Friday Top 5: Top Five Song Spots

In a conversation with one of our local blogger friend’s, Sonic Itch Mike, I decided that I really needed to take a close look at which spots on any given album are the killer spots to put your hits.  Some people think that the immediacy really makes Track 1 the best, but I’m going to look a little closer at this idea.  I mean, there are hundreds of classic albums out there, and surely they ascribe to this great song placement formula.

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FT5: Hangover Albums

In retrospect, it was the free tequila at that third South By Southwest party that did it. And there was that energy drink you downed, despite the fact you’d never heard of it (hey, it was free). Of course the Southern Comfort at party five didn’t help either. Nor did the eleven beers between party one and party seven (3 micro-brews, 2 Shiners, 5 PBRs, 1 new crap beer Budweiser is pushing). The fact that this unholy blend of alcohol is now fighting it out with the bratwurst and street pizza you consumed yesterday is only complicating matters. Stomach hates you. Brain not functioning. Unidentified bruises abound. Water and aspirin cannot save you. All this and your friend has the nerve to say: “I’m not hung over at all, I feel great!” Resist the urge to punch him in his stupid face. Go and put on a nice soft record. Follow the jump for 5 Albums that will help you cope with a hangover.
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FT5: Songs About Cars

0122top5coverThere are few song subjects that lend themselves to expressions of pure happiness.  Songs about automobiles seem to be an exception.  The sense of freedom that comes from driving a car always seems be a joyful experience in songs.  Whether you’re talking about The Beach Boys or The Geto Boys, exalting the virtues of the automobile seems to be a peculiarly American phenomenon.   Most songs seem to be about American cars too as, to my knowledge, no one yet has written a great pop song about a Honda Civic.  Maybe some day.  In the mean time, follow the jump for five great songs about (American) cars.
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FT5: Music Books

1030top5coverWith today’s Top 5 I am starting the ATH Book Club. This is a list of the best books about music I’ve ever read. Mine are all biographies, but any old book about music can qualify. Obviously I haven’t read everything out there, so if I missed something important let me know. I’m always up for a good book recommendation, and I hope I have a few on my list that you might want to check out. So without further ado, follow the jump for my Top 5 music books.
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FT5: First Concerts

0501top5cover1The first official concert in a young person’s life can be a monumental occasion. 15 years and countless shows later, you always remember your first. The ATH offices were surveyed, and today’s Top 5 is a random ordering of the first concert from 5 ATH staff members. Although I was hoping to find some suppressed NKOTB or Debbie Gibson concerts among us, I had no such luck. Some of us were a little embarassed to fess up, while some us were happy to gloat. But this list isn’t just about us. We want to hear about your first concert experience as well, as cool or embarrassing as it might be. Follow the jump for our list.

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From The Closet: The Beach Boys

beach_boysWe wouldn’t dare to insult you by saying you don’t know who The Beach Boys are, but how about a little “Don’t Worry Baby” to make your day go by a little faster?  The song originally appeared on the 1964 album Shut Down Volume 2, and later as the B-Side to “I Get Around”.  There are so many great Beach Boys songs to choose from, but we’ve been jamming this one all over the ATH offices recently and it just makes time fly.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/dont-worry-baby.mp3]

Iran – Dissolver

irandissolver

Rating: ★★★★ ·

It has been seven years since the last release from Iran, which makes the forthcoming record Dissolver one of the more curious and anticipated albums of 2009. Especially after the song “Buddy” was found all over blogs in October of 2008, we heard the new direction that the sound was heading in — Hi-fi(ve) and thank-you for doing so boys. Fresh off of living in Norway for two years to make a successful documentary about the black metal movement, “Until the Light Takes Us,” Aaron Aites returns with an album that touches on many musical templates. Pop, soul, doo-wop, folk and of course- the NOISE can all be found on this outing. Helping bring the sounds to life are Kyp Malone (TV on the Radio), Peter Hoffman (The Mendoza Line) and Aaron Romanello (Grand Mal).

The first thing that catches your ear from the get-go is that this wasn’t recorded in a bedroom, on a 4-track recorder like the first self-titled album and the second called The Moon Boys. It is a natural progression for a band with more resources, a bigger pocket book, and everyone in it being more established. Where The Moon Boys built upon being a tinge poppier and more restrained than the mega-experimental freak-outs of its predecessor, Dissolver aborts the pit stops and emerges with its fundamentals in tact, boldly new and refreshing.

The album was recorded at Gigantic Studios with Malone’s bandmate of TVOTR Dave Sitek putting his thumbprints all over the sound of the album. With concise and controlled fuzz always being the trademark on his own albums, Sitek’s sound meshes perfectly with the sound initially made by Aites during his gritty, 4-track days. While listening to these beautiful harmonies accompanied by larger than life doubled voices, it’s hard not to notice the TVOTR bleed over. Songs like “Buddy” and “Can I Feel What” are prime examples of Malone’s contributions of high, ball-grabbing harmonies and tasty fuzzed out guitar playing. “I Already Know You’re Wrong” is a Beach Boys inspired number ala’ “Sloop John B” that carries a great surf groove with a similar vocal rhythm and again, great harmonies.

Then there’s the experimental noise of “Baby Let’s Get High Together One Last Time” with its Pavement infused undertones. The sassy wordplay and erratic guitar lines have a familiarity about them that bring back memories of mid 90’s slacker rock. The song ends in a wall of sound of electronic bleeps and glitches which segues into “Digital Clock and Phone.” Not leaving their roots far behind, Iran shows they still like to make a little noise. This will take you old fans back to “The Music Plays Itself” from their first album. Enjoy!

Btw-do yourself a favor and buy this album, though rumor has it that it may not be released until February 17th, because chances are, you will never get to see them play live. They are renowned for not going near stages very frequently with their only show being scheduled for March 6th at the Mercury Lounge in New York.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/02-buddy.mp3]

Download: Iran – Buddy [MP3]

Deerhoof – Offend Maggie

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Deerhoof is often inexplicable; difficult to pinpoint their location in regards to musical genres, and Offend Maggie poses many of the same questions for listeners; a fact that completely works to the benefit of the band.

Their newest effort offers much of the same discordant guitar work accompanied by the unique vocals of singer Satomi.  This unique dynamic, or unique sound I should say, keeps the album interesting throughout, as you are not quite sure what to focus on: vocals or music.

Musically, this is the most accessible set of songs that the band has created, wavering back and forth between classic pop structures and post-punk sounds.  On the first listen, you can tell that the band put forth a great effort by creating entire songs, rather than the stop-start song structures of their last album, Friend Opportunity.

Offend Maggie would earn fans of all genres based entirely on the music.  Their are elements of grunge, early-emo, post-punk and, honestly, commercial rock n roll.  All of this demonstrates that the sound of the band is growing and developing beyond what most adoring fans expected, yet the continual focus will always be the listener’s interpretation of Satomi’s vocals.

Deerhoof will always risk total adoration due to these vocals.  At times, the heavily accented voice makes comprehension difficult for listeners, and as their focus heads toward deciphering the lyrics, their attention detracts from the overall listening experience as clever band interplay is missed.  Although the formula is so simple, one often finds that following the band is quite difficult, as if we all had ADD. They do offer a more traditional song by way of “Family of Others,” which lends its sound to that of west coast Beach Boy revivalists, yet the absence of Satomi on this song makes it entirely unfitting as a Deerhoof song.

Nonsensical vocals make it difficult to take much from the album, meaning wise.  One listen to “Basketball Get Your Groove Back” will lead most listeners to question the seriousness in the band’s approach to songwriting.  Still, it is the dark contrast between instrumentation and vocals that always makes it difficult to define such a genre splitting band.

At the end of the day, you’ll find that despite its incessant pitfalls in the lyrical department the album is ultimately one of the more rewarding listening experiences you will come across this year.  Deerhoof continue to explore their options whilst maintaining their ability to rest upon what has always made them interesting, Satomi’s inclusion as lead vocalist.  It’s the dark horse for 2008’s Top Ten.