• SXSW 2019 – A Recap

    Yet another SXSW is in the books and it’s time for the ATH crew to reminisce a little and offer some highlight from the week behind us. I think we’ve

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  • SXSW: 6 Bands To Watch

    Well SXSW music is officially here, and as I sit and ponder my existence while at work, I thought it would be fun to share some advice on bands to

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  • RayRay’s Top Songs – 2018

    When it comes to ATH and our areas of expertise, I like to think I’m the go to guy for song lists and bad ass playlists. If you’re doubting me,

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  • Best of Indiepop 2018

    Everyone has their own definition of indiepop; but I tend to ascribe to the original craft where DIY aesthetics and a softer response to punk were all the rage. But,

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  • ATH Top Albums – 2018

      This is our year end list for albums of the year. There’s four of us here, so it’s hard to come to a consensus, but we did our best.

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New Tunes from Personal and the Pizzas

pizzaIt’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]

Electric Owls – Ain’t Too Bright

owls2

Rating: ★★★½ ·

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]

From The Closet: At The Drive-In

at-the-drive-inNow 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]

New Tunes from Doveman

tombartThomas 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]

Balmorhea @ Stubbs (5/22)

balmorhea13One 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]

New Cassettes Won’t Listen

cwl5002Jason Drake (known to you and I as Cassettes Won’t Listen) has finished his new album and is ready to give us a sneak peak with new single “Into the Hillside”.  The album of same name will be made available June 16h.  Apparently we’re looking at a mostly instrumental album as evidenced by the single.  Thanks to Trip Wire for the tip.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/into_the_hillside_single.mp3]

Download: Cassettes Won’t Listen – Into the Hillside [MP3]

Clues – s/t

clues

Rating: ★★½ · ·

From the ashes we shall rise, or at least the former members of Unicorns, Alden Penner, and Arcade Fire, Brendan Reed, believe this.  They have risen from their past with the formation of a new group, Clues.  Their self-titlted album is out now on Constellation, and while it may not demonstrate the brilliance the two are capable of creating, it has some moments worthy of highlighting in your music catalog.

You see the Unicorns resemblance immediately, as the opening track “Haarp” begins with a quiet little whisper before slowly picking up the pace.  As the pace is quickened to a steady trot, the tension rises, and even the guitar styling is so similar that you would swear that this is a B-Side from Penner’s former mates. This is either a complaint for those who loved that project, or an place worthy of garnering interest among new hordes of fans.

It would be great if we could discard that reference, but unfortunately we cannot; as of this point in time, Penner is being marked by the success of Nic Thorburn. While you can find similarities in the playing styles of the two former Unicorns, it seems that what sets Clues apart from the past is the jaggedness that he seems to hold onto.  “Approach the Throne” is full of just that, as the choppy guitars hammer away.  It’s not the sort of pop sensibility of Islands, but one should be happy is set to making his own mark here. “Cave Mouth” similarly shares the affinity for disjointed melodies and angular guitars, with the lyrics being turned down in the mix so that the music takes the focus.

There are moments that do approach chasing that pop sensibility, or at least the ballad aesthetic.  “You Have My Eyes Now” and “Ledmonton” are just a few songs that show the slower side of things; these songs unfortunately don’t encourage the listener’s attention span, which render them, sadly, as throwaways.  Not throwaways necessarily, but the mellow moments are not very successful here, though “Ledmonton” does sport some chanting choral moments near the songs ending.

Oddly, the Arcade Fire influence is not really here, unless you tie it all in to some of the zany moments that exist throughout.  But it’s clear that Reed’s style of drumming was not the founding influence that broke his previous band.

In the end, you wonder whether it’s fair to judge a band by it’s members former labors. Is such a judgment just?  Probably not, but that is the unforutunate truth in dealing with Clues.  You look at the sparkling moments here, and look back to their past; you look at the dull moments and wonder where this band will go. Truth is, only time will tell.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/06-perfect-fit.mp3]

Download: Clues – Perfect Fit [MP3]

Faux Hoax

01852_01847_fauxhoaxpicPolyvinyl just sent out some information about this new project/band Faux Hoax which is set to release an EP on the label.  The new group is a recording project from Danny Seim (Menomena), John Askew (The Dodos/Tracker), and Dave Allen (Gang of Four).  Vocal and lyrical collaborations were also done with Joe Haege (31 Knots/Tu Fawning) & writer Adam Gnade.  The star studed cast have worked on this project for over 2 years and are now ready to release 3 song EP Your Friends Will Carry You Home which can be bought from Polyvinyl now.  Digital bonus track “Foxworthy” can be had below.  It comes off as very experimental but definitely has that Menomena touch on it.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/03-foxworthy-digital-bonus-track-1.mp3]

Download: Faux Hoax – Foxworthy [MP3]

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