Secondhand Sureshots – CD/DVD

Rating: ★★★★½

Do you ever have that romantic image of walking into a thrift store or Half-Price Books to rummage through the old vinyl and finding a true hidden gem? Every time I go into a record store I think this is the day I find the one I’ve been looking for. Well, for some, they turn the left over scraps of vinyl records into gems. Such is the story of Secondhand Sureshots; putting new life into old, unwanted vinyl. This is a collaborative mixing project from Dublab and Stones Throw, which gathered together some of the most prominent beat-makers in the US (if not the world) for a fun, spontaneous, collaborative beat making project.

The rules are simple. 1.) Each DJ gets $5.00 to buy 5 records of his choice. 2.) No additional instruments. The players in the game include J.Rocc, Daedalus, Nobody, and Ras G; each with their own unique style and flavor to bring to the table. They also exhibit different approaches to cutting and splicing; their wide ranging taste in music which adds to the intrigue of the final product. The set comes with a CD of the final mixed tracks, but the DVD is worth the cost alone. Over 2 hours of footage on the documentary shows each DJ carefully selecting their 5 records with their method and reasoning behind the selections. One thing is for sure, there is no shortage of Barbara Streisand (you’ll see what I mean). Once each man makes their picks at 4 different L.A. based thrift stores, it’s off to the studio for the magic to happen and a first spin of their random dusty vinyl.  The facial expressions as they listened to their records for the first time, trying to decipher what they can use and what is total crap, are priceless. Also, it is interesting in watching the way which each of the men worked and their systems of chopping and laying down beats.  

What’s truly inspiring is the finished product. From 5 “craptastic” records emerges top quality stuff. You would never have guessed where the original pieces came from. Consequently, the final pressed remixed albums were redistributed in beautiful re-purposed album covers with ninja-like precision. There they will wait to appear as a hidden gem for the next vinyl bottom feeder searching for that treasure.  This is a very entertaining set and I highly recommend checking it out for yourselves. We, in Austin, have a special treat in store for us as tonight at the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz.  The documentary will be played with Ras G to perform live. This is not to be missed if you are a fan of the electronic genre or if you enjoy spontaneous beats.

Broken Social Scene – Forgiveness Rock Record

Rating: ★★½☆☆

It’s been a good five years since we’ve heard from Canadians Broken Social Scene, and with their return, news comes that the large entourage has dwindled to a merry band of six (now with even more guests!).  How would the departure, or lack of involvement of key members, play out on the band’s new album, Forgiveness Rock Record?  Honestly, this album will be a divisive one, at least it looks that way now.  Some will find they love it from the start, while others (like myself) will be reluctant to completely disregard it due entirely to the band’s back catalogue and the ridiculous talent pool still intact.

By now you’ve all heard “World Sick,” but in contrast to the rest of the album, it feels really as if the song was sort of phoned in, for lack of better wording.  It appears as if the band, unsure of their identity as a six piece, fell upon common ground from days of old, in hopes of establishing their footing.  You’ll find the crashing percussion, though it seems a little bit cleaner, and the swelling vocals during the chorus.  Sorry, but you’ve done it better.  Similarly, the following song, “Chase Scene” has this driving electronic feel, but for some reason, it lacks that emotional release that made the band so enchanting.

Opening moments of “Texico Bitches” build great possibilities, relying upon the great guitar hook and Drew’s vocals to draw you in, and while that hook remains, it gets buried in the rest of the textural elements, such as string instruments, that are piled onto everything here. Still, this is the first song I think I really enjoyed, which is more than can be said for the following tune “Forced to Love.”   The vocal delivery is enough to turn you off every time, and all the guitar chords cutting through the song just get on my nerves.  Throw that in with the chorus, that once again seems like re-using something from the closet, and this is one of the more disappointing moments on Forgiveness Rock Record.

When I came across “Art House Director,” I wasn’t really sure where to find this song.  It’s full of horns, and it sounds a lot more like they’re channeling a bit of Guided by Voices, but as you listen to this song more, this is precisely what you wanted the group to do.  They’re throwing something entirely new into the mixture; it feels fresh immediately, yet still remains a since of smooth pop that the band tends to evoke.  Throw this in with “Ungrateful Little Father” and you have the band going places where they haven’t gone before, so you get excited.  The latter song uses Drew’s vocal as the focus, then throws in the pop instrument collage, crafting careful cacophony.

Those looking for old friends will find their joy in “Sentimental Xs” as Emily Haines of Metric makes her appearance.  Her coy little voice seems to float atop the song, as layer upon layer continues to build.  There’s electronic blips, percussion, feuding guitar lines. and despite being a good song, it doesn’t explode where you want it to, instead it remains sort of reined in to the album.  You’ll echo these exact sentiments the more you listen, waiting for the classic sound of Broken Social Scene to pop its head out.

Here’s the thing with this album: it doesn’t ever quite deliver.  I will admittedly agree that there are moments of brilliance, creativity and such all over this record, but they don’t ever seem to come together.  In the past, you always felt like no one in the band was in control, that they could release furious pop on you at any moment.  Here, Broken Social Scene seem to have gotten a bit more cohesion with the group, but in doing so, they’ve made their sound less dangerous and a little watered down.  Perhaps I’m just jaded by personal relationship with past records, but isn’t that the case with this band?  Don’t you just love that one record, that one perfect song?  You do; you know it, and I’m positive that in my world, Forgiveness Rock Record just doesn’t hold water to those moments.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/06-Art-House-Director.mp3]

Download: Broken Social Scene – Art House Director [MP3]

New Tunes from Quiet Company

If you’ve been involved with the Austin music scene for a bit, we’re sure you’ve heard of Quiet Company, at least we hope you have.  The band is about to release their new EP, Songs for Staying In, and based on the lead track, it’s going to be one of those collections of songs that’s sure to get stuck in your head this Spring.  It’s straight pop music, but the sort that comes with lush orchestration and warm melodies.  You can catch the band this week for their CD release at Encore, though the hard release isn’t scheduled until May 11th.  Get on board now; these guys are going places.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/01-How-Do-You-Do-It_-1.mp3]

Download: Quiet Company – How Do You Do It [MP3]

Tallest Man On Earth @ Stubbs (5/2)

Date 5/2/10
Location Stubbs
Doors 10pm
Tickets $12 @ Frontgate

If you’re looking for an intimate and special show on a Sunday night, head over to Stubbs for a show by Swedish songwriter Tallest Man on Earth.  Opening support for this one is provided by Nurses.  Don’t pass this up as you may never know when this guy’s coming back!

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/06-King-of-Spain-1.mp3]

 Download: Tallest Man on Earth – King of Spain [MP3]

New Tunes from Coliseum

We realize of course that we don’t always post the most rocking of tunes, at least not of this order, but we all come from a pretty solid punk background (at least I do). Kentucky band, Coliseum, have a new new album, House With a Curse,  which comes out June 22nd.  Since it’s produced by J. Robbins of Jawbox, it’s probably going to rule.  It’s a blistering tune, but it’s one I’ve been jamming to all day long. Happy Friday Folks!

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/coliseum-blind-in-one-eye.mp3]

Download: Coliseum – Blind in One Eye [MP3]

New Music From Phosphorescent

If you can’t tell from my artist to watch feature and last FTC, I’m having a bit of an alt-country faze in my current listening trends.  I guess that makes it a perfect time for some new music from Matthew Houck and his indie folk project Phosphorescent.  The group is prepping to drop their brand new fifth full length LP Here’s To taking It Easy on May 11th via Dead Oceans.  Prior to that release date, we’ve got this new single “The Mermaid Parade” for your listening pleasure below.  I’ve already spun my press copy of this new joint a few times, and can tell you alt-country fans that you’ll want to pick up a copy.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/04-The-Mermaid-Parade-1.mp3]

Download: Phosphorescent – The Mermaid Parade [MP3]

Dr. Dog @ Emo’s (5/1)

Date 5/1/10
Location Emos
Doors 9pm
Tickets $18 @ Ticketweb

Seems like Dr. Dog mine as well just move to Austin huh?  It sort of seems that way with all the shows they keep playing in our little town.  This time they’re at Emos along with fellow ATH favorite Deer Tick.  Should be your best show option for Saturday night.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/deertick20miles1.mp3]

Download: Deer Tick – 20 Miles [MP3]

I Was Wrong: The Walkmen’s You & Me

We’re starting a new feature today, one that we hope you really enjoy.  The section is titled “I Was Wrong,” and it’s based on things we’ve either said or reviewed on the site that we’d like to apologize for, since we’ve come to realize now that we were wrong.  I know some people want me to apologize right off the bat for my Vampire Weekend review, but I’m not there yet, sorry.  The first edition goes to The Walkmen and their album You & Me.  When it first came out, I wrote this REVIEW.  I found it boring and uninspired, especially after listening to “The Rat” on repeat for years.   Now, as time has gone on, and I’ve invested more time in the record, and seen the band perform the songs live, things have changed up a whole lot.  There are songs sprawling with emotion, catchy basslines that walk you through the songs, and then there is “In the New Year.”  Sharp edged guitars ring in your ears before Hamilton’s vocals crash into the scene.  Listen to this song, now!  For that matter, go back and listen to the record, and see what I failed to see upon the first ten listens.  I made a rash decision based on hurried listening, and I’ve come to regret that entirely.  To you, dear reader, I’m sorry, I was wrong.

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

New Tunes from Woods

Hopefully you’ve already gotten your hands on this tune already, but it’s too good not to share it with those who haven’t.  Woods will be releasing their newest album At Echo Lake next week (May 4th) on Woodsist, and the blissful creativity in this song is just one of the many reasons that you’ll fall in the love with this record.  This is the perfect tune for the perfect Austin weather we’ve been having.

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

Download: Woods – Suffering Season [MP3]

Owen Pallett @ Mohawk (4/30)

Date 4/30/10
Location Mohawk
Doors 8pm
Tickets $13 @ Frontgate

The great Owen Pallett (Final Fantasy) has a show planned at Mohawk on Friday evening.  His opening support will be provded by Snowblink.  Also, stick around after the headliner for a show inside by our favorite local group Great Nostalgic.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/05-Lewis-Takes-Action.mp3]

Download: Owen Pallett – Lewis Takes Action [MP3]

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