Our coverage last week was pretty steady, and we got to hear some great new stuff…so here we are with our weekly recap to start off your post holiday blues at work. We got some great ATH favorites offering up new stuff, with Winter and Phantom Handshakes getting fresh tunes out there. We also ran some great footage from Constant Follower of their performance atop a monument in Scotland, which I highly suggest you getting into, so I threw a jam in there from that performance. Lot of great stuff, with over an hour of jams to whet your whistle this morning.
Have you heard me shouting from the Arp hype train? I’m the guy at the back begging you to immerse yourself in the chilled textures the project is spinning as of late. I love the varying textural layers and how they’re stretched across various periods, seemingly, with some even focusing on a more futuristic outlook. Alexis even said the intention in the craft was to throw in something that was a “bit post-punk, a bit nightclub, a bit dubby,” which definitely encompasses a lot of territory, with wiggling room to boot. For me, the song takes a different turn around the 3 minute mark, adding in some darker structure, but ultimately illustrating how the project is stretching the boundaries of its own craft. New Pleasures drops July 15th via Mexican Summer.
Man, even in a short week, I managed to cover a whole lot of ground that we should remind you ran last week on ye’ ole site. Clocking in at just under an hour, you get a reminder to check out Team Play‘s debut LP, or maybe jump on the Onyon bandwagon with the rest of us now that Trouble in Mind have reissued their rad debut. Maybe you just want tried and true, like a new Florist tune or a Slow Magic remix for Letting Up Despite Great Faults. Pick your poison…it’s probably in here. Paris. Yeah.
Got a little heavy on the guitar pop sounds this morning, so wanted to make sure I’m mixing it up a bit here, especially since I’m really enjoying all the new stuff from the latest Arp LP. I love how beneath the front of the mix is this heavier, almost 80s industrial beat complex; it sets up the perfect contrast between the hyper happy moments that dominate the front of the track. Even as you’re enjoying the wash there, the song mixes in some little glitches, some sonic bursts, blurring the lines between both levels and building this reflective bit of electronica. New Pleasures will be out on July 15th via Mexican Summer, and this song will be on it!
So much good music last week, and so much to cover. Well, we tried to get up as much as we could, plus Brian got some great photos of Good Morning and Packs. Here’s our weekly musical recap, with lots of awesome news, like new releases from Tan Cologne, Field Guides…and Voxtrot! I think the news of their Early Music compilation definitely made my week, even as I was held hostage in my classroom by state testing. Enjoy some jams from last week.
Had a fairly late night for a teacher, hanging with Packs and Good Morning, so the contemplative craft of Arp slides perfectly into my midweek routine. Alexis Georgopoulos project announces New Pleasures, the second installment in their Zebra trilogy, and with that info, we also get the title track, with an incredibly stunning video created by Adinah Dancyger; the video does an incredible job of storytelling, despite their being no lyrical content to attach. The video tells the story in the day in the life of a dollar, bending and twisting through the city, like the deep beat-laden music created by Arp; it reminds me of Jill Magid’s penny project. This New Pleasures LP will be out in July via Mexican Summer.
Went to the record store and picked up some sweet jams this week: Growlers, Rat Columns, So Cow and then I also got the new Arp. Sure, it’s an EP, but man, there’s some really great gems on the album, like the one below. The last full-length that Alexis G. put out was pretty right on, though there were some developmental moments in the LP. The Pulsars and Quasars EP might be a little stop gap, but it definitely shows progression in what he’s been able to accomplish since last year. The EP is available as of this week via Mexican Summer, so if you like what you hear below go grab that stuffs.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/04-UHF1.mp3]
Download: Arp – UHF1 [MP3]
I’ve been waiting to play this wonderful new track from Arp for you for a couple of weeks. I fell in love with his last album, More, and it seems that with his new EP, he’s got a slew of great new songs for you. There’s a bit of fuzz bursting from the background on this track, but there’s this plodding pop hook that runs throughout; it’s no wonder he’s signed on to work with Mexican Summer. While it’s not quite a full-length, the Pulsars e Quasars EP is really going to win a slew of new fans. I really can’t stop listening to this track. You can get the EP on September 23rd.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/02-Pulsars-e-Quasars.mp3]
Making our year-end list of Top Albums is never something we take lightly. We realize that it’s rather arbitrary in the grand scheme of things, but we realize that our role is to at least toss out our opinion, however meaningless it may be. In the long run, we had to take the tastes of several people, and whittle it into a list of 50 great albums that we think are vital to your listening experience. We know it’s a matter of personal tastes, but the records below are reflective of our tastes and our site, so don’t get mad, they’re just opinions. But, feel free to tell us where we went wrong, or what we might have missed. If you click on the album titles, you can also read our full reviews of each album, save the ones that we didn’t get to in time. Sorry we don’t like Kanye.
50 – Wampire – Curiosity
49 – Dot Dash – Half Remembered Dream
48 – Mantles – Long Enough to Leave
47 – The Appleseed Cast – Illumination Ritual
46 – Bad Sports – Bras
45 – Part Time – PDA
44 – Dick Diver – Calendar Days
43 – Math and Physics Club – Our Hearts Beat Loud
42 – Veronica Falls – Waiting for Something to Happen
41 – Eat Skull – III
40 – The Lonely Wild – The Sun as It Comes
39 – The Love Language – Ruby Red
38 – Gun Outfit – Hard Coming Down
37 – Cate Le Bon – Mug Museum
36 – Daughn Gibson – Me Moan
35 – Andre Obin – The Arsonist
34 – Arp – More
33 – Gap Dream – Shine Your Light
32 – The Black Watch – The End of When
31 – Ty Segall – Sleeper
30 – The Stevens – A History of Hygeine
29 – Of Montreal – Lousy with Sylvianbriar
28 – Mirror Travel – Mexico
27 – Local Natives – Hummingbird
26 – Girls Names – The New Life
25 – GRMLN – Empire
24 – Small Black – Limits of Desire
23 – Audacity – Butter Knife
22 – Mikal Cronin – MCII
21 – Chelsea Wolfe – Pain is Beauty
20 – Foals – Holy Fire
19 – Radical Face – Family Tree: The Branches
18 – Youth Lagoon – Wondrous Bughouse
17 – Terry Malts – Nobody Realizes This is Nowhere
16 – Shout Out Louds – Optica
15 – Kurt Vile – Waking on a Pretty Daze
14 – Braids – Flourish//Perish
13 – Crystal Antlers – Nothing is Real
12 – Typhoon – White Lighter
11 – Ski Lodge – Big Heart
Admittedly, this album makes nods to folk troubadours of Christmas’ past, but what grabbed me from the moment I heard this record was the sincerity in what’s being created. In leaving us with a stripped down listen of folk tunes and incredible poetry, we’re asked to look into the history of American songwriting tradition; it’s been awhile since it was executed so well.
9 – The Growlers – Hung at Heart
I’d put this album on any list for one song alone, “Someday.” But, it just so happens that the rest of the album maintains the sensation that’s established on the opening track. I’ve heard it referenced as a surf-psych opus, but what’s been assured in my mine is what an incredible listen we’re all be treating to when we put Hung at Heart on our record players.
Hether Fortune seems to scare people. Her work is in your face, never making an excuse for who she is or what she believes. That attitude carries on into her music, allowing listeners to experience a musical world void of any pretense. The songs on this album are angular, dark and abrasive; the vocals have Hether dominating the scene of modern lady rock warriors. If you don’t dig it, she doesn’t care, but I do because this record rules.
While many of the songs on this effort leaked out before under various EPs, the whole masterpiece exists in the way it was tied together as a complete work. It’s operatic and grand at every corner, but it’s also undeniably a pop record. The emphasis might revolve around the more artful spectrum of pop music, but this is an album you can play for everyone in your family, and they’ll all find themselves swept up in the wonderment of Privilege.
What else really needs to be said about The National. They consistently make great albums that are lauded then often overlooked, but we didn’t want to do that to one of our favorite acts. I mean, if they played 8 shows in 8 days, we’d be at every one, and the DJ set after party. Their accolades and recognition are warranted, and it’s especially clear on this, their latest release.
When listening to Pass the Ringo, I thought of one thing: this is the sort of record that makes a small label, like Loglady Records, a household name. It’s spun around garage rock and psych rock structures, whilst still maintaining an accessibility that few people working in that genre achieve. Some albums can play in the background of your house, and might be happy to do so, but Legs created something that made me stop and listen at every turn; I’m thankful for that.
Someone For You came our way in January. On my record player, it hasn’t left since. This is one of the most rewarding power-pop records I’ve gotten my hands on, and trust me, I’ve gotten my hands on a lot of great records. Each song is filled with innate hooks and garage rock grit, encouraging you to tap your toes for the entirety of the record. You’d think after a full year our interest would have waned, but with time we’ve only grown to appreciate the record even more.
At the moment, there’s not too many people releasing music that’s the quality of Mathew Cothran and Coma Cinema. There are elements of the bizarre, similar to the work of early Elf Power, yet there’s this intimacy that artists like Eliott Smith were able to create with their listeners. You wrap that up and put it in a package of pop sensibility, and you have an album that can’t be ignored.
In today’s musical climate, we buy into the fact that artists have to be doing something strange, or something that’s vastly different from their peers. But, in the grand scheme of things, we often forget what it’s like to take enjoyment out of the music. This album was one of the many reminders that music, when it’s good, can be quite special. Every song here is a single, and worth your time; it’s the best thing Laz has done, and I feel like he’s just really getting started.
This album is about Devon Welsh. From the first instant I heard his voice, it took hold of me. Throughout the year, Impersonator, consistently played on my radio. His voice was mesmerizing, captivating audiences on several occasions in Austin, convincing us to be as quiet as a mouse, so as to hear every note. The unique quality of the album will reward listeners for years to follow. It made us believe in great music again.
One of the great things about reviewing music is discovering an act that’s been around, but that you hadn’t given much attention to in the past few years. For me, Arp is that group; I’ve devoured More, the latest release, and hunted down the rest of his catalogue. From the opening track to the closing moments, it’s just remarkably moving, and if, like me, you ignore it, you’ll be doing yourself a huge disservice.
“High-Heeled Clouds” opens More with one of the best opening tracks I’ve heard this year. A gently playful piano line works with the bass to open, before Alexis G enters with his vocals. While one would seem to bounce at the musical mannerisms, there’s this perfect restraint that encourages solitary swaying. But, it’s the slightest details within the track that really push the song into the realm of “stand-out;” there’s this sunny guitar solo that works its way in, fading into an atmospheric end. But, while the opening moments slowly move forward, the following track of “Judy Nylon” creates the perfect counterpoint. There’s a fuzzy guitar, and a heavier pounding on the piano, leaving you with loftier emotions, yet still in the spirit of the opening tune.
Suddenly, Arp leaves you in the mood for more ethereal pop moments with the warmth of “A Tiger in the Hall at Versailles.” This tune’s more of a spiritual track, using the vocal as an extra instrument. While you might not find yourself as attached to this song, it serves the album, overall perfectly, offering insight into the songwriting process. It’s similar, in approach, to “Gravity,” which includes string arrangements for emphasis. The layering of each moment in these tunes gives you clues as to the way future songs are constructed, such as “Light + Sound.” There you’ll find a similar formula, but what interested me are the faint horns flourishes or light keyboard notes that elevate a traditional pop-writing formula.
Of course, some of the other tracks are momentary throw-aways, thus why I can’t quite toss the perfect score towards More. I don’t mean one should toss these songs aside, as the little snippets of noise and samples provide detail to the storytelling of the record as a whole, but I was thirsting for more great pop moments. I get it; I know why they’re there, but it shortens the album, leaving me hungry for more of Alexis’ word play and craftsmanship. That being said, it’s part of the beautiful journey of this release.
Having barely been acquainted with Arp up to this point, I couldn’t help but fall in love, as if this was the first release. The careful artistry of every track, even the snippets, overwhelmed me, washing me with emotions that are rare in a consumable musical age. I can assure each and every person that reads this that you’ll find few records this year that are as rewarding and magnificent as I found More.
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