Maker Faire This Weekend

The premiere event for grassroots American innovation, Maker Faire, will be going down for the second year this weekend in Austin.  Maker Faire takes place this Saturday and Sunday with tickets running $25 for adults, $15 for students and $10 for children.  The weekend’s events include crazy things like rockets, robotics, a life-sized mouse trap, Mentos fountains, fire acts, catapults, arts and crafts, a ton of bands, and loads more madness sure to delight.  El Tule, Foot Patrol, The Dialtones, and The Hero Cycle are just a few of the numerous bands playing over the weekend.  Full Schedule of events can be read on the Maiker Faire website.

I’m From Barcelona – Who Killed Harry…

I’m From Barcelona – Who Killed Harry Houdini?

Rating: ★★½ · ·

Did you have any idea that the Swedish supergroup I’m From Barcelona had another album hitting stateside?  Don’t worry, no one really covered it, but sure enough, we now have Who Killed Harry Houdini?.

Opening tracks pretty much establish the mood for all albums, no matter what we say; that’s the job of the person who sequences the songs. “Andy,” the album opener showcases an entirely new aesthetic for the group, most noticeable is the absence of sprawling pop infectiousness. It’s quiet, almost as if it’s the choir score to a Tim Burton film. The artwork, along with the album title, hint at this darker underbelly.

Remnants of the last album do remain throughout this new effort.  Many of the songs hold tightly to the choir backing vocals, a la Polyphonic Spree. Still available is the landscape sounds created by piling layers and layers of instrumentation and vocals upon one another.  You can even find handclaps and shakers here and there. BUT, it’s missing a key ingredient!

SPIRIT! When that guy from Barcelona introduced me to all his friends on his last album I remember being really excited.  Not only had a collective of musicians united to make zany-pop fueled extravagances, but they were good at it too!  Songs like “We’re From Barcelona” or “Treehouse” oozed with pop sensibility, creating listening experiences even hippies could groove too.  Here, it’s gone.  It’s as if they put all that energy into the first album, and now they’ve run completely out of gas.  Also, the level of horn work has been greatly diminished.  It’s strange considering the frequent usage of the horns on the last effort. It’s just another thing  that indicates an entirely different direction for the group.

This album isn’t an awful attempt; it actually has some redeeming moments, albeit slower moments.  Unfortunately, they’ve gone so far the other way that it is difficult to find any correlation between this Who Killed Harry Houdini? and Let Me Introduce My Friends. One album is fully shimmering joy, the other lacks emotion; compare and contrast; go!

Free Dead Heart Bloom EP

This may be the best week ever for freeloading albums and EPs off the interweb!  Today sees NYC band, Dead Heart Bloom, being the latest to offer up free tunes for your enjoyment.  The EP up for grabs is entitled Oh Mercy and is the second in a series of three planned EPs for 2008.  You can download this EP along with the first EP and Dead Heart Bloom’s first two albums all on the same page.  All artists should be this generous!  Check out my favorite track from the EP “I”m Going to go Meet Jesus” below.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/03-im-going-to-go-meet-jesus.mp3]

Download: Dead Heart Bloom – I’m Going to go Meet Jesus [MP3]

Dressy Bessy @ Emo’s 10/16

Dressy Bessy seem to be on the verge of “making it” as artists.  The band has been around for over 10 years now but it seems like they are finally gaining notariety in the blog/music world.  That being said, you better seize the opportunity now to see them at a smaller venue like Emo’s Lounge.  The band will be playing the Jr. version of Emo’s on Thursday with doors at 9pm and tickets only $8.  Latest single “Electrified” can be heard below.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/dressy-bessy-electrified.mp3]

Download: Dressy Bessy – Electrified [MP3]

Land of Talk – Some Are Lakes

Rating: ★★½ · ·

Land of Talk is yet another band from Montreal, Canada, intent upon re-creating pop music in their own likeness and bringing it to your ears.  Their latest effort, Some Are Lakes, has just been issued by Omaha label Saddle Creek Records.

According to press information, the opening three songs of the album seem to revolve around the band’s earlier sound, which seems to reflect the earthy undertones of the album’s title track.  It is a female-dominated sound that recalls similarities between various Canadian acts that have made their way south of the border.  While these first three tracks definitely showcase the band’s musical repertoire, there isn’t anything too remarkable from these first glimpses.

Then they come straight at you with “Some Are Lakes,” which features stronger vocals from front-woman/guitarist, Lizzie Powell. Here you will find the band cleaning out their sound, ridding the song of extemporaneous noise in place of a more direct approach to your ears.  “Give Me Back My Heart Attack” has the band going back a few steps, those this song definitely has a stronger groove than the opening tracks present on the album.

“It’s Okay” is one of the simpler songs on the album.  Picture Amy Millan singing along to piano ballads and you’ll get the picture for this one.  The band pulls it off, but it’s not altogether very inspiring.  Then the band seems to pick it up from here.  Land of Talk pushes forward with more Canadian influences, but they do it this time with a certain brashness that makes it all seem more worthwhile; it comes off a lot more personal.  At its best when they unleash their guitars, they pull them back momentarily for what is the album’s stand out track, “Got A Call.”  As it sweeps in and out, it sweeps you away in the process.

After all that progress they sum it all up with an acoustic number that doesn’t seem to stray to far from the works of Feist, which is not necessarily a bad thing, it just makes the album feel entirely too uneven. Some Are Lakes is an album with varying levels of accomplishment, and those mainly come in the form of a band that let’s loose on the listener, releasing the power they seem to hold back for the majority of the album.  It all ends without the band establishing itself as the predominant force in the music presented here, and they fail to step out of the shadow of the Canadian heavy hitters.

1 1,343 1,344 1,345 1,346 1,347 1,391