One For The Team

Read about this band One for the Team on some other websites and I like the pop goodness they are bringing so I thought we’d post a little song. The song below is called “Better Job” off the bands soon to be released album Build it Up, which you can buy now on itunes for only $5.99. Read more about the band on their myspace page.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/one-for-the-team-better-job.mp3]

Download: betterjob.mp3

Beck – Modern Guilt

Rating: ★★★ · ·

When reviewing a Beck record I think you come across some very difficult waters. The man is revered by so many, and at the same time, it’s become increasingly difficult to put a definition on his music. You have to respect that, yet at the same time, it’s not the easiest thing to write about.

With this album, you have the uber-producer Danger Mouse aiding the production along the way. It’s kind of an odd step, and one that I was skeptical of – I’m not a DM kind of guy. That’s where we begin.

The album opens well enough with “Orphans.” You have some of the staple touches of DM, accompanied by the gentle guitar work of Beck, for which he always wins me over. He throws in some hand-claps as well, which I believe is becoming a bit of a Beck staple. It’s a good start.

“Gamma Ray” is the next track, and its the track you expected to hear on this album. It’s got a bouncing little bass line that pushes the song all the way through. Sure, you have vocals and such, but if you can’t get into this bass line, then you can’t get into this song. This is definitely a high-point on the album.

“Chemtrails” seems like an odd song to follow the previous track. It’s mellow atmospherics leave it completely juxtaposed to “Gamma Ray,” which is probably the intention. Stay with this song because it picks up in the end, with Beck or Danger Mouse, doing his best Stereolab/Air imitation.

The album’s title track comes next. Once again, this is a head bobber. You can’t help but realize that your feet are tapping, while Beck’s familiar voice dances on in the background. Honestly, I’m starting to realize that his voice is playing second fiddle on some of these more upbeat songs, which is kind of disappointing.

I didn’t get much from “Youthless.” You can blame me for poor tastes I guess. Perhaps because it comes off to me like Beck vs. Gnarls Barkley.

I love the next track, or I love the vocals on this next track, “Walls.” The beats present in the background don’t do much to enhance this song. Beck has that passion in his voice here, but it’s the kind of passion that makes you wish he would just pick up his guitar and sing it to you straight.

Then you can skip the next track. I did.

We find ourselves at “Soul of a Man.” This is a solid track, and another of the upbeat numbers you will find, even if the guitar sound does come off like every other garage rock tune you’ve heard in the past years. But, the pace is stepped back up on the album, which is probably where the focus of this album should stay, which it does. “Profanity Prayers” continues the pace, with pounding drums in your ears. One of the better songs on the album. To me this album just screams good times. This should definitely be included in the live set; it just has that feel to it.

Then we close the album with “Volcano.” A down-trodden little number where the acoustic guitar work really makes me reminisce about Sea Changes. It’s a good call to close the album here. For me, its the song that most resembles the Beck I came to know and like. Nice call here.

As I play this time and time again, I can’t help but feel a little distance from it. I don’t find Danger Mouse’s work very interesting, in fact, I think it kind of comes off like everything else he’s done recently. Perhaps he’s just tapped into the same thing one too many times. Due to that, it just doesn’t have the feel of a solid Beck album. Sure, there are some high points, like “Gamma Ray” and “Volcano,” but there are some moments that just don’t reach the listener.

I guess at the end of the day, he can do whatever he really wants to do. He’s earned that right, and as long as he keeps releasing albums with several great songs, I think he’ll still be important. I’m just waiting for him to put out that solid album, all the way through. I’ll keep waiting.

Below is “Gamma Ray” off the new album:

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/02-gamma-ray.mp3]

Download: gammaray.mp3

New Music From Bloc Party

BBC Radio w/Zane Lowe premiered a new song from Bloc Party today entitled “Mercury”. The new song is set to be released as a single for purchase on August 11th. This new song will also be released on the the new Bloc Party album which is said to be out sometime early in 2009. Check BBC radio’s website for a stream of the song. You can also watch the brand spankin’ new video for the song on Bloc Party’s website. We should have an mp3 for you in the next couple days when we’re sure it’s legal. What do ya think?  We now have the mp3 we promised:

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/bloc-party-mercury.mp3]

Download: Bloc Party – Mercury [MP3]

New Music From The Walkmen

The Walkmen have a new song available called “Red Moon” off their upcoming album You & Me due out on August 19th of this year. This song shows the band possibly returning to their sound from their 2004 release Bows + Arrows and not the atrocity that was A Hundred Miles Off from 2006. Enjoy!

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/07-red-moon.mp3]

Download: redmoon.mp3

Albert Hammond Jr. – Como te Llama

Rating: ★★★½ ·

When Albert Hammond Jr. released his first record, I was completely skeptical. Could the guitar player step outside of his work with The Strokes and go it alone, successfully? The answer was an astonishing yes! That record filled my ears with gem after gem of sunny pop tunes. The new question was could he maintain that on his newest effort? Could he make me question the genius behind his other band once again?

Yes and no.

The opening track, “Bargain of a Century” comes in with swelling guitars, and what sounds like some bass lines stolen from the closet of his old band, added with a flare of piano. The vocal effects are all very reminiscent of his last effort, yet also quite like his pal Julian Casablancas. This song sets the pace for the rest of the record, demonstrating that at his best, Albert can write a really infectious tune.

The next two songs are good enough, but I go through them time and time again without really holding on to any redeemable quality. This isn’t to say that these are bad songs, for surely someone will enjoy them, but I just kind of found them as filler, holding time before we get to the next track.

Now, “GfC,” the fourth track is the single from this album, or the first one at least, and deservedly so. Every time I listen to this track, I immediately want to push repeat. A song like this shows just what a great songwriter Albert actually is; he’s a forced to be reckoned with more often than not. My head bobs, the wind blows in my hair, and all I can do is grin like a child. Beautiful.

Once again you find yourself at an impasse. The next few songs don’t pack the punch you’ve grown used to by this point. He seems to have missed a step with these songs, but I urge you to proceed through these songs with open ears because the chorus on “Rocket” is a superb moment in a fairly subpar song, which I suppose makes this song wonderful in its own way. Chills creep down my skin each time those guitars come blasting in to my speakers.

Hidden in those tracks is “You Won’t Be Fooled by This,” which is a track that most closely resembles his work in that other band . It’s a classic song, and it makes me wonder if Albert is just better off to go it alone. Really.

“Spooky Couch,” is an awful song. It is a seven minute instrumental tune that adds nothing to the album. I am not sure why its on here. Please skip this song.

Albert steps up the pace again after that yawner. He proceeds through the next few tracks with fervor, and possibly too much. A little more focus would have made those songs as memorable as the earlier tracks on this album.

And then we come to a close ladies and gentlemen with “Feed Me Jack…” which is as close to a classic ballad as this fellow has come. It might not be the best ballad of all time, but I like it for the fact that he went another direction entirely, using this song to display just how strong his voice is. It’s lacking lyrically, but a good solid step.

You see, Albert Hammond can write some amazing songs. He doesn’t need that other band to establish his credibility, but the weaknesses of this record hint that if there were a few more members battling against his ideas, then we might just have another great record in our future. All in all, Albert stands on his own, continuing to show us that he is force to be reckoned with in the pop world; all on his own. Dig it.

Below is the single we posted a long long time ago “GFC”:

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/04-gfc.mp3]

Download: gfc.mp3

King Khan @ Mohawk (7/6)

King Khan & The Shrines will be putting on a sure to be ridiculous show at Mohawk on Sunday night the 6th. The band is touring in support of their recent compilation The Supreme Genius of King Khan & The Shrines. Look at that picture! This show is not something to be missed. You can buy some tickets on the Transmission Entertainment website for only $10. Doors are set to open at 7pm. No Regrets!

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/no_regrets.mp3]

Download: noregrets.mp3

Black Angels on Woxy

The Futurist has a nice write up and some mp3s you can download of a recent performance The Black Angels did for the Woxy Lounge. Woxy Lounge has been showcasing some pretty heavy hitters on their Lounge Act website. Head over to the Woxy site for live performances from Mates of State, Matt Pond PA, & Cursive among others. Below is the first song from the Black Angels set on Woxy “Better off Alone” from their recent release Directions to See a Ghost.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/black-angels-better-off-alone-lounge.mp3]

Download: Black Angels – Better Off Alone [MP3]

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