Introducing Paperfangs (For Fans of Dream Pop on the Electric Tip)

I’m really pleased to have discovered Soliti Music over the last year; they introduced me to Finnish acts Big Wave Riders and New Tigers, put out the new Cats on Fire, and now this wonderful new signing, Paperfangs. It’s a more electronic dream pop then the majority of the stuff I’ve been into lately, but those down-trodden vocals and mixture of samples near the end of this track really stuck with me.  Before they get huge, you can also go HERE and get ahold of their latest AAVVAV EP, which is the precursor to what I can only expect will be great work with Soliti.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/02-I-Felt-the-Ocean-1.mp3]

Download:Paperfangs – I Felt the Ocean [MP3]

More New Music from Cats on Fire!

Cats on Fire have to be my favorite Finnish group, though there have been some great ones of late.  Their first record Our Temperance Movement played on my record player for a solid year, and this new effort All Blackshirts to Me will is shaping up to be one of my favorites in 2012. It’s slated to be released by our friends at Soliti Music and Matinee Recordings, with the overseas release date stated as March 28th. On this new jam, it starts off with just a bit of trickling pop vocals, then it reaches this pinnacle, which honestly has me spinning around my room in absolute glee. Definitely can’t get enough from these guys, can you?

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/A-Few-Empty-Waves.mp3]

Download:Cats on Fire – A Few Empty Waves [MP3]

Brand New Gem from Cats on Fire

I’ve waited since 2009 for Cats on Fire to introduce me to brand new music.  They’re set to return in 2012 with a brand new effort full of new tunes on Soliti Music sometime this coming Spring.  My first listen to this brand new track, “My Sense of Pride,” reveals everything that I’ve waited for over the last few years: it’s got elements of light twee, but in a casual way where it avoids the realm of nostalgic kitsch.  There’s also a bit of solemnity to the track, which for those who’ve listened closely, has always lurked quietly beneath the surface.  I’m going to come out and say it though; this is possibly one of the best bands around, so take heed and enjoy this new offering.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/My-Sense-Of-Pride.mp3]

Download: Cats on Fire – My Sense Of Pride [MP3]

New Music from Big Wave Riders

Apparently it’s going to be sort of a Scandinavian type day in my house, as I’ve just gotten another gem from the region via Finland’s Big Wave Riders.  The band is prepping their digi-EP for new label, Soliti Music, which will also be home to the new work from Cats on Fire.  They posted a great track to their last.fm page, and I just fell in love.  It begins with sort of a washed out guitar vibe, one that you’d expect from a California beach group, but then the pace picks up, and it turns into momentary dance-pop, and returns once again to the beautiful wash.  This is definitely something new and exciting from a great prospect for 2011.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Big-Wave-Riders-Skate-or-Die.mp3]

Download: Big Wave Riders – Skate or Die [MP3]

Cats on Fire – Dealing in Antiques

Rating: ★★★★★

Just a disclaimer, this is a collection album, including rarities, B-Sides, covers and a new track, all of which date as far back as 2002.  That being said, Cats on Fire is probably the one band that deserves your attention that you’ve possibly overlooked (mistake!).  If this is the case, then Dealing in Antiques is a great starting point, a place to find your footing as your obsession begins to grow.  For those of you already in the know, you have to be ecstatic to have access to these wondrous tunes.

You’ll know immediately that this group is willing to go out on a limb, as the being this collection with “Your Woman,” a cover of the hit by White Town. Still, keeping true to their form, there is a bit more of a jangle in the chorus guitar chord, giving more of a smooth bounce than the original provided with its club-banger tendencies.  They then lead you into 19 more tracks, each one worthy of your careful listening ear.

“Poor Students Dream of Marx” establishes the band’s sound as far back as 2004, and we’re lucky that they had such foresight to see their own greatness, even so early on in their career.  Personally, the way the guitar is played throughout the entire song just really gets me, especially when it picks up speed and difficulty.  Steady percussion keeps pace, allowing the guitar to cut in and out of the song, all of which accompany Mattias Bjorkas voice (imagine Morrissey-mixed with Jarvis Cocker, except more of a warmth tone as opposed to blatant sexuality).

However, not a band to be pigeon-holed, the group offers tracks like “Something Happened.”  There’s a bit of a gentle strumming along the guitar here, yet it all has a more country feel, almost folk-ish, showing that the band isn’t all about pristine jangle pop (though they knock that genre out of the park).  They immediately follow that with “On His Right Side,” which is one of those tracks that exhibits the beauty of this collection, as understated piano walks quietly in the background of Bjorkas and a heavily strummed guitar.  As Bjorkas reaches for that falsetto, you can’t help but to tingle just a bit; these are the sorts of moments that create cult followings.

As much as you’d liked to ignore the Morrissey similarity between Bjorkas and the man himself, a song like “You Will Find Me Where You Left Me” does definitely bring the aged crooner to mind.  Yet, there is a certain solemnity to the way Mattias sings throughout this song, as if he’s not seeking your understanding, merely evoking his own personal sentiment.  “Honey Your Baby” probably doesn’t do much either to distance Cats on Fire from The Smiths either, yet you have to really leave all that aside, as the sharpness of Marr is not quite as present here, instead replaced by a warmer, gentler guitar.   If you ask me, this is where the band achieves their bread and butter, asking you to fall in love alongside the record, rather than to merely listening to a story of another man falling in love.

Really, if you want a perfect record, this is probably as close as you can come.  You’ve got your jangle pop tunes, as previously mentioned, yet you’ve got slow burners such as “They Produced a Girl,” one of the band’s earliest songs on this collection.  The vocal quality is a bit dense, but its the perfect juxtaposition to the rest of the record, showing how what was rough merely needed a bit of polishing before creating gem after gem.  And to close out the record, they offer a new track, “The Hague.”  One listen to this track will make you salivate immediately for the next album, as this one surely isn’t enough.

If it weren’t for great little labels like Matinee Recordings, many people would probably not have the access to Cats on Fire, which would be tragic.  Listening to Dealing in Antiques gives the aura of a band beginning an enduring cult following.  You want all your friends to love this album, yet at the same time, you feel as if you’ll lock these tunes away forever.  Such is the way a quiet legacy is built, and such is the one you have before you after looking through the closet of this wonderful band from Finland.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/cats04.mp3]

Download: Cats on Fire – The Hague [MP3]

New Tunes from Cats on Fire

In case you missed Cats On Fire‘s last record, Our Temperance Movement, the first thing you should do is go get your hands on it; it’s a gem of a pop record.  But, now the band are back with a collection of rarities, B-Sides and what-nots.  The album is called Dealing in Antiques, and it features 20 tracks from the band; you can’t argue with that.  We’ve got the album opener, which is a cover of White Town‘s “Your Woman.”  You’ll be able to find the record in stores next week, or you can order it straight from Matinee Recordings, which has tons of other great bands you need to check out while you’re at it.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/cats09.mp3]

Download: Cats on Fire – Your Woman [MP3]

New Tunes from Cats on Fire

catsonfire01So I was just listening to the Matinee Grand Prix, the stellar compilation from one of my favorite labels, Matinee Records, when I noticed something I didn’t notice on first listen.  A new Cats on Fire tune!  Their last record, Our Temperance Movement, was one of my favorites in 09′, so obviously stoked there is a new tune.  Take a listen, and you’ll see why I love this little band from Finland.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/cats04.mp3]

Download: Cats on Fire – The Hague [MP3]

New Tunes from Northern Portrait

nThe wonderful thing about being brand loyal, especially when it refers to record labels, is that you are usually guaranteed to like one thing, if you like the rest of the label’s output.  Such is the case with Matinee Records, the label that put out Cats on Fire (one of my 09 must haves).  Now, through their web site, I discovered another gem,  by the name of Northern Portrait.  The group is from Denmark, and they write jangle pop, some might even call it twee. Whatever it is, it’s good. You’ll like it.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/10-New-Favourite-Moment.mp3]

Download: Northern Portrait – New Favourite Moment [MP3]

2009 Top 50 Albums

bestof2009cover_albums

Creating a Top 50 Albums list is never easy.  You have to battle with what you think the world believes, and what you truly believe in your heart, to be solid jams.  We have even more trouble because we have to three writers, all who have different ideas, and we have to make those ideas fit into a neat box.  Well, we got it done, and honestly, our criteria was based on two things: how great we thought the album was, artistically speaking, and how long we listened to it without getting bored.  That’s it. It’s fool proof; you might not like it, but it’s our list, so here it is… Read more

Cats on Fire – Our Temperance Movement

our-temperance-movement

Rating: ★★★★½

Occasionally, you come across a group that is reminiscent of everything you truly love.  Clever lyrics, jangly guitars, smooth vocals; all joining in unison in order to craft that perfect pop song. Cats on Fire have constructed 10 such songs with their second album Our Temperance Movement. Consider us lucky that Matinee Recordings was able to put out this album by the Finnish quartet.

Immediately upon pressing play, you will more than likely realize that the band shares a certain affinity for bands such as Felt or the Smiths, sharing those classic vocal similarities, but not in such a fashion where you feel as if they’re merely playing the role of imitators.  Singer Mattias Bjorkas can hold the sway in his voice just like Lawrence or Morrissey.  But, you’ll find that in listening to his voice, it stands alone an a different entirely.

Now, the band probably has a lot of influential waters that they could soak up with a sponge, all of which are visible in their songs, but a different comparison comes to mind when listening to the album.  Our Temperance Movement recalls early Belle and Sebastian records, or just your favorite pop album, where every single song is so good that it would be hard to decipher which song on the album was meant as the single. You won’t be able to find a throwaway track here, which is an oddity in this year’s music output.

“Lay Down Your Arms” has that familiar jangly guitar you’ll recall from all those classic recordings, creating a mood of stomping about your local pub dancefloor.  As the vocals sway back across the song, you can’t help but feel moved by the meldious tune.  “Letters from a Voyage to Sweden” follows shortly after, with tales of watching a cruiseliner filled with adulterers and sodomites.  Even with such a taboo topic, the song rolls along; it’s the perfect song for quiet headphone moments lying in your bed in thought.

With songs like “Tears in Your Cup,” Garden Light” and “Fabric” neatly tucked into the latter half of the album, you’ll find that your listening experience is never lacking in above average tunes.  Especially when you encounter the bookend to the album “Farbic” with its backing female vocals and bouncy strum.

As the album wraps up completely you’ll be rushing to record your favorite tracks for that next great mixtape you are preparing for your friends.  You only want the best tracks, and every song on this album will suffice to prove to your friends just how great your tastes are; so go on and introduce them to Cats on Fire.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/02-lay-down-your-arms.mp3]

Download: Cats on Fire – Lay Down Your Arms [MP3]

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