Islands Are Forever

Islands will be playing a couple of dates around Austin on Monday. Waterloo records will be hosting the first performance with a free in-store show with free keg beer as always. Get there early so you can post up near the front. Later in the evening, Islands will be moving on over to Emos to showcase a full set with all the trimmings. You can buy tickets for the late night show at Emos website. The band is becoming more and more well known for their live shows, so check out a great set from Islands at Emos at 10 p.m. or Waterloo at 5 p.m. Preview the shows with a song off the bands new album Arm’s Way entitled “Creeper”:

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/creeper.mp3]

Download: Islands – Creeper [MP3]

Jeremy Jay – A Place Where We Could Go

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Every once in a blue moon you happen to heed the advice of a good friend, and thus was the good fortune I had with coming across this brilliant piece of work by Jeremy Jay. This album caught me by surprise, but I am so glad that I came unto it for this is exactly the sort of album I have been searching for these past few weeks.

Now, Jeremy Jay comes across to many people as some sort of Jonathan Richman, and I can see that in the way that Jay seems to speak his lyrics rather than sing them, but his voice is a bit off from Richman’s. I tend to think of Robert Forster of the Go-Betweens –then again, I can see some of those Morrissey comparisons. I guess that’s it, you can try as you might, but Jeremy Jay has a voice all his own.

I really enjoy the song craft in these songs. Apparently, this chap is a fan of 50’s music a la Buddy Holly or Richie Valens, and this is very clear in the instrumentation. A song such as “The Living Dolls” completely encompasses this vibe, taking you back to your very own personal sock-hop. He doesn’t stop here, always staying in the vein of classic pop-song structures.

The only fault, for me as a listener, is that the music is clearly wonderful, yet it is really down low in the mix. Clearly, the focus is on Jay’s voice and lyrics, but that doesn’t mean you can turn up those guitars for the sake of the listener. Well, that is personal taste I suppose.

For the duration of this album, Jeremy focuses predominantly on the topic of love, but he approaches the subject from various different angles. Each of his songs, to me, comes across as a carefully crafted love poem–but not the kind that comes across as dishonest. I particularly enjoy the fact that there is an essence of the magical or natural world in the lyrics, which wins points in my book.

There are some faults here, such as the album falls short of 30 minutes, but for a debut full-length, its hard to come across much better than this. I have a feeling that by the end of the year this will sneak its way into my top ten–in fact, I’m reserving it a spot right now!

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

Download: heavenlycreatures.mp3

Grand Archives @ Stubbs (6/21)

Grand Archives will be coming to Stubbs this Saturday in support of their recently released album Grand Archives. The band will be joined by label mate Sera Cahoone who will be showcasing songs off her recent Sub Pop release Only as the Day is Long. You can find tickets to the show on Stubbs website for only $10 or you can get one at the show for $12. ATH will be on hand for what should be a stellar show, with a full review and pictures of the show coming early next week. Songs from Grand Archives & Sera Cahoone can be found below:

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

Download: tornbluefoamcouch.mp3

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

Download: onlyasthedayislong.mp3

Cryptacize @ Mohawk (6/21)

Asthmatic Kitty darlings Cryptacize will be bringing their live act to The Mohawk on Saturday. Tickets are on sale right now for the low low price of $6 on the Mohawk’s website. The band will be playing with the great Devon Williams who is always worth checking out. You can read more about Cryptacize on their website or have a listen to “No Coins” off the new album Dig That Treasure:

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

Download: nocoins.mp3

New Music From Sam Champion

Up and comers Sam Champion have a new song for your listening pleasure entitled “Be Mine Everyone” off their album Heavenly Bender which is set to come out September 2nd.  Rolling Stone recently featured the band as a breaking artist on their website so you should be hearing a lot about these guys soon.

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

Download: Sam Champion – Be Mine Everyone [MP3]

Li’l Cap’n Travis @ Club Deville (6/20)

Local boys and ATH favorite Li’l Cap’n Travis will be showcasing their talents at Club Deville on Friday in Austin. The band usually puts on stellar live shows with some Beach Boys covers thrown in for good measure. Head on over to Club Deville’s website to get more information on the show. Have a listen to “Sugar Buzz” off the band’s newest album Twilight on Sometimes Island:

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

Download: sugarbuzz.mp3

Colourmusic

While on vacation in Oklahoma, I was treated to a little melting of the face by Oklahoma’s Colourmusic at The Vault Video. They began the evening by involving the crowd in some serious stretching, just so we were prepared. From this point on, it was nothing but sweat and rock n’ roll. Musically, they reminded me of Belle and Sebastian covering metal songs; it was clever and poppy, but with a hint of some darkness. I expect to see huge things from this band in the future–and if every crowd behaves the way the one last night did, you’re in for one hell of a rock show! See some scandalous snapshots here. Read more

Mystery Jets

Are you looking for that dance hit of the summer? If you are, I think Mystery Jets can provide it for you. The band released a single called “Two Doors Down” earlier this year off their new album Twenty One which has already hit stores in the UK. We have no idea when this album will be coming to us in the US so enjoy what you can from the Mystery Jets. You should also check out the video for the song on youtube in all its Duran Duran/A-Ha awesomeness.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/06-two-doors-down.mp3]

Download: twodoorsdown.mp3

My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges

Rating: ★★½ · ·

When describing “Evil Urges,” the title track from Louisville-based My Morning Jacket’s new album, frontman/chief songwriter/spaceboots-wearin’ fearless leader Jim James talked about how the band would just “go off into space” when writing new parts to the song. The five-minute plus tune evokes soulful R&B grooves to Kentucky fried-dual guitar freakouts and back to it’s central refrain as it is relaunched into orbit. “Evil urges baby, they’re just part of the human way. It ain’t evil baby, if ya ain’t hurting anybody,” James sings in high-falsetto. And he couldn’t have made it more obvious himself because My Morning Jacket not only are throwing fans a musical curveball, but have some inner demons to conquer themselves on their latest offering.

As a faithful MMJ fan, I was fully aware writing a review of “Evil Urges,” their first album since 2005’s life-altering, astonishing marvel “Z,” was NOT going to be easy. However, it wasn’t as difficult writing this blurb as it was hearing this record in it’s entirety. “Urges” is a frustrating listen from the opening drum-wraps to the album’s final four seconds of nonsense. Missing are MMJ’s trademark reverb-soaked vocals, “motivated” guitar jams, and most depressingly, songcrafting.

The one thing I will forever adore about this band is how they create inspired songs laced with an honesty behind their Southern-tinged seven-to-eight minute rockers. Inspiration is certainly M.I.A. on this record.

“Evil Urges” zig-zags like a staggering “Glass Joe” in Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out, shifting from funky R&B grooves (title track) to James Taylor man-crushin’ (“Sec Walkin'”) to arena-sized riff-rockin (“Aluminum Park”) to WTF!? (“Highly Suspicious”) The song is so painful that by the time you’ve endured Olmec from Nickelodeon’s “Legends of the Hidden Temple” chanting “Highly Suspicious of You” for the 27th time, it makes you yearn for the cheesy, but appropriate sounds of Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watchin’ Me.” Hell, if “Highly Suspicious” was released in 1984, MMJ would’ve given Berry Gordy Jr.’s prodigee a run for his top 40 blood money. Now if they could just get Jermaine Jackson to guest vocal on the chorus instead of a giant animatronic talking piece of foam.

After the undeniably disastrous first half of “Urges,” we’re introduced to a little ditty called “Two Halves.” It’s a nice 60’s-style doo-wop rock tune that reminds us this band can do anything they damn-well please and it works in all it’s Roy Orbison-worshiping glory.

“Librarian” has to be one of the best narratives James’ has ever penned. “Sweetest little bookworm, hidden underneath is the sexiest librarian…take off those glasses and let down your hair for me.” Obsessed much, I know, but the way this tune floats around amidst it’s dusty stack of books and pitch-black summer skies, it’s difficult not to be enthralled by the mood of James’ storytelling. Plus, it’s about damn time someone wrote a great song about a sexy librarian. Gentlemen, we’ve all been there, don’t deny it.

The album concludes with the haunting one-two punch of “Smokin’ from Shootin'” and “Touch Me I’m Going to Scream Part 2.” “Shootin” is an excellent builder from Bo Koster’s quiet key-tappin’to guitarist/MVP Carl Broehmel’s heavy-plucking as James brings his A-game to a deafening climax that would make Charles Bronson proud. The song wanders into “Touch Me…,” an eight-minute disco “jambulance” where drummer Patrick Hallahan’s beating eerily reminds me of the B-52’s “Summer of Love.” It’s space-rock-prog-disco-psychedelia at it’s finest…woah.

“This feeling is wonderful…don’t you ever turn it off,” James exclaims as his gang caps off a confusing conclusion to a record that is more intrigued with sounding eclectic than creating the memorable MMJ moments we’re so fond of. If it weren’t for “Urges'” hard to swallow first half, this album would be destined for healthy repeated listens instead of turning the “wonderful feeling” off.

Don’t forget that the band will be showing off one of the best live acts around later this summer at Stubbs. The show isn’t sold out yet so hurry up and buy some tickets. And be sure to check out our (fake) interview with Jim James.

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

Download: evilurges.mp3

Eef Barzelay @ Mohawk (6/18)

Eef Barzelay, alt-country great and lead singer of Clem Snide will be playing Mohawk on Wednesday with a few other up and coming artists. Eef is touring in support of his new album Lose Big which hits stores tomorrow. Promising opening act Collin Herring wrote what could be one of my favorite songs of the year “Punches”. This should be a good way to spend your Wednesday evening. Check out Mohawk’s website to get tickets.

Here’s the title track off Eef’s new album Lose Big and that great track “Punches” from Colling Herring:

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/08losebig.mp3] [audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/punches.mp3]

Download: losebig.mp3

Download: punches.mp3

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