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Free Merge Spring Sampler

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It’s that time of year again for all of us to begin reflecting on the first third of our year in the music world.  Merge has of course released some stellar albums in these first 4 months of 2010 and they’re celebrating that with a free 14 track digital sampler.  Awesome songs from She & Him, Destroyer, Let’s Wrestle, and tons of others are including.  The Sampler is currently available for free download via Amazon.  This also gives me another excuse to post up one of my favorite songs of the year from Merge band Wye Oak.

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Download: Wye Oak – I Hope You Die [MP3]

New Music From Ratatat

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This is a bit of a sentimental post for me since Ratatat was the first band I actually posted about on our website two years ago.  We’ve come a long way since then and it’s kinda funny that the electro duo are dropping a new album around the same time we got our start.  I’ll save the tears…. Ratatat’s upcoming LP4 will be hitting stores on June 8th via XL Recordings.  The album has officially leaked at this point, but we’ve got new MP3 “Drugs” for you people that like to keep it legal.  I’d expect to hear this thing all over the indie dance floors this summer.

Update: Song removed at label’s request.  We were using the wrong single so here’s the official one “Party With Children”.

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Download: Ratatat – Party With Children [MP3]

Massive Release @ Encore (5/7)

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Date 5/7/10
Location Encore
Doors 8pm
Tickets $10 @ Quiet Company

So those Knuckle Rumbler kids are at it again with a show Friday night at Encore along with co-sponsors Paper Thin Media and Simple Shoes.  The lineup really is a whose who of up and coming Austin talent featuring Quiet Company, The Rokcetboys, The Black and White Years, The Murdocks, Stereo is a Lie, and The Eastern Sea.  The event will also celebrate the release of Quiet Company’s new EP and The Rocketboys vinyl release with free drinks to the first 100 guests.  They’ve also got some sweet VIP packages you can read more about over on the KR website.  You gotta know we’ll be there.

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Download: Quiet Company – How Do You Do It [MP3]

New Music From School Of Seven Bells

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Man, I’m really diggin’ this new School of Seven Bells tune “Babelonia” that popped up on The Gum Yesterday.  It’s got it all if you ask me; driving guitars, a tight backing beat, and some sweet female vocal harmonies.  Hellz yeah.  The band’s upcoming LP, Disconnect From Desire, hits stores on July 13th via Vagrant Records.

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Download: School of Seven Bells – Babelonia [MP3]

4/29 Phoenix @ Stubbs

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So last Thursday pretty much everyone in town was over at Stubb’s for the sold out Phoenix show right?  Well we weren’t… but our awesome photo lady Jennifer Murtha was there!  She spent the night enjoying some jams and taking some super fancy photos.  Follow the jump for some pictures of Phoenix and Two Door Cinema Club at Stubbs.

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New Tunes from Stornoway

I’m really surprised that we haven’t heard too much on this side of the pond about Stornoway.  They’ve got everything we love about our own bands, not to mention Brian Briggs’ incredible set of pipes.  Luckily, this single has come to us from 4AD, and it will be on the band’s debut album Beachcomber’s Windowsill.  This song begins with percussion and gentle strumming before Briggs decides he wants to carry the rest of the song with his voice (the music stays, but his voice dominates).  If this is what we can expect, then huge things are expected from this band.  Check out their album on May 24th.

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Download: Stornoway – On the Rocks [MP3]

Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma

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Rating: ★★★★ ·

In the vast, deep of night, we peer into the cosmos searching for answers to all of life’s questions. For innumerable years, humans have gazed to the stars. Some receive answers. For producer and beat-maker Steven Ellison, (AKA Flying Lotus) rooting deep in the earth, peering high into the sky, and becoming one with the universe is the modus operandi on his latest full length album Cosmogramma. Those unfamiliar with FlyLo, may have unwittingly heard some of his first work as a beat-maker during Adult Swim’s commercial changeovers.  These ambiguous and quick bass-heavy sketches built a massive fan base for which Ellison would leap from his rather innocuous 2006 debut full length 1983 and find great critical acclaim in his Warp debut, 2008’s Los Angeles.  

On his latest, his influence is taken mostly from his personal relation to his great-aunt, Alice Coltrane, from whom the title of the record is taken. The late Alice Coltrane was a jazz musician in her own right in addition to being known as the wife of Saxophone legend John Coltrane.  Flying Lotus uses these family bred jazz influences in very subtle ways in his beat-making scenarios while combining sublime live instrumentation from a global laundry list of talented musicians to create a soundtrack which is simply out of this world. If Los Angeles was his ‘Dr. Strangelove’, Cosmogramma is his ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’.  

From the first bass hits of ‘Clock Catcher’ the listener is shot into the atmosphere with the addition of Rebekah Raff on harp. The playfulness between the smooth, tender harp and the sharp, rigid bass is just a taste of what FlyLo does best. His production style has evolved over the past few years, but creating dense, layered tracks is becoming second-nature. From here into the bass heavy, jazz improv ‘Pickled’ with former Suicidal Tendencies bassist Stephen “Thundercat” Bruno putting down intricate bass lines. ‘Intro//A Cosmic Drama’ is the record’s first influence of vocals, with Niki Randa providing the choir-like voice over a beautiful string arrangement from the very talented Miguel Atwood-Ferguson. The vocals are subtle, but are very effective in giving the overall tone of the track a celestial sense.

Most casual listeners may have heard the single ‘…And The World Laughs With You’, no doubt a highlight for many. With the addition of Thom Yorke’s vocals, FlyLo creates an Eraser –esque vibe, though it’s short-lived and doesn’t settle on the vocals in a manner of Yorke’s 2006 release. Similarly, Ellison never dwells too long on any particular thought process. The tracks on the album average just under 2.5 minutes, but there’s no lack in substance throughout.  The list of collaborators continues with ‘Arkestry’ utilizing relative Ravi Coltrane on sax, giving the record its first true jazz sensibility, and no doubt an ode to his Aunt and his family’s jazz lineage.  Jumping ahead to ‘Satelllliiiiiiiteee’, which is a funky groove and by ‘Recoiled’ a dense, hard hitting track, it’s obvious that FlyLo has mastered his craft and created his strongest release to date by far.

As a listener it is important to not pass judgment after first listen. It’s the kind of record that will not immediately hit you due the subtly and denseness of the layers, but repeated listens are well worth the effort.  The record as a whole flows like a single track, much in the same manner of Prefuse 73’s ‘Everything She Touched Turned Ampexian’, though the record feels to end in a more abrupt manner that I would have expected.  Overall, however, it is still one of the best, far-reaching musical journeys of the year. Expect much more notoriety and critical acclaim in the future for Flying Lotus if he continues to produce in the same manner, focusing not only on the beats, but the composition of instrumentation as well. 

Centro-matic @ The Parish (5/6)

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Date Thursday, May 8th
Location Parish
Doors 800p
Tickets $12 from The Parish

Will Johnson is one of the great voices in Texas music right now, and he has been for several years. He comes through Austin quite a bit, and this time you can catch him with his band Centro-Matic this Thursday at the Parish.  You can rest assured that he’ll play some incredible tunes that will yank at your heart strings; you owe it to yourself to see him at least once in your lifetime.  Also on the bill is The Service Industry and Matthew and the Arrogant Sea.  Seems like a great way to fill your evening with good tunes if you ask me.

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Download: Centro-Matic – Counting The Scars [MP3]


The New Pornographers – Together

Rating: ★★★★ ·

After the release of Challengers it seemed like people were ready to disregard The New Pornographers altogether.  Poor reviews for an album couldn’t keep this band down though, as they’ve returned with their fifth record, Together. It stands in the same ground as a great deal of the rest of the last record, but it pushes the rock element a little bit further, brightening the sound a bit, just making things louder overall.

Opening moments on “Move” have that shredded guitar sound you’ve come to expect from an AC Newman penned song, but with a little strings to match the top of it all.  Throw in the bounce and those pop-perfect vocals (girl harmonies thrown in for good measure) and you’ve got a great opening track.  But, you get the perfect mix when you move into the next tune, “Crash Years.”  It’s fronted by the female force this time around, though the jangly guitars and orchestral accompaniment aren’t anything to shake a stick at.  Then you find yourself at “Your Hands (Together),” finding the band employing all their old tricks.  A rolling drumbeat, guitars strumming off beat, and the combination of male/female vocals.  Together starts out great, and it doesn’t seem to slow down.

However, the band switch gears a bit by going to a Dan Bejar penned number.  He’s written three songs for this record, and each one is remarkable in its own right.  Not sure if it’s Bejar’s odd vocal delivery, or just his craftsmanship, but his songs always stand out in The New Pornographers sound.  “If You Can’t See  My Mirrors” is probably the best of the three Bejar tracks, using some brilliant swirling guitar melodies to balance out Dan’s vocals.  The light female vocal beneath his adds a perfect touch as well.  Don’t skip out on “Daughter of Sorrow” as it’s reminiscent of Dan’s work with Destroyer, but instead of him working solo, he uses the posse at hand to expand his own distinctive sound.

While the album does slow down a bit right in the middle, it’s not entirely a detractor.  Perhaps the sequencing comes as a bit of a shock, as you can find better places to fit these quieter moments, but “Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk” and “My Shepard” showcase the band’s ace in the hole.  Female vocals have long been a part of the groups dynamic, and they come into perfect play in the middle of this album.  Fans of Neko Case and Kathryn Calder will appreciate the fact that the girls get to carry their own weight for a sustained period of time.

One of the strengths of the band, and Together, is that they seem to have returned to uniting all their forces into one cohesive product.  “Up in the Dark” is a powerful song, using the dual vocal approach, and a stomping rhythm to move it along. Even when the song takes turns for the swirly pop moments, you can’t help but feel that this is the band at its best.  While “Valkyrie in the Roller Disco” might seem a bit odd, really just using the vocal approach of the band to make its point, it really is a good song, though it might not fit that well with this collection.  So they close it with “We End Up Together,” making the perfect statement for the album’s closing.  Everyone seems to play a part in this song, fitting the whole band, well, “together.”  Seeing such sentiment makes you appreciate the effort on Together all the more, and it demonstrates to us all that as long as The New Pornographers put in all the pieces, they can create great records just like the one we find here.

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Download: New Pornographers – Your Hands Together [MP3]

New Tunes from Cats on Fire

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In case you missed Cats On Fire‘s last record, Our Temperance Movement, the first thing you should do is go get your hands on it; it’s a gem of a pop record.  But, now the band are back with a collection of rarities, B-Sides and what-nots.  The album is called Dealing in Antiques, and it features 20 tracks from the band; you can’t argue with that.  We’ve got the album opener, which is a cover of White Town‘s “Your Woman.”  You’ll be able to find the record in stores next week, or you can order it straight from Matinee Recordings, which has tons of other great bands you need to check out while you’re at it.

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Download: Cats on Fire – Your Woman [MP3]

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