Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes

Rating: ★★★★★

When one is confronted with the repeated hype of a band across the Internet word, as we all were with Fleet Foxes Sun Giant EP, you want to find one thing, anything, that proves them wrong. You almost want to hate the album, but I’m sorry, this is not the album.

Personally, I wouldn’t have started the album with “Sun Giant,” since it may have appeared somewhere in the past, but it still sets the mood for this album. By the time “Drops in the River,” the third track, rolls around, this band already had me won over–I actually didn’t like the EP. Sure, its a gentle track from the beginning, but once it gets rolling its hard not to find yourself bobbing your head here. Then they go straight into “White Winter Hymnal,” which definitely is a stand out on the album.

Actually, its not a stand out at all because I am struggling to find the one song on here I can dislike, or at least dismiss. There isn’t one. I double-checked. Not a one.

Each song on this album has carefully crafted instrumentation, and it all fits so perfectly with the harmonies of lead singer Robin Peckfold, who at times is harmonizing with every one else in the band. It is quite an interesting effect–though I admit at times it makes the lyrics somewhat indiscernible. Still, you can’t hide the fact that each arrangement on this album seems to fit perfectly with the rest of the song–with the rest of the album for that matter.

My biggest complaint about this album is the timing of the release. This is just me being selfish, but where was this album during the winter? Everything on here screams perfect winter album to me. I know I know. I could easily enjoy this sitting around a campfire with my best friends, but I don’t have time to go camping right now. Still, it would be perfect for that.

My favorite songs are “White Winter Hymnal,” “Mykonos,” “Quiet Houses,” and “Oliver James.” Now, I could ramble off thousands of comparisons to this band, but I’m sure you could find more adequate ones elsewhere on the Internet. My vote is for The Clientele comparison, but that is just me.

I hope this little review gives you enough insight into this album, but to be honest, its really hard to write about such a solid album. See for yourself.

Fleet Foxes will also be bringing their live act to the Mohawk in Austin on July 2nd.  Get your tickets at The Mohawk’s website.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/02-fleet_foxes-white_winter_hymnal.mp3]

Download: whitewinterhymnal.mp3

June 6th Whitman Show @ Emo’s Lounge

Have you seen my face?  I think I left it on the floor of Emo’s Lounge on Friday night.  Austin darlings Whitman brought the jams out on Friday night at Emo’s Lounge here in Austin.  Most would think the band would be a bit sloppy having been absent from the stage for around two months but that wasn’t the case on Friday. Read more

Shearwater – Rook

Rating: ★★★★½

From the very first song, new Austin darlings Shearwater–via former Okkervil River bandmate, brought out a surprise. A minute into the first song and the music crashes against your ear. For me, it was the first of many surprises on this album that made it one of the best things I have heard this year. Jonathan Meiburg has finally come into his own.

Aside from the initial surprise, the thing that struck me as most fascinating was the loud/soft contrast between musical moments. It is this precise juxtaposition of sound levels that requires every listener to pay close detail to each note–which I feel ultimately brings you closer to the brilliance of this album. It’s a contrast between light and dark music, and in doing this so well, Meiburg has made an album that I feel stands completely alone–even if you choose to eliminate the lyrics entirely–which I don’t suggest.

Those lyrics, well, they are far better than I expected from my previous Shearwater experiences. “Home Life,” is a particular favorite, though I don’t dare to examine its meaning for fears of ruining your own interpretations. Now, accompanying those lyrics are supremely grandiose vocals. I was floored this time by the evolvement of his voice, which has little to compare it to–though initially I thought of Antony and the Johnsons–but it comes off much more epic.

Throughout this entire album I felt like I was on this enormous journey with various characters and within my own psyche–all of which I will gladly walk through again. This album carries you away with excellent vocals and sweeping musicianship, though I must admit that there is one journey not worth taking at all, “South Col,” which is the eighth track, and is a required skip to the next song.

I wish you all the best as you partake in your very own journey with Mr. Meiburg and his mates. May it be as fruitful to you as it was for me. Here is to good listening

Here’s the single off the new record entitled Rooks:
[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/02-rooks.mp3]

Download: rooks.mp3

If you want to hear the entire album before you buy it, Shearwater is streaming it on their myspace page. Enjoy!

Share the Jaguar Love

I just recently picked up this fanciful new EP from Jaguar Love–featuring two members of The Blood Brothers and one young gent from Pretty Girls Make Graves. Now, if you are expecting a conglomeration of post-punk sounds, well, you are pretty close with that one . The single “Highways of Gold” is incredible, putting me on the edge of my seat for the full-length–which is set to arrive in stores on August 19th via Matador Records. My one warning–and those of you that liked The Blood Brothers will know–the enjoyment of J. Whitney’s voice must come with time.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/01-highways-of-gold1.mp3]

Download: highwaysofgold.mp3

Brendan Canning Plugs the Leak

So Brendan Canning has decided enough is enough. Some of you may or may not know that his new album Something For All of Us has leaked all over the place on the interweb. Brendan has decided to combat this evil doing by forgoing his July 22nd release date and making the album available for digital purchase on his label’s website. If you just can’t wait for the next Broken Social Scene Presents album, go to the Gallery AC website for Brendan’s new album Something For All of Us. If the Broken Social Scene Presents: Kevin Drew album is any indicator of this album’s quality, I highly recommend it. This is the second in what is supposedly a series of Broken Social Scene musicians releasing solo projects under the BSS moniker.

Here’s a new song off the album entitled “Hit The Wall”:
[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/brendan-canning-hit-the-wall.mp3]

Download: hitthewall.mp3

Mason Jennings – In The Ever

Rating: ★★★ · ·

Mason Jennings has long been the troubadour of my heart. From the first listen of his self-titled album–which would probably go in my Top 50 list–he had won me over. There was fire and originality, something I had yet to come across from others in the same genre of music. I buy every album; I am a loyal fan.

However, I finally feel that Mason and I are through. I feel it has been coming for a long time; I think now it is officially time for the two of us to part ways. Finally I feel as if he arrived at a point completely on the opposite end of the promise he once showed.

I first noticed this departure in common ground on his last album Boneclouds, which felt a little over-produced, and by that I mean everything sounded really clean. It didn’t feel as intimate as his past albums had. Not to mention there were throw away songs.

What about the new one? Well, I found several throw away songs, in fact, I found one in “I Love You and Buddha Too.” I understand the search for spirituality, and the welcoming of all religions-as we should–but this is quite possibly the worst song I’ve heard all year. You can add to the list of throwaway songs “How Deep is That River.” Sorry Mason old pal, but you have so much more.

I don’t want to slam this record entirely because I feel like there are some promising moments. For instance, “Memphis, Tennesee” has the heart and soul of earlier recordings, and the opening track, “Never Knew Your Name,” does hold onto some of those intimate moments that I feel like Mason and I shared in the past.

Unfortunately, this album has drawn a line in the sand. I’m now going across to that side where I can no longer afford to buy Mason albums on our old bond alone. If you like Mason Jennings, or singer\songwriters, then you most likely will find some solace in this album, but I don’t think this is an album that will win him a lot of new fans–it might lose him some old ones.

Hear “Fighter Girl” off the new album In The Ever
[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/04-fighter-girl.mp3]

Download: fightergirl.mp3

New Tilly and the Wall Single

Tilly and the Wall have released a new song and accompanying video off their new album o due out June 17th. The song is called “Pot Kettle Black”. Check out the “Pot Kettle Black” video on Sterogum’s website.

Also, don’t miss the band passing through Austin on July 17th at everyone’s favorite venue Emos. Pick up your tickets for Tilly and the Wall at Emo’s before it sells out!

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/tilly-and-the-wall-pot-kettle-black.mp3]

Download: potkettleblack.mp3

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