Loney, Dear – Dear John

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Rating: ★★★½ ·

When you first press play upon your record player, you will immediately be transported to the days of yesteryear, listening to Warren G and Nate Dogg.  Opening track, “Airport Surroundings,” off of Loney, Dear’s newest album, Dear John, is drastically similar to a famed song from years back, but in a more electronic folk presentation.  As the album moves forward, Regulators, mount up!

If you could discard the merry tones of Emil Svanangen when listening to this record, you will find that the pleasant acoustic driven album he created last time out with Loney, Noir, has been largely removed with this effort. Sure, the album is pleasantly coated with layer upon layer of various musical elements, but we found that on the last go round. Here, he has immersed himself, and his band, into a darker spectrum.

Electronic sound patchwork beeps throughout, as string instruments carefully accompany  the melodies the band created.  It all comes across a little denser than the previous effort, which one could  be led to attach a darker quality to this album.  But, the one thing you can’t do is erase the quality and tone of Emil’s voice, which is the driving force behind this group.

Sure, at times, his voice is shrouded in layer upon layer, but on songs such as “I Was Only Going Out” you find yourself presented with the favorable voice of this songwriter.  Like Jason Lytle, there is a deeper tone carried with the vocal, but he still manages to sound extremely humble and personal.  Listening, you want to put all your faith in every word that he shares with you, which is perhaps why this record wins you over.

At times, the various elements that present themselves in each song can be a bit overbearing.  It’s a more complete sound, more so than on the band’s debut, but at times that can be a bit daunting for listeners.  In your search to find some sort of sentiment in the mist of music, you find Emil Svanangen singing to you, almost as if he’s not singing to anyone else at all.  Personable voice is one of those rare qualities, but here it will allow you to go through the entirety of the album, even when finishing a song sings like a Herculean task.  You’ll thank him for it in the end.

You can find Emil and his band opening for Andrew Bird all across our great nation, and set to hit home here in Austin on February 12th at the Paramount Theater.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/03-i-was-only-going-out.mp3]

Download: Loney, Dear – I Was Only Going Out [MP3]

Richie James Follin

richie03In a break from his duties as The Willowz front man, Richie James Follin has decided it’s time to try things on his own.  Mr. Follin recruited an all star cast of supporters for his new project including members of Hot Hot Heat, Band of Horses, Beachwood Sparks, and a ton of others.  You can expect the new solo album Battle to hit stores on April 7th.  Here’s first single “Host” for you to take with you.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/04-host.mp3]

Download: Richie James Follin – Host [MP3]

Broken Social Scene @ Bass (1/31)

Here’s the one we’ve all been waiting months for.  Canadian super group Broken Social Scene is bringing the house down at Bass Concert Hall this Saturday evening in Austin.  If you’re foolish enough to not have tickets yet, try searching craiglist because tickets are sold out.  The band will be joined by special guest Lymbic System.  Music starts promptyly at 8pm.  This may be the one show you’ll regret missing this year.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/11-lovers-spit.mp3]

Download: Broken Social Scene – Lover’s Spit [MP3]

From the Closet – Wilson Pickett

will1I’d like to take a minute this week to pay homage to one of the great soul voices of our time. Sure, you’ve heard this sweet voice several times in your life, but does it make Wilson Pickett any less powerful? Absolutely not! I’m throwing a tune your way, just as an example of the great voice that stems from American soul.  See that smile?

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/16-you-keep-me-hangin-on.mp3]

Shearwater @ Mohawk (1/30)

Option numero dos for Friday shows sees new local favorite Shearwater returning to town for a show at The Mohawk.  Tickets are very cheap, running at only $8.  Doors for the show open at 8pm and music starts shortly after with sets by Black Before Red followed by Brazos.  We’ve given this band all kinds of praise this year (including sneaking into the top 10 albums of the year) so we of course think this will be a good one.

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

Download: Shearwater – Rooks [MP3]

Koufax On Daytrotter

One of our favorite bands who we haven’t heard much about recently, Koufax, just recorded a 3 song Daytrotter session.  Head over to the Daytrotter site to download/stream all the songs.  We’ve also got “Roll the Dice” which appeared on the band’s 2008 release Strugglers.  Horray Koufax!

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/koufax2_daytrottersession_3.mp3]

Download: Koufax – Roll the Dice (live) [MP3]

Los Campesinos! @ The Parish (1/30)

Friday night in Austin is going to be full of some tough decisions for you music lovers and option numero uno is Los Campesinos! at The Parish.  These masters of dance infused pop music and year end list makers will be joined by buzz worthy band Titus Andronicus.  Doors for the show open at 8pm and you can get yourself some tickets for only $14.  If I was you, I wouldn’t pass up this rare to chance to catch this Welsh band state side.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/los-campesinos-dont-tell-me-to-do-the-maths.mp3]

Download: Los Campesinos! – Don’t Tell me to Do the Math(s) [MP3]

Franz Ferdinand – Tonight Franz Ferdinand

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Rating: ★★★½ ·

Let’s face it, Franz Ferdinand, though extremely enjoyable, has never been breaking a lot of ground with their push to get you to dance.  Comparisons to various bands crossed all over their debut, and this album is no different.  But, approaching the end of the day, you’ll still find that another solid record from this Scottish group, Tonight Franz Ferdinand, is not necessarily a bad thing.

“Ulysses,” the opening track surfaced a few months back, and it offered promise of a more dance-worthy set of tunes.  The problem with that approach to a description of this album is that the band has always been a dance-laden band.  Sure, they took a slow dance approach last go-round, but they’ve always encouraged you to dance, since their inception!

Sure, a song like “Turn It On” definitely will make you hit the dance floor a little harder, as the beat entices you to grab your friend and head straight for the floor.  In fact, all the songs, excluding “Send Him Away” and “Katherine Kiss Me” have a danceable quality, and even those two aforementioned songs will allow you sway with your partner in a reasonable fashion.

Once again, the band succeeds on various levels.  Somehow, singer Alex K is capable of crafting lyrics, accompanied by harmonies of course, that suggest involvement from all parties, listener and band member alike.  This is perhaps the best modern approach to dance music, as everyone loves a little participation.  Then you have to add the increasingly steady rhythm section, which always manages to create songs that make you want to stomp around. In addition, they sound tighter than ever before.  It’s the same stylistic approach as previous efforts, but small changes have pushed the band further than before.

One thing is clear here, the production has changed on this album.  The vocals sound a lot clearer here, and the music just seems to have a more straightforward clarity.  Increased synth or keyboard elements have also given the band a stronger edge in their overall appeal, at least when that pertains to dance floor ready tracks.  They don’t seem out of place on the record, rather an expected progression from a group that seems to clearly be searching for a new direction.  Another noticeable change appears in Kapronos’ voice.  There is a bit of a croon here, that visited at times in the past, but was never as prevalent.

At the close of the album, you aren’t blown away.  You probably can’t decipher every single song from those before it.  You can, however, say that you thoroughly enjoyed your listening experience.  You will look forward to cleaning your house with this playing loudly in the background.  It’s a good album, and you’ll enjoy it, you just won’t adore it.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/1-01-ulysses.mp3]

Download: Franz Ferdinand – Ulysses [MP3]

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