Castanets – Texas Rose, The Thaw And The Beast

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Rating: ★★★★ ·

If you were hard pressed to find our generations Tom Waits, a deserving nominee would be the Castanets main singer/songwriter Ray Raposa.  Raposa’s vocal delivery is more akin to Will Oldham’s than Waits’ own whiskey-soaked growl, but the ability to change his bands, Castanets, persona from release to release is downright Waitsian.  Raposa’s work in the Castanets has been called everything from noise to freak folk, but, to these ears, the Castanets, like Waits, is pure American music.

On the bands most recent Asthmatic Kitty release, Texas Rose, The Thaw and The Beast, the Castanets have made one of the most consistent releases in their career.  It’s hard to describe this release, so if you wouldn’t mind humoring me for a bit I will explain what I see in my head as I listen to this album: imagine an almost dead planet with a sole survivor (stick with me!). This sole survivor, let’s call him Ray, composes a set of songs about all that he has lost. From the opening track, ‘Rose’, he sings about a lost love and falling in love with the world and in the closing refrain sings “I am left here to worship on my own”.  The record flows seamlessly from one track to another, sometimes allowing for vast open spaces without ever being boring.

In it’s short 39 minutes, Texas Rose, the Thaw and the Beast traverses from the tuneful Americana of ‘Rose’, the clipped beats of ‘Worn From the Fight(with Fireworks)’, the booze-soaked dirge ‘No Trouble’, and Phil Collins-esque ‘Lucky Old Moon’ (some how, with that description, this song is fantastic).  I know this sounds like an eclectic blend of styles, but trust me, it works better than you could ever imagine.

Ray Raposa and his Castanets have not only released a cohesive album of Southern Gothic hymns, but also a truly enjoyable listening experience in Texas Rose, the Thaw and the Beast.  This is a night-driving must.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/01-Rose-1.mp3]

Download: Castanets – Rose [MP3]

As Tall As Lions On Luxury Wafers

img_0170It seems like these new live performance blogs are the hot new thing as a new one pops up almost weekly.  This new one we just found is called Luxury Wafers and has already featured some solid in-studios by Cursive, These United States, Tiny Vipers, and several others.  This one comes from Long Island band As Tall as Lions.  Video and MP3s of their performance can be found on the Luxury Wafers website or we’ve got a taste of it below.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/AsTallAsLions_WesBeenWaiting.mp3]

Download: As Tall As Lions – We’s Been Waiting (live) [MP3]

New Music From Julian Casablancas

JulianCasablancas2This brand new Julian Casablancas track has been tearing up the interwebs over the last few days and I figured I could share it with anyone who hasn’t heard it yet.  It’s called “11th Dimension” and will appear on the famous front man’s upcoming solo debut album Phrazes for the Young out October 2oth on RCA.  Upon first listening you may cringe at the trendy 80s beat, but give it some time, it grows on you fast.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Julian-Casablancas-11th-Dimension.mp3]

Download: Julian Casablancas – 11th Dimension [MP3]

Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Higher Than the Stars EP

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Rating: ★★★★ ·

After speaking with Kip, we realized that this EP was something to really look forward to, as this entire EP includes new songs from 2009 darlings The Pains of Being Pure at Heart.     You can’t not want more tunes from these guys can you?  So here we have Higher Than the Stars, song by song.

This EP opens with the title track, “Higher Than the Stars.”  It opens with a noticeable keyboard programmed atop the steady drumming and hazy guitar.  Kip’s vocals are extremely soft here, almost kept to a whisper.  You’ll find that some of the guitar tones are really bright, which is what makes the group a pop band afterall!

Following the opener is “103.”  This is the track that most closely resembles the group’s stylings on their debut LP.  Once again, you can heat the march of the drums, and instead of the hazy guitars, this time around you get more of that earth-shattering atmospheric guitar sound, with a nice little solo blaring through it all near the end of the tune.

Personally, “Falling Over” is where it’s at on this EP.  It’s got a lot of that classic 80s jangle-pop mentality, but with the influence of someone like the Happy Mondays, bringing in a little bit of dance into your clasic guitar song.  The chorus is perfectly fitting to the concept of the song, placing it squarely in the past–for some reason I hear someone like New Order or the Pet Shop Boys rocking this chorus. 

Our fourth track is somewhat of a new nostalgic approach.  It’s less jangle-pop than previous records, and it demonstrates that The Pains of Being Pure at Heart are more than just one trick ponies.  The lack of clarity on the guitar here recalls the likes of The Stone Roses or Teenage Fanclub. It’s an American Britpop song.

For the final track, you get a little remix of “Higher Than the Stars,” done by St. Etienne and Lord Spank.  It doesn’t add too much to the original track, other than a steady dance beat, and a little bit more time.  It’s not an awful track by any mean, just dismissable in comparison to the previous four tracks.

Overall, the wonderful thing about this release is that it gives way to a new horizon for the group.  They haven’t foudn themselves stuck in one place, destined to release the same thing over and over again.  It makes it rather enjoyable for us all.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/pains-higher-than-the-stars.mp3]

Download: Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Higher Than the Stars [MP3]

Nobunny @ The Mohawk (9/22)

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Date Tuesday, September 22
Location Mohawk
Doors 10:00 pm
Tickets Tickets @ the Door.

Nobunny specializes in straight garage-pop.  You want a feel good evening of pogoing like you always imagined you would do for the rest of your life, then this is the evening for you.  You also won’t want to miss either of the opening bands as the full line up includes Hunx and his Punk as well as Austin darlings Harlem.  Surely this is a way to get over the miserable Mondays and blast off onto the land of Terrific Tuesdays.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/03-Mess-Me-Up.mp3]

Download: Nobunny – Mess Me Up [MP3]

Girls – Album

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Rating: ★★★★½

You’ve all heard of the San Francisco duo, now set up to include two more bros from California to complete the band Girls.  They’ve been posted about, not just on our site, but on every other web site across the web, and people have been buzzing about this record for a long time.  So here we have Album, the group’s first full length, and surprisingly, they hit exactly the mark they were set up to miss.

Opening an album with one of the competitors for song of the year is never a bad way to begin, and “Lust for Life” fulfills from the start. Jangling guitars and the backbeat of beach music, create one of the catchiest numbers in 2009.  And, the subject matter, though not the most poetic, seems rife with optimism, and the band are ready to “make a brand new start.”

So you slide into “Laura,” and you can see a possible drawback as soon as singer Christopher Owens opens up is album.  He’s got a voice that doesn’t ever seem to hit a note, but its those imperfections that seem to make the record continuously successful.  It’s reminiscent of countless indie singers, singing with the only tool they’ve got, and despite the occasional off-kilter note, their exists a certain honesty which makes it all so endearing.

Adding another element to the mix is the group’s diversity within their own lo-fi spectrum.  “Ghost Mouth” is the ballad, slowly waltzing through a hazy bit of light guitars and mellow percussion. From here, they switch it up by adding a bit of art and obscurity to their own li-fi spin on “God Damned.”  Then, they blast off down the stretch of California coastal highways on “BIg Bad Mean Motherfucker, kicking out the traditional surf rock.  All this building to the perfect opus that is “Hellhole Ratrace.” As those who caught wind of this tune months prior to the album’s release can attest, you’ll be hard pressed to find another drawn out song, with such simple lyrics, that can draw you into it time and time again.  Hell yeah it’s repetitive, but it’s so rewarding that the group might just be giving Phoenix a run for their money by releasing two great singles on one album.

Still, they never seem to be a static band, rarely staying in one place throughout the entire album.  In a time when a lot of music comes off redundant on albums, this one seems to offer something new around every little corner. “Lauren Marie,” for instance, is a sparse number with little else to add to it other than Owens continuous cooing of the name Lauren Marie. Yet, you’ll take your time to listen to it over and over again.  But, they continue their change-ups with “Morning Light,” with it’s fuzzy full throttle take on the straight ahead pop tune. This is precisely why Girls seem to be one of the few bands coming to us by way of the endless hype machine that can truly back up the world’s adoration by placing us into such an enjoyable listen.  You’ll surely find yourself listening to Album time and time again.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/01-lust-for-life.mp3]

Download: Girls – Lust for Life [MP3]

Prints For Non Profits

Don’t forget about our ATH sponsored Prints for Non Profits event tomorrow!  Some great bands will be playing and FREE Lone Star will be provided.  Yeah yeah, we know UT is playing on Saturday, but I highly doubt any of you can afford to go.  Plus, who can pass up free beer?  duh.  More info can be found on the ‘original post.  Things are going down at 6pm.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/03-all-the-weird-kids-know.mp3]

Download: Built By Snow – All the Weird Kids Know [MP3]

FT5: Collaborations

0918top5coverSolid collaborations seem to come around only once in a blue moon. On the other hand a FT5 of horrible partnerships could go on for 52 weeks straight without repeat. Eminem and Elton John come to mind, Bowie and Crosby creeping me out, and We Are the World as the gold standard of awesomely bad group efforts. Apart from these, there are plenty out there that have me wishing I had never heard them. Fear not, music lovers follow the jump to read about the best collaborations that won’t make you want to hang yourself; in fact, you might enjoy them.
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New Tunes from Must Have Been Tokyo

119The great thing about the Internet is running into new bands that you deem worthy of interest, and I was fortunate enough to find another of those bands. Must Have Been Tokyo is from abroad, of course, and yet they seem like they could fall perfectly in line with everything going along over on our shores.  They just released their Vice EP, and I definitely suggest giving it a listen if you can get your hands on it. Here’s a sample of said EP.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/01-Blood-In-the-Water-1.mp3]

Download: Must Have Been Tokyo – Blood in the Water [MP3]

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