More ACL RSVP Shows!

If your wallet is a little tight and you can’t afford ACL, here are two more free by RSVP shows to check out.  Our first show is being put on by Antics and features a DJ set by CSS with several other special guests. This even goes down on Friday night around 10pm and you can RSVP now.

Second show also goes down on Friday with headliners Cool Kids leading the way and Voxtrot joining in on the fun. This event is being put on by Rolling Stone with doors opening at 8pm. RSVP for this one before time runs out. Both shows are rumored to have free drinks…. oh schnaps!

ACL Preview: Mason Jennings

Mason Jennings has been through his ups and downs as a songwriter, but mostly he’s been on the ups. His incredible vocals always lead those in his mass followings, such as Issac Brock of Modest Mouse, to a pleasurable listening experience. The crowds at Austin City Limits will surely be witness to his magic when he takes to the Austin Ventures stage this Saturday at 6:30. Read more after the jump.. Read more

Jenny Lewis – Acid Tongue

Rating: ★★★½ ·

The question with the latest Jenny Lewis album, Acid Tongue, really lies in the listener. Are you, as a listener and fan, willing to forgive some of the lackluster perfomances on this album in order to enjoy some of its finest pieces?

Opener “Black Sand” is the perfect song for Jenny. It’s gentle soundscape relies entirely upon her vocals, which is precisely where she excels. When she pushes her voice during the chorus, you know exactly why you love Jenny Lewis. There is something to her strength as an artist and a fox that both male and female are drawn towards.

Then we Jenny go further in the direction of country/folk, which most of us will say is where we think she belongs, or where she has been all along, but this is untrue. Sure, Rilo Kiley has gravitated towards that, and away from that; yes, her debut solo album bore that influence, but the greatest Rilo album’s were the early ones where she maintained her pop sensibility. The backing of acoustic guitars did nothing other than provide a stage for her voice.

You see, that is where the problem lies in this album. Jenny waivers back and forth between folk and classic R&B girl groups, but she never lands on that precisely pop moment where she truly shines. The title track, “Acid Tongue” does head back into the past, and even with its country undertones, you can still hear the pop star in Jenny Lewis ready to crawl out of her shell. This is the one song where it’s hard to differentiate between the Jenny we love, and the Jenny we are now witnessing. She stands firmly between both worlds.

“Fernando” is full of sexual appeal, which is where I place the blame for the faults of new era Jenny. She’s lost the innocence that made her so spectacular, instead forging ahead into sexual innuendo, associated with a bravado that is very unbecoming. But then, she jumps in with a song like “Godspeed” that makes you fall in love with her all over again. If only she could carry the power of this song throughout an entire album.

Therein lies the final conclusion. Jenny Lewis has a phenomenal voice, unlike most other female musicians these days. Her range is ridiculous, but in an effort to fully explore the vast expanse of her vocal landscape, she leaves herself stretched too thin, leaving faults in songs that could have been perfected. I’m still holding onto hope that one day she finishes it off right, either solo or with Rilo Kiley.

And don’t forget to check her out at ACL this weekend because if there is one woman that commands a stage, it’s this one.

Free Pre-ACL Show From Paste/BMI

Another week, another free by RSVP show.  Before heading out to the ACL festival this weekend, Paste Magazine has joined up with BMI to give you a pretty nice show at Emo’s on Thursday night.  Lineup includes Mates of State, What Made Milwaukee Famous, Bobby Bare Jr., and several others.  A full list of performers can be read on the fancy show flier.  RSVP now and put ATH as your company to help us get the word out.  Spread the love!

ACL Battles: CSS vs. Man Man

Round two of our ACL battles pits Brazilian dance/pop band CSS vs. Philly artist Man Man.  This is our earliest battle of the festival weekend with both bands playing at 3:30 on Saturday.  CSS will be gettin’ it down on the AT&T Blue Room stage while Man Man plays on the Dell stage.  So the question is simple: Power pop goodness from the ipod commercial makin’ CSS or get a little more intense with war paint wearin’ Man Man?  Tell us who you’re seeing and why.  Both bands most recent singles are below:

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/02-rat-is-dead-rage.mp3]

Download: CSS – Rat is Dead (Rage) [MP3]

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/manman4.mp3]

Download: Man Man – Big Trouble [MP3]

Mogwai – The Hawk is Howling

Rating: ★★½ · ·

Finally, I found music that I can run to these days, or at least music I could imagine myself running to, if I ever were to actually run.  That being said, Mogwai always offers me something that I can run to, or at least think about running to; actually, they always make music that lets me think.  The Hawk is Howling is just such an album.

First, I have to think about what I have done to begin thinking about running, which I will most definitely not do.  Then, I have to think about why Mogwai makes me think about running.  Finally, I have to think about what it is in Mogwai albums that makes me think.

In thinking about running, I came to the conclusion that its irrelevant to the topic at hand, the new album.  Then I thought long and hard about why Mogwai makes me think about running. This is my conclusion.

The band in and of itself does not make me want to run, but it is their music that makes me do so, and more important, it is their latest releases.  You see, they used to grab you, and fill your ears with swelling noise and sounds that irked your thinking caps.  They have since retired these strong arms of the axe, and exchanged such powers for mellower affairs.

Opening tracks are never going to be considered the best on the album, but here, they don’t really break new ground, and instead, they wallow in the tried and true formula they used off their last album.  It’s not unique anymore, considering the plethora of bands nowadays that are intent upon creating mood altering music.  Let’s take songs like “Local Authority” and “Scotland’s Shame.”  Each song has some offerings for music listeners, but for the most part, they are restrained musings of a band that once let go with such force that my ears rang for days, and that was with earplugs in my ears.  It is gone; they have lost the ferociousness.

There is, but of course, a song like “Batcat” which recalls that grandiose noise they used to bring on a daily basis, but the availability of such noise on this album is minimal.  They did, however, pen the greatest song this side of M83 with “The Sun Smells Too Loud.” Ridiculous song title aside, its the perfect sprawl of Mogwai at its best.

So then I just thought.  Mogwai makes me think about running nowadays because I can ignore their albums.  They used to strike me with a feeling of grandeur, but those days have long passed.  I can enjoy them for their minimal offerings, but, like their songs, the albums gently float away.

My thinking has led me to declare that the glory days of Mogwai have long since passed. In asking them not to rest on their laurels we asked them to throw away what we loved the most.  In the end, we were given sub-par albums that are always worthy of listening to, but never worthy of playing time and time again.  We can take them for a run, but like The Hawk is Howling, their albums are used solely for special moments; lets face it, the moments just don’t seem as special as they used to seem.

Stereolab @ Emo’s (9/24)

Stereolab, now working on 18 years of existence, will be playing at La Zona Rosa on Wednesday evening.  The show may be one of the only legit shows going down this week that has nothing to do with ACL.  Tickets for the show are $25 and can be bought from Gettix.  Below is a song from the band’s 2008 album Chemical Chords entitled “Three Women”.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/0911_stereolab_-_three_women.mp3]

Download: Stereolab – Three Women [MP3]

ACL Battles: MGMT vs. Spiritualized

Okay, so I personally think this may be the toughest choice to make of the festival.  On one side, you’ve got a very young band in MGMT who have only had major success since the release of their superb second album Oracular Spectacular in 2007.  On the other hand, Spiritualized are coming up on twenty years of existence and have been seeing success since before members of MGMT were in middle school.  Both bands will be playing at 5:30 on Saturday on the AT&T Blue Room stage and the Dell stage respectively.  You have a choice between the psych-pop of MGMT or the space rock of Spiritualized.  What’s it gonna be?

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/04-electric-feel.mp3]

Download: MGMT – Electric Feel [MP3]

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/spiritualized_-_soul_on_fire.mp3]

Download: Spiritualized – Soul on Fire [MP3]

ACL Preview: Hot Chip

By this point in time, we’ve all heard about Hot Chip many times before, or at least I hope they have done a fly-by on your radar. Well, this bunch of Brits are here to brighten up your ACL experience on Friday afternoon. Expect this to be a hot-spot for those in the know, and since I’ve alerted you, you are now one of those privileged people! Grab more info after the jump.

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