• 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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  • ATH Top Albums – 2018

      This is our year end list for albums of the year. There’s four of us here, so it’s hard to come to a consensus, but we did our best.

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New Tunes from It Hugs Back

ithugsback UK band It Hugs Back has been hitting the presses lateley without a lot of love on both sides of the pond.  Their debut album, Inside Your Guitar, is set to come out this April via heralded label 4AD. There sound combines the gentleness of 90s indie groups while bringing a modern spin on the whole ordeal.  Take notice now, because with a song like “Work Day,” this band is poised to win you over.


Download: It Hugs Back – Work Day [MP3]

Neko Case – Middle Cyclone


Rating: ★★★★ ·

From time to time, not very often, we bear witness to the amazing talent of an artist that we may not fully understand the impact and powerful force they have wielded upon us and music as a whole. Speaking not only of the present accomplishments they have made but also of the resonances that will be heard of their music to come. It always seems easy to speak greatly about an artist of this caliber in hindsight after they are gone and notice the scar they left on the medium, but to notice the force of the artist in their prime and sit back and admire them is harder to come by. Such is the case (no pun intended) with Neko Case.

With her latese effort entitled Middle Cyclone, Case builds her myth and casts spells upon the listener with every song. When Homer wrote the Odyssey and spoke of the Sirens, the voice he must have heard would’ve been of Neko Case. She commands attention with every word she sings and leaves the weak to the wayside. Opener, “This Tornado Loves You” spins into your heart doing just that. The opening mandolin strum with the rolling snare that follows makes for the perfect musical soundscape for Case’s vocal whirlwind. Lines such as “carved your name across three counties” and “their broken necks will lie in the ditch” tells of the search, destruction, and anger she has toward a lover and the demise of weak men she spits out in search of him.

“People Got A Lotta Nerve” is another girl power anthem that’s meaning works on many levels. All men have been hoping a song with this powerful of a chorus would never happen, but are forced to reckon with “I’m a man-man-man, man-man-man—eater!” JEEZUS! Did she have to go and do that?! Every time us guys are in a bar or at friends house and this song comes on, we are gonna have to swallow our pride for 2 1/2 minutes while you girls get too big for your britches and think you have some sort of dominant role over men. Pffft. (Babe, if you’re reading this, I cleaned the dishes and did the bathroom too.)

The middle section of the album is composed mostly of acoustic numbers that allow for the potency of Case’s vocals to take effect. Her vocal delivery is amplified by the stark imagery and subject matter of her lyrics. First and foremost an amazing vocalist, her lyrics take you further away by descriptive tales of  romance and love without being twee and silly. Murder, blood, and knives are common in her dark vocabulary as spiderwebs,  magpies and tornadoes are thrown into the mix for natural measure. A simple lullaby like, “Magpie to the Morning” can only be taken to such heights by the beauty of such inventiveness.

There are two covers on the album, Harry Nilsson’s “Don’t Forget Me” and Sparks“Never Turn Your Back On Mother Nature.” Both songs sound a bit strange for the album in terms of flow, but it seems they are songs held close to heart for Case with good intentions like “N.T.Y.B.O.M.N.” Case owns a 100 acre lot with a house in the lush greenery of Vermont which I’m sure contributes to the inspiration for covering this song. In fact, the nature surrounding the house has had such an impact that it yielded it’s own 30 minute track. The albums’ finale “Marais La Nuit,” was recorded outside of her house with the sounds of crickets and the nightlife bringing the record to a close.

SXSW Watchlist: Red Riders

rr_070614122353600_wideweb__300x375Aussie band Red Riders are the latest and greatest to get our SXSW Watchlist treatment.  The band is not the first to make the leap from the Australian market, but the country hasn’t had much to talk about as of late.  Influences of the band are cited as mid 80s fellow Aussie acts like The Go-Betweens, The Triffids, and The Church.  Follow the jump to read a brief interview with lead singer Alex Grigg, check some dates and grab a tune.

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Kool Keith @ Mohawk (3/5)

030509_mohawk_koolkeith0Kool Keith (also known as Dr. Dooom, Dr. Octagon, or Black Elvis) is returning to Austin after his sick performance at Fun Fest in November.  This time around, Mr. Thornton will be playing at The Mohawk on Thursday with tickets going for $11.  Doors for this sure to be rowdy hip-hop show open at 8pm.

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

Download: Dr. Octagon – Earth People [MP3]


front-cover4-finalOne of our favorite blog reads, Aquarium Drunkard, has created a really sweet compilation disc full of some of the great indie acts out of L.A.  Not just a compilation, the album features each band’s take on a song from Paul McCartney’s 1971 solo album RAM. The album is free to download, but The Drunkard is suggesting that you say thanks by donating to his favorite charity No More Land Mines.  With a compilation full of artists like Parson Red Heads, Earlimart, and Bodies of Water, why not donate a little?

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/09-eat-at-home.mp3]

Download: The Broken West – Eat At Home [MP3]

The Great Nostalgic – s/t


Rating: ★★★★½

It’s rare nowadays when an artist will actually create a world and sound, one which takes you upon a journey within an album.  We’re a culture that’s reverted back to the days of singles and 7″s, but some of us still yearn for that legendary trip throughout an album, carried up and down by the songwriters; that is precisely what newcomers The Great Nostalgic have created with their debut self-titled album.

Opening the album with “Grace,” a song based entirely around deep piano chords creates a moment of solemnity, encouraging the listener to settle down as the album begins to take flight.  And from here the band go straight into “The Kingdom” where the band slowly start to assert themselves as a complete force to reckon with as guitars crash carefully mid-song.  Subject-wise, the band sets us up as singer Abram Shook carries you back home with him to a place where his memories hold great importance.  Listen close as wave after wave of guitar noise crash upon you near the song’s end, coated in a dense fog of noise.

From here, we journey into a song about “Young Lovers,” one of the songs destined to be a hit with audiences.  Here you find a bounce to the band that wasn’t present in the earlier moments of the album, and its a welcome change of pace as the band carry you to yet another plateau in their reptoire. Listening, you can bounce along the entire time, but the prize comes as the snare drum rattles in tight unison with guitar work at the end of the album.  But, just as soon as your body is moving, they draw you back in with a more subtle song.  Shook seems to be dealing with a bit of defeat, but his undying love, or infatuation, pushes him to hunt his love, played in part by the band’s occasional guest female vocalist, Pink Nasty.

Still, they’ve got haunting elements to carry with them, as they do in “Fall River Dream” in which the narrator seems to follow aimlessly down a river filled with mistakes and dreams both touching and demonic.  Our narrator yearns to be free, hoping the water washes it all away.  And off we go with “Fire Brigade,” which has a looming sense of doom, especially when the guitar work is shortened, matched by the pounding of phenomenal guest drummer John Kolar (Sunset).  It’s an epic moment in the album, one filled with a sense of complex dark chaos.

Thus comes one of the best tracks on the album, though admittedly, they are all exceptional in their own right, “County Line.”  Combining keyboard elements and angular guitar work creates a certain tension, yet allows for pristine pop moments.  It takes us back to the story of the young lovers, but in doing so it brings a certain sense of ferocity, along with accusations of someone “living someone else’s life.”  Juxtaposed, however, is “Legend,” one of the songs that bubbles with creativity alongside an atmospheric sound of swelling guitars and electronics just before the pace is quickened; the introduction of horns certainly moves this song into a realm beyond its predecessors.  And so “Queen and Country” reintroduces you to Pink Nasty along with Diedre Gott and Abram Shook, together at last, at least as far as lyrical delivery goes.

And the album begins to draw to a close with ‘The House of My Father.”  Rumbling drums melded with Shook’s voice, as it echoes in the forefront of the song make for memorable moments, and the urgency with which the band performs does not go unnoticed.  Here we rise to the seeming climax of the album, after various ebbs and flows through the valley of the album.  Then we have the end, the “Return to the Kingdom” where we go back to where it all began, to a place where its full of memories.  Marching goes the band, and our heart beats along until the end, where we are blasted by the album’s coda.

So through it all, the band mixes up their textures, their approaches and their delivery.  They carefully craft an album that allows you to start at one point, and follow the band until the end.  One couldn’t have asked for more from a fairly young band, as they deliver one of the most complete albums to come out this year.

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

Download: The Great Nostalgic – County Line [MP3]

You can catch this band Friday (3/6) at Club Deville as part of the Cacophony Records party.

New Jams From Architecture In Helsinki

aihNot sure just how late we are in getting to this one, but we’re banking on some of you digging this track regrdless.  Aussie band Architecture in Helsinki have a new dance beat entitled “That Beep” to throw your way.  The single will appear on a new album tentativley titled Vision Revision with an as of yet named release date sometime this year.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/architecture-in-helsinki-that-beep.mp3]

Download: Architecture in Helsinki – That Beep [MP3]

Modest Mouse @ Stubbs (3/4)

modest-mouse-band-photoIt’s hard to believe that Modest Mouse are still going strong after all these years and yes we are still excited about them coming to our little town.  You can catch this now veteran act on Wednesday at Stubbs along with opening bands Mimicking Birds & Japanese Motors.  Doors for this show are at 7pm.  Tickets have been sold out for quite some time now and are selling for way more than what they are worth on Ebay.  Try a scalper?

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/modest-mouse-spitting-venom.mp3]

Download: Modest Mouse – Spitting Venom [MP3]

New Tunes from Art Brut

artArt Brut is one of those unassuming bands who you aren’t quite sure whether to trust, as they seem to be toying with you the entire time.  Just listening to the delivery of singer Eddie Argos makes you question his genuineness in the face of the music world. Regardless, the band has loads to offer, especially in the fierceness of the rest of the music.  RCRDLBL has the preview of a new track off their album Art Brut vs. Satan, so go there now.

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