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Free Sampler From Kill Rock Stars

Kill Rock Stars record label are jumping on board the free online sampler band wagon this week with one of their very own digital offerings full of some tasty music.  Older tunes from Elliot Smith and The Decemberists are mixed in with newer stuff The Thermals and Horse Feathers.  With 21 tracks in all, a download is definitely worth your time.  This top song from last year, brought to you by The Thermals, is one of many jams on the sampler.

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Download: The Thermals – Now We Can See [MP3]

MGMT – Congratulations

Rating: ★★★½ ·

After the surprising success of Oracular Spectacular, all indications from MGMT would point towards a different direction.  They had no need to reproduce a singles-heavy album in search of hordes of fans; if anything, they acknowledged that the new record, Congratulations, might be off-putting for many of the fans who came their way after hits such as “Kids” or “Time to Pretend.” While the band jump as far away as possible, this record, for musical accomplishments is by no means a letdown.

Opening moments of the album show a more developed group.  “It’s Working” immediately demonstrates that while they’ll remain playful, they won’t simply rely upon access to simple hooks, choosing instead to allow the joy in their work unfold as the songs carry on to their end.  For some reason, MGMT just sound more complete at this point.

Along the same lines as the first number, “Song for Dan Treacy” resembles the early works of Islands.  It uses odd time stops and oddball effects to draw you into the tune while refraining from becoming over-indulgent in the electronic backbone of the music, as some might have said in regards to their last album.  Similarly, MGMT use slow pacing for “Someone’s Missing” to let the song unfold before the listener’s ears, and unfold it does with 45 seconds to go, as the euphoric chanting of the song title with improved percussion bring the song to its end.

“Flash Delirium” is probably the best “single” on the record, if that’s what you’re looking for here.  It recalls the storytelling of Grandaddy, along with the approach of using space-age electronic sounds to build up the chorus.  Once again, the use the ending of the song to tell an entirely different musical story, so be sure not skip ahead, as you might miss some of the musical message hidden beneath.

One of the joys of this album is in the evolution of the band.  Their last album hit you hard in the beginning, but left you sort of bored near the end (at least for me), but the slow-burners on Congratulations have a much larger impact here.  “I Found a Whistle” just seems to trudge along, and while a bit of vocal inflection might have improved it a touch, it’s still one of those songs you’d put on a chill mixtape for a buddy.  You could even include it right along “Congratulations,” which is certainly a great song. All those slow moments that bored last time around, are somehow more interesting here, and that may be due to the well thought-out ordering of songs.  They’ve spaced out the slower moments between pop elements and experimenting (see “Siberian Breaks”).  You have to give them credit; it’s a much more effective approach, and infinitely more rewarding.

One problem with Oracular Spectacular lay in the fact that you enjoyed it immensely upon first listen, but the hooks wore out the more you chose to spin the record.  In contrast, Congratulations is a much different affair.  It’s not set out to make you dance in the same manner, nor does it intend to rely upon singles to boost album sales.  Instead, MGMT have chosen to focus on their writing, which not only make the songs better, but make the record itself much more durable.  It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

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Download: MGMT – Flash Delerium [MP3]

4/8 The Big Pink @ The Parish

For those who had recently been following the rise of The Big Pink, Thursday night’s show at The Parish was much anticipated.  As fans of the band’s A Brief History of Love, we were determined to witness the show in order to make a definitive statement on just how much we love the band.  Opening for the evening was A Place to Bury Strangers, who initially seemed like an odd pairing.  Follow the jump for full review.
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FT5: Music DVDs

We’ve been running ATH for awhile now, and honestly, getting ideas going for my scheduled Top 5 this week has been a little tougher than usual.  I guess that’s just another reason to be excited for the future since we’ve brought on some new talented writers recently who can stir up the pot and help me break through my creative block.  So as I started brainstorming for this week’s list, I was shocked to see that we’ve never created a list of Music DVDs.  Sure it’s a massive topic, but I’m narrowing it down with things that hit home with me and may not necessarily be “the best” by traditional standards.  For inclusion in this swanky list, I’ll stick with DVDs I actually own or borrowed for an extended period of time.  I’m also a stickler for sound quality and personal touches, so you’ll be seeing those in each spot.  Creativity and forward thinking in presentation also can’t hurt.  Follow the jump for full list.
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Adult Swim Block Party @ Emo’s (4/11)

Date 4/11/10
Location Emos
Doors 5pm
Tickets FREE!

Adult Swim’s Block Party tour is stopping through town on Sunday at Emo’s. The lineup for the show features sets by The Fiery Furnaces and locals Bright Light Social Hour.  You’ll also get games, giveaways, free stuff, and word of a possible clown appearance.  More info can be found on that crazy lookin’ flyer.

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Download: The Fiery Furnaces – The End Is Near [MP3]

New Music From Deer Tick

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Easily one of my most overlooked releases from last year would have to be Deer Tick’s indie-country album Born on Flag Day.  Well now the boys are back with new album The Black Dirt Sessions set for release on June 8th via Partisan Records.  Slow burner single from the upcoming record “20 Miles” can be found below.  It’s indicating to me that this band is ready to deliver a much more polished and focused sound.  They all growed up!

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Download: Deer Tick – 20 Miles [MP3]

FTC: Bill Withers

Not really my closet, more like your cool uncle’s closet.  Or that guy down the street who works at the vintage clothing shop and wears orange turtle necks and big collared leather jackets.  This week’s FTC features Bill Withers, a soulful singer/songwriter/genius from the 1970s whose concentrated but powerful R&B and Soul songs left an indelible mark on modern music.  Though he hasn’t released any new music in awhile, you can’t escape his songs.  His track “Lean On Me” is a standard, like “You Are My Sunshine” that was written 35 years earlier, it is hard to identify this song with any particular artist.  It is timeless, and belongs to all of us.  Of course “Aint No Sunshine” is a perfect song.  The heartfelt delivery and soulful vocal tell such a compelling story on their own that you hardly notice the a capella 3rd verse that just repeats “I know” twenty six times.  Alicia Keys owes her career to this song.  Notice the vocal intro, the minor key progression… Bill Withers should get royalties for every time “Fallin” was played in 2001…  And the hook to “No Diggity”…  There are more to speak of, but the track we’re going with today is “Use Me”.  Another funky, simple, but powerful track built around Bill’s strong vocal and a locked-in backing band.  Come back Bill.

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Yeasayer @ La Zona Rosa (4/10 & 4/11)

Date 4/10/10 & 4/11/10
Location La Zona Rosa
Doors 8pm
Tickets $15 for Sat or Sun

Unless you’re currently brain dead, you better be making a point to go see Yeasayer at one of their much anticipated shows this weekend.  Since I am currently gainfully employed with an early wake up time, I’ll be heading out on Saturday.  Now I know some of you people may be gettin’ all hot for that Vampire Weekend show, but let’s be straight here, Yeasayer is a killer live act you can’t pass up.  Be smart.  Opening support on both nights will be provided by buzz band Javelin.  If I haven’t sold you yet, check out their latest single “Ambling Alp” and tell me that doesn’t do it for ya.

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Download: Yeasayer – Ambling Alp [MP3]

New Tunes from Klaus & Kinski

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You’ve probably never heard of Klaus & Kinski, and that’s okay, as I don’t really think too many people have.  I’ve been tracking the Spanish group since their last album, and now that they’ve got new tunes coming out on their new record, Tierra, Tragalos , I really wanted to share them with you.  If it weren’t for the fact that the band sings in Spanish, you’d probably find them right alongside a group like The Postmarks.  This song is all about not wanting to college, and you should trust us, as RayRay teaches Spanish.

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Download: Klaus & Kinski – Mamá, No Quiero Ir Al Colegio [MP3]

Amy Cook @ Hotel San Jose (4/8)

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Date 4/8/10
Location Hotel San Jose
Music @ 6pm
Tickets FREE!

Austin’s own Amy Cook is celebrating the release of her new LP Let the Light In with a free CD release show at Hotel San Jose later today.  The show is planned to begin shortly after 6pm and will feature Amy playing her tunes accompanied by Tosca String Quartet.  Should be an intimate way to begin your evening before you head off to one of the many late shows tonight.

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Download: Amy Cook – Hotel Lights [MP3]

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