• Top Albums of 2021

    Honestly, I’m pretty over lists at this point. They’re arbitrary and don’t really reflect anything but someone’s tastes, except here where they reflect the tastes of three individuals…because that’s how

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  • Show Pics: Idles @ Stubb’s

    After over 2 years of being a home body and living with anxiety, mixed with a dash of unease, it was an overwhelmingly cathartic experience to get out of the

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  • Fest Pics: ACL 2021 In Review

    We are a little bit clear of ACL 2021’s two weekends. We dealt with the mental gymnastics required to attend both weekends during a pandemic. Proof of a negative test

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  • Rock n’ Recipes: Quivers

    Earlier this year, Quivers released the most excellent Golden Doubt, receiving rave reviews all over the globe…not to mention ATH adoration. So, having followed the band, we reached out to

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New Tunes from Camera Obscura

cameraThe newest Camera Obscura record, set to come out via 4AD Records on April 20th, has to be my most anticipated album of the year. Lets’ Get Out of This Country is still one of the greats of recent time, so I’m happy to present you with the first single of the forthcoming album, My Maudlin Career

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/my_maudlin_career.mp3]

Download:  Camera Obscura – My Maudlin Career [MP3]

The Von Bondies – Love, Hate and Then There’s You

vonbondieRating: ★★★☆☆

The Von Bondies crept out of the massive Detroit scene on the heels of The White Stripes.  They were well versed in the garage stylings known to their locale.  But, then they flipped the switch on us.  They followed up their debut with a more straightforward album, and now they completely leave it all behind as they present us with Love, Hate and Then There’s You.

From the minute this album takes off with “Shut Your Mouth” you can tell that the entire group has begun pushing towards new ground.  Sure, this opening track still revels in the garage-infused sound of old, but something new exists here, something that could lose fans while gaining scores of new ones.  It’s the pop element.

Singer Jason Stollsteimer definitely has a brooding crooner quality, which recalls the vocal quality of a certain Mr. Flowers.  It’s not entirely surprising when listening to the rest of this album, as the mood of the songs easily matches the aesthetic quality of Jason’s voice.

In a sense, the band comes off like a hard-edged version of The Killers. This isn’t too say that the band has entirely left behind their past in favor of a more commercial appeal to the masses.  “Only to Haunt You” has the feeling of dark swirling pop melodies that garnered acclaim for the aforementioned band.  Still, the band holds on to the darker element of this genre, fueled by the precise rhythm section. This batch of songs is clearly the most accessible set of tunes they’ve created up to this point, and the culmination of this point may be welcomed by many.

All the songs are short, and they hit your ears quickly.  Occasionally, the vocals are matched with feuding vocal elements from Jason’s female counterpart, which give the band a bit of grit, though they never stray to far from the middle of the road. Therein lies one of the problems with this record: nothing here sounds entirely new to the listener.  This isn’t mean to knock on the band entirely, as its quite difficult to produce purely original sounds nowadays, but this just seems a bit to easy for the band.  At times the songs seem a bit uninspired, almost as if the band were just throwing about demos inside their studio.

Strong moments do exist throughout the entirety of this record, such as on “Accidents Will Happen.” Here you find the and bouncing along appropriately, as guitars jangle.  But, you’ll also find a certain rawness to the vocals, which show that Von Bondies still like to stay close to home.  They can’t seem to move on from their own history.

In the end, you find a band wavering on a middle ground, stuck between a poppier quality that is bubbling beneath the surface and their classic garage sound.  Many will find that the pop elements warrant approval, while others will relish in the fact that the band could definitely hit it a lot harder.  You decide.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/04-only-to-haunt-you.mp3]

Download:  Von Bondies – Only to Haunt You [MP3]

2/7 Appleseed Cast @ Mohawk

ac_coverWe’ve been following Appleseed Cast since the days of End of the Ring Wars way back in 1998. It would be easy to think that maybe the guys have lost a step or two having been away from touring for so long, but that wasn’t the case at Mohawk. Some of the older tunes like “Forever Longing the Golden Sunsets” & “Steps and Numbers” were not quite as tight as they used to be, but encore songs “Fight Song” and “Fishing the Sky” sounded like the old days. New tunes from Sagarmatha also quieted the crowd in their low points and blew you away in those typical AC rising actions. Let’s just saw we got exactly what we came for. Before the show, we had the chance to speak with singer, guitar player and founding member Chris Crisci about the state of his band. Follow the jump to read the full interview and check out some pictures from the show.

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New Tunes from Harlem Shakes

harlemIn anticipation for a sweet month of music, both at SXSW and the usual releases, we opted to throw out a tune by up and comers Harlem ShakesThe group is set to release their debut March 24th on Gigantic Music, just as you’ve spent all your hard earned cash on SXSW. Well, at least the album, Technicolor Health, has promise, especially based on this song. 

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/02-strictly-game.mp3]

Download: Harlem Shakes – Strictly Game [MP3]

Wavves – Wavvves

wavesRating: ★★½☆☆

It has been a productive year for Nathan Williams of the beach punk band Wavves. He released his first self titled album, a cassette, two 7”s, and now his second LP entitled Wavvves. Whew… but, ferrrrrrrrrrrt. You can’t help but give him credit for being prolific and releasing everything he creates without a filter, but herein lies the problem of not having a solid, well crafted album from beginning to end. His lo-fi approach reminds me of Times New Viking’s recording style in that they are lo-fi for the sake of being lo-fi. They have enough money and resources to record albums properly, but they’re too effing cheap to cough up the dough. It’s either that or they think they’ll get credibility for sounding raw, edgy, and punk as fuck but really, they just sound like total shiite on record. I really don’t understand why someone would want to record an album where a listener can’t even make out the lyrics? Everything is hitting red on the dials while recording which makes it clouded in white noise and fuzz to the point where it all breaks up. This minimal recording method can be thrown to the waste-side, but the album does have some shining moments when the album’s few strong songs break through Williams’ pot-fueled instrumental experiments.

“So Bored” is an instant ear grabber that breaks the trance of “More Fur,” a song in which Williams is setting the course for the Enterprise to deep space and does little more than use delay and an arpeggiator. “So Bored” brings things back to earth by starting off with a driving drumbeat that gets one of the raddest and dirtiest guitar intros I’ve heard in awhile. That’s right mofos, I just said rad. The vocals soon follow and the song is a beautiful dirty mess which showcases his melodic sensibilities instrumentally and vocally. (Note: try and figure out which 80’s song he copies with his closing guitar line. First one to do so gets free drinks on me the whole show when they play here in Austin for SXSW). “No Hope Kids” is another rocker that talks about, well…I don’t know because you can’t understand what in the hell he is saying since the recording sucks so bad. But the chorus is…(drum roll) “Nooooo-hooooope-kiiiiiiiiiiiiidsssss!” “Surf Goth” is another honorable mention just based on the weirdness of the singing alone. It sounds as if Williams invited Gene and Dean Ween over and began knocking a few rounds back and taking whip-its together.

It is tough to say whether Williams’ output is something to admire or if it needs to be controlled. I like the fact that he is willing to put everything out there for everyone. The problem for me is that his ideas seem a little fragmented at times. The space voyages that he goes on are tiring and trying of one’s nerves. Alot of artists will use noises to add to a song for texture later. Some of these ideas can be used, some thrown away. Sometimes the artist will release the songs that aren’t quite as strong on b-sides or reissues in the future. Williams needs to critique himself a little bit more to make an album that is more defined. Shave off the fat, get rid of the noises and the songs that aren’t as good and be patient for at least another 6 months to a year. Then he’ll hopefully have from beginning to end, a slew of well-rounded, more thought out songs.

We will definitely get to see step by step, note for note, the progression or digression of this 22 year old. Will he wait a little bit longer on his next release and fine tune these thoughts? I am curious to see which way Williams is going to go because there are good moments on Wavvves where you can see the hints of potential. I just need to be able to hear what he is saying.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/07-so-bored.mp3]

Download: Wavves – So Bored [MP3]

FT5: Pub Rock

0206top5coverWhile it’s true that most early Pub rock was just a bunch of British dudes ripping off The Band, at it’s core it was a roots rock movement reacting to the wankering of Emmerson, Lake and Palmer and other over-the-top progressive rock acts of the early 70’s. You can just imagine a working class kid in England seeing this on the telly. More of a circuit of pubs and music halls than an exact musical genre, Pub rock created an outlet for stripped down roots rock that would eventually pave the way for punk rock in England. Ranging from bluesy country to basic rhythm and blues, if there was one aesthetic that was common to all of the Pub rock scene it was a no frills return to basics. So grab a pint, start calling your friends your mates and your pants your trousers, and check out the Pub rock top five.

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Appleseed Cast @ Mohawk (2/7)

acastNow that we have sufficiently hyped up The Appleseed Cast’s latest release Sagarmatha, it’s time for the boys to play a show in our little town.  You can catch the band at Mohawk this Saturday evening along with True Widow and Austin locals The Calm Blue SeaTickets are running at $10 with doors set to open at 8pm.  Don’t miss your chance to see this incredibly underrated band in the live setting.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/03-forever-longing-the-golden-sunsets.mp3]

Download: Appleseed Cast – Forever Longing the Golden Sunsets [MP3]

Iran – Dissolver

irandissolverRating: ★★★★☆

It has been seven years since the last release from Iran, which makes the forthcoming record Dissolver one of the more curious and anticipated albums of 2009. Especially after the song “Buddy” was found all over blogs in October of 2008, we heard the new direction that the sound was heading in — Hi-fi(ve) and thank-you for doing so boys. Fresh off of living in Norway for two years to make a successful documentary about the black metal movement, “Until the Light Takes Us,” Aaron Aites returns with an album that touches on many musical templates. Pop, soul, doo-wop, folk and of course- the NOISE can all be found on this outing. Helping bring the sounds to life are Kyp Malone (TV on the Radio), Peter Hoffman (The Mendoza Line) and Aaron Romanello (Grand Mal).

The first thing that catches your ear from the get-go is that this wasn’t recorded in a bedroom, on a 4-track recorder like the first self-titled album and the second called The Moon Boys. It is a natural progression for a band with more resources, a bigger pocket book, and everyone in it being more established. Where The Moon Boys built upon being a tinge poppier and more restrained than the mega-experimental freak-outs of its predecessor, Dissolver aborts the pit stops and emerges with its fundamentals in tact, boldly new and refreshing.

The album was recorded at Gigantic Studios with Malone’s bandmate of TVOTR Dave Sitek putting his thumbprints all over the sound of the album. With concise and controlled fuzz always being the trademark on his own albums, Sitek’s sound meshes perfectly with the sound initially made by Aites during his gritty, 4-track days. While listening to these beautiful harmonies accompanied by larger than life doubled voices, it’s hard not to notice the TVOTR bleed over. Songs like “Buddy” and “Can I Feel What” are prime examples of Malone’s contributions of high, ball-grabbing harmonies and tasty fuzzed out guitar playing. “I Already Know You’re Wrong” is a Beach Boys inspired number ala’ “Sloop John B” that carries a great surf groove with a similar vocal rhythm and again, great harmonies.

Then there’s the experimental noise of “Baby Let’s Get High Together One Last Time” with its Pavement infused undertones. The sassy wordplay and erratic guitar lines have a familiarity about them that bring back memories of mid 90’s slacker rock. The song ends in a wall of sound of electronic bleeps and glitches which segues into “Digital Clock and Phone.” Not leaving their roots far behind, Iran shows they still like to make a little noise. This will take you old fans back to “The Music Plays Itself” from their first album. Enjoy!

Btw-do yourself a favor and buy this album, though rumor has it that it may not be released until February 17th, because chances are, you will never get to see them play live. They are renowned for not going near stages very frequently with their only show being scheduled for March 6th at the Mercury Lounge in New York.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/02-buddy.mp3]

Download: Iran – Buddy [MP3]

New Tunes from Nite Jewel

niteHere’s a new track from Nite Jewel and her album Good Evening. It’s got a dark 80s wash all over it, as if it was produced strictly for one of those secret clubs you can only enter by the back door. If you like what you hear, keep your eyes and ears posted, as she’ll be all over town singing her heart out at SXSW. 

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/04-weak-for-me.mp3]

Download: Nite Jewel – Weak for Me [MP3]

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