• SXSW 2019 – A Recap

    Yet another SXSW is in the books and it’s time for the ATH crew to reminisce a little and offer some highlight from the week behind us. I think we’ve

    Read more »
  • SXSW: 6 Bands To Watch

    Well SXSW music is officially here, and as I sit and ponder my existence while at work, I thought it would be fun to share some advice on bands to

    Read more »
  • RayRay’s Top Songs – 2018

    When it comes to ATH and our areas of expertise, I like to think I’m the go to guy for song lists and bad ass playlists. If you’re doubting me,

    Read more »
  • Best of Indiepop 2018

    Everyone has their own definition of indiepop; but I tend to ascribe to the original craft where DIY aesthetics and a softer response to punk were all the rage. But,

    Read more »
  • ATH Top Albums – 2018

      This is our year end list for albums of the year. There’s four of us here, so it’s hard to come to a consensus, but we did our best.

    Read more »

Will Johnson Live On Woxy

willjohnson2Long time ATH favorite Will Johnson had his session with the Woxy crew posted on their blog site a couple days ago.  Mr. Johnson plays 4 songs, including this gem “Almost Let You In” from his 2009 effort with Jason Molina.  I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, this guy has one of the best and most unique voices in the business today.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/will_johnson-almost_let_you_in.mp3]

Download: Will Johnson – Almost Let You In (live) [MP3]

A2W: The Sour Notes

sournotesThe Sour Notes are an Austin band who have arguably released more material in the last couple of years than any other local band.  What makes the large discography for such a new band (3 LPs and a 7″ to be exact) even more impressive is that each release was put out on the band’s dime.  Anyone who has been involved with a band currently shopping a label knows how hard releasing material on your own can be.  Don’t tell that to leading man Jared Boulanger.  He Originally started The Sour Notes in Houston, TX as a moniker for what was essentially a solo project.  Shortly after his debut in 2008, Boulanger began bringing some friends on board to a form a new band that could tour and play live shows together locally and nationally.  2010 has seen the band release a new LP It’s Not Gonna Be Pretty with a follow up already planned for later this year.  Now, recently returning from another east coast tour, the band has a welcome home show planned for Thursday night at Mohawk.  The up and coming locals will be playing along with Zest of Yore and The Demigs.  Check out this latest single “Do-ers & Say-ers” from the band below and find out why we think you needs ta know about these locals.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/02_DOERS_SAYERS.mp3]

Download: The Sour Notes – Do-ers & Say-ers [MP3]

Free Sub Pop Sampler

subpopSub Pop is at it again with another free sampler featuring some of their best tunes from last year along with a few previews of upcoming material.  You’ll see staples like Beach House, Grand Archives, The Ruby Suns, and tons more.  You’ve probably seen a lot of these songs here on our site, but isn’t it easier to get them all in one big zip file?  Si!  Oh and your favorite 1990s internet graphics are back and ready for some fun!

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/05-Falling-From-The-Sun.mp3]

Download: The Album Leaf – Falling From The Sun [MP3]

Retribution Gospel Choir – 2

retribution

Rating: ★★★★ ·

If you’ve been following closely along the careerpath of Low, you might have noticed that around 2005 the band turned it up a bit with The Great Destroyer, then forging further ahead with Drums & Guns.  Why does the diveregence of a great minimalist band such as Low matter here?  Well, this is Alan Sparhawks band, and the only difference between this and Low is the absence of his wife Mimi in exchange for drummer Eric Pollard.  All this leads to one thing, 2, the second proper Retribution Gospel Choir album,  is a further illustration that despite the solitude of old Low records, Alan seems to have always wanted to rock.

“Hide It Away” builds from the minute you press play on your stereo, with Pollard’s drums lying in the background, providing a steady, if not powerful, backbone for the song.  Of course, Sparhawk’s vocals soar in the foreground, with just the faintest hint of waivering.

If you didn’t believe he had this need for rock building in him for a long time, just check the forty second long “68 Comeback,” which begins with a bit of an homage to Black Sabbath (Paranoid?).  This jumps right into the arena rocking moment that is “Workin Hard.”  The chugging guitars and stomping drum sound all feel as if this was destined to fill out a large arena, yet somehow Sparhawk makes it feel rather intimate; a specialty he places here and there in his entire catalogue.

Still, you can feel the presence of his past workings throughout the record.  Take “Poor Man’s Daughter,” for instance; it’s a song that feels an awful lot like 90s College Radio Rock, yet there is a certain depth that all Low records have that is present here too.   There are also little mini-suites like the previously mentioned “68 Comeback” that show the group using ambient moments to influence to overall atmosphere of the record.

Personally, “White Wolf” is definitely a favorite number on 2. It sort of begins with a J. Mascis type riff, which brings back the whole classic alternative rock appeal that is present here, and when the chorus kicks in you just can’t help but feel elated.  It gets straight to the point, and just hits you all the way through.  Then it ends.  This remains one of the most pleasant things about this album; the brevity of the songs allows for ultimate enjoyment. A lof of current guitar albums get a bit too over-indulgent (I’m looking at you metalheads), choosing to hear themselve, and their “chops,”  more than craft the perfect song.   Here, there is no such thing (if you get rid of one song, but don’t because it’s good).  It makes for a precise rock album, one that fulfills without wasting too much time.

Alan Sparhawk has always been able to craft great songs, and this time he shows that he can do so by turning up the amps, and cranking out the energy.  If you love Low, as I do, then you’ll surely find that 2 and Retribution Gospel Choir are perfectly suited for you.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/06-White-Wolf-1.mp3]

Download: Retribution Gospel Choir – White Wolf [MP3]

New Tunes from Twin Shadow

twin-shadowThe story goes that George Lewis Jr. had been struggling with writer’s block until he began to wonder the streets of Berlin.  It seems at this point he came to the decision to record some sublime electro-pop tunes that will soon be released by Grizzly Bear‘s Chris Taylor’s Terrible Records.  He’s got some 7 inches coming your way in the Spring, and based on this track, you’re going to love Twin Shadow.  It recalls a touch of TV on the Radio for me, but hey, that’s just me.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/Twin-Shadow-Yellow-Balloon.mp3]

Download: Twin Shadow – Yellow Balloon [MP3]

Ultra8201 4th Anny @ Ghost Room (1/28)

ultra

Date 1/28/10
Location Ghost Room
Doors 9pm
Tickets $5 @ Door

Our good friends Ultra8201 are throwing a huge 4 year anniversary party at Ghost Room on Thursday and we’re happy to be a part of the fun.  The guys have a killer evening lined up with music from locals New Roman Times, The Authors, Politics, and The Red Boys.  Of course you and also expect a photo booth run by Annie Ray and cheap drinks all night long.  Check out that fancy flier for all sponsoring parties.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/New_Roman_Times_Smoke_In_Your_Disguise.mp3]

Download: New Roman Times – Smoke In Your Disguise [MP3]

Gibbard & Farrar @ Antone’s (1/27)

gibbardfarrar

Date 1/27/10
Location Antones
Doors 8pm
Tickets Sold Out

The super duo of Death Cab for Cutie front man Ben Gibbard and Son Volt leading man Jay Farrar are stopping into town at Antone’s on Wednesday.  The recently formed group are touring in support of their Big Sur inspired colaborative project.  One of our favorite songwriters Will Johnson will also be on hand to open things up.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/Ben+Gibbard+and+Jay+Farrar+-+California+Zephyr.mp3]

Download: Ben Gibbard & Jay Farrar – California Zephyr [MP3]

Los Campesinos! – Romance is Boring

romance-is-boring

Rating: ★★½ · ·

Just looking at the blood dripping down the leg of the cover of Romance is Boring, and you can tell that there is a dark shift in the writing of Los Campesinos!. Long have they been a band of rapturous joy and sheer energy, but as we grow older, ultimately our views begin to shift.  This is a record of changing winds; it is a band looking in new directions.

On “A Heat Rash…” you can immediately tell that the band, while retaining some of their trademark sounds, has switched gears, albeit just slightly.  Musically, there is still an overall feeling of joy amidst Gareth’s lyrics, but the fervent energy seems somewhat absent here.  It seems that the urgency of the band has dissipated with the times.

Yes, you will find the traditional Los Campesinos! tracks filled with possibly too much noise for one listener; you’ll find those songs that encourage you to scream atop your lungs with the band, such as “This is a Flag. There is No Wind” or “Straight in at 101.”  These songs bring energy to the group, reminding you of the band’s original sound, but overall, such rambunctious moments are few and far between here, which may be disheartening to long-time fans of the group.

Instead, you’ll stumble across slow movers like “Coda: A Burn Scar in the Shape of the Sooner State.”  While Gareth’s vocals are coated in minor distortion, the group itself recalls a gloomier version of I’m From Barcelona.  Multiple instruments come in and out with the song fading away into walls of feedback.  This isn’t the only tune that demonstrates a more solemn side of the band. “In Media Res” messes with the song structure that the LC has often employed, using quiet moments back to back with louder constructive moments within the song.  It’s not a slow number, but it definitely doesn’t have the pace of previous efforts.

When you hit across the record’s title track, “Romance is Boring,” for some reason, the album seems kind of muddled.  It’s as if the group set out with one thing in mind, yet they were unable to deliver upon their ideas, or at least they weren’t comfortable straying too far away from their comfort zone.  It’s filled with noise, a la the usual LC stuff, but experimenting with feedback and distortion gets a bit annoying at times.  And if you ask me (which you didn’t) the gang vocals by album three are getting a little bit tiresome, as are Gareth’s lyrics.  What once seemed clever, now seems a bit banal.

For some reason, it seems as if the group just came across a bunch of old alternative records, and they decided that loud frequencies would be rewarding for their live sound, which is quite possible, though it doesn’t translate to the album.  “I Just Sighed. I Just Sighed So You Know,” the closing track, just seems like a bunch of children messing around in their garage.  And wait until you hear the metal moments on “I Warned You Do Not Make an Enemy of Me.”  Did they really put those guitars in there?

By the end of Romance is Boring, it seems that Los Campesinos! have finally warn their listeners down.  They don’t seem nearly as cohesive as they once did, which encourages a lot of the noisier moments to come across in quite an amateur fashion.  It’s loud and boisterous, but it’s too much so at times.  It seems that the band has split their personalities on this, leaving them stuck in the middle somewhere.  It makes for an uneven album, one that doesn’t do the group as much justice as you hoped it would. It’s not nearly as fun as the group CAN be, and not nearly as dark as they seem to want to be.  Expect the next album to make a decision for us and them.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/The-Sea-Is-A-Good-Place-To-Think-Of-The-Future.mp3]

Download: Los Campesinos! – The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future [MP3]

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