In the mid-eighties, Greg Ginn’s SST Records built up an incredible reputation for raucous punk bands by the likes of Husker Du, Minutemen, & Descendents. Phoenix’s Meat Puppets stood out from the manic pack, combining a unique blend of punk, country, and psychedelic rock. The Pups still have a loyal fan base in Austin tracing back to the good ol’ days of Liberty Lunch. To comemorate the release of their new record Sewn Together, Meat Puppets will be playing a free in-store at Waterloo Records. Be there at 5… Free keg beer! Here’s latest single “Rotten Shame”.[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/meat_puppets_-_rottenshame_radio_edit_mp3.mp3]
At this point in the year, it seems pretty redundant to discuss this album, especially considering all the accolades it has received during the time in which the album leaked onto the Internet. But, be that as it may, one really has to take a look at this album; you would be doing yourself an injustice to ignore Grizzly Bear at this point, and your record collection would be worse off for not adding Veckatimest to your catalog.
Even on the first track, it is hard to find negative commentary on the album, no matter how you wish to label this band and their hype. “Southern Point” has various elements to the entirety of the song, be it ornate guitar picking or the back and forth piano work. You’ll come to find that the various layers that were present during Yellow House have now been polished, to the benefit of every minute of the album.
Then comes the first single, “Two Weeks.” You could count this song as one of the best songs of the year, based merely upon the multiple layer harmonies that go throughout, but that probably wouldn’t do the song any justice. Each layer of sound just seems to compile more melody as the song inches along like a caterpillar; the song builds with “ooh oooh oooh oohs” until the end, and when it’s complete, you feel a little bit worn out.
You find yourself two songs into the album, which most will prematurely title as best of the year. From this point on, you cannot go back into the past; you cannot look back into the music of this year, for nothing will seem as complete as this album. Songwriter Daniel Rossen, who also fronts Department of Eagles, definitely has left his mark on this album, or at least you can see his maturity throughout the evolution of this album. What once seemed like quiet bedroom songs now have blossomed into full compositions, each worthy of standing on their own.
“Dory” seems like a simplistic enough song, but the magic in the vocal harmonies carry it above your average tune, into a new level of greatness few bands have yet to achieve. “Ready, Able” has this brooding rhythm beneath the surface of the song, but with the intricate additions to the song, the tension is released, and the song courses on into one of the albums more beautiful moments. “About Face” is the perfect song, with subdued percussion backing the song; the band has paid attention to the most minute detail, which, of course, makes each song stronger than the one before it.
You can hide behind the hype, declaring that the band is just riding the waves of popularity by the Internet popularity they’ve garnered, but listening to Veckatimest, you will truly see that Grizzly Bear deserves every kind word that was written about them. Very few people will find that there is anything negative to say, and in that statement, you have the best album of the year.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/08-about-face.mp3]
Download: Grizzly Bear – About Face [MP3]
8-Tracks. Cassette Tapes. And now, another one bites the dust. Today’s Top 5 is dedicated to the memory of the compact disc. Honestly, when was the last time you bought an actual CD? Even if you have made a recent CD purchase, chances are you took it straight to your computer to put it on your iPod. So in honor of the CD’s demise, we’re taking another trip down memory lane. Most of us here at The ATH were in our early teens when CD players became the craze. So the day we brought home that first CD was an epic experience. So without further ado, here’s a list of first CD’s from 5 ATH staff members. Be sure and stroll down memory lane with us when you’re done.
As if your Friday night concert going decisions weren’t already tough, here’s another great show that should prove to be your cheapest option for the evening. Hole in the Wall features a lineup of garage rock Canadians Pack AD, Poppy Austinites The Alice Rose, and local singer-songwriter Mario Matteoli. Entrance to Hole in the Wall will usually keep you under $10.[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/the-pack-ad-making-gestures.mp3]
Download: Pack AD – Making Gestures [MP3]
Nurses is not a band we know a whole lot about other than they’re from Portland and they just signed a deal with ATH fave label Dead Oceans. We also know that we really like this strange yet catchy new single from Nurses called “Caterpillar Playground”. We’re going to describe it as experimental pop music. Sound good to you? You can get your hands on the bands debut LP Apple’s Acre on August 4th.[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/caterpillarplayground.mp3]
Download: Nurses – Caterpillar Playground [MP3]
It’s Friday, and as you cruise into the weekend, you definitely need something meaningful to carry you all the way to the end of the day. Well, let the wonderful sounds of Personal and the Pizzas put you on their backs and carry you into the weekend. Sure, it’s a bit derivative, but if you don’t like this song you aren’t a United Statesian.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/personal_and_the_pizzas-i_dont_feel_so_happy_now.mp3]
Download: Personal and the Pizzas – I Don’t Feel So Happy Now [MP3]
When The Comas decided that it would be best to call it quits, at least for the day, I knew that I would miss their fuzzed-out space pop. Ever since their first break on Dawson’s Creek, I was absolutely in love. Luckily, leader of the bunch, Andy Herod, opted to take on the Electric Owls moniker and release Ain’t Too Bright on Vagrant Records.
As soon as this album kicks off, the fuzz begins, coating the acoustic strumming before Herod’s distinctive voice jumps into song. For a fan of this man, it’s good to hear these familiar vocals, and the return of that space-age pop sound that Herod and friends perfected with Spells.
It’s great to see that Herod and his new posse haven’t neglected that quirkiness that made his old band so interesting, using electronic samples and other sounds to add an atmospheric background to the scope of each song. But still, they maintain the feel of all the current bands. “Halloween Mask” easily fits in the modern pop landscape, dancing not far away from the works of Rogue Wave. This song reminds us of Herod at his best, crafting careful cool hits with a hint of futuristic hipsterdom.
Reading notes about his return, it would seem that Herod needed this return to music. His first foray had left him and his mates exhausted, but as all great writers do, he got the itch to write again. That personality breaks through the surface of this album, as more traditional songs have been penned. Songs like “Darken Me” with it’s folk leanings and foot stomping percussion remind listeners of the personal touch that music can bring. “Two Stories” has that similar personal stretch, with the song being drawn gently from personal experience of the narrator, presumably Herod himself.
This outing is less intense than the past efforts that have involved Herod, but this is not entirely a bad thing, as he first warmed his way into my heart with A Def Needle In Tomorrow long ago, which seemed to be a stripped down affair in comparison to his later work. Still, it’s great to have the voice of an old friend bringing back memories of simple pop tunes with a space-age edge. You never know how much you miss a particular songwriter until they make their way back into the music industry; we gladly welcome back Andy Herod and Electric Owls to the foray.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/04-darken-me.mp3]
Download: Electric Owls – Darken Me [MP3]
Now I promise not to make this another one of those “man I wish Mars Volta would break-up so At the Drive-In would get back together” type of posts. I like Mars Volta, I really do. Well at least I used to a few years ago when they still put out listenable material… I’m giving you “Invalid Litter Dept.” from the incomparable 2000 album Relationship of Command because it’s always been one of my ATDI favorites since I first heard the album. It also marks the bands last effort together before all shit broke loose and most everyone went their separate ways. Enjoy it and pick up this album if you’re the last fool on the planet who doesn’t own it.[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/05-invalid-litter-dept-1.mp3]
Thomas Bartlett is a New York based keyboardist, currently backing up The National on tour. But, as most touring musicians do, he’s got his own gig on the side, Doveman. This new track is really quiet, almost inaudible, but it makes the beauty of the arrangement jump out in the end. Expect the album to come your way later this year.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/doveman-breathing-out.mp3]
Download: Doveman – Breathing Out [MP3]
One of our newest and favorite local discoveries of the last year, Balmorhea, are playing another sure to be great show at Stubbs on Friday night. Pompeii and Alex Dupree and The Trapdoor band will take the stage as well to open things up. Tickets for this show are $10 from Front Gate and doors open at 9:30. Friday night is jammed packed full of goodness, so you’ve got some big decisions to make.[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/wv59_hb.mp3]
Download: Balmorhea – Harm & Boon [MP3]