• Top Songs of 2019

    Phew, the end of the year really snuck up on me this time and it’s crazy to think we are moving on from the 2010s. Before we do so, Nathan

    Read more »
  • Top 25 Albums of 2019

    This is the list you’ve all been waiting for, well, sort of. This is my Top 20 LPs of the year. Admittedly, there’s none of the high profile hitmakers on

    Read more »
  • Levitation 2019: A Reflection

    Team ATH has been covering Austin Psych Fest/Levitation since its early inception, probably in the second year at Radio Room (sorry we missed the first year!), so we’ve seen the

    Read more »
  • 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

    Read more »
  • 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

    Read more »

Art & Fashion On South First (9/26)

launch poster pink

Date 9/26/09
Location Under Pressure
Time 5-11pm
Tickets Free!

If you’re looking for an early evening/night time event to wet your free party fancy, head to to the brand new Under Pressure Screen Shop on south first on Saturday around 5pm.  The event features music by Wiretree, The Bubbles, Holy Fiction, Frantic Clam, and Johnny Whutnot.  All kinds of other things will be going on like a fashion show sponsored by Cream Vintage, free drinks, raffles and all kinds of other madness.  Check do512 or facebook for more info on the event.

ACL Interviews: Passion Pit

passionpit_interviewContinuing or ACL coverage today, we are excited to bring you an interview with buzz worthy band Passion Pit.  These guys have been getting a whole bunch of praise heaped on them from numerous sources and we tend to think they deserve that praise.  We recently spoke with Jeff Apruzzese from the band who discusses the hype and buzz surrounding his band.  Of course that’s not all we talk about, but you’ll just have to read more to see it all.

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Asobi Seksu @ Mohawk (9/26)

asobi

Date 9/26/09
Location Mohawk
Doors 8pm
Tickets $10 from Frontgate

Mohawk continues it’s string of great shows with a great lineup of bands on Saturday night.  The set includes Asobi Seksu, ATH fave Cave Singers, and Lightning Dust.  Should be a fun night for all you concert goers.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/the-cave-singers-at-the-cut.mp3]

Download: The Cave Singers – At The Cut [MP3]

Owen – New Leaves

New_Leaves_digipak_3.indd

Rating: ★★★½ ·

Owen’s sole member, Mike Kinsella, has been tooling around the scene since before we even knew what a ‘scene’.  With his brother, Tim, Mike helped start the groundbreaking band Cap n’ Jazz in 1989 which, with a solitary LP and a handful of singles and compilation tracks, changed the way we saw indie rock.  Since the bands split in 1995, Kinsella has put in time with such indie luminaries as Joan of Arc, American Football, Owls, and eventually settling with a his current solo project, Owen, in 2001.

In that time Kinsella has released five albums under the Owen moniker.  Each of these albums, while progressing with minor changes from one to the next, have essentially remained the same: Kinsella’s calming, but oft-times uncertain voice, telling of drunken late nights and one night stands, all with a background of lush acoustic melodies that surround you in blankets of finger-picking, hammer-ons and pull-offs.  If Kinsella weren’t such an accomplished lyricist and musician this formula would become tiresome.  In all honesty, for this reviewer, it had gotten tiresome around 2004 with the release of Owen’s third album, I Do Perceive.  I had grown tired of the clever narratives and pretty songs about finding girls and losing said girls.  I had all but written off Mike Kinsella.

But starting with 2006’s At Home With… and continuing more in his current album, New Leaves (released this week on Polyvinyl Records), something happened with Owen: Mike Kinsella grew up.  After a marriage and a new daughter, Kinsella’s lyrics have matured. Now he is longing for change in his life.  In the first single “Good Friends, Bad Habits” Kinsella laments about being jealous of his friends late nights and bar fights, but in the refrain he clarifies “Sometimes, like every time she breathes, I embrace my routine”.  This sentiment is carried on throughout New Leaves, in songs like the title track and “Amnesia and Me”.

There are still the tracks, most notably “Ugly on the Inside” and “Brown Hair in a Bird’s Nest” that hearken back to his previous lyrical content, and it just seems tired compared to recent domesticated enlightenment. Overall, though, New Leaves is a beautiful and heartfelt record that deserves a listen or two, but it would be nice to change things up every once and a while.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/02-good-friends-bad-habits-1.mp3]

Download: Owen – Good Friends, Bad Habits [MP3]

Friday In Austin! (9/25)

emosaustinFriday is so insanely busy in the music world in Austin that we just had to dedicate an entire post to the goings on.  Here’s a quick rundown of what’s happening at each venue:

Waterloo Records: Langhorne Slim free @ 5pm with free keg beer!

Mohawk: Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Depreciation Guild, and Cymbals Eat Guitars @ 8pm.  Tickets are $10.

Emos(inside): Datarock & Esser @ 9pm.  Tickets are $14.

Emos(outside): Monotonix, Pong, and White Rhino @ 9pm.  Tickets are $15.

Club Mixx: Rob Dickinson(of Catherine Wheel), Lost Werks, Buttercup & Stereo is a Lie @ 7pm.  Tickets are $8.

Red Eyed Fly: Tenthy Anniversary with Riddlin’ Kids, Rubberhead, Born to Lose, & The Banner Year.

Rain Machine – Rain Machine

rain_machine_cov

Rating: ★ · · · ·

We all know and love TV on the Radio, right?  So it seems only natural when one of the band’s most integral members, guitarist/vocalist Kyp Malone (recording as Rain Machine), steps out and releases a solo record we should take notice, right? Well, you would be about half right.

The first half of Rain Machine’s self-titled debut (released this week on Anti-) is good, maybe even better than good. The songs are the polar opposite of what would be released as a TV on the Radio track. They lack the density and the sense of paranoia that the band has finely crafted over the years. Malone, as Rain Machine, writes songs with room for the listener to breathe. The tracks almost seem like skeletons of TVOTR songs, waiting for Dave Sitek to fill them in.  Standout tracks include ‘Give Blood’, ‘Smiling Black Faces’ and ‘Driftwood Heart’ which easily rival anything Malone’s main band have ever released.  Seriously, these songs are that good.

But after track six, ‘Hold You Holly’, something happened to the album. It appears that Malone, for lack of a better word, stopped giving a fuck (Sorry, Ma! If you need proof I’ll let you listen. The expletive is warranted.).  The last six tracks make up for 35 minutes of the albums one hour running time, and boy are they painful.  The seventh track, ‘Desperate Bitch’ could’ve easily had four minutes shaved off it’s almost nine minute life span. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the lengths of the tracks that get my goat, it’s the lack of respect for my time.  Author Kurt Vonnegut believed, and I’m paraphrasing here, that you should make your writing (here, songs) easy for your audience to ingest, because you are asking a lot for them to pay attention to you.  If you are going to write a 1,000 page book or 9+ minute song you makes sure fill with as much meat as possible (TWSS!). Malone has a blatant disregard for this listener’s time.

The last half of this album is pure, self-indulgent jack-assery.  Sorry, Kyp, I don’t mean to rain on your slow, boring parade. You are not Curtis Mayfield, you do not have the fortitude for an extended, meandering jam.  I used to have a theory that every song was someone’s favorite song.  For the million of people that love U2’s ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’ there was always one that loved ‘Lemon’. But Kyp Malone disproved this theory. It is impossible for anyone to like the last six songs on this album, let alone having them be someone’s favorite song (It’s a fact, I did extensive research.)

A five to six song EP or a couple of singles would have easily brought three to four stars, but as a full length, those first six songs just aren’t strong enough to carry the bloated dead weight of the rest of the album.

New Tunes from Free Energy

freeenergyFree Energy busted out their self-titled 7″ off DFA recently, and we brought you that track, and all its glam-rcok swagger, but we’re here now to throw you the other side of the coin.  “Something in Common” is the B-Side, but it’s completely different, wearing the tag of maybe an Albert Hammond Jr. pop influence, which knowing us, is sure to win our hearts. Get into it.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Free-Energy-Something-In-Common.mp3]

Download: Free Energy – Something In Common

The Twilight Sad – Forget the Night Ahead

twilightsad

Rating: ★★★★ ·

From the depths of the Glasgow music scene burst forth another band in 2003.  Since then, The Twilight Sad have slowly been building up a reputation for their melodic rock meets shoegaze, creating beauty surrounded by squalling guitars.  Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters won over many critics, and the world was eager to see if Forget the Night Ahead could keep the band riding the wave of popularity into the hearts and ears of everyone.

As “Reflection of the Television” opens the album up, you can see the screaming feedback you can see that the band still has some of their traditional elements in place.  But, you will also notice that those elements no longer live in the foreground of the song, as they did on previous efforts.  Singer James Graham now has his vocals standing before you for all to see, and while it dramatically changes the aesthetics of the release, you still catch onto the power of music.

“I Became a Prostitute” is the band’s first single off this album, and you can see that it definitely has a presence that can rise above the indie status. Like Glasvegas, it’s a grandiose number full of wave upon wave of guitars accompanied by Graham’s vocals, which just so happen to crash atop the song as well during the chorus.  All in all, it’s a softer approach to writing than the group took in the past, but for most listeners, you will find that it’s equally as effective.

Fortunately for us, this album is longer than their previous affairs, despite the fact that each song reaches well beyond the mark of 3 minutes, with most running near the five minute mark. However, the dynamics of the atmospheric guitar flourishes combined with Graham’s new vocal presence do make some of the songs blend into one another, making it hard to differentiate between the album’s best numbers.  Don’t take this to mean that there aren’t standout tracks in abundance.

“That Birthday Present” is a clever song, with the majority of the tune relishing in the bouncy guitar work.  All this comes to light even though this also happens to be one of the noisier songs on the record.  The Twilight Sad at this point seem sort of like a cross between M83 and Mogwai, except they rely upon a more traditional songwriting structure.  It allows their songs to breathe, instead of wallowing before they fade into obscurity like other bands that implement noise attacks.

“Floorboards Under the Bed” is different than most tunes you’ll find in the groups catalogue.  It seems to wear the influence of tour-mates Frightened Rabbit, but then it fades into a piece of tinkering flare.  Albeit an interesting opening, the song quickly disappears into the back of your mind.  All the build up will lead you into the final three tracks.  Of the final three, “The Neighbours Can’t Breathe” is the stand out, although the closer, “At the Burnside,” has an emotional appeal, with a hint of Glaswegian balladry wrapping it all up.

This album has some really beautiful moments, more than way out the few weak points.  The Twilight Sad are able to build upon their own sound, pushing the shoegazing into the realm of a more pop-centric world, and Forget the Night Ahead wins because of its ability to step into these new realms, encouraging the band to become more than just another stagnant noise-rock act.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/reflection-of-the-television-1.mp3]

Download: The Twilight Sad – Reflection of the Television [MP3]

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