Gentleman Jesse & His Men – Leaving Atlanta

Rating: ★★★★½

Jesse Smith didn’t have the best year last year; he was mugged while helping strangers in Atlanta.  You couple that with the title of the album, Leaving Atlanta, and you figure that the record might be a bit of a bummer, giving us songs about one man’s struggle to leave his favorite town.  However, all tragedy aside, Gentleman Jesse seems reinvigorated, leaving us with his best offering to date.

“Eat Me Alive” in its title prepares the listener for what one would assume is a condemnation of Atlanta, and for all intents and purposes it might just be that, but Jesse doesn’t seem willing to give in, singing “it’s as good a place as any to try and survive.”  Whatever his feelings, he’s going to stick it out in Atlanta, clearly having given birth to some of Jesse’s best tracks.  On the whole, the record’s filled with seemingly desperate titles such as “I’m a Mess” or “We Got to Get Out of Here,” but there’s something else taking root in Jesse’s songwriting, helping move him beyond simple power-pop.

One example of such a change is the album’s stand out track “Careful What You Wish For,” which is as close to a ballad as Smith has written to date.  Indeed, there’s jangling guitars aplenty, but the inflection in his vocals gives listeners a glimpse into a more introspective Jesse.  Personally, I can listen to that chorus line over and over again.  There’s also “Take It Easy on Me,” which is another slow moving song, but it’s also one of the tracks that really provides you with a look into the soul of Gentleman Jesse.  At first it looks almost like a love song, and I suppose that it is, but with the personal history public knowledge, it almost seems as if he’s asking for the city of Atlanta to show him a kinder side–the side that made him fall in love with it in the first place.

Leaving Atlanta will keep long-time followers pleased throughout, leaving us with plenty of power-pop goodness, albeit on a more serious note.  You’ll find a sing-a-long foot stomper in “What Did I Do.” It’s the classic sound you’ve come to know from Jesse, making way for the more potent track that follows, “You Give Me Shivers.” While the song blasts off with a jittery burst, it settles into a fast paced tune of glorious power-pop that makes being a fan of the genre so enjoyable.  With these sorts of songs, and a bit of introspection, we’re seeing a nice evolution from Mr. Smith.

Gentleman Jesse has been playing music in various outfits for some time now, but this is by far the best he’s sounded on record.  Leaving Atlanta benefits from a few subtle stylistic changes that change the mood of the listener, providing an escape from the slight monotony you found on his first record.  Regardless of the circumstances surrounding his life, and possible move as suggested in the title, it’s clear that Atlanta’s been great for Jesse, leading him to write his best collection of tunes to date.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/eatmealive.mp3]

Download:Gentleman Jesse – Eat Me Alive [MP3]

Brand New Power Pop from Gentleman Jesse

For the last couple of years I’ve loved the purveyor of pure power-pop, Gentleman Jesse and his group of merry men from Atlanta.  He’s been working hard at his new record, Leaving Atlanta, which comes out on March 13th via Douchemaster Records.  One of the best things about the group, and this track below, is that the band just gives you straight up rock n’ roll.  There’s no frills, there’s no gags, it’s just an honest-to-god rock song. Still, that’s not always good enough for a lot of people, but those people are wrong, as this song’s got me pumping my fists in the air, tapping my feet on the ground, and ready for the rest of the release. Well played gentlemen.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/eatmealive.mp3]

Download:Gentleman Jesse – Eat Me Alive [MP3]

New Power Pop from The Barreracudas

Any of you out there still in love with the Exploding Hearts?  Well, you should be, but if you’re looking for something new to help stoke the old power-pop flame, you need to check out this new jam from The Barreracudas.  The band has a new album, Nocturnal Missions, coming out in stores on October 25th via Douchemaster Records.  It’s a pretty straightforward rocker, but in the best way possible.  I mean, come on, who doesn’t love sing-a-long rockers?  And, if you’re interested in the band, they’ll be touring the States next week, including a November 6th date in Austin at 29th Street Ballroom.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/babybabybaby.mp3]

Download: The Barreracudas – Baby Baby Baby [MP3]

King Louie’s Missing Monuments – Painted White

Rating: ★★★☆☆

King Louie Bankston has been part of some great acts, playing with The Exploding Hearts and also working with the recently deceased Jay Reatard. It’s a pretty strong pedigree, and with Painted White, he’s ready to take the world on, offering up his garage-rock repertoire to the masses.

“The Girl of the Nite” jumps into the record with a pure power-pop guitar line, and a steady vocal approach, making the track a steady hit. But, as soon as you pass this tune, there’s an added gruffness that comes with the vocals on Painted White, clearing the way for a harder edge than many might be expecting.

For instance, “Victory Lap,” has this smoker meets alcoholic wispiness to the vocals, and I mean that to come across in a flattering way, as I enjoy that harder edge.  The song itself blends a bit of soft garage rock with poppier rock elements, but you can’t help other than to associate the music with a more punk rock element, sort of like power-pop’s answer to Against Me.  Still, if you’re looking for infectious hooks associated with steady beats, this record is full of them.

Personally, I’ve found a great bit of allegiance with tunes like “Black Rainbow.”  Bankston’s rough-edged voice provides the perfect contrast to a somewhat rock-a-billy/counrty tinge on the actual songwriting.  In doing so, it takes the song from run-of-the-mill power pop to guitar based jam. Similarly, “Nite Fall” has a barroom chant associated with it; the lyrics are simple enough to sing atop your lungs, and while the twang of the song it pleasant, it’s not overly intrusive, allowing for the occasional gang vocals (not to mention the regular ones) to carry the song.

Those of you looking for a faster paced in your garage-pop will find pleasure in the end of the record with songs like “Broken Hands” and “Hot Class.”  It’s not just the quicker pace of the tracks that will attract you, but the sharper influence of the guitars, using less twang.  This allows for these tracks to give a bit of momentum to the record that may have been missing in the earlier tracks. And it all closes with the semi-ballad “Dance All Nite,” which leaves Painted White with more of a traditional feel, in regards to modern spins on power-pop.

It’s hard not to have King Louie’s past in mind when listening to his current work, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Knowing everything that he’s been through as a musician, you can ignore missteps, or gruff vocals, and appreciate Painted White for what it is: a man having fun writing music.  Perhaps that’s the best thing about music of this sort, as there’s no pretension or scene, it’s just music. It’s good music, but it’s still just music, and it doesn’t always have to be taken so seriously.  So give this a go, and remember, it’s alright to just have fun while listening.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/01-The-Girl-Of-The-Nite.mp3]

Download: King Louie’s Missing Monuments – The Girl Of The Nite [MP3]

New Tunes from Gentleman Jesse and His Men

When I briefly spoke to Jesse of Gentleman Jesse at his show this year over at Beerland, he said he had a slew of 7″ coming our way.  The first came off Douchemaster, while the most recent, You’ve Got the Wrong Man, just came out on Hozac Records.  Of course, it’s all leading up to a new GJ&HM release that’s supposed to come out in 2011.  His tracks are always short and sweet, full of jangling guitars, rocking that simple power-pop straight at you in under 3 minutes.  It’s what made me love punk, and it’s what definitely gets me excited about everything Jesse, and his men, put together. Try out one of the new tracks, and then hit up Hozac so you can get your hands on it.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Gentleman-Jesse-Got-The-Wrong-Man.mp3]

Download: Gentleman Jesse – You’ve Got The Wrong Man [MP3]

New Tunes from Talbot Adams

What do you do when your rock n’ roll career is hampered by the birth of children? Well, in the case of Talbot Adams, you retreat to your home, turn the amps down from 11, and start writing kick ass songs.   His new Jack and Jesse EP, which is possibly inspired by the birth of his twin boys, contains four tracks, all of which are really short, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a lot of spirit and heart!  You can get said business by visiting Douchemaster Records, who consistently put out solid records for us all. Here’s a sample of Talbot’s new work.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/cinematic.mp3]

Download: Talbot Adams – Life is Good When Cinematic [MP3]

New Music from Gentleman Jesse and His Men

Make no mistake, Gentleman Jesse and His Men have been one of my favorite groups over the last few years.  No matter what happens, I always return to their simplistic power-pop, and pogo about my room like a child.  This is probably what we all needed a little bit more of in our life, isn’t it? Well, lucky for you, Jesse and his posse have released a brand new 7′ titled She’s a Trap.  I picked it up at his show not too far back, but you can grab it from his label Douchemaster.  Keep an eye on this chap, as there’s surely a new record right around the corner, but for now, here’s the title track off the recent release.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/trap.mp3]

Download: Gentleman Jesse and His Men – She’s a Trap [MP3]

Gentlemen Jesse and His Men

I cannot stop listening to this album, or this song; Gentlemen Jesse and His Men seem to know where its at. Sure, it’s a little bit of a throwback, but we all loved The Strokes the first time around right?  Blast this song into the afternoon, and if you dig it like I do, then you can find the band’s self-titled debut out now on Douchemaster Records.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/i_dont_wanna_know.mp3]

Download: Gentleman Jesse and His Men – I Dont Wanna Know [MP3]