New Music From Pains Of Being Pure At Heart

Winners of our top album spot last year Pains of Being Pure at Heart are wasting no time and returning this year with a 7″ single.  The vinyl release will hit stores June 8th via Slumberland and features this tasty new song “Say No to Love”.  As usual, we love the brit-pop sound they bring along with a lil different guitar sound reminiscent of 80s era Cure.  Keep it comin’ guys.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/saynotolove-1.mp3]

Download: Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Say No to Love [MP3]

Foals – Total Life Forever

Rating: ★★★★☆

When Foals first came around the United States they barely made waves over here with their debut Antidotes, but having a few more years of growth has allowed them to push their sound in a much more confident manner, creating a wonderfully unassuming pop record.  Total Life Forever never really hits you in the face, but that doesn’t seem to be the band’s point of emphasis here, choosing instead to relax and let the good times come as they please.

When the opening moments of “Blue Blood,” the distinctive vocals of Yannis immediately bring to mind bands like Frightened Rabbit, but as you hear building percussion and guitar in the mixture the song quickly breaks into a rhythmic piece of pop.  Ringing guitar chords give it a bit of a shimmy, but as mentioned before, it never just comes out and hits you over the head with power chords, nor jangly guitars.

Perhaps some might be averse to submerging themselves in the rhythmic vibe of this record, but if you’re only searching for something that gives a swing to your step, then this might not be the album for you. “Miami” has a slow paced groove with a simple structured chorus, but there’s definitely a groove lying beneath it all.   And sure, “Total Life Forever utilizes angular guitar work throughout to accompany the gang vocals, but Foals seem more willing to focus on slowing things down just a bit, as they do near the end of the song.  In a sense, it allows for a much better energetic release for listeners, as you’re not spent after listening to the first three tracks, as you are with other similarly categorized groups.

One of the greatest things about Total Life Forever seems to be that these five lads just aren’t too interested in meeting expectations.  This album carries three songs over the six minute mark, which isn’t odd, unless you consider their last effort didn’t have a single song meeting that mark.  “Spanish Sahara” creates a sort of a really quiet bedroom pop number, the sort my older sister jammed too in the late 80s.  It’s full of nothing at points, which is a remarkable feat considering that most bands love the excessive layering nowadays. Very similarly, “After Glow” lives in sort of an art-punk dance pop realm, and while it resembles the other six minute numbers, it pushes things in a bit of a different direction with some cacophony and a quicker pace.

Don’t get me wrong, I, too, enjoy an upbeat number, much like the single “This Orient,” though in contrast to a lot of stuff out there, its probably not an over-the-top pop track.  Steady drumming, and awkward chanting vocals in the background create an odd effect, but that swirling hook in the chorus is really sublime.  This is probably as close, however, as you’ll get to really straight ahead pop tunes.  Even with that in mind, there are some minor missteps, like “Fugue,” which is only 49 seconds, and doesn’t add a single thing.

Everything about this record is quiet, and yet it’s really vibrant at the same time. The rhythmic elements slowly unfold when you least expect them to, and you’ll find yourself exploring for various levels of hook and texture while listening to Total Life Forever. In sitting back to construct this record, rather than pushing their sound in your face, Foals have created a far more meaningful second album than any had come to expect, but expectations will only get higher from here lads. Cheers to that.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/06-This-Orient-1.mp3]

Download: Foals – This Orient [MP3]

5/7 Shearwater @ The Parish

Last Friday, our incredible photo lady Mary Rehak made her way to The Parish to check out a set by Hospital Ships, Wye Oak, and our very own Shearwater.  Mary claims to have seen these bands more than any living person, but that didn’t stop her from wanting to see them yet again.  After the jump you can check out a short review and some fancy photos from Mary.

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New Tunes from L.A.X.

For some time local Austin band, L.A.X. have been devoted to making people dance their butts off, including those that caught their energetic set at ACL last year.  Things are looking up for this group, and they’re set to release a new EP, titled the A EP, which will officially see its release at their show on May 20th over at the Parish.  Be sure to catch on to these guys now, and at the very least, you’ll have something sweet to dance to while at work.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/01-Im-Sorry.mp3]

Download: L.A.X. – I’m Sorry [MP3]

New Tunes from Admiral Radley

I”ve been waiting to actually get a listen to Admiral Radley for sometime, as the band is made up of two of my favorites, Grandaddy and Earlimart, so when this jam surfaced Friday (via ThaGum) I jumped on it.  It’s everything you sort of expected it to be, with Jason Lytle singing over electronic infused pop, seemingly longing to be back in California?  While it’s not the best work lyrically, it shows a lot of promise, and only furthers our anticipation for what the band’s album, I Heart California, hits stores July 13th.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/1-I-Heart-California-1.mp3]

Download: Admiral Radley – I Heart California [MP3]

The National – High Violet

Rating: ★★★★½

When this album first came to me I must admit that it was not as immediately as enticing as I had hoped.  Steady listening rotations slowly worked this album into the expected experience that I had hoped for from The National‘s High Violet.  While I’m not coming out to say that this is the band’s best work (time will tell friends), I’ll admit that their continued growth and attention to details makes the group unstoppable, as they put out records that continue to be played on repeat at my house, and that of all my close associates.

“Terrible Love” begins rather slowly. sneaking its way to a catastrophic end of sonic force.  Matt Berninger’s vocals really are something other worldly, as demonstrated here; it’s as if you’re listening to your father or grandfather tell a story of his trials and tribulations, as demonstrated by this opening track.

Early press discussed the darker dimension of the album, and you can get that feeling, even if you went by the track titles alone.  But, songs such as “Sorrow” and “Anyone’s Ghost” indicate that something went missing in the life of the narrator, which we can assume might be Berninger himself.  It’s all very melancholic, and is increased by the baritone vocal quality, but the darkness is what makes this album so striking, like everyone’s favorite lyric from “Conversation 16,” “I was afraid I’d eat your brains/cause I’m evil.”  It’s interesting trying to decipher between singer and narrator, as clearly these are the dark times of love for one of our two heroes.

While a lot of the praise for The National‘s dynamic is always given to the Dessner duo, this album clearly demonstrates the power that Bryan Devendorf wields in the band.  Whether it be his machine gun snare hits, his cymbal work, or his precision drum fills, he is the one piece that continues to amaze as you listen to High Violet (“Mr November” anyone?).  Still, one of the strengths of the band does rely upon the Dessner’s usage of varying dynamics, even those that are most subtle.  For instance, there’s a moment in “Little Faith” where everything seems to empty out, albeit very briefly, before going back into the song.  Such attention to detail is used time and time again like the accompanying strings in “Afraid of Everyone” that eventually meet up with a little discordant guitar; all this happens before the number even sets off entirely.

You continue through this collection of songs, and each song strikes a different chord within.  “Bloodbuzz Ohio” is probably the most straightforward rock song on the album, but you can’t help but feel the alienation in the song as Berninger croons that “Ohio don’t remember me.”  Once again, the loud-soft dynamic, even used for just one phrase, makes the lyrics, and the song, hit some sort of nerve for the listener.   And you can juxtapose the rock element with a song like “Runaway” that seems to sort of ebb and flow in the middle of the song.  If it weren’t for the subtle touches and vocals, this could very well fall under some folk realm, and yet the song seemingly climbs to a climactic point that it never quite reaches, forever holding back, holding you, the listener, back.

In its closing statement, High Violet, finds Matt really pushing his vocals, yanking every bit of emotion he has left out of his larynx.  As always, the group never fails to make a grand sweeping move with their closing moments, as echoing vocals join in here, you find yourself lost in the emotive qualities of the band.  This is precisely what makes The National one of the best bands around these days, utilizing every little nuance to craft the most emotionally taxing and bewildering music you’ll find, then begging you to come back and listen all over again.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/The-National-Bloodbuzz-Ohio.mp3]

Download: The National – Bloodbuzz Ohio [MP3]

FT5: Road Trip Albums

Well students, it’s nearly finals time for a lot of you and before the prospect of (dare I say it) summer school, many of you have two or so glorious weeks of freedom. It’s time to hit the old dusty trail and have some adventures farting on each other, spilling beer in your friend’s car and of overheating engines in the middle of nowhere. The wildly adventurous times of our youth elude many of us today, but the memories remain; stuck together like the pack of gummi-bears that fell into the dash air vent. Yes, the good old fashioned road trip is about as American as it gets. Piling in a car, carrying more people than available seatbelts and heading towards the border or greener pastures (wherever they might be). Two questions become instantly prevalent: 1.) What should we listen to? and 2.) Where to? (Although the second is MUCH less important) After all, music and the open road are as inseparable as college and binge drinking. Fear not my young compadres, throw the calculus and audio books out the window and crank up the tunes. Here is the FT5 of Road Trip Albums to get you down along the road and back again.

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Midgetmen @ The Mohawk (5/8)

Date 5/8/10
Location The Mohawk
Doors 8pm
Tickets $6 @ Door

If you be lookin’ for something to do on Saturday night, The Midgetmen are planning their annual anniversary party at Mohawk.  The lineup is stacked with local buzz bands and includes The Midgetmen(of course), Ringo Deathstarr, LA Snacks, The Gary, The Mercers, Sour Notes, and Treaty Oak.  You can also look forward to some free PBR handed out at different times during the night’s festivities.  Sounds good to me.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/02-trickle-down.mp3]

Download: Midgetmen – Trickle Down [MP3]

Lambchop on Daytrotter

Hopefully you all know the great site Daytrotter by now, and we’re sure you’re well aware of their great little studio sessions with our favorite artists.  They recently ran a session with underappreciated Merge Records artist, Lambchop.  The group is fronted by Kurt Wagner, and those of you loving the Americana genre will surely find that his songs are precisely what you need in your collection.  Luckily, the session features two unreleased songs that you can download to your collection. Get there NOW.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/002-Buttons.mp3]

Download: Lambchop – Buttons [MP3]

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