• Top Songs of 2019

    Phew, the end of the year really snuck up on me this time and it’s crazy to think we are moving on from the 2010s. Before we do so, Nathan

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  • Top 25 Albums of 2019

    This is the list you’ve all been waiting for, well, sort of. This is my Top 20 LPs of the year. Admittedly, there’s none of the high profile hitmakers on

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  • Levitation 2019: A Reflection

    Team ATH has been covering Austin Psych Fest/Levitation since its early inception, probably in the second year at Radio Room (sorry we missed the first year!), so we’ve seen the

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  • ACL WE2 in a Nutshell

    Another Austin City Limits is behind us boys and girls and it’s always a good time to reflect on the music and experiences from the weekend. I considered myself very

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  • 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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Gentlemen Jesse and His Men

I cannot stop listening to this album, or this song; Gentlemen Jesse and His Men seem to know where its at. Sure, it’s a little bit of a throwback, but we all loved The Strokes the first time around right?  Blast this song into the afternoon, and if you dig it like I do, then you can find the band’s self-titled debut out now on Douchemaster Records.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/i_dont_wanna_know.mp3]

Download: Gentleman Jesse and His Men – I Dont Wanna Know [MP3]

The Shaky Hands – Lunglight

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Lately it seems that the world has gone completely soft, or at least the spectrum of rock n’ roll has gone soft.  We desperately need a band that can grab us and shake the dust from our record collections.  The Shaky Hands appear to be that band, and their album Lunglight is just a taste of what they have to offer.

Opening track, “A New Parade” comes off with jangly pop affection, as pounding drums drive the song towards the end.  The vocals are a little raspy, with just a tinge of countrification a la Kings of Leon.

The band name is quite fitting, considering the sounds on this album have a sort of shakiness that can only be associated with pure, unadulterated rock.  It has this post-punk feeling to it, but fused with a country soul, and stirred with just the right amount of pop sensibility.  Although they carry such a signature sound, the album never seems to get old, always maintaining a sense of freshness in each song.

Lyrically, it seems that the album is filled with issues of struggle.  In today’s world we come across such battles between friends, lover and, ultimately, ourselves.  Understanding this, The Shaky Hands have set out to let us know that we are not alone in our daily issues; they, too, are confronting these demons.  If such battles must be fought, then we shall do it together.

And, the percussion is simply amazing here.  The drum work is all over the place, hammered out with precision that only comes to the those with the most devout practice routines.  You’ll find it difficult not to bounce your feet along to the driving rhythms here, which is at it should be with rock n’ roll.

Faults do exist on Lunglight, but they are things that can easily be overlooked.  The last three songs, for instance, extend over a minute longer than the previous songs, which has the effect of dragging the last moments of the record to the end. Also, it’s hard to completely buy into the vocals here.  Yes, they are reminiscent of other acts, as mentioned earlier, but at times you’ll find it hard to chase down the words.

In the end you will find that the band has created an album full of bright moments you can listen to time and time again.  Those who fall in line with bands like Kings of Leon (thats you RayRay) will surely find that great album you’ve been waiting for KoL to finally put out.

ACL Battles: Horses vs. Tegan

So it’s come down to this. The major conflict we see on Sunday at 7:30 has got to be Sub Pop boys Band of Horses playing against sister duo Tegan & Sara.  Let’s just call this one the ATH Battle Royal.  You have a choice between reverb laden rock n’ roll or creators of probably the best pop song to come out in several years “Back in Your Head”.  What’s it gonna be?  You have a difficult decision ahead of you.  We hope you make the right one.  Check out two of the greatest tunes of last year:

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/bandofhorses-isthereaghost.mp3]

Download: Band of Horses – Is There a Ghost [MP3]

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/tegan-head.mp3]

Download: Tegan & Sara – Back in Your Head [MP3]

Cut Copy @ Emo’s – 9-29

If you’re not hungover from Austin City Limits, or you skipped the entire thing hoping to grab someting on the side, then you are in luck.  Electro-pop groud Cut Copy is coming to Austin, along with The Presets. This is one of those shows that most of us will miss, as we’ve been out all weekend at ACL, but we’ll hear from our friends that made it what a great show we missed.

Tickets are sold out online, but there are still tickets available at Waterloo Records.  Stop by and get you some.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/09-hearts-on-fire.mp3]

Download: Cut Copy – Hearts on Fire [MP3]

ACL Battles: Keys vs. Wine

So here’s what should be a very interesting battle: intense expiremental blues rock of The Black Keys vs. the intimate folk rock of Iron & Wine. Some people may not see the contradiction here with the bands having such starkley different sounds. I agree that the bands sound nothing alike but I’m finding this to be one of the huge conflicts of the festival. Both bands are playing at 7:30 on Saturday.  Which stage will you be at?  Recent singles from both bands are below to make this decision easier…. or harder?

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/03-strange-times.mp3]

Download: The Black Keys – Strange Times [MP3]

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/ironandwine-boywithacoin.mp3]

Download: Iron & Wine – Boy With a Coin [MP3]

More ACL RSVP Shows!

If your wallet is a little tight and you can’t afford ACL, here are two more free by RSVP shows to check out.  Our first show is being put on by Antics and features a DJ set by CSS with several other special guests. This even goes down on Friday night around 10pm and you can RSVP now.

Second show also goes down on Friday with headliners Cool Kids leading the way and Voxtrot joining in on the fun. This event is being put on by Rolling Stone with doors opening at 8pm. RSVP for this one before time runs out. Both shows are rumored to have free drinks…. oh schnaps!

ACL Preview: Mason Jennings

Mason Jennings has been through his ups and downs as a songwriter, but mostly he’s been on the ups. His incredible vocals always lead those in his mass followings, such as Issac Brock of Modest Mouse, to a pleasurable listening experience. The crowds at Austin City Limits will surely be witness to his magic when he takes to the Austin Ventures stage this Saturday at 6:30. Read more after the jump.. Read more

Jenny Lewis – Acid Tongue

Rating: ★★★½ ·

The question with the latest Jenny Lewis album, Acid Tongue, really lies in the listener. Are you, as a listener and fan, willing to forgive some of the lackluster perfomances on this album in order to enjoy some of its finest pieces?

Opener “Black Sand” is the perfect song for Jenny. It’s gentle soundscape relies entirely upon her vocals, which is precisely where she excels. When she pushes her voice during the chorus, you know exactly why you love Jenny Lewis. There is something to her strength as an artist and a fox that both male and female are drawn towards.

Then we Jenny go further in the direction of country/folk, which most of us will say is where we think she belongs, or where she has been all along, but this is untrue. Sure, Rilo Kiley has gravitated towards that, and away from that; yes, her debut solo album bore that influence, but the greatest Rilo album’s were the early ones where she maintained her pop sensibility. The backing of acoustic guitars did nothing other than provide a stage for her voice.

You see, that is where the problem lies in this album. Jenny waivers back and forth between folk and classic R&B girl groups, but she never lands on that precisely pop moment where she truly shines. The title track, “Acid Tongue” does head back into the past, and even with its country undertones, you can still hear the pop star in Jenny Lewis ready to crawl out of her shell. This is the one song where it’s hard to differentiate between the Jenny we love, and the Jenny we are now witnessing. She stands firmly between both worlds.

“Fernando” is full of sexual appeal, which is where I place the blame for the faults of new era Jenny. She’s lost the innocence that made her so spectacular, instead forging ahead into sexual innuendo, associated with a bravado that is very unbecoming. But then, she jumps in with a song like “Godspeed” that makes you fall in love with her all over again. If only she could carry the power of this song throughout an entire album.

Therein lies the final conclusion. Jenny Lewis has a phenomenal voice, unlike most other female musicians these days. Her range is ridiculous, but in an effort to fully explore the vast expanse of her vocal landscape, she leaves herself stretched too thin, leaving faults in songs that could have been perfected. I’m still holding onto hope that one day she finishes it off right, either solo or with Rilo Kiley.

And don’t forget to check her out at ACL this weekend because if there is one woman that commands a stage, it’s this one.

Free Pre-ACL Show From Paste/BMI

Another week, another free by RSVP show.  Before heading out to the ACL festival this weekend, Paste Magazine has joined up with BMI to give you a pretty nice show at Emo’s on Thursday night.  Lineup includes Mates of State, What Made Milwaukee Famous, Bobby Bare Jr., and several others.  A full list of performers can be read on the fancy show flier.  RSVP now and put ATH as your company to help us get the word out.  Spread the love!

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