New Music from Sambassadeur

I’ve been waiting for some time to listen to this new track from Sambassadeur, knowing that one of my favorite labels, Labrador, was going to release a new 7″ from the group.  The Memories 7″ is set to come out in November, and they’re giving everyone a chance to preview the material today.  Interestingly, the bass line steals the show, providing a stepping rhythm that definitely propels the song forward.  If you’ve followed the band, you’ll notice the orchestral touches such as horns and string cuts coming in and out of the track. I wish these guys would put out more material, but this will do.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/01-Memories.mp3]

Download:Sambassadeur – Memories [MP3]

Titus Andronicus – Local Business

Rating: ★★★½ ·

You’ve really got to root for Titus Andronicus?  They’ve taken on their own approach to working within the indie rock community, and regardless of pitfalls of other acts, they always seem to come out on their own terms.  Local Business is their third LP, and while it’s story line may not be as grandiose as The Monitor, it impresses greatly, musically and lyrically.

For me, I almost always notice the music first, nowadays.  Perhaps that’s why the guitar line that opens “Ecce Homo” stuck out to me the most on my first listen; it’s almost got a Replacements feel to it, cutting edge, yet relaxed.  Then, of course, Patrick enters the picture delivering his stance as a man looking on from the outside, angry about the way things have played out, for himself and others.  Personally, by the fist song, I’m already fascinated by the clarity of the vocals, but what’s stuck out a great deal is the musical shift.  This album is all about a more classic rock n’ roll sound.  The guitars are turned up, as usual, but they take on less of a post-rock feel, especially if you look at the second track on Local Business, “Still Life with Hot Deuce on Silver Platter.”

That being said, I also think there’s a harder edge punk rock ethos laying beneath the songwriting.  Sure, that’s always been present, but in listening to a track like “Titus Andronicus vs The Absurd Universe” you can tell by the ferocity in the vocal delivery and the ringing guitar that this is all about creating music that’s in your face; it’s brash and lyrical, yet there’s still melody lurking. Even “Upon Viewing Oregon’s Landscape with the Flood of Detritus” has a subdued element of punk rock, although the guitar line that cuts through the number provides a more sentimental classic rock element.  Oh, and you can sing along too, rather easily…a staple of punk’ simplicity, and Patrick Stickles’s songwriting.

For me, the heart and soul of Titus Andronicus still lives in their mini-opus rock numbers.  “I Tried to Quit Smoking” is something I can relate to on a personal level, but the slow start of Patrick singing over piano and minimal drumming draws listeners in from the start, and that sentiment stays with you, that is until the band begins to sort of dial it in near the latter half with some noodling on various instruments.  It also provides a good counterpoint to “My Eating Disorder,” which appears earlier on Local Business.  This one’s almost as long, but it’s more of a bar-room brawler, giving you a bit of a shuffle whilst moving in and out of the track itself.  One listen and you’ll be anticipating the night when you get to scream “my eating disorder is inside me” at the top of your lungs.

Now, if you’re looking for the Monitor Pt. 2, you’re not going to find it here.  Honestly, that’s a good thing, considering the world raved about that album.  It shows me, as well as other fans, that the group’s still sticking to their guns, still operating on their own terms.  They don’t need to recreate themselves, and they don’t need to sound like Titus Andronicus.  They can forage new territory on their own, yet still come out with incredible songs that beg to be sung in the live setting or at the top of your lungs while you’re screaming down the highway.  Local Business is a good record. Hands down.

Rad Tune from Cave Cat

Man, I really love this track from Cave Cat.  I wish I knew more about this group of Swedes, other than they just released this great 7″ on Luxury and Dufflecoat Records.  It’s definitely a bit of a wayward jangle, but the atmospheric bent of the vocals and ringing guitars puts this band on par with groups like The Mary Onettes…another personal favorite.  I particularly love how the guitar solo knifes its way through on the latter half of the tune. Dig it, kids, and check out another track “abject” here.

Fun Fun Fun Fest Preview: The Promise Ring

It’s two weeks away from one of our favorite festivals, if not, our favorite Austin festival, so it’s time to take a look at some of the acts we’re really anticipating taking the stage.  For me, the first nostalgic nod has to go to the Promise Ring.  Yeah, I was 17 during their hey-day, so it makes perfect sense that I would have fallen in love with their music, labeled as emo at the time (though with no association to the current range of emo).  Their highlight, in my eyes, definitely has to be Very Emergency.  Whether you want to label it with a genre or not, it was a great pop record, and one that still holds a special place in my heart.  Unfortunately, I never had the chance to catch the group live, as I was living in Oklahoma (the land of no shows) during my peak of adoration, so I’m overly excited to see these guys.  Glad Transmission got them to break out and bring the rock.  Whether you’re nostalgic or just curious, this is a must see band for my two cents.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/01-Happiness-Is-All-The-Rage.mp3]

Download:The Promise Ring – Happiness Is All The Rage [MP3]

They’ll be playing Sunday on the Orange Stage at 6:05 PM.

Cool Old Jam from The Barbaras

Well, this is an old song, but it’s probably going to be brand new to those of us outside of Memphis who hadn’t heard of The Barbaras.  Legend has it that Jay Reatard recorded the band, which featured Steven Pope (of his then touring band), but in anger told the band he scrapped the recordings.  After his unfortunate demise, these tunes resurfaced on some of Jay’s old recording equipment, and the great people at Goner Records are going to be releasing the collection, The Barbaras 2006-2008, on October 30th.  This track’s definitely made its way onto my daily playlist, and it has a mellower tone than some of the other tracks, just showcasing the songwriting of the group during their prime. Take a listen.

Show Preview: Matthew Dear @ the Mohawk (10.24)

Date 10.24.12
Location The Mohawk
Doors 6:30
Tickets $13 from Mohawk

Wednesday night is full of good solid shows, but one of our highlights for the week is Producer/DJ Matthew Dear.  He’s blowing into town in support of his popular new record, Beams; he’s sure to provide you with your midweek energy!  But, if that wasn’t enough, he’s bringing Outputmessage along with him, but you need to definitely get there at doors because one of Austin’s most exciting acts, Orthy will be opening the night up just before the group heads out on a nice East Coast tour.  Those of you with the dance/electronic leaning, this is the place you’ll want to be.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/matthewdear-soiltoseed_1924328.mp3]

Download:Matthew Dear – Soil to Seed [MP3]

Oh, and hang around inside afterwards to check out Dignan Porch.

Delay Trees – Doze

Rating: ★★★½ ·

When I first got hold of the new album from Finland’s Delay Trees, I focused on the most recent single, “Hml,” which might have left me a bit misguided.  That track carries with it a certain resemblance to ambling pop music of the day, but the rest of Doze is a slumbering beast of down-tempo melodies and beautiful tapestry.

“Decide” opens the record, and from the minute you press play, you begin to lose yourself.  Your speakers have a slight rattle, guitar chords are picked so delicately that they seem to float in the air, and Rami’s vocals drift eloquently in the far off distance.  On this statement track alone, Delay Trees aims to take you on a journey, musically speaking, carrying you on the wings of their harmonies into a distant land of pop resilience.  This is when the album begins to really take off, pushing your emotional state beyond recognition, into a hazy world of bliss and relaxation.

The pacing of “Dream Surfer” is, again, rather slow, but it allows for a building sensation created by the vocal and the guitars, which creatively begin to ring brightly around the 2.5 minute mark, only to soften into the distance.  And on comes “Hml,” a track that encourages both thought and toe-tapping; it’s a song that accomplishes that rare feat of contemplation and energy.  For me, this is definitely the standout of Doze, though it might come a bit too early for some listeners.  The elegant harmony of the vocals drew me immediately, both in their effortlessness and shifting of pitch.  If you do anything, let your mind drift away with this tune immediately.

Delay Trees provide you with a touch of respite, offering the instrumental “Glacier” before moving on towards their 8 minute opus, “Pause.”  Trying to write about this track has proved fruitless through countless revisions.  At times, I hear faint hints of a dream pop version of the Flaming Lips, yet other times I see myself traipsing through the snow-covered woods in Yellowstone…that is until an electronic pulse kicks in. Even with that throbbing, I’m still lost in the landscape of my own mind.  But all is returned to normal during the following track, “Future,” which has the most pummeling rhythm of anything on Doze.  It’s coated in a foggy haze, holding onto the group’s aesthetic tendencies, yet it’s the most rocking song, giving you just a glimmer of a group still looking to forge new ground.

Ultimately, however, the group is more comfortable having you drift away peacefully with them.  “Only the Stars” is another long number set at the penultimate spot, encouraging more meandering of the mind, but your patience will be rewarded with a beautifully crafted tune yet again, so stay tuned. It just illustrates that Doze is an album that requires full participation from the listener.  Such records are not always immediately gratifying, and often turn the audience away, but those with time and care will find themselves lost in the marvel created for us by Delay Trees.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/03-HML.mp3]

Download:Delay Trees – HML [MP3]

Doze is out now via Soliti Music.

More New Music From Wild Smiles

Only about a month ago, I posted a sweet new tune from Chris Peden and his new project known as Wild Smiles.  Last time I really enjoyed the hazy summer feel to the tunes which is still apparent here with a major rock riff mixed in as well.  Right around the :50 mark this song turns in to quite the rocker.  It’s one hell of a jam.  Stay tuned for more from this promising artist.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Care-about-me-mm2.mp3]

Download: Wild Smiles – You Don’t Care About Me [MP3]

Bat For Lashes – The Haunted Man

Rating: ★★★★ ·

If you’ve been paying attention to the state of music in the indie world, it should be apparent to you that there has been a rise of the powerful female archetype. This year, there have been a number of powerfully female-centric albums that have been released—names such as Cat Power, Metric and Beach House come to mind. Natasha Khan is no stranger to the music scene either—this is her third studio album under the Bat For Lashes moniker, and shows a vast amount of growth for Khan. Stripped down and reliant on vocal power, The Haunted Man is work of fine production and even finer artistry.

At a little over fifty-one minutes, this album is epic in nature, but is gripping upon first listen—it just depends at which point in your first listen that you yield to Khan’s enchanting spell. Some will fall in love upon hearing the opening number to the album, “Lilies,” which is a softer number for Bat For Lashes upon surveying the whole album, but still holds the understated power of this female. The number begins quietly: minimalistic instrumentation of synthesizers and other electronic sounds are held together with Khan’s voice, which easily explores her range. As it progresses, the song builds upon the instrumentation, adding in orchestral sounds to the electronic beat to give it the signature electro-bohemian pop sound.

But if the first four numbers haven’t called your attention to Bat For Lashes, “Laura” ought to, or perhaps you should stop listening. Fairly hard to ignore, this track gives listeners a bit of a break from the pulsating beat that his been effervescing in the backdrop of previous songs and allows you to really focus on what is the main-event of this album: Khan’s vocal strength. Lana Del Ray done right, the song doles out a raw cut of emotional vulnerability that pulls at your heart. It’s quite a dramatic number, tough to follow, but “Winter Fields” does a good job at transitioning to the rest of the songs with it’s mellow, pan-flute sounding intro that transitions into a driving rhythmic section. Another song with overt rhythmic dominance comes a little later with “Marilyn,” whose drum machine beats will have you grooving right along.

With each and every twist and turn of this album, Khan is there with you, her strong presence serving as a guide to traverse the electronic as well as stripped down tunes that are found on The Haunted Man. All the way through its duration, the energy level never falls, or loses your interest. So sit down and have a listen, or maybe a few listens, to this release—maybe you won’t be sitting for too long.

Show Preview + Ticket Giveaway : Woods @ Red 7 (10.24)

Have we got a deal for you !? The great people of Transmission are allowing us to help you get out and see one of the most anticipated shows of the season, Woods over at Red 7.  Their recent release, Bend Beyond, is absolutely magnificent, and I have a feeling it will make a lot of year end lists.  But, if that’s not enough to convince you, you can also see Widowspeak, a Captured Tracks act that made my list of favorites at SXSW this past year.  Oh, and local group Hidden Ritual is setting things off right as the opening slot!  All you need to do is leave a comment with your most anticipated Fun Fun Fun Fest band, and we’ll pick our favorite and let you have 2 free tickets to Wednesday night’s show. Doors are at 9 PM, and for those just wanting to buy tickets they’re $14 at the door.  Contest ends Wednesday at 8 AM.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/woodsimnotgone.mp3]

Download: Woods – I’m Not Gone [MP3]

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