Heartless Bastards – The Mountain

hbmountain

Rating: ★★★½ ·

Heartless Bastards, who now dwell in Austin, or so rumor has it, have garnered a lot of claim in recent years for their passionate tunes.  They’ve been backed by some big names, though we should probably just stick to the music.  The Mountain, their third full-length hits stores this week, ready to establish the band as one of the lead acts across the states.

Looking through a list of the band’s influences, it’s easy to see where the  guitar sounds come from on album opener “The Mountain,” as the band blatantly wears their Pixies homage on their sleeves.  But, they aren’t one to simply regurgitate sounds of the past, instead adding pedal steel to complete the transfer of the past towards a more modern means. It’s one of the telling signs of growth, as this record shows that they completely own their sound, packed full of tidbits from the great landscape of American underground music.

Once again, singer Erika Winnerstrom’s voice dominates the entirety of this album.  At every turn it’s full of passion and pain, simple and yet never overstated.  It’s not every day that you can find such a deep voice that carries an encouraging femininity along with it, which shows you just how much power the young lady holds. It’s got remnants in the soul-inspired folk rock of past days, yet you can immediately see the relevance it has in today’s music scene.

You will find it difficult to place the band’s exact sound, or at least locate a genre in which the band will dwell. For all intents and purposes, the band never seems to stay in one place at one time.  After the opener, with all its influences, the band jumps into a more direct country sound on “Be So Happy,” this just before the go into a Dinosaur Jr.-esque romper in “Early in the Morning.”  All this before going back to a more roots based folk sound.

Despite the power possessed by Winnerstrom, her voice seems to be more suited to the slower tunes here. Beneath the lyrics and the structure of the songs, you can see her personality clearly coming through, begging to be listened to by everyone.  Okay, so maybe we’re harping too much on her voice here, but it’s the most recognizable medium on the album, and the one all listeners will most likely attach themselves to when listening to the album.  Clearly she can hold her own here, although at times, the songs do seem to drag on a little long, and that may wear the effects of her voice out a bit.

Three albums in, and the band is building on their strengths, pushing forward with solid tunes, and yes, it’s all backed by the power of Erika Winnerstrom’s voice, but who wouldn’t want to listen to a voice like this? And please excuse the poor cover art.

Built By Snow @ Creekside (2/4)

bbsOne of our favorite new Austin bands, Built by Snow, will be playing as part of the 101x Homegrown Live series at the Creekside Lounge this Wednesday evening.  The band will be joined by other ATH favorites Hollywood Gossip & Harlem.  Tickets will be sold at the door for a mere $5 with things kicking off around 9/10pm.  If you haven’t seen this band yet, make it a point to do so.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/harlem-beautiful-very-smart.mp3]

Download: Harlem – Beautiful & Very Smart [MP3]

Two Tongues – s/t

twotongues

Rating: ★★★½ ·

When Say Anything‘s Max Bemis decided to join forces with Saves the Day‘s Chris Conley, kids all across the globe were salivating as they awaited the first proper release from Two Tongues. Releasing the album via emo stalwart, Vagrant Records, meant that the union was destined to find an eager audience.

The best thing one could hope for in this union is for the lyrical content, as Bemis and Conley have long been penning amazing lyrics for their respective bands.  Their efforts here are, as expected, nothing short of their individual accomplishments, each coupling great rhyming moments, often pairing them with one another effortlessly.  This is precisely how it was supposed to be done.  Sure, they’re still tackling the same old issues, but they do it well.

Moving beyond, it would be difficult not to comment on the vocal compliments these two offer to the other. Conley’s high pitch is counter-balanced by the heavier, deeper tones of Bemis. Their intermingling of vocal parts adds a musical element to the album that is difficult to come by outside of Kanye‘s studio.  Not to mention, the combination of vocal harmonies definitely keeps the album fresh, which the gentlemen have been unable to do in recent efforts with their mainstays.

Musically, you just have to combine the stylings of both groups.  Sure, it sounds simple enough in theory, but to fuse these two songwriters, and their distinctive styles, one must jump leaps and bounds.  The heavier elements almost certainly owe to Conley, as Bemis’ forte seems to be in crafting bouncing pop-punk elements along with angular guitar chops.  At times, the combination creates some unique moments, such as the Weezer-esque “Don’t You Want to Come Home.”  It might even have a little bit of Billy Corgan in the vocals, but you’ll have to see for yourself.

Perhaps the best moments come on this album when they keep it short, as in under three-minutes, as some of the songs can drag out just a little bit much.  But, when they keep the elements contained and simple, they hit hard and fast, just as you would want from a band of this ilk. It’s a solid album for those searching for a more upbeat sound as Spring rolls itself out, which apparently isn’t for another six weeks. Hopefully this will get  you there with your spirits up.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/02-if-i-could-make-you-do-things.mp3]

Download:  Two Tongues – If I Could Make You Do Things [MP3]

New Music From Bishop Allen

bishop20allenBishop Allen just posted a couple new tracks from their forthcoming album Grrr… due out on March 10th.  We’ve got a new tune entitled “The Ancient Commonsense of Things” for you below.  You can also pick up their new song “Dimmer” from the Bishop Allen website.  While you’re at it, read an interview we did with the band during Fun Fun Fun Fest.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/the_ancient_commonsense_of_things.mp3]

Download: Bishop Allen – The Ancient Commonsense of Things [MP3]

Motown #1s for $1.99

temptationsAmazon continues to try and compete with itunes in the Mp3 download department by offering you such steals as these.  The deal for today features a 20 song compilation disc of The Motown singles to reach #1 for only $1.99. You won’t be surprised that the album is full of huge names like Lionel Richie (also an ATH guilty pleasure), The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, and other greats.  Get it now.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/temptations_beg.mp3]

The Submarines @ Stubbs (2/3)

submarinesThe Submarines will be bringing their brand of catchy pop tunes to Stubbs this Tuesday evening.  The band will be co-headlining on the night along with The Morning BendersYou can have tickets for only $12.  Doors/music are at 10pm.  Here’s a song from the Submarines you might recognize from one of those famous ipod commercials called “You, me and the Bourgeoisie”.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/submarines-you-me-and-the-bourgeoisie.mp3]

Download: The Submarines – You Me and the Bourgeoisie [MP3]

FT5: Songs from 90’s Soundtracks

0130top5cover90’s movies presented some unique opportunities for a lot of popular artists. Prince dressed up as the Joker. Jon Bon Jovi going down in a Blaze of Glory. Nine Inch Nails teaming up with David Lynch and some Natural Born Killers. But keep your seats, I promise that there isn’t anything from The Bodyguard in this list (sorry, Whitney Houston fans). However, I think I’ve picked out some choice lesser-known gems to mix in with the chart-topping hits. To qualify for the list, the song had to debut in the US on a soundtrack, and movie scores aren’t eligible. So without further ado, I present the Top 5 songs from 90’s movie soundtracks after the jump.

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New Tunes From Great Lake Swimmers

great_lake_swimmers02It’s been a while since we last heard from Canadian outfit Great Lake Swimmers after the release of their incredible 2007 album Ongiara.  Today news surfaced that the band will be releasing a new album entitled Lost Channels on March 31st via Nettwerk.  Here’s the repeat play worthy first single “Pulling on a Line”.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/td43-great-lake-swimmers-pulling-on-a-line.mp3]

Download: Great Lake Swimmers – Pulling on a Line [MP3]

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