Revisiting the Cosmos

The Cosmos are a now defunct rock n’ roll outfit from San Fran, featuring members that went on to participate in bands like Terry Malts and Dominant Legs, among others. Not too long ago they compiled their songs from the 2001-2004 years, and gave them a proper tape release. Why does that matter today? Well, for one, if you listen, you’ll see they were ahead of their time, as I can hear tons of modern acts in the stuff they were creating. Also, the band just decided to up and let you download that compilation of songs for absolutely free, though I warn you, these are working musicians and they all deserve a few bucks from you. Slow news week, so why not write about shit that rules?

Show Preview: Nurses @ Lambert’s (10/4)

Date 10/4/11
Location Lambert’s
Doors 9:30pm
Tickets $10 @ Frontgate

It really is a crazy night in Austin with tons of shows for you to choose from in a variety of styles.  The show getting down at Lambert’s featuring indie-pop hit makers Nurses should definitely be one of the sets on your radar.  Joining the band to co-headline this show is fellow indie buzz band Dominant Legs.  Rounding things out and opening up the show you’ll get locals Boyfrndz.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/tryingtoreachyou.mp3]

Download: Nurses – Trying to Reach You [MP3]

Dominant Legs – Invitation

Rating: ★★½ · ·

For the past two years, Dominant Legs has slowly been building their brand name, hoping to break into the larger spectrum of the blogosphere.  For the most part the San Francisco duo has succeeded, but the question remaining is whether or not Invitation, the band’s first full length foray would build on that success.  After many listens, perhaps the best thing is that the band hasn’t done anything to dissuade listeners from appreciating their recent rise.

Keeping in mind that the first few songs from an album generally are meant to establish a foundation for the rest of the record, it’s easy to say that Invitation begins just by sort of being “there.”  “Take a Bow” has a ringing guitar dancing throughout, with splashes of electronics bursting in, but for the most part, it’s sort of an unmemorable track. “Where We Trip the Light” attempts to step it up again, using a lighter mood and a bit more playfulness from singer Ryan Lynch.  Sure, the hook’s fairly catchy, generally speaking, but it’s not anything to really shake a stick at.

Perhaps there’s just a bit too much 80s nostalgia coming from Dominant Legs.  “Darling Girls” revolves around sort of kitschy electronics, remarkably similar to something one might find on a Richard Marx movie track, albeit one with a more modern singer.  Surely there’s a market for this sort of throwback association, but I’m not completely buying into it; it seems forced and contrived.  Similarly, “Lady is Sleek and So Petite” uses a very 80s electro-beat to make the song stand up.  For some reason, you can’t help but to recall various scores to movies that you vaguely remember and certainly care nothing about. Sadly, that sometimes is the feeling you get from this entire record.

In comparison to the group’s EP, Young at Love and Life, nothing on Invitation really has that freshness; it all sounds awfully bored and disinterested.  At times, the vocal interplay between Lynch and his bandmate Hannah Hunt is cute and affecting, but Lynch far too often seems like he’s trying to mimic a bit of Dan Boeckner, to no avail.  Even still, those bright moments get nixed by the inclusion of unnecessary saxophone solos.

For all the hype surrounding Dominant Legs, it’s hard to put this listening experience into words.  Song after song, I’m grudgingly reminded of my childhood, forced to listen to FM radio in my sister’s car.  Not a one of these songs is necessarily bad, but for the most part, none of them is really good.  You keep skipping tracks on Invitation, hoping to find one that catches you.  For me, it just never happened. I didn’t hate it, I just couldn’t find something worth coming back to again and again. It’s a large miss in my book, but fans of the band will surely find redeemable qualities in it.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/02-Where-We-Trip-The-Light.mp3]

Download: Dominant Legs – Where We Trip The Light [MP3]

More New Tunes from Dominant Legs

We’ve talked about Dominant Legs for some time, and more music just seems to come our way concerning the outfit.  They’ll be offering up their debut, Invitation, on September 27th via Lefse Records.  On this track, you can definitely feel the airy quality in the songwriting, giving a sense of lightness to the group’s sound.  That little bit of pop you need can easily be found as the song moves in and out, with Ryan Lynch’s vocals holding your attention as steady rhythm beats perfectly in sync with the tracks mood. This record has been playing a lot in my house, and soon you’ll find it’s a huge part of your daily rotation too.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/02-Where-We-Trip-The-Light.mp3]

Download: Dominant Legs – Where We Trip The Light [MP3]

Dominant Legs – Young at Love and Life EP

Rating: ★★★½ ·

Ryan Lynch has been on our radar for quite some time now, as well as the radar of every major publication around these parts.  It’s not surprise that his first offering to the public as Dominant Legs gives us a slight peek inside his poetic pop ethos, but mind you, its just a peek; you won’t see anything more than the Young at Love and Life EP, as of now.

Title track “Young at Love and Life” definitely has a bit of a groove to it, right from the get go.  You get an electric jangle guitar backed up by some bleeping keyboard, just before Lynch kicks in with his vocals.  Hannah Hunt is a great counterpoint to Lynch’s heavier vocal traits, bringing back a circle of light heartedness that aligns itself with the upbeat movement of this track.

“Clawing Out at the Walls” has a bit more of a kitchen sink effect to it, using tribal rhythms along with various assortments of music in the background.  Ryan sounds a lot like Shearwater in this track, having a bit of a hiccup to his voice.  Similarly, the  music seems to have a sprawling quality, as if it sort of trails in and out with a wonderful melody.  At the two minute mark, he drops the vocals down an octave, and alters his vocal delivery; it suits this song perfectly, possibly more than the main vocal recording.

When you get to “About My Girls” you’ll find that Dominant Legs are back into the groove of everything, giving the listener a bit more of a beat to swing along with for the song’s duration.  There is a solid hook underlying this track, but it could probably use a bit  more distance from the opening track, as they seem to operate in territory far too close in proximity. As a stand alone track, however, this would surely win many over.

Closing out the short Young at Love and Life EP is “Run Like Hell for Leather.”  As the song opens, there’s a lot of open space, setting the perfect scene of one walking along a trail covered in foliage.  It’s got a bit more of a folk feel, which really allows for Lynch’s creativity and voice to go places he didn’t seem capable of going, at least when you use the more typical beat-laden tracks for comparison.  But, as you draw near the end of the song, you’re probably hooked.  You’ve been pulled closely by these four tracks, and sucked into the hype with the rest of us.  Surely this will be an adventure when the future of Dominant Legs sets its sights on a full length, but until then….

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/Dominant-Legs-Clawing-Out-At-The-Walls.mp3]

Download: Dominant Legs – Clawing Out At The Walls [MP3]

New Tunes from Dominant Legs

dominantlegsWe first caught wind of Dominant Legs by way of Stereogum a few weeks back.  Any allusion to Belle and Sebastian will catch my eye! Still, this new tune isn’t quite the twee pop one expected, but it’s more summery, as if there is a lighter air to the crafty writing here. You decide.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/Dominant-Legs-Clawing-Out-At-The-Walls.mp3]

Download: Dominant Legs – Clawing Out At The Walls [MP3]