New Music from Glasvegas

It’s been quite some time since anyone has heard from Glasvegas, one of our favorite bands from 2009.  They’ve got a new album coming out in approximately 70 days according to the band’s site, and it’s titled Euphoric /// Heartbreak \\\ Album.  One change is the band’s line-up, which now includes a new drummer.  That’s definitely going to change their sound a slight bit, probably making it a lot more dense, which you can hear by listening to the first single from the album, “The World is Yours.”  Our hopes are that this record is an engaging and full of bombast as their last effort.  Fingers crossed ladies and gents.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Glasvegas-The-World-Is-Yours.mp3]

Download: Glasvegas – The World Is Yours [MP3]

2009 Top 50 Albums

bestof2009cover_albums

Creating a Top 50 Albums list is never easy.  You have to battle with what you think the world believes, and what you truly believe in your heart, to be solid jams.  We have even more trouble because we have to three writers, all who have different ideas, and we have to make those ideas fit into a neat box.  Well, we got it done, and honestly, our criteria was based on two things: how great we thought the album was, artistically speaking, and how long we listened to it without getting bored.  That’s it. It’s fool proof; you might not like it, but it’s our list, so here it is… Read more

The Mary Onettes – Islands

mary

Rating: ★★★★ ·

A few years back I walked into this band, unintentionally, and they’re melodic popscapes have since been part of my valued collection.  Really, it’s hard not to love a good band from Sweden.  Alas, The Mary Onettes return with their latest album Islands.  It’s still got that sweeping emotional grab to it, though listeners familiar with their older work will be able to see that the band sounds much larger than they ever sounded in the past.

“Puzzles” just steps up the band’s reputation from the get go.  You’ll find that shrouded wall of noise opening the album, but the electronic bounce that brings the song full circle will catch you in its grandiosity. It bares the mark of Ekstrom’s delightful vocals, warm and dark one minute, then pushing for the upper limits of catchy melody.  This is all followed by “Dare,” which was issued on the Dare EP earlier this year.  Two for two from the opening moments.

One of the interesting steps aside for the group comes on “Cry of Love.”  It’s full of negative space, almost a dark void, but filled with Ekstrom’s brooding vocals.  And in the middle of the song, level drumming comes in, almost as if it’s meant to just move the song along until the end.  This is one of the band’s moments where they show restraint, scaling back the melodic attack on your ears, quietly sitting in the middle of the album.

And just like that, the winds of the album have turned, well, they’ve calmed down rather.  Large bursting sonic pop-tarts are being replaced by a steadier hand  in the middle of the album.  “The Disappearance of My Youth” and “God Knows I Had Plans” definitely take a turn away from the bombastic jump-start of Islands. For me, this provides a subtle change in the band’s dynamic, which enables the group to push more variation into their songs.

But, the darkness returns with Cure influenced “Symmetry,” which oddly, is one of the best moments on the record.  You can hear the eighties in the song, almost too much, but then again, the band has always bordered on being labeled as relevant nostalgics. And with this, they’re off again, jumping right into “Century,” a song aided by pounding drums and sky-high vocals.  It’s like Glasvegas-lite, and you know your heart can’t fight that sort of audio attack.

And there you have it, another successful album by The Mary Onettes.  Nothing is daring on this album, but nothing need be.  You’ll find yourself with an album worthy of harmonies and brooding, just like you remember them talking about (or maybe you participated) in the tail-spin of the eighties.  Still, there progression and perfection of pop music labels the group as more than classic revisionists; if anything, they’re definitely relevant, as Islands clearly proves.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/01-Puzzles-1.mp3]

Download: The Mary Onettes – Puzzles [MP3]

The Twilight Sad – Forget the Night Ahead

twilightsad

Rating: ★★★★ ·

From the depths of the Glasgow music scene burst forth another band in 2003.  Since then, The Twilight Sad have slowly been building up a reputation for their melodic rock meets shoegaze, creating beauty surrounded by squalling guitars.  Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters won over many critics, and the world was eager to see if Forget the Night Ahead could keep the band riding the wave of popularity into the hearts and ears of everyone.

As “Reflection of the Television” opens the album up, you can see the screaming feedback you can see that the band still has some of their traditional elements in place.  But, you will also notice that those elements no longer live in the foreground of the song, as they did on previous efforts.  Singer James Graham now has his vocals standing before you for all to see, and while it dramatically changes the aesthetics of the release, you still catch onto the power of music.

“I Became a Prostitute” is the band’s first single off this album, and you can see that it definitely has a presence that can rise above the indie status. Like Glasvegas, it’s a grandiose number full of wave upon wave of guitars accompanied by Graham’s vocals, which just so happen to crash atop the song as well during the chorus.  All in all, it’s a softer approach to writing than the group took in the past, but for most listeners, you will find that it’s equally as effective.

Fortunately for us, this album is longer than their previous affairs, despite the fact that each song reaches well beyond the mark of 3 minutes, with most running near the five minute mark. However, the dynamics of the atmospheric guitar flourishes combined with Graham’s new vocal presence do make some of the songs blend into one another, making it hard to differentiate between the album’s best numbers.  Don’t take this to mean that there aren’t standout tracks in abundance.

“That Birthday Present” is a clever song, with the majority of the tune relishing in the bouncy guitar work.  All this comes to light even though this also happens to be one of the noisier songs on the record.  The Twilight Sad at this point seem sort of like a cross between M83 and Mogwai, except they rely upon a more traditional songwriting structure.  It allows their songs to breathe, instead of wallowing before they fade into obscurity like other bands that implement noise attacks.

“Floorboards Under the Bed” is different than most tunes you’ll find in the groups catalogue.  It seems to wear the influence of tour-mates Frightened Rabbit, but then it fades into a piece of tinkering flare.  Albeit an interesting opening, the song quickly disappears into the back of your mind.  All the build up will lead you into the final three tracks.  Of the final three, “The Neighbours Can’t Breathe” is the stand out, although the closer, “At the Burnside,” has an emotional appeal, with a hint of Glaswegian balladry wrapping it all up.

This album has some really beautiful moments, more than way out the few weak points.  The Twilight Sad are able to build upon their own sound, pushing the shoegazing into the realm of a more pop-centric world, and Forget the Night Ahead wins because of its ability to step into these new realms, encouraging the band to become more than just another stagnant noise-rock act.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/reflection-of-the-television-1.mp3]

Download: The Twilight Sad – Reflection of the Television [MP3]

Glasvegas @ Emo’s (8/3)

glasvegas_419980aThey were named our top act of SXSW ’09, they earned a spot on our top songs of 2008 list, and now Glasvegas is returning to Austin for a sure to be awesome show at Emo’s on Monday night.  Norwegian Ida Maria will be the only opening act on the night which starts around 9pm.  Tickets are on sale for this one now at $15 a piece.  Here’s that song that we just can’t seem to get enough of…

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/02-geraldine.mp3]

Download: Glasvegas – Geraldine [MP3]

The Mary Onettes – Dare Ep

dare

Rating: ★★★½ ·

Sweden’s The Mary Onettes have long been one of those bands that I wished everyone would get into, as they clearly deserve the recognition I’ve built for them in my brain.  Perhaps some will find them drenched in nostalgia, but their self-titled debut showed that they could rise above and beyond limitations of the past. So here they come with their first release in a few years, the Dare EP.

Right away, you sort of have to knock it down a bit based on the fact that there are only three songs on the EP, which is short, even for EP standards.  In the end, you find that this is possibly the only knock on these exceptional tracks; you’ll find nothing else wrong here.

“Dare” is the opening track, and one I threw your way earlier on in the year.  Opening the song you have a swirling guitar sound reminiscent of the opening moments of “Geraldine” by Glasvegas, though the lyrics here will delve further into true meaning than some of the simpler lyrics by the latter.  Also, as with most current bands, the melodious moments are accompanied by layers of atmospheric guitar screeching and pounding drums.  Everything about this song sums up carefully the abilities of The Mary Onettes when they’re at their best.

Following the opener is “Kicks.”  It’s a far cry from most of their earlier work; it’s clearly more subdued in mood and pacing.  This is one of the first songs in their career that I feel is driven by the vocals and lyrics rather than the beat.  Broodingly gently piano accompaniment continues to push this song into traditional ballad format.

“God Knows I Had Plans” closes the Dare EP with a shimmering wall of guitars and harmonies.  A certain warmth exist on this song, which immediately implies a certain craft leaning towards soundscapes.  This is perhaps a fitting association, though they fill the traditional elements with belting harmonies and pounding drums.

It’s a really short effort, but at its best, it portrays a band pushing beyond the boundaries of their glorious first efforts and bounding forwards towards new horizons.  Expect to continue to hear brilliant moments from this band in the near future.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/02-kicks-1.mp3]

Download: The Mary Onettes – Kicks [MP3]

Daytrotter SXSW Sessions

20030654-3737972Damn you Daytrotter!  We promised these people no more posts about Glasvegas and then you go and do this!  What we’re talking about is a new series of live performances on the Daytrotter website featuring bands recorded during SXSW.  The sessions are extra special because each band takes a few of their songs and turns them into acoustic mini-ballads.  Right now the site has sessions posted by our very own Strange Boys and of course ATH favorite Glasvegas.  Check out this cry yourself to sleep at night version of Geraldine (also one of our songs of ’08).  Keep checking back to daytrotter often as more sessions are said to be on the way.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/glasvegas-sxsw-session-geraldine.mp3]

Download: Glasvegas – Geraldine (live/acoustic) [MP3]

SXSW In Pictures

sxsw2009pics_coverWe took loads of photos during SXSW and wanted to share just a few of the better ones with you.  We had some camera trouble during the week so we didn’t get everywhere we wanted to be, but we hope you like the shots we made out with. Our goal was to give you an idea of what SXSW is like with pictures of bands, crowds and people. Pictures of our showcase will be up for your enjoyment tomorrow. Follow the jump to see some random photography from our insane week of SXSW fun.
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SXSW Top 10 Live Acts

sxsw_liveacts_coverIs anyone else just a little bit sad today as we wrap up another amazing SXSW Festival in Austin? I know we here at ATH are as depressed as anyone to head back into the real world today. Gone are the carefree days of roaming around downtown in search of the best music and the best parties with free red bull and vodka. While still nursing our hangovers and mending our bruises, we would like to share with you the best live acts that we caught this past week. You may have heard of most of these bands or they may be completely new to you, but regardless, these bands brought the noise at SXSW. We tried to be fair and pick the acts that either lived up to a certain hype or just rocked our faces to the floor.  Follow the jump for our top 10 live acts of SXSW.

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