New Jam from Punks On Mars

As much as I hate to run the same stuff as P4K, I have to continue for Ryan Howe and his project, Punks On Mars.  His newest track encapsulates every inch of what I love about his music, using hooks wrapped around Bolan-esque guitar riffs, all the while traveling off the beaten path just a tad.  It’s in the same vein as my faves King Tuff and Hunx, but in a completely different manner.   If you’re loving this jam, you’ll find more tunes just like it when his new full-length, Bad Expectations, comes out via Zoo Music on October 30th.


Download:Punks On Mars – Showers of Pain [MP3]

Show Preview: Swans @ La Zona Rosa (9.14)

Date Friday, September 14th
Location La Zona Records
Doors 800 pm
Tickets $23 from Frontgate

So you’re super bummed you couldn’t get into the sold out Twin Shadow show at Mohawk? Well, one of the next best things has to be catching Swans play over at La Zona Rosa on the same night.  The Bear, the band’s most recent album, has received incredible reviews all over the Internet, and I can promise you that it’s deserved praise, and might even be a bit of an understatement; it’s an absolutely incredible piece of work.  Opening the night will be the always popular Xiu Xiu, so you can make a great night out of your music fandom after all.


Download:Swans – Mother of the World [MP3]


Downtempo Electro Pop From Beacon

I think I am already sick of the new XX album and don’t even own it. My drive time with SiriusXMU has pretty much locked that up.

As an alternative, we bring you Beacon. It starts low and sultry, and builds from sparse to sweeping. Another Brooklyn-based duo borrowing from R&B and dance pop, They’ll be releasing the For Now EP on October 2nd. Until then, you can stream this song called “Feelings Gone” over at the Ghostly soundcloud.

…or right here.

The Helio Sequence – Negotiations

Rating: ★★★ · ·

Oregon duo The Helio Sequence are over a decade into their career, carefully crafting intimate tunes that seem to be enduring in most people’s record collection, and hearts as well.  On their fifth full length, Negotiations, there are some stunningly brilliant moments of pop, though their intimate approach often heads in only one direction, which may (or may not) wear down listeners come the end of the record.

Coming out of the gate, The Helio Sequence clearly have lofty intentions.  “One More Time” has a vocal that rises almost immediately after its introduction, but a slight change in the pitch provides a different direction.  All the while, the guitar rings in the far background of the song, and the drums provide a perfect pace.  Negotiations continues to climb higher towards perfection with “October,” utilizing a soft vocal introduction, before it playfully turns you on your ear with the “go go go, if you wanna go” refrain.  Each time I listen to this track, I swear it continues to warm me, making it one of my favorite tracks from the duo.  But, while the opening segment is rock solid, it peaks out here, unfortunately.

There’s definitely a noisier approach to the duo’s craftsmanship as the record proceeds, using bits of feedback on tracks like “When the Shadow Falls” or a heavier bit of emotion on “Hall of Mirrors.”  Both songs are interesting to a certain extent, but their power is diminished by the album’s opening moments, which will still remain in most listeners heads.  Perhaps it’s not the most apropos conversation to have, but I feel like the rehearsal or studio time falls short on the latter half; it just doesn’t quite fit with the beautiful moments that came in early on Negotiations.

Yet, despite some mild pitfalls, there’s also an interesting mix of more traditional folk-influenced tunes that one could consider winning efforts, such as “Harvester of Souls” or “December.”  The former track is definitely a quieter track, mostly revolving around vocals and carefully picked guitar, with hints of atmospheric accompaniment use to provide depth.  On the latter of the two songs, the band tries to remain quiet to a certain extent, but they can’t seem to escape the formulaic approach that seeps through your stereos as you listen to The Helio Sequence.

I’m not going to lie; I quite like this record.  It comes to me at the perfect time of the year, with a slight change in the weather, and a slight change in what I plan on listening to during my days.  That being said, the more I listen to Negotiations, the more it has a tendency to blend into the background as I play it from start to finish.  You’ll find exceptional highs, especially near the beginning, and you’ll find some that fall short, but it’s very much a record by The Helio Sequence in sound and scope; I think that’s just enough to please the fans of the group.


Download:The Helio Sequence – Hall of Mirrors [MP3]

Negotiations is out now via Sub Pop.

More New Music From Aaron Embry

Up and coming singer-songwriter Aaron Embry continues to impress with his careful construction of beautiful slowed down country style tunes.  Earlier this summer, I shared incredible debut single from Aaron entitled “Moon of the Daylight Sky” and today I’ve got even more to offer for you fans.  This new track, “Raven’s Song” is another slow tune that features a nice piano instrumentation and quality lyrics.  Once again, you can pick up Aaron Embry’s new album Tiny Prayers on September 18th via Community Music.


Download: Aaron Embry – Raven’s Song [MP3]

Seapony – Falling

Rating: ★★★½ ·

These days there seems to be a real abundance in lo-fi, dream and twee pop. In recent years, the indie world has witnessed and transitioned into a world filled with that of these genres, but with the overwhelming growth of the shoe-gaze movement, how does a fan sift through the vast amount of music and find the bands that do it right? What makes a lo-fi band stand out against the masses?

Seapony stands out in the overwhelmingly bright and sunny nature of their pop tunes as well as the ever-apparent guitar hooks that are featured throughout the music. A little over a year ago, they introduced you to their take on dream pop with Go With Me, which seemed to fit perfectly into the summery bedroom listening category. On this sophomore release, lead vocalist Jen Weidl and company are back with more cheery guitar riffs and jangly percussion to dance to. Up first is “Outside,” that throws listeners into the swing of things right from the start. Weidl’s sugary vocals are a distorted, making them a bit heavier on this song than on the majority of the other songs that can be found on this album. The guitars jangle along with these gritty vocals, while the drums punch in the background. It’s not the fastest of songs, but it certainly gives you a taste of what Seapony is all about.

There isn’t much to complain about on Falling. The songs work together well so as to avoid repetition and banality, but there are also standouts to be found in this mix. Such a noticeably grand number is “Follow,” which relies on the dreamy and ever feminine voice of Weidl and the glorious focus on the guitar riff. It’s a song that sounds so blissful that you can practically feel a cool breeze on your face. An equally beautiful song comes on the single for this album, “Prove to Me.” As opposed to “Follow,” the guitar is set further back into the other instrumentation and the vocals so that it blends in, but is also able to float to the surface and become the center of the song in places.

My only qualm with this record is that it is perhaps a little too sunny, if that’s possible. It feels like Falling should maybe have been released a few months ago, when the weather was heating up and not cooling down. But it’s still quite hot here in ATX, so soak up this radiance before the leaves start to change and the wind blows cold.


Download:Seapony – Prove To Me [MP3]

Falling is out now via Hardly Art. 

Cool Electro Pop from Thomas Azier

I feel like I had sworn off electro-pop for a little bit, feeling it had all sort of blended together in my eyes. But, lately I’ve been reinvigorated, mostly looking for openly-catchy hooks with anthemic vocals that will give me a daily boost of energy (rather than relying on 4 cups of coffee).  For today, Thomas Azier is solving my dilemma, giving me beats, hooks and lyrics I can sing along with at any point.  The following track was self-recorded by the Berlin artist for his latest EP, and it’s titled Hylas 001; it’s just enough to hold you over while he completes his new record (currently in the works). You can dance to this; I know it’s what you want.


Download: Thomas Azier – Metropolitan Tribe [MP3]

New Layered Pop From Autumn Owls

Autumn Owls are a band that a can’t quite put my finger on, but I still find them rather interesting despite my ability to put some sort of label on their sound.  You’ll obviously hear a lot of different layers to their sound when listening to the song below “Great Atlantic Drift”.  It’s a really dark tune and intricate tune that seems to offer something new to discover each time you listen to it.  See what I mean?

The Dublin based trio will be releasing their debut LP Between the Buildings, Between the Sea on October 23rd via Epitonic.


Download: Autumn Owls – Great Atlantic Drift [MP3]

Show Pics: Pujol @ Stubb’s (9/7)

Final bit of catch up from last Friday. Pujol played Stubb’s.

In a way, Slash opened for them. The outside was over run by rock and/or roll played loudly, Myles Kennedy a far better technical vocalist than that guy with funny hair and a cat face that wrecked GnR. Cell phones abounded for the rousing closer, “Paradise City”. …and then Pujol started playing inside.

Quite a few partiers came in from outside to check out the Nashville trio, hearing the big power jams about home and girls and stuff. So peep the pics and read a couple more words after the break.

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New Jam from The Denzels

Over the last years we’ve seen an increase in sunny guitar-pop, filled with jangling guitars and soaring choruses.  The Denzels are another such band, though I’m really enjoying the deep vocal tones of their singer, giving them a bit of a twist on the formula, though not too far away from their peers.  They’ve got a new EP out now titled Easy Tiger, which is their second EP as a group.  If you listen to the whole thing as a set, you can tell that there are more hooks lurking behind this band, ready to make us bounce in the very near future.  Need a pick me up? Here it is.


Download:The Denzels – Black Girls [MP3]

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