J. Tillman – Year In The Kingdom

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Rating: ★★★★★

Since 2004 J. Tillman, born Joshua Tillman, has been consistently releasing quiet, understated records on various labels in the Pacific Northwest.  These records, while all solid releases, always followed the same template: hush vocals, gently picked guitars, mournful lyrics. With the release of Year in the Kingdom something has clicked with Tillman’s formula.

Maybe it has been his tenure as drummer in the Fleet Foxes these past couple of years that has lead to this beautiful and full sounding record or maybe it has just come with age.  On Year in the Kingdom we hear a road-weary Tillman lamenting on the human condition, we are met with songs of repentance and rejoice.  This is a simple record: mostly just acoustic guitars, a banjo here and there, light percussive elements, and Tillman’s voice, prominent in the mix.  Initially having the vocals so high in the mix turned me off to the release, and I retreated back to 2007’s Cancer and Delirium, which is quieter and more restrained, but the title track on Year in the Kingdom kept pulling me back, and I’m glad it did.  On repeated listens you realize that why the vocals are so high in the mix is, perhaps, because Tillman is confident in what he has to say and doesn’t wish to hide it in flowery instrumentation.

From the theme of repentance in ‘Year in the Kingdom’ to lines that would make King Solomon blush on ‘Earthly Bodies’ to the redemptive crescendo of  ‘There is No Good In Me’, we have been given one of the most fully realized records that I have heard in years.  Robin Pecknold better thank his lucky stars that he has someone of this caliber backing him, because, frankly, J. Tillman is doing just fine on his own.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/J-Tillman-Though-I-Have-Wronged-You.mp3]

Download: J Tillman – Though I Have Wronged You [MP3]

New Tunes from Jeremy Jay

JeremyJay-01-bigI’ve been a fan of Jeremy Jay for a long time, mostly because he dances just like this photo.  As I got ahold of his new 7″ Breaking the Ice, I was pleased to see he had done a sweet little cover of Buddy Holly as the B-Side.  If you dig this song, and vinyl, you can buy the 7″ from K Records.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Jeremy-Jay-Words-Of-Love-Holly.mp3]

Download: Jeremy Jay – Words Of Love [MP3]

Cracker @ Mohawk (9/17)

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Date 9/17/09
Location Mohawk
Doors 9pm
Tickets $13 @ Front Gate

Head out to the Mohawk on Thursday night for some solid country style rockin’ with a show featuring Cracker and old ATH fave Clem Snide.  Stick around when the headliners finish up for another show inside by locals Lemurs and Givers.  Kick off the weekend right with a night of action packed music.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Cracker-I-Could-Be-Wrong-I-Could-Be-Right.mp3]

Download: Cracker – I Could Be Wrong, I Could Be Right [MP3]

Sunny Day Real Estate – LP2

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Rating: ★★½ · ·

Sunny Day Real Estate’s then posthumous second album Sunny Day Real Estate (or LP2 or The Pink Album) has always been regarded, at least to myself, as a mysterious album.  It was largely recorded after the band had already disbanded, frontman Jeremy Enigk and guitarist Dan Hoerner never completely finished writing the lyrics, and when it came time to turn in the album artwork, the band opted for the ominous pink cover (is it possible for pink to be ominous?) and simple song titles.

After falling in love with the band from listening to their debut, Diary,  I eagerly ran out to by this album the week it came out (Fun Fact: LP2 was actually one of the first CDs I bought after getting my drivers license) and listening to the open track ‘Friday’ I was thrown off.  Gone was the propulsive emotive rock I got used to on Diary, only to be replaced with mid-tempoed far-eastern influenced rock. My sixteen year old heart was distraught.

I struggled through the next couple of tracks, ‘Theo B’ and ‘Red Elephant’, knowing, at the time, that this was the last album this band would ever produce , and feeling a sense of disappointment in the bands swan song.  But on track four ‘5/4’ something clicked, the fragility in Enigk’s vocals and the instruments carrying it the first half of the song gave way to completely different band.   I played the hell out of that CD, loving every song on it, from 1:45 mark in ‘5/4’ on.  Later, after the release of the bands first post-break-up album, How It Feels to be Something On, it’s clear to see the transition the band was going through on LP2; relying less on the classic indie rock tropes and venturing out in to more atmospheric rock. 

That album deserves five stars.

This, the 2009 reissue, of LP2, deserves much less fanfare.  I don’t want to call this a cash grab, because really how much cash is to be made on Sunny Day Real Estate, but with the limited recordings in the bands repertoire is such a release warranted?  Sure, the album sounds better than it ever has, and the two bonus songs (‘Spade and Parade’ & ‘Bucket of Chicken’) are nice additions, but in today’s download friendly world, they are just a click away.  I have never listened to this album, or Diary for that matter, and dreamed of a remastered edition, I took it for what it was: a fantastic album that sounded great and was ahead of it’s time.  I would be much more excited about the remastering of Fugazi’s first several albums or the remastering of The Jesus Lizard’s first four albums (NEXT WEEK!).

But I have no ill will towards these guys.  They are embarking on their first tour with the original line up in years, and hopefully these reissues will pull in new blood into the fold of Sunny Day Real Estate fans, and hopefully they will release a new album that will erase The Rising Tide from our collective memories.

Go see the old-timers at La Zona Rosa on October 7th 2009

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/04_5_4.mp3]

Download: Sunny Day Real Estate – 5/4 [MP3]

Superdrag On Daytrotter

20030871-6904What, ATH hasn’t posted about Daytrotter in a while?!?  Well we gots ta change that!  I just couldn’t resist this Superdrag set, especially considering they play their self proclaimed only hit from 1996 “Sucked Out”.  Oh it brings back memories of middle school doesn’t it?  Check out this song and 3 newer ones on the Daytrotter site.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/superdrag-sucked-out.mp3]

Download: Superdrag – Sucked Out [MP3]

French Miami @ Mohawk (9/15)

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Date 9/15/09
Location Mohawk
Doors 9pm
Tickets $8 @ Door

The Mohawk is showcasing some up and coming talent on Tuesday night with a show by San Fran prog rockers band French Miami.  Opening support will be provided by Follow that Bird and Serious Tracers.  Should be your best option for music on a Tuesday night in Austin.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/ScienceFiction.mp3]

Download: French Miami – Science Fiction [MP3]

Free Sampler From Portugal. The Man

00 PTM_USA_Fall_Tour_2009Portugal. The Man are about to embark on a tour of the US, and to celebrate they are releasing a free digital tour EP.  The sampler features the band’s tour support Drug Rug, Hockey and Robert Francis.  Here’s one of the songs from the EP we told you about a while back called “People Say” from Portugal. The Man.  Enjoy your free tuneage.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/01-people-say.mp3]

Download: Portugal. The Man – People Say [MP3]

Michael Kingcaid @ Scoot Inn (9/16)

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Date 9/16/09
Location Scoot Inn
Doors 9pm
Tickets $5 @ Door

101x is putting on another Homegrown live at Scoot Inn on Wednesday and features What Made Milwaukee Famous front-man Michael Kingcaid performing with The Motts.  Fellow locals TV Torso and Western Ghost House will be joining in for support.  Sorry for the lack of info on door times and price, but I tried my best.  I LOVE it when no one seems to know shit about an event put on by a big local radio station.  Seriously.  Anyone have more details?

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/gone-and-done-it-now.mp3]

Download: Michael Kingcaid & The Motts – Gone and Done it Now [MP3]

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