New Tunes from Boston Spaceships

bobWhat better way to end a pretty great week than by throwing a little Robert Pollard out to the masses. This tune comes via his new band Boston Spaceships, who are set to release their new album, The Planets are Blasted on Guided by Voices, Inc. February 27th, but the album is already available for digital download. Enjoy this tune; enjoy your weekend. 

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

Download: Boston Spaceships – Big O Gets an Earful [MP3]

Malajube – Labyrinthes

mala1

Rating: ★★★ · ·

With the release of their second album, Labyrinthes, our favorite francophiles, Malajube, were poised to hit the United States running full steam ahead.  The question everyone wanted answered was whether or not they would convert from their first language to a more commercial language, one that would surely break them into the independent scene in the neighboring country. The answer, dear reader, is an emphatic “no!”

They open the album with the epic “Ursuline,” which has a certain sense of urgency once the songs gets going, but just as you expect the band to push over the top and rush through the song, they scale the entire number back, slowly leading you towards the outro of the song.  It’s a statement the listener must respect, as the band has the capabilities to lead you wherever they wish.

Still present this time round is the organic sound.  Usage of gang vocals, both brash and soothing go in and out of the record.  Pianos, guitars, drums and extemporaneous instruments/sounds are also used indiscriminately.  It’s a sound that one has come to expect from our northerly neighbors, as they seem to rely a lot on the soundscapes of fellow Canadians, Broken Social Scene. This time around, the band sounds a lot warmer than on Trompe L’oeil.

Yet, through it all, the band sound just like something you would listen to on something like KEXP. The guitars are driving, providing the pace of the record, but the band can pull that sound away from you immediately, resting, instead, on atmospheric “oohs” and “ahhs.”  Clever combinations of sound come within each song, which is precisely why this band garners the interests of fans today.

And you’ll come across songs such as “Heresie,” which will win you over in a short span of time.  In fact, the coupling of the aforementioned song with “Dragon de glace” is probably one of the more special moments you find on the album.  It’s a mellower Malajube than the one presented on the earlier part of the album.  It’s a pleasure to come across a band that puts out an album where to layout of the songs on the album shows a strong thought process, as if they wanted you to listen to the album all the way to the end.

But, the one detractor, as alluded to earlier on, is the fact that the band, while respectable, maintain their allegiance to their native tongue.  It’s not that the vocal element is not appealing, as one can take a certain emotive quality away from the songs, but its the lack of a connection between the band and most listeners.  Musically, the band can take you many places, but a lot of people will want to connect with the lyrical content, and that is simply not possible for people versed in English.  It’s the one miss on this album, though for many, it’s a pretty big miss.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/06-les-collemboles.mp3]

Download: Malajube – Les Collemboles [MP3]

SXSW Watchlist: VEGA

vegaNo we’re not talking about the Vega from Street Fighter, or Lou Vega, rather the VEGA spelled in all caps.  VEGA is the new project from Alan Palomo who used to front Denton, TX based electro/pop band Ghosthustler.  We’ve always been big fans of the dance beats produced by Ghosthustler so we were excited to hear about this new project from Mr. Palomo.  VEGA sports a lot of the same 80s oriented electronic beats you may be familiar with, but with a unique take on things.  An album/EP is expected from the new project sometime this year.

VEGA will be in town for our little festival in March.  Check with the official SXSW website for official times and dates.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/all-too-vivid-originalmix.mp3]

Download: VEGA – All Too Vivid [MP3]

New Tunes from Laura Barrett

laura_rcrdlbl11While I admit that I know very little about the instrument the kalimba, I do know a great deal about good voices.  This song from Laura Barrett features just one of those great voices, accompanied by a lot of really unique instrumentation.  The song comes from Barrett’s Victory Garden set to be released on Paper Bag Records February 24th.

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

Download: Laura Barrett – Blue Bird [MP3]

Beirut – March of the Zapotec…

beirut

Rating: ★★ · · ·

Long before Zach Condon of Beirut presented us with his most recent output, a double EP titled March of the Zapotec and Realpeople: Holland the media presented us with a rumor of some grand orchestral scheme including bands from the Oaxacan region of Mexico.  Patiently, we awaited for the arrival, of not only new tunes, but for the next set of exploratory sounds pushed out by the young genius.

Sadly, the first EP, March of the Zapotec, doesn’t really seem to be rooted into much of the Latin culture.  For one, the presence of tuba and accordion definitely detract, or perhaps are more overbearing, in regards to the sound one would typically hear in quaint Mexican neighborhoods. “La Llorona,” the first real song, doesn’t even have a Latin twist at all, instead seeming like an extra piece left over from Gulag Orkestar. Maybe adding and extra layer of horns aids the cause, but very little.

The songs where he does delve into a little bit of the flavor one would come to expect from a Oaxacan regional band have little or no lyrics at all.  In fact, they seem like instrumental pieces tacked on to the EP as filler, and in a way, to show that Zach indeed did follow through with his desire to include a new flavor from South of the New Mexican border, but perhaps he should have gone way mariachi because the songs on this half of the EP are lacking.

Realpeople: Holland is an entirely different step then what we are given on the first EP; instead, Zach seems to go into the bedroom, digging deeply into that box in his closet in order to pull up all those Depeche Mode bits he recorded as a young child wearing eyeliner.  It’s his voice that wins you over here, which is going to be the case when juxtaposed from with the simple keyboard elements presented here.

Interestingly, some of these songs actually work well.  It’s a side we, as listeners, aren’t accustomed to when listening to a Beirut product. His voice always carries a semblance of the personal touch along with it, but here the quiet behavior of electronic elements in the background make it  more so than ever before.  He seems almost vulnerable.

Wait, did he just loop his accordion?  Is that what you hear on “The Concubine?” If so, then this part of the album definitely has showcased new direction and strengths, but still, it’s far too short to climb the walls to that spot reserved for your favorite albums.  His inconsistency here leaves one questioning exactly where he can go next, as it has been quite some time since he completely won you over with his originality and style.  For now, he seems to be treading water, trying new things and putting out mediocre EPs.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/01-my-night-with-the-prostitute-from-marseille.mp3]

Download:  Beirut – My Night with the Prostitute from Marseille [MP3]

SXSW Watchlist: Dappled Cities

070529dappledcitiesDappled Cities hail from the Down Under, that being the case, they aren’t too well-known in these parts, which is entirely shameful.  They’ve created an album full of lush arrangements, freckled with bit of pop-perfect melodies.  Their sound is reminiscent of a lot of the early OOs indie bands, such as The Glands, crafting varying elements of sound and atmospherics beneath infectious moments of brilliance.  You can tell the band has more great things to offer, especially if you check out their stop off on the Daytrotter.

The band will be playing at The Ranch (708 West 6th Street) on Thursday, March 19 at 8 PM.

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

Download: Dappled Cities – Fire Fire Fire [MP3]

The River Flows East Party (2/21)

Main2The nice folks at do512 are teaming up with local label Vinyl Entertainment to put on one hell of a party this Saturday on the east side.  The nights events include but are not limited to performances by What Made Milwaukee Famous, The Story Of, DJ Thibault, DJ Markus With A K, and a special DJ set by Octopus Project.  You can also check out some sweet local art, visit a hair station, and visit a photo booth by Annie Ray.  Tickets for this event are $18 and can be bought now from Vinyl Entertainment or at the door.  Word around town is that an RSVP with do512 is good for free booze and VIP treatment.  Directions to the Warehouse can be found here.  Further details can be found on the fancy poster for the party.

Lykke Li In Austin (2/19)

lykke_li-im_good_im_gone-cb_remixSwedish indie pop sensation Lykke Li will be making a much anticipated stop in our little town this Thursday.  Your first chance to see her live comes at a Waterloo in-store starting around 5pm.  Later in the evening, You can catch a full set by the singer at Antone’s.  If you’re planning on heading to the in-store, get their super early because the Antone’s show is already sold out.  Give craigslist a try if you just can’t miss out.

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

Download: Lykke Li – Tonight [MP3]

1 1,315 1,316 1,317 1,318 1,319 1,399