Chaos in Tejas Highlight: The Beets

With so many acts in town this weekend, it’s not easy picking out the best, but for Saturday night, I had it easy, as The Beets are going to be here, playing over at Beerland.  If you haven’t heard of the band, you’ll probably find that their recent album, Stay Home, off of Captured Tracks is as good a place to start as any.  If you’re looking for that lo-fi spirit with a bit of humor, then you’re going to have to be out there having fun with these guys.  In my mind, it has a softer spin on what the Dead Milkmen seem to have perfected during their hey-day.  There’s twanging guitars, simple hooks, and the band always poke fun at themselves.  It’s definitely something that can win people over, and careful listening will probably leave you and your friends to each have your own favorite song, arguing through the night about which was best.  It’s simple, they all are, so we’ll see you at Beerland Saturday.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/02-Dead.mp3]

Download: The Beets – Dead [MP3]

New Jam from Thieves Like Us

Man, after a rough couple of days, I needed a jam like this one.  Thieves Like Us are returning with their Your Love Runs Still EP on May 10th, their first effort for killer label Captured Tracks.  After listening to this title track several times, I sort of see this as a less quirky take on what Hot Chip have been doing.  It focuses on the beat and groove, giving your body that needed emotion to swiftly move about the house, but in a much less spastic manner than most dance tracks.  You can definitely see how a song like this will help the band fit right into the stable of great bands on CT.  Well played guys.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Thieves-Like-Us-Your-Love-Runs-Still.mp3]

Download: Thieves Like Us – Your Love Runs Still [MP3]

New Single from The Beets

If you haven’t listened to The Beets latest release, Stay Home, then you’ve probably been missing out my friends.  But, have no fear, as they’re giving away another track from the album called “Dead.”  It was already one of my favorite tracks, but it just has this oddball quality to it that gets me, sort of reminding me of the Feelies.  Don’t listen to me, listen to the Beets! You can grab their latest from Captured Tracks right this very minute, and if you live in Austin, you’ll be able to catch them in June at Chaos in Tejas!

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

Download: The Beets – Dead [MP3]

Craft Spells – Idle Labor

Rating: ★★★½ ·

It’s not that Craft Spells are necessarily a new band, nor are they one bringing you anything particularly new in the way of bedroom pop, but that isn’t going to devalue their version, or your likelihood of unlimited enjoyment.  Captured Tracks has just released the group’s record, Idle Labor, and like similar artists coming off the label, it’s chock full of shaking percussion and darkly tinged lyrical affectation, leaving listeners spinning about their bedrooms or dingy clubs, whatever works.

One of the first winners from Idle Labor is going to be “You Should Close the Door,” which has a hint of jangle to the guitar work, though it leans more towards a certain lo-fi affinity along coastal regions.  The bright hues of the chords are juxtaposed with the baritone vocals of JP Vallesteros, providing a haunting effect for those with their ears tuned in closely.  But, while the guitars play an underlying role in the sound of Craft Spells, it’s the percussive element that definitely influences the band and fans alike.

“Your Tomb” really has a steady pacing to its drumming, which gives a pleasurable pace to a track that otherwise appears quiet.  Gentle touches of percussion dictated the movement in your feet, and you’ll know after a couple of spins precisely what I’m talking about here, as your feet will grow weary.  Okay, perhaps the sharply ornate guitar sound coming from tracks such as “After the Moment,” probably contradict the idea that guitar sounds are meant to service the drumming here, but that’s precisely what seems to make Idle Labor ultimately successful.  You’re enjoying the groove of it all, then comes a track that encourages the swaying of hips and possible twee two-stepping on the dance floor.

However, it’s not all pseudo-angular dance moments, as there’s definitely a subtle new-wave vibe you’ll find featured in various tracks.  “Given the Time” begins with a darker intro than almost all the other tracks, yet it quickly picks back up into the 80s vibe of swirling melodies surrounded by somewhat monotone vocal displays.  Sure, you can probably do a nice stomp of the boot if you’re sticking to the bass groove on the track, but it definitely has an underlying pop element that’s buried, more so than on other tracks. “Party Talk” has the same mannerisms, once you consider some programmed percussive elements being added here, which don’t dominate Idle Labor, as much as one might think, not noticeably at least.  It also features a great deal of experimentation, when you compare it to some of the more minimalist songs.

It’s easy to say that Craft Spells have crafted (see what I did there) another bedroom gem for Captured Tracks, but the more you involve yourself in a close listening process, the more other elements slowly begin to leak out, making this more than just a casual listen for fans of the style.  Idle Labor, while stylistically similar to other acts on the label, and in the scene in general, eventually moves itself out from beneath its peers, leaving you with a deeply personal listen that’s fitting for play at home, at the office or at the club…what a trifecta of pop magic.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/After-the-Moment-1.mp3]

Download: Craft Spells -After the Moment [MP3]

More New Music From Craft Spells

Not long ago, our very own Mr. Lankford shared a sweet new track from up and coming Captured Tracks band Craft Spells.  Well now the band has given us another new track called “You Should Close the Door” that I’ve immediately taken a liking to.  The number has a sweet backing beat behind it with pop sensibilities reminiscent of several ATH favorites like POBAH or The Drums.  I can’t seem to get enough of this shit.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/craft-spells-you-should-close-the-door.mp3]

Download: Craft Spells – You Should Close the Door [MP3]

New Music from Tim Cohen

You probably recognize Tim Cohen as the frontman for one of my favorite groups, The Fresh & Onlys. But, that’s not his only gig, as he’s been honing his craft for some time as a solo artist, releasing several albums.  He’s got another one titled Magic Trick coming out via Captured Tracks on February 22nd, and maybe this will be the one when people really start to take notice of his skills.  This first single has a nice little juxtaposed female voice countering with Tim’s gruff vocals, which definitely provides a smoother tone to the song as a whole, making Tim seem more like a Sonny Smith style songwriter than merely just a beastly frontman.  You won’t hear a bad song on this record; I can guarantee that.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Tim-Cohen-Dont-Give-Up.mp3]

Download: Tim Cohen – Don’t Give Up [MP3]

New Tunes from Craft Spells

It’s going to be a huge year for Captured Tracks, and it’s got me super giddy sitting here at my desk. They’ve got releases from Minks, The Beets and who knows what else.  One band I don’t know a great deal about, but I’ve been jamming all day via P4K is Craft Spells (not to be confused with Cast Spells). Sure, it’s got that club-disco swing groove to it, but you mix that with a bit of far-off vocal effects and you’ll have me swinging my arms from side to side.  Honestly, that’s probably not such a bad thing, and a decent way to kick off the weekend. Maybe it’ll help get you started.  And you’re sure to find more hits like this on March 1st when the band releases their full-length, Idle Labor.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/After-the-Moment-1.mp3]

Download: Craft Spells -After the Moment [MP3]

New Tunes from Beach Fossils

After breaking out a pretty solid debut, Beach Fossils are at it again, ready to release a new EP on Captured Tracks, which is quickly making waves in my book. The collection is titled What a Pleasure, and it adds just another thing to look forward to on February 22nd.  You’ll find that the vocals are really up front in the mix, while the guitar just sort of meanders back and forth throughout the song.  It’s got a feeling of labelmates (and founder) Blank Dogs, if you removed the fuzziness and distortion.  Neither of those things are bad in my book, but that’s just one man’s opinion.  I’ll let you make the final call.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Beach-Fossils-Calyer.mp3]

Download: Beach Fossils – Calyer [MP3]

New Tunes from The Jameses

While we wait for a debut full-length from the group, Captured Tracks is doing a great job keeping our interest piqued in The Jameses.  Today they’re releasing the group’s new Caribou/Fifth Dimension 7″.  If you recall, we were all about their track “The Haunted Rider”, and right now, it looks like we’ll be all about Caribou too!  You’ll still find a little bit of that echo-y effect running through the vocals of this track, but the vocals seem to have a different approach, almost as if they’re doing their own version of a post-rock jangle. Regardless, this should continue to keep you looking forward to the upcoming debut from this band, as this is just another little gem from The Jameses.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/01-Caribou-1.mp3]

Download: The Jameses – Caribou [MP3]

New Tunes from Minks

You know that we’re fans of the NY label Captured Tracks, and they’ve just lined up another solid release coming our way January 11th.  Minks will be releasing their record, By the Hedge, and while many people have had the band on their radar for some time, it seems like their star can only grow larger nowadays.  Personally, this definitely has a Sarah Records feel to it, with a bit of coated jangling going on, using warm male/female vocals counterparts to smear gentle pop harmonies all over your speakers.  Looks like January 11th is going to be a sweet time for good tunes. Agree?

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

Download: Minks – Cemetary Rain [MP3]

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