For those of you that love all things Bright Eyes, it might come as a shock that Conor Oberst is set to release his solo debut on Merge Records. Does this mean the end of Bright Eyes, or is it just an alternative, or a break from tradition. Regardless, this album is sure to please most fans, and possibly garner some new ones. You can listen to the album in its entirety at conoroberst.com.
Dear Arts and Crafts (and Broken Social Scene),
You really had me fooled. From the minute you threw You Forgot It In People at me, I was hooked; I pledged allegiance to your label and its output. I trusted you; I considered you a friend.
You kept dishing it out, and even the first song on this record, “Something for All of Us” had me thirsty. It was murky, with driving percussion that just sounded like I needed it. You knew I would just listen to the first song and buy it. I now call you out, tricksters!
There was magic, albeit momentary, then it disappeared. Immediately Brendan jumps into a song that eliminates the magic. It’s really slow, which isn’t a fault, but a majority of the song sounds like he just re-recorded the end of a Broken Social Scene song as the band faded away.
I thought that “Hit the Wall,” with the pace of the song alone would bring it back to the goodness, but there just doesn’t seem to be a focus in this song. I just couldn’t get that feeling back. So you thought you’d let him get away with a soft acoustic song, “Snowballs and Icicles.” It was good, but then it ended – how is one of the better songs on this album the shortest?
So you try and get groovier with the next couple of numbers, but this is when I caught your ploy. You’ve been covering Canning‘s voice over this whole album. Sure, he doesn’t have the greatest range, but it sounds as if you disguised it, hidden behind a mask of harmonies, staying low in the mix.
I got lost in the next couple of songs, spending more time trying to make myself like this than anything else. Even after those two songs, “Possible Grenade” showed me promise, then it just floated way off into nowhere. That’s exactly what happened with the rest of the album, and in time, I am sure the whole album will float off into the back of my collection
I know that Broken Social Scene is a collective of sorts, but I don’t know where Canning fits in. I suppose his ideas are fleshed out by the rest of the band; or else he just completely went far off his usual course here. You unleashed him Arts and Crafts. You let him put out an entire album that meanders in and out of listenability, often within the same song. I hold you responsible for this. I don’t want my money back; I enjoy the majority of your output, but I would like the four straight hours I spent listening to this album back. You owe me. Or else we are not friends.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/under-the-stairs.mp3]
Nomo is an instrumental band from Michigan, who seem to have everything going their way at the moment. Accompanying the band will be local pop darlings Loxsly, who have always seemed like a mellower version of Voxtrot on record. But their live show has really improved, and they pack a little more bite live. Sample the musical styling of Nomo right here:[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/brainwave.mp3]
Download: Nomo – Brain Wave [MP3]
We here at Austin Town Hall are quite fond of Oxford Collapse, so when we got ourselves this little piece of magic, we had to post it. The song is called “The Birthday Wars” and it comes off the new album BITS, which is going to be released by Sup Pop on August 5th. The guitar work alone makes this song for me. Look for our review of BITS soon.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/birthday_wars.mp3]
The highly anticipated release of Okkervil River‘s The Stand-Ins has finally let us get our hands on a single to toss your way. This song has an additional singer on it, or Will has done a lot of work on his vocals. The rest of the song seems really low-key, but in a throwback to old Okkervil River.
Don’t forget that they will be playing this year at Austin City Limits, and I’m sure they’ll schedule another show around that time for all of us to enjoy.
The Stand-Ins comes your way on September 9th via Jagjaguwar Records.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/lost-coastlines.mp3]
This album kicks off with “Jager Yoga,” which-in my opinion-could have come off the last record by CSS. It’s got a throbbing bass line, some solid beats, backed by more prominent guitar work. It’s like a continuation, but in that, it kind of prepares you to travel with the band.
Suddenly, the next track brings in some heavy guitar work. This song resembles The Sounds, which bring in the full power of the band, giving them a different route to travel than just the typical dance track. It’s as if they came to rock, to melt faces if you will.
Then they go back to the old pattern with “Reggae All Night,” which kind of takes the album back a step, but sure enough, they bring back out the guitars in “Give Up.” I don’t know if the juxtaposition in songs builds a steady flow for a complete album, but most listeners will see a band with a new purpose.
The next three tracks offer something a little different, something a little aged. “Beautiful Song” and “Move” take the band as close to the eighties as they have been before, and in all honesty, it works for them. You can tell they put a little more focus on the instruments here, still creating rhythms we can all dance too, but without the requirement of blasting the beats in our ears.
“Beautiful Achieve” is a stranger phenomenon than other tracks. They slow it down here, but use the samples and loops that established the band. It’s an interesting touch to this album, throwing in a little variety.
“Air Painter” finally brings it all to a close, but it brings you to a new realization, quite different than the opening track. If I’m not mistaken, The Sounds singer, Maja Ivarrson, makes an appearance. The song is great – hands down, but it does come off a bit like a cover song.
The emphasis for me, and for the reference to that other band, is that this album lets CSS out of the the strict dance routine. Each song is over 3 minutes long, which means the band spent more time writing the songs, and fleshing out the sounds, allowing the songs themselves to carry the beat, rather than the beat carrying the song. I think its an impressive step, even if sounds like some other band did it before It shows the band stepping out, and stepping up. At this point, there is lots of room for CSS to move towards for their next album, which should be a great one.
This is a good album, especially since it leaves you wanting more from the band in the future. It might not go down in history as their best, but it certainly solidifies them as a band to look out for in the future. Cheers to you Sub Pop Records; just another good release after another.
Check out the single from the album, “The Rad is Dead (Rage)”:[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/rat-is-dead-rage.mp3]
Now that we’ve got you set up for the weekend, let’s start planning our week. Alkaline Trio is as powerful a three-piece as you will come across, and they come to La Zona Rosa to win us over this coming Monday night. You can check out our thoughts on their newest record and sample some tunes by going back in time.
You can still buy tickets to the Alkaline Trio show here. See you there!
Well, apparently we have a lot going on this Saturday. To add to our list of events, this is a party that has been going on in Austin for the last few years. Everyone Knows Everyone features a slew of Austin favorites, including our personal faves Rory and the Artificial Hearts, Young Love, The Visitors and Recover. There are several other bands playing this little shindig (click here for more information from Transmission Entertainment); it doesn’t hurt that it’s at one of our favorite local spots, The Mohawk.
You can buy tickets for the show from FrontGate – it’s only 8 bucks.
I love Jay Reatard, and I spent my day Tuesday, desperately trying to get my hands on the new 7″ from Matador. That 7″ hits Waterloo Records on Tuesday, but quantities are going to be limited, as the rest are already sold out. The 7″ is a split, with Jay covering a Deerhunter song, and Deerhunter covering his “Oh Its Such a Shame.” Give it a listen.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/oh_its_such_a_shame.mp3]
In other news, buy your tickets for Jay Reatard at Red Seven on August 3rd .
Long ago, circa 1996, I had myself a spiky little hairdo, wore a lot of polyester, and had an undying affair with ska music. That’s right, snob that I am, listened to ska, and loved it. One of my favorites was San Antonio’s Spies Like Us. They were more leaning on the surf-rock side, though they still loved those rock steady beats that made you up and dance. Well, that very band, still together today, still rocking like they did in the hey day of ska is playing at Flamingo Cantina this Saturday night. It should be a fun night, taking us all back to the simple little steps of ska.
For more info on the band, visit them at their Myspace page.