Show Preview: White Lies @ Antones (5/24)

Date Tuesday, May 24th
Location Antones
Doors 800p
Tickets $20 from FrontGate

White Lies are a British group who’ve grown up over the last several years, bringing their release of Ritual to the forefront of media all over the globe.  While they tend to get a little bit of association with bands like Joy Division, they really have more of a Killers feel, as it’s definitely not as dark as Curtis and crew.  You’ll want to get there early too, as Asobi Seksu are a band on the rise.  This year they released Fluorescence, and we’ve enjoyed our time with that album; we look forward to their opening slot at one of Austin’s most historic little venues. See you guys there!

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/02-Trails-1.mp3]

Download: Asobi Seksu – Trails [MP3]

Psych Fest Recap 2011: Part 2

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 part two of the band summaries and pictures from the festival.

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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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Explosions in the Sky – Take Care Take Care Take Care

Rating: ★★★★ ·

In the days of computers for instruments, and a heavy weight on the vocals of a band, be it gang or solo, where do Explosions In The Sky fit in? Filling neither of these two aspects, they rely solely on the strength of their instruments to weave their listeners into an intricate web of simplistic, stripped down instruments. Known as Post-Rock, this genre of music allows for the music to be left up to your utilization: background music, inspiration for creativity, or something to contemplate.

For a merely six-song album, Explosions In The Sky do not fall short in the field of time for a full-length album. Instead, each song is long and sprawling, providing those crescendos and an abundance of catharsis that this band is famous for doling out. Take the first song, “Last Known Surroundings,” for example. Over the course of almost eight and a half minutes, you are taken to a variety of places by the changing rhythmic cycles of the instrumentation. Squalling, yet controlled guitars dominate the foreground of the song, while explosive drums kick in the background, leaving with the simplistic elegance that any song that this band produces contains.

While one might think that the long songs on this album would make each one stick out from each other as its own work of finesse, the contrary of this is true. Much like the chapters of a good book, each is brilliant, and they weave together to form a collective brilliance as an album. The sound fluctuates from loud to soft, and then back to loud again, giving those rolling hills of depth that are able to be filled with whatever strikes your fancy. Such depth allows for catharsis after catharsis and build after build without tire.

As I said before, one of the best qualities to this band is that they leave it up to you instead of forcing it down your throat. They pick the best possible times to grab your attention. So even if you are using their delightfully serene music as the filler of space while you work or think, they still have the ability to command your attention back to the music so that it can be commended as excellent craft. This is all you can ask from Explosions In The Sky.

New Music from Sad Accordions

All bands will have to grow in order to progress from recording to recording, and that seems to be the place that we find Austin’s Sad Accordions today.  The band is busy prepping a new EP, The Colors and the Kill, for a March 1st release date.  You can grab hand-decorated versions from the band’s at their shows this year.  Listening to the single from this six-track effort, you get the feeling that the music itself is spreading out, giving the band a bit more variety, and a whole lot more power going forward.  It’s nice to see one of our local acts push themselves, and doing so, push the whole town to rock a whole lot harder.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/05_Inside_Out.mp3]

Download: Sad Accordions – Inside Out [MP3]

Jonathan Richman in Austin!

Who doesn’t love a headless photo crop?  Well, aside from that, Austin is being blessed this week by a semi-residency of the great Jonathan Richman.  He’s one of the greatest American songwriters all time, who got his start with the band The Modern Lovers.  Still going strong, Jonathan just released his latest solo album O Moon, and it’s been quietly enjoyed around my house.  Jonathan will be playing a show at Hole in the Wall tonight, as well as a few more gigs at The Continental Club.  This is your chance to watch one of the great icon of American music do his thing, so be sure to get out to at least one of these gigs, if not all of them.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/08-Hospital.mp3]

Download: The Modern Lovers – Hospital [MP3]

Friday Top 50: Songs Of 2010

Oh it’s the most wonderful time of the year isn’t it?  I’m sure some of you people are just about sick of all this year end list mumbo jumbo (as we sort of are too).  We do however realize that some of you may have secretly been waiting for us to drop more lists your way.  Well here you go friends, I give you the Austin Town Hall Top 50 songs of 2010.  This list typically proves to be the hardest one to narrow down since we usually start with over 200 songs and somehow get it whittled down to a managable number.  I guarantee some of you will love it and some of you poop faces will be disgusted by it.  Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.  Follow the jump for list.

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John Wesley Coleman – Bad Lady Goes to Jail

Rating: ★★★ · ·

Reading lots of press about John Wesley Coleman can lead you in the exact wrong direction. You can’t really label a guy a trashcan troubadour; that sort of attitude will definitely give you the wrong impression of the tunes at hand.  Bad Lady Goes to Jail definitely has a layer of filth attached to it, but beneath it all you can tell there are some crystal clear melodic sensibilities.  You won’t have to dig too far to find your first gem, so get ready right away.

Kick off this record the right way, and you’ll find one of the best tracks, though that’s up to personal tastes.  “Bad Lady Goes to Jail” has this scuzzy guitar line discordantly jangling in the forefront, while a piano line tinkers in the back.  Coleman’s voice isn’t hurried, and you’ll find an underlying gentleness, showing that despite his grit, the guy still has some restraint. Opening minutes of Bad Lady Goes to Jail continue within the first few tracks, and “Lazy Baby” has a little of that garage twist and shout feeling to it, almost giving you a bit of swing. The chorus has some emphatic shouts, but everything in the early moments has John Wesley Coleman killing it.

Of course, this album isn’t all gritty pop ditties, there are still some garage filters going on, though one would be likely to say that they’re not quite as successful as early offerings on the album.  “Ooh Basketball” has a nice little guitar line to it, one that fits everything, but the vocals have a bit too much distortion on the front end, and the lyrics are slightly lacking, at least for the tastes of some individuals.  Let’s just say, the depth doesn’t run too deep with several of the tracks here and there, even though musically, Coleman still seems to be doing all the things we know and love.  Who knows, maybe the guy just wants to have fun, so we can’t knock that.

One of the songs that will really surprise you, at least in its straightforward approach is “Go Baby Go.”  It’s got this incredibly lackadaisical wandering to it, and the fact that the majority of the song has minimal production, really gets to you.  With all the itsy bits of noise here and there, this song comes out of nowhere.  Surely this is one of the stand outs, hiding quietly in the middle of Bad Lady Goes to Jail. Along with “Something in My Brain Wants Something,” you get a bit of relaxation, a brief stop off on the records confrontational approach to songwriting.  Their more subdued, and in placing them properly in the middle, it’s the perfect opportunity for you stop, go back, and find your favorites.

Clearly John Wesley Coleman has something special about him, as you will discover when listening to Bad Lady Goes to Jail.  He operates in a certain genre, yet its easily drawing from all over the charts, making this effort a lot less static than other releases that you’ll find.  His ability to weave all these influences into one album, let alone one song, is what gives JWC a nice step above the rest, making this a great destination for your listening pleasure.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/01-John-Wesley-Coleman-Track01.mp3]

Download: John Wesley Coleman – Bad Lady Goes to Jail [MP3]

Unsubstantiated Rumor: The Drums @ the ND (9/25)

The Drums album, released earlier this year, had been on my radar for quite some time. It used jangling surf-guitars, smooth rhythms, and a pretty killer vocal to win me over pretty quickly.  I was excited, to say the least, to see the band on their return venture to Austin, but something was amiss last night.  This might just be hearsay, and one man’s opinion, but I almost left early due to the fact that I can’t guarantee, nor do I want to, that the band actually performed live.

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