New Tunes From Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt

Okay, so the name Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt may be a bit much, but it really encompasses the sense of fun the band is trying to give out to its listeners.  Their album, I Love You I Love You. I Love You. And I’m In Love With You.  Have an Awesome Day. Have the Best Day of Your Life! hits stores on May 5th. This song here has an abundance of exuberance for you all.  It’s like taking Broken Social Scene and making them throw a party with Los Campesinos, which really isn’t a bad thing now is it? Give it a chance.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/10-Ride-Frindship.mp3]

Download: Teror Pigeon Dance Revolt – Ride Frindship [MP3]

Jason Collett – Rat a Tat Tat

Rating: ★★★½☆

Many people will recognize the name Jason Collett for his involvement in Broken Social Scene, but this is not his first foray into solo work. Rat a Tat Tat is Collett’s fourth official album, and it has all the trademarks of his previous work, while also stepping forward into a bit of playfulness that wasn’t present on earlier recordings.

Opening this album, you find Jason dealing with relationships in his own way.  “Rave On Sad Songs” reveals his prowess as a songwriter of heartfelt tunes, something probably not accredited to his role in BSS. It’s a soft spoken song relying upon soft piano and very gentle guitar strums, which allow his distinctive vocals to tug at your heart.

Such mellow numbers were commonly featured in his last few releases, especially Idols of Exile, but as you move into tracks like “Love is a Dirty Word,” you find that Collett has gotten a little bit more lively.  As the bass line seems to shake your body, Collett delivers his idea that love is not quite all its cracked up to be.  Bouncing rhythms haven’t always been his forte, but he pulls it off here, showing that he’s got room to grow as a songwriter.  The idea that Jason is out to goof around a bit with his audience is only made stronger when you listen to “Bitch City,” which has a vocal performance reminiscent of Devandra Banhart, not to mention the subject matter.  Oddly, that same vocal effect shows up once again at the end of the album “Vanderpool Vanderpool,”  something that wasn’t noticeable on his earlier releases.

On his last record, Here’s to Being Here, we saw him exhibit a little bit of straightforward polished pop.  He still brings those lighthearted moments to this album, on songs like “Cold Blue Halo.”  There’s a fuzzed out keyboard groove that opens the number illustrating his widening set of tools, some provided by his longtime backing band, Zeus.  All that being said, the tune has a bit of foot shuffling feel to it, something sure to win out in the live setting. All playfulness aside, Collett still has the ability to write quiet numbers that find their way into your regular listening rotation on iTunes. “Long May You Love” and “Winnipeg Winds” are two songs that illustrate this point perfectly, as both have the steady stroll of acoustic pop moments attached. “Winnipeg Winds” creates an effective wind motif with the howling vocal backing that haunts the song when Jason is not at the helm.  One can assume he’s added these quiet moments to the record in hopes of keeping a perfect balance, and he succeeds in accomplishing that feat.

Focus at this time is surely on the upcoming BSS release, but aside from that project, it’s clear that Jason Collett has his own style and his own agenda to push.  Rat a Tat Tat is just another record that demonstrates what a strong songwriter he is, proving that he grows stronger as his music evolves.  Sure, it’s a lot more fun than previous works, but by making that change, Jason balances out this record, giving himself more options to write great songs in the future.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/jasoncollett-loveisadirtyword.mp3]

Download: Jason Collett – Love is a Dirty Word [MP3]

FT5: Fictional Supergroups

1016top5coverAfter being underwhelmed (and I’m the only one) by Them Crooked Vultures, I began to look ahead to the Supergroups that I would create.  Sure, this is all conjecture, and some are jaded by my own personal tastes and connections.  It’s an interesting topic.  Who is your favorite musician, and who would you like to see them playing with?  Make your own supergroup, and tell me about it.  While I wait, I’ll throw out mine. And, I apologize for my lack of originality in naming bands.

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BSS ACL After Party (10/2)

So we’ve just heard news that WOXY, Voodoo Cowboy Entertainment, and Rare Magazine are joining forces to put on an ACL after party featuring Canadian supergroup Broken Social Scene.  The event will be taking place at the Seaholm Power Plant on the first night of ACL (10/2).  Things will get started at 10pm and the event is totally free!  RSVP here.  I’m going to dare say that you might want to show up early if you plan on getting in.  Stay tuned for information on what they have planned for Saturday night.

Amy Millan – Masters Of The Burial

amy-millan-masters-of-the-burial-artRating: ★★★☆☆

Having clocked in years with Canadian indie mainstays Stars and Broken Social Scene Toronto native Amy Millan struck out on her own in 2006 to release her debut album Honey from the Tombs to mostly favorable reviews, receiving comparisons to Emmylou Harris or Lucinda Williams.

Arts and Crafts Records will be releasing Amy Millan’s sophomore release, Masters of the Burial, and I must admit, coming into this review the only exposure I had had with Amy Millan was her work with the aforementioned bands.  Being a fan of Broken Social Scene and the solo outings of Brendan Canning, Kevin Drew, and Leslie Feist I was excited about the prospect of jangly, slightly quirky indie-pop album. Boy, was I in for a surprise.

Masters of the Burial is a very mature record. The majority of the eleven tracks could easily be seen as middle of the road adult contemporary, but in the best way possible.  This album is very easy to listen to, relying on softly brushed drums, well placed mandolins and, of course, Millan’s beautiful voice.  On tracks like ‘Bruised Ghosts’, ‘Towers’, and the album closer ‘Bound’ it is evident that Millan could easily hold her own with the Allison Krauss’ and the Norah Jones’ of the world, just ask your parents or Brenda in the accounting department if you don’t believe me.  When Millan breaks away from the country-tinged folk trappings on tracks like ‘Bury This’, the percussion heavy ‘Day to Day’, and the beautifully haunting ‘Lost Compass’, she truly shines, easily evoking feelings of loss and regret.  Plus there is a cover of Death Cab for Cutie’s ‘I Will Follow You Into the Dark’, if you are into that kind of thing.  Like my mama always says “A cover is as a cover does…” (my mama never says that).

While this record won’t be on my end of the year lists, I have nothing but respect for it.  It is comforting, and I know it has an audience out there that will love it. I just fear that, with it’s ties to indie rock, it will be shot down before it even has it’s chance to shine.

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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The Most Serene Republic – And the Ever Expanding Universe

sereneRating: ★★★½☆

Canada’s The Most Serene Republic have spent the majority of their career flying just below the radar of most indie music fans, but at their newest album, And the Ever Expanding Universe, demonstrates, this young group has continued to mature in more ways than mere age, honing their craft of compiling mini-suites of pop.   Such a progression alone warrant accolades, but the fact that the band has continued to form into a tightly knit group with songs to back it up is an entirely different achievement in and of itself.

“Heavens to Purgatory” is the second track on the album, opening with gentle guitar strumming and Adrian Jewett’s vocals sweeping highly.  Enter drums and female vocals from stage left.  Then the vocals of Emma Ditchburn take over, leading you towards the chorus and insurmountable joy.  Dripping off is a gentle usage of horns a la Broken Social Scene.

Up to bat next is “Vessels of a Donor Look,” a song with a certain amount of swing to it.  It’s as if the band combined their own touch of multi-instrumental indie rock with lounge tropicalia.  You’ll find that this song is one that demands repeat listens, begging for you to grab a cocktail and enjoy the rest of the show that is And the Ever Expanding Universe.

The longest song on the album, “Patternicity,” again seems to be constructed of multiple arrangements within the arrangements themselves.  It’s as if the band approached the writing here with a touch of a composer’s attitude, which makes sense since rumor has it that band constructs their songs around piano pieces.  Although instrumental, this song ultimately rewards in its ability to shift from one perspective to another. Uplifting.

And for their third album, the band begins to wear some of their influences by fellow Canadians a bit more openly.  “Four Humours” sounds oddly like an outtake from an early Stars record, but make no mistake, the band owns this song. Their moderate flourishes of musicianship appear in the middle of the song as the bass takes a short walk just before the song returns to the fold.

Two things are amiss on this record.  First, Jewett doesn’t take nearly as prominent a role as he has in the past, which seems odd considering his live showmanship.  Second, there appear to be a lot of electronic flourishes throughout the album, which isn’t bad as a whole, just a continued departure from where the band began in the early years.

All said and done, And the Ever Expanding Universe is perhaps the most complete album the group has produced to date, leading most to assume that the group will only continue to climb further as they grow.  We’ll surely be hearing from The Most Serene Republic again.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/03-vessels-of-a-donor-look.mp3]

Download: The Most Serene Republic – Vessels of a Donor Look [MP3]

Wooden Birds – Magnolia

woodRating: ★★★☆☆

Local Austinite Andrew Kenny made waves long ago as the leader of American Analog Set; he returns to Austin after a lengthy absence with a new band in tow, The Wooden Birds.  While you immediately recall his vocal styling, the music definitely takes a different approach on the band’s first proper album, Magnolia.

Musically, this album comes directly at you.  There are no waves of distortion or ambient sounds; this is an album comprised very simply of guitar, vocals and percussion.  Kenny’s gentle guitar plucking will bring to mind some comparisons to Iron and Wine, though Andrew’s been at it longer, so we should give him credit there (not that it’s a competition).

While the approach may be very simple in it’s delivery, you can tell that in the writing process Andrew spent a great amount of time fleshing out the melodies that would accompany the softness of the music he composed.  His voice, at times, seems oddly similar to that of Ben Gibbard, especially when he takes on that bedroom-quiet whisper.

Oddly, a lot of the songs do seem to play off the same set of standards, with only the slightest of variations.  For instance, “Quit You Once” and “Never Know” open in precisely the same way, which also appears to happen with “Hailey” and “Hometown Fantasy.” Despite the lack of change in much of the album, you still take interest in how the songs develop individually; this is all due to the abilities of Andrew as a songwriter.

From start to finish the album is carefully and quietly written.  It’s the type of album that draws you in with its approach to the craft of the song, and such talent allows listeners to look beyond the similarities that might otherwise render the album dull and boring.  Luckily, Mr. Kenny has been at this long enough to know precisely how to rise above such issues, and his success is just another reason why he is regarded with such respect among the musical elite (as you could witness by his recent performance with Broken Social Scene at Bass Concert Hall). Sure, the quietude of this album may not be your precise cup of tea, but it’s great to have one of our local boys back composing such softly wonderful music.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/04-hailey.mp3]

Download: The Wooden Birds – Hailey [MP3]

New Tunes from Apostle of Hustle

apostle Andrew Whiteman is just one of the many heads that is Broken Social Scene, but, like all the rest, he has a solo outfit with Apostle of Hustle.  The groups new album Eats Darkness is coming out via Arts and Crafts Records May 19th, and we offer you the first single, “Perfect Fit” for your enjoyment. 

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/apostle-of-hustle-perfect-fit.mp3]

Download: Apostle of Hustle – Perfect Fit [MP3]

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