time after time, they surprise you with moments of splendor, as they do in “Stringing up Conkers” on their most recent release. But, in the end, they always leave you craving for more, be it in regards to lyrics, or in regards to wanting more well-crafted songs, you’re sure to ask for more.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/06-stringing-up-conkers.mp3]
Download: Boy Least Likely To – Stringing Up Conkers [MP3]
There’s something to be said about a young soul with the spirit of a wise one, and Tara Jane Oneil is precisely such a person. She’s got the spirit of wonderment, and despite the beauty of this song, “Drowning” there’s something haunting in her delivery, but in a completely endearing way. Yea, it’s a mellow number for sure, but one to ease you into the weekend with the magic of her voice alone. Her record A Ways Away comes out via K Records on May 5th. Also, be on the lookout for this young lass during SXSW.[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/tjodrowning.mp3]
Download: Tara Jane Oneil – Drowning [MP3]
We’ll go a little old school crooner this week, well, not that entirely old school, as the feature of this week is still up and at it. Ladies and gentlemen, we bring you Leonard Cohen. The man has been honored by everyone, and this Friday we have a chance to honor the man as well. You can do so by purchasing tickets to his show on April 2nd at the Long Center. This will be the show you will tell your kids about. Get a hold of your tickets here, and buy me one as well please![audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/02-chelsea-hotel-no-2.mp3]
Download: Leonard Cohen – Chelsea Hotel No. 2 [MP3]
Odawas come to us from Berkely, California via the Midwest, which is definitely an attribute one can find on both ends of the spectrum when listening to their newest album, The Blue Depths, off JagJaguwar Records.
This an album of soundscapes, carefully sculpted with an artists touch, as the duo of Isaac Edwards and Michael Tapscott, pay attention to every inch of the recording process and the musical concept. Clearly, this is an album where they sat down together, determined a common path they wished to depart upon, and decided to take us their with them. Even the album artwork and the song titles illustrate a journey of sorts, for all those participating in the listening experience. Titles like “Swan Song of the Humpback Angler” and “Moonlight/Twilight” clearly represent a canvas on which the band can paint.
Oddly, they choose to do a lot of the percussive work with a twinge of eighties pop keyboard elements. The backing sounds are remarkably similar to every soundtrack you would hear in the pop-culture movies of the eighties. Still, it keeps some of the more brooding moments rising above the seemingly somber moments that exist throughout. And yet the band push on with their sound, carefully filling every single inch of space with some form of instrumentation, be it harmonica, string arrangement or vocal melody; they don’t leave a single musical stone unturned here.
Vocals all over the album are a little bit in the vein of something we would have seen with Jason Lytle, just a whole lot gentler, as if the Californian has been sampled, slowing his voice down to a whispering tone. It’s a trait that allows for the band to put the music on the forefront, with the vocals remaining just an extra instrument for them to utilize in the ultimate construction of this album. This being the case, its hard to take a lot of quality understanding from the vocals in the realm of lyrics, but that probably isn’t the point at all. They want you to be drawn in, pulling your ears closer to the speakers as you fight to take meaning from their compositions.
In the end, this is the seeming purpose behind this release, as it surely is a moment of pure mood music. This isn’t to suggest that you need to be in a certain mood to grasp the record; this is by no means the purpose of that statement. The purpose of making a blanket statement such as that means that while listening to this album in its entirety, as you should do with all albums, you will find that your mood has been altered. This is precisely what Odawas wants of you, they want you to immerse yourself in their wonderful world of space and sound.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/02-swan-song-of-the-humpback-angler.mp3]
Download: Odawas – Swan Song of the Humpback Angler [MP3]
Tim Kasher has long been penning incredible tunes, both as the frontman for Cursive, and as the man behind The Good Life. Now comes the time of year where we can all be grateful, as new tunes are now available in preparation for Cursive‘s release of Mama, I’m Swollen, out on March 10th via Saddle Creek Records. You can hear “I Couldn’t Love You” over at Entertainment Weekly.
Also, they released another track yesterday to the public, which is also another song off the upcoming album. This song, “From the Hips” illustrates Tim at his best, writing great lyrics, and the song just seems to churn out those special moments we missed on the band’s Happy Hollow last time around.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/cursive-fromthehips.mp3]
Download: Cursive – From the Hips [MP3]
Glasgow, Scotland has a certain place in my heart, as my favorite band stems from the region, not to mention their influence Orange Juice. Yet, here comes another great band, Bricolage, that seems to owe a bit of love towards the aforementioned band. Throw in a touch of The Smiths, and you’ve got a rollicking good time. The band is set to release their self-titled album on Slumberland this May.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/08turnuover.mp3]
Download: Bricolage – Turn U Over [MP3]
Eef Barzelay had promised us long ago that his days with Clem Snide were well over, which was odd, seeing as he was the primary musician behind the band’s music. But, here we are again with Clem Snide’s newest album, Hungry Bird.
Barzelay is one of those singers who has a very distinctive voice. It’s somewhat near the nasal region, yet in an endearing way. This quality in his voice makes you immediately familiar with him as a frontman, and it draws you in closer to the group; it is meant to draw you in closer to the lyrics.
As in the past, Barzelay weaves his lyrics around the most mundane of things, though this time around, there is less of a childishness to the entirety of the lyrics. Well, childish is probably not the word to use, so let’s use wit in this case. Seemingly, he’s thrown these lyrical concepts a little bit away from the group, which inevitably bring a more serious tone to the album as a whole. It’s a different approach for the group, one that might lead long-time fans through a period of adjustment.
A serious tone has been established through the vocal and lyrical element, which really sets the mood for the listener. The band, always lumped into post-country genres, has never been one to fiercely pick up the pace, but it seems here they definitely slow the tempo all the way down. Take “Hum,” for example, a slowly sprawling song, ending with a seeming crescendo of ferocity, but pulled back just in time for the band to hone that slowdown hoedown that covers the album.
Most will appreciate this album’s gentleness, as the level of intimacy achieved here is one that will bond with listeners. The quietude of the mood is soothing, and it forces you to pay attention to every little aspect of the album. Strong production allows you to see those littlest details, as the band has filled out all possible areas of their sound. It’s almost as if its a late slocore album, shedding the walls of country tinge away as they created, and ultimately finished this album.
Long time fans will surely be glad to have this band back together, working to create that soft edge of country sound that many people lovingly dote upon. While it may not be the best of the group, songs such as “Burn the Light” will surely show that Clem Snide is still a strong force to be reckoned with, now, and in the future.[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/03-hum.mp3]
Swan Lake is a supergroup, featuring members of Frog Eyes, Wolf Parade, and Destroyer. Their newest album, Enemy Mine is slated for release via Jagjaguwar Records on March 24th. While early indications claim Frog Eye’s Casey Mercer as the better writer this time out, you can’t count out Destroyer’s Dan Bejar. Just take a listen to the following track.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/swan-lake-spider.mp3]
Download: Swan Lake – Spider [MP3]
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart have recently been lauded, not just by ATH, but by many others for their self-titled release. It’s shrouded in atmospherics and melody, the perfect blend of everything going on nowadays. Suffice it to say, that very record is one of the only albums released thus far in 2009 that succeeds in every song. Follow the jump to find out a little more about the band.