Death Vessel – Nothing Is Precious Enough For Us

Rating: ★★★★☆

Sub Pop records claimed that most journalists would find it quite difficult to place Death Vessel, as the band is virtually indescribable.  However, I like a good challenge, and since I like this record, I have vowed to do it justice.

Joel Thibodeau is the man behind the music, and perhaps the reason people find it so difficult to classify his music is his voice.  His voice is what you might call androgynous, standing a thin line between being thrown in one direction or another.  Regardless, it is very soothing whilst matching the music that it carries along.

Musically, it isn’t as difficult to put into place, if you were one to do such things.  I suppose I am one for such things, and in my decision to this I have come to three various pieces of Joel’s musical recipe: Iron and Wine, Deerhoof and Stephin Merritt (solo).

Death Vessel has previously toured with Iron and Wine, and the touches of folk leanings are immediately noticeable, though not necessarily ripped off.  The production has the intimacy of early Sam Beem works, while maintaing its own personality altogether.  It’s not as gentle as Iron and Wine, which is where I think the strength lies in this album.

As far as referencing Deerhoof, that lies in the ability for the songs to operate on various tangents, pulling back together uniquely, and never making you feel as if you really strayed very far from the core of the song.  The first few songs alone go from folk, to a hint of rockabilly and on to vaudeville.  It makes for an interesting listen, yet maintains its own uniqueness.

Now Stephin Merritt references I don’t throw around lightly, but if you’ve ever run across his solo works, and looked at the instrumentation he uses, you will find that Mr. Thibodeau is not far off in his own endeavors.  He calls upon many many friends to gather and flesh out his songs, much as Merritt has always done.  The best thing about this effort is that while several songs contain multiple instruments outside from the usual fashion, they all seem to find enough room in these songs.

My only draw back with this album is my own inability to connect to the lyrics.  They are indeed outside the typical writing style, but at times they resemble Lewis Carroll. Despite my inability to connect, they are still displayed in such a polite manner as to make a listener draw in closely, going deeper into the music as they do so.

When its all said and done, this is a genuinely unique album worthy of multiple l suggest picking it up immediately.  And, if you fall in love with it, as I did, you can check out the band on September 12th at Emos Lounge.  Tickets are available at TicketWeb or you can click this link.

A Place To Bury Strangers @ Emos – 8/17

The darkness of A Place to Bury Strangers will soon descend upon the city lights of Austin, or at least the lights of Emos Alternative Lounge.  These sonic destroyers visit our town Sunday evening, taking a step away from their tour with Nine Inch Nails.  Expect to be wowed, and expect to lose your hearing.  Also of note…Austin’s Boxing Lesson will be one of the opening acts.  So make your way to Emos this Sunday night!

Click here to pick yourself up a set of tickets.

New Tune from The New Year

Check out the new tune “The Company I Can Get” from The New Year’s upcoming self-titled album due out September 9th with Touch and Go Records. The New Year is also slated to play Emo’s Lounge later that month on September 20th. Don’t worry, we’ll remind you once it gets closer.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/thecompanyicanget.mp3]

Download: The New Year – The Company I Can Get [MP3]

JC & Co 7″ Release @ Emos–7/31

Tonight, Jason Chronis from Voxtrot will be playing with his band, releasing his first 7″.  Apparently, the band is his project, with a lot of help from other Austin artists, including members of Bel Aire.  The show starts tonight at Emos at 10 PM, and you can be one of the first to get your hands on the JC & CO 7″.  Seems like a solid choice to me. 

You can hear some of Jason’s music over at his Myspace Page

HEALTH Tonight @ Emos

Tonight Emos will host the danceable band HEALTH on the inside stage, fresh off their set at Pitchfork Music Festival. All signs point to a phenomenal show filled with dance tracks and crazed stage antics. If you’ve got nothing else to do tonight, this is where you should be. Even if you have something to do, this is still where you should go. Doors, as usual, are at 8 PM. See you tonight folks!  Below is a song by the band called “Crime Wave”.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/health-crimewave.mp3]

Download: HEALTH – Crimewave [MP3]

Tilly and the Wall @ Emos 7/17

The time has come to throw on your tap shoes and join the ladies of Tilly and the Wall (there are two men too) at Emos this Thursday night. Their folk-pop tap dancing troupe is sure to brighten your evening, or at least give you an excuse to get out of the house for a little bit. And, you’ll be able to catch up with Austinites Belaire and Ringo Deathstarr for this exciting evening of music. 

You can check out our recent review of their latest album O to see what we think and sample some tunes.

Tilly and the Wall – O

Rating: ★★★★☆

I’ll be honest, on the last release from Tilly and the Wall, I was a little underwhelmed.  Sure, they stepped out of their box for a second to confront the masses, but overall, it just didn’t have the intimate appeal of their debut record.  Now, the opening track, “Tall Tall Grass,” instantly returned me to the days of glory for this band.  Acoustic guitars with an irresistible female vocal.

All of a sudden, “Pot Kettle Black,” just knocks you out of your chair.  It’s a straight rock song, well, as much as a band with tap dancers can rock.  The song appears to be a warning against an unnamed enemy.  Still, this has a certain cleverness to it that makes it enjoyable.

Right after that they whisk me right back into those rhythmic tap-dancing songs.  Clearly, this band is at its best when they stick to their guns.  And this new batch of tunes has a hint of maturity to it, without trying to go too far away from the band’s roots. They continue in this traditional vein for a few more minutes, still mixing it up enough to make this album interesting.

“Chandelier Lake” is one of those songs where they walk that line of trying to push themselves too far.  It’s got a fuzzy guitar swirling around the song, with some decent piano work added to it.  Still, its the kind of song I just don’t really expect from them; actually, I’ll give them credit for that–just not sold yet.

Then they follow that up with what is their closest effort to a dance song with “Dust Me Off.”  The tap dancing gets a bit tedious here, and I almost wish I could trade them in for some synthesized drum beats, or even real ones.  I like it-this is what they do well on this album–they pick up where they left off, and go forward.

The end of the album goes a little too far off for me, until the second to last track, “Blood Flower.”  The vocals here are really being pushed here, which gives it a different feel–once again going further with what I once thought was a really minimal sound.

Another cool tip is that each album comes with special artwork designed by local artists in their town.

Check out the band this Thursday, 7-17, at Emos.  You can pick up your tap shoes and head out to the show; just don’t forget your tickets.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/pot_kettle_black.mp3]

Download: pot_kettle_black.mp3

Lucero, Sleepercar @ Emos 7/16

For those of you who grew up in Texas, or those of you who just like good rock music, you should know the lead singer of Sleepercar; it’s Jim Ward, formerly of At the Drive-In and Sparta.  He’s been a staple in the Texas rock scene for many years, and while his new band is a little more mellow than those previous efforts, it’s still worth seeing.  On top of that, you can see the countryfied post-punk of Lucero.  That sounds like a great bill. 

You can still buy tickets from ticketweb, and here is a Sleepercar song to boot!

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/wasting_my_time.mp3]

Download: wasting_my_time

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