It’s that time of year again, with the Austin City Limits Festival just around the corner. As one of our favorite festivals, and one of the many musical outlets in the city, we thought it was our job to keep you updated on the acts that are vital to a successful weekend out at Zilker Park. Our first act to take a look at is Philadelphia’s The War on Drugs. Read more
I love a smoky voice, especially when you drape it over solemn tunes. The latest tune from local Austin act My Jerusalem has that exact perfect vocal I look for, even including a nice little pop raise in the vocal during the chorus. Otherwise, the track treads the water with a careful guitar line, some light flourishes of instrumental accompaniment and a thoughtful drum beat. It’s great to see an Austin band crafting this sort of music, which definitely seems able to escape the confines of our local scene. You can hear this tune and others on the band’s upcoming record, Preachers, which is being released by The End Records on October 9th.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/My-Jerusalem-Mono.mp3]
Download:My Jerusalem – Mono
When I think about the greater effects of the Internet I always look to the likes of Dylan Baldi of Cloud Nothings, creating incredible music that seems rooted in real musical knowledge. This is the exact sentiment I had when I listened to the track from teenage Oliver Catt, who’s gone on to form a new band with his friends titled Fantasy Rainbow. Their latest single shows great depth in the songwriting, not to mention the quality of the recording itself. It’s nice to know that with music now excessively abundant to the masses, a teenager lost in his own world can quietly listen to his idols and craft his own great sound. If you like what you hear, click on their name to check out other tracks from the band.
With the rest of the ATH crew spread out at shows all over Austin, I stepped in to see Eternal Summers with Bleeding Rainbow and local favorites Rayon Beach Thursday night, which I was more than happy to do.
Read on for thoughts and a few pics from Brian Gray.
Here’s some tasty new gems from UK based outfit The Switch. The tunes in the soundcloud player below are catchy Brit-pop numbers “Heard it All Before” and “Dont Worry Baby”. You’ll hear a familiar breezy pop style in both songs similar to Texas boys Young Girls mixed with a little bit of Two Wounded Birds. It’s really excellent work however you want to label it really. Both songs will be coming your way via 7″ single this November on It’s All Happening Records.
It’s a good thing ballsy rock n’ roll is back in fashion, otherwise the hits that Unnatural Helpers have been churning out up in Seattle might not sound as sweet. But, that’s not the case, so the short hits from the foursome hit hard and fast, then they’re gone, leaving you with the desire to hit repeat over and over again on their latest LP, Land Grab (Hardly Art).
“Medication” immediately introduces you to the bouncing garage pop side of the group, using a rolling drum beat and catchy guitar line that forces your toes to tap themselves to death. Vocals are delivered in a sort of spoken word manner, though I enjoy the bratty edge of Dean Whitmore, even when the poppy backing vocals join in. They’ll stay in the same place for a moment with “Stiff Wind,” although you’ll probably find the guitars a bit more dangerous than on the opener. Land Grab is definitely a record you can turn up loud while the wind blows your hair straight back.
While the pop element exists in spots for Unnatural Helpers, I’m particular to the more punk leaning sounds that they’ve been able to balance in between the bubbly elements. You’re first real taste of this sort comes via “I Trust It Hurts;” I imagine this song being best sung by Whitmore stalking an audience with sweat dripping down his face–it’s over just as you get yourself moving, which might be a slight drawback. “Hate Your Teachers” is another such song, beginning with a heavy bass sound, which continues with a barrage of noisy guitars and frenetic pacing. For me, the punk rock ethos pervades the entire album, but it’s good to have the above mixed tracks in here to provide some differentiation in the group’s sound.
All that said, Land Grab has a few incredible hits that weren’t represented in the singles, my favorite being “Waiting Girl.” It closely represents the poppier side of the band, with forceful riffs blasting through the speakers from the moment the song opens. Here, the vocals have a bit of a cool swing, something you’d find in old UK post-punk records; it’s helped by the addition of vocals that chime in in unison during the chorus. It might not be the hardest hitting song the band’s got, but I’ll be damned if this isn’t everyone’s favorite track by the end of your listen.
There’s two great things that Unnatural Helpers have going for them, aside from being on a great label: short songs and differentiation. The short songs are great because with a sound like this, you don’t want to be overbearing or grow too complacent, which is why the differentiation factor is so important. Yes, you can see a similar strain of thought in the music, but not many of the songs sound exactly the same. That’s really refreshing considering the genre has the uncanny ability to grow stale after too many repeated listens. Fortunately for you, Land Grab benefits for the group’s hard work and stylistic choices, leaving you with one of those records you want to turn up loud and play for all your friends.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/UnnaturalHelpers_HateYourTeachers.mp3]
Download:Unnatural Helpers – Hate Your Teachers [MP3]
Land Grab is available now from Hardly Art.
One of my recent discoveries has been Cloudberry Records, who seem to be the perfect purveyors of fine indie-pop. I’ve highlighted some gems by them already, and here’s another release from Earth First that you can get your hands on now! The group is a Brooklyn based act, though they sound nothing like what the city is known for at the moment…and I mean that as a compliment. I love the warmth of the vocals, and the cascading jangling guitars that fill the background of the track. If you love indie pop, go grab the latest 7″ from the band.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/earthfirst.mp3]
Download:Earth First – To The Night [MP3]
Not too long ago I brought you a track from Gangi, but it was a slow, sprawling sort, unfolding gloriously over a short span. This new tune, “Gold,” is a little bit different, with what feels like a similar approach that one would find on Arcade Fire recordings, using backing vocals in gang form and piling on layers of instrumentation. Again, you can find this tune on the group’s upcoming record, Gesture Is, which will be coming out on October 2nd via Office of Analogue and Digital. If the group can maintain this sort of balance on the LP, it’s going to really win people over.
|Date||Tuesday, September 25th|
|Tickets||$22-$30 from Ticketfly|
Really you don’t need much encouragement to go out and see Guided By Voices. The band’s output speaks for itself, and either you’re a fan, or you’re not, but if you are, you already made plans to be at the show. Since reforming the original line-up, the group hasn’t really missed a beat, releasing the enjoyable Class Clown Spots a UFO earlier this year. If you know nothing about the group, trust us when we say that this is one of those musical experiences you need to be a part of, so be sure to get your tickets! Detective will be opening the evening up.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Guided-By-Voices-Class-Clown-Spots-A-UFO-New-Version.mp3]
Download:Guided By Voices – Class Clown Spots A UFO [MP3]
After taking Dustin Wong, The Walkmen and Beach House, ATH hit two other shows including one we were presenting at Red7. White Arrows was back in town as a headliner after playing the opening slot for Beat Connection, a show where the headliner was bested. It was good to see these guys come back through and put forth another great set.
Read on for a few deets and pics.