The last time I wrote about Devon Williams was a few weeks back, but I feel like I short-handed the songwriter, as I threw his new track, “Flowers” into a post about a great day for Slumberland Records. Don’t get me wrong, that was a great day of news for the rad label, but it didn’t effectively convey to you how special the upcoming album from Devon will be. I think if you listen to this song, you’ll notice the care within the songwriting, with that bright guitar making way for Williams’ cool vocal delivery. But, such things should come as no surprise for followers; it’s just another sign that Gilding the Lily is going to be something special (June 3rd).
I’ll make no secret of my appreciation for Slumberland Records. Be it their back catalog, their re-issues, or the new acts they’re putting act, they always seem to be in line with my own tastes. Today they had a huge day, announcement-wise, putting up two great new songs by Devon Williams and Gold-Bears, both artists we’ve fawned over here. The first track below comes from Devon’s new album, Gilding the Lily (June 3rd); it’s a mellow pop tune with the melodic touches we’ve come to expect from him. The second is an up-beat rocker from Gold-Bears new record, Dalliance (June 3rd), which might just be one of the best songs I’ve heard this year. What a great way to wrap up the week in music with these two great songs.
Devon Williams has gone seemingly unnoticed, or he’s lived just below the lines of indie success. Now, however, he seems poised for a breakthrough; Euphoria just might be that perfect blend between bedroom sensitivity and blissful pop. If not, then perhaps things weren’t meant to be, but you can tell that Williams has perfect control over his craft with his latest release for Slumberland Records.
As if the cover art wasn’t enough, “Revelations” willingly sets the mood, bringing about the central theme of euphoria, musically speaking. There’s a cleverness to the song’s construction, that’s both playful and, dare I say, pretty. “Your Sympathy” continues along the note, but the guitar sounds definitely will find a home with fans of the bedroom-pop of today. That guitar will ring throughout the song, but it’s the “ooohs” of Devon Williams, not to mention solid drumming that move it beyond the recordings of your average boy and his four-track.
While “Dreaming” furthers that bedroom pastiche, “Sufferer” takes it even further. There’s fantastical elements all throughout, with various effects on the guitar crafting the soundtrack one would find in a land such as that on the cover. It’s bright, yet there are dark hues and hidden patches only close listeners might fine. For the most part, Euphoria really sticks in this musical vein, not straying too far off. That is until you get to “Right Direction.”
In this tune, you’ll find an entirely different guitar sound, one that’s much warmer in tones, rather than slightly angular. It’s sort of the middle ground between Euphoria and his Williams’ last record, Carefree. There’s a more moving pace, but there’s definitely that affectation for sweeping sounds. It comes at the perfect time, breaking up the possibility of monotony that stems from too many like-minded tracks. Which is precisely what this track seems to do, as the rest of the album is more of a mix of sounds and styles, making it the more exciting half of the album.
“How Is There Always Room” seems intent upon reliving various soundtrack moments from 80s movies, yet Williams has a different vocal approach, allowing the song to evolve beyond cliche. “Tired of Mulling” is more of a casual ballad, accompanied by lush string arrangements. It’s a track that stands out on its own, in so far as it doesn’t sound remarkably like anything here, though it easily fits into the collection. And as Euphoria draws to a close, everything seems to have fit, falling nicely into the theme defined in the very title of the album.
Devon Williams didn’t always sound like this, but he always possessed the talent and the songwriting to make such huge leaps and bounds. It’s an album that refines the bedroom-pop of today, adding forceful percussion, lush arrangements and, honestly, solid production. While at times it may blend together too nicely, it’s an excellent effort, making Euphoria worthy of accolades from this writer, and surely many more.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Your-Sympathy.mp3]
Download: Devon Williams – Your Sympathy [MP3]
I’ve championed Devon Williams, mostly in private, since the release of his last full length, Carefree, so I’ve been waiting for some time to hear what his new tunes were going to sound like that. News came across today that Williams will be releasing a new 7″ next week via Slumberland Records, who should also be releasing a full LP from the man later down the line. This track definitely exhibits the songwriting I’ve come to love from Devon, craftily crooning over orchestrated sounds and harmonious guitar sounds. There’s a lot of promise here, so hopefully, more music is soon to come our way.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Your-Sympathy.mp3]
Download: Devon Williams – Your Sympathy [MP3]
We have been all about the free music this week so why stop now? Ba Da Bing Records has an entire sampler that you can download for free over on the emusic website. The sampler features such artists as Colossal Yes, Devon Williams, Beirut and a whole slew of other fine acts. Below is standout track “Elephant Gun” from Beirut.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/various_artists__ba_da_bing_ba_da_bing_records_super_fantastic_oh_boy_fun_for_free_sampler_1_elephant_gun__beirut.mp3]
Download: Beirut – Elephant Gun [MP3]
Asthmatic Kitty darlings Cryptacize will be bringing their live act to The Mohawk on Saturday. Tickets are on sale right now for the low low price of $6 on the Mohawk’s website. The band will be playing with the great Devon Williams who is always worth checking out. You can read more about Cryptacize on their website or have a listen to “No Coins” off the new album Dig That Treasure:[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/no_coins.mp3]
On the sixth track of Crytpacize‘s debut album they sing “every note is an unfinished song,” and clearly they take this to heart, but far too much for my liking. This song comes off just as the lyrics, leaving the feeling that they have collected a plethora of unfinished songs.
From the get go, I really was interested in this album. Asthmatic Kitty puts out a lot of really good records, and recently, Sufjan Stevens put out his support for the band. A lot of promise. Then you add the perfectly beautiful vocals of singer Nedell Torrisi, and, well, the promise of this album continued.
That was about as far as the promise got for me, although I have to admit, that something curious inside me lingers to keep listening to this album–that I can’t explain. Maybe I have to be in the middle of a different season, rather than this Texas heat.
Where did the promise go? Probably the same place as the percussion on the majority of these songs! It evaporated! I mean even the Five Civilized Tribes used predominantly percussive instruments. This album lacks them, severely, which makes it hard for the album to progress in any direction, instead it leaves it to meander through twelve uneven tracks.
Sadder still is that these guys have the ability to write some really special moments, such as in the song “Heaven is Human,” where I begged the guitar to break loose throughout the song, but they held it back. They showed you a guitar, a few solid lines, and then they took them away just as quickly. This band does have a lot of potential, it is just not there yet.
Then again, Sufjan Stevens likes them, so maybe I’ve got it all wrong. Perhaps I just don’t understand this genre of music, where musicianship takes precedent over songcraft–you can have the best musicians in the world, creative even, but if you can’t write a song, it doesn’t mean a thing.
I think you should go and see for yourself. The band plays at the Mohawk this Saturday with Devon Williams. You can find yourself some tickets at this convenient Interweb sales-site.