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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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Fruit Bats – The Ruminant Band

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Rating: ★★★★ ·

A slew of records into his career and Eric D. Johnson returns with his outfit Fruit Bats to release The Ruminant Band on Sub Pop.  Splitting time between Chicago and Portland, you can really feel the regional influences shine through on this album, filled with the wooded folk one would expect from the Northwest mixed with the quality production and warmth you’d find from like-minded bands in the Midwest.

Opening the album with a gentle folk number that rolls through the hills of your mind is where you first meet the voice of Eric D. Johnson.  As his voices rises and falls with the gentle acoustic work of the guitar,  you will find yourself falling in love with him.  When “The Ruminant Band” takes over the stereo from here, Johnson’s voice takes you somewhere entirely close to home, echoing with familiarity.  It’s one of the gentlest songs of the year, but one that definitely should make plenty of lists at the end of the year.

As energized as the album begins, or at least as far as one can go with this style of music, it begins to take a softer slide into the latter half of the album.  “Beautiful Morning Light” recalls a touch, and only a touch, of Wilco. The acoustic number is carried by the perfect range that is Johnson’s voice, which seems to be the dominating theme on the album.  It’s hard not to admire the vocal quality here when so many other bands are coating their lyrics and feedback and reverb.

“The Hobo Girl” is a mid-album stomper, in the midst of the softer side of things, that immediately recalls recent work from Dr. Dog, which is due to the saloon-style piano that serves as the backbone of the song.  The song even features flourishes of barroom discussion included to give a little texture.  Not sure why it’s necessary, but it makes it hard to get away from resemblances.  “Being On Our Own” is another song in the same vein as the previous one, but done with a little bit more of a Southern flourish to the vocals.  Set here in the middle of the album they provide the perfect pacing balance for the whole of the album.

The understated highlight of the album definitely has to be “Singing Joy to the World.”  Every instrument merely exists to bring out the melody and inflection in Eric’s voice, and it’s short time span makes it go along almost unnoticeable in comparison to the rest of the record.  Be sure not to miss this song, as you’ll be sore once you discover it’s the secret gem of the record.

Musically, The Ruminant Band is not full of anything that particularly jumps out at you as incredible feats of musicianship, yet the strengths of the group lie in that fact.  Every song exists as a tool to help Johnson’s voice succeed in the ears of the listener, and in that fact, the Fruit Bats have done an exceptional job carrying out a wonderful album.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/08-singing-joy-to-the-world.mp3]

Download: Fruit Bats – Singing Joy to the World [MP3]

Fruit Bats will be playing in Austin September 2nd at the Mohawk.

Method Man & Redman @ Emo’s (8/9)

methodmanMost of you are probably aware by now that when it comes to hip-hop, we here at ATH tend to kick it old school style.  We’ll continue that trend by telling you about the Wu-Tang alumni show at Emo’s on Sunday night with Method Man & Redman along with Ghostface KillahTickets are on sale for this one at $23 a piece.  Doors are at 9pm, show at 10.  Hip-hop/rap lineups really get no better than this.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/method-man-and-redman-a-yo.mp3]

Download: Method Man & Redman – A Yo [MP3]

New Tunes from Taken by Trees

victoriaVictoria Bergsman has always been a star in my eyes. Whether it was her work in The Concretes or Peter Bjorn and John, she’s simply fantastic. Luckily, she has a new album coming your way with her new name, Taken by Trees. The album’s a Steinbeck ode titled East of Eden and should hit stores around September 8th. Here’s a sample.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/taken-by-trees-watch-the-waves.mp3]

Download: Taken by Treese – Watch the Waves [MP3]

Moth! Fight! @ USAA (8/8)

mothfight-thumb-500x432It’s been a great week for local shows and Saturday night is no different with a packed lineup of locals presented by KVRX at United States Art Authority (right next to Spider House Café).  The bill features headliners Moth! Fight! along with fellow Austinites School Police, The Sour Notes and DJ Dan Gentile.  It should be a fun night full of the best new bands Austin has to offer.  Entrance fee is only $5 and things start off around 10pm.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/mothfight_hopscotch.mp3]

Download: Moth! Fight! – Hopscotch [MP3]

FTC: Ramones

ramonesEveryone knows and loves the Ramones. Unfortunately, we can only talk about them in the past tense as Tommy Ramone is the only original living member (who ironically fronts a Bluegrass band nowadays). The original punk rockers, the Ramones was an incredible collection of talent. You had the signature voice and cultural icon in Joey. The no-nonsense, rapid-fire Johnny. The raw and eccentric Dee Dee. The boys from Queens took rock and roll back to the basics when it needed it the most. Released in April of 1976 (produced for a whooping 6 grand), the Ramones self-titled debut remains a true classic. My pick from the album is “Beat on the Brat”, a song written when “Joey saw some mother going after a kid with a bat in his lobby and wrote a song about it.” So bust out those torn jeans and leather jackets, and put a little punk rock in your Thursday.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/02-beat-on-the-brat1.mp3]

Li’l Cap’n Traivs @ Continental Club (8/7)

lilcapntravisLi’l Cap’n Travis has always been one of our favorite Austin bands and we always make a point to check them out when they play around town.  So if you’re looking for some cheap local jams on Friday night, head to Continental Club for a set by the Austin alt-country band.  Fellow locals Leatherbag and Aaron Blount and The Mockingales will also be playing before the headliners.  Show starts around 10pm.

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

Download: Li’l Cap’n Travis – Sugar Buzz [MP3]

New Music From David Bazan

davidbazan_faceDavid Bazan, the man who sometimes calls himself Pedro the Lion, is about to drop his first full length album under his own name.  The album will be called Curse Your Branches and will be hitting stores September 1st via Barsuk Records.  Here’s the very first single from the new album called “Bless This Mess”.  We likes it.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/blessthismessgfp.mp3]

Download: David Bazan – Bless This Mess [MP3]

The Ugly Beats @ Mohawk (8/7)

uglybeats_jpg_595x325_crop_upscale_q85Mohawk has a nice lineup of local acts on the bill for Friday night which should be a good option for your weekend starting plans.  The lineup includes locals The Ugly Beats, Shapes Have Fangs and English Teeth.  Doors are set to open at 10pm with entrance fee at $6.  Here’s a little taste of what’s in store with this little jam from The Ugly Beats.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/ubeatline.mp3]

Download: The Ugly Beats – Get in Line [mp3]

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