ATX Spotlight: Benjamin Cissner Readying Album

12241698_907663649310191_6124699712053618704_nAttention Austin (and beyond)! Benajamin Cissner needs your help. He needs you to listen to his music. Well, he doesn’t need it necessarily, but you do! You really really do. All those of you in love with introspective singer-songwriters will not find anything better this year. Think of artists like sad Beck or Eels, but with a more poetic lyricist (at least in comparison to Beck). This song has a little bit of spirit to it, more upbeat than some of the other tracks you’ll hear on his debut Birds in the Night. This is just one of those albums that I feel comes across once in a lifetime, and it’s been created right here in Austin. Benjamin will be releasing his debut next Friday, March 4th, celebrating the beautiful vinyl release over at Barracuda. Stream the tune below. Press photo by Richard Casteel.

Chilled Tune from Alohaha

alohahaAlohaha is a fairly new project, and with this single, it already has me listening closely. It took me a second to place the band’s sound, but I soon settled on a nice little Beck reference, looking back at Sea Change. You’ll hear a stripped down approach to Americana, the sort that really pulls at the emotions of the listener; it should come as no surprise either that the tune, as well as the album, deal with the subject matter of a break-up. Alohaha will release their album in December via Black Rainbow Records.

Beck’s Giving His Grammy to…Hayden?

hayI said it. I’m stealing a nod from an old friend who always called Hayden the “Canadian Beck.” It seems with his new work, that the Grammy is going to have to be passed along to Canada.  Surprisingly, Hayden’s career has worked in a similar arc, hopping back and forth between genres, but always achieving huge accolades when he takes the folk-laden ballad approach.  It’s also a track that takes a careful ear; you can hear the static of a guitar being pulled from the amp (or something similar) in the middle…it matches well with the bending guitar too.  Look for Hey Love to appear via Arts & Crafts on March 24th.

ACL Recap & Photos: Day 1

ACLWeekend one of ACL is now over, so naturally it’s time to reflect on what went down during the 3 day festival.  Today we’ll be focusing on Friday of the first weekend and offering our thoughts on bands that played along with the general atmosphere.  Each ATH member will share their opinion and we’ll also get some fancy photos from our man B.Gray.

Follow the jump for photos and recaps.
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Coachella 2014 Lineup

Coachella 2014I am sure all of you have posted this on Facebook, but I figured we need to add it here just in case someone can’t find the pic later on…

Coachella is again using the two weekend format and will feature Outkast, Muse and Arcade Fire as headliners. I get Outkast and Arcade Fire, but please stop booking Muse at every festival. Please. It has to stop. I walk out when I hear Muse; it is my “you’re drunk, go home” alert. Or maybe that is why they are booked as headliners. “Hope you had fun, this is your queue to leave and rest up for tomorrow.” So many lasers. So many.

The festival is getting spendy, passes are $375 and $435 with daily shuttle service. Yikes. Weekend One only has the passes with shuttle service available. VIP will run you $799 with $150 more for parking.

Notables for me on the lineup, as with most festivals, are further down the list: Flume, Jagwar Ma, Dum Dum Girls, Wye Oak, Holy Ghost!, Blood Orange, Mogwai, Chvrches, STRFKR, Daughter, Poolside, Surfer Blood. Mid-levels I’d be stoked on are Bryan Ferry, The Knife, Pet Shop Boys, Beck, Neutral Milk, Motorhead and Little Dragon. You going to the desert? You wearing flip-flops?

New Track from Stephen Malkmus

Okay, this song is all over the internet, with focus on that fact that the “senator wants a blowjob,” but what’s wrong with everyone giving a little press to our hero Stephen Malkmus?  His newest record, Mirror Traffic, will be coming out via Matador on August 23rd, and it’s clear that the Beck produced record is going to have a bit of spit and polish to it.  This track below has those Malkmus cascading guitar cuts going through it, but you can definitely feel a bit of the gritty edge removed, or at least pushed down in the overall mix.  At some point, people have to make changes, and I expect this to be a great one for Stephen and his Jicks.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/stephen_malkmus_jicks_senator.mp3]

Download: Stehpen Malkmus and the Jicks – Senator [MP3]

Eels – Tomorrow Morning

Rating: ★★★½ ·

Man, just a few months back End Times, the brilliant record from Mark E. hit stores, and hit hearts.  If you were expecting more of the same from his latest work with Eels, titled Tomorrow Morning, well, you’re going to be disappointed.  This isn’t a stripped down acoustic affair, but fans of the band will definitely recognize his songwriting process on this go round.

Honestly, you can probably skip the opening track, “Im Gratitude for This Magnificent Day.”  It’s all ambient noise, but the one thing you can take is that it sets the stage for the play that will unfold before your ears.  It sets up “I’m a Hummingbird,” which relies on string arrangements in the background to accompany E’s voice.  Sparse instrumentation makes for an interesting listen, and while it’s easy to throw the Beck similarity in there, you sill have to love those scratchy vocals.

“Baby Loves Me” uses a little bit of oddball keyboard beats to kick the song off, and yet you’ll find that that provides a lot of energy to the song.  The chorus of “my baby loves me” with its gruff approach, gives you an odd hook with which to attach yourself to the song, but proper song construction isn’t as apparent here, as is the case with much of Tomorrow Morning.  But, “Spectacular Girl” uses the same structures, just in a more subdued manner, and in this instance, its far more successful than the previous track.  Light string touches give a little bit more depth to the electronic soundscapes, and Mark’s vocal performance here is one of the stronger appearances on the level, using some variance near the end.

Personally, “What I Have to Offer” is one of the stronger songs on the record, though that has a lot to do with its sonic tie-in to End Times. It’s more of a traditional song, and you’ll definitely find that it pulls on the heartstrings a bit.  Somehow, while it often seems phoned-in, there is a strong emotive quality to Everett’s voice that makes it so alluring when you’re listening.  Just listening to a song like “This is Where it Gets Good,” which is the album’s longest track sort of demonstrates that power.  You can almost remove the musical accompaniment all together and have solid vocals that can attract an array of listeners to his music.  And lyrically, he’s at his best again, a place somewhere between heartfelt emotion and tongue-in-cheek wordplay.

Oddly, a lot of this record doesn’t have the musical attraction that I placed on End Times, yet it still draws me in the more I listen to it.  E’s voice just has this other-worldly grace that blends melody and heartache, without ever seeming overly abrasive.  Tomorrow Morning just builds and builds, and it’s full of these light moments that are drenched in personal depth, for both listener and narrator.  At this point in the Eels career, I’m struggling to find anything wrong with what he’s doing, and I’m on the verge of becoming an obsessive fan. Join me.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/13-I-Like-the-Way-This-Is-Going.mp3]

Download: Eels – I Like the Way This Is Going [MP3]

FT5: Songs With Inexplicable Spanish Use

In all likelihood you have encountered the language known as English.  This bizarre Germanic dialect, which supposedly emanated from a small European island, is ubiquitous in the phenomenon know as “Rock and Roll.”  This so-called music inevitably features guitars and talk of “a-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-lop-bop-bop,” which I personally suspect may be coded language for violent revolution, or worse, for drugs!  Though English is still far and away the language of Rock and Roll (but I’ve got my eye on you Rammstein), increasingly artists who have primarily written in the Anglo-Saxon dialect are starting to branch out into the Romance languages.  Through our network of intelligence experts, I was able to obtain the following list which features 5 Songs with Inexplicable Spanish Use.

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New Music From Charlotte Gainsbourg

charlotte-gainsbourg1News has been churning over the interwebs as of late about this new Charlotte Gainsbourg album that will feature major contributions from the always versatile Beck.  This could really be sold as the latest Beck LP since he wrote the music, produced and even co-wrote the lyrics for the album.  Regardless, the french singer/actress will release IRM in January via Elektra.  Here’s the lead single from the upcoming album.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/Charlotte-Gainsbourg-IRM.mp3]

Download: Charlotte Gainsbourg – IRM [MP3]

FT50: Albums of the ’00s

0828top5coverWhat?   You still listen to THAT album?  That record is so 2004!  Well, that’s okay, because we really like that one too, which is why we decided to come up with a list of our favorite albums of the last decade (2000-2009).  Sure, these might not be YOUR favorite records, or the most critically acclaimed, but we sat down and really thought out every record from the past ten years that we keep coming back to in our collections.  You’re likely to disagree with some of these, and we won’t tell you we’re absolutely right we just know that these happen to be OUR favorites.  If you think we totally blew it here, feel free to tell us so, but be nice, as our egos are kind of fragile.  Follow the jump for more.

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