Fun Fest Battles: EITS vs Fucked Up vs Atlas Sound

Fun Fun Fun Fest is right around the corner now and it’s time for all of us to really start taking a hard look at the schedule.  Now the Fun Fest and Transmission crew have done a great job with the lineup and I honestly don’t see too many conflicts throughout all three days.  One big decision I’m seeing weighing heavily on everyone’s mind is Sunday late night with 3 solid bands all playing at the exact same time.  Up in this fight to the death battle we have Explosions in the Sky, Fucked Up, and Atlas Sound.  I guess De la Soul is also at the same time, but I just don’t see them factoring into this decision for me.  So you can get:

A. An incredibly talented local instrumental band that could close out your weekend nicely with an emotional set.

B. In your face rock n roll with a front man that might jump in the crowd and dry hump you.

C. Indie rock at it’s finest with one of our most talented current songwriters.

So what’s it gonna be kids?  Your decision will tell us all a lot about you.

Psych Fest Recap 2011: Part 1

The Seaholm Power Plant played host to psych, prog, indie and noise for three days, we were on hand for two of the three, picking out the best for the ATH faithful. The main stage centering the cavernous interior offered several interesting viewing angles due to the fenced off holes in the floor to the level below. Lighting throughout accentuated the scale of the interior and depth of the catacombs. Stage two was a smaller space set off to the side that remained at human body. Hit the jump for band summaries and pictures from the festival.

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New Tunes from Oupa (Daniel of Yuck)

If you’re looking for more Mascis-infused fury from one of the members of Yuck, then you can probably skip this, as it’s nothing like that.  Instead, think more along the lines of an Atlas Sound bedroom session.  Oupa is the project of Yuck‘s Daniel, and he’s going to have release his debut Forget LP some time in June of this year.  You can tell by this single that there’s definitely something to draw you in, whether you like the rising vocal in the chorus, or the darkened tones of the piano as it plays out through the song.  And, if you’re in Austin for SXSW, you’ll be able to catch Daniel doing his thing at the Gorilla vs Bear Party on March 17.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/03-Forget1.mp3]

Download: Oupa (Daniel of Yuck) – Forget [MP3]

Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Deep within the confines of the vast, mysterious internet, news of a certain album emerged. Following the leak debacle of the last release, Bradford Cox and Co. took a more ambiguous approach to releasing a record. The Atlanta based quartet known for their post-punk, shoe gaze roots and enthralling live shows have been relatively quiet since the fantastic Microcastle and pre-release fiasco. The only news we heard even related to Deerhunter was a small tour with untitled new material. This tour debuted while much more press attention was paid to Bradford Cox’s solo outfit Atlas Sound, with its 2009 release of Logos and subsequent tour. Grumblings here and there and a subversive marketing strategy soon after allowed us to put the pieces together and alas we find ourselves in the midst of another gem of a record, Halcyon Digest released via 4AD.

On the opening track ‘Earthquake’, Deerhunter takes a slow, steady approach in reintroducing themselves to the listener. At once, we find ourselves in the middle of an alien, yet unmistakably familiar soundscape. Like the spider and the fly, Cox has a way of pulling the listener in with his swan-song voice while slowly sucking the life out his prey with the rhythm. Though this process is not a violent one; it’s a beautiful dance where Deerhunter spin their web, all senses at once pulsate before it seems like it’s too much. The tapping of a foot turns to muscle memory and we can barely hear the world around us. Rise and fall, these moments erase from existence and what are left are Cox, Pundt, Fauver, Archuleta , and their stunning torturing devices only to open us up and let them in. There’s no way to resist, as our grey matter is their lunch.

On Cryptograms, the band went through a rough stretch and this era brought out a more disjointed song structure while producing some of the group’s most complex ambient elements thanks to Lockett Pundt’s silky-smooth approach. With Microcastle, Cox and Co. reformed with a new purpose and the while the ramblings of previous times are more or less gone, a stronger comprehensive album composition emerged, though the group can’t quite reach that same level at present. There are elements of both sides to the story on display here with ‘Basement Scene’ and ‘Revival’, respectively. This shows that the band is aware of their roots and is willing to not hide their past while searching for perfection. Obviously they are on the right track and even find a new lighter style as heard on ‘Desire Lines’, a definite highlight on the record.

“The devil is now gone from me” croons Bradford Cox on the near perfect track ‘Helicopter’, but I don’t believe him. It’s evil how seamlessly he can create touching and soft, yet unreasonably haunting lyrics. It’s straight up sinful how he can pair these lyrics to the music with such reason and perfection. The tone changes and compositions on this track alone are catching the eye and ears of everyone far beyond the indie community.

With Halcyon Digest, Deerhunter have found themselves as comfortable in their own sound and skin as never before and we can hear this stability in the record as a whole. The vast waves of psychedelia contrasting with the subtle nuances Cox is growing to become well known for are everywhere to be heard. Hipster communities will wine and cry about it, but they’re going to need to find a new band to love, as Deerhunter is soon to become mainstream news. This album has solidified them in the driver’s seat in the indie genre (perhaps even more) and there’s no hope of commandeering the wheel. They are on a road, destination unknown, and you might as well jump in the back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/08-Helicopter.mp3]

Download: Deerhunter – Helicopter [MP3]

FT50: Songs of 2009

bestof2009cover_songsWe have to start this list off with a disclaimer.  We have three writers, all with different tastes, so the list should reflect that a little bit.  Also, these are our opinions, and by no means, are they meant to be seen as an “end all be all” to the question of what were the best songs of 2009.  That being said, we like our list quite a bit.  Sure, it’s got some expected numbers at the top, but the rest of the list is genius.  We’ve got some of the songs streaming for you, and the rest take you straight to youtube.  Follow the jump for full list.

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Atlas Sound – Logos

walkabout-cover

Rating: ★★ · · ·

I must preface this review by stating that I have never been a fan of the work of Bradford Cox.  I realize that this is heresy in today’s indie scene, but I really just have a difficult time giving a shit when there is so much more quality music to which to listen.  Now I’m not saying the man isn’t talented, he is.  His work with Deerhunter is listenable, but I feel like I have heard it all before, and better. I have listened to Deerhunter’s entire catalog and all I am left thinking “Man, this would be great, if My Bloody Valentine had never existed.” Then I go and listen to My Bloody Valentine instead.

So with the release of Bradford Cox’s solo project, Atlas Sound, new album, Logos (Kranky), I approached it with trepidation. Surely the My Bloody Valentine influences would be stripped from the sound and I would finally be able to see what Bradford Cox could really bring to the table creatively.  Plus there were numerous high profile guest appearances, most notably Lætitia Sadier of Stereolab and Noah Lennox of Animal Collective, which warranted, at least, a cursory listen.

You know what? On the first listen of Logos, with the lack of My Bloody Valentine influences, it tricked me into actually liking this record.  I wanted to listen to again. It was light and airy. There was room to move around in it rather than the oppressive wall of sound that is a Deerhunter album. 

But on subsequent listens this album felt familiar for all the wrong reasons.  I know that artists rely on their influences. It’s what makes them who they are.  But there is a huge difference between being influenced by an artist and mimicking.  Bradford Cox continues to come off as an imitator, a highly talented one, but an imitator, nonetheless. While what he is releasing is good, it feels like he has yet to find a voice of his own. 

The majority of Logos sounds exactly like Joan of Arc b-sides and not awesome How Memory Works b-sides, but shitty Live in Chicago, 1999 b-sides.  When joined with Lennox (Walkabout) or Sadier (Quick Canal), we have the highest points of the album, but ultimately the songs sound like the sum of their guest musician’s full time bands.

I hope Bradford Cox finds an original voice soon, because people will soon tire of a band that continually pull too liberally from way more interesting sources.

Atlas Sound will be playing at Fun Fun Fun Fest on the Orange Stage this Sunday at 3:00 p.m.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/Walkabout-w_-Noah-Lennox.mp3]

Download: Atlas Sound – Walkabout (w/ Noah Lennox) [MP3]

Karen O and the Kids – Where the Wild Things Are

WTWTA

Rating: ★★★½ ·

I must admit: I am definitely biased towards anything based on or has anything to do with Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s book ‘Where the Wild Things Are’, as, I am sure, most people in my generation are. The story of Max resonated in my young and precocious heart, so when I heard of the cinematic adaptation a few years ago I was both excited and fearful. That is until the names Spike Jonez, Dave Eggers, and Karen O became attached to it.

The motion picture soundtrack for ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ while not perfect as an independent release, fits perfectly with the story of Max and the Wild Things.  It is fragile and joyful and dangerous all at the same time.  I couldn’t think of a more perfect performer to bring this story to life through sound. Karen O, of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, is herself a wild thing.  She conveys this on the single ‘All is Love’ through ecstatic yelps along side an untrained children’s choir.  This craziness carries through other tracks like ‘Capsize’ with it’s frantic hand claps and screams, and the overall joyousness of ‘Rumpus’.  But there is a softer side to these wild things.  On the somber ‘Hideaway’ and ‘Food is Still Hot’ Karen O and the Kids recall the emptiness Max felt being away from home.

Something must be said about Karen O’s backing band ‘The Kids’, because they are just as much responsible for the magic of this soundtrack as O is.  ‘The Kids’ consist of a who’s who of indie rock musicians: Brian Chase and Nick Zinner (The Yeah Yeah to Karen O’s Yeah), Bradford Cox (Deerhunter and Atlas Sound), Dean Fertita and Jack Lawrence (The Dead Weather & Raconteurs), and others, including that omnipresent children’s choir. 

This is an incredibly fun release whose magic probably won’t be fully realized until a complete viewing of the film, but if you have kids in your life you will want to keep this on hand, because it is an infectious listen.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/karen-o-_-the-kids-all-is-love.mp3]

Download: Karen O & The Kids – All is Love [MP3]

FT5: Collaborations

0918top5coverSolid collaborations seem to come around only once in a blue moon. On the other hand a FT5 of horrible partnerships could go on for 52 weeks straight without repeat. Eminem and Elton John come to mind, Bowie and Crosby creeping me out, and We Are the World as the gold standard of awesomely bad group efforts. Apart from these, there are plenty out there that have me wishing I had never heard them. Fear not, music lovers follow the jump to read about the best collaborations that won’t make you want to hang yourself; in fact, you might enjoy them.
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Fun x 3 Announces Bands

fun As the lull in summer music news gently takes  hold of us here at ATH, we hear via our friend Chris at GvsB that our local Transmission Entertainment has begun to slowly unleash the list of bands hitting the stage at the 4th Annual Fun Fun Fun Fest.  The bands so far released are reunited Jesus Lizard, Broadcast, Atlas Sound and King Khan and the BBQ Show.  We’re already stoked, so lets see if they can pull the Descendents together.