• 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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  • SXSW 2019 – A Recap

    Yet another SXSW is in the books and it’s time for the ATH crew to reminisce a little and offer some highlight from the week behind us. I think we’ve

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  • SXSW: 6 Bands To Watch

    Well SXSW music is officially here, and as I sit and ponder my existence while at work, I thought it would be fun to share some advice on bands to

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  • RayRay’s Top Songs – 2018

    When it comes to ATH and our areas of expertise, I like to think I’m the go to guy for song lists and bad ass playlists. If you’re doubting me,

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  • Best of Indiepop 2018

    Everyone has their own definition of indiepop; but I tend to ascribe to the original craft where DIY aesthetics and a softer response to punk were all the rage. But,

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Stellastarr – Civilized

stella

Rating: ★★★ · ·

For their third album, Stellastarr opted to go it on their own and release the record, Civilized, on their terms, and their label, Bloated Wife Records.  However, nothing about the band seems to have changed at all since their previous efforts, which is either a good or bad thing, depending upon which camp you sleep in with regards to your opinion on the band.

Kicking off the album is “Robot,” and Amanda Tannen’s presents the most throbbing bass lines to date for the band.  While the guitars shatter in some other worldly angular atmospherics, Shawn Christensen repeats the lyrics “by design/you’re going to hurt yourself.”  The lyrics appear to have less of an impact than on previous efforts, but the cutting edge guitar riffs show that the band means business.

When track three, “Tokyo Sky” sets off, you’re tossed back into that classic new wave sound, with clean jangling guitars, but just as you get comfortable and nostalgic, they press down on the distortion pedal, they pull out some “Today”-era Smashing Pumpkins guitar miming.  While the guitars continue to swirl about the song, Christensen does his best to fall somewhere between himself and Davey of The Promise Ring.  Oddly, the lyrics refrain of “my Tokyo sky” recall the same refrain of “My Coco” off the group’s first album.

“Graffiti Eyes” probably has the most bounce of this set of songs, which is sad, since the band has been successful with such styles.  However, Tannen’s backing vocals provide a great counterbalance to the jagged yelp of Christensen.  In the chorus we find the band nearing their most straightforward pop approach to date, although the music doesn’t seem to comply necessarily.   Although this is the single for the band, this isn’t necessarily the best song on the album.  That award goes to “Prom Zombie” with its entirely playful singalong moments between Tannen and Christensen.  It’s the one song on this album that just seem like they’ve been rehashing themselves entirely.  And, there are horns! Horns bro.

The latter half of the album is much like the first half, with it all ending in “Sonja Cries,” the one song when you can clearly hear Christensen’s vocals.  Surprisingly, this seems like the exact direction the band should have gone to begin with, or at least built into the album as a whole.  By this point, the airy atmospherics of the guitars have grown weary after listening to them for three straight albums.  In the end, the band has created more enjoyable numbers for you to add to your collection, though they might not be the most memorable moments in the Stellastarr‘s history.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/1-06-prom-zombie.mp3]

Download: Stellastarr – Prom Zombie [MP3]

New Music From Portugal. The Man

portugalStaying true to their word on putting out an album a year, Portugal. The Man are ready to release a new one after the moderate success of their 2008 album Censored Colors. New album Satanic Satanist will be available July 21st via Equal Vision Records and features this single “”.  Check it out and let us know what you think of this album preview.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/01-people-say.mp3]

Download: Portugal. The Man – People Say [MP3]

Electric Touch @ Emo’s (7/8)

electrictouchmyspaceIf you’re looking for a show filled with the rock, head over to Emo’s on Wednesday night for a an evening of 3 local up and coming rockers.  The evening kicks off with our good friends Whitman, so get there around 9:30, drink some beers, and catch their set at 10pm.  After that, The Handshake take the stage followed by headliners and Justice Records darlings Electric TouchThe show is only $8, but Do512 is also running a contest to win free tickets for all you cheap skates out there.  You won’t find a better local lineup than this!

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

Download: Whitman – Light It Up [MP3]

New Tunes from Arctic Monkeys

monkeysEveryone’s favorite, Arctic Monkeys, have long been working on the follow-up to their last album. Said album is titled Humbug, and is slated to hit the streets on August 25th. We’ve got our hands on one of the tunes, so that you can sample it for yourself in preparation for the release. This one seems a bit darker, which might be a new direction from the band, but we’ll wait until the album’s out to pass full judgment.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/01-crying-lightning-1.mp3]

Download: Arctic Monkeys – Crying Lightning [MP3]

Abe Vigoda @ Emo’s (7/7)

abeEmo’s has a nice lineup of up and coming talent on Tuesday night which should be your best bet for the music scene early in the week.  Lineup includes indie-rockers Abe Vigoda, Loser Life, and latest Hardly Art signing Talbot TagoraTickets for this one are on sale for $8 and doors open up at 9pm.  Here’s brand new single from Talbot Tagora called “Ichthus Hop”.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/tt_ichthushop.mp3]

Download: Tabot Tagora – Ichthus Hop [MP3]

Bowerbirds – Upper Air

bower

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Last summer we met Fleet Foxes, and their harmonious folk led to much acclaim whilst keeping us warm for the rest of the year.  This summer, we have Bowerbirds.  While they may not share much  in common with last summer’s hit, they do seem to dabble in the folk nostalgia, most likely influenced by their location in Raleigh, North Carolina.  On their new record, Upper Air, you’ll find them quietly strumming instruments while combining the voices of Phil Moore and Beth Tacular in order to warm your soul–though if you’re in Austin, Tx, odds are you don’t need it that much.

Something in Phil Moore’s voice just evokes emotion.  You can tell from the minute he steps in on “House of Diamonds” that he’s got something personal to release, whether truly personal, or as a narrative; you’ll find that his voice warrants repeated listening.  Then combine it with Beth’s voice during the chorus, and you have the recipe for the group’s deeply rich melodious folk productions.

Almost every song stands alone on this album, as if they crafted them out of individual stories, yet they all fit together, standing as a woven basket of an album, full of various tales and combined textures.  In “Teeth,” the usage of accordion provides a new layer with which the group can tie in their shared vocal arrangements.  Crystal clear picking of guitars stand out in the foreground, exfoliating the textured sounds in  a beautiful manner.

When you find yourself in the middle of the album, you meet the longest song on this long player.  “Ghost Life” demonstrates the group at its best, with some of the stronger lyrics this side of 2009. Here, the paired vocals of Moore and Tacular do somewhat resemble Fleet Foxes harmonies, although you clearly won’t mistake this band as anything other than an original.  Such a standout is worthy of being played over and over again on your home stereo, where the pristine sounds of the tune can truly take on a life of their own.

Near the end of the album, you’ll find Moore really pushing himself, in the realm of vocals, on “Crooked Lust.” But, this is just a momentary prelude to the record’s closer, “This Day.”  It’s almost a solo number, until you hit the end of the song, where everyone joins together to bring an end to “This Day,” and in doing so, bring an end to Upper Air.

Much like the artwork on the cover, this is folk music for the clouds.  Temporarily, it will let you float outside of yourself as you escape the a land created by someone else.  It’s a blissful folk journey that the Bowerbirds will encourage you to take, as they took it themselves in completing their best work to date.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/02-teeth-1.mp3]

Download: Bowerbirds – Teeth [MP3]

New Tunes From Neon Indian

nq_19palomoAlan Palomo is a busy busy man who continues to churn out new music under several different monikers.  Shortly after the death of Dallas band Ghosthustler, Palomo went on to form ATH fave band Vega who have been getting all kinds of positive press recently.  Now the man is busy again with new side project Neon Indian. The sounds are similar to what you’d expect and are sure to get you ready for the summer time dance floor.  This track “Terminally Chill” will appear on upcoming album Psychic Chasms due out October 13th on Lefse Records.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/neon-indian-terminally-chill.mp3]

Download: Neon Indian – Terminally Chill [MP3]

Collin Herring @ Mohawk (7/7)

herringA truly under-appreciated new face to the alt-country world, Collin Herring is returning to Austin for a show at Mohawk on Tuesday night.  The singer-songwriter will be joined on the stage by Tyler Jordan and Legs Against Arms.  Tickets will be sold only at the door for $6.  Here’s that song I still can’t get enough of “Punches”.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/punches.mp3]

Download: Collin Herring – Punches [MP3]

Los Campesinos! On Daytrotter

loscampCombine one of our favorite bands Los Campesinos! with one of our favorite sites Daytrotter, and you can expect a post on the ol ATH.  The indie popsters recorded a session for the site over the weekend and we’ve been jamming it in our offices.  Head over to check out the awesomely long set.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/los-campesinos-you-me-dancing.mp3]

Download: Los Campesinos! – You! Me! Dancing! [MP3]

Discovery – LP

discovery

Rating: ★½ · · ·

When news that Rostam from Vampire Weekend and Wes from Ra Ra Riot would unite to create an album under the name of Discovery, the Internet was afire with fans of both bands, all hoping that they could combine the magic of their individual outfits into something that would supersede both.  LP is the title of said album, and while there are definitely moments that seem worthy of accolades, it’s unclear at this juncture just how far the adoration will carry the group.

Opener “Orange Shirt” hits from the opening with musical beats reminiscent of Passion Pit, except it goes beyond that similarity, as Wes actually has a quality vocal to place atop the beats.  However, the beats just don’t seem to hit too hard, nor do they really go anywhere; it’s sort of a stationary song in itself, and doesn’t quite build.

“Can You Discover” is somewhat of a remix, as the lyrics come from Ra Ra Riot‘s “Can You Tell.”  Unfortunately, once you strip away the textures from the original, the song seems really simple, as if it was sort of an afterthought in its production.  Also, using auto-tune on the vocals seems like a huge injustice, ruining the power of Wes Miles’ voice.

The middle of the album seems to be where you find the meat and potatoes of the album, or maybe it’s just the potatoes.  “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” features Angel from Dirty Projectors, which adds a different touch to the monotony of the album, and it probably has one of the stronger beats on the album, but the keyboard meanderings get a little tiring. “Swing Tree” is in this section of the album, and it probably carries the most interesting production, at least up to this point in the album.  The high pitched electronics don’t sound too basic, though the beat looped in seems to be one of the most common element throughout the album itself.  And here, you also find “Carby” which has vocals from Ezra of Vampire Weekend.  It’s probably one of the gems on the album; probably one of the few songs you could throw into a club mix.

In it’s entirety, the one thing that this album doesn’t have is the catchiness factor, which both members exude in their own right with their main gigs.  Almost every beat seems mundane, as if they just took the samples from the radio, and reran them through some sort of mixer.  It takes the heart out of the music itself, and all the moments of joy that we usually associate with these two artists are rendered useless for the most part.  Overall, the album comes off as a generic stab at taking indie bands to the dance floors of the world, but ultimately, it seems like this might fail.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/07-carby-ft-ezra-koenig.mp3]

Download: Discovery – Carby [MP3]

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