Free Sampler From Spin

Music magazine Spin has a brand spanking new online sampler full of some solid tunes that you can download and take with you on itunes.  The compilation features some of the buzz indie bands right now like Henry Clay People, Jaill, Villagers, Menomena, and a few more.  You’ll recognize most of the 15 songs from our website, but this will allow you to get them all in one place.  Below we’ve got new(ish) song from Department of Eagles called “Brightest Minds”.  That one appears on a new B-Side/early recording LP from the group that just hit stores last week on the American Dust label.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/depteaglesbrightestminds.mp3]

Download: Department of Eagles – Brightest Minds [MP3]

Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest

bearsRating: ★★★★★

At this point in the year, it seems pretty redundant to discuss this album, especially considering all the accolades it has received during the time in which the album leaked onto the Internet.  But, be that as it may, one really has to take a look at this album; you would be doing yourself an injustice to ignore Grizzly Bear at this point, and your record collection would be worse off for not adding Veckatimest to your catalog.

Even on the first track, it is hard to find negative commentary on the album, no matter how you wish to label this band and their hype.  “Southern Point” has various elements to the entirety of the song, be it ornate guitar picking or the back and forth piano work.  You’ll come to find that the various layers that were present during Yellow House have now been polished, to the benefit of every minute of the album.

Then comes the first single, “Two Weeks.” You could count this song as one of the best songs of the year, based merely upon the multiple layer harmonies that go throughout, but that probably wouldn’t do the song any justice.  Each layer of sound just seems to compile more melody as the song inches along like a caterpillar; the song builds with “ooh oooh oooh oohs” until the end, and when it’s complete, you feel a little bit worn out.

You find yourself two songs into the album, which most will prematurely title as best of the year.  From this point on, you cannot go back into the past; you cannot look back into the music of this year, for nothing will seem as complete as this album. Songwriter Daniel Rossen, who also fronts Department of Eagles, definitely has left his mark on this album, or at least you can see his maturity throughout the evolution of this album. What once seemed like quiet bedroom songs now have blossomed into full compositions, each worthy of standing on their own.

“Dory” seems like a simplistic enough song, but the magic in the vocal harmonies carry it above your average tune, into a new level of greatness few bands have yet to achieve.  “Ready, Able” has this brooding rhythm beneath the surface of the song, but with the intricate additions to the song, the tension is released, and the song courses on into one of the albums more beautiful moments.  “About Face” is the perfect song, with subdued percussion backing the song; the band has paid attention to the most minute detail, which, of course, makes each song stronger than the one before it.

You can hide behind the hype, declaring that the band is just riding the waves of popularity by the Internet popularity they’ve garnered, but listening to Veckatimest, you will truly see that Grizzly Bear deserves every kind word that was written about them.  Very few people will find that there is anything negative to say, and in that statement, you have the best album of the year.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/08-about-face.mp3]

Download: Grizzly Bear – About Face [MP3]

Top 40 Songs Of The Year

So when we thought making an albums of the year post was hard, this one proved to be even harder.  How do you take literally thousands of songs and narrow it down to the best 40 of the year?  Not too sure how to answer that question, but we tried.  Each of these songs scream 2008 in our ears.  As evident by this list, the year in music was quite a good one and we had some tough choices to make.  We’ve got some of the songs streaming for you or links to the song on youtube.  Follow the jump to see if your favorite tune of the year made the list.

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Free 4AD Digital Sampler

Uk record label, 4AD, are yet another record label getting in on the year end digital sampler fun.  The label is full of great acts like Mountain Goats, Department of Eagles, TV on the Radio and a whole lot more, so you’re sure to enjoy this one.  Head to the 4AD website to download the 12 song sampler now.  Here’s one of our favorites from Department of Eagles called “No One Does it Like You”.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/noonedoesit.mp3]

Download: Department of Eagles – No One Does it Like You [MP3]

Albums Of The Year: 15-1

A few days ago, we gave you part one of our albums of the year list.  Today we bring you the best of the best from a wide range of artists who brought the noise this year.  We’ve fought it out amongst our ATH writers for weeks and these are the albums that we all loved.  These 15 albums went into thunderdome and emerged victorious.  Follow the jump to see if your favorite band made the Top 15 of 2008.

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Department of Eagles – In Ear Park

Rating: ★★★★½

Daniel Rossen probably receives the majority of his acclaim from his participation in Grizzly Bear, but as more people catch on to his side-project, Department of Eagles, that won’t last long. The band’s second album, In Ear Park, has enough bedroom beauty to take the acclaim to an all new level.

Much like his other band, Department of Eagles specialize in ethereal pop gems, catering to the changing of fall into winter. Every inch of every song seems so carefully crafted that one would find it difficult to recreate the moments that exist on this album, no matter how great an ear they had.

The first stand out track, “No One Does It Like You,” begins with an extra step, but quickly goes into subdued harmonizing vocals, reminiscent of multiple harmony bands such as Fleet Foxes. Layer upon layer is piled atop the song until the track completely transforms into perfection.

“Teenagers” is driven to fruition by delicately dark piano work, and the hollowness in the vocals seem to echo from the past, that is until the hand-claps come into play, carrying the song further, only to return to the lone piano work you hear at the beginning.

Amidst all those perfect moments come some dense atmospheric sounds, but they don’t necessarily detract from the album. In the strangest of ways it provides a haunting element to the album, deepening the emotional connection  between the band and the listener. Each song progresses as they should, but each listen offers more and more, as layers reveal themselves to the listener in an unusually gratifying listening experience.

The vocals differ from those of Grizzly Bear due to the more personal touch Rossen has placed on this album, which is said to be due to the unfortunate passing of his father. As the album touches on the personal emotions of their own world, the listener, too, can dive into the subconscious where our own innermost desires and fears may rest. See “Floating on the Lehigh” or “Classical Records.”

Their is a quality to this record that is difficult to place. At times the songs are haunting, ultimately revealing themselves as gems. During other moments it’s touching, as harmonies are shared between listener and band. In the end, you might find that the overall beauty in this record changes depending upon what your ears and mind bring to the table; you might find that it surpasses pieces for which Rossen has already achieved great success. No other album is more fitting to the onset of winter.