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Twerps – Range Anxiety

derps

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Twerps self-titled debut was something of a marvel.  It hit the US with little fanfare, but won over the hearts of many listeners and scored them a tour opening for Real Estate.  Me, personally, I fawned over the LP for the entirety of 2011. There was something in the relaxed attitude the band employed, and yet often offset with their jangling Aussie guitar prowess.  Range Anxiety picks up where that album left off, though there’s touches with the vocals that elevate this effort above its predecessor.

While there’s a statement instrumental opener, Range Anxiety officially begins with “I Don’t Mind.”  I hesitate to call it a true piece of slacker pop, though the pacing would suggest such.  My issue with that revolves around the song’s time, spanning over 5 minutes.  That’s not a slacker band running out of ideas, but rather a comfortable approach to well-crafted pop music. They follow it up with the bouncy “Back to You,” which sounds like a spritely version of the Go-Betweens.  I love how the backing vocals don’t join instantaneously during the chorus, but rather build into it…that’s a nice touch.

Speaking of nice touches, I like how Jules has a more prominent role on this LP, particularly in the standout track, “Shoulders.” It’s a tune that features that shimmering guitar work, but her voice offers a different tonal quality than that of her counterpart, Marty.  It actually harkens back to a time of more pristine female voices, void of auto-tune and all that other technological hoopla. Her presence on “Adrenaline” adds a continued softness that really smooths out the edges for Twerps; it’s still the same act, just a slight bit more leaning towards classic sounds of pop beauty.

In the end, I’m going to still fawn over this album for it’s guitar playing. Sure, everyone has praised the Oceanic influence on guitar over the last decade, but I don’t think there are many that do it quite as authentically as these guys. Listening to “Cheap Education,” I was pushed way back into my own record collection, at least mentally.  There’s a spirit to it that’s hardly been matched, and it always make listening to the group a joy.  But, I’d be remiss if I didn’t invest a sentence or two in “Love at First Sight.”  This song is unlike much of those that precede it, though I’ve found myself gravitating towards it again and again.  There’s something ramshackle that’s set amidst a really subdued performance.

Those that first fell in love with Twerps will surely find every song on Range Anxiety to have a redeeming quality.  But, I think they’ve put in enough finishing touches to really surpass their debut in many ways.  It’s a different listen, but one that exemplifies growth whilst staying grounded to what got them their in the first place.  Going to keep playing this album again and again.

The Lone Bellow – Then Came The Morning

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Rating: ★★ · · ·

Sometimes a band needs a little bit of help to get off the ground, or rather with the case of The Lone Bellow, where to go once they have. On Then Came The Morning, they brought in The National’s Aaron Dessner to produce their sound, which makes for some interesting tracks and a bit of progress from their first effort they put out a few years ago.

The Lone Bellow have a bit of a mild alternative rock sound—one you would expect to hear from a band on the radio. This quality isn’t intrinsically negative, but it is apt; their folksy blend of acoustic guitar and harmonies doesn’t push a lot of boundaries sonically. In this baseness, they’ve found their niche—within this genre they’ve got some good numbers you’ll want to give a second or third listen. On the whole, however, the sound isn’t exciting enough to set them strongly apart from what others have already done.

Opener and title track, “Then Came The Morning” is about as boundary-pushing as you’ll find here. It’s a bluesy waking up track—the tempo is slow and rolling, as lead singer Zach Williams’ raspy vocals chime in with their emotive quality. The backing group vocals provide an interesting sweeping effect to the tune, the “oohs” and “ahhs” as well as the repetition of the chorus gives the whole number a balloon-like sound, giving the album a positive start. Other good songs seem to come when the band is doing bluesy sounding rock—take snappy number, “Cold As It Is” as an example. This song holds the vocals in the limelight, which freshens up the sound that The Lone Bellow have already developed. This number is a stomper and a catchy one at that, and one of the standout bright moments of the album.

By the end of the album, there is a feeling as if the songs are repeating themselves, within this genre it seems difficult to craft boldly different songs, and with thirteen altogether, the band doesn’t do themselves a lot of favors. Then Came The Morning is far from a bad record technically—the production is clear and there’s intricate craftsmanship abundantly placed all over—but I’m left wanting more edge and bite from this group. Maybe you’ll find you enjoy the mildness of The Lone Bellow, but I can’t seem to get fully behind what they’re putting out.

 

 

Colleen Green Loves Her TV

collyI’m not sure how I feel about this sentiment, as I’ve been trying to detach myself from my own TV addiction.  But, you put the sentiment aside, then you’ve got one hell of a catchy tune from Colleen Green; it seems that’s going to be her specialty from here on out. It’s a chilled little alterna-jam, rocking that distorted guitar line and some guitar-monies to match it all up.  Look for her new effort, I Want to Grow Up (rumored to be a direct response to the Descendents I Don’t Wanna Grow Up); it’s being released by Hardly Art on February 24th.

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Download: Colleen Green – TV [MP3]

Divers Rock New Single

diveredI’m really hooked on Divers at the moment.  They’re not breaking barriers down, but they’re executing things so well that I can’t deny them some time on my daily playlist.  This latest single, has a breathy quality to the core part of the vocals, though they’re unleashed powerfully as the song progresses.  Sometimes really good pop music manages to make the world feel just right, and that’s precisely the vibe I’m feeling here from this Portland outfit.  Grab their debut Hello Hello on February 17th via Partydamage and Rumbletowne.

New Video From Kid Ink

600_1408434294_kid_ink_88Los Angeles rapper Kid Ink’s most recent album, My Own Lane, has been out for about a year but on New Year’s Eve he released a music video for the only song that’s worth hearing on the album, “Hello World”. The video was shot while out on the My Own Lane Tour in various spots around the world. This is definitely one of Kid Ink’s best songs in his catalog and the most visually appealing of his music videos to date. His new album comes out February 3rd.

I Like Me Some Radical Dads

UntitledI am admittedly a little late on this one as things have been quite crazy in my life and the music world has been on hold.  Today I’m going to share a few songs as I get back in the game with this awesome track from longtime ATH favorite Radical Dads.  As I just said, I’ve followed this band for while and this new tune does even more to promote my fandom.  Check it out below and enjoy a lil bit of rock to improve your day.

Pick up new album, Universal Coolers, on February 24th via Old Flame Records.

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Download: Don’t Go [MP3]

ATX Show Spotlight: Deep Cuts + Shivery Shakes @ Cheer Ups (1/29)

showIt’s that time of year, when things start to pick up across town as we warm up to SXSW.  There’s a great deal of shows this week, but I’d like to encourage you all to hit up Cheer Up Charlies to catch some local Texas acts that I guarantee will bring joy to your life.  You’ve got the impressive Deep Cuts folks from Houston, who are growing increasingly popular.  Shivery Shakes, who released their Three Waves and a Shake LP on ATH Records, will help keep your spirits up.  Plus Modrag and Casual Strangers intend to get you there early, as they’re both extremely worthy of your attendance.  There’s no cover and the show starts at 9 PM.  Come enjoy the weather and the good vibes.

Patty Griffin Joins Stone Jack Sour

jackiAs if we haven’t raved enough about Stone Jack Sour, he’s adding another reason for me, personally, to fall in love with his new work; he’s teamed up with Patty Griffin (one of my dad’s all time favorites) for his latest single. It’s one of the many guest spots Griffin takes on for Jack’s newest album, Love & Torture, which will be released in March via Western Vinyl. It appears as if the story of Jack’s life will creep in to the lyrical content, as various medical conditions have at times threatened his life.  But, there’s no better way to make the Grim Reaper pay than writing brilliant ballads about your survival.

Cold Noise Pop From Future

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I’m all over the place musically today, so why not mix things up completely and bring you some weird cold wave French music? Future are a french trio who are big on creating huge tracks that soar in post-punk bliss. They’ve been around for a few years, but this track, “Side Effects” caught my attention with its dark, yet dance-ready quality. The howling feedback, papery percussion and monotone vocals blend to create cold noise pop that you can jam to, and I’m digging it.

Great New Track From Jack Ladder

artworks-000104359373-5o2vaa-t500x500Jack Ladder is an artist that I was introduced to a few years ago and I have been following him and his band The Dreamlanders ever since.  Today I’m excited to hear that a new album is in the works and the first single called “To Keep and be Kept”is available for streaming.  I’m loving the haunting, deep vocal style that originally made me a fan.  The sweet and soothing vocal contribution from Sharon Van Etten here plays beautifully off the baritone of Jack to create an enchanting and memorable song.

Playmates is available on February 24th via Fat Possum.

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