Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes

Rating: ★★★★★

When one is confronted with the repeated hype of a band across the Internet word, as we all were with Fleet Foxes Sun Giant EP, you want to find one thing, anything, that proves them wrong. You almost want to hate the album, but I’m sorry, this is not the album.

Personally, I wouldn’t have started the album with “Sun Giant,” since it may have appeared somewhere in the past, but it still sets the mood for this album. By the time “Drops in the River,” the third track, rolls around, this band already had me won over–I actually didn’t like the EP. Sure, its a gentle track from the beginning, but once it gets rolling its hard not to find yourself bobbing your head here. Then they go straight into “White Winter Hymnal,” which definitely is a stand out on the album.

Actually, its not a stand out at all because I am struggling to find the one song on here I can dislike, or at least dismiss. There isn’t one. I double-checked. Not a one.

Each song on this album has carefully crafted instrumentation, and it all fits so perfectly with the harmonies of lead singer Robin Peckfold, who at times is harmonizing with every one else in the band. It is quite an interesting effect–though I admit at times it makes the lyrics somewhat indiscernible. Still, you can’t hide the fact that each arrangement on this album seems to fit perfectly with the rest of the song–with the rest of the album for that matter.

My biggest complaint about this album is the timing of the release. This is just me being selfish, but where was this album during the winter? Everything on here screams perfect winter album to me. I know I know. I could easily enjoy this sitting around a campfire with my best friends, but I don’t have time to go camping right now. Still, it would be perfect for that.

My favorite songs are “White Winter Hymnal,” “Mykonos,” “Quiet Houses,” and “Oliver James.” Now, I could ramble off thousands of comparisons to this band, but I’m sure you could find more adequate ones elsewhere on the Internet. My vote is for The Clientele comparison, but that is just me.

I hope this little review gives you enough insight into this album, but to be honest, its really hard to write about such a solid album. See for yourself.

Fleet Foxes will also be bringing their live act to the Mohawk in Austin on July 2nd.  Get your tickets at The Mohawk’s website.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/02-fleet_foxes-white_winter_hymnal.mp3]

Download: whitewinterhymnal.mp3

New Tilly and the Wall Single

Tilly and the Wall have released a new song and accompanying video off their new album o due out June 17th. The song is called “Pot Kettle Black”. Check out the “Pot Kettle Black” video on Sterogum’s website.

Also, don’t miss the band passing through Austin on July 17th at everyone’s favorite venue Emos. Pick up your tickets for Tilly and the Wall at Emo’s before it sells out!

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/tilly-and-the-wall-pot-kettle-black.mp3]

Download: potkettleblack.mp3

The Supreme Genius of King Khan

King Khan & The Shrines will be releasing their new album The Supreme Genius of King Khan & The Shrines on June 17th. For now, listen to one of my favorite new songs of the year “Torture”. They are coming to Mohawk July 6th, and we would highly recommend jumping on tickets now. It’ll sell out.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/king_khan-torture.mp3]

Download: torture.mp3

The Return of Whitman @ Emos Lounge

Local band Whitman sees a triumphant return to the stage this Friday (June 6th) at Emo’s Lounge in Austin Texas. Whitman will be playing with well known bands Sybris & Unwed Sailor. Prepare to have your faces melted! For tickets Click here. Or just buy one at the door for only $8! Doors open at 9pm, show starts at 10.

More info/song previews for each band can be found here:
Whitman
Sybris
Unwed Sailor

Hear “The Drifter” off Whitman’s new album Torch Songs
[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/08-the-drifter.mp3]

Download: thedrifter.mp3

Islands – Arm’s Way

Rating: ★★★ · ·

Immediately, I want to say that this record is probably worth the purchase–albeit one when there isn’t much else out there to buy. Initially, I listened to this album four or five times in a single day, but therein lies the problem–I can’t recall great moments about this one–I can’t recall the shapes of the songs, give or take one or two. Care to explain you ask? I do indeed.

For starters, this album is far too long to listen to in one sitting, and if you do, you will find it does nothing more than blend into the background as you and your buddies make dinner–steaks right? By my count, 8 of the 12 songs go over the 5 minute mark. Sorry, Nick Thorburn, I just don’t have that sort of time these days. Sure, they dabble in length, but not quite like this.

Now, is the music worth it? Yes-but not like you want it–not like your “Rough Gem.” The closest Islands come to replicating that playfulness is on the 4th track “Creeper,” and it doesn’t quite hit its mark. Here is our problem listeners: the affinity for clever, circus-laden melodies is gone. But, on the plus side–so are all those faux hip-hop moments. I miss the former–its always been the attraction for me.

What I do like about this album, especially apparent in the last three tracks, is the new darker side of this band, and I don’t mean that in regards to lyrics–I mean it in reference to the somber mood apparent in these tracks. We all know that Jaime Thompson is no longer a member, and this is really apparent, or at least to me, in these lyrics. I could be off, but, whatever the cause, it makes for some of the more special moments on this record. Like I said–I bought it. I listen to it from time to time, but I can’t tell why. Maybe you can?

Islands is playing Emos Austin on June 23rd. Click here to purchase tickets for da show.

Hear “The Arm” off the brand new album:

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/islands-the-arm.mp3]

Download: Islands – The Arm [MP3]

Mates of State – Rearrange Us

Rating: ★★★ · ·

Who doesn’t want to wrap this band up in a Taco Cabana tortilla, dip them in some queso and eat them for a late night snack? Maybe that’s not exactly the image you had in mind but can you blame me? Mates of State is the band you want to bring home and introduce to the family. The band you wish no one caught you smiling about every time you heard their songs. Mates of State have been doing their thing for a while now and doing it very well I might add. Doin’ it and doin’ it and doin’ it well. The first time I heard “La’hov” from My Solo Project (2001) I knew this band had something good going on. They brought you the sound that always made you want to dance and sing at the top of your lungs. After My Solo Project Mates dropped three more very solid and likeable albums each with superbly written pop jams that all ages can’t resist. On top of these three albums, MOS got hitched and also dropped two kids along the way. So now the act manages the music industry along with two little ones.

The bands most recent effort, Re-Arrange Us, sees the band growing up a lot or showing their age if you will. Kori Gardner(every indie fan boy’s dream girl) begins to use less and less of her famous electric organ that everyone fell in love with in the first place. I wouldn’t say this is a bad thing but I can see some die hard fans turned off by this, me being one of them. I do like the way Mates is attempting to grow up a bit & seeing what’s going to work for them as a band in the future. They are evolving as a band, refining their sound & trying new things, I’m just not sure if it is paying off. The album starts off with “Get Better” with it’s slick drums and tight hook that you can’t say no to. “The Re-Arranger” is the feature track of the album. It shows Mates going back to what they do best: sing-a-long lyrics and the best pop rhythms money can buy. If every song on the album sounded like this one, mark it down as the best of the year. Unfortunately, that’s not the case….Not every song on the album will cause you to sing-a-long, but at least will make you tap your feet. The songs are strong but something seems to be missing.

The beats are good, the lyrics are like always, the sound is refined, so what else is there? The songs tend to be good but what about after several listens? They start getting hard to tell apart…. And this can’t be Mates best work… can it? What happened to the days of “Nice Things that Look Good” or even “Fluke”? I miss the organ. Fine I said it. Who doesn’t? As much as I like these songs, I also find some faults in them. After a few listens, the album starts to sound like maybe it was rushed or the band is just going through the motions. They still put a smile on my face but I miss the old rockin’ days of Mates of State. Mates is still putting out music that rivals most any pop outfit but I think they could be the best pop band around if they really put their minds to it. Here’s one fan boy missing the days of the mighty Kori Gardner and her trusty electric organ.

Don’t miss Mates of State blowing through Austin at Emo’s June 13th. Click here to purchase tickets before they sell out. Never miss the chance to see Mates live!

Hear “Get Better” off the new album now:

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/01-get-better.mp3]

Download: Mates of State-Get Better.mp3

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