The Faint – Fasciinatiion

Rating: ★★ · · ·

It’s been several years since The Faint last released a proper full length. What have they been up to you ask? Well, they left Saddle Creek and started their own label, blank.wav, and they built their own studio. Unfortunately, they did not decide to find new ground musically.

The Faint remind me of a group of marines in training; they’ve been treading water for hours (years), always with their head just above the water (the rest of the crowd). Slowly, their legs grew tired, and that is where we find this album. Tired legs = sinking band. I’m sorry, but the band is just getting old, which is a huge contrast to the time when I thought they were extremely fresh.

The album opens up decently, but nothing spectacular. The beats sound left over from Wet From Birth, their last album, but I do like the fact that you can actually hear the bass lines in “Get Seduced,” because they are at their best when they combine their dance tendencies with actual rock music. At about the third minute, the tone in Todd Fink’s voice changes, and its great, just not enough, and too late for me to love this song.

They follow up the album with “The Geeks Were Right,” which is the obvious single. It’s probably the most immediately accessible song; its the one you want to dance to with your friends. Strangely, its one of the shorter songs on the album, which is unfortunate because it is the best–hands down. Honestly, the rest of the album after that sort of fades into the background. It’s not an irritatingly bad listen, its just not memorable, which is strange for this band because they always have extremely redeeming moments on their albums.

Lyrically, there is a lot of reference to science on this album, which I suppose is a different twist than the usual outing for this band, but by no means will you find the words significant. That’s always been the fault of the the band; lyrics have come secondary to the music.

As I continue to listen to this band, and this album, I am recalling a certain band from the mid 90s: Weezer. Do you remember when Weezer made things seem fresh?  They blew onto the scene via MTV (back when they had those music video things), and we all took notice. Then they progressed with their next album, but stopped there. They’ve been rehashing the same sound ever since that point. For me, that sums up The Faint. They’ve been doing this so long, it all just sort of blends together, and I might be ready to put them on the back burner until they reinvent the wheel.

That being said, most classic Faint fans will find that there are things to enjoy on this album, but not nearly enough for this to be one of your favorites. More than likely, it will make you dance while you’re getting ready for work, then it will go on the shelf in a few weeks. Sad but true.

Two bonus points exist: 1) The album artwork is solid, which is always a bonus for collectors because it encourages us to actually buy the album outside of the digital world. 2) The Faint are coming to Austin’s La Zona Rosa on AUgust 15th, and regardless of whether you like the band or not, they put on the most phenomenal shows–better than Ghostland Observatory, by far.

You can buy tickets for the show at GetTix. They’ll be accompanied by new Matador Records signees, Jaguar Love.

I Got Jay Reatarded Last Night

It’s less than twelve hours since I walked away from the scuzzy walls of Red Seven, and still my ears are ringing from the sheer level of noise that I gladly witnessed, as rock n’ roll returned once again to my life. It’s funny, I listen to a lot of music, but its seems rock has become less of a staple in my music dietary supplements. I would like to extend my gratitude to Jay Reatard for reaffirming my belief in it’s greatness – even with possible hearing loss.

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Earlimart @ Waterloo/Mohawk – 8/5

California’s Earlimart will grace us twice tomorrow evening. They will first play a free set at Waterloo Records at 5 PM. Then they will be off to play a full set at The Mohawk with Austin bands Zookeeper and Silent Sunset (featuring Bill of Sound Team). I’ve seen them several times before, and they always put on an enjoyable show, and you have two chances to see them – don’t miss out. 

Tickets for the Mohawk show will be sold through FrontGate Tickets.

You can also check out our review for their latest album Hymn and Her.

Oxford Collapse – Bits

Rating: ★★★★½

Throughout this summer, music fans have mostly been greeted by mellower forms of tunes, with an absence of rock coming our ways–and by this, I mean the kind of music with loud guitars and banging drums. Well folks, Oxford Collapse wants to change that.

As the car peels out in “Electric Arc,” the drums come banging in your ears. Soon, the guitar will join this fray, and off the band goes. It’s hard not to feel your heart beating a little quicker in this song. Nice start boys.

They follow that up with another short song full of angular guitars and simple melodies, but its done just the right way, throwing the band back to the classic post-punk sounds of the mid-90s–a la Braid and Jawbreaker. Then they come with a tension building song in “Vernon Jackson,” which builds up continuously through the song, only to have the band slow it down in the end as the song begins to fade out. It’s clear by this point that they have enough control over themselves to pull back the reigns at just the right time.

They just keep going from here, pushing their guitars into your ears, as the drums pound away. Oxford Collapse sound tighter than they have, and a lot more comfortable as well, which may be why they claim “we’re doing fine” in “Young Love Delivers.” But, then they throw a change up. “A Wedding” slows things down, and sounds as if they took a cue from Final Fantasy, using string instruments to back the strength of their vocals. Its a good breathing point.

Then they go right back to it–walls of feedback thrown right back into your face as they continue their rocking onslaught. For me, they seem really straightforward with their approach, and they don’t seem to go off into the distance of atmospherics and noise as they did on their last album.

Towards the end, they start to switch it up, and its for the betterment of the album. “Children’s Crusade” is a brilliant song, and one that will probably make a lot of my mixes throughout the year. “John Blood” similarly slows things down, at least during the chorus, where a female chants her way through the chorus. Still, there is enough guitar work on this song, to make it border between rocker and ballad. “B Roll” also takes a gentler approach, but that approach is matched again by the tension building of the guitar work.  I do wish that this time, they just would have unleashed that guitar completely, but for me, this is their first misstep.

They close it off with “I Hate Nobody” which isn’t immediately gratifying, but as you work your way through the end of the song, it wraps up the album perfectly. Anguished guitars fueled by the deliberately dense drumming, and finally, you can breathe. It’s over.

It’s hard to find much wrong with this record. Personally, I think the mix on the vocals had some issues in a few places, but for the most part, I just went along with the album. It’s enjoyable as you follow around each of the corners and twists and turns.  Let’s hope for more rock like this as we wrap up 2008.

Oxford Collapse returns to Austin on August 27th at The Mohawk, but as of yet, tickets are not readily available.

Have a listen to a new song from their album:

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/birthdaywars.mp3]

Download: Oxford Collapse – Birthday Wars [MP3]

Gravy Train

I like xkcd as much as the next guy, but all the wannabe programming comics are starting to get annoying. Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that I know nothing about programming myself, but annoying none the less.

Jay Reatard @ Red Seven–8/3

This Sunday we will be fortunate enough to get to hear the garage rock of Jay Reatard.  He’s made lots of music news with his hard to come by set of 7″ series on Matador Records, and he will take the stage in our hometown at Red Seven.  If anything, it should just be a good old fashioned rock n’ roll show–just don’t get punched in the face. That means keeping your hands and feet in the bus at all times.

Pick up your tickets.

Also, you can hear University of Minnesota’s Radio K stream some in-studio performances by Jay if you hit this spot.

The Pack A.D. @ Hole in the Wall

Remember when we posted about an awesome new song by The Pack A.D.?  Well, I just noticed that the band will be showcasing their talents at The Hole in the Wall here in Austin on Saturday night (8/2).  I’ve never seen this band live, but I imagine this to be a killer show.  Show time is set for 10pm with a cover of only $6.  Click the link above to hear “Making Gestures” off the band’s new album Funeral Mixtape to give yourself a preview of what’s to come.

New Music From Of Montreal

Polyvinyl label greats Of Montreal have a new song called “Id Engager” which you can listen to below. The song will appear on the “Id Engager” single due September 9th available for pre-order on the Polyvinyl website. It will also appear on the band’s upcoming LP Skeletal Lamping, due out in October.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/of-montreal-id-engager.mp3]

Download: Of Montreal – Id Engager [MP3]

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