Clem Snide – Hungry Bird

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Rating: ★★★ · ·

Eef Barzelay had promised us long ago that his days with Clem Snide were well over, which was odd, seeing as he was the primary musician behind the band’s music.  But, here we are again with Clem Snide’s newest album, Hungry Bird.

Barzelay is one of those singers who has a very distinctive voice.  It’s somewhat near the nasal region, yet in an endearing way.  This quality in his voice makes you immediately familiar with him as a frontman, and it draws you in closer to the group; it is meant to draw you in closer to the lyrics.

As in the past, Barzelay weaves his lyrics around the most mundane of things, though this time around, there is less of a childishness to the entirety of the lyrics.  Well, childish is probably not the word to use, so let’s use wit in this case.  Seemingly, he’s thrown these lyrical concepts a little bit away from the group, which inevitably bring a more serious tone to the album as a whole.  It’s a different approach for the group, one that might lead long-time fans through a period of adjustment.

A serious tone has been established through the vocal and lyrical element, which really sets the mood for the listener.  The band, always lumped into post-country genres, has never been one to fiercely pick up the pace, but it seems here they definitely slow the tempo all the way down.  Take “Hum,” for example, a slowly sprawling song, ending with a seeming crescendo of ferocity, but pulled back just in time for the band to hone that slowdown hoedown that covers the album.

Most will appreciate this album’s gentleness, as the level of intimacy achieved here is one that will bond with listeners.  The quietude of the mood is soothing, and it forces you to pay attention to every little aspect of the album.  Strong production allows you to see those littlest details, as the band has filled out all possible areas of their sound.  It’s almost as if its a late slocore album, shedding the walls of country tinge away as they created, and ultimately finished this album.

Long time fans will surely be glad to have this band back together, working to create that soft edge of country sound that many people lovingly dote upon.  While it may not be the best of the group, songs such as “Burn the Light” will surely show that Clem Snide is still a strong force to be reckoned with, now, and in the future.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/03-hum.mp3]

Deep Elm Emo Sampler

deepelmIf you thought emo was dead, think again peoples!  The now legendary label Deep Elm is offering up a 15 song sampler of emo tracks from all of their artists new and old.  ATH favorites like Appleseed Cast, Slowride, Sounds Like Violence, and a slew of others appear on the free compilation.  Here’s one of our favorite old school emo tunes featured on the sampler by Appleseed Cast.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/12-track-12.mp3]

Download: Appleseed Cast – Marigold & Patchwork [MP3]

Drew Danburry

tour2008_lrgWe receive a lot of randomness in our inbox here at ATH and rarely does anything strike our interest like Drew Danburry has.  Maybe it’s a shared love for The Never Ending Story or the songwriters catchy diddy about Atreyu’s beloved horse Artex.  Regardless, check out Mr. Danburry’s hilarious video for the song which follows the scene from the movie line for line.  You can find out more about Drew Danburry on his website.

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

Download: Drew Danburry – Artex [MP3]

New Tunes from Swan Lake

swansSwan Lake is a supergroup, featuring members of Frog Eyes, Wolf Parade, and Destroyer. Their newest album, Enemy Mine is slated for release via Jagjaguwar Records on March 24th. While early indications claim Frog Eye’s Casey Mercer as the better writer this time out, you can’t count out Destroyer’s Dan Bejar. Just take a listen to the following track.

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

Download: Swan Lake – Spider [MP3]

SXSW Watchlist: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

pains1The Pains of Being Pure at Heart have recently been lauded, not just by ATH, but by many others for their self-titled release. It’s shrouded in atmospherics and melody, the perfect blend of everything going on nowadays. Suffice it to say, that very record is one of the only albums released thus far in 2009 that succeeds in every song. Follow the jump to find out a little more about the band.
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Octopus Project Visual Music @ Drafhouse (2/25)

octoproj_drafthouseposterAlamo Draft House is teaming up with local giants Octopus Project on Wednesday night for what looks like a once in lifetime type event!  The idea behind the visual music event is simple: short films play on the big screen and Octopus Project play their own personal scores for the films.  You can catch this unique “show” at 7:00pm or again at 9pm on Wednesday night.  Tickets are on sale now for $15 from the Draft House website.  Thank you Alamo for doing the things that make us love this town.

New Music From Phoenix

phoenix_band01French pop band Phoenix are finally offering some new music for their fans to check out.  The new track available for download is called “1901” and will appear on the band’s upcoming album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix due out May 25th.  Anyone got some thoughts on the first new material in a few years?

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/1901.mp3]

Download: Phoenix – 1901 [MP3]

The Black Lips – 200 Million Thousand

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Rating: ★★★½ ·

The Black Lips have recently gotten more acclaim, or seemingly so, for their exploits off the stage.  They’re followed around like the Paris Hilton of the indie world, but the questions that follow should really pertain to the quality of their music. It’s clear that their a ramshackle bunch of lads, but when that carries over to their music, can we follow along? 200 Million Thousand attempts to answer that question.

It’s really hard to find a ground from which to approach this album.  Sure, the obvious psychedelia surrounds the band, not to mention the garage quality that has been there from the beginning of the band’s climb into our record collections. All these qualities point to an album worthy of critical acclaim, but only if the band can bring it all together.

Here, they don’t quite execute.  There are some clear misses on the album, such as the vocal quality.  Every time this band releases an album, it seems as if they shy away from the singing being a focal point. When you come across a song like “Starting Over” or “Old Man,” it seems as if they might unleash some hidden vocal talent, but its just not there.  The rest is hazily smothered in shadowy production, disguising the vocal for the most part.

Then, you come face to face with the fact that the band finally seems to have gotten a cohesive sound together, but the sound just doesn’t quite seem original.  It’s shrouded in the past of bands like The Velvet Underground and The Rolling Stones. Are they trying to be ironic by miming some of the most heralded acts around or is this an honest representation of who the band truly is as a group?  The answer is certainly difficult to come by, so one must take the songs into account.

“Drugs” is a California surf-pop romper, fueled by the twang of the guitar.  Even with the shotty vocal effects, you still can feel the catchiness of the song as the group sings in unison. And of course, that is followed by the super “Starting Over,” which may very well be one of the best songs that we hear all year.  There is an inexplicable quality to the song that wins you over as soon as the guitar comes in during the opening moment.

Interestingly, there is also a soul tinge on this record, which may display some of the more banal qualities of the group as a whole, but the power of such songs is undeniable.  “I’ll Be With You” is the song you expect to hear when watching a scene from the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance.  It’s got that classic Buddy Holly guitar sound, but with a more juvenile approach to songwriting.  It’s earnest, and it deserves appreciation.

At the end of the album, you have to take the Black Lips for precisely what they are: a gaggle of ruffians eager to write soulful psychedelia that they hope wins your heart.  It might not be the most original piece of work to ever come our way, but rest assured there are a bunch of songs here worthy of high praise.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/10-old-man.mp3]

Download: The Black Lips – Old Man [MP3]

FT5: Forgotten Nirvana Songs

0213top5cover1Twenty-eight years ago today Kurt Cobain’s uncle gave him a choice of either a bike or a guitar as a present for his 14th birthday. Kurt chose the guitar. As the front man for Nirvana, he would spearhead a cultural shift in rock music by bringing underground rock overground with the album Nevermind. DGC records hoped to move 250,000 copies. It went on to sell millions and symbolically dethroned Michael Jackson from the #1 spot on the billboards. Suddenly the hair metal bands and carefully crafted pop icons that dominated before Nevermind’s release looked dated and ridiculous. Nevermind was more than just an album, it was a pivotal moment in rock history. Follow the jump as we unveil our Top 5 Forgotten Nirvana Songs.

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