Show Preview: Curtin @ Lamberts (5/23)

1618257_628191577260497_705601427_oThere’s tons of events going on in town this weekend, but we wanted to point you in the direction of this secret little gem that might not have gotten your attention otherwise. Curtin is a two-piece who craft this sparse folk-influenced rock; some of their songs lean more in the direction of experimenting within the genre, while other tracks offer up more traditional fare. The group is touring to promote their album, One for the Doghearted. But, just because you can’t have a show without great locals, be sure to get there early, as the line-up includes two of our favorite friends, The Midgetmen and Ram (formerly of Whitman).  Sample the tune below to get a feel of what to expect.

Arctic Monkeys – AM

AM

Rating: ★★★★ ·

When a bunch of young chaps from Sheffield formed a band back in 2002, I doubt they had any idea they would be headlining Glastonbury, let alone headlining Glastonbury… twice. But ten years later, here they are, on their fifth LP release, still taking the indie world by storm and gaining more and more of a following after every release. AM, as aforementioned their fifth studio release, and gives a bit of a nod to their growth into a headlining super power. With this growth, do these no-longer-chaps from Sheffield still have something left in them to keep the hype going around them?

The single, and opening track “Do I Wanna Know?” certainly gives a roaring answer to this question. Stomping drumbeats set the tone, followed closely by some extremely buzzy guitar lines that come off as dark and sinister. Alex Turner’s enticing and subtly sensual vocals coat everything in a sort of heat that reminds me of the edgy coyness of Humbug. Turner spits lyrics out quickly, each line catchier than the next in his bad-boy persona, urging you to empathize with him and perhaps slick your hair back a bit when you sing along to the front man’s part in the call and response chorus. This song sets the tone for the rest of the album: cheeky, but not to the point in which evokes disgust. Turner and company make tunes that embody the very essence of cool.

But what makes AM relatable and not intangibly too cool is the subject matter: heartache. If you were to just listen to the instrumental portion of this record, you would enjoy it because it’s catchy and interesting, but as for emotionally available, it is a bit harder than you would expect from the Arctic Monkeys. The guitars are a bit edgier and noisier for the most part, with riffs tending to the hard rock genre. Take the song “I Want it All,” for example—extra heavy on guitar and light on everything else save for vocals. Musically, it sounds like a very dominant and confident tune, but then there’s Turner confessing: “Ain’t it just like you to kiss me and then hit the road?” There is this steady confidence exuded through the heartache that Turner spins songs about. Even on the slower numbers that don’t possess the gritty guitar, such as closer “I Wanna Be Yours” that embodies an R&B song more than anything, you still have unapologetic longing to be in love.

Though I wouldn’t consider myself a diehard fan of this group, I simply can’t deny that this is a great record, complete with a variety of genres touched upon here. Yes, Turner’s edgy lyrics remain constant, wrapped around the theme of love/infatuation—perhaps not enough in return from a particular subject—but it never comes across as repetitive or banal. AM is something you can take bits from and sympathize with as well as just enjoy on a musical level.

Noisy Rocker from Ovlov

ovlovFeel like I started out the day with sort of a soft touch, musically speaking, so I want to make sure you all get your dosage of rock n’ roll as the day draws to a close.  This sprawling track opens up gently, then blasts off with noisy discordant guitar work.  Whilst Ovlov definitely exemplifies a louder edge, there’s still an element of accessibility that breaks through with the delivery of the vocals. After working hard for several years, the band is finally ready to unleash Am, their debut album; it will be out on July 2nd via Exploding in Sound Records.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/09-bluebaby-master2B.mp3]

Download: Ovlov – Blue Baby [MP3]

Magnetic Morning – A.M.

Rating: ★★★★ ·

When the rumor mill put Sam Fogarino of Interpol with Adam Franklin of Swervedriver together, no knew exactly what to expect from the duo.  Both men have achieved varying levels of success, but could they put it altogether?  Simply put, the answer is an absolute yes! Here it is ladies and gents, Magnetic Morning.

Immediately the band opens with “Spring Unseen,” a gentle number where vocal harmonies seem to burst into the song like flowers in the Spring.  Franklin’s trademark voice sounds incredibly familiar, yet he seems to have grown with it as time has passed.  Here the band sets up to the stage for the entire album, allowing all space to be filled sonically with ambient washes of guitar.  It’s a tactic that will remain prevalent throughout your listening experience to this album.

Oddly, the music seems both dated and refreshing.  There isn’t a lot out there right now in the realm of dramatic pop soundscapes, at least not a whole lot that will move you.  Despite the fact that it seems like a missing step-child in the world of indie-rock, it still comes out as remarkably fresh.  Every minute of the album is worth steeping yourself inside, as you wait carefully, quietly even, for the song to unfold before you.  This entire album will aimlessly float through your brain as the melodies become a part of you.

Looking at the song titles alone will show you precisely what the album is about, conceptually speaking.  It seems to be that Mr. Franklin is continuing to search for the answers, as we all inevitably are.  He approaches the subject matter with a perfect simplicity, one that will surely allow listeners to associate with his words.  Not to mention, a few songs seemingly deal with loss, of a friend or loved one you will have to find out.

Ultimately, this is an album that affects your mood, regardless of where you find yourself in the day.  It’s a somber affair, forcing, or asking rather, that listeners take a minute, or twenty, out of their day to let these songs invest themselves in your soul.  In the end, you’ll be glad you found the time to sink quietly into this wonderful album.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/05-no-direction.mp3]

Download: Magnetic Morning – No Direction [MP3]