Shana Falana Brings You a Hook

shanaRemember when we all fell in love with Best Coast (don’t lie, you know you did)? Well, now that that group has faded into the distance, there have to be acts to replace it.  I like Shana Falana for the part; the New York artist even offers a little bit more of a distinct sound, filling in more of the negative space with dreamier notes that go beyond classic alternate-girl fare. This single has a forcefulness, using guitar melody that twists and turns throughout.  Look for Team Love to release her album Set Your Lightning Fire Free on April 7th.

Alvvays – s/t

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Rating: ★★★★ ·

The kids these days seem intent on putting v’s in place of other letters that aren’t v’s. While I don’t really understand this phenomenon, I can get behind the jangly indie pop tunes that Toronto band Alvvays have collected and put together on this release. A nice blend of sunny summer sounding songs coupled with Molly Rankin’s sugary and youthful vocals are sure to get you on board with this bound to be buzz band.

This album starts with the two singles that the group has already presented to the public, but these are just the beginning. “Adult Diversion” gets things rolling with dueling guitar parts that interact with each other, bouncing off the different riffs. The drums are choppy and concise, though fuzzy in their recorded quality, almost as if recorded in a different room. At first it gives out this surf rock vibe, and then Rankin’s voice joins the mix and gives it that vaguely 1950’s girl band sound. Her voice mimics the guitar patterns for the choral hook, and is joined by other members of the band for the build to the chorus; it’s a playful vocal part, but not quite as playful as observed on the next track. “Archie, Marry Me,” is one of the catchiest songs you’ll find on the album, immediately pulling you into the Alvvays light if the first track didn’t. Rankin pushes her voice all over the place through the song, giving the sound that will have it stuck on repeat in your head all day.

Later on you get deeper into the album, with tunes like “Party Police,” and “Atop a Cake,” that keep it groovy, but also have viable narratives to follow and interest you in addition to the instrumentation. Personally, I can’t help but notice the similarities in between this band and groups like La Sera and Best Coast though with a twist of garage rock that gives it a heavier sound than either of these groups presents. “Party Police” has this melancholic vibe to it, the pleading in the vocals give it a sound of sincerity and also a deep sadness that permeates the whole song and steps the album down to a personal level.

At only nine songs in length, this self-titled album is short and sweet, albeit not too much of either of these traits. Often, it seems hard for bands like this one to strike a balance between their genre of golden indie pop and detailed songwriting, but Alvvays have blended these two qualities quite well. These nine tracks make for great company while you’re trying to shake it in the summer heat, but the softer and more delicate numbers and the refined lyrics have all the makings of longevity.

 

Hook-Laden Pop from Colleen Green

What? You want danceable rock n’ roll? Well, then Colleen Green is going to give it to you.  On her first single for Hardly Art she’s offering up gritty guitar tracks backed by pulsating synth beats.  Her voice is hazily haunting in the background, leaving listeners with an endearing pop song that you’ll likely want to include on your next digi-mix. She’ll be dropping Sock It To Me on March 19th via the aforementioned label, who’ve yet to put out a bad record in their tenure.  Fans of La Sera and Best Coast will surely find themselves attracted to this tune, as well as just about everyone else. You can’t argue with a hit.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/ColleenGreen_TimeInTheWorld.mp3]

Download: Colleen Green – Time In the World [MP3]

The Babies – Our House On The Hill

Rating: ★★★½ ·

The project between Woods‘ Kevin Morby and Vivian Girls‘ Cassie Ramone isn’t exactly a new project, but their newest effort for Woodsist seems like the side-project finally got some much deserved focus from the two core songwriters. Our House On The Hill is the perfect execution of sunny pop with a ramshackle approach, giving listeners exactly what we’ve been looking for since we first got wind of the band.

“Alligator” takes aim at my pop-centric heart almost immediately.  A ringing guitar accompanied by Morby’s sunny vocal approach definitely pleases, and when Cassie Ramone comes in for accompaniment midway through the track, I couldn’t have been happier.  It’s a simple tune, with fairly common writing, but it’s just the beginning of the infectious hooks coming from The Babies.  Immediately following you’re greeted by slow-walking, where Morby and Ramone take dead aim at bright pop by trading vocal duties back and forth. This is the track I longed for the group to create!

A few tracks ahead and you enter the realm of perfection with “Get Lost,” one of the standout tracks on Our House On The Hill.  This is definitely Morby’s track, and it’s his vocal performance that steals the show, though the low-key approach of the various verses just builds the tension for the group to blast off into a bliss filled meandering guitar affair to close out the song.  Just because there’s a hit like this laying in the middle of the record, it doesn’t mean there’s not enough interesting tracks to fill out the album exceptionally.

You can take “Mean,” which is mostly a one-man Morby affair, with the singer coming off with hints of Bob Dylan, both in the writing of the track and the vocal delivery.  Ramone’s quieted backing vocals only strengthen the track even more.  There’s also “Baby,” which belongs to Ramone, and definitely wears the mark of her other project, Vivian Girls, though there’s also similarities to Best Coast lurking in its structure and vocal delivery.  These are just a few of the various examples that mark this effort by The Babies, leaving you with an effort that doesn’t really repeat itself, though paces back and forth in similar territory.

Our House On The Hill is all over place, and in saying this, I’m meaning it as a compliment.  In combining the great songwriting attributes of Morby and Ramone, the record never really gets stale, and if anything, it only improves reveals more gems from listen to listen.  Depending upon your mood, you might light the sunny pop elements, but others might find themselves leaning towards the more stripped down tracks like “That Boy.”  Thats precisely why I think The Babies are so successful on this round, doing what they do best on their own terms, and excelling in every way.

 

Show Pics: Chaos in Tejas (6/3)

Chased the Indie crowd over to Emo’s East on the last night of Chaos in Tejas. Dreams of a comfy photo pit were dashed, but the staff did what they could for the photographers to help us out.

Why were we there? To see the Mind Spiders, of course. Oh wait, the headliner was Best Coast. Did I care? Not so much, but I wanted to shoot them. So, why not check out an ATH favorite and take in the other “openers” Laura Stevenson and the Cans and Lemuria.

Click through for a few show notes and plenty of pics…

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Best Coast – The Only Place

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Chances are, if you know anything about Best Coast, it’s that front woman Bethany Cosentino really likes cats.  Or perhaps you’ve delved into the tuneage of said cat-obsessed female and found that she also creates some pretty sunny California pop jams. Best Coast have shown they can crank out some quick paced and fun jangly pop, but can they be more than that?

Substance has never really been Best Coast’s style; their first album, Crazy For You barely passes the thirty-minute mark, with each of the thirteen songs not averaging much more than two minutes apiece. If length of songs is any indication of the changes that this band has undergone, than it’s clear that they’ve grown up a bit. The Only Place has a range of songs, but the majority reach three minutes. Even at this first glance, you can see that the second time around this group is straying from dropping into the pattern of becoming the same old same old. The first song and title track, “The Only Place” sets things off on the right foot. From the moment you press play, it’s like opening a bag of sunshine and ocean spray into your speakers. It’s classic Best Coast: we’re still having fun, we’re still hitting the beach and those guitar riffs are still surfy.

The biggest difference between this sophomore release and Crazy For You is maturity. Yes, the songs aren’t chock full with lyrics of eloquent diction and complex syntax, but Cosentino has definitely stepped it up. She has moved past the overt simplicity of songs like “Happy,” in which repetition was the song’s key lyric. On The Only Place, even on one of the shorter numbers, “My Life,” there’s still an immense amount more of actual lyrics that make sense to generate some kind of story instead of just the moody emotions of a California Girl.

Another sign of this maturity is a big push for stronger, slower songs on this album. One of my favorite numbers, “How They Want Me,” combines Cosentino rocking the ballad, with the continuation of the groovy guitar of the rest of the tracks, some interestingly detailed percussion topped with some “oohs” and “ahhs,” that layer to give this song that extra punch. It’s tracks like these and others like “Do You Still Love Me Like You Used To,” which lead me to believe in the longevity of this album. Whereas Crazy for You got a little tired a little fast, this albums packs a greater punch than just a few listens.

It’s a perfect album for the upcoming heat and freedom of summertime. So roll down your windows and savor those last few weeks of a breeze with Best Coast.

New Jam from Wavves

Finally! I’ve got something on Nathan Williams! I’ve actually met Dave Grohl. Twice. Why does this matter you ask? Well, Nathan, and his band, Wavves, just released a new track tonight, “I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl,” which will appear on the band’s Life Sux EP, which hits the stores on September 20th. Honestly, I wasn’t entirely convinced of Williams’ talent until the last year and a half or so, but he’s cleaned up the production, and included great hooks, like those you’ll find here.  His star was rising long ago, but I feel as if this will only continue if he progresses the way he’s been heading.  I mean, come on, just look at that face.  Put that with a track like this and you’re bound to be a huge success. Now, if only I can get that girl from Best Coast to be my girlfriend.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Wavves-I-Wanna-Meet-Dave-Grohl.mp3]

Download: Wavves – I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl [MP3]

Seapony – Go With Me

Rating: ★★★ · ·

Jen Weidl and her posse in Seapony definitely have something wonderful going on in their debut for Hardly Art, Go With Me.  After lots of critical acclaim on the net, it would be easy to throw this band aside as just another band making bedroom pop, which they do for the most part.  But, if you can discard similarities to various other bands, you’ll find that lay in wait, waiting to carry you off.

“Dreaming” begins the entire affair with what is probably the most energetic you’ll find the band, and at times, the guitars emulate Mike Sniper and Blank Dogs.  Those pounding drums, twanging guitars, well, they’re all nice and clean, but what will really get you is the pop sensation.  You can forget about comparisons, as Weidl’s voice definitely gives a new spin on things here.

There are easily a lot of tracks on this record that one might identify as ripping off various other acts, or at least being easily influenced, but a special song is a special song, regardless of whether it was made by Seapony or various other bands out there.  “Into the Sea” is one such track, with guitars maneuvering along the sunny coastal region, and the hazy Jen warmly singing atop it all. In all honesty, Weidl is the savior of Go With Me.  She does it again on “Go Away,” which sort of sounds like a cross between Best Coast and Girls Names, but her girl-group approach to vocal delivery, not to mention the nod to such things with her lyrics, makes tracks standout beyond the masses.

There’s tons of comparisons that can be made all over the place when listening to Go With Me.  You might find a Best Coast reference here, or even a Wild Nothing allusion, but what probably sticks out the most is how similar Seapony comes to sounding like a happier version of Blank Dogs.  The recording of the angular guitars in songs like “Always” or “Where We Go” almost plays like a Sniper remix, but perhaps that’s why it’s so easy to dig this record.  Everything sounds familiar, and yet it doesn’t sound familiar at all. Lyrics aren’t typically this adorably put together, and girls usually don’t work well, at least not as of yet/late, in this genre.

Even with all these noticeable nods to the indie landscape of today laced across this album, I’ve found myself spinning it again and again.  Part of me has a soft spot for any music of the ilk, part of me finds some odd connection between Camera Obscura and bedroom pop of the now.  It’s precisely the kind of record you can listen to while swinging your significant other around the living room instead of hitting up the bars. For that alone, Seapony and Go With Me deserve a nice little spot in your collection, not to mention the fact that you can include any number of tracks all across your summer mixes.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/SP_BlueStar.mp3]

Download: Seapony – Blue Star [MP3]

New Single from Brilliant Colors

As summertime grows closer, and the weather warms up, you’re probably looking for a new girl-group to give you some breezy minimalist pop music a la Best Coast.  Well, the welcome return of Brilliant Colors and their new single definitely looks to fulfill those desires.  With a tendency to give you a delicate bouncing rhythm next to jangling guitars, infectious hooks will surely invade your mind.  Luckily for us, the band will be releasing their new record, Again and Again, on Slumberland Records on July 19th, so we’ll be getting more of these hazy summertime ditties to fill up our hard drives pretty soon.

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

Download: Brilliant Colors – How Much Younger [MP3]

Show Preview: Best Coast & Wavves @ Emo’s (1/25)

Date 1/25/11
Location Emos
Doors 9pm
Tickets $18 @ Ticketweb

The show every indie blog fan boy has been looking forward to for weeks is finally going down at Emo’s this Tuesday night.  The show I’m talking about is of course the Best Coast and Wavves show with fellow blog buzz band No Joy opening things up.  This should be one you won’t want to miss out on.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/19-Our-Deal.mp3]

Download: Best Coast – Our Deal [MP3]

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