The year of 2008 is winding to a close, so it’s only appropriate that we wrap it up with our year-end albums list. We don’t expect many to necessarily agree with our list, but we worked really hard to make sure we had what we thought were the best thirty albums of the year. These are the records that spun over and over again in our heads and stereos, so this list is dedicated to their longevity in 2008. We’ve conveniently broken it down into two segments, with albums 30-16 after the jump. Read more
Local bands are getting down with some great shows this week and The Lemurs are getting in on the fun tonight at Lamberts. The Austin act is joined by St. Louis band Gentleman Auction House during the evening’s events. Tickets will be sold only at the door with music getting started around 8pm. Here’s a sweet little Christmas themed track from Gentleman Auction House called “Home for the Holidays”.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/homefortheholidays.mp3]
Download: Gentleman Auction House – Home for the Holidays [MP3]
Tom Gabel has made his fame as the voice behind americana-punks, Against Me; this time he decides to step outside his typical arena for a solo affair. His stellar performance at Fun Fun Fun Fest this year with the Revival Tour led us to check out his latest solo release.
“I Can’t See You, But I Know You’re There” opens the album, and it’s a pleasant enough song. The straining vocals known with Against Me fans is still pretty evident,and the entire song revolves around loose acoustic guitar, with the focus resonating with the lyrics, which appear to discuss the loss of a dear friend.
He follows this up with “Anna is a Stool Pigeon.” This is the acoustic guitar work that one would expect from Tom, and its definitely more reminiscent of his performance at Fun x 3. It’s got some harmonica accompaniment, and overall it’s taking a more country approach, though the lyrical content is a little bit lacking. He continues in this vain for the most part, though there is a misstep in the middle.
“Random Hearts” is a song that recalls the most recent effort of his main band, New Wave. It’s electric guitar work and percussion samples don’t come across with the usual sincerity that is associated with a Tom Gabel song. Sure, the album offers you an acoustic version, but the version here definitely sticks with you; the case is the same with a song like “Amputations,” where the electric guitar just doesn’t seem to benefit his style at all, although the lyrical content here is definitely one younger crowds could get behind.
That being said, the album does have one of the better songs he’s written, “Conceptual Paths.” Sure, there are some minor drum samples in the background, but the strumming of his acoustic guitar recalls those special moments he is capable of creating. It’s easily the strongest song on the record.
All in all this is a decent offering from one of punk’s great voices. It would be nice to seem take a few more leaps towards a direct country approach, but that’s probably just wishful thinking. One can’t be too disappointed to have this set of songs to add to their collection.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/02-conceptual-paths.mp3]
Download: Tom Gabel – Conceptual Paths [MP3]
Local Austin act, Till Were Blue or Destroy, are playing a set at The Mohawk on Tuesday evening. The band will be joined in the night’s events by The Ugly Suit out of Oklahoma. Things are set to start at 10pm with tickets being sold only at the door. Preview the show with a new track from the Ugly Suit called “Chicago”.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/the-uglysuit-chicago.mp3]
Download: The Uglysuit – Chicago [MP3]
Daytrotter brings us even more goodness this week with a live recording of a set by Damien Jurado. You can stream or download each song right this very second. If time is limited for you, download or stream the song “Ohio” below. It’s a beauty.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/damienjurado_daytrottersession_4.mp3]
Download: Damien Jurado – Ohio(live) [MP3]
Brooklyn band Dirty on Purpose have quietly been one of those great bands that filled my heart with joy. Their combination of noise and warm pop won me over every single time. Sadly, the band has decided to call it quits, playing their last show this New Year’s Eve in New York City. You can download a few of their amazing tracks, as well as their final EP, by visiting RCRDLBL.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/01-audience-1.mp3]
Download: Dirty on Purpose – Audience [MP3]
Theater Fire are one of Texas’ best-kept secrets, nestled in the neighborhoods of Ft. Worth. They first entered our musical consciousness with their self-titled debut, which attached folk and indie maneuvers to casual Americana.
Their third album, Matter and Light, hits stores nationwide this month, but those in Texas can already get their hand on it by traveling to your favorite independent record store. You will find that this album is a much grander affair, pushing the band in a much more complex direction.
To be fair, it sound strikingly like the final Beulah album, Yoko, only done with a country-tinged personality. The opening musical number, “It’s All the Same” jumps in with a pounding rhythm backed by horns and piano; it’s a whirling-dervish affair, painted with crystal clear lyrics that come out like one of your best friend’s cousins from Beaumont. They follow up with “Uncle Wayne,” which goes back to a more straightforward country approach. It’s guitar matched by percussion and banjo elements, but with a different singer than the first track. Here, you can definitely understand the David Berman quality to the band.
At this point in the album, the mission of the band is entirely clear, even though you are only two songs in to your listening experience. The band has continued to push themselves, filling in empty musical space with various forms of percussion or other multi-instrumental elements. In filling out such empty spaces, it makes the band sound more complete than ever, which is to their benefit.
A particularly interesting moment comes in the middle of the album when the band pays homage to one of our late-great heroes, Elliot Smith. They do a full-on instrumental jam of Elliot’s “Say Yes” that focuses primarily on the songwriter’s ability to create timeless melodies, much as this song does.
They close out the album with “It’s a Secret.” The brooding quality of this song accompanies the sparse lyrical composition, as a lover or a friend attempts to reveal a secret. It’s the perfect song for this band, as it plays to all their best traits; using dense vocals that correlate with the large-scale sounds the band have adopted. It’s the perfect ending to a strong album.
In 2008 we saw all kinds of releases across the board. Noise-pop seemed to be a pretty big deal, as did lo-fi production. But when preparing for our year-end lists, we came across the conundrum of deciding the biggest disappointments in 2008. Today’s Friday Top 5 is full of albums that our staff really looked forward to listening to when they were released, but instead fled in fear as to what our ears had just heard. List is after the jump
UK’s prolific underground blues artist, Holly Golightly & The Brokeoffs, is playing a show on the inside stage at Emo’s on Saturday. Tickets for the event are available now for $10 and music should get started around 10pm with opening act Delaney Davidson. Here’s a song to preview the show called “Black Heart”.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/09-black-heart.mp3]
Download: Holly Golightly & The Brokeoffs [MP3]