Little Joy – s/t

Rating: ★★★★☆

Most will recognize the percussionist of Little Joy, the newest offshoot made up of Strokes drummer Fab Moretti. Toss in Rodrigo Amarante and Binki Shapiro, and you have the line-up for LA based Little Joy.

Those in search of the upbeat pop specialties that Albert Hammond has thrown our way will surely not find what you are looking for in these songs, but instead you will find an entirely different genre, what one will call beach-influences crooner tunes. It would suffice to say that this group has created eleven perfect lounge tracks for your favorite smoky dive bar.

“The Next Time Around” is the album’s opener, which contributes the first of many island infused tracks. Guitars and percussion lie in the back of the song, as Amarante croons, not entirely like Julian Casablancas, but not too far off. It’s easy to see why Fab chose to work with this fellow; in the middle of the track there is an influx of Portuguese lyrics, which add to the Latin appeal of the album.

Listening to this album one should recall quiet moments spent on beaches with their friends, much like the members of Team Zissou. In fact, if you recall the soundtrack to the Wes Anderson movie Life Aquatic, you will find that this album is very reminiscent of the guitar work done by Seu Jorge, although the majority of the music here is in English; none of the songs are Bowie covers either.

“No One’s Better Sake” is the fourth track on the album, and it’s one that has the largest resemblance to The Strokes. The progression sounds strikingly similar to a few of the songs off Room on Fire, but a little organ work gives it an entirely different feel. Once again, Amarante croons in that very familiar tone. Even the progression of the song sounds too familiar to dismiss as mere coincidence.

Be sure to listen to “Don’t Watch Me Dancing.” This song features the female vocals from Binki Shapiro, and it’s one of those perfect little songs that creeps into your head as the day passes into the by and by. It’s a mellow little ditty, but most will appreciate the emotive number, possibly one of the strongest tracks on the album.

One thing missing from this album is a substantial pace. The lack of pace, and the organization of the songs on the album makes it a tad difficult to immerse yourself completely in the album. Even good beach parties have a few rollicking moments that move the crowd; this album seems to lack that pace and emotion entirely aside from one or two brief moments.

At the end of the day, listeners will have a decent debut album from Little Joy to attach themselves to for evening listening. If anything, this album is the perfect conversation starter as your friends try to figure out why the songs sound so familiar, yet so much like their last trip to Cancun. You’ll enjoy the album too; it just won’t make your top albums of the year list.

FT5: Halloween Songs

Conveniently for us, Halloween just happens to fall on a Friday. So we’re jumping on the bandwagon and bringing you our top 5 Halloween songs. But here’s the best part – we are also creating an ATH playlist for your Halloween party. That’s right, we’re including the songs. Just fire up ATH Radio, and you’ve got yourself an instant party. Full list of zombie laden goodness after the jump.

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Ben Kweller @ Antone’s (11/2)

Ben Kweller will be following up The Mountain Goats show at Antone’s on Saturday night with his own set at the classic venue on Sunday.  Mr. Kweller is currently touring in support of his limited edition tour EP How Ya Lookin’ Southbound?  Come In… Tickets for the show are $20 and can be bought from the Antone’s website.  Preview the show with “Sundress” off ben Kweller’s 2006 self titled LP.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/ben-kweller-sundress.mp3]

Download: Ben Kweller – Sundress [MP3]

Ben Kweller – How Ya Lookin’ Southbound…

Rating: ★★★★☆

Long forgotten Texan, Ben Kweller, has finally released some new music, coming our way this time with a tour EP that you can pick up here. No matter where you find it, its good to have new tunes from this guy.

From his first days in Radish, it seems as if Ben has been trying hard to find his own voice. Sometimes it seems to depend on where he’s living, or who he’s hanging with at the time he’s recording. His last album definitely seemed to have a NYC vibe to it. This time, we find him going, dare I say, Ryan Adams. Although, you can definitely feel the influence of the road on this album, it seems almost as if BK has returned to Texas.

“Fight” is a twangy little number, accompanied by some slide-guitar. Of course, the lyrics are every bit Ben Kweller, using clever rhyming couplets a la Conor Oberst. The end half of the song has a definite honky-tonk feel to it as the piano solo courses through the latter half of the song. It’s strange hearing Ben’s voice on this track.

He continues the country-tinged efforts with “Things I Like to Do.” It’s almost exactly like the first song, at least in instrumentation, but this is the first song when you can clearly make the distinction between Ben Kweller and any other alt-country singer. There’s possibly a little too much slide-guitar on this song, but it’s one of the more warming songs on the EP.

“Sawdust Man” is the only song on this album that just doesn’t fit. It’s ridden by a piano throughout, which definitely makes it seem as if he is trying to pull of a little Dr. Dog. There are several moments when his voice clearly struggles to hit its note, which is really disheartening. For some reason, this some just doesn’t come across the way one would hope. We all make mistakes.

He scores a definite winner, however, with “The Biggest Flower.” This song maintains a little bit of that coutnry sensibility that has been driven into this EP, but at the same time, it brings back the pop element that made Ben Kweller so endearing to us all. This is probably one of the more mature songs hes written, which makes it the stand out track on this EP.

The EP is closed off with “Somehow,” another fine tune. One might describe this as a whiskey song. It seems as if the song is full of longing and loneliness, just judging the feel of the vocals. That’s not surprising considering this is an EP written around Ben’s most recent touring scheduling. It’s a fine close to a pretty decent offering from one of our favorite Texans.

And speaking of that touring schedule, Ben Kweller is coming to Austin on November 2nd. You can buy yourself a set of tickets over at Frontagate Tickets.

Bloc Party On Take Away

If you haven’t seen the video yet of Bloc Party performing an acoustic version of “This Modern Love” behind a bar in Paris, I suggest you watch it now.  The video was shot and produced by the La Blogotheque website as part of their excellent Take Away Shows series.  The older tune is a reminder that Bloc party wrote some outstanding songs for Silent Alarm and their new album pales in comparison.  Maybe they should’ve just made an acoustic album and not the techno/dance rubbish that is Intimacy?

Cruiserweight CD Release @ Emo’s (10/31)

Cruiserweight will be giving you one of many options for shows on Halloween night here in Austin.  The local act will be playing at Emo’s with tickets on sale for only $10.  The show is in celebration of the band’s recent LP release Big Bold Letters which came out on the 7th of this month.  Check out “Balboa” from that release below.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/irdd-cruiserweight-balboa.mp3]

Download: Cruiserweight – Balboa [MP3]

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