French Kicks @ Mohawk 4/18

french-kicksMany moons ago, we told you about the covers EP(get it on itunes) put out recently by NYC band French Kicks.  Well now the guys are making a much anticipated stop in town at Mohawk on Saturday night.  Tickets are on sale now for $10 or you can pay $12 at the door.  Young Mammals out of Houston and locals Low Line Caller will be opening things up around 9pm.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/frkc_abandon.mp3]

Download: French Kicks – Abandon [MP3]

Decemberists – Hazards Of Love

hazards-of-love

Rating: ★★★½ ·

The Decemberists will never sound totally current. Colin Meloy’s antiquated poetry, coupled with the Portland, Ore. five-piece’s intricate story-song structures, grandiose arrangements, and maudlin, medieval subject matter place the band’s poppy, orchestrated folk-rock in a bygone era. To listen to a Decemberists album is to submit to the past, to a period in history as much as a series of songs.

The band’s fifth LP, The Hazards of Love, with a loose concept following its protagonist Margaret through various travails-“Won’t Want For Love (Margaret In The Taiga),” “The Abduction Of Margaret”-is, as expected, not a straightforward rock record. Its intricacies and shifting narratives demand attention and patience, as do most concept albums. And Hazards’ faults are the same ones that afflict most concept albums: the listener wants the song, not necessarily the story.

To that end, “The Hazards of Love (The Prettiest Whistles Won’t Wrestle the Thistles Undone), and “Isn’t It A Lovely Night,” and, of course “Prelude” and “An Interlude” function more as set pieces than stand-alone songs. That Meloy had planned The Hazards of Love as a musical is not a surprise; often, the songs feel as if they are supporting a set change, preparing for a grand entrance.

But when those entrances occur, as on “The Wanting Comes In Waves/Repaid,” “The Rake’s Song,” “A Bower Scene,” the band shows a refreshing and previously unheard muscle and conviction. “The Wanting” is the album’s cornerstone, a blues stomp with a huge De Stijl-era White Stripes riff. The indignation and force of the lyrics, sung by My Brightest Diamond’s Shara Worden, is explosive. “Won’t Want For Love” again squares Worden’s vocals over a simple and effective heavy-blues riff. The simplicity pays off.

“Bower Scene” and “The Abduction Of Margaret” highlight the successes of The Hazards of Love. The songs share the exact same melody-a concept-cohesion tactic employed throughout the album. Yet it’s the simple, unaffected propulsion of the music, and not the tale being told or the witty lyrical wordplay that has the greatest impact. The band is still stuck in the past, but by flexing its muscles and eschewing its grandiose tendencies, it has kept itself a present musical presence.

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

Download: The Decemberists – The Rake’s Song [MP3]

WDRTE Benefit @ Beerland 4/17

wdrteWhen a band’s equipment gets jacked everyone wants to kick the culprit’s ass.  If you can’t find the guy, a benefit to raise a little money can’t hurt.  That’s just what local band When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth have planned for Friday night at Beerland.  Several other local artists like Dikes of Holland, Strange Boys, Red X Red M, and Ralph White are joining in to help out.  Show starts at 10pm.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/when-dinosaurs-ruled-the-earth-its-casual.mp3]

Download: When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth – It’s Casual [MP3]

We’re Blowing Up!!!

serverswitchWell not literally but enough to warrant ATH switching to a newer, bigger and more hardcore server. So pardon our dust in the next couple of days while we make the switch. In the meantime, follow us on Twitter or fire up ATH radio. We’ll be back in a jiffy. If not, something went terribly wrong and we broke the internet.

Austin A2W: Wooden Birds

thewoodenbirdswooden_birds_02_lowresSeeing as how we haven’t run one of our Austin Artist to Watch features in quite a while, we thought we’d kick things off again with obvious A2W choice Wooden Birds.  This new Austin band has been getting a ton of local and national press coverage as of late, mostly for their mellow take on indie folk rock, and partly because the band is fronted by local music legend Andrew Kinney (American Analog Set).  After 6 long years in Brooklyn, Mr. Kinney moved back to Austin recently and decided it was just about time for a new music project.  We had the good fortune to speak to the man behind Wooden Birds and ask him some of those burning questions about his relocation and his music.  Follow the jump for full interview with Andrew Kinney.

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White Denim @ The Parish 4/17

whitedenim500Looks like local buzz band White Denim are going to start playing regularly around town again after taking a little break from the Austin scene.  The Parish is one of the few places I can’t remember the band playing and the venue should provide a unique experience to see the band.  Fellow locals Corto Maltese and Ume will be opening things up.  Doors are at 9:30 with music at 10:30.  Tickets are on sale now for $9 if you’re of age and $12 if you’re still illegal.

LA Snacks @ Creekside 4/15

lakicksCreekside doesn’t usualy get in on the live music scene  too often, but they’ve got a nice local lineup planned for Wednesday night.  Austin artist LA Snacks are headlining the show with fellow locals Bankrupt and The Borrowers and The Eastern Sea opening things up.  Tickets are at the door for $5.  Music is at 10.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/lasnacks-kristinwasameteorologist.mp3]

Download: LA Snacks – Kristin was a Meteorologist [MP3]

Bill Callahan – Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle

bill

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Austin resident Bill Callahan is more widely known for his releases under the Smog moniker, but the release of his second “solo” album will surely have heads turning in the direction of his future; his most recent ventures seem to be the most focused of any of his releases, which definitely prove beneficial to the listener.

Of course, there is really only one instrument on this album that is truly worthy of discussion, and that has to be the ragged baritone vocals of Callahan himself.  His voice is easily identifiable, but it also serves as the predominant element that courses through the entirety of the album.  Everything else seems to play second-fiddle to the vocals, and one can presume that that is precisely where Callahan would like to leave us.

Take, for instance, “Eid Ma Clack Shaw,” the album’s first released single.  The song is comprised mostly of two elements: one being the voice of Callahan, the other being tinkering piano that bounces gleefully in step with the vocals. “The Wind and the Dove” follows just after, and you’re caught on the brief moments when the pitch and delivery seem to change just the slightest bit, creating a sense of reserve.  Both songs emphasize the voice rather than the music, although this isn’t saying that the music is altogether uninteresting. One merely needs to listen to the gentleness in the production, even when other elements are added to the textural mix of the song, such as the female vocals that filter in and out of “Rococo Zephyr.”

This entire outing seems to come out of a place of reserve, as if Callahan is taking his time to think things through, watching the world around slowly go by each day.  Lyrically, the songs approach various levels of observation and commentary on fairly mundane things, but developed in the way only Bill can do.  Even the song titles seem to illustrate the idea of thought, and other such processes, which is apparently where a lot of the album stems from, as Bill admits to being a bit restless during the recording of the majority of the album.

At the end of the journey, you’ll find one of the longest songs in the Bill Callahan/Smog repertoire, which isn’t entirely a bad thing.  It’s the perfect bookend to the album, as the narrator here admits that it’s time to put some things away, such as God.  With the album coming to a close, it’s time to put it away, as Bill has clearly made his point.  He’s crafted a set of mellow semi-folk tunes using his voice as the instrument and his lyrics as your guide through his world and his thoughts.  It’s a good run through from start to finish.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/03-the-wind-and-the-dove.mp3]

Download: Bill Callahan – The Wind and the Dove [MP3]

New Tunes from My Latest Novel

artists-mylatestnovelA few years back, I stumbled into the record store and came across this band, My Latest Novel. They met my requirements for something worthy of checking out: they were from Glasgow and someone references Belle and Sebastian in their review; those days are long gone. The first single from the bands upcoming album, Death and Entrances, is full of complexities and an organic quality that most enjoy these days.  Sit back and listen.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/01-all-in-all-in-all-is-all.mp3]

Download: My Latest Novel – All in All in All is All [MP3]

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