• Top Songs of 2019

    Phew, the end of the year really snuck up on me this time and it’s crazy to think we are moving on from the 2010s. Before we do so, Nathan

    Read more »
  • Top 25 Albums of 2019

    This is the list you’ve all been waiting for, well, sort of. This is my Top 20 LPs of the year. Admittedly, there’s none of the high profile hitmakers on

    Read more »
  • Levitation 2019: A Reflection

    Team ATH has been covering Austin Psych Fest/Levitation since its early inception, probably in the second year at Radio Room (sorry we missed the first year!), so we’ve seen the

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  • ACL WE2 in a Nutshell

    Another Austin City Limits is behind us boys and girls and it’s always a good time to reflect on the music and experiences from the weekend. I considered myself very

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Sunset @ The Mohawk (4/22)

Date 4/22/10
Location Mohawk
Doors 9pm
Tickets $5 @ door

Waited too long and can’t seem to find a ticket for that Beach House show on Thursday?  Fret not friends, for Mohawk has an answer with a great local lineup for cheap.  Up and coming locals SunsetMorakestra and New Roman Times are all a part of this stacked bill.  Support  your local musicians people!

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/sunset_golddissolvestogray.mp3]

Download: Sunset – Gold Dissolves to Gray [MP3]

Caribou – Swim

Rating: ★★★½☆

Remix artists rejoice! Daniel Snaith is back and he brings with him a fresh palette of sublime beats for you to disassemble. Continuing to add to his extensive discography, his latest Swim was just released via Merge Records, his first full length since Andorra, released in 2007. Snaith, hailing from Ontario, utilizes a full band on the record, and the product sounds like a digital and electro production alone. In fact, it’s stunning what kind of layering Snaith accomplishes using traditional instruments like soprano sax, flute, and trombone.

The opening track “Odessa” is a good intro to the record and holds one of the more catchy bass lines. The tambourine throughout is sometimes distracting on first listen, but quickly fades as your ear dissects different angles. Immediately upon the first listen, one thing is certain. This is party music. Straight ‘get off your ass and dance’ music. Actually, it’s the best kind of party music; the type that sneaks up you. You know the feeling; the party is still young and you want to make it a little livelier. This is a good scenario for Swim. It’s the kind of music that doesn’t dominate the room, but politely sits in the corner, simmering like Boeuf Bougiuignon. When you least expect it, you find yourself tapping your foot or nodding your head. That’s right where Snaith wants you. He plays with moods in the simplest way possible, but it’s nothing flashy. Think Ghostland sans Capes; but with harmonies instead.

The next track “Sun” shows a more melodic side than the opener, but continues the simple electro beats. The rhythm builds to a vast crescendo, and if you don’t move at least some part of your body during which; you should probably check your pulse.  For all I enjoyed on “Sun”, “Kalli” quickly brought me down. It is perhaps the most intrusive track of the album, like a jazz improv going horribly wrong. Maybe I don’t understand the nuances of Caribou, but this was like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. Luckily, “Found out” gets the groove back with some of the best songwriting on the release.  “Bowls”, the longest track on the album has showcases disharmonious chimes played against harp strumming. It’s an unusual instrumental, but that segues into a stripped down beat that might have you looking around the room thinking you tripped over a cord and unplugged a speaker. It’s not the catchiest song on the album, but here Snaith shows off his ability to layer every sound imaginable into a somewhat literate dance number. For me, I’ll stick to the vocal tracks.

“Leave House” and “Hannibal” get the party vibe back, as Caribou channels his inner Hot Chip on the former. And as always, you can always add more cowbell as heard on the latter. The shortest track “Lalibela”, could be considered transitional, leading into the final track, but in its own right, it is a gem.  Finishing on a very strong note, no doubt my favorite track on the album “Jamelia” is sublime. The subtlety, the beat, the vocals, the instrumentation; it’s like a difficult jigsaw puzzle and you just found the last piece. It builds to a massive extended crescendo before trailing off slowly. For me, it quickly prompted a second listen to the album as a whole. I can’t say that about many release so far this year. Overall, it’s a short release, but it shows what Snaith does well in no uncertain terms. It’s straight forward, but dense, utilizing layering in unique ways.  Next time you have a party, be sure to grab this one.

New Music From Blonde Redhead

Man, when was the last time you remember hearing anything from Blonde Redhead?  I can’t seem to remember anything from the band since their last LP 21?  Being a supporter of the group, I was pumped to find this new MP3 “Not Getting There” floating around the internet today.  The track apparently appeared on the exclusive 4AD 12″ vinyl released on Record Store Day.  Hopefully this means we can expect more new material in the near future.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/blonde-redhead-not-getting-there.mp3]

Download: Blonde Redhead – Not Getting There [MP3]

Roky Erickson w/ Okkervil River – True Love Cast Out All Evil

Rating: ★★★★☆

The troubled history of Roky Erickson has been well-documented in the past, especially in the touching You’re Going to Miss Me documentary. However, the last few years have seen a resurgence for the famed singer, and he returns now accompanied by another local act, Okkervil River.  But, you can put all that business aside right now, and turn your focus to what a phenomenal listening experience you will have listeninig to True Love Cast Out All Evil.

We get a brief glimpse into the history of Roky as the album opens with “Devotional Number One,” which is a field recording from his time spent at Rusk State Hospital.  There’s an eeriness to the recording, but his voice is so warm, yet so fragile that you can’t help yourself from falling into this song.

Listening to this record over and over again, the first track that really hits you is “Goodbye Sweet Dreams.”  There are flourishes of orchestral work in the background, which you can leave at the foot of Will Sheff who manned production.  But, when Roky says “don’t leave me now/my love does not too bright burn” you get a hint at the soul of a man who no longer wants to be left on his own.  You can’t look away from him now, or I suppose turn a deaf ear.

As the record progresses you’ll notice that no longer is this a man delving into psychadelic rock; he’s gone completely country, and it’s so heart-felt that he’s bound to receive accolades left and right.  “Be and Bring Me Home” has that countryfied warble to it, and light touches of piano only emphasize the voice that much more.  “Please, Judge” is a wonderfully soft-spoken ballad that relies more upon the imagery of Erikson, and while the lyrics aren’t first person, you can’t help but feel a litlte bit of the singer inside.  You can even hear a few squalls of noise throughout, making it all more than just a mere country ballad.

What’s great about this record is that even though it stays in one place (the country) you still get some rockers out of True Love Cast Out All Evil. “Bring Back the Past” is a pretty upbeat number, even when supplied with a bit of a Nashville stomp.  It fits perfectly with “John Lawman,” though the latter has a much more devilish undertone.  Feedback lies beneath the lyrics “I kill people all day long,” chasing the lyrics throughout the entirety of the song.  It’s one of the most spectacluar live numbers too, as you can hear the scratchiness and emotion of Roky behind the mic.

Closing the record, we return to the intimate setting of Mr. Erickson.  “Birds’d Crash” is a slow burner using vocals and a ringing guitar line to really flesh out the song.  For me, I just love his approach to writing lyrics, and the clarity of his voice is incredible throughout the whole of the album.  To bookend it all, we find ourselves with another field recording.  Listen closely to this one, as its an awful bit quieter than the album’s opener, but in putting your ear close to the speaker, you get to end the album in Roky’s world.

As an album, it’s remarkable how seamlessly True Love Cast Out All Evil really is.  You have to credit Will Sheff for not really putting his stamp on the album, instead choosing to let Roky Erickson do all the work on his own, with just a little help from his friends.  It all points to one thing: Roky is back, and with a record like this, we’re all entirely grateful to have him here again.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/Roky-Erickson-Okkervil-River-Goodbye-Sweet-Dreams.mp3]

Download: Roky Erickson & Okkervil River – Goodbye Sweet Dreams [MP3]

Contest: Local Natives 7″ and Secrets!

This should be a show post about the killer evening of tunes over at Antones Friday featuring Local Natives and Suckers (2 of our favorites this year).  But, instead, we’ve got something for you.  We’re running a little contest to win a free Local Natives “Sun Hands” 7″.  All you have to do is leave us a comment telling us what your favorite album of the year is, besides Local Natives (as that should be near the top), and don’t forget to leave a valid email address in the email portion of your comment.  We’ll pick the winner by tomorrow morning and take care of the rest.

Oh, and our top secret spies tell us that the first person to buy Gorilla Manor starting today at Waterloo Records wins two free tickets.  Get over their now.  And be sure to show up early as you’ll love the Suckers too!

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/02-Airplanes-1.mp3]

Download: Local Natives – Airplanes [MP3]

Seaholm Electric @ Chain Drive (4/21)

Date 4/21/10
Location Chain Drive
Doors 9pm
Tickets $2 @ Door

We’ve taken a liking recently to the post-punk sounds of this relatively new Austin band Seaholm Electric.  The band, being as new as they are, don’t have many photos or information floating around about themselves.  They do however have a new self-released EP out that you can stream over on their website.  The band is also playing on the cheap at Chain Drive tomorrow evening along with fellow locals Persian Wars.  We’re thinking you’ll want to get on board with this band quick like before they start selling out all over town.  We’ll keep you updated on the band as the information gets to us.  Until then, check out why we’re backing these guys with this catchy number “A Million Points of Light”.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/01-a-million-points-of-light.mp3]

Download: Seaholm Electric – A Million Points of Light [MP3]

More New Tunes From Band Of Horses

So the much anticipated release date for Band of Horses new joint Inifinite Arms is still a solid month away.  Prior to that heralded day in May, the band has made the opening track “Factory” available for free download over on their website.  This is in addition to the free streaming video of first single “Laredo”.  Here’s to hoping that they pull through on their 3rd studio album.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/01-Factory-1.mp3]

Download: Band of Horses – Factory [MP3]

Inlets – Inter Arbiter

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Sebastian Krueger has a lot of creative friends, but it’s his own talents as the creator for the Inlets project that really make the listening experience completely worthwhile.  Inter Arbiter is the newest album from the group, the first since the Vestibule EP.  While it has many traces of the last outing, it’s clear that the whole construction has only gotten more detailed, building layer upon layer of instrumentation to craft an ornately beautiful album.

“Canteen” is the first real track to demonstrate the process of Inlets, with that odd time signature guitar playing, and minimal percussive accompaniment.  While many people see the minimalism as a nod to Steve Reich, there is a much more pop-oriented structure to the writing of this record, as evidenced on “In Which, I, Robert.”  This track is by far the most accessible of the ten, with the hook being brought into play by the vocal performance, and the call-and-response vocals that jump out in the background.  It’s probably one of the shortest numbers, but it’s the one many people will go back to as their favorite.

“Bright Orange Air” was the band’s first single off Inter Arbiter, and while it carefully walks you along the cusp of Krueger’s falsetto, the musicianship is what will stick with you long afterwards.  As much as you don’t want to draw comparisons to Grizzly Bear, you can definitely sense the relationship between the two bands here, from the rim shots on the drum that keep pace to the vocal melody, all accompanied by what is surely a clarinet (or another woodwind).   It’s this interesting approach that perhaps draws people to make the Reich comparison, but really just needs to simply go in the books as superb craftsmanship.  Interestingly, it’s often the vocal performances on the most diverse songs that really grabs at the listener.  This is precisely the case on “Bells and Whistles,” which does have all that the title suggests, but I found myself holding onto the vocals, and the way they seem to rise and fall in the middle of notes.  Just beautiful.

Near the end of the album, “Famous Looks” offers more of the same, though with a bit of a faster pace. It leaves room for the next album to show continued progression, as one can’t stand in place for too long in this genre without appearing too redundant.  Perhaps it is the much more pronounced percussion breaking through, but this song is one of the more exciting, if you can even call it that.  Oddly, that’s not what Inter Arbiter is about at all.

The new album from Inlets delves into extreme craftsmanship that remains soft and gentle throughout, despite the ebbs and flows in the mood of Inter Arbiter.  For those looking for a more experimental approach to modern pop construction, this is a brilliant place to land, while others can simply bask in the warmth created by Sebastian Krueger and friends.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/inletsrobert.mp3]

Download: Inlets – In Which I, Robert [MP3]

New Tunes from Pernice Brothers

I’ve been following Joe Pernice for a long time.  His voice always seems to fit into my life at some point or another, so I’m glad to welcome a new tune from Pernice Brothers.  This tune comes from their upcoming record Goodbye, Killer, which will be out June 15th via Ashmont.  First listen sees the band a bit more upbeat than their last go round, but I know old Joe will fill this album with pitch-perfect pop ditties to keep me humming along for some time to come.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/pernice-brothers-jac.mp3]

Download: Pernice Brothers – Jacqueline Susann [MP3]

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