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New Tunes from The Clientele

clientele2Once again, tracks are slowly leaking from the upcoming album Bonfires on the Heath by UK wunderkind The Clientele.  Surely, you’ve heard of them, but in case you haven’t we’re offering this new track.  Their special dream-inducing psychedelia is present here, and it only builds the anticipation as we head towards the October 6th release date on Merge Records.

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Download: The Clientele – Harvest Time [MP3]

HEALTH – Get Color

health_get_color

Rating: ★½ · · ·

Coming from the same scene that birthed No Age, Abe Vigoda, and The Mae Shi, Los Angeles’ HEALTH crashed onto the scene with their cacophonous brand of noise rock garnering favorable reviews with their 2007 self-titled debut, the ensuing remix collection DISCO, and spastic live shows.  On their newest offering, Get Color, HEALTH attempts to produce a more easily accessible album while retaining their trademarked aural destruction, which they do, but to a fault.

What made their debut so great was that it felt dangerous; it made you uncomfortable while listening to it, but in such a good way. The giant drum sound and the shrillness of the vocal manipulation just seemed right. I remember the first time hearing “Crimewave”, just be being blown away and wanting more.  On Get Color, HEALTH switched from recording digitally to recording directly to 2” tape.  In an interview with Drowned in Sound, bassist John Famiglietti, discussed this decision: “On tape, you can be as loud and abrasive as you want, and the more brutal it gets it just feels good to hear.  On a computer that abrasive sound registers as a brittle spike, and even though it’s the sound you want, it’s terribly annoying when it comes out of the stereo”  This is true, Get Color is easier to listen to, but it just comes off as flat noise with a beat,  sterile as a cadaver on an examiners table.  When you embrace the term “noise” as an identifier of your bands sound you shouldn’t be afraid of the “brittle spike” in the recording.  I don’t yearn for a smoother sounding Lightning Bolt record, and HEALTH shouldn’t strive to make their noise easier on my ears.  Just plug in your fifty guitar pedals and tear shit up!

The biggest mistake HEALTH made on Get Color was wrangling in their greatest asset, drummer Benjamin Jared Miller. On their debut Miller was a force to reckoned with but here, while being completely competent behind the kit, he is regulated to generic flourishes and strategically placed blast beats.  The songs on Get Color feel overly planned out, to the point of coming off as a dead behind the eyes Hollywood starlet; pretty to look at and listen to, but offering nothing of value to our world.  I struggle to discuss individual tracks, because they all, essentially, sound the same.

I originally wanted to give this release a half of a star, but I hold on to hope that seeing the band live at Fun Fun Fun Fest this year will redeem this collection of songs. After all I hated At the Drive-In’s In/Casino/Out until I saw them live.  So, HEALTH, the ball is in your court, bring it in November.

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Download: HEALTH – Nice Girls [MP3]

Brothers & Sisters @ Scoot Inn (9/4)

brothersandsisters

Date 9/4/09
Location Scoot Inn
Doors 9pm
Tickets $5 @ Door

Friday night at Scoot Inn is a great place to stop by if you’re looking for some great local upstart acts.  The Lineup includes some of our more recent local favorites Brothers & Sisters, The Low Lows, Mr. Lewis and The Funeral 5, and The Sideshow Tragedy.  Can’t get much better than that!

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Download: Brothers & Sisters – The Air Is Getting Thicker [MP3]

New Tunes from The Drums

thedrums-domsmith-photo01We’ve been loving The Drums since we got their self-titled debut EP, but now they are gearing up to release a new EP titled Summertime! The EP features three brand new tracks for those of you that had the debut, but if not, there are 6 brand spanking new songs, one being that sweet tune “Let’s Go Surfing.”  But, now we have a new number for you, this one featuring an adorable female vocal with that bouncing bass line the band utilize so well. You can get a hold of the EP at Twenty Seven Records.

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Download: The Drums – Don’t Be a Jerk Jonny

A2W: Ideal Soul Mart

idealLocal Austin boys Ideal Soul Mart have been gaining some positive attention around town with some jam packed shows at several local venues.  We here at ATH have taken notice of the band’s efforts and thought they’d be a great choice for this weeks artist to watch feature.  Follow the jump for more info on this up and coming band.

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New Music From Hallelujah The Hills

hallelujah_the_hills-let_it_waveI’ve been giving some heavy rotation to Hallelujah the Hills lately, and like most smart bands, they have some free music you can check out.  Start you trek into their discography with a free EP from last year called Prepare to Qualify which you can download for free.  After that, have a listen to this new jam “Classic Tapes” which will appear on upcoming album Colonial Drones out September 22nd on Misra Records.

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Download: Hallelujah The Hills – Classic Tapes [MP3]

Chuck Ragan – Gold Country

chuk

Rating: ★★★½ ·

As the frontman of Hot Water Music, you expect Chuck Ragan to be an angst-ridden misanthrope, but you’ll find a different man writing the tunes on his second solo album, Gold Country.  Chuck has called this work some of the most mature music he has created to date, and such a statement is quite visible upon repeated listens.

As you begin listening to this album, you get the feeling that a lot of the songs are left over from the period when Chuck wrote Feast or Famine, his first solo outing. “For Goodness Sake” features his throaty vocals that bare witness to his past.  Similarly, “Glory” has that old hoedown feeling, with a quick-step guitar strumming accompanied by an equally paced violin.  But, you can notice stark differences on this go round–even by listening to these two songs.  For one, both feature female backing vocals, adding a richer texture to the compositions, which makes them seem like more complete songs, as opposed to simple acoustic tracks. “Glory” also brings in a gang vocal of “al la las” near the end of the song.   It’s these slight steps up that give brith to the maturity of which Mr. Ragan has spoken.

Some of the songs on this album also appear to wear the influence of Chuck flexing his muscle on the road with the Revival Tour, a collection of punk troubadours gone punk.  Yes, Chuck already has an experience in this realm, but there are definite moments that recall Tom Gabel of Against Me, such as “Done and Done.”   This is by no means a knock, but it demonstrates how experience can bleed into our musical development.

Listening to a song like “10 West” you begin to realize that you sort of feel a strong connection to the Chuck Ragan.  He’s talking about some sort of roadtrip that recalls various memories, but the recording manner that involves multiple moments of gang vocals makes you feel as if you are at home with Chuck Ragan.   You can feel yourself sitting in the room with him as he writes this song for you and all your memories.

And in the end of it all, this is a Chuck Ragan.  The old screamer always seems to get personal when he picks up the acoustic, and his lyrics never seem to come off interesting.  Most people might not call it the most remarkable thing ever, but you can see that he’s been making steps to progress, and most (like me) don’t even think he needs to.  He’s included touches of piano, violin, femal backing vocals and other ornate details that add to the texture of this wonderful album.  Gold Country is definitely an example of a growing Chuck Ragan.

New Music From Califone

califoneIt’s been right at 3 years since we’ve gotten a proper LP from Chicago outfit Califone and I can honestly say I’ve missed them.  Isn’t that sweet?  But alas, the band is back and ready to drop a new album our way October 6th called All My Friends Are Funeral Singers.  Here’s a first glimpse of that Dead Oceans release, “Funeral Singers”.  Welcome back to the game boys.

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Download: Califone – Funeral Singers [MP3]

New King Khan & The BBQ Show

kingkhan1We love the man known as King Khan and we get amped up when he makes new music with The Shrines or with The BBQ show.  This new jam comes from the BBQ show and will appear on upcoming album Invisible Girl out November 3rd on In the Red Records.  Do these guys put out bad music?

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Download: King Khan & BBQ Show – Invisible Girl [MP3]

A.A. Bondy – When the Devil’s Loose

aa-bondy-when-the-devils-loose-cover

Rating: ★★★½ ·

A.A. Bondy began to steadily make waves with critics after the release of his debut American Hearts.  A short while later, he is releasing When the Devil’s Loose on Fat Possum Records.  It’s a record that lives up to the expectation of the record’s title, but in the most stripped down fashion that could only accompany A. A. Bondy.

Just when you think your music player is broken, the soft-spoken strumming of “Mightiest of Guns” comes into play through your speakers.  Bondy seems to whisper just as quietly into the microphone, his soothing voice calmly uttering at those lowly decibels.  Such an approach is utilized throughout the remainder of the album, to various effects.

“When the Devil’s Loose” begins, you can hear the meandering accompaniment of low-lying drums and various guitar chords that one finds on a M. Ward song.  It easily could be seen as knocking off another great, but the story telling of Bondy is what seems to differentiate his songwriting from that of Matt Ward. He seems deeply rooted in the history of Southern storytelling, and in doing such, he tells his tales with the passion of an overly involved narrator.  Even during “Oh the Vampyre,” which seems to be sort of a childish ditty, there is an element of struggle, not only in the lyrics, but in the vocals. 

Midway through arrives the standout track “I Can See the Pines are Dancing.”  One of the more intriguing things about this song is the baritone voice echoing in the background of the song.  It works well with Bondy’s silky cum gruff vocals.  It’s this sort of touch to an otherwise simplistic approach that manages to grab A.A. Bondy from the relatively mundane world of folk/Americana/etc and push him even further than some of his peers.

Listening to songs like “False River,” the album’s seventh track, you can still see these little flourishes and intricate details, and one can only assume that more will unfold as repeated listens come to be.  Walking to the end of this album, you never seem to hear the same thing twice; this is an attribute many people ascribe to great records.  However, the pacing of the album is painstakingly slow, and while some will find this aspect appealing, it’s difficult to reach the end of the album as a whole due to the distinctive style and relatively static vocals.  While those may seem to some as desperately critical aspects, rest assured that beneath the folds of every tune on here lies a secret waiting for each and every listener.  All due to the hard work of A.A. Bondy on When the Devil’s Loose.

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Download: A.A. Bondy – I Can See the Pines are Dancing [MP3]

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