Los Campesinos – We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Two records in one year is a highly ambitious goal from anyone, but the majority of the songs released on the debut full length from Los Campesinos, Hold On Now Youngster, has been lying around for a few years.  Still, the band aimed to keep the pace with their angular jangling pop, releasing We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed, in the last week.

Everything about this band just screams sheer fun. The guitars pummeling your ears as the gang vocals ebb and flow throughout each song, and you find that your hooked immediately.  Their flirtation with nonsensical lyrics makes code deciphering something all of us can enjoy.  It’s energetic, and they never let up, not for a second.

Trading male and female vocals is always a perfect way to gather fans quickly, be it a band like Comet Gain or a group like Mates of State.  The dynamic quality of such songwriting always makes it interesting for any listener, and lets face it, with so many bands putting out decent albums nowadays, it’s hard to find one that perfectly distinguishes itself from the masses.  Yet again, Los Campesinos are standing out in the crowd.

A lot of credit gets thrown around for vibrant young bands, chasing the teenage underclass with energy-packed singles.  Bands like Ra Ra Riot or Tokyo Police Club most recently come to mind, but Los Campesinos stand above the rest.  Their guitars always seem to be combatting one another, as if the war to write a pop song could only be one.  Aforementioned vocals dynamics prevail, mixing it up around any corner, just for kicks.

Take title track, “We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed” for instance. It opens up with a killer percussion line powered on by a little synthesizer, just before the rest of the band comes in for the attack.  Swelling guitars pulsate, up and down, then make a splash, hinting at the chorus.  Throw in a set of gang vocals, and you have a perfectly juvenile song written for adults.

Sure, the band is not breaking newer ground here with this album.  In fact, you’ll find that a lot of the sounds appear strikingly similar to previous works put out by the band this year.  Still, listening to an album like this reminds you of what fun we can all have if we just let it all loose once in awhile, taking in everything for the sake of fun.

Happy Turkey Day

As a send off to Turkey Day, we here at ATH would like to congratulate the winners in our Black Keys contest.  Winners have been emailed and we’ll get those sweet prizes out to you right after the holiday.  Thanks to all who entered and giving thought out responses!  We’ll be taking some vacation for the next couple of days, so go spend some time with your families.  Happy Thanksgiving kids!

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/adam-sandler-the-thanksgiving-song.mp3]

Little Joy @ The Parish (11/29)

Yet another contender for album of the year, Little Joy, will be bringing their indie rock supergroup to The Parish on Saturday evening.  Doors open up at 8pm with tickets available now for only $12If you read our review of the band’s debut LP, you know we are pumped about this one.  Here’s a standout track from the album “Keep Me in Mind”.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/lilj_keepmeinmind.mp3]

Download: Little Joy – Keep Me in Mind [MP3]

Free Album From Jay Bennett

Jay Bennett, most well known for his work in Wilco during their rise to stardom, has a new solo album you can download for free from the Rock Proper website.  The new album entitled Whatever Happened I aplogize is the 5th solo release by Bennett after his 2001 departure from Wilco.  Some people in the music world say Bennett has never receieved enough credit for creating the unique sound heard on the stellar 2002 Wilco album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.  Don’t get us started on the current state of Wilco…  Here’s a track from Bennett’s new album called “The Engines are Idle”.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/04-the-engines-are-idle.mp3]

Download: Jay Bennett – The Engines are Idle [MP3]

Blitzen Trapper @ Mohawk (11/26)

Contenders for record of the year, Blitzen Trapper, will be playing a Thanksgiving Eve show at Mohawk on Wednesday night.  The bill is actually pretty impressive with Pink Nasty and Parson Redheads opening things up for the Portland based band.  Even more impressive, New York band O’Death will be playing on the inside stage in between the main acts outside.  Tickets can be bought now for $8.  Here’s one of my favorite pop songs to come out in several years “Punctual as Usual” by the Parson Redheads.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/04-punctual-as-usual.mp3]

Download: Parson Redheads – Punctual as Usual [MP3]

Love is All – A Hundred Things Keep Me Up at Night

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Last time round, this Swedish outfit brought us cleverly crafted pop tunes that wrapped themselves tidily inside walls of noise and shaky vocals from front-woman Josephine Olausson; this time around, we pretty much get the same thing, but in an appealing manner.

A Hundred Things Keep Me Up at Night starts off with “New Beginnings,” and that fresh starts is filled with horn blasts and driving guitar lines.  It’s a rapid kick-start to the listener; it’s a call to arms of sorts.  Midway through the song, the trading of male/female vocals is done up to perfection, creating delicious moments of joy.

One of the most impressive things about Love is All is that the band is still able to incorporate the usage of hors in a way that compliments the songs.  Each song is filled in with this delicate tough, which allows for the swirling of listeners to evolve a little more sporadically.  It’s one of the things that this band does to near perfection.

Along the way the band puts two of the better tracks next to each other, strengthening the middle of the album.  “Sea Sick” seems to be an escapist song, as the protagonist in the song wants escape the mundane, screaming “I’m bored to death, I’m bored of this shit.”  It’s juxtaposed to one of the best songs of the year, “Wishing Well.”  The playfulness expressed in the lyrics, and the aesthetic quality of the song create instantaneous joy.  Not to mention, this definitely has to be one of those songs that makes the audience bounce as they scream along to the chorus in unison with the band.

Suddenly, you get a slow-burner, as “When Giants Fall” comes across the stereo.  The band leaves plenty of room for feedback and dense group harmonies that echo in the background of the song.  Something about this song has a haunting quality to it, sort of like a gospel version of early Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Then “Rumours” brings the pace right back for you.  Swing those hips kids.  Slow it down; now right back to it.

Possible detractors do exist in this album, like the fact that you still can’t tell exactly how much you would enjoy Josephine’s voice in a live setting.  Or, some of the atmospheric elements added for textural purposes, such as the male spoken vocals in the background of “19 Floors” get a bit grating.  Other than that, you’ll find that this album is every bit as exciting as the first one, some of it exceeding it’s forbearer.

1 1,315 1,316 1,317 1,318 1,319 1,377