New Public Service Broadcasting ft. Tracyanne Campbell

We’re big fans of Public Service Broadcasting, but that adoration went up a step when the band premiered this new single featuring Tracyanne Campbell from Camera Obscura. This song comes from their forthcoming release, which is still shrouded in mystery, though this song features little vocal samples and a calming Tracyanne floating her melody atop it all. Feels like a really great way to start off a Friday. We’ll keep you up to date as more news of their new LP comes our way.

Brand New Tunes from The Crystal Furs

crystalfursNot too long ago we were introduced to the indiepoppers, The Crystal Furs, hailing from a few miles North of us in Ft. Worth. Well, they just upped two brand new tracks that I think you’re going to love…at least I do. I love “Miss Hughes” in particular, blending aspects of Camera Obscura whilst putting on a janglier touch with the guitars. It’s a wonderful way for you to start off you Monday morning. Can’t wait to see these guys finally come to Austin. Happy Monday folks.

Dreamy R&B from Sunbathe

sunbatheLooks like Lefse Records is getting into the tape business, and to introduce Golden Brown to the world, they’re releasing a compilation titled Perfectly Toasted Vol. 1. One of the track’s that stood out to me immediately was this new one from Sunbathe. It’s this dream-pop piece nodding to classic R&B sounds, sort of like a hazier bit of Camera Obscura, and I can’t stop spinning this song, even though I’m staring at a delugefrom the heavens outside my window. The compilation sees a release on June 17th…and this is a definite reason to check it out.

Beautiful Pop from Eerie Wanda

eerieEerie Wanda hadn’t really come up on my radar until I started thumbing through the SXSW listings, but I’m glad to have found the act, moving them high upon my list of bands I want to catch. They’ll be releasing their new album, Hum, on Beyond Beyond is Beyond this week, and pop fans will clamor to get their hands on it. At moments, the band recalls Camera Obscura, but there’s also a darker edge in the guitar chords, which creates a different sound that’s not really being utilized by any other acts. Spend some time with this track, and grab the album when it comes out tomorrow.

Camera Obscura – Desire Lines

desire

Rating: ★★★½ ·

Everybody loves Glasgow. Well, everyone should love Glasgow because that city puts out more great indie rock bands than most and Camera Obscura is no exception to that, as they’ve returned for their fifth studio album, Desire Lines.

The introductory song to this album is reminiscent of that bit of music that accompanies the production company/studio’s logo before a great movie begins. A mixture of some brief string arrangements, “Intro” gives out a slightly different vibe then you are used to with our Glaswegian Indie Pop power group. Though the group has never lacked maturity, this thirty-second opening lets you know that they are back and with a new take on their original sound that they first presented twelve years ago on Biggest Bluest Hi Fi and even vastly different than on My Maudlin Career, their most recent studio release.

So what’s changed you may ask? What has this varsity band done differently this time around to make their music stand out to new fans and still appeal to old? For the most part, not too much; you still have subtly confident front woman Tracyanne Campbell spinning tales of love and loss from behind the mic. Her vocals are ever the perfect balance of present and yet not overwhelming and missing a lot of the reverb that was present on their last album. In addition to the clarity in vocals, the reverb seems to be also missing from the rest of the elements of Camera Obscura’s indie pop to reveal a more straightforward rock approach. Such is apparent on single “Do It Again,” in which you have a fun little bouncy number complete with buzzing guitar and hyper percussion carrying you through. Another snappy number that will welcome you nicely to Desire Lines and make you glad you pressed play is “Troublemaker,” which jumps out for its bouncy tempo and catchy lyrics.

Really, there are a lot of little gems to be found on Desire Lines, but on the whole, the album rings a little flat in reference to the other albums in Camera Obscura’s long list of full lengths works. Perhaps it is a slower burner and this new collection of songs will grow to become favorites, but this new work doesn’t really wow you upon first listen or even after a few listens. Desire Lines is good, but not as grand as you’ve come to expect from such a band.

Mellow Jam from Camera Obscura

cameraobscura11Man, I can’t tell you how long I’ve waited to hear more from Camera Obscura.  Their last two albums have long haunted my playlist, always leaving a special place in my heart.  Today they released the second single from their upcoming album, Desire Lines, which will be released by 4AD on June 4th.  Listening to this track, I love the relaxed quality of the tune, taking its time for Tracyanne to win us all over with her vocals.  It’s a simple tune in construction, aside from some soloing guitar work near the latter half of the song, but it’s perfect in execution, guaranteeing that we’ll love the new record.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/fifth_in_line.mp3]

Download: Camera Obscura – Fifth in Line to the Throne [MP3]

The Hermit Crabs – Time Relentless EP

Rating: ★★★½ ·

We’re almost a decade into the excellent career of The Hermit Crabs, a Glaswegian group specializing in jangling guitars and sentimental melodies.  They hit 2012 running with the warming Time Relentless EP, crafting timeless pop songs that every listener will surely find endearing, no matter how many times you play it on your stereo.

We find the group opening with “On The Spectrum,” and Mel opens with a steady vocal that attaches itself to your inner ear from the moment she joins in with the carefully choreography of the guitar.  As she sings of her favorite fella a light backing vocal warms your heart, illustrating the relevance of The Hermit Crabs in everyone’s personal indie pop collection.

“Time Relentless” continues the pop barrage, using a heavy drum beat as the backbone of the song.  Once the guitars take on a more prominent role in the song, you’re going to find it hard to ignore the fact that this group can clearly match any of the work of their compatriots Camera Obscura.  I know it might seem like hyperbole, but each little added touch deepens the emotional appeal, such as the added keyboard wash that hangs far off in the distance of this track.

Perhaps my favorite track on the Time Relentless EP is also its shortest, “Stop This Now.” It begins with a strummed guitar, and Mel coolly singing atop it, but the song blossoms into pop beauty when the lead guitar begins to noodle its way in and out of the track, all the while the rhythm guitar still carries with it a steady strum.  Again, you’ll find the perfect backing vocal assuring you of the pitch-perfect melody in Mel’s voice.  Such a wonderful track.

Closing out the EP is a more melancholy number, which comes to you via “So Blue.” Instead of revolving solely around the guitar and Mel, they use a bit of piano to provide the slowing mood.  For me, I keep hearing the guitar cutting in, as if it’s crying with the emotion of the track.  While it definitely has a change of pace, this is the sort of song that indie pop fans fawn over.

While The Hermit Crabs aren’t necessarily a household name as of yet, you can be assured that those of us in love with the group are begging to share the group’s music with you.  It might not seem otherworldly, but the perfect execution of blissful pop songs makes the Time Relentless EP a must have for all fans of the genre.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Stop_This_Now.mp3]

Download:The Hermit Crabs – Stop This Now [MP3]

Time Relentless EP is available now from Matinee Recordings.

 

Allo Darlin – Europe

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Allo Darlin are a four piece indie/twee pop band that hail from London, and if you haven’t gotten to know their dazzlingly sweet tunes, then it is time you started. Their self-titled first album was released back in 2010, but if you want to get to know the sweet and groovy tunes of this band then look no further, Europe is an excellent place to start.        

On opener “Neil Armstrong,” it’s easy to see the similiarities of Allo Darlin’ to other indie-pop legends. The vocals of Elizabeth Morris share the discreet power that Camera Obscura’s Tracyanne Campbell has perfected and the delicate guitars reminisce of that of Belle and Sebastian. Though this band is not simply a culmination of other groups, they have their own flair as well. The ukulele that is ever-present on this first song is an aspect that gives this group the playfulness that such a genre begs for. For a first track, it’s a pretty good representation of this band’s style; gentle pop that still manages to bubble in sunshine.

Later on, you have an even softer, but no less equally delightful tune in “Tallulah,” where Elizabeth Morris and her uke step away from things. The result is a plain and simple tasty song, whose simplicity is what makes it as Morris sings a tale of a summer past. Sure, you’re missing the other jangling elements that Allo Darlin’ have become masters of, but it’s a lovely little break from the bright pop and a side trip to a more grounded sound. It’s a good reminder that this band can do a little more than all sunshine all the time.

However, it’s clear that what this band does best is easily music that bathes you in light. On the very next song after “Talulah,” they jump right back into their warmth with “The Letter.” The guitar feels further up in the mix of things on this song, at times dueling with Morris’ vocals for the lead of the song. Meanwhile the drums roll steady on, with the prominent cymbal crash to complete the overall bright atmosphere. That being said, Allo Darlin’ isn’t that easily pegged with the label of cheery pop songs. No, if you listen to the intricate lyrics that Morris spouts out, you’ll find that not all that she has to say matches the surface level observation of peppy.

Like the bands aforementioned, and essentially any band that is really worth listening to, there is more to be found here than can be acquired on first listen. After some time spent traveling around Europe, you’ll find that it was worth the trip.

Gold Leaves – The Ornament

Rating: ★★★★½

Every once in awhile, you come across a record that fits into your life perfectly, filling the empty emotional space, revitalizing your spirit.  Just one listen to Gold Leaves is all it takes to find that The Ornament seeps into your soul, establishing itself as an album that meets all your musical needs.

“The Silver Lining” is one of those perfect pop songs, carefully constructed for the maximum benefit of listeners.  It’s a gentle number, similar to the recent work of Camera Obscura (in construction at least).  But, what makes the track stand out is Carl Olsen’s voice.  It waivers somewhere between Ward and Banhart, touching every emotional chord for those with a hankering for all things sad-bastard.  While there’s a bit of solemnity to the opener, “The Ornament” provides a bit of brightness with just the slightest change in pacing.  You’ll find that same careful arrangement with every bit of accompaniment propelling the song’s essence. It’s not a track to be taken lightly, echoing in your memory long after the song has skipped onto the next.

“Endless Dope” opens a new chapter for Gold Leaves.  While other tracks have featured lush arrangement, this track seems more sparse in those regards, though elements still remain.  But, Olsen’s vocals play the main role here, drawing you into his poetic verse, as opposed to letting you get washed away with waves of pop brilliance. Similarly, “Cruel & Kind” refuses to rely upon the maximum arrangements, carefully meandering through your mind.  Inside this track you’ll find yourself getting lost, but in a manner that only the best of music can accomplish; it’s simplicity lets you drift in and out of consciousness, always drawn back by the inherent melody built within the tune.

Even when The Ornament doesn’t draw itself out with meandering tracks, a great deal can still be accomplished.  For instance, “Hard Feelings” is one of the shortest songs on the record, but in a short span you’ll find trickling guitar lines, string pieces swirling in the background, and Olsen at the center of it all.  Eventually, it crashes spectacularly in the middle, switching things up just slightly. There’s a denseness to this number, as it seems filled to the brim, but in writing in that fashion, Gold Leaves still leaves room for the melody and the emotion to find its way to your inner ear.

If you haven’t found room in your day for this collection, then you need to put down everything immediately.  The Ornament is the kind of album that begs to be listened to, begs to be played over again and again.  After one listen, you’ll end up clearing your schedule, finding yourself lost inside the depth and emotional pull of everything Carl Olsen has managed to put together for this outing. Not a note goes wasted, and that in and of itself, is something to praise–but this record is so much more. So stop reading this now, and drift away with Gold Leaves.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Gold-Leaves-Cruel-And-Kind.mp3]

Download: Gold Leaves – Cruel/Kind [MP3]

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