Man, I just cannot wait until this new Gambles drops, and I think you’ll all be equally impressed, especially considering the people he has working with him (J. Tillman, D. Vanderveld, etc). This track opens up simply enough, mostly with vocals and guitar; there are little bits of strings and keys tinkering away too. Just before the 2 minute mark, the song swells, turning the folk track into a pop opus that’s some of the best work he’s done. Not sure when Let Us Be drops officially, but you can rest assured it’s going give the man the credit he’s due.
Since I stumbled upon Gambles way back when, I’ve always been drawn to his songs. Sometimes they’re pretty stark, much like this new tune he just put up; it only moves beyond vocals and light guitar strums at the 2 minute mark. When you hit that mark, the production swirls filling in the space with choral vocals and added layers that build the song beyond a mere folk ballad. Thereare hints of a new release, as his work is always prolific and ever-changing (he claims these are love songs). A certain Joshua Tillman behind the production board could hint at a certified hit coming our way very soon.
I think my favorite thing is when an artist slowly releases music, keeps it quiet, and just lets the song make its way straight into the world. That’s what I love about Gambles, though he’s gotten some acclaim, I think his best work is that where it’s just carefully made its way into my hands through my own discovery (and Internet trolling). On this new tune, he sings just above a whisper whilst carefully picking at his guitar; it’s his work at his most intimate, which is always a huge success in my ears. I love the emphatic touch at the end; his voice raised just a touch louder…a beautiful way to wrap up the song.
The last time we heard from Gambles he has released his album, Trust, which we fawned over. Checking in on him the other day, I found that he has quietly been building new songs for us all, though they’re different in sound, showing his growth as a songwriter. His first effort had him working with the power of his voice over a strummed guitar, for the most part. Now, he seems to have been experimenting, adding extra layers, percussion, etc; it’s an interesting progression, yet just as striking as his earlier work. Both tunes are said to come out on a new record, which we’ll keep you posted on.
I was beginning to think that something had gone wrong for Matthew Siskin, as I hadn’t heard a new tune from the prolific songwriter, who operates as Gambles, in several months. But, today, a new song came our way, showing a different side of Siskin. This song is focused around more of a processed beat, rather than his traditional guitar work. It’s a new approach, but his voice and lyrics are as strong as they’ve ever been…one of the many reasons I love his work. I appreciate a fresh approach, but I’ll reserve final judgment until we hear I Can’t Keep Still When It Comes to You, his new album that hits on April 28th.
Making our year-end list of Top Albums is never something we take lightly. We realize that it’s rather arbitrary in the grand scheme of things, but we realize that our role is to at least toss out our opinion, however meaningless it may be. In the long run, we had to take the tastes of several people, and whittle it into a list of 50 great albums that we think are vital to your listening experience. We know it’s a matter of personal tastes, but the records below are reflective of our tastes and our site, so don’t get mad, they’re just opinions. But, feel free to tell us where we went wrong, or what we might have missed. If you click on the album titles, you can also read our full reviews of each album, save the ones that we didn’t get to in time. Sorry we don’t like Kanye.
50 – Wampire – Curiosity
49 – Dot Dash – Half Remembered Dream
48 – Mantles – Long Enough to Leave
47 – The Appleseed Cast – Illumination Ritual
46 – Bad Sports – Bras
45 – Part Time – PDA
44 – Dick Diver – Calendar Days
43 – Math and Physics Club – Our Hearts Beat Loud
42 – Veronica Falls – Waiting for Something to Happen
41 – Eat Skull – III
40 – The Lonely Wild – The Sun as It Comes
39 – The Love Language – Ruby Red
38 – Gun Outfit – Hard Coming Down
37 – Cate Le Bon – Mug Museum
36 – Daughn Gibson – Me Moan
35 – Andre Obin – The Arsonist
34 – Arp – More
33 – Gap Dream – Shine Your Light
32 – The Black Watch – The End of When
31 – Ty Segall – Sleeper
30 – The Stevens – A History of Hygeine
29 – Of Montreal – Lousy with Sylvianbriar
28 – Mirror Travel – Mexico
27 – Local Natives – Hummingbird
26 – Girls Names – The New Life
25 – GRMLN – Empire
24 – Small Black – Limits of Desire
23 – Audacity – Butter Knife
22 – Mikal Cronin – MCII
21 – Chelsea Wolfe – Pain is Beauty
20 – Foals – Holy Fire
19 – Radical Face – Family Tree: The Branches
18 – Youth Lagoon – Wondrous Bughouse
17 – Terry Malts – Nobody Realizes This is Nowhere
16 – Shout Out Louds – Optica
15 – Kurt Vile – Waking on a Pretty Daze
14 – Braids – Flourish//Perish
13 – Crystal Antlers – Nothing is Real
12 – Typhoon – White Lighter
11 – Ski Lodge – Big Heart
Admittedly, this album makes nods to folk troubadours of Christmas’ past, but what grabbed me from the moment I heard this record was the sincerity in what’s being created. In leaving us with a stripped down listen of folk tunes and incredible poetry, we’re asked to look into the history of American songwriting tradition; it’s been awhile since it was executed so well.
9 – The Growlers – Hung at Heart
I’d put this album on any list for one song alone, “Someday.” But, it just so happens that the rest of the album maintains the sensation that’s established on the opening track. I’ve heard it referenced as a surf-psych opus, but what’s been assured in my mine is what an incredible listen we’re all be treating to when we put Hung at Heart on our record players.
Hether Fortune seems to scare people. Her work is in your face, never making an excuse for who she is or what she believes. That attitude carries on into her music, allowing listeners to experience a musical world void of any pretense. The songs on this album are angular, dark and abrasive; the vocals have Hether dominating the scene of modern lady rock warriors. If you don’t dig it, she doesn’t care, but I do because this record rules.
While many of the songs on this effort leaked out before under various EPs, the whole masterpiece exists in the way it was tied together as a complete work. It’s operatic and grand at every corner, but it’s also undeniably a pop record. The emphasis might revolve around the more artful spectrum of pop music, but this is an album you can play for everyone in your family, and they’ll all find themselves swept up in the wonderment of Privilege.
What else really needs to be said about The National. They consistently make great albums that are lauded then often overlooked, but we didn’t want to do that to one of our favorite acts. I mean, if they played 8 shows in 8 days, we’d be at every one, and the DJ set after party. Their accolades and recognition are warranted, and it’s especially clear on this, their latest release.
When listening to Pass the Ringo, I thought of one thing: this is the sort of record that makes a small label, like Loglady Records, a household name. It’s spun around garage rock and psych rock structures, whilst still maintaining an accessibility that few people working in that genre achieve. Some albums can play in the background of your house, and might be happy to do so, but Legs created something that made me stop and listen at every turn; I’m thankful for that.
Someone For You came our way in January. On my record player, it hasn’t left since. This is one of the most rewarding power-pop records I’ve gotten my hands on, and trust me, I’ve gotten my hands on a lot of great records. Each song is filled with innate hooks and garage rock grit, encouraging you to tap your toes for the entirety of the record. You’d think after a full year our interest would have waned, but with time we’ve only grown to appreciate the record even more.
At the moment, there’s not too many people releasing music that’s the quality of Mathew Cothran and Coma Cinema. There are elements of the bizarre, similar to the work of early Elf Power, yet there’s this intimacy that artists like Eliott Smith were able to create with their listeners. You wrap that up and put it in a package of pop sensibility, and you have an album that can’t be ignored.
In today’s musical climate, we buy into the fact that artists have to be doing something strange, or something that’s vastly different from their peers. But, in the grand scheme of things, we often forget what it’s like to take enjoyment out of the music. This album was one of the many reminders that music, when it’s good, can be quite special. Every song here is a single, and worth your time; it’s the best thing Laz has done, and I feel like he’s just really getting started.
This album is about Devon Welsh. From the first instant I heard his voice, it took hold of me. Throughout the year, Impersonator, consistently played on my radio. His voice was mesmerizing, captivating audiences on several occasions in Austin, convincing us to be as quiet as a mouse, so as to hear every note. The unique quality of the album will reward listeners for years to follow. It made us believe in great music again.
Admittedly, I’m a music consumer on a massive scale. It means that I get to enjoy tons of great bands, but on the downside, it takes a lot to emotionally move me. In 2013, I’ve had that happen once with Majical Cloudz; it’s happening again as I spend repeated listens to the debut album from Gambles, Trust.
From the instant that “Angel” came through my speakers, the sincerity in the work of Matthew Siskin, aka Gambles, was extremely clear to me. There’s a slight echo in the way his vocals have been recorded, as if your best friend had you recorded his rooftop ramblings. However, these aren’t ramblings; these are well penned lyrics of life, love and all the things in between. I guess it’s no surprise that the following track is titled “Rooftops,” though the strumming of acoustic guitar on this track is much more intimate and softer than the opening tune. An entire verse seems to be sung via whistling, aligning Siskin with troubadours of our hearts from days of old; it’s striking how such a simple touch can seem so personal.
The incredibly moving moments from Trust continue into the third track with “So I Cry Out.” It was this song that really made me fall in love with what’s being created within the confines of this album. As that music consumer, some moments of creation have become predictable to me. So much so that I can typically figure out where a lyric or note will start and end. This is not so here, as Matthew holds on to notes for his own sake, often elongating syllables for the emotional effect; this slight personal affectation has allowed him to stand out among many of his peers, if not all of them.
But don’t think that this debut album by Gambles is short on solid listening after the powerful opening tracks. It’d be easy to write and fawn over everything on the record, but I’ve taken to loving “Penny for a Grave” the last few days. The humming is a nice alternative to the traditional whistle, but the lyrical substance is really great. My personal favorite line from the track: “is it the smell of your old bones/calling me home again.” Even more personal to me is the fact that you can’t simply decipher the lyrics, they’re shrouded in metaphors that I dare not attempt to uncover. But, that’s what makes it personal, that’s what makes it special; I can ascribe my own meaning to these tracks. “265” is another such tune that I’ve taken a liking to, as well. There’s a rise and fall to the song, in both the vocals and the musical accompaniment. Siskin does well too with his guitar playing, alternating between soft strum and heavy-handed stroke, and always with purpose.
It’s difficult to see past the bullshit sometimes, and even more difficult when you’re only working with your guitar and voice. But, somehow, somewhere, Matthew Siskin has created a gift for listeners. You can rush to rip off the wrapping or you can choose to go slow, but one thing can be assured: you’ll never ever regret the day you picked up the first full-length from Gambles. May Trust be our first introduction to a long and remarkably affecting career.
Matthew Siskin, and his musical project known as Gambles, has been on our minds over the last year with the release of his stellar EP Far From Your Mind. With that EP already under his belt, Siskin is returning later this year with a highly anticipated full length LP entitled Trust. To get us even more amped up for that release, new song “So I Cry Out” has been made available as a new single. My description as a tearjerker will immediately become apparent after you give the track a few spins. Sheer Beauty.
New album Trust will be out October 1st via GMBLS.
For the last year or so, the name of Matthew Siskin, and his Gambles project, has been on many a writer’s lips, or pens, or keyboards. After spending several days holed up with his short Far From Your Arms EP, it’s clear to me that all his accolades and interest are warranted. His EP is intimately moving, touching every corner of my oft darkened soul, awakening the spirit and faith in music/art once again.
“Trust” begins with a slow strumming, with Siskin’s voice wavering just atop. At points, he seems to struggle, though not in a manner that turns people away. Rather, I’ve been drawn closer into his sound, listening for every slight crack or every tarnished note, all reverberating a purity in songwriting that I’ve missed a lot lately. While the pacing of the strumming provides a sensation of solemnity, he picks things up slightly moving forward.
His strumming of his acoustic takes a heavier-handed turn on “Safe Side,” though he alternates between that punchier strumming technique to quieted careful note picking. But, when it’s loud, the sound is emphatic, yet his vocals turn intimate when he brings things to a hush. He’s speaking to someone, or a character he knows, switching from a personal perspective to more of an omniscient thinker. The closing whistle is an added touch of beauty.
Skipping ahead to the EP’s title track you’ll find what I consider one of the best two songs written this year. “Far From Your Arms” is the perfect bit of modern folk music, both in its sonic approach and its emotional pull. As Matthew’s voice rises, ever so slightly, one can picture himself listening carefully in a smoke-filled pint-size room, holding your breath as every note is played. Perhaps the song’s about a journey home, or the distance that divides us all, but regardless, it encapsulates everything I’ve ever dreamed of hearing. I imagine this song will play in my head and heart for some time.
What amazes me about listening to Far From Your Arms is how much I feel the impact and weight of the songs within. Admittedly, I consume a lot of music, and it takes a lot for something to really really hit home. But, in five short songs, Gambles has achieved that feat, with both the poetry in his lyrical content and the emotional pull of every chord. This is a must listen for anyone.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/04-Far-From-Your-Arms.mp3]