• 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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  • Nathan’s Top Austin Albums of 2018

    In the year’s end, those who “write” about music claim our superior tastes by spouting off about our favorite releases. I figured I should start off all the shenanigans with

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New Music From Birdmonster

Birdmonster has some new music available for the first time in a long time. The new song is called “Born to be your Man” off their soon to be released album From The Mountain To The Sea due out 8/5 digitally and 9/2 in stores on the Fader label. It’s quite the catchy little diddy don’t ya think?

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/birdmonster-born-to-be-your-man.mp3]

Download: borntobeyourman.mp3

Penitentiary III w/Jamaa Fanaka @ Alamo

The Original Alamo Draft House downtown never ceases to amaze me. Tonight the greatest movie theater in town will be showing the movie Penitentiary III with writer/director Jamaa Fanaka on hand before and after the movie. Never heard of the film? Read this description from IMDB: “A man is framed for murder and sent to prison. He is beaten and tortured, then forced to fight the prison’s worst killer, a martial-arts fighting midget called Thud.” If that doesn’t sound like a cinematic masterpiece worthy of an Oscar, I don’t know what planet you’re from! The film came out in 1987 so I guess the Academy missed out on voting for this one. Head to Alamo’s website to get tickets for the show starting at 9:45pm.

Earlimart – Hymn and Her

Rating: ★★★½ ·

California’s Earlimart has released their 4th studio album, this one coming just a year or so after the release of Mentor Tormentor, which was one of my favorite releases of 2007. I found it an odd choice to release another album so quickly, but I wasn’t let down by this effort.

“Song For,” the opening track, begins with some bouncing percussion, as the music crashes in behind it, you are reminded of similar California acts such as Grandaddy or early Rogue Wave-neither of which is a bad comparison in my book.

Aaron Espinoza has a perfect voice for the melodic sounds of his band, as he gently sings through this album, resembling the softness of his friend Eliott Smith. It’s a comparison I am sure he is sick of at this point, but one that creeps up time and time again in his music.

“Before it Gets Better” introduces the audience to equally strong voice of Ariana Murray, the other mainstay member in the Earlimart lineup. Backed by the softness of a piano, she sings about the realization that before anything gets better, its bound to get worse. Despite the undertones of this song, Ariana allows the listener to empathize with her feelings–a good feat I dare say. Her lead role on “Time For Yourself” makes it another bright spot on the album, which I think has a lot to do with her voice in contrast to Espinoza. At some points I just find her more fitting, but that could be due to her songwriting on such songs.

Unfortunately, I found that there were some spots that missed their mark–for me as a listener. Tracks like “God Love You the Best” or “Cigarettes and Kerosene” found me searching in earnest for the uniqueness that opened the album. Even when the guitars burst in on “Cigarettes and Kerosene” I found it lacking the personality of other songs that are present. Even the title track, “Hymn and Her,” seems like a track that blends into the background of this album.

However, I found a beautiful gem on this record in the song “For the Birds.” It has the gentle quality of Espinoza, backed by the “ooohs” from Murray, all thrown into the mix with a quiet backing of piano and a strumming acoustic guitar. This is the most special moment on this album.

At times, Earlimart waiver from their focus, and it is that tendency to operate on musical tangents that has always hurt their albums. Their strengths come in when they combine Espinoza’s voice with Murray’s, using carefully constructed soundscapes to back the vocals. Lucky for us, there are plenty of those moments on this record.

Listen to the first single off the album “Song For” below:

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/01-song-for.mp3]

download: songfor.mp

New Music From Takka Takka

Takka Takka have another new song for your listening pleasure off their latest offering Migration due out July 29th. The new song is called “Everybody Say” which can be found below. The new album features some guest drumming by Bryan Devendorf of The National.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/everybody-say.mp3]

Download: everybodysay.mp3

New Music From The Donkeys

San Diego artist The Donkeys recently posted the newest single from their latest effort Living on the Other Side due out on Dead Oceans September 9th. The name of this catchy/impossible to get out of your head song is “Walk Through a Cloud” which can be found below. Read more about The Donkeys on that website that takes a million years to load.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/walkthroughacloud.mp3]

Download: walkthroughacloud.mp3

Fleet Foxes @ Mohawk (7/2)

The most talked about up and coming band to watch Fleet Foxes will be stopping by The Mohawk Austin on Wednesday night with tour mates The Dutchess & The Duke. Tickets are on sale right now for only $8 on the Transmission Entertainment ticket site. The doors are said to be opening at 7pm with opening act Balmorhea set to start at 8pm. If I was a betting man, I would bet that puts Fleet Foxes going on some time after 10pm. As always, ATH will be on hand covering the event. If you’ve read our review of the band’s most recent self-titled album, you know we are pumped about this sure to be outstanding show. You can read more about the band & hear a few songs on the band’s myspace page. Don’t miss out!

Sigur Ros – med sud I eyrum vid spilum endalaust

Rating: ★★★★ ·

This band is epic. Given the task of singing “Happy Birthday” at an 8 year old’s birthday party, they could likely stretch the performance several minutes with multiple movements involving choirs of children and the London Sinfionetta. (see Ara Bitur`) That is just the natural skill of this foursome from Iceland. And though they showcase that skill in several areas of their new album; med sud I eyrum vid spilum endalaust, they have expanded their repertoire with looser, shorter, more traditional songs this time around.

The first track/single “Gobbledigook” isn’t quite their attempt at Ipod commercial appeal, but at just over three minutes, they might finally get to play on Letterman. In fact, there are only four songs on the album clocking in past five minutes. The single uses heavy percussion, alternating acoustic guitar lines, and harmonized vocals to create something… fun. Somewhat of a departure from the glacial, sparse musical landscapes they have focused on with their past five albums.

Building on the same theme, the second track is Inní Mér Syngur Vitleysingur. Though accompanied with brass and string sections and a soaring vocal melody, the driving force in this track is the bassline, piano, and four on the floor drumbeat.

Fans of the traditional epic sounds of Sigur Ros will also find much to enjoy on endalaust. Five minutes into Festival, the bassline and steady kick drum start the final build. Symphonic horns and strings add from there. Vocal harmonies, additional horns, and seemingly whatever other instrument is lying around the studio, take hold of the simple melody and build it to a stunning climax.

For me, the peak of the album comes with the turning point in Ara Bitur at four and a half minutes through the song. A simple piano line is augmented with lightly struck bass, and Jonsi’ Birgisson’s repeating vocal is suddenly accompanied with an entire symphony and children’s choir. At its peak, the song features 90 musicians playing at once. Recorded in one take in the Abbey Road studio in London, this is most epic track on the album.

In several niches of popular music, you can find dramatic shifts in loud/soft dynamics with bands like Explosions in the Sky, or even certain tracks like “Everlong“ from the Foo Fighters, but songs like this show just how far above their contemporaries Sigur Ros can be. It is tough to describe the resulting energy in this song relative to where it begins. Just make sure you only listen to it on empty desert roads with no speed limit, or seated comfortably in your home. But turn it up.

So with endalaust, Sigur Ros have shown that while they can narrow their scope and create succinct, meaningful, and well constructed songs that open them up to shorter attention spans and wider appeal, they are still kings of the epic.

06/26 Kadane Brothers Show + Interview

The Kadane Brothers delivered an intimate two guitar and no frills set at Emo’s Austin on Thursday night. Austin was the first show in a series of quick North American tour dates for Matt & Bubba Kadane without their backing band The New Year. The brothers showcased a few new songs off their forthcoming self titled release The New Year due out in September with their band of the same name. Each song of the set featured one of the two brothers singing lead with the other brother singing harmonies to back up. Read more

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