Seabear – We Built A Fire

Rating: ★★★★☆

It’s heating up around Austin with SXSW right around the bend and with spring weather here, wildflowers across the state spring to life.  Nevertheless, Seabear is coming through town to cool things down a little. Icelandic septet Seabear, led by soothing songster Sindri Már Sigfússon, is set to release their nature-infused sophomore album, We Built A Fire. Iceland is renowned for its otherworldly landscapes and ethereal musicians (i.e. Bjork and Sigur Ros), but this record hits a familiar chord closer to home.

The release is premium indie-folk and shows the “Icelandic Beck” at his whimsical, yet haunting best. Although based in Iceland, Seabear’s lyrics are all in English; which makes it a surprise that this year marks the band’s first trip through North America, starting with SXSW. Beginning as a lo-fi solo project for Sigfússon, Seabear has expanded to a full 7-member band with the emphasis on the collective creative process. Their first release, The Ghost That Carried Us Away, was a much more intimate release with delicate, orchestral arrangements containing many indie-folk gems. Similarly on their latest, there’s no shortage of them. This time around, mutual input in the writing process was the modus operandi and what materialized is an improved confidence in all the parts. This translates into a stronger sound and superior effort as a whole.

Sigfússon songwriting talents (whose last solo effort came under the moniker Sing Fang Bous) is in full bloom starting with the opener, ‘Lion Face Boy’. His voice is a force, both full and soft simultaneously, driving the tempo throughout the track and ultimately the extent of the record.  ‘Fire Dies Down’ is a more up-tempo and moving track, displaying the rest of the group’s expanded instrumental vocabulary.

The pseudo title track and first single ‘I’ll Build You A Fire’ is a stand out track with wonderful harmonies. On Sigfússon’s 2009 solo tour, he was joined by headliners and fellow Icelandic indie poppers múm, and it’s obvious that a little rubbed off. ‘Cold Summer’ begins with a poignant piano intro. Then the vocals and cello drift in and out like a summer breeze over an Icelandic meadow. The depth and soothing nature of his voice prove to once again be the driving force followed by the country influenced ‘Wooden Teeth’; which is one of the more joyful moments on the record. This country influence continues into ‘Leafmask’ with a guitar intro displaying true country roots, before Sigfússon slows things down and emerges with one of the more impressive vocal tracks on the album.  After ‘Softship’, the album loses a little momentum and becomes more introverted before the back and forth crescendos and decrescendos of ‘Warm Blood’.

Seabear brings the tempo back up for the final track ‘Wolfboy’, completing one of my favorite releases of the year. We Built A Fire is thought-provoking music while physically moving to boot, and we can only hope their tour is so successful they return with more dates for years to come. Amazingly, this time around Austin gets 4 (yes 4!) chances to see them. You will not want to miss at least one of these free sets:

March 17th @ Epoch Coffee (221 W North Loop) – 7:15pm

March 18th @ Scoot Inn (1308 E 4th st.) – 1pm

March 18th @ The Hideout (617 Congress Ave.) – 1am

March 20th @ Cafe Mundi (1704 E. 5th st.) – 2:45pm

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Seabear-03-Ill-Build-You-A-Fire.mp3]

Download: Seabear – I’ll Build You A Fire [MP3]

New Tunes from Sweet Apple

Let’s face it, everybody loves that nostalgic sound from the 90s, and the recent revival of J Mascis in the past several years can’t hurt.  So, we’re excited for his new band, along with several member of Cobra Verde, Sweet Apple to release their debut Love & Desperation on April 20th.  This new single is ridiculously good, and it has that dirty pop feeling only Mascis seems to perfect. It’s time you took a listen.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/02-Ive-Got-A-Feeling-That-Wont-Change.mp3]

Download: Sweet Apple – I’ve Got A Feeling (That Won’t Change) [MP3]

New Tunes From Wye Oak

Not far released from their stellar 2009 release Knots, Wye Oak are returning this year with new EP My Neighbor/My Creator.  Below you’ll find a download of, “I Hope You Die”, which is a new single from the upcoming EP.  It’s a powerful lil’ ballad that shows a bright future for this up and coming band.  You can get My Neighbor/My Creator in the Merge Records store digitally on April 20th and physically June 8th.  Enjoy.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/04-I-Hope-You-Die-1.mp3]

Download: Wye Oak – I Hope You Die [MP3]

New Music From Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti

The “ecentric” musician Ariel Pink and his new backing band, Haunted Graffiti, are planning their first group effort LP for release this spring on 4AD.  Prior to the album date, the group plan to release a 7″ single which will be made available physical and digitally on april 26th.  The tune below, “Round and Round”, is the A-side on the upcoming single.  Deets on the full LP to come.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/RoundandRound.mp3]

Download: Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Round and Round [MP3]

SXSW Music: St. Deluxe

As our SXSW week of mayhem draws ever closer, we wanted to share some tunes with a few of the lesser known acts making their way into Austin.  Today we’ll take a quick look at Scottish band St. Deluxe.  This fuzz-pop quartet dropped their stellar debut LP in February of last year and have already shared the stage with the likes of Mudhoney, The Vaselines, and Sonic Boom.  Ironically the band come across as a more modern version of Mudhoney, or a sort of Scottish take on Dinosaur Jr, with a bigger emphasis on distorted vocals and bass.  However you want to label them, St. Deluxe will be a band to check out next week.  Not convinced?  Check out this live video of their song “New Wave Stars” and tell me that doesn’t do it for ya.  Two opportunities to see these guys for free:

Friday 3/19 – Dart Music Party @ Mi Casa (503 E. 6th st) – 1pm

Friday 3/19 – BME Scottish Stage @ Latitude 30 (512 San Jacinto Blvd.) – 4:20pm

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/01_After_the_Fire_St_Deluxe.mp3]

Download: St. Deluxe – After the Fire [MP3]

Introducing: Trumpeter Swan

Trumepter Swan is the brand spanking new project from former What Made Milwaukee Famous keyboardist/guitar player Drew Patrizi.  The endeavor is basically a solo project from Patrizi with a few of his friends brought on board to help record debut album Listen for the Clues.  Throughout that new album, you’ll hear a pop-rock sound similar to the stylings that WMMF were known for.  Expanding on that though, Patrizi has created his own new voice in the genre and created a beautiful album chock full of pop ballads.  You can buy the new album online now and check back for shipping dates.  Digital downloads for purchase will be available soon.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/01-Loose-Lips.mp3]

Download: Trumpeter Swan – Loose Lips [MP3]

New Tunes from Dr. Dog

Personally, the new Dr. Dog really has me on edge.  Sure, they’re not necessarily indie darlings anymore, but I’m really looking forward to the release of Shame, Shame, which hits stores April 6th.  Here’s another new track off their latest effort.  You can welcome the boys to Austin in May @ Emos as they come our way to support their new album, that’s if you don’t catch them at SXSW.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/drdog3.mp3]

Download: Dr. Dog – Stranger [MP3]

New Music From Here We Go Magic

Luke Temple and his band Here We Go Magic are currently sitting on top of the world.  They earned spots on all kinds of year end lists with their debut LP last year and pretty much everyone is labeling them the next big thing.  Now only a year after their debut release, HWGM are planning to release their sophomore effort, Pigeons, on June 8th via their new label Secretly Canadian.  This album will feature collaborations from all band members as opposed to last years album that was basically a Luke Temple solo effort.  Below you can find the first sneak peak from the album, “Collector”, which some of you may recognize as a staple of their live sets.  After a few spins, I’m ready to call this best new song of the week and a must have album in 2010.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/02-Collector-1.mp3]

Download: Here We Go Magic – Collector [MP3]

New Tunes from Tre Orsi

Tre Orsi recently popped up on the Matador Austin Compilation, though the band is a three piece from Denton.  This is probably due to the fact that we’d like to claim them as our own due to their rocking live shows, and their powerful sound.  The band will be releasing their album, Devices + Albums, on March 23rd through Works Progress Records.  Production credits go to Bubba Kadane of Bedhead (The New Year too) fame, so you know it will sound great–I can confirm it does, as I’ve been listening to it non-stop since I got my hands on it.  Give the band a try. Buy local.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/02-The-Engineer.mp3]

Download: Tre Orsi – The Engineer [MP3]

Prismo Perfect

Prismo Perfect are a French band whose tunes have been catching our ears as of late.  The band has only been around for about a year now, but are hoping to use their DIY spirit to make a name for themselves in 2010.  Below you can find a downloadable copy of their song “Summer in the Kitchen” which will hopefully spark your interest in these guys.  They have a sort of 90s garage/70s psychedleic throwback type sound to them that we’re really digging on.  You can hear more on their myspace page or read more about them on their blog.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/02_Summer_In_The_Kitchen.mp3]

Download: Prismo Perfect – Summer in the Kitchen [MP3]

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