So many artists are beginning to realize that actually selling albums is impossible and are turning to streaming music online to possibly spark album sales. Not sure about the strategy, but this week features a slew of solid releases that you can try before you buy. Spinner is streaming loads of new releases this week like The Decemberists, Obits, the flippin’ Pearl Jam Ten re-issue, Gomez and several more. Peter, Bjorn & John are also streaming their new album Living Thing over on their myspace page. What’s your take on some of these new albums?
Somewhere in the history of my adolescence, I adored this band. I’ve watched them change and grow from album to album, always finding something to appreciate. There newest album Narrow Stairs saw them branch further than before, but it also didn’t seem to fulfill Ben Gibbard’s desire for perfect acoustic songs with Death Cab. This number reminds us all why we fell in love with his songwriting, and check the midway mark for a change in the song’s progression. The song is the first track off their new Open Door EP coming out next week digitally.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/deathcabforcutie-littlebribes.mp3]
Download: Death Cab for Cutie – Little Bribes [MP3]
Austin’s very own The Strange Boys finally have an album for everyone to share with their friends, though we suggest doing so in a legal manner. After all the waiting, we finally get to see what these young gents have to offer us all; it’s precisely what we all expected, and this is meant in an endearing fashion.
One of the first things most listeners will come across is that the album sounds a bit muddy, as if the boys dragged these songs from beneath a rock on the patio of your favorite dive bar. It’s a taste that most listeners will have to endure, but many more will find rewarding.
Similarly, listeners will likely complain that singer Ryan Sambol’s vocals are a little bit shattering. At times his lyrics are downright hard to decipher, drowned in a Southern sort of drawl, and drawn out until the very last possible syllable. Still, if you give it a bit of love and devotion, it’s bound to worm its way into your heart.
Where precisely would one place the music on this record? Besides Austin? Well, step back into the storied history of a struggling middle class during the sixties. Turn right just past the nearest alley, and walk into the dingy bar filling with smoke as we speak. Here you will find the band and their album and Girls Club. It’s a dense sound, filled with frustration, fear and a destiny all of its own; a destiny soaked, more often than not, in debauchery.
Similarities abound, especially when one focuses on some of the melodic moments, such as the guitar during “No Way for a Slave to Behave,” which resembles the last era of the great American sock-hop. It swings you left and right, as you grab the girl nearest you. If it didn’t have that raw emotion and production, one might find such a song on American Bandstand.
Blues and R&B elements are also in abundance, making one reminisce for the legendary days where teenagers snuck off to cozy up to their romantic interest such as on the song “This Girls Taught Me a Dance.” Even with such elements, they band pull out little rays of sunlight with the guitar work, creating moving songs intended for masses motivated for the subversive culture.
Combine this all with various other classic rock n’ roll elements, and by that we reference Chuck Berry, not your local station that plays everything by the Eagles. It’s a fusion of everything dirty about the story of rock n’ roll, and even the lyrics seem to draw from a day when causing a ruckus was more of just a good time as opposed to a violent act. Stories of stealing girls from their man along with serving time don’t seem to revel in senseless crimes, rather the need for diversion in the sterile world. Use hit song “Heard You Want to Beat Me Up” as an example for such lyrical meanderings.
And the story is written. You find yourself slowly warming up to a band intent upon returning to the day when music not only had artistic elements, but moments devoted purely to the enjoyment to those on stage and in an audience. Every twist and turn, every influence, and every word will make you yearn for precisely the same thing, and you’ll want to share it with the band.
Is anyone else just a little bit sad today as we wrap up another amazing SXSW Festival in Austin? I know we here at ATH are as depressed as anyone to head back into the real world today. Gone are the carefree days of roaming around downtown in search of the best music and the best parties with free red bull and vodka. While still nursing our hangovers and mending our bruises, we would like to share with you the best live acts that we caught this past week. You may have heard of most of these bands or they may be completely new to you, but regardless, these bands brought the noise at SXSW. We tried to be fair and pick the acts that either lived up to a certain hype or just rocked our faces to the floor. Follow the jump for our top 10 live acts of SXSW.
As you eagerly await our recap of a few things SXSW (we promise we’ll keep it brief), why not head over to some other super sites with tons more information than we plan on having. Our friends Ultra8201 have some great shots of Kanye along with a ton of other coverage. Sonic Itch has cool video of Dan Aurbach at The Parish. Gorilla Vs. Bear already has some of his fancy polaroids up. Austinist has a nice news and photos section as well. New York Times even tells us how much stuff costs and who the hell pays for it. Check back later for our top bands of the week that was SXSW.
Nine Inch Nails and Jane’s Addiction are teaming up to give you a sweet new EP for free. The EP features exclusive new rare tracks from both bands along with tracks from Tom Morello’s new project Street Sweeper. Your free music is being used to get fans excited for the upcoming tour between the three bands. Tickets for the Austin date at the Erwin Center go on sale this Saturday at 10am. Head to the new NINJA site to get the free EP with a valid email address.
We know this is a few days late, but seeing as we were busy enjoying SXSW, we didn’t have time to throw this up right away, which is a shame because we love our fellow Austinite, Bill Callahan. This track is off his forthcoming record Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle, which hits stores April 14th on Drag City.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/bill-callahan-eid-ma-clack-shaw.mp3]
Download: Bill Callahan – Eid Ma Clack Shaw [MP3]
Jeremy Jay seems to be relentless when it comes to releasing material, as this is his second album in two years, on top of various 12″s and 7″s. Slow Dance, once again released by K Records, is not a huge departure from last year’s effort, but there are some subtle differences that demonstrate Jeremy’s move into brand new territory.
“We Were There” enters the game with some noticeable keyboard work to comfortably coat the song in a dense fog of 80s synth melodies. At the core, it’s still the same old Jeremy pushing forward driving rhythms to accompany his spoken word delivery, but the new element displays a decision to pursue different ground.
“In This Lonely Town” picks up the same style from last years A Place Where We Could Go, with its swaying rhythm moving back and forth across the speakers. At this point it seems as if the man can construct these songs with such ease that it’s hard to see him not releasing an album a year. “Gallop” plants its roots in the same soil as the preceding song, but that bass line just begs you to bop along the way.
“Canter Canter” and “Slow Dance” pull back the reins just a little bit, as they drop the steady groove that has given the album its pacing up until this point. Not only do the vocals seem to take a step back, but the overall movement of the tracks demonstrates Jeremy’s newfound appreciation for a track that will build and build upon itself. Still, the vocal lay of the land is the most noticeable change here, as if our narrator is slow dancing his way through a field of poppies.
Then comes “Winter Wonder” into the scene. Another slow number, but the remnants of this song don’t seem rooted in either classic rock n’ roll nostalgia nor 80s throwback. In fact, it’s one of the most modern songs Jeremy Jay has constructed to date, which definitely wins him some points, as he seems to finally control the slower tendencies of this album. But he immediately jumps back into the classic R&B sound on “Will You Dance With Me.” The barely audible piano meshed with the bass work propels the song along, though still noticeably slower than pervious numbers.
The closing number here is probably one of the better songs he’s written to date. It’s as if he is channeling a more traditional approach to independent music, with gentle guitar work smeared with flowery vocals. This would fit perfectly in the lexicon of classic 90s indie pop songs, and it’s the perfect close to another admirable piece of work from Jeremy Jay.
As it all draws to a close, the one thing that will remain with listeners is that Jeremy Jay has gone a bit slow on us. While the first half of the album benefits from the pacing of old, the second half demonstrates the songwriters capabilities to compose slower melodic moments. Not a huge change overall, but another solid piece of work.
Just a friendly reminder that ATH will be pretty MIA as far as music news goes for the next couple of days. All of our writers are out at SXSW getting things ready for a full report come Monday. If you aren’t out enjoying the party, don’t forget about our show on Saturday, our SXSW guide and our showcasing artists sampler. Get out there and have fun.
Denton’s own songwriter Robert Gomez has some new music he’s ready to throw our way. The new song is called “On This Day” and will appear on the upcoming album Pine Sticks Phosphorus out on April 14th via Nova Posta Vinyl. It features a slew of Denton/Texas musicians and is even produced by Centro-matic drummer Matt Pence.[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/robertgomez_onthisday1.mp3]
Download: Robert Gomez – On This Day [MP3]