New Music From Bowerbirds

bowerbirdsphotoAfter the success of their debut LP, North Carolina band Bowerbirds are back and ready to drop a  sophomore LP on our ears.  The new LP will be called Upper Air and features this brand spankin’ new single “Northern Lights”.  You can get this album in stores June 7th via Secretly Canadian. They’ll also be making a stop at the Mohawk in August so keep your ears open for a reminder.  I’m diggin’ this one hard style.

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

Download: Bowerbirds – Northern Lights [MP3]

Jeremy Enigk – OK Bear

okbear

Rating: ★★★½ ·

You’d have to be living in a hole to not have heard of Jeremy Enigk, or at least his legendary band Sunny Day Real Estate; he has since moved on to focus primarily on his solo efforts.  His third LP, OK Bear, has just been released, and it’s a step in a direction that many will be pleased to see him pushing.

The opening tracks, “Mind Idea” and “Late of Camera” set the tone for the entirety of the album, as each song builds upon rising sonic sounds.  Organic songs structures allow Enigk great room for his ever-astonishing voice, which is one of the most recognizable.  As always, his vocals soar, seeming as if they are about to burst through your speakers, yet holding back with enough poise to carry a melody.

While some of the song features full band arrangements, a few of which resemble the sound of How It Feels to Be Something On, this is not the only approach Jeremy takes on the latest effort.  The beautiful “April Storm” reminds us all of why he was so enchanting in the first place.  Acoustic guitar accompanied by quiet percussion plainly bring the song to life, and Enigk carries the song on the back of his voice.  “Just a State of Mind” is another such song, wherein Jeremy lets his voice be your guide throughout the song.  Sure, it’s his voice that comes across as one of the more memorable elements in these songs, but that voice, for many, brings nothing but good memories; for those not accustomed to the vocal quality, it will win you over as well.

“Life’s Too Short” is the song that most recalls Jeremy Enigk playing with his old band; there is a sharpness to the rhythm guitar that creates that bombastic atmosphere.  His voice cuts through the song with a sharpness and a certain ferocity that is not present on the rest of the album.  It might make you tear up just a bit, reminding us all of what it felt like when we first listened to Diary.

One of the more surprising songs on the album is “Make Believe.”  It seems like an entirely different genre, or at least approach to writing than anything he has done before this.  Here you find him doing his best impression of a classic singer/songwriter, a place that he really hadn’t visited too often, despite this being his third LP.  When the song is said and done, you wonder how many more gems he’s got up his sleeve, as you could easily listen to an album’s worth of songs like these.   But, as you have it, the record is a little uneven, alternating back and forth between amazing and standard; once you put nostalgia aside, it’s nice to see Jeremy still writing great tunes.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/10-make-believe.mp3]

Download: Jeremy Enigk – Make Believe [MP3]

5/7 Flight Of The Conchords @ Bass

fotc04If you’re looking for what makes Flight of the Conchords so hilarious, look no further than Jemaine Clement’s perspective on the band’s comedic strategy, “We tell you lies, and if you laugh, they’re jokes.” Funny enough, that sounds about right doesn’t it? Lies or not, Jemaine, along with his partner Bret McKenzie, had everyone in the packed Bass Concert Hall laughing uncontrollably for most of their Thursday night set. We were in attendance and had one hell of a time. Follow the jump to hear our thoughts on the show and see some fancy pictures.

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Contest: Thermals @ Mohawk 5/22

thermals1After our Eulogies/Dears huge prize package just wrapped up, we’ve got another contest for all you ATH readers out there.  This time one lucky fan will win a couple of guest list spots to the upcoming Thermals show at Mohawk on May 22nd.  All you have to do is a leave a comment about what’s on your mind OR hit us up on Twitter and mention the contest in your @.  We’ll run this one until Wednesday of next week (5/20).  Don’t forget to leave a valid email address so we can get in touch with you.  While you’re at it, read our review of the band’s new album or check out an interview we did with The Thermals during SXSW.

Kevin Devine @ Stubbs (5/12)

kd Kevin Devine seems to have been around forever, and his shows are always an intimate affair worthy of your listening.  You can catch Kevin tonight at Stubbs playing his most recent album Brother’s Blood.  And, you can also head over to Daytrotter to catch a recently recorded set he did for those good folks.  Here’s a track from that session.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/kevin-devine-and-the-goddamn-band-carnival.mp3]

Download: Kevin Devine -Carnival (Daytrotter Session) [MP3]

Horse Feathers On Tiny Desk

horsefeathers1One of our favorite artists from last year, Horse Feathers, just did a Tiny Desk session for the fine folks at NPR music.  The session features 3 live songs including one of our favorites from last year “Curs in the Weeds”.  Check out the full session now.  Here’s that beautiful song from last year again.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/horse-feathers-curs-in-weeds1.mp3]

Download: Horse Feathers – Curs In The Weeds [MP3]

Wooden Birds – Magnolia

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Rating: ★★★ · ·

Local Austinite Andrew Kenny made waves long ago as the leader of American Analog Set; he returns to Austin after a lengthy absence with a new band in tow, The Wooden Birds.  While you immediately recall his vocal styling, the music definitely takes a different approach on the band’s first proper album, Magnolia.

Musically, this album comes directly at you.  There are no waves of distortion or ambient sounds; this is an album comprised very simply of guitar, vocals and percussion.  Kenny’s gentle guitar plucking will bring to mind some comparisons to Iron and Wine, though Andrew’s been at it longer, so we should give him credit there (not that it’s a competition).

While the approach may be very simple in it’s delivery, you can tell that in the writing process Andrew spent a great amount of time fleshing out the melodies that would accompany the softness of the music he composed.  His voice, at times, seems oddly similar to that of Ben Gibbard, especially when he takes on that bedroom-quiet whisper.

Oddly, a lot of the songs do seem to play off the same set of standards, with only the slightest of variations.  For instance, “Quit You Once” and “Never Know” open in precisely the same way, which also appears to happen with “Hailey” and “Hometown Fantasy.” Despite the lack of change in much of the album, you still take interest in how the songs develop individually; this is all due to the abilities of Andrew as a songwriter.

From start to finish the album is carefully and quietly written.  It’s the type of album that draws you in with its approach to the craft of the song, and such talent allows listeners to look beyond the similarities that might otherwise render the album dull and boring.  Luckily, Mr. Kenny has been at this long enough to know precisely how to rise above such issues, and his success is just another reason why he is regarded with such respect among the musical elite (as you could witness by his recent performance with Broken Social Scene at Bass Concert Hall). Sure, the quietude of this album may not be your precise cup of tea, but it’s great to have one of our local boys back composing such softly wonderful music.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/04-hailey.mp3]

Download: The Wooden Birds – Hailey [MP3]

Great Lake Swimmers On Laundromatinee

great_lake_swimmers02My Old Kentucky blog continues to pump out some really great session as part of their Laundromatinee series with a set from Canadians Great Lake Swimmers.  The in-studio features video and MP3s from 4 new and old songs from the band.  Check it out now.  We’ve also got an awesome live version of “Rocky Spine” from the session.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/great-lake-swimmers-04-your-rocky-spine-live-on-mokb-radio.mp3]

Download: Great Lake Swimmers – Your Rocky Spine (live) [MP3]

New Music From The Features

26314430-26314431-slargeNashville based rock band The Features have a new album coming out soon and have a couple songs available for you to check out.  We’ve got a song called “The Drawing Board” available for you below and song “GFM” can be downloaded from the band’s wesbite.  Some Kind of Salvation is in stores June 9th or can be bought from the Features online store now.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/02_the_drawing_board.mp3]

Download: The Features – Drawing Board [MP3]

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