• Rock n’ Recipes: Emma Kupa

    We return to Rock n’ Recipes features with one of my absolute favorite musicians, Emma Kupa. I first stated my fandom with Standard Fare, but she’s gone on to her

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  • Rock n’ Recipes: Thibault

    Hopefully you’ve caught me news of the forthcoming Thibault record on our site over the last few months, and we were fortunate to reach out to Nicole to have her

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  • Rock n’ Recipes: Pop Filter

    The story of Pop Filter as a band is quite long, although Banksia is their debut LP. But, that story is easy to find for those who wish, so instead,

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  • Rock n’ Recipes: Rules

      We’re nearly 3/4 of the way through what has been a crazy ride of a year, and for me, I’ve really delved into two things, cooking and music. Cooking

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Sigur Ros @ MoMa

I know I know. We post way too much about this band, but this may be the best thing we’ve posted yet!  Sigur Ros recently performed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and The Current website has been kind enough to post the entire live performance on their site. The show took place on Icelandic independence day (June 17th). Live footage of the show looks eerily familiar to the 2007 documentary Hlemmur (arguably one of the best band docs ever made).

Conor Oberst – Conor Oberst

Rating: ★★★★½

When it was announced that Conor Oberst would be stepping off Saddle Creek for a little bit, I was a bit taken aback; I expected a huge step away from his traditional sound. In some respects, the departure has changed the overall sound, but at the heart of this album is Conor Oberst at his best–ever.

Immediately upon first listen, the change is apparent. The string arrangements, and other effects of long-time producer Mike Mogis have disappeared. For me, it works to the benefit of Conor, because it establishes his voice as the focal point. Sure, in the past, that might have been a bad sign, but he clearly has control over his voice here; his voice sounds stronger than ever. And, in all honesty, I thought the grandiose arrangements on his previous albums got a little over-indulgent–ruining some songs.

However, this new album is listenable the whole way through. I struggled to find a song that I didn’t want to focus on for a moment of time; going back through most songs a dozen or so times before sitting down to write about it. Using headphones will definitely make your listening experience a great deal better, for there are some little nuances in this recording that really open up the album to the listener. The approach of this album seems to be a bedroom approach, which makes the entirety of this album more personable–although I hear it was more of a front porch recording in a quaint town of Mexico.

Lyrically, he continues to get better as he ages. He goes from first person to third person within songs, but all the while holding on to general themes and ideas. A lot of people will probably look to the subject matter, and his continual growth with mystical ideas, but the writing in general just keeps improving. Sure, you can take away some points for his simpleton Spanish where he mutters “El cielo es azul,” during “Eagle on a Pole,” but I suppose the mood struck him. He does it several more times as well.

If there is a fault in this album it might be the inclusion of “NYC-Gone Gone.” It doesn’t add much to the story of the album, but I’m just a listener. Also, there aren’t any standout tracks. For me, this means that the album is extremely even, which I think is good, but some people always want a single. This album suffices without one. Perfect.

Can I just add, that despite the turnout, I applaud Conor for disappearing off to remote locations to record his latest albums, as if Omaha wasn’t enough. I think it adds to the stories he tells, and the feeling of the albums, which, in this case, is extremely beneficial.

Don’t forget he will be playing with his new band at Austin City Limits this year. The man commands a stage well. Watch for yourself.

Trail Of Dead

Everyone’s favorite Austin band …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead have been fairly quiet since the release of their 2006 album So Divided which wasn’t exactly loved by critics, or fans for that matter. The band has resurfaced recently with an in depth interview over on the Drowned in Sound website. The interview sees the band discussing a new album set to be released in early 2009 on their own label Richter Scale. The band also recently provided a live set for the Daytrotter website with 4 songs that you can download or stream. (Check out “Will You Smile Again for Me?”) Finally, if you’re not familiar with the band, below is a song called “Another Morning Stoner” off the band’s 2002 album (and best release to date) Source Tags & Codes.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/02-another-morning-stoner.mp3]

Download: … And You Will Know Us By the Trail of the Dead – Another Morning Stoner [MP3]

The Hold Steady @ The Parish – 8/6

Everyone’s favorite bar band, and I mean that in the most sincere way possible, is heading to Austin tomorrow night. The Hold Steady plan to melt faces and show the crowd a glorious time tomorrow at The Parish. The band’s live show has won over fans all over the world, so be sure to get there, otherwise you might feel left out when all your fans brag about the awesome show they saw. The Hold Steady will be accompanied by The Loved Ones.

Unfortunately, the show has just sold out. You might want to check out craigslist, or just show up and see if someone will sell you their ticket. 

The Faint – Fasciinatiion

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

It’s been several years since The Faint last released a proper full length. What have they been up to you ask? Well, they left Saddle Creek and started their own label, blank.wav, and they built their own studio. Unfortunately, they did not decide to find new ground musically.

The Faint remind me of a group of marines in training; they’ve been treading water for hours (years), always with their head just above the water (the rest of the crowd). Slowly, their legs grew tired, and that is where we find this album. Tired legs = sinking band. I’m sorry, but the band is just getting old, which is a huge contrast to the time when I thought they were extremely fresh.

The album opens up decently, but nothing spectacular. The beats sound left over from Wet From Birth, their last album, but I do like the fact that you can actually hear the bass lines in “Get Seduced,” because they are at their best when they combine their dance tendencies with actual rock music. At about the third minute, the tone in Todd Fink’s voice changes, and its great, just not enough, and too late for me to love this song.

They follow up the album with “The Geeks Were Right,” which is the obvious single. It’s probably the most immediately accessible song; its the one you want to dance to with your friends. Strangely, its one of the shorter songs on the album, which is unfortunate because it is the best–hands down. Honestly, the rest of the album after that sort of fades into the background. It’s not an irritatingly bad listen, its just not memorable, which is strange for this band because they always have extremely redeeming moments on their albums.

Lyrically, there is a lot of reference to science on this album, which I suppose is a different twist than the usual outing for this band, but by no means will you find the words significant. That’s always been the fault of the the band; lyrics have come secondary to the music.

As I continue to listen to this band, and this album, I am recalling a certain band from the mid 90s: Weezer. Do you remember when Weezer made things seem fresh?  They blew onto the scene via MTV (back when they had those music video things), and we all took notice. Then they progressed with their next album, but stopped there. They’ve been rehashing the same sound ever since that point. For me, that sums up The Faint. They’ve been doing this so long, it all just sort of blends together, and I might be ready to put them on the back burner until they reinvent the wheel.

That being said, most classic Faint fans will find that there are things to enjoy on this album, but not nearly enough for this to be one of your favorites. More than likely, it will make you dance while you’re getting ready for work, then it will go on the shelf in a few weeks. Sad but true.

Two bonus points exist: 1) The album artwork is solid, which is always a bonus for collectors because it encourages us to actually buy the album outside of the digital world. 2) The Faint are coming to Austin’s La Zona Rosa on AUgust 15th, and regardless of whether you like the band or not, they put on the most phenomenal shows–better than Ghostland Observatory, by far.

You can buy tickets for the show at GetTix. They’ll be accompanied by new Matador Records signees, Jaguar Love.

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