• SXSW 2019 – A Recap

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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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The Notwist – The Devil, You + Me

Rating: ★★★★ ·

The album opener sets the tone for this album. “Good Lies,” kicks off this record with an introduction to the group’s guitar-work. It’s quite a change from their near-perfect Neon Golden. This song bounces along, being pushed by the guitars, but it doesn’t quite have the pace of songs like “Pilot,” off their previous album. Where you hope for a dramatic shift, it just goes along, then adds a little bit of the electronic beats, which is where the band receives a lot of their accolades.

Another solid number that opens a new vein for The Notwist is “Gloomy Planet.” The soothing voice of Markus Acher is layered beneath a strumming acoustic guitar, while the minimal beats dance their way to the background. The subject matter of the song seems a bit gloomier than prior efforts, but I think that title of the album really sets that mood from the minute you purchase this album.

There are definitely some redundant parts on this album, such as “Alphabet,” but I think it is really hard to pull of this dynamic sound without treading over the same round again and again. On top of that, you add the lack of range for Acher, and at times the album kind of just blends in with itself, which I think is going to be the biggest complaint from any listener. That, and there are a few moments where they push the electronic buttons a little too loud and too far, which got a little grating on my ears, as short-lived as it was.

Given some weaknesses, there are some supreme moments on this album. For me, as a listener, “On Planet Off,” is reminiscent of some of the Industrial nineties music that I just adored, only a great deal more ambient than all that. Not to mention, you don’t find a lot of songs better than “Devil, YOu + Me” these days. Then you comes along a song like “Boneless” near the end of the album to pick the pace back up and put a little bit of a bounce back in your step.

You add the faults and the good moments in this record, and you find a rarity in today’s music world. You find an album that you can listen to from start to finish; each track requires careful attention, and with that attention, each song continues to open up new doors for you. It may not be the album that blows your hair back, but it is an album that fails to let you down, which is a lot to say for a band that was surrounded in hype and anticipation.

Here’s a track off the new album called “Good Lies”:

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

Download: goodlies.mp3

New Music From Damien Jurado

Damien Jurado and his band mates have a new song available off his forthcoming album Caught in the Trees due out on the 9th of September. You can hear the song “Gillian was a Horse”, which is slowly turning into my feel good hit of the summer, below:

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/damien-jurado-gillian-was-a-horse.mp3]

Download: gillianwasahorse.mp3

The Record Store

Our favorite record store, Waterloo Records, was recently featured in Paste Magazine as being one of the best record stores in America. The article talks about the highly underrated experience of visiting a record store in a download only world. Check out the article on Paste’s website.

Islands Are Forever

Islands will be playing a couple of dates around Austin on Monday. Waterloo records will be hosting the first performance with a free in-store show with free keg beer as always. Get there early so you can post up near the front. Later in the evening, Islands will be moving on over to Emos to showcase a full set with all the trimmings. You can buy tickets for the late night show at Emos website. The band is becoming more and more well known for their live shows, so check out a great set from Islands at Emos at 10 p.m. or Waterloo at 5 p.m. Preview the shows with a song off the bands new album Arm’s Way entitled “Creeper”:

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/creeper.mp3]

Download: Islands – Creeper [MP3]

Jeremy Jay – A Place Where We Could Go

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Every once in a blue moon you happen to heed the advice of a good friend, and thus was the good fortune I had with coming across this brilliant piece of work by Jeremy Jay. This album caught me by surprise, but I am so glad that I came unto it for this is exactly the sort of album I have been searching for these past few weeks.

Now, Jeremy Jay comes across to many people as some sort of Jonathan Richman, and I can see that in the way that Jay seems to speak his lyrics rather than sing them, but his voice is a bit off from Richman’s. I tend to think of Robert Forster of the Go-Betweens –then again, I can see some of those Morrissey comparisons. I guess that’s it, you can try as you might, but Jeremy Jay has a voice all his own.

I really enjoy the song craft in these songs. Apparently, this chap is a fan of 50’s music a la Buddy Holly or Richie Valens, and this is very clear in the instrumentation. A song such as “The Living Dolls” completely encompasses this vibe, taking you back to your very own personal sock-hop. He doesn’t stop here, always staying in the vein of classic pop-song structures.

The only fault, for me as a listener, is that the music is clearly wonderful, yet it is really down low in the mix. Clearly, the focus is on Jay’s voice and lyrics, but that doesn’t mean you can turn up those guitars for the sake of the listener. Well, that is personal taste I suppose.

For the duration of this album, Jeremy focuses predominantly on the topic of love, but he approaches the subject from various different angles. Each of his songs, to me, comes across as a carefully crafted love poem–but not the kind that comes across as dishonest. I particularly enjoy the fact that there is an essence of the magical or natural world in the lyrics, which wins points in my book.

There are some faults here, such as the album falls short of 30 minutes, but for a debut full-length, its hard to come across much better than this. I have a feeling that by the end of the year this will sneak its way into my top ten–in fact, I’m reserving it a spot right now!

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/02-heavenly-creatures.mp3]

Download: heavenlycreatures.mp3

Grand Archives @ Stubbs (6/21)

Grand Archives will be coming to Stubbs this Saturday in support of their recently released album Grand Archives. The band will be joined by label mate Sera Cahoone who will be showcasing songs off her recent Sub Pop release Only as the Day is Long. You can find tickets to the show on Stubbs website for only $10 or you can get one at the show for $12. ATH will be on hand for what should be a stellar show, with a full review and pictures of the show coming early next week. Songs from Grand Archives & Sera Cahoone can be found below:

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

Download: tornbluefoamcouch.mp3

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

Download: onlyasthedayislong.mp3

Cryptacize @ Mohawk (6/21)

Asthmatic Kitty darlings Cryptacize will be bringing their live act to The Mohawk on Saturday. Tickets are on sale right now for the low low price of $6 on the Mohawk’s website. The band will be playing with the great Devon Williams who is always worth checking out. You can read more about Cryptacize on their website or have a listen to “No Coins” off the new album Dig That Treasure:

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

Download: nocoins.mp3

Reggie and the Full Effect – Last Stop Crappy Town

Rating: ½ · · · ·

I bought this record at the store the other day because for some reason I sincerely hold fond memories of this band.  The first few records were great, and then the band slowly lost its appeal.  Congratulations Nathan! You’re an adult.

Listening to this record all day today, and last night, it was hard to remember exactly what it was about this band that I really enjoyed.  I went back to the old records from my younger days–when I was 20.  There was the answer–the remnants of pop-punk and emo. Don’t smirk! You liked this stuff too!

Anyways, in the beginning, James Dewees–keyboardist for now defunct The Get Up Kids–he blended comedy along with really solid melodies. He tossed me a few solid keyboard solos, and even through samples of hilarious clips into the album.  They were seamless, and honestly, I thought they were special–still hold a spot in my heart.

Of course, there was some remnants of hardcore on the old albums, clearly remaining from Dewees days in Coalesce. It was just a small enough dose to go well with the feel of the record.  Now, that is all that remains.

There are few moments on this record that are redeemable.  The incessant screaming is so 99′ and I just don’t have the patience for it.  And, the lyrics I could decipher were simple, though I never considered Dewees to be much of a songwriter.

For me, this was his last gasp–his “last stop” if you will.  For me, this was my last stop.  This album reminded me of where I have been, and who I have become–frankly, I’m an adult.  This record brought that to a head.  Thanks Reggie, for that you get half a star.

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