Cinema Red and Blue – s/t

Rating: ★★★★½

Honestly, this has been one of our most anticipated records for some time, ever since word hit the streets that members of Crystal Stilts and Comet Gain would unite to create Cinema Red and Blue.  While this might just be a brief off-shoot for all those involved, it’s got the feel of a classic record that will only get better as time goes by.

One of the members that needs mention here, as he’s the primary vocalist, is David Feck.  He’s always been able to carry tracks entirely on the foundation of his voice, much as he does on “Far Out Isn’t Far Enough,” the opening track on Cinema Red and Blue. But, just as you think he’ll do it all alone, the band kicks in just shy of the 2 minute mark, jangling their way to a solid ending, while Feck’s vocals strain to grab every drop of emotion.

Then you’ll hit the trilogy of “Ballads,” all named for different interests, and its the wordplay of Feck that wins out, as it usually does.  For instance, there’s something clever about the way he puts together “we’re trying hard to sound like the Swell Maps/what a terrible name for a pop group,” during “Ballad of a Vision Pure.” It’s not just his word slinging that’s clever, but his delivery has the perfect amount of inflection and soul to win listener’s over.  There’s something about his tone too, especially in “Ballad of a Bus Stop” when its accompanied by a female counterpart.

Cinema Red and Blue isn’t entirely about David Feck, however. While you can see the homage to their bands, with flourishes of indie pop and psychedelic darkness, they also pay tribute to their favorites, such as Vic Godard, Julian Cope and the Chills. One that everyone is sure to like is the group’s cover of “Same Mistakes” by Godard.  Their version was released as the first single on the record, and its filled with a bit of electronic organ and low-tempo jangle.  It doesn’t hurt that David gets to match his vocals up either with another soft female vocal.  Listening, its odd how the band doesn’t seem to try at all with what their doing; its a casual affair of great songwriters, which inevitably wins us all over.

Something about this record just seems so precious, even though its not even a week old.  Every song, every note, really hits home as you listen.  There’s a familiarity to it that quickly attaches itself to your ears and heart.  That female follow up vocals in “Love in the Altitude” just hits home.  Or maybe the mellow mood of “Charlie Clarke” is more your style.  What’s clear is that you can find something beautiful, or you should, in every single track here.  While the members all have their respective projects going on, coming across an album as special as this definitely makes you yearn for more.  At least we’ll always have that one perfect record created for us all by Cinema Red and Blue.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/08-Same-Mistakes.mp3]

Download: Cinema Red and Blue – Same Mistakes [MP3]

New Tunes from Comet Gain

This band has been one of my favorites for the longest time, and I’m super excited that they have a new 7″ titled I Never Happened.  It features the Comet Gain trademark jangle pop, which just grows on you time and time again.  This 7″ also shows some promising leads as to the new work of the band, as it features two songs that were started by the band, then finished by Love is All and Crystal Stilts.  If this is any indicator of the work to come from the band in the future, then it looks like I might have another incredible record to enjoy for years to come.  You can get the 7″ HERE.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/01-I-Never-Happened.mp3]

Download: Comet Gain – I Never Happened [MP3]

The Clean – Mister Pop

mister

Rating: ★★★★ ·

It’s hard to tell where a band will end up after remaining rather quiet since 2001, yet alone to see how they’ve progressed in a career that has spanned over three decades.  Still, New Zealand’s The Clean have left their jangling influence all over the map, and with the release of Mister Pop on Merge Records, they look to reestablish themselves in your listening rotation, if they aren’t there already, as they probably should be.

Of course, the jangling has diminished a bit, and we have seen the band expand their sound, completing the expansion of their sound to include slow surf-psychedelia such as they do on the album’s opener “Loog.”  Despite the lack of a proper lyrical track, you cannot really pull yourself away from the song. “Simple Fix” works similarly, though it has a standard beach appeal to the instrumental, while the other instrumental track wavers on a more space-influences structure.

Then they move on to the meat and potatoes in “Are You Really on Drugs.”  Although the lyrics may resonate with many, there’s not much to them overall, but what will get listeners is the subdued strumming with the hollow, yet moving, vocals that seemingly bounce off the background of the song.

Never satisfied the group goes into a territory that will seem familiar to everyone, combining that classical indie guitar sound that distinctly belongs to them along with the female backing vocals.  You’ll also find one of the staples of the album inside “In the Dreamlife U Need a Rubber Soul” as guitar licks cut through the blank spaces; it’s something that the band uses to near perfection on this album, without ever overdoing it.

“Back in the Day” and Factory Man” are two of the strongest songs on the album, stuck right smack dab in the middle.  Vocals are delivered in that classic Lou Reed delivery circa “I’m Waiting for the Man” while the rest of these songs come off like similar artists such as Comet Gain.  There is something in these songs that immediately makes them feel familiar, as if you’ve been listening to them all of your life, and in fact, you probably have.  Whether or not The Clean have influenced hundreds of bands will never be discovered, but if they didn’t, then people have done a great job approximating their sound without admitting to common thievery.

An odd bit in the midst of the album is “Tensile.”  The vocoder effect used just sort of throws off the mood momentarily, although it clearly portrays the expanding horizons of the group.  Still, it’s a bit off, which is somewhat shocking, as the rest of the album has seemed to fit perfectly up until this point. But rest assured that the group close the album properly with “All Those Notes,” a song drenched in the electronic cloak of a keyboard. Such a slow number as this is a fitting end to Mister Pop, an album filled to the brim with interesting listens you’ll keep coming back to as you graciously thank the heavens for the return of The Clean.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/3-the-clean-in-the-dreamlife-you-need-a-rubber-soul.mp3]

Download: The Clean – In the Dreamlife you Need a Rubber Soul [MP3]

New Tunes from Comet Gain

thegainIts no secret that we here at ATH love Comet Gain, or at least one particular writer has a certain inclination for their sweet pop tunes. When all these other bands want to act lo-fi, lets turn our attention to the true form. This is the new single off the band’s newest 7″ titled Herbert Huncke. 

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/01-herbert-huncke-part-i.mp3]

Download: Comet Gain – Herbert Huncke [MP3]

Los Campesinos – We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Two records in one year is a highly ambitious goal from anyone, but the majority of the songs released on the debut full length from Los Campesinos, Hold On Now Youngster, has been lying around for a few years.  Still, the band aimed to keep the pace with their angular jangling pop, releasing We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed, in the last week.

Everything about this band just screams sheer fun. The guitars pummeling your ears as the gang vocals ebb and flow throughout each song, and you find that your hooked immediately.  Their flirtation with nonsensical lyrics makes code deciphering something all of us can enjoy.  It’s energetic, and they never let up, not for a second.

Trading male and female vocals is always a perfect way to gather fans quickly, be it a band like Comet Gain or a group like Mates of State.  The dynamic quality of such songwriting always makes it interesting for any listener, and lets face it, with so many bands putting out decent albums nowadays, it’s hard to find one that perfectly distinguishes itself from the masses.  Yet again, Los Campesinos are standing out in the crowd.

A lot of credit gets thrown around for vibrant young bands, chasing the teenage underclass with energy-packed singles.  Bands like Ra Ra Riot or Tokyo Police Club most recently come to mind, but Los Campesinos stand above the rest.  Their guitars always seem to be combatting one another, as if the war to write a pop song could only be one.  Aforementioned vocals dynamics prevail, mixing it up around any corner, just for kicks.

Take title track, “We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed” for instance. It opens up with a killer percussion line powered on by a little synthesizer, just before the rest of the band comes in for the attack.  Swelling guitars pulsate, up and down, then make a splash, hinting at the chorus.  Throw in a set of gang vocals, and you have a perfectly juvenile song written for adults.

Sure, the band is not breaking newer ground here with this album.  In fact, you’ll find that a lot of the sounds appear strikingly similar to previous works put out by the band this year.  Still, listening to an album like this reminds you of what fun we can all have if we just let it all loose once in awhile, taking in everything for the sake of fun.

Comet Gain – Broken Record Prayers

Rating: ★★★★★

If you ask someone who their favorite British band is, most will throw at you something like Elbow or Bloc Party, but very few, if any, will mention the lo-fi group Comet Gain. The band, existing in some form since 1992 is quite possibly one of those bands that everyone will overlook for the duration of their lives, but they will miss some of the greatest songs written. Their most recent release, a collection of 7 inches, which comes to the U.S. as a full length is titled Broken Record Prayers.

As usual, the album relies on the interplaying vocals between Rachel Evans and David Feck. The opening song, “Jack Nance Hair” is the perfect exhibit, as the song begins with spoken word elements via Evans before Feck comes in to win your heart, and it will belong to him forever.

Most of these songs do revolve in that lo-fi bedroom quality that some people cannot stand, but the closeness created in this listening experience is completely intentional. Feck opens his tiny little world to you with every song, speaking to you, as if you were the antagonist to his every song. If you can manage the recording quality here then you will find some of the rarest gems, sure to be with your record collection until the end of time.

Surprisingly, the band has added some straight ahead rock tunes on this go round, like “Beautiful Despair.”  It’s a rollicking little number that stands out most notably for the throbbing bass lines rather than the clever guitar work that the band typically employs on the rest of their songs. “Love Without Lies” follows with more throbbing bass lines, and, what seems to be a dance number, done in the most intriguing of ways.

The benefit of a Comet Gain album is that they come out so rarely, and usually as a collection of 7 inches, that you get a solid number of songs. This particular album has twenty new tunes for every type of listener. Bedroom recordings of love and hate, as well as more upbeat numbers come in abundance. Sure, the organization of the album might be a little off due to the way each song was originally released, but you will not find a more perfect album. Surely this is a must have for every music geek.

As the winter comes into your windows, open them up for awhile and let David Feck’s genius blow on into your room. You’ll be happy you did.

Comet Gain – Books of California

Comet Gain has been one of my favorite bands for several years now, yet they never really seem to pop into the consciousness for most people. This new track comes off a 7” that also features the song “Love Without Lies.” Each song will appear on the band’s newest album Broken Record Players, set to hit our shores this coming Tuesday, November 18th.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/10-books-of-california.mp3]

Download: Comet Gains – Books Of California [MP3]

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