Okford Collapse Free Show

Sub Pop label friends Oxford Collapse will be playing at Mohawk tonight for free! That’s right, it cost you nothing, zip, nada, seriously nothing. The show will be getting started at 8 pm. It can’t really sell out but it can fill up pretty quick so you should get there early before the fire marshal says no more people inside. Read more about Oxford Collapse on their website or hear a song off their 2006 album Remember the Night Parties called “Please Visit Your National Parks”:

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

Download: pleasevisityournationalparks.mp3

Hercules and Love Affair – Hercules and Love Affair

Rating: ★★★ · ·

Anotony Hegarty put out one of my favorite albums of the last five years, and when I heard of his involvement in this project I was extremely excited. His voice–albeit one needing adjustment–is probably one of the more emotion evoking voices I have listened to in the these days. Sure, they are stripping him of his piano, but the possibilities of a solid album were definitely there.

The first track “Time Will” definitely maintains the spirit of an Antony record. His strong vocals come through in full force, met in the background by carefully constructed dance beats. It’s a fresh approach that definitely earned some interest from the get go. It’s hard not to listen to the the opening track without high expectations.

Then you come to the second track, “Hercules Theme.” Throbbing bass lines and other various beats have you bobbing your head as soon as this song comes into your ears. The use of horns–live or sampled–creates a blistering dance song that will have to be a staple at all your summer dance fiestas. Just ignore the sexual moans playing quietly in the background, and you will be well on your way to enjoying this album.

The next two tracks hit you just as hard. Encouraging you to dance along with all your friends in your favorite living space. This all comes to a culmination by the fifth and best track, “Blind.” Antony Hegarty sings throughout, carrying you up and down with his voice, while the beats have you tapping your feet ferociously–if your legs and arms don’t follow, go see a doctor. This is an exceptional dance track, and there is nothing else you can say. It all, however, stops here.

The rest of the album drags on like a really poor dance record. It’s hard to find the reason for the hype when you listen to the rest of the album. The beats become extremely repetitive, and there isn’t anything that garners your attention, as the album slowly fades into the background of your mind. The pumping beats that accompanied the first five tracks go off in the way of a really bad 80s porno soundtrack. The pace gone, and the creativity lacking, the album turns into something hardly listenable, unless of course you are into porno soundtracks.

Another flaw that I find with this album is that they still use Hegarty’s lyrics. His writing is so intimate and dark that it is hard to find it juxtaposed with disco dance beats. It all seems wholly out of place with the rest of the music. Sure, it’s great to hear Antony back again, but without the personality he carries with his piano, you find him coming off a little bit hollow; this is not what I looked forward to when I heard of this union.

If you need some dance tracks for your upcoming July 4th party, then I suggest you go out there and buy a few of these songs to keep your friends feet moving, but if you are looking for an intimate evening with Antony then you will find yourself disappointed, and possibly disillusioned with his tastes. So much for the hype.

Have yourself a go at “Hercules Theme” from the new album:

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

Download: herculestheme.mp3

Forest Fire Album Download

You can download the entire new album from Forest Fire entitled Survival from the Catbird Records website entirely for free. You can also tip the band if you want or get a hard copy of the album for muy cheap. Preview the album before you spend all that time downloading it by giving a listen to “Fortune Teller” on our website:

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

Download: Forest Fire – Fortune Teller [MP3]

Coldplay – Viva la Vida

Rating: ★★★ · ·

In 2000, when MTV showed two music videos a day instead of one, I recall watching a video featuring a squirrel-y looking fellow walking along a merky morning beach. I didn’t care much for the redundant slow motion effect or the dusk-to-dawn illusion, but as a teenager, was enthralled in what this hoodie-wearin’ bloke had to say. “Yellow” was my introduction to Coldplay. Since releasing 2000’s Parachutes, the London quartet have sold more than 32 million records worldwide, filled countless arenas and made legions of Dodge Caravan-driving soccer moms in the process. You know a band is doing something right when you make a phone call to your mother and SHE asks you, “Have you heard the new Coldplay record?” No small feat…

Much has changed in Camp Coldplay since then. While 2002’s A Rush of Blood to the Head proved this band was destined to “rock” stadiums, 2005’s snoozefest X&Y brought us back to Earth proving that re-hashing singles is not always the brightest of ideas. Exhibit A: X&Y’s “Speed of Sound” tried it’s darndest to match the success of “Clocks” by sounding just like “Clocks.” Exhibit B: “Fix You,” a song that I’m pretty sure GOD wrote was X&Y’s answer to “The Scientist.” The boys we’re in dire need of assistance because the formula was already walking on thin tightropes.

On their fourth installment, the Tex-Mex-titled “Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends,” that help comes in the form of producer Brian Eno (U2, Talking Heads) to assist in ship-shaping their form. Gone are the power ballads Coldplay are known for and the over-production of their past records. Instead, listeners are treated to a multitude of sonic landscapes, sweeping strings, and a buttload of church organ. Luckily, this change works in Coldplay’s favor showcasing a band that’s capable of writing challenging music rather than worrying about living up to their position as the “Biggest Rock Band in the World.”

I promised myself I wouldn’t mention any other bands in this review, primarily the obvious one that has a letter and a number in it (sigh), but after hearing “Life in Technicolor,” the opening instrumental track off the record, it’s an arduous task not to mention Coldplay’s Dublin doppelgangers. It’s a shimmering two minute piece that opens the album nicely transitioning into “Cemetaries of London,” a drag-of-a-tune that sounds more like Big Country with it’s lagging chants and guitatist Jonny Buckland’s Edge-riffic licks. Now if only these cats can learn some quality jigs for their live show.

As the album progresses, the band explores darker territories. “Lost!” is a well-crafted song mixing powerful organ and drummer Will Champion’s Afro-beats, and “42” is a stunner with it’s unique and daring structure. However, it’s difficult to sympathize with future Sir Chris Martin when he sings “I just got lost…every river that I tried to cross.” Martin has never been known for his profound lyrics and it definitely doesn’t do him or his troupe any favors on Viva la Vida. It hurts the record if anything. “Yes” with it’s “Walk Like an Egyptian” style strings, monitone vocals, and “profound” lyrics could’ve been spared from this record. However, the second half of the song dubbed “Chinese Sleep Chant” is English trance at it’s best. If only I had my glowsticks…

“I don’t want to blow my own trumpet, but I’d be surprised if it didn’t put an end to all violence and suffering.” Obviously, Martin was joking when he said this about the record in a recent SPIN Magazine interview, but after hearing the mighty one-two punch of Apple iTune’s smash “Viva la Vida” & first single “Violet Hill,” I would not be surprised if this record in fact ended all violence and suffering. Okay, I’m blowing smoke up your ass, but both songs serve as an excellent juxtaposition when describing the album as a whole. Everything from Martin’s fixation between life & death to the album’s awful Revolutionay War cover art that was ripped out of the pages of a 7th grade Social Studies book are embodied nicely during the record’s climax. “Strawberry Swing” is fantastic blending Buckland’s Afro-pop guitar hook and bassist Guy Berryman’s stomping rhythm. However, it’s all brought to a screeching halt when the final track “Death and All His Friends” wraps up the album. Sadly, it’s a trite tune that sounds more X&Y than Viva la Vida. The second half of the song revisits the beginning of the record. “And in the end, we lie awake and we’ll dream of making our escape,” Martin delivers in Abbey Road fashion over Eno’s soundscapes. It’s a comfortable refrain that does not coincide well with the 1st half of the song. And in retrospect, that’s how Coldplay’s Viva la Vida plays out. An easy-flowing record that gets lost periodically in it’s own ambition.

You can hear the title track to the new album below:

Download: Coldplay – Viva La Vida [MP3]

New Music From The Verve

Yes you read that headline right. Our mates from across the pond, The Verve, have debuted some new material after an extremely long hiatus. The band played their first show in the US in over 10 years at Coachella recently and debuted some new material at the festival. Here’s the newest song by The Verve entitled “Love is Noise” off their upcoming album Four due on August 18th :

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

Download: The Verve – Love Is Noise [MP3]

Kadane Brothers @ Emos (6/26)

The New Year founding members The Kadane Brothers will be coming to Austin this Thursday at Emos on the indoor stage. The show is only $8 with doors opening up at 8pm. The brothers are touring in support of their bands new album, The New Year which should be dropping Sep. 9th. Below is the title track from The New Year’s last album The Ends Not Near which came out way back when in 2004. Check Emos website for tickets to the show or just hold out and get one at the door. More info can be found about The Kadane Brothers & The New Year from the bands website.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/01-ends-not-near.mp3]

Download: endsnotnear.mp3

White Denim Mix Tape

Our Austin boys White Denim recently posted a youtube mix tape on the Drowned in Sound website.  The compilation is pretty awesome, featuring the likes of R. Kelly, Pink Floyd & Stevie Wonder among others.  The band is about to kick off a UK tour in support of their new album Workout Holiday which hits stores tomorrow.  Read more about the band on their myspace page or have a go at the newest single “let’s talk about it”:

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

Download: White Denim – Lets Talk About It [MP3]

New Music From Pop Levi

Former Ladytron bass player Pop Levi has a new single available for download off the album Never, Never Love which is set to be released September 2nd. Hear the title track “Never, Never Love” off the new album right now:

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

Download: neverneverlove.mp3

The Notwist – The Devil, You + Me

Rating: ★★★★ ·

The album opener sets the tone for this album. “Good Lies,” kicks off this record with an introduction to the group’s guitar-work. It’s quite a change from their near-perfect Neon Golden. This song bounces along, being pushed by the guitars, but it doesn’t quite have the pace of songs like “Pilot,” off their previous album. Where you hope for a dramatic shift, it just goes along, then adds a little bit of the electronic beats, which is where the band receives a lot of their accolades.

Another solid number that opens a new vein for The Notwist is “Gloomy Planet.” The soothing voice of Markus Acher is layered beneath a strumming acoustic guitar, while the minimal beats dance their way to the background. The subject matter of the song seems a bit gloomier than prior efforts, but I think that title of the album really sets that mood from the minute you purchase this album.

There are definitely some redundant parts on this album, such as “Alphabet,” but I think it is really hard to pull of this dynamic sound without treading over the same round again and again. On top of that, you add the lack of range for Acher, and at times the album kind of just blends in with itself, which I think is going to be the biggest complaint from any listener. That, and there are a few moments where they push the electronic buttons a little too loud and too far, which got a little grating on my ears, as short-lived as it was.

Given some weaknesses, there are some supreme moments on this album. For me, as a listener, “On Planet Off,” is reminiscent of some of the Industrial nineties music that I just adored, only a great deal more ambient than all that. Not to mention, you don’t find a lot of songs better than “Devil, YOu + Me” these days. Then you comes along a song like “Boneless” near the end of the album to pick the pace back up and put a little bit of a bounce back in your step.

You add the faults and the good moments in this record, and you find a rarity in today’s music world. You find an album that you can listen to from start to finish; each track requires careful attention, and with that attention, each song continues to open up new doors for you. It may not be the album that blows your hair back, but it is an album that fails to let you down, which is a lot to say for a band that was surrounded in hype and anticipation.

Here’s a track off the new album called “Good Lies”:

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

Download: goodlies.mp3

New Music From Damien Jurado

Damien Jurado and his band mates have a new song available off his forthcoming album Caught in the Trees due out on the 9th of September. You can hear the song “Gillian was a Horse”, which is slowly turning into my feel good hit of the summer, below:

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/damien-jurado-gillian-was-a-horse.mp3]

Download: gillianwasahorse.mp3

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