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The Mad Caddies @ Red 7 (04.11.14)

Mad CaddiesThere are many reasons why bands tend to take a hiatus. Reasons such as conflict within the group, lack of creativity, and loss of direction. Sometimes life just gets in the way of a music career, but it’s not a forced or unwelcome break; it’s a much more positive experience. Such is the story of the Santa Barbara based septet, The Mad Caddies, who graced a stage in Austin at Red 7 for the first time since 2006.

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Yet Another Rodrigo Amarante Single

rodgrYou’re probably wondering why I’m so eager to post about all the music of Rodrigo Amarante; I can’t seem to post enough of his new music.  For me, the reason is that listening to his record, Cavalo, has been something of a personal revelation.  There are some ornate songs within the record, while others offer little bits of tropicalia.  Each song has these little nuances that are intoxicating, such as the horn blasts and piano touches add on the song below.  It’s one of those albums where you just get lost in the fold, happily.  The LP is out on May 6 via Easy Sound. 

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More New Music From Unicycle Loves You

d2b589b0f978ab1f5240d942d3ab782b1e727f49Just about a month ago, I alerted you to the happy return of indie pop band Unicycle Loves You.  Today I’m excited to share with you another new track from the band called “Falling Off”.  I’m digging the fuzzed out, dreamy style of pop-rock music being created here from the very beginning.  What more could you really ask for?

Once again, you can get your hands on the new album entitled The Dead Age on June 19th via HighWheel Records.

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Download: Unicycle Loves You – Falling Off [MP3]

Dylan Shearer – Garagearray


Rating: ★★★★½

When I first began listening to Porchpuddles, the last record from Dylan Shearer, I could tell that something special was brewing in his craft.  Now, a few years later, we come to Garagearray, and I don’t even have the words to describe what he’s accomplished.  It’s an album so special at every turn that you’re not likely to hear anything of this sort this year.

“Time to Go” opens Garagearray with a piano ballad with Shearer’s deep vocal tones draped all across it.  What’s interesting to me is that despite the structure of the song appearing quite traditionally, there’s a twist to his approach.  Where others before him would simply press forward, and continue the song as normal, Dylan slows things to a crawl on various occasions, encouraging listeners to hang on every note.  The melody he creates at 2:57 is so special that it’s possibly my favorite moment in music this year. Then he brings in “Meadow Mines” to offer another intimate performance for listeners.  The recording is done in a manner that allows you to hear the buzz of the strings in the mics, while Dylan performs with his forlorn angelic voice.  Ugh. That voice.

While I typically identify with clarity in the vocals, there’s something enchanting about the way Dylan Shearer sings.  Take the track, “Garagearray Lookout,” where his vocals hold the track together.  When he sings, he seems to connect melodies together, rather than worry about proper enunciation.  It brings about an emotion that can’t easily be described, but suffice it to say, you’ll be sucked into every whispy note.  Another such example can be found in “Everyone Accept You” where it sounds as if the vocals were meant merely as an instrument, almost harmonically mumbled in the distance.  It might not be for everyone, but it works for my ears.

I think one of the possible detractors on Garagearray might be that as a listener, you’re asked to completely immerse yourself in listening to the record.  You can’t haphazardly skip through songs; each track has something unique to offer the listener.  You’ll probably waiver back and forth over your favorite, as I have, but you simply don’t want to skip ahead.  If you have the dedication, then you’ll find pop masterpieces in wait during the latter half of the album.  ”Before You Know It (Its Over)” is a six minute adventure of rising and falling melodies, carefully designed to follow the careful guitar work and additional musical accents.  Shearer follows it up with another spectacular piano-laced ballad, “Barely by the Waterslide.” There’s a guitar sliding throughout too, running parallel to the pitch Dylan’s created with his voice; I’m sorry, but moments like this just don’t exist often enough. It then comes to a sublime end with “Tough on Grease (Carillon),” which might be the most pop-centric song on the album, if we’re to listen to the suggestions from the guitar.

The current musical climate often curates music that’s disposable.  You listen, you love, you discard.  But, if you’re looking for a record that’s worth sinking your teeth into for the duration of a lifetime, then I couldn’t think of a better piece of work than Garragearray.  The musical stylings are current, yet timeless.  The structure and progression of each song is dynamic, yet far from ordinary. Dylan Shearer, simply put, is at the top of his game, and that only makes you better by listening to it.

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The album is available now from Castelface/Empty Cellar Records.

Touch of Fun with Tropic of Youth

tropicsFeel like Monday should be fun day, right? What better way to keep things running smoothly than to jam to this delectable track from Tropic of Youth.  The Sheffield band has just released their new EP, and it’s full of shimmering pop moments, similar to our local favorites, Shivery Shakes.  I don’t know, there’s something about this track that really aches for warmer climes, the likes of which we’re about to endure here in Austin for several months.  If that’s the case, then I’ll gladly take this Sun City EP with me wherever I go, just to guarantee that I’ll be smiling no matter where I find myself.

Shunkan to Release Debut with Art Is Hard

shunkanMarina Sakimoto moved from LA to New Zealand, and from there, Shunkan has blossomed into something quite special.  Her lo-fi project is brimming with memorable harmonies wearing a shade of atmospheric noise atop.  Despite the recording opening up forcefully, it winds down with a very quiet performance from Sakimoto and her guitar.  Her EP, Honey, Milk, Blood will feature five brand new songs and is being released by Art Is Hard on a very limited cassette run.  Something enchanting this way comes.

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Download: Shunkan – Wash You Away [MP3]

Austin Spotlight: The Capitalist Kids Release New Album

capitalist kidsThere’s a lot of music in this city, but, like the song below mentions, people tend to get stuck inside certain circles or genres.  I’m guilty of that myself, sure, but I’m working on it. Perhaps that’s why I suggest you head out to Beerland tomorrow night to pick up the new album, At A Loss, from The Capitalist Kids.  It’s a pop punk gem of a record, with quick guitar riffs rushing forward while melodies flourish in each and every song.  It reminds me that listening to music doesn’t always have to be so cerebral; you can turn music up loud and just let yourself escape into the exuberance of life.  If you’re looking for a good time, then I suggest you pass the time with this album; you probably won’t have much fun listening to anything else.

Sonic Avenues – Mistakes


Rating: ★★★½ ·

In 2012 I was stuck with Television Youth on constant repeat; every where I went I was humming along to the melodies and playing air drums.  Suffice it to say, the arrival of Mistakes. the band’s latest effort for Dirtnap Records,  comes with a lot of anticipation on my end.  Sonic Avenues deliver, as I expected, offering up 11 songs of power-pop that are executed perfectly.

“Waiting for Change” begins with a screech of feedback, followed by some understated strumming, but then it jumps into delivery of ringing guitars and hook-laden melodies.  If you were looking for a great answer to the sorely missed Exploding Hearts, then songs like this are precisely why I consider Sonic Avenues to be one of the best acts to have picked up that torch. But, while they do nod their, they’re also making things a bit noisier, exemplified in the track “Automatic.”  It’s a faster paced banger, and the vocals, while still maximizing pop sensibility, are sung in a more hap-hazard fashion.   The next few tracks live in the same realm, with a darker guitar found on “New Vogues,” but I also wanted to see where the band mixed things up a bit.

On Mistakes, “Better Days to Come” brings some respite from the energy-fueled pop that’s been coming through your speakers.  Personally, I’ve found that the guitars, building through two different sounds creates a nice effect, allowing for the group to bring you a nice little power-ballad, though not in the cheesy since.  It allows your toes to take a rest before you tap them off.  You’ll find a similar book-end to the record when you arrive at “Lost & Found.”  It’s not quite the same ballad, but the relaxed approach is very much a part of these two tracks.

For my money, I’d find yourself stuck in tracks 6-8.  My two favorite songs, “In Your Head” and “Too Late” are located here.  The first is really just an excellent jam; I love how the song breaks down just after the two-minute mark, then builds itself back into infectious churning guitar noise.  ”Too Late” on the other hand pushes you into rock mode right from the get-go.  The drums are pounding furiously, and you’ll find yourself swept up in the song instantly.  Check out the rad guitar moves knifing through at the 1 minute mark.

If you want a record that makes you feel good about loving rock n’ roll, then you really need to head out and pick up a copy of Mistakes this week.  Sure, there’s a lot of bands out there doing similar things musically, but for me, the Sonic Avenues are one of the best.  From the way the songs are mixed to the unending energy contained in each track, you just can’t get much better than this.

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New Music from Dead Horse One

deadhorseDiscovering a song that’s inexplicably moving is always a joy, especially when it comes offering a different view at music than what one typically gets during their day. I’ve been loving this tune from France’s Dead Horse One, who’ve just completed the finishing touches on their new album Without Love We Perish, which was recorded by Mark Gardener of Ride.  This opening tracks is a sprawling number that slowly builds, waiting for the softly spoken vocals to move in beneath the mix.  I’m sorry, but you’ve gotta listen to this song on repeat at least four or five times.

Arcade Fire @ Austin360 Amphitheater 04/10/14

Thursday night had a lot to live up to: big stage, bigger venue, and a band who seem to be bigger by the minute. What else was big? Ticket prices. With Standing GA/Floor tickets going for 70 dollars and seats for 50, I was hesitant to fork over the big dollars, but having seen this band twice before, both in a festival setting and on their own, I knew the incredible live show they were capable of. I talk, of course, of Arcade Fire, indie rock cornerstone band that has bled into the mainstream. While not a big fan of Reflektor, I lowered my expectations in anticipation of the heavy prevalence of these new tracks, but I did not expect the level of gimmicks that was in store for the night.

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