Top 50 Albums of 2014

TOP 50 ALB 14These lists are everywhere, so you’ll be excused if you just roll your eyes and skip on. But, that being said, we always seem to be way off the mark when it comes to our Top 50 Albums of the Year.  Sure, we have some of the sure fire hits on this list like Angel Olsen and Sharon Van Etten, but don’t even read on if you’re look ing to see where Run the Jewels made it…they’re not there. Sorry not sorry.  So, if you’re into arbitrary lists by people who like to push their own agenda, then this list is for you! Read more

Thus Far….Albums of 2014.5

docIt’s still rather early in the year to start talking about best records of the year and what not, but as we’re midway through 2014, every one is doing it…so why not join in the fun.  But, with this in mind, remember that these lists are arbitrary, and if anything, pretty meaningless in the long run; you never know if your thoughts will change in six months…and really, they’re just like, our opinions man.  We’ll have two sections…one for national albums and another section of Austin albums released up to this point in 2014.   Read more

Gold Bears – Dalliance

dalliance

Rating: ★★★★ ·

When I first received Dalliance in the mail I had to go back and listen to the debut, Are You Falling in Love.  It reminded me of just how great the songwriting was, though I felt the first LP was a bit uneven in spots.  On the return for Gold Bears, this is not the case; the songs here are successful in every single way, with not a single throw away of the eleven tracks present.

Dalliance opens where Are You Falling in Love left off, starting things with “Yeah Tonight,” but this round you’ve got an immediate winner.  The idea has been shortened, pounding away from the instant you press play.  It doesn’t hurt that singer Jeremy Underwood is balanced out here by Emma Kupa (formerly of Standard Fare), as her presence provides a nice sugary dosage to a track noisily rocks from the get-go.  Screeching guitars await around the bend with “Chest.” It’s reminiscent of The Thermals at their best, offering up punk intensity with hints of pop sensibility that make the song an undeniable hit; you’ll want to blast this with the windows down.

But, while this new album from Gold Bears kicks you in the face, musically speaking, you’ve got to have a proper amount of balance; they accomplish that perfectly with “I Hope They’re Right.”  It’s a ballad with a distorted guitar rocketing through the background, while a female vocal harmonizes perfectly with Underwood.  It’s a nice bit of respite, allowing listeners to catch their breath for a short instant.  Surely the gentle quality of this tune will illustrate just how far the songwriting has come since the band’s inception.  It’s similar in approach to “Hey, Sophie,” at least in so far as both songs are meant, in my eyes, as breathers.  They introduce soft moments, though “Hey, Sophie” uses more of a ringing circular guitar approach as opposed to a stretched out ballad with guitar accents.  These songs tie the record together; they still hold to thematic points, but they give you a different approach from which to view the band.

Still, Dalliance succeeds the most when it’s loudest, and no song illustrates that point more so than “For You.”  As soon as the words “you’re a mistake” are uttered, the song comes crashing in.  Drums pound and guitars course through your ears with ferocity, though I think there’s a definite infectious quality in the delivery of the vocal.  At the point of writing, it’s probably one of my favorite tracks of the last few months.  I especially appreciate how the song’s energy fades away into the back of the track; it’s a touch that I wasn’t expecting, but that caps off the tune in way that’s indescribable.

Gold Bears had the tunes long ago, but I feel that Dalliance is the record where it all seems so right.  There’s a vitality in the album that provides a connection with the audience; it refuses to fade.  You can turn it up loud when you need to rock out, or you can have it as the perfect  background to a backyard gathering, but regardless, you’ll feel this record crawl beneath your skin, inserting itself, permanently, into your consciousness.

Another New Track from Gold-Bears

goldWhen I heard about the brand new album from Gold-Bears, the news about this track was making waves in small little circles of the indiepop community, so I’ve been anxiously awaiting this track.  Why? You ask.  Well, for one, I think the band’s new album is really going to be something special, but also because this tune features my indiepop crush of the last few years, Emma Kupa, currently of Mammoth Penguins (formerly of Standard Fare).  It’s not as if the group needs any extra help adding to this bouncy number, but the dynamic she brings to the table does bring an add punch that I’m fond of.  The group will release Dalliance on June 3rd via Slumberland.

Slumberland Records Has a Big Day

slumerI’ll make no secret of my appreciation for Slumberland Records.  Be it their back catalog, their re-issues, or the new acts they’re putting act, they always seem to be in line with my own tastes.  Today they had a huge day, announcement-wise, putting up two great new songs by Devon Williams and Gold-Bears, both artists we’ve fawned over here. The first track below comes from Devon’s new album, Gilding the Lily (June 3rd); it’s a mellow pop tune with the melodic touches we’ve come to expect from him.  The second is an up-beat rocker from Gold-Bears new record, Dalliance (June 3rd), which might just be one of the best songs I’ve heard this year.  What a great way to wrap up the week in music with these two great songs.

Gold-Bears – Are You Falling in Love

Rating: ★★★½ ·

With summer break looming over us all, it’s the perfect time for a twee-punk band like Gold-Bears to make their debut. As this is their first ever album released, this band is brand new to the music scene and looking to win a spot in your heart as well as your stereo. Surely you have room left for some jangly guitar and hazy percussion in there?

From the very first song, you can hear the clear alternative punk soundings of Gold-Bears. “Record Store” begins with flat sounding drums along with gentle acoustic guitar, and then some raging, yet even-toned, electric guitar streams in. Then the song picks up, and you have the carefully placed cymbal crashes along with breaks in the raging melody to that of the delightfully soft beginning. Meanwhile, the suiting vocals blend together with the instrumental aspects of the jam. After this lovely opening tune is finished, the band moves to “All Those Years.” On this one, some gang vocals continue the energy and are instantly reminiscent to bands like Ted Leo and Pharmacists. They’ve got that crash pop beat mixed together with the percussion of a more punk style band, which is noticeable on the third song.

After a pretty positive and upbeat start for Gold-Bears, they slow things down as they approach the middle of the album. The title track certainly stands apart from the rest of the songs in this body of music, as it is filled with foggy feedback and jingling tambourine that is sure to serve as an appropriate break from the quickness of the fast paced start. It’s the perfect placement of such a song that slows the listener back down for a breather, if only so they can jump back in at double time on the next number, “East Station Attendant.” This one is the direct opposite of its predecessor, fast, short and rocking.

Gold-Bears continue this impressive debut with more standouts like single “Tally,” that relies on gang vocals once more to carry the streaming beat. They close strong, yet delicate, and leave their listeners happy to have taken a chance on this band. For a first album, it is nothing short of appealing. So when you reach the end with them, and reflect on Are You Falling In Love?, you can answer with a yea, I’m pretty sure I am.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/GoldBears-SomethingToThinkAbout.mp3]

Download: Gold Bears – Something To Think About [MP3]

New Track from Gold Bears

First, I’d like to take a minute to thank my fictitious friend Toby over at Finest Kiss for alerting me to this band.  Gold Bears are a group from Atlanta, and they seem perfect to fit right into the stable of Slumberland Records, who will be releasing a full-length from the group later on this year.  But, what you need to know is that this track is on a recent 7″ (on Cloudberry) and it sounds just like Cloud Nothings, minus the lo-fi tag, and with a more adult lyrical approach.  Don’t get be wrong, both options are great, but I definitely am enjoying the more developed vocal approach apparent on this track.  Give this a spin, and get ready for big things from this group.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/GoldBears-SomethingToThinkAbout.mp3]

Download: Gold Bears – Something To Think About [MP3]