The Black Kids are coming to town on April 28th at La Zona Rosa and they want to play at your house. No kidding, the band wants to play one free house show in every town on their current tour with Mates of State. All you have to do to is submit a video to the contest website explaining why you should be the lucky winner. Sounds easy enough. If anyone who reads our website enters this contest, shoot us a clip of your video and we’ll gladly link to it. Enter the contest here or just get some tickets early.[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/blackkids_boyfriend.mp3]
In the year 2002 and 2003 the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hit the indie scene with a certain verocity and vitality that kept us all on the edge of our seats, seething with anticipation for future releases. Fever to Tell, for the most part, lived up to the expectations, though it still felt a little clean in comparison. Jump seven years ahead, and we have It’s Blitz, the latest effort from the band. The distance couldn’t be greater.
One of the first elements that you will notice upon listening to the first track “Zero” is that frontwoman, Karen O, seems to have lost a bit of her animalistic prowess, as if she has been caged in a zoo. The ferocity in her voice on the opening track, and the entirety of the album is rather lacking. Where we once lauded her for her passion and energy, we’re now left confused by what seems a sort mild indifference. Still, she does demonstrate her ability to carry a note here, but we saw such abilities on “Maps.”
Much will be made in the press for this album about the entirely new sound the band has come to take upon themselves. The brashness and angular guitar work from previous efforts has completely disappeared; electronics samples and tired beats have replaced the fervor that once existsed as a tractor beam for listeners everywhere.
Mellow songs, such as “Skeletons” do show the band willing to explore that sonic range outside of their traditional forays, but such moments don’t seem as well mapped out this time around. It’s difficult when listening to such tracks to figure out where the band was going, which loses some listeners, encouraging them to skip ahead to the next track. “Runaway” is another such song, and the piano structure just isn’t enough to psuh the song in any new direction.
“Dull Life” is one of the few songs on the album that seems to recall the past greatness of Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Still, even when this song picks up the pace, where are those demonic guitar licks from Nick Zinner? It’s as if the man traded in his trusted axe for a child’s hatchet, a bejewled one nonetheless.
All in all, the album has some moments that every listener will most likely enjoy, but it doesn’t seem like this is really enough to warrant repeated listens. The band shows their maturity as a group, but they discard everything that made them abrasive and frightening, exchanging them instead for a bunch of furry rabbits that you keep in a cage behind your house. Sure, electronic moments make for great sound, but this band isn’t the one that was supposed to be giving those to us. We asked them to break us down with passion and voice, but instead they just want to hold hands and walk along the beach.[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/yeah_yeah_yeahs_-_zero.mp3]
The great Stephen Malkmus and his band The Jicks just laid down an awesome Daytrotter session. The band records a 4 song session featuring a cover of the James Gang funk track “Funk 49” that really cooks. Check out the full session and the website’s new layout now.[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/stephen-malkmus-and-the-jicks-funk-49.mp3]
Download: Stepehn Malkmus & The Jicks – Funk 49 (daytrotter) [MP3]
Let’s face it, there really isn’t a better show in town this week. If you are nearing the end of your life, wouldn’t you like to say that you were there when Leonard Cohen played the Long Center in Austin? Sure, tickets may be a bit much, but you can’t go wrong with buying one of these. I mean, really, you can pay your bills next month, but Leonard only comes to Austin once in a lifetime, so live it up with Leonard this week.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/07-a-singer-must-die.mp3]
Download: Leonard Cohen – A Singer Must Die [MP3]
Hands down the most hyped band in the music world right now, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, have some live MP3s posted over on the Woxy blog. This is just the first SXSW artist recap post on the site with many more said to be on the way. Check out the 5 song set now including this new unreleased song “103”.[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/pobpah-103-lounge.mp3]
Download: POBPAH – 103 (live on Woxy) [MP3]
After much recent turmoil surrounding the band’s lineup, Andrew Stockdale has pushed on with the Wolfmother name and is ready to finally release some new material. The new song is called “Back Round” and will appear on a future as of yet named release.[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/back-round.mp3]
Download: Wolfmother – Back Round [MP3]
We here at Austin Town Hall just created a fancy Youtube account featuring some live video from The Mohawk show on Thursday night. We’ve got a few rockin’ videos from Whitman (featuring a sweet cover of “Radio Radio”), Great Nostalgic, and Frantic Clam. Head over now and check back frequently as we’re planning on adding content as often as we can. Tyler over at Two Groove also has some nice photos and a write up from the show on Thursday. Thanks for the coverage.
Stubb’s has a great lineup on Tuesday featuring headliner Neko Case and beloved Austin band Shearwater opening. Doors for this show are at 7:30 and tickets are on sale now for $20. Neko Case is currently touring in support of her new album Middle Cyclone which features the single “Some People Got a Lot of Nerve”.[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/neko-case-people-got-a-lotta-nerve.mp3]
Download: Neko Case – People Got a Lot of Nerve [MP3]
Conor Oberst and his Mystic Valley Band are at it again, releasing a new album, Outer South, this May on Merge Records. The first single from the album is titled “Slowly (Oh So Slowly).” Listening to the track, the vocals are really solid, but I’d be remiss not to say that the production seems to favor the full band approach, over the backing band approach used previously. You be the judge.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/slowly_oh_so_slowly.mp3]
Download: Conor Oberst – Slowly (Oh So Slowly) [MP3]
When Beep Beep released their first album off of Saddle Creek Records, one was hard pressed not to find the similarities to heralded post-punk groups like Q and Not U, which is not really a far off comparison, seeing how far the group have gone in changing their sound on the group’s second album, Enchanted Islands.
Of course you will notice that knife-like guitar licks still cleverly cut through the album with precision, but what has evolved beyond the angular guitar-play is the evolution of the funk. Bass lines are much more pronounced this time around, at least on songs like “Secrets for the Well” or “The Whispering Waves.”
More pronounced on this album, however, is the conceptualization, or the effort that Eric Ray and Chris Terry put into telling a story with each different tune. Some stories revolve around traditional mysticism, such as struggles with mermaids, while others like “Seppuku” are interested in Japanese ritualistic suicide through disembowelment. It’s not necessarily a unified concept that runs throughout the album, but one of different perspectives on enchantment. It’s is this disjointed approach to the album that both succeeds and holds the band back at moments. In success, the band has crafted a varying album, layered with changes in tempo and structure, as well as vocal pitch. Each song opens up like a Russian matryoshka dolls, revealing pieces within pieces. At the same time, the effort seems disjointed at moments, as if the epic storytelling proved too much for those at the helm.
You will find some straightforward songs in the presentation of this album, both seeming to tie into each other, lyrically. The ease with which a listener can approach these songs allows for them to shine in the mix of the album, as they step out for just a moment before being consumed again by the whole of the album. “Return to Me” and “I Miss You” both loosely rely upon a classic approach, with gentle guitar accompanied by soaring lyrics. Odds are that most casual listeners will find these the standout tracks, as they are easily consumed, but more rewarding moments exist throughout the entirety of the record.
And that is how it all comes to be on Enchanted Islands, as one must journey with the band, through the dark and light moments, behind the chords and into the lyrics. Each time you find yourself traveling one way, the wind blows, moving you in an entirely new direction within the album, which makes Beep Beep one of the more interesting listens to come out at this point in the year.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/10-i-miss-you.mp3]
Download: Beep Beep – I Miss You [MP3]