From The Closet: At The Drive-In

at-the-drive-inNow I promise not to make this another one of those “man I wish Mars Volta would break-up so At the Drive-In would get back together” type of posts.  I like Mars Volta, I really do.  Well at least I used to a few years ago when they still put out listenable material… I’m giving you “Invalid Litter Dept.” from the incomparable 2000 album Relationship of Command because it’s always been one of my ATDI favorites since I first heard the album.  It also marks the bands last effort together before all shit broke loose and most everyone went their separate ways.  Enjoy it and pick up this album if you’re the last fool on the planet who doesn’t own it.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/05-invalid-litter-dept-1.mp3]

New Tunes from Doveman

tombartThomas Bartlett is a New York based keyboardist, currently backing up The National on tour.  But, as most touring musicians do, he’s got his own gig on the side, Doveman.  This new track is really quiet, almost inaudible, but it makes the beauty of the arrangement jump out in the end.  Expect the album to come your way later this year.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/doveman-breathing-out.mp3]

Download: Doveman – Breathing Out [MP3]

Balmorhea @ Stubbs (5/22)

balmorhea13One of our newest and favorite local discoveries of the last year, Balmorhea, are playing another sure to be great show at Stubbs on Friday night.  Pompeii and Alex Dupree and The Trapdoor band will take the stage as well to open things up.  Tickets for this show are $10  from Front Gate and doors open at 9:30.  Friday night is jammed packed full of goodness, so you’ve got some big decisions to make.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/wv59_hb.mp3]

Download: Balmorhea – Harm & Boon [MP3]

New Cassettes Won’t Listen

cwl5002Jason Drake (known to you and I as Cassettes Won’t Listen) has finished his new album and is ready to give us a sneak peak with new single “Into the Hillside”.  The album of same name will be made available June 16h.  Apparently we’re looking at a mostly instrumental album as evidenced by the single.  Thanks to Trip Wire for the tip.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/into_the_hillside_single.mp3]

Download: Cassettes Won’t Listen – Into the Hillside [MP3]

Clues – s/t

clues

Rating: ★★½ · ·

From the ashes we shall rise, or at least the former members of Unicorns, Alden Penner, and Arcade Fire, Brendan Reed, believe this.  They have risen from their past with the formation of a new group, Clues.  Their self-titlted album is out now on Constellation, and while it may not demonstrate the brilliance the two are capable of creating, it has some moments worthy of highlighting in your music catalog.

You see the Unicorns resemblance immediately, as the opening track “Haarp” begins with a quiet little whisper before slowly picking up the pace.  As the pace is quickened to a steady trot, the tension rises, and even the guitar styling is so similar that you would swear that this is a B-Side from Penner’s former mates. This is either a complaint for those who loved that project, or an place worthy of garnering interest among new hordes of fans.

It would be great if we could discard that reference, but unfortunately we cannot; as of this point in time, Penner is being marked by the success of Nic Thorburn. While you can find similarities in the playing styles of the two former Unicorns, it seems that what sets Clues apart from the past is the jaggedness that he seems to hold onto.  “Approach the Throne” is full of just that, as the choppy guitars hammer away.  It’s not the sort of pop sensibility of Islands, but one should be happy is set to making his own mark here. “Cave Mouth” similarly shares the affinity for disjointed melodies and angular guitars, with the lyrics being turned down in the mix so that the music takes the focus.

There are moments that do approach chasing that pop sensibility, or at least the ballad aesthetic.  “You Have My Eyes Now” and “Ledmonton” are just a few songs that show the slower side of things; these songs unfortunately don’t encourage the listener’s attention span, which render them, sadly, as throwaways.  Not throwaways necessarily, but the mellow moments are not very successful here, though “Ledmonton” does sport some chanting choral moments near the songs ending.

Oddly, the Arcade Fire influence is not really here, unless you tie it all in to some of the zany moments that exist throughout.  But it’s clear that Reed’s style of drumming was not the founding influence that broke his previous band.

In the end, you wonder whether it’s fair to judge a band by it’s members former labors. Is such a judgment just?  Probably not, but that is the unforutunate truth in dealing with Clues.  You look at the sparkling moments here, and look back to their past; you look at the dull moments and wonder where this band will go. Truth is, only time will tell.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/06-perfect-fit.mp3]

Download: Clues – Perfect Fit [MP3]

Faux Hoax

01852_01847_fauxhoaxpicPolyvinyl just sent out some information about this new project/band Faux Hoax which is set to release an EP on the label.  The new group is a recording project from Danny Seim (Menomena), John Askew (The Dodos/Tracker), and Dave Allen (Gang of Four).  Vocal and lyrical collaborations were also done with Joe Haege (31 Knots/Tu Fawning) & writer Adam Gnade.  The star studed cast have worked on this project for over 2 years and are now ready to release 3 song EP Your Friends Will Carry You Home which can be bought from Polyvinyl now.  Digital bonus track “Foxworthy” can be had below.  It comes off as very experimental but definitely has that Menomena touch on it.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/03-foxworthy-digital-bonus-track-1.mp3]

Download: Faux Hoax – Foxworthy [MP3]

Yellow Bike Project 12th Anny @ Red 7 (5/21)

ybp_logo_400pxAustin’s most unique non-profit, The Yellow Bike Project, are celebrating 12 great years of existence by putting on a party/show at Red 7 on Thursday night.  The lineup is stacked with talent and includes ATH faves Shearwater headlining along with Theatre Fire, Red Cortez, Buttercup, and the Yellow Bike Project Gospel Choir.  Shearwater don’t have any other Austin dates planned for the summer so you better see them while you can!  Show starts at 8pm.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/shearwater_the_snow_leopard.mp3]

 Download: Shearwater – The Snow Leopard [MP3]

Jason Lytle – Yours Truly, The Commuter

jason1

Rating: ★★★★ ·

A few years back, California’s great Grandaddy decided to break up; they cited lack of financial success despite critical acclaim as one of their reasons for going away.  Many heartbroken fans were happy to hear that Anti Records had signed frontman and lead songwriter, Jason Lytle, to a record deal.  His album, Yours Truly, The Commuter, is exactly what you would expect from a man who left California for Montana in search of a new muse and new inspiration.

Opening the album with the title-track immediately brings back all the memories of your old Grandaddy record collection.  Electronic blips and keyboard steadily build before the percussive element joins the fray.  Furthering the song with simple strings (samples possibly) and Lytle’s familiar voice marks this album as the return of one of indie rock’s great voices.

If one were to go on song titles alone then we would be led to believe that Jason came to Montana in seach of new horizons and a return to a different type of focus that would create inspirational songs once again.  In so many ways, he does seem to have regained his form on this album, but it’s that retreading of old tricks in his bag that seem to work the best for him.

“Brand New Sun” discusses the departure for greener pastures, and the simple acoustic song is filled with what one can only assume are laser noise created by martians, or Lytle’s keyboard.  “Birds Encouraged Him” is simply a beautiful song; it’s one of the better songs in the Lytle catalog.  Very light percussion accompanies the acoustic fingerings here, and string arrangements allow for the song to create a more atmospheric element; this is all added by the electronic whizzing of space noises.

Jason even decides to break out the rock element on this album with  “It’s The Weekend.”  Chugging power chords create a bouncing song that begins just as soon as it really ends, closing with Jason mellowing out on piano before zooming out one last time.  But, it’s the softer element on this album that seems to take precedent.

A piano ballad appears courtesy of “This Song is a Mute Button.” It’s one of the simpler songs on this record, but it reminds you of how personal songwriting can be for the likes of Jason Lytle. And it’s followed by another spectacular number in “Rollin Home Alone.”  Using string arrangements really seems to bring out a lot of the vocal melodies in Lytle’s voice, and the arrangement of the song is equally beneficial.  You’d find difficulty not including this as one of your favorite songs of the year.

It’s refreshing to note that not a lot has really changed in the capabilities of Mr. Lytle.  He still fuses guitar and electronic elements as breezily as in his days of Grandaddy, which not only makes you nostalgic for the good old days, but grateful he’s returned with an album as good as Yours Truly, The Commuter.

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