• Rock n’ Recipes: European Sun

    A little over a week ago European Sun released their self-titled LP on one of my favorite labels WIAIWYA. But, despite being a relatively new band, the pedigree of the

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  • Rock n’ Recipes: Emma Kupa

    We return to Rock n’ Recipes features with one of my absolute favorite musicians, Emma Kupa. I first stated my fandom with Standard Fare, but she’s gone on to her

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  • Rock n’ Recipes: Thibault

    Hopefully you’ve caught me news of the forthcoming Thibault record on our site over the last few months, and we were fortunate to reach out to Nicole to have her

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  • Rock n’ Recipes: Pop Filter

    The story of Pop Filter as a band is quite long, although Banksia is their debut LP. But, that story is easy to find for those who wish, so instead,

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New Music From Maps & Atlases

I’ve recently really been enjoying this poppy new jam “Solid Ground” from fairly new band Maps & Atlases.  It’s a quick little pop song that’s showing some promise for these up and comers from Chicago.  The first release after signing to Barsuk Records, Perch Patchwork, will be dropping in stores June 29th.  Good times.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/MapsAtlases_SolidGround.mp3]

Download: Maps & Atlases – Solid Ground [MP3]

New Music From Stars

We are happy to anounce that one our favorite Canadian bands, Stars, is returning in 2010 with a new album in June.  The new LP is set to be titled The Five Ghosts and features this new single “Fixed”.  Physical copies of the new album will be in stores June 22nd via Vagrant Records.  Very excite!

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/04-Fixed.mp3]

Download: Stars – Fixed [MP3]

New Music From The Oh Sees

Yesterday P4K alerted us to this sweet new jam “I Was Denied” by San Fran band The Oh Sees.  The track is set to appear on the garage rockers latest LP Weird Slime, set for release May 11th via In The Red Records.  Maybe this effort will finally earn the veteran band some well overdue fame?  Only time will tell my friends.  I’ll keep giving them spins regardless.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/Thee-Oh-Sees-I-Was-Denied.mp3]

Download: Thee Oh Sees – I Was Denied [MP3]

New Tunes from Blank Dogs

Blank Dogs is the project of Mike Sniper, and while much is unknown, the guy likes to put out a fair amount of material.  Speaking of new material, he’s got a new 12″ coming out titled Phrases, which should be in stores real soon (slow vinyl production) according to Captured Tracks.  Having listened to several tracks, the vocals are a little bit more clear than they were on Under and Under, his last full-length.  This tune shows Blank Dogs delving into the darkness of nostalgic dance pop, with a touch of oddball artistry. It takes a bit to kick in completely, so stay with it.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/01-Heat-Depression.mp3]

Download: Blank Dogs – Heat & Depression [MP3]

Dr. Dog – Shame Shame

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Since the beginning of 2000 some form of Dr. Dog has been out there, living it up, and making music.  It’s strange, but through it all, the band have managed to always sound like they did in the onset of their fame, yet, slight touches influence each record, giving each album a diverse position within the band’s catalogue.  Shame Shame, the band’s latest, is indeed, much like the last few, built on classic rock, like The Band, and fresh fun.

We begin our new journey with the band by listening to “Stranger.”  It’s an odd choice for an opening piece, as there’s no definitive album statement here; it seems more like a carry over from the last record, Fate.  You probably won’t hate this song, but it just encourages the idea that the band have replaced some of their tenacity with slick production.  But, “Shadow People” changes the album for the better.  Vocals come off like a young Wayne Coyne (this is the first notice of this for me), and gentle strumming is accompanied by piano.  As the song furthers itself, you’re introduced to group harmonies, always one of the band’s specialties, along with a bit of a pick me up.  This would have been a more appropriate opener.

One thing that hurts a lot of this record (just an opinion) is that the group sound really professional throughout.  Yes, that’s not necessarily a bad thing by any means, but the restraint on songs such as “Where’d All the Time Go” removes a lot of the youthful exuberance the band portrayed (and do in the live setting).  Where once trading vocal parts between singers Leaman and McMicken always lit the songs afire, here they just seem far too casual.  Perhaps that’s the one drawback on Shame Shame; the band have gotten so good at what they do, that a bit of the spirit has been lost on the side of the road during some endless Spring tour.

Don’t mistake this criticism for entire disappointment, for there is plenty left to enjoy.  “Later” with its driving piano shows a bit of a new approach for the group. While there is a bit of instrumental tinkering in the song, you sort of wait for the band to let go entirely, which doesn’t happen, except for the vocals, their most powerful appearance on the record.  It’d be interesting to see if the band could ever let loose with their recorded material.

Dr. Dog do tamper a bit with their songwriting approach throughout Shame Shame.  “I Only Wear Blue” is mostly a vocal performance for the opening minute or so, just before the band jumps in to encourage a bit of fun.  Even the lyrics say “let’s get on with it,” suggesting that on some level, the band knows it’s best when they’re pushing themselves, and their listeners. But, for all the experimenting you find, the band always seem to resort to their old tricks.

The past several years have been really good for Dr. Dog, and one would hope that Shame Shame would only further their rise in the music world.  Instead, they’ve crafted an album full of really enjoyable songs, but songs that don’t ever seem to truly take off from a rigorous recording plan one might set up in the studio.  New Dr. Dog tunes are never bad, but at the same time, it seems like we’re at a standstill, waiting for something to change, if only to remind us why we loved this group so much in the beginning.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/drdog3.mp3]

Download: Dr. Dog – Stranger [MP3]

The band will be in Austin on May 1st at Emos.

Contest: Camera Obscura @ Emo’s (4/9)

One of our favorite bands Camera Obscura is stopping in town again on Friday night at Emo’s.  Of course you know we’ll be there, but we’ve been lucky enough to get our hands on a guest list spot that we’re offering up to a lucky reader.  Deets for the contest are simple: leave a comment below or tweet us with your favorite Camera Obscura song.  Easy right?  Our one lucky winner will receive a spot on the band’s guest list with a +1.  Winners will be contacted at the end of the day on Wednesday.  Please also remember to leave a valid email address so we can get in touch with you.  Our non winners can check out Ticketweb for tickets going for $16.  Doors are @ 8:30pm.  Go!

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

Download: Camera Obscura – My Maudlin Career [MP3]

Contest: The Big Pink @ The Parish (4/8)

We’ve got a couple contests coming your way this week and our first one features a couple guest list spots for Thursday night’s much anticipated Big Pink show at The Parish.  Details for the contest are: leave a comment below or tweet us with why you should win.  Be creative fools!  One lucky winner will receive their name with a +1 on the band’s guest list.  Don’t forget that we’ll need a valid email address so we can contact you later.  We’ll be ending things on Wednesday afternoon so get those entries in quick like.  Tickets are also available via Frontgate @ $13 a piece.  Ready, set, go!

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/01-Dominos-1.mp3]

Download: The Big Pink – Dominos [MP3]

New(ish) Music From Joy Formidable

A while back, I brought you guys a tune/free album download from this Welsh band Joy Formidable.  I’m now reading online that the band recently signed to new record label Black Bell Records which was just created by Passion Pit’s Ayad Al Adhamy.  In May the new label plans to finally get a U.S. release for Joy Formidable’s 8 song EP A Balloon Called Moaning which was previously only available internationally.  I downloaded that EP when it was free last year and have recently been finding myself drawn more and more to the bands atmospheric fuzz pop sound.  Below you can find a sample of that sound in the form of a free song the band is offering up to grow some publicity for their upcoming release.  The future looks bright for this 3 piece.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/05-Whirring.mp3]

Download: Joy Formidable – Whirring [MP3]

Harlem – Hippies

Rating: ★★★★½

For the past several years, interest has been building slowly behind the Austin trio, Harlem.  They upped their own ante by signing to Matador Records for the release of their newest album, Hippies.  Behind years of playing whenever and wherever they could, honing their musical chops, Harlem have seemingly created one of the best works of the year (I was afraid to give it a 5 so as not to be accused of a homer).

Entering the album, there’s about thirty seconds of a slight lull during “Someday Soon,” but as the song goes on, the pace quickens, going forward in a ramshackle truckload of fun.  The final crashing chorus shows the nonchalant attitude of the band who are always energetically pursuing joy on stage.  “Friendly Ghost” (not about a ghost) carries the same mentality, using jangling guitars and a pounding drum to get your foot tapping so hard you might lose it to the sheer enjoyment of the song alone.

Destined to not just rely on lo-fi tendencies and madness, the group do give a nod to a little bit more of a classic rock n’ roll sound, as “Number One” highlights garage rock’s earlier days with gang vocals and certain tendency not to come across too polished.  All the while, they maintain their incredible stomp, which may lead to some soreness in the neck after prolonged exposure to this record. “Be Your Baby” is in the exact same ball park, although it doesn’t sound anything at all like the song that precedes it.  You will surely be exhausted already by this point, as no band can clearly keep up this blistering pace.

They do.  It’s like non-stop furious jangling chords and raucous percussion work.  “Gay Human Bones” maintains the pace, and then you find a hint of Nirvana in “Torture Me” (that’s if you are to believe the band’s Myspace).  However, there is “Cloud Pleaser.”  Rolling gently along for a minute or two, it gives all us listeners a chance to stretch and maybe grab a quick drink of water, but the band can’t stay away too long, ending the song on a faster note, albeit a slightly slower one, comparatively speaking.

You won’t ever find anything dull, though some might say that there are some like-sounding songs, along the way to the end of the record.  If you found the first half of the record touched by garage sounds and carefree recording, then you’ll be surprised that there is a dark psychedelia lying at the second half.  “Prairie My Heart” has a darker soul to it than some of the previous number, leading you to believe that Harlem has more tricks up their sleeve. So they do, as “Pissed” clearly isn’t like many other things on the record, yet it fits right along the rest of the tracks.  Personally, it just reminds me of Love if Arhtur Lee was a whole lot more “pissed”, and didn’t have that spectacular voice.

Really, this record is fantastic.  It moves along at such a quick pace that you have to go back several times to make sure you loved that one song as much as you did when you first heard it.  Truth is, you will love it, possibly more so.  Hard to find a bad song on this record that can’t stand on its own merit, which makes Hippies one of the best works to come out in 2010. Truth.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/Harlem-Friendly-Ghost.mp3]

Download: Harlem – Friendly Ghost [MP3]

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