Dr. Dog – Fate

Rating: ★★★★½

When Dr. Dog released their second album, We All Belong, I hadn’t really heard much about them; that soon enough changed. Their blend of classic rock meets country meets indie pop had me cornered, and I didn’t mind it one bit. They follow that with the release of an album, Fate, that is more solid all the way through the album.

The fist thing I noticed on this album was that there was a lot more presence of the piano. Sure, it was there in the last album, but here it seems that the piano was the backbone of the writing process for this album, which, in all honesty, does wonders for the band. The melodies this time around are a lot stronger than on the previous efforts.

The first standout track was “The Old Days,” and everything about this song screams single. From the steady pace of the drum-mostly snare-to the splendid guitar work and piano accompaniment; then you can’t help but love the vocal progress of McMicken and Leaman. Then you follow that with “Army of Ancients” and you can tell the band is progressing. Whoever sings the majority of the aforementioned song really strains his voice, going to places I haven’t heard the band go before, and it completely works. It’s one of the more sincere songs I think the band has written.

From that point on, the album really just sticks up for itself. From the classic guitar work on “The Ark” to the more Motown-inspired “From,” one would be hard pressed to find a song that lets you down. Even when they slow it down, they are able to maintain the overall feel of this album without leading you somewhere else. And they close it all off with a rocker of a tune in “My Friend, which is just more classic rock appeal for your ears–and make sure you wait until about 3.3 minutes into the song because they mix it up perfectly–a sign of their progression.

I’m sure that you could fault this band for their lack of originality, for I feel as if I have heard these sounds many times before in my father’s record collection, but you can’t fault a band for that really. I mean, we all have to start at some point, and often that is our biggest influence, musically. I think the maturity on this album shows that Dr. Dog, despite their name, can keep coming back time and time again with great songs for ALL of us to enjoy.

Check out “The Old Days” off the new album now:

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/03-the-old-days-1.mp3]

Download: theolddays.mp3

Wolf Parade @ La Zona Rosa 7/25

Our Canadian friends Wolf Parade will be bringing their rock to La Zona Rosa in Austin on Friday night. The show is set to kick off at 9pm and you can get your tickets now for only $20 bucks. ATH will be on hand covering the event with pictures and a full show review a couple days after the show. Read more about Wolf Parade on their myspace page and preview the track “Call it a Ritual” off their 2008 release At Mount Zoomer below:

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/02-call-it-a-ritual.mp3]

Download: callitaritual.mp3

Magnetic Fields Tickets on Sale

On October 14th, the Magnetic Fields will be blessing us with their ukulele driven baroque pop. The show takes place at the Paramount Theater, and you can be sure that this show will be one of those moments that will live on in your memory for years to come, if not for a lifetime, at least those are my expectations–thus why I bought a front row ticket. Stephin Merritt is clever and genius, and he’s been doing this for well over a decade, almost two. Label me stoked. Click here to buy tickets for the Magnetic Fields Show

New Music From Calexico

ATH favorite Calexico has a new song available for download off their forthcoming album Carried to Dust due out September 9th. The song is called “two silver trees” and you can hear it below. The album is said to feature Sam Bean of Iron & Wine among others. Read more about Calexico at Casa de Calexico and for those of you that don’t “habla español”, that means “House of Calexico”.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/calexico-two-silver-trees.mp3]

Download: twosilvertrees.mp3

Black Kids – Partie Traumatic

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Let’s face it, for the last year or so we have heard whispers of how grand this band was supposed to be. Some of us might have even heard their Wizard of Ahhs EP. It’s hard for a band with all that hype to step up to bat and hit one out of the park, but for this listener, they actually did.  

For those of you who checked out that EP, then the first song, “Hit the Heartbrakes,” won’t be a big surprise. The song is filled with dueling male and female vocals, and the ferocious beat throughout the entire song is destined to make you move. 

They follow that with two new songs, both which maintain the same power of the opener. They blast through these two songs with such fervor that its hard not to admire a young band with such spirit. It might not be the most original thing out there, but it holds true to the form the band has established.

Then they go back to the safety of their EP with “Hurricane Jane.” It’s a slower song, that definitely is defined by its bass lines and Reggie Youngblood’s voice. The chorus is probably the highlight here, at least for these ears. 

“I’m Making Eyes at You” is another new song, this one with a bit of the slow moving dance music that was so prevalent in the eighties. Youngblood shows some range on his voice, but the pace of the album kind of slows down here, which is where it makes its first misstep. 

Then its back to the oldies. The next two songs are both the remaining songs from Wizard of Ahhs. “I’m Not Going to Teach Your Boyfriend to Dance” is probably the best song on the album. This song should make lots of year end lists concerning favorite songs to dance to at a party. It’s really hard not to like this song at least a little bit.

After that we visit a few skippable songs. There is some redeeming qualities in both “Love Me Already” and “I Wanna Be Your Limousine,” but the lyrics come off kind of cliche. An example from the former song is “with friends like these/who needs enemies.” I guess it just kind of weakens the songs for me, or just shows the youthful qualities in the band’s writing.  

They close the album out with a little bit of the synth and a touch of the high hat. Those are the dominant instruments, even with the guitar all over this song. The disappointment comes with the rap/spoken word element that kicks in throughout the song. It kind of reminds me of that moment when Deborah Harry thought she could rap. She couldn’t, and Black Kids can’t. It was a disappointing ending to the movie, to the partie if you will. 

All in all, this was a worthwhile album for me to listen to throughout the day. Spirit is one thing this band has, and although the dueling male/female vocals get a little weary, it didn’t bore me quite as much as I expected. If you need a fun album to throw on to get your spirits up, or to throw on the mix when your cruising with the windows down, then this is the one for you.

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