New Tunes from The Cairo Gang

When I first played this track, I thought the brief opening guitar line sounded in the vein of the majority of folk-influenced tunes that come my way, but then the vocals came in to play.  It’s clear after one listen that main man, Emmett Kelly, has an otherworldly voice.  At times, it’s quite gentle, yet it has an operatic pitch that differentiates it from other similar acts.  And this is what you can expect when you listen to the Cairo Gang, who will be releasing their new record The Corner Man on Empty Cellar Records on October 23rd.  I can rest easy knowing you’ll all be as obsessed as I am with this track by end of day tomorrow.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Now_You_are_One_of_Us.mp3]

Download: The Cairo Gang – Now You Are One Of Us [MP3]

Friday Rocks!

thedolls Too many good shows Friday to name, but we’ll hit up the highlights.  If you don’t see live music in Austin on Friday, I’m  not sure we can be friends anymore. Really.

Bonnie Prince Billy, Howling Hex @ The Mohawk – Tickets

Animal Collective DJ Set @ Waterloo Records @ 5 PM – Free

Animal Collective, Black Dice @ Stubbs – SOLD OUT—Try to sneak in

New York Dolls, Black Joe Lewis @ Emos — Tickets

Alejandro Escovedo @ Antones – Tickets

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/11-jet-boy.mp3]

Albums Of The Year: 30-16

The year of 2008 is winding to a close, so it’s only appropriate that we wrap it up with our year-end albums list. We don’t expect many to necessarily agree with our list, but we worked really hard to make sure we had what we thought were the best thirty albums of the year. These are the records that spun over and over again in our heads and stereos, so this list is dedicated to their longevity in 2008.  We’ve conveniently broken it down into two segments, with albums 30-16 after the jump. Read more

ATH Interviews: Calexico

ATH recently had the good fortune of chatting it up with famed songwriter Joey Burns about his Tucson based band Calexico. The interview should give you an adequate preview for the band’s upcoming sure to be sold out show at Antone’s on Friday night. Mr. Burns answers the tough questions and also reflects on his one and done stint as an actor. Follow the jump to read this incredible interview with Calexico’s front man, Joey Burns.

Read more

Calexico – Carried to Dust

Rating: ★★★★½

This is the Calexico I know and love. This is the Calexico I fell in love with when I was just a little lad. No offense to those of you who enjoyed the more rock oriented stylings of Garden Ruin from 2006, but I personally found that album mostly boring and too ordinary. No no, give me that band I used to know from the days of The Black Light or Feast of Wire any day. Much to my delight, newest album Carried to Dust shows a return to that missed form. The guys even hark back to the old Mexican themed album covers after the random black bird on the cover of their last album.

The sound I’m talking about is that dusty, old, spaghetti western, Quentin Tarantino movie soundtrack makin’ sound that’s been the staple of Calexico since their very beginnings. When listening to some of the tracks on this album, specifically tracks “El Gatillo” and “Man Made Lake”, can’t you imagine these as a build up to a bloody shoot out? Or our hero riding off into the Mexican sunset? I can’t seem to get it out of my head.

Another huge highlight on this album, and something I can’t remember Calexico pulling off before, is the sweet dueling vocals of “Inspiración”. The song almost seems like a Spanish version of a song that came out earlier this year called “You Want That Picture” featuring Bonnie “Prince” Billy & Ashley Webber. I loved that song and I can’t get over this one either. Maybe I’m a sucker for good male/female blended harmonies.

Then there’s Sam Bean of Iron & Wine.  Sam shows his face later in the album on standout track “House of Valparaiso”.  The song sounds like it could have easily been something left over from the 2005 Calexico/Iron & Wine EP.   Sam Bean’s rusty and worn voice fits perfectly with the intimate feel of this track.   If I had my way, Iron & Wine would merge with Calexico and take over the world.

I can’t really find any holes in the album, maybe besides random filler song “Sarabande In Pencil Form” and a possible throw away in “Writer’s Minor Holiday.”   Calexico can speed things up with the best mariachi bands and then bring you back down with a heart felt serenade. Here’s to hoping for more of the same from Calexico.

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – Lie Down in the Light

Rating: ★★★★½

“When there’s only one thing I can do, well you know I don’t want to do it. When there’s just one way to go through, sometimes I don’t want to go through with it.” These first lines from opening song “Easy Does It” off Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy’s new album Lie Down in the Light sets the tone for the entire record. I can just hear Bonnie saying: “If you think I’m going to do this like anyone else, well you’re wrong son.” Bonnie (famous alias of Will Oldham) doesn’t plan on making a record like one you’ve ever heard before. If he only has one way to do something, he’s not going to do it.

If for some reason you are waiting to know if this album is worth picking up, wait no longer, it’s well worth it. Oldham and company have made a superb album not like anything else being done right now. Sure, some bands may be attempting to recreate the americana/country/folk or whatever you want to call it from years past, but Oldham is head and shoulders above everyone else.

Oldham enlists his frequent counterpart Ashley Webber who invokes the spirit of countless country music women many years her senior. I’ve heard comparisons that Oldham and Webber are our generations George Jones & Tammy Wynette or Loretta Lynn & Conway Twitty which after a few listens to tracks like “So Everyone” & “You Want That Picture”, you might just start agreeing with those bold comparisons.

In a day with the mindset that everything needs to be recorded louder than ever, Oldham and friends prove that louder doesn’t always mean better. These songs can say more with the slight hint of percussion or slow strum of a guitar than most songs can say with the volume on 11.

If you’re an old fan of Bonnie ‘Prince’ and think you may be let down by this album, think again. Lie Down in the Light proves that Oldham doesn’t plan on letting up anytime soon. This is americana at it’s finest folks. Not much else I can say about this record, just buy it and enjoy the beauty of its simplicity.

Have a listen to one of ’08s best “So Everyone” & drop us a line with your thoughts.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/03-so-everyone.mp3]

Download: soeveryone.mp3