I’ve always appreciated Angelo de Augustine‘s music, but there’s something particularly perfect about this song dropping at this time of year, with Winter whipping at your windows. The recording has this whisper, as if his voice is muffled so as not to wake the neighbors in the sharing of his innermost secrets. Headphones will reveal this bubbling pulse beneath the entirety of the mix, as well as the occasional piano backbone, but in all honesty, the gentle strum of the guitar along with Augustine’s voice is all that’s required. His new album Tomb will be out on January 18th via Asthmatic Kitty.
Oh man, do I love a good quiet melancholic bedroom pop track. Maybe it’s the cold snap we’ve had here in Austin that draws me in so deeply to “Tomb,” but most likely it’s the fact that Angelo De Augustine just knows how to craft a solid tune. While I’ve been a longtime fan, he’s made a big wave in the indie rock world as of late for sharing a live version of his tune, “Time” with Sufjan Stevens’ help on piano. That’s a gorgeous tune, but it seems like he’s really outdone himself with this video for “Tomb,” as you can peek below. Augustine has these impossibly beautiful vocals that float in with a falsetto whisper. Couple that with brilliant songwriting (“You’ve been living your life from the outside / like a stranger inside of your own mind”) and you get the devastating, Elliott-Smith reminiscent, “Tomb.” Safe to say I’m very excited for the full-length this track is taken from. Pre-orderTombbefore its January 18th release date on Asthmatic Kitty.
For years now Sufjan Stevens has been a household name, a staple when it comes to indie rock with both art and folk influences. While he has carved out his own space in terms of genre, defining himself with distinction, his sound has manifested itself in varying directions under the umbrella of his sound. Carrie & Lowell is a deeply personal retreat back into the quietest reaches of Sufjan Stevens‘ musical spectrum, one that enchants and charms with its elegant lyrics and gentle sound.
Nothing that Sufjan Stevens ever does musically is simple. After more than a decade of releases from this man it’s fairly easy to make this statement, but when you listen to this album, the effortlessness of the music is what is striking and powerfully emotional. Upon first listen, it’s sort of difficult to truly grasp just what you’ve got your hands on, as Stevens’ style is exceedingly graceful and smooth. Yes, it sounds lush and gorgeous, his whisper of a voice uttering euphonious lyrics atop often just one other musical element, be it the plucking of a guitar or a bouncing piano part; the sound is akin to that you would hear in a gentle lullaby. While the sound is soothing, it’s also deeply haunting, but this is the quality that you perhaps don’t truly and totally latch onto on your first go round.
But on your second or third pass through the album, or maybe even once you’ve reached the final track on Carrie & Lowell, you begin to feel exactly what Sufjan wants you to through his arrangements of indie folk. Tracks like “Should Have Known Better,” and “All of Me Wants All of You” are sing-songy, the lyrics are subtle but brilliant, giving you one liners that come across like poetry “I should have known better/ nothing can be changed/ the past is still the past/ the bridge to nowhere.” And then there are the deeply dark tracks like “Fourth Of July,” and “No Shade In The Shadow of The Cross.” The former of this pair is a gut-wrenching track in which Stevens traverses through memories of his fallen mother, uttering what sounds to be pet names amidst the other images of her last days. The latter is emotionally distressful and you can hear the desperation behind the lyrics: “I’ll drive that stake through the center of my heart,” or “fuck me, I’m falling apart.” Here he is, emotionally and musically raw, spilling his soul to you like he would the pages of his journal, but these things are brilliant and apt, reaching out to you through your headphones or from the speakers of your car or stereo.
There’s not a song on this album that you’ll ever want to skip: they all fit together like melancholy powerful puzzle pieces of Stevens’ life and childhood that he has retrospectively assembled to reveal he’s missing some vital pieces. Carrie & Lowell, as melancholy as it is, is a mighty work of art, one that I’ll be revisiting again and again.
How about a little something you might have missed post? Well, don’t mind if I do do. Take a listen to this lovely track by Fol Chen off the album The False Alarms on Asthmatic Kitty. <- one of my favorite label names Hang with it through the lead in…
BTW, there will be a couple more SxSW related posts from this kid next week. Not done yet. Nope, not me.
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It seems like it’s been forever since we got some weirdness on this site, and I see the best way to get that going is with a song from Indianapolis based outfit Jookabox. This track “Drop” is set to be released on the band’s upcoming LP entitled The Eyes of the Fly due out April 26th on Asthmatic Kitty. As per usual with this band, I’m digging the beats that make me wanna get my feet moving to the sounds. We also hear that this will be the fourth and final album from Jookabox, so I guess our odd dance/rock fetish will have to be filled elsewhere.[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Jookabox%20-%20Drops.mp3]
Download: Jookabox – Drops [MP3]
If you were hard pressed to find our generations Tom Waits, a deserving nominee would be the Castanets main singer/songwriter Ray Raposa. Raposa’s vocal delivery is more akin to Will Oldham’s than Waits’ own whiskey-soaked growl, but the ability to change his bands, Castanets, persona from release to release is downright Waitsian. Raposa’s work in the Castanets has been called everything from noise to freak folk, but, to these ears, the Castanets, like Waits, is pure American music.
On the bands most recent Asthmatic Kitty release, Texas Rose, The Thaw and The Beast, the Castanets have made one of the most consistent releases in their career. It’s hard to describe this release, so if you wouldn’t mind humoring me for a bit I will explain what I see in my head as I listen to this album: imagine an almost dead planet with a sole survivor (stick with me!). This sole survivor, let’s call him Ray, composes a set of songs about all that he has lost. From the opening track, ‘Rose’, he sings about a lost love and falling in love with the world and in the closing refrain sings “I am left here to worship on my own”. The record flows seamlessly from one track to another, sometimes allowing for vast open spaces without ever being boring.
In it’s short 39 minutes, Texas Rose, the Thaw and the Beast traverses from the tuneful Americana of ‘Rose’, the clipped beats of ‘Worn From the Fight(with Fireworks)’, the booze-soaked dirge ‘No Trouble’, and Phil Collins-esque ‘Lucky Old Moon’ (some how, with that description, this song is fantastic). I know this sounds like an eclectic blend of styles, but trust me, it works better than you could ever imagine.
Ray Raposa and his Castanets have not only released a cohesive album of Southern Gothic hymns, but also a truly enjoyable listening experience in Texas Rose, the Thaw and the Beast. This is a night-driving must.[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/01-Rose-1.mp3]
Download: Castanets – Rose [MP3]
Beat maker David Adamson and his musical project Jookabox are getting ready to release their 3rd LP this fall and we’ve got a new single from the upcoming effort. The track is called “Phantom Don’t Go” and will appear on Dead Zone Boys out November 3rd on Asthmatic Kitty. It’s got quite the catchy beat workin’ for it.[audio: ttp://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/jookabox_-_dead_zone_boys_-_phantom_dont_go.mp3]
Download: Jookabox – Phantom Don’t Go [MP3]