Have Some Fun with The Dead Ships

thedeadships_songpremiere1When you hear a quality rock song like this one from L.A. based The Dead Ships, you just want to share it with as many people as you can.  The song is called “Canyons” and features some great moments of pop music intermixed with rising crescendos and irresistible melodies.  Stay tuned for more as the band are currently working a new EP for next year produced by Broken Social Scene’s Brendan Canning.  You know it’s going to be good.

Great New Pop Tune from Zulu Winter

It’s sort of weird that the dissolution of Broken Social Scene seemingly has brought about a decrease in American interest in Arts and Crafts Records, which is really a shame.  One of the label’s newest signings is the British group, Zulu Winter, who previously got some love from P4k, but I expect even more interest with this new record; it’s titled Language and should be in the stores on June 19th.  Seeing as the band is from the UK, you can see some similarities in the local music scene, such as the beat of the drums, the vocal delivery, and so on and so forth.  You know you can’t turn away from a good hook.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/02-We-Should-Be-Swimming.mp3]

Download:Zulu Winter – We Should Be Swimming [MP3]

Seeker Lover Keeper – s/t

Rating: ★★★½ ·

Consisting of three ladies each established in their own field of the music industry, Seeker Lover Keeper fundamentally sounds like a good idea. Sarah Blasko, Holly Throsby and Sally Seltmann are currently some of the biggest Australian songwriters, previously writing songs for artists like Fiest, and touring with Lykke Li, The Tallest Man on Earth, Broken Social Scene and more. However, it takes more than apt songwriting and knowing a lot of great musicians to be great yourself, which poses the biggest question: do these credentials add up to a good album.

The self-titled album begins on a soft note; gentle strumming of guitar pieced together with ghastly “oohs,” before the sweet vocals jump into the song. First up, “Bring Me Back,” lets the audience find their way to this band and their elegant charms before they pick things up, serving as the getting your toes wet experience for the listener so they can jump in. On the next number “Light All My Lights,” some synthesizer gives the tune a little bit more of a life than the first song, but the real first standout isn’t apparent until the third track “Even Though I’m a Woman.” The piano that sounds at the beginning of the track carries it along, but the vocals, a touch raspy and whispery, yet dangerously sugared are, of course, the main focus and I’m reminded a bit of Regina Spektor in this piano/vocals combo. Some great harmonies can be found here, and the main chorus will have you singing along, or trying to, as it’s not very easy to keep up.

Throughout the whole album, the ladies change places as lead singer, writing songs for each other. Along with this passing of lead, there is also a transition from the overall sound of the band, which keeps the group from falling into a pattern, but also prevents one solid identity to be formed for these ladies and if you are a person who isn’t okay with change, then this may not be an album for you. However, I find most of the variety to be enjoyable and interesting, keeping me guessing as to what these power females will do next to change things up a bit. My favorite transition is the one from the edgy and rhythmic “Everytime” to the soft and wispy “We Will Know What It Is,” that follows immediately. Here, you can see the combined talent of this group.

Seeker Lover Keeper do not disappoint their credentials; you have some brilliant writing on this album, and delicate tracks that will catch your ear. As far as a first album, you get essentially what you would expect—a good start.

The New Tigers – s/t

Rating: ★★★★ ·

It’s got to be hard to get your music across the Atlantic, especially when you’re a little known band from Finland.  Fortunately for you, The New Tigers self-titled album has slowly begun to trickle across the seas, bringing us fuzzy pop that’s sure to appeal to listeners of all sorts, crafting tunes that will resonate with your ears time and time again.

Of course, one of the greatest things about listening to The New Tigers is their ability to build their pop from within a realm of lo-fi noise, but then let the songs sprawl out into the great unknown.  Album opener “Clocks of Destruction” is one of two such tracks, building in momentum just near the minute mark, but fading into crafty noise, like Broken Social Scene would pull of when they were in a jamming mood.  It takes a special track to build on what could easily be a two minute pop song and still maintain interest throughout.  “Pocketful of Sand” is the other such track, but it takes just a bit longer to reach the vocals, but they’re so light that you’re likely to just see them as a floating piece of the inherent melody the band has built.  These two tracks alone make for a special listen, but this isn’t all the band wants to offer you.

“Transitions” is a much quieter offering from the band, providing listeners a moment of rest and relaxation as the song itself slowly prods along.  Softly the song meanders along, letting you know that this doesn’t always have to be a forceful trip to the noisy horizon; The New Tigers can win you over with a slow number as well. You can then jump right into the bubbly “Door on the Floor,” a more light-hearted bouncing track that resembles Pains of Being Pure at Heart during their quieter noise-pop days.  It’s great to offer sprawling tracks, but being able to contain yourself is a trait that not every band seems to possess, so its nice to see these guys exploring structure and length.

Perhaps one of the secret gems on The New Tigers lives near the end; it’s called “Velvet Jam.” The more I listen to this track, the more I seem to absorb, pulling me further into the song itself.  There’s bits of jangling guitar, ramshackle drumming, and wispy vocals of the softer sort, carrying the melody along perfectly.  Personally, I like the touch of the knifing guitar line that cuts in and out during what seems like the chorus, just before the jangle kicks back into the track.  It’s the sort of song that begs you to listen over and over again.

It’s interesting when listening to The New Tigers how much they sound like a lot of the American bands we all adore, yet at the same time, they’re able to add their own little pieces, allowing the record to sound vibrant and refreshing. Just one listen to the self-titled record will surely not be enough, as you’ll have to go back again, just to check if it’s as wonderful as it sounded.  I got news for you: it is.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/05-Pocketful-Of-Sand.mp3]

Download: The New Tigers – Pocketful Of Sand [MP3]

The New Tigers is out now on Soliti Music.

Show Review: Broken Social Scene/Zeus @ La Zona Rosa (2/18)

Feeling a bit under the weather Friday night, I still managed to make it out to La Zona Rosa for one of my all time favorite bands Broken Social Scene.  Before I let anyone down here, my sickness got much worse as the night progressed and caused me to leave about 6-7 songs into the Broken Social Scene set.  I did however catch the full set by underrated opening band Zeus.  Follow the jump for a few thoughts and photos.

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Broken Social Scene @ La Zona Rosa (2/18)

Date 2/18/11
Location La Zona Rosa
Doors 8pm
Tickets Sold Out!

The legendary indie band and long time ATH favorite known as Broken Social Scene are making another stop in Austin at La Zona Rosa.  Joining the band on stage are fellow Canadian rockers Zeus.  Unfortunately this one is sold out so you’ll have to hit up craigslist or some other sneakiness.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/03-Texico-Bitches.mp3]

Download: Broken Social Scene – Texico Bitches [MP3]

New Tunes from Chikita Violenta

Typically we think of Arts & Crafts as the label of Canada, but it seems that they’re really into NAFTA, as they’ve just picked up Mexican band Chikita Violenta.  In preparation for a crazy January, A&C has added Chikita’s release of TRE3S to the slot for January 25th.  Listening to this first single, it definitely has the feel of early Broken Social Scene, with spastic vocal bursts working diligently over spliced guitar lines and crazy hooks.  We’re super excited about this release, and we hope that once you hear them, you’ll follow our lead with the band.  You can check the band’s SITE for a 2 song mini-single, one which is kicking off the jams below.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Tired.mp3]

Download: Chikita Violenta – Tired [MP3]

Land of Talk – Cloak and Cipher

Rating: ★★★½ ·

When we last checked in with Lizzie Powell, she was on the road with Broken Social Scene, playing the role of chanteuse.  Now, she’s returned with her own group, Land of Talk, offering up their latest work since 2008’s Some Are Lakes. The new album, Cloak and Cipher, shows a much more developed band, and one that lives up to the early promise of the band.

When you listen to Powell’s vocals on the majority of opener “Cloak and Cipher” she has that same jazz vocal coating that BSS utilize, but in the chorus you find a much more distinguished lady, coming off a little gentler, a little more intimate.  There’s a driving drum line, that while not the most creative, serves as the driving force behind the track.  “Goaltime Exposure” has a lot of relatives in the Canadian scene, possibly too familiar, but the moment the song is turned on its side, magic is unleashed upon the listeners.  Powell’s voice is beautiful here, and there seems to be some sort of emotional release from the music itself, only to go back into the gentle progression before erupting in joy yet again.

The progression of Land of Talk is the one surprising element that does a great benefit to show the beauty on the album, as well as the strength of the band. “Swift Coin” opens up with a nicely drenched bit of reverb atop pounding drums, then Powell enters, and the mood changes.  Soft vocals provide a different texture to this song, letting the tension build until the chorus crashes in on the listener’s ears.  It’s quite similar, minus the pop element, to “The Hate I Won’t Commit,” which has to be the noisiest song the band has recorded to date.  Swirling guitar textures and effects used on the vocals create an entirely different emotion, until the band switch the tempo on you, giving you a little musical wink before pushing off into the louder spectrum again.  Such changes provide Cloak and Cipher with a lot more variance in the listening experience, making this record ultimately more rewarding than their previous effort.

It all closes with a solemn affair, “Better and Closer.”  Guitars are used sparingly, creating a sort of wall of noise that will accompany Powell’s voice for the duration of the track.  Elizabeth’s performance really sums up her talents as they’re seen throughout the LP. It rises quietly, yet with an angelic quality; it drenches the entire record in a coat of wintery pop tones that go a long way to establish the mood within each song.  Closing out Cloak and Cipher, you can be sure that this band is now finally hitting their stride, coming together in a cohesive manner we’ve yet to see from them.  To date, this is the best collection of songs by Land of Talk, and it goes a long way to establish the group as one of the new powerhouses in Canadian pop music.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/04-Swift-Coin-1.mp3]

Download: Land of Talk – Swift Coin [MP3]

Broken Social Scene – Forgiveness Rock Record

Rating: ★★½ · ·

It’s been a good five years since we’ve heard from Canadians Broken Social Scene, and with their return, news comes that the large entourage has dwindled to a merry band of six (now with even more guests!).  How would the departure, or lack of involvement of key members, play out on the band’s new album, Forgiveness Rock Record?  Honestly, this album will be a divisive one, at least it looks that way now.  Some will find they love it from the start, while others (like myself) will be reluctant to completely disregard it due entirely to the band’s back catalogue and the ridiculous talent pool still intact.

By now you’ve all heard “World Sick,” but in contrast to the rest of the album, it feels really as if the song was sort of phoned in, for lack of better wording.  It appears as if the band, unsure of their identity as a six piece, fell upon common ground from days of old, in hopes of establishing their footing.  You’ll find the crashing percussion, though it seems a little bit cleaner, and the swelling vocals during the chorus.  Sorry, but you’ve done it better.  Similarly, the following song, “Chase Scene” has this driving electronic feel, but for some reason, it lacks that emotional release that made the band so enchanting.

Opening moments of “Texico Bitches” build great possibilities, relying upon the great guitar hook and Drew’s vocals to draw you in, and while that hook remains, it gets buried in the rest of the textural elements, such as string instruments, that are piled onto everything here. Still, this is the first song I think I really enjoyed, which is more than can be said for the following tune “Forced to Love.”   The vocal delivery is enough to turn you off every time, and all the guitar chords cutting through the song just get on my nerves.  Throw that in with the chorus, that once again seems like re-using something from the closet, and this is one of the more disappointing moments on Forgiveness Rock Record.

When I came across “Art House Director,” I wasn’t really sure where to find this song.  It’s full of horns, and it sounds a lot more like they’re channeling a bit of Guided by Voices, but as you listen to this song more, this is precisely what you wanted the group to do.  They’re throwing something entirely new into the mixture; it feels fresh immediately, yet still remains a since of smooth pop that the band tends to evoke.  Throw this in with “Ungrateful Little Father” and you have the band going places where they haven’t gone before, so you get excited.  The latter song uses Drew’s vocal as the focus, then throws in the pop instrument collage, crafting careful cacophony.

Those looking for old friends will find their joy in “Sentimental Xs” as Emily Haines of Metric makes her appearance.  Her coy little voice seems to float atop the song, as layer upon layer continues to build.  There’s electronic blips, percussion, feuding guitar lines. and despite being a good song, it doesn’t explode where you want it to, instead it remains sort of reined in to the album.  You’ll echo these exact sentiments the more you listen, waiting for the classic sound of Broken Social Scene to pop its head out.

Here’s the thing with this album: it doesn’t ever quite deliver.  I will admittedly agree that there are moments of brilliance, creativity and such all over this record, but they don’t ever seem to come together.  In the past, you always felt like no one in the band was in control, that they could release furious pop on you at any moment.  Here, Broken Social Scene seem to have gotten a bit more cohesion with the group, but in doing so, they’ve made their sound less dangerous and a little watered down.  Perhaps I’m just jaded by personal relationship with past records, but isn’t that the case with this band?  Don’t you just love that one record, that one perfect song?  You do; you know it, and I’m positive that in my world, Forgiveness Rock Record just doesn’t hold water to those moments.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/06-Art-House-Director.mp3]

Download: Broken Social Scene – Art House Director [MP3]

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