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Reviewin’ Old Tunes

Well, it’s a bit slow around the music business during these sweltering summer days. So, with little to review, I’ve opted to disclose some of my old favorites.  The first up is The Glands self tilted album from 2000. Hopefully, we will have these reviews popping in and out during the next few weeks as new releases are scattered and scarce. 

The Glands – The Glands

Rating: ★★★★★

The Glands released this album in 2000.  I came across it a little after that via good taste.  This has been an album that consistently comes into my playlist year after year after year.  For me, it’s the perfect album, and one I will listen to for years.

When the alarm bell rings in “Livin Was Easy” you know that you’re in for an awakening.  Here we come across the dirty driving guitar work made famous by Built to Spill on Nothing Wrong with Love. Singing about a time when things were easier, Russ Shapiro wins you over on the opening track.

Then comes “Swim.”  It’s full of a trouncing piano beat that keeps the pace for the entire song.  There’s no choice other than to bob your head with this track.  I often use this on mix tapes for friends, and I’ve never heard a complaint.

Suddenly, the pace is flipped up.  The band offers a slow burner here in “Mayflower,” which resembles a lot of present day dream pop.  The guitar shoots off into the background of the song, as Shapiro slowly soothes you with his voice. Special.

“Lovetown” is up next.  It sounds an awful lot like Dear Catastrophe Waitress-era Belle and Sebastian.  The difference is that The Glands were here first.  Lyrics are kind of sparse here, but the song drives on through, pushing you with the fuzziest of bass lines.

Afterwards, you get the rushing pace of “Straight Down,” which is just a solid rock track.  Everything about this song epitomizes what indie pop was all about in the early days, before it got too bogged down with seven member collectives and such.

If you like a little alt-country in your ears, then you can grab hold of “Fortress.”  The vocals match every inch of this song–almost as if Shapiro is walking you slowly escorting you through his words.  He brings it down just a bit, then blasts straight into “Work It Out.”  Everything about this song sounds extremely modern, yet it precedes its own sound.

“Ground” is a song that brings us back to a lot of the dreaminess in pop music.  You could leave out the lyrics and still find yourself traveling through this song with ease.  I guess a popular way to label this song is to throw out that word ambient. There you go, I did it.

I love “Favorite American.”  It’s an acoustic number accompanied by some interesting reverb on the vocals, which give it that dark bubbling effect that Black Rebel Motorcycle Club seem to have perfected.  It’s got a political undertone, but it’s one that would only become relevant a few years following the release of the album, so decipher the code.

In the closing three minutes, “Breathe Out” kind of lets me out.  It’s not a bad song by any means, it just doesn’t hold up to the rest of the album.  There is some light synthesizer that awkwardly keeps track of time, while the vocals just sort of float in midair.

Fans of Grandaddy, Modest Mouse, Built to Spill, Flaming Lips, Wilco and The Wrens will all find themselves loving this album.  You can even say that a lot of those bands followed in the steps of The Glands, but their short-lived career makes it hard to assess their lasting effects.

I know it’s hard to take the words of another man on buying something that you’ve never heard of in your life, or perhaps you have, but take my word here.  Go to iTunes and buy this.  You will thank me for it later on, or I hope you do.

New Glasvegas Tunes

I’ve been following this band recently, and now that they have a release date for their album (September 9th in the UK) I thought I would throw it out for a listen.  I expect some really solid tunes from this album, and I can’t wait until it gets here.  Just another reason why September is shaping up to be a good month, musically. 

Here’s the track, Geraldine, for your ears. 

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

Download: Glasvegas – Geraldine [MP3]

The Dutchess and the Duke – She’s the Dutchess, He’s the Duke

Rating: ★★★★½

Before giving in to a dear friend’s suggestion, I hadn’t heard much about The Dutchess and the Duke.  Sometimes a lack of knowledge is precisely what you need to come across a brand new album with open arms, awaiting the approach of greatness.  Thanks Corey.

Here is some background information, though limited.  The band hails from Seattle, although they resemble very little of that signature sound.  Currently, they are touring our nation in support of Fleet Foxes.  Apparently, they’ve been friends for a long time.  That’s about all I’ve come across.

The opening “Reservoir Park” immediately brings to mind the Rolling Stones, which isn’t a bad place to start off an album.  The chorus, with dual harmonies, is absolutely perfect.  I believe that this song is going to be in my Top 5 Singles of the year.  I’ve placed it their already.

After opening appropriately, they switch it up–they go off sounding more like a product of Nashville or Louisville, filled with American traditional country pop goodness. The interplay between Jesse Lortz and Kimberly Morrison on the following songs is precisely what makes this so special. I feel like it’s everything that She and Him were built up to be, but here it’s much more real–much more authentic.

“Strangers” has them returning to that Stones flavor.  It’s everything you want in a song, with both singers harmonizing the whole way through the song.  There isn’t a bad thing to say here.  And they follow that up with “Back to Me,” a song about trying to recapture that great love of your life.  Sure, its cliche, but the earnestness wins you over.

And all of a sudden, they bust out the ghost, well soul really, of Bob Dylan.  “Mary” is the perfect song at this moment because it switches the sound, though not too much.  The band maintains their personality here, keeping the album interesting.  This band has an arsenal of classic musicians to reference, but never once does it feel as if they faked it.

The album closes with “Armageddon Song,” which, for me, is the exact ending I wanted to this album.  It’s an acoustic affair full of harmonies and whistling–its the song where they seem as if they’ve completely shed their influences, just to let you in closer to themselves.

Despite wearing their heroes on their sleeves, The Dutchess and the Duke have created a wonderful debut album; this is one that is sure to hold up as one of your favorites for a long time to come.  Don’t take my word on it; please please please listen.

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

Download: reservoir_park.mp3

New Music From Lost In The Trees

Boston, Ma. band Lost in the Trees has some new music for your listening pleasure. The song is called “Fireplace” off their new album All Alone in an Empty House due out September 9th. Read more about the band on that popular social networking site.

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

Download: fireplace.mp3

7/9 Will Johnson Show @ Waterloo

Will Johnson, lead singer of Centro-matic & South San Gabriel, provided an intimate set for the people of Waterloo Records on Wednesday afternoon. The rainy and dreary weather outside fit right in with the slow & soothing sounds of Mr. Johnson. If you’ve never picked up anything by Dallas band Centro-Matic, chances are you haven’t heard the calming sound that is Will Johnson’s voice. I’d be willing to bet it wouldn’t matter what the guy was singing, be it happy birthday or take me out to the ball game, he’d still put you in a trance. Take a few parts Jim James, maybe a few parts of Neil Young’s rawness, throw in a bit of scratchiness, and you have the sound of Will’s voice. Sounds interesting doesn’t it? Read more

Brothers & Sisters @ Club de Ville 7/12

Brothers and Sisters of Austin will be hosting a CD release party for their new album Fortunately at Club de Ville on Saturday night 7/12. The event will be starting at 9pm with music kicking off soon after that. Below is a new song from the band called “You’re Gone”

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/brothers-and-sisters-youre-gone.mp3]

Download: youregone.mp3

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