Those of you following the indie pop world with a keen eye know that one of the best little labels is Manic Pop Records from Minnesota. The label is quickly making a name for itself by releasing gem after gem. One of their upcoming releases is this new 7″ from Chicago’s StarTropics. I can’t get this tune out of my head right now. At the beginning, I thought it had this Drums affectation, just basing that off the rhythm section, but it then begins to explore a more gentle sonic realm. You can pick up the By My Side/Tempest 7″ on May 22nd.
Here’s a short and sweet gritty pop number called “Fortune Teller” coming your way from Portland based indie pop band Campfires. The band is basically a one man job by Jeff Walls who recently moved from Chicago for greener skies in the Northwest. Jeff and his band moniker have a new album called Tomorrow Tomorrow coming out on February 19th via Fire Talk Records. You should definitely check out a pre-order of the album if this one tickles your fancy.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/campfires-fortune_teller.mp3]
Download: Campfires – Fortune Teller
Most of our loyal readers know that the ATH crew is all about the leading ladies with beautiful voices that can often times send a chill down our spine. This new song entitled “A Little Longer” coming our way from Chicago based songwriter Kirby Kaiser is one of those songs that we find irresistible. The songwriting is fairly simplistic and could maybe be considered a little juvenile for the young 20 year old musician, but hot damn, something about her vocal delivery is really doing it for me. It’s sultry, it’s raspy, and it fits in perfectly with the doo wop style of the song. This is the first new material from Kaiser since the release of her debut EP last year, which I highly recommend you check out on soundcloud if you haven’t. She’s got what it takes to stay around for awhile.
Stay tuned for more information on upcoming releases from this upstart and promising artist.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/A-little-longer-original-master.mp3]
Download: Kirby Kaiser – A little longer [MP3]
I stumbled upon this gem the other night, and I’ve been playing this track, and it’s accompanying EP pretty much non-stop the last few days, aside from the other stuff I’ve been spinning. The Pear Traps are a group from Chicago, and they’ve crafted this short little EP that’s just chock full of mellow harmonies; this track is the second on their Elsewhere EP. While it begins patiently, there’s a slight increase in the group’s urgency, which is quite brilliant in my opinion, especially the way the guitars seem to dance in the distance. You can grab the EP from the band for the extra special NYOP (I encourage you to donate to support the band!)[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/The-Pear-Traps-Sister.mp3]
Download:The Pear Traps – Sister [MP3]
Here’s a new jam called “Indigo” coming by way of Chicago based indie rock band Santah. They have that jamming sort of style with funky bass beats that drop in every once in awhile sort of like Portugal. The Man tend to do things. I’ve always had a thing for that band so I’m naturally drawn to these Chicago kids. A new EP from the group entitled You’re Still a Lover will be available in stores on October 16th.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/05-Indigo.mp3]
Download: Santah – Indigo [MP3]
What happens when you get 5 high school aged kids from Chicago together to form a band that doesn’t seem to care if you like their music or not? Well that my friends is what you get in The Orwells. It’s funny because their story reads like a modern day version of The Strokes, not to mention that they are often compared to the band and they cite them as an influence. This song below “Mallrats (La La La La)” will give you a brief taste of that “don’t give a shit” attitude that’s sure to make them great in the long run. The band seems passionate and driven much like any young band should be and have seemingly created their very own version of gritty rock n roll tunes. A debut album from the teens will be available on August 7th and is called Remember When.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/02-Mallrats-La-La-La.mp3]
Download: The Orwells – Mallrats (La La La) [MP3]
I’m going to say this right off the bat…you’re going to have to do a lot of work in order to love Volcano!‘s newest record, Pinata. I don’t say that because it’s not an enjoyable listen, but I say that because it’s up, down, left, right, and any other direction the album wants to go. That’s actually why it’s such a rewarding bit of pop music; it begs you to follow along, asks you to go with it in order to reap the ultimate reward: pop enlightenment.
“Pinata” opens up the record, using throbbing bass beats just before Aaron jumps in with sort of spoken word vocals. At times, he’s excitable, matching the precision drumming and reaching higher scales; it’s what you would imagine if you gave LSD laced with amphetamines to Dirty Projectors. It’s schizophrenic, but planned and organized; you can’t help but bob your head. But, just as you wanted to lump Volcano! in with art-pop acts of similar ilk, they go in other directions, such as the stop start vocal delivery at the beginning of “So Many Lemons.” It’s almost like he’s scat singing, but then he sinks into the groove with the rest of the band, touching on a more polished pop side. At this point, you might scratch your head a bit, yet you won’t be able to deny the quality (and tightness) of the songwriting.
Honestly, the more I listen to each song, the more I realize that each song can be written about like an album review, as there’s so much texture and creativity put into each track. “Child Star” for instance begins with an emphatic vocal, matched by choppy guitar and knob twiddling, but it bursts off into this other realm, giving us Aaron’s best vocals on Pinata. Still, it ends up somewhere entirely different than where you expected it, in the best possible way. I even thought that “Plate Breaker” might be a more traditional song, nearing the realm of an angular ballad, until the track speeds up around the 40 second mark, gets jittery…and goes to God knows where. You’ll like it, and you might even love it, but have fun trying to explain your affection to your friends.
Volcano! have one thing going: they don’t sound like anything else out there. In doing that, they’ve crafted a listen that many people will describe as a “difficult listen,” but those that can stick through the entirety of the record will have something they won’t soon forget. Songs like “Long Gone” have infectious hooks, that though brief, stick in your head like only the best pop can. Some of the songs evolve slowly, like “St. Mary of Nazareth,” and appear more delicate; you’ll never know, though, when the band will go in their own direction. Take some time out of your day, sit down with Pinata, and see if you can unravel the mystery lurking beneath the odd time switches, yelps and, indeed, hooks. If you make it through, you’ll not only thank me, but you’ll thank the band for being one of the band’s doing something truly original and creative.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/09_Long-Gone.mp3]
Download:Volcano! – Long Gone [MP3]
Chicago’s Hollows are secretly winning me over with their recently released Vulture LP on Trouble in Mind Records. The lead single is just ridiculously solid, reminiscent of a more innocent version (and possibly less extravagant) Camera Obscura. There’s still touches of orchestration on these songs, but they’re more scaled back, giving the vocals the ability to soar as they should. I have a feeling that once you give this track a few listens you’ll get just as excited as I am by this group–if you are be sure to grab a copy of their remarkable record.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/01-V-Is-For-Vulture-1.mp3]
Download:Hollows – V Is For Vulture [MP3]
Beginning with an odd stutter-step propulsion, this new track from Chicago’s Volcano! moves into a space occupied by few in the indie spectrum. The group’s combination of electronics and off-kilter timing makes for a hard pill to swallow; it’s immediacy is not apparent, but repeated listens find you warming to the spastic pop gem. The group are set to release Pinata, their third record, on June 12th via the Leaf Label, and it’s shaping up to be a listening experience you aren’t likely to find anywhere else. Seriously, a patient ear will lead you to the immense pleasure this track has to offer.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/01-Piñata-1.mp3]
Download:Volcano – Pinata [MP3]
This edition will bring you a nice little variety. I have an older track from Glass Candy that I’ll use to highlight one the best movies I have seen in a while. I have a track from Superhumanoids that is short and sweet. An old-school feeling trance track from Acid Washed that is new, I promise. Loose Fit busts out some funky bassline action for a genre I like to call “theme music”. I’ll finish up with a stellar track from Dana Buoy you can download. Dana Buoy is in Akron/Family, this isn’t an Akron/Family track.
Head past the break…