Kramies Drop New Single with Jason Lytle

There are two big reasons to share this new track from Kramies. The first, is fairly easy, as Jason Lytle of Grandaddy worked on this song, so that sort of cements the important if Lytle believed in it enough to work on it. Second, I feel like I’ve really been missing a good quality sad-bastard folk songwriter since the passing of Nicholas John Talbot; I’ve been searching for something, something ethereal that helps you escape your everyday world. I think the care given to this track, from the way the vocals were recorded to the atmospheric touches that bring the song to life, helps establish that mood. This tune appears on Of All the Places Been & Everything the End, the new LP dropping on October 19th.

Pop Psych from Battlehooch

battlehoochWhat do you get when you take psych and blend it with elements of late 90s indie rock? I think your answer is here with Battlehooch and the band’s new single. It’s like this weird blend of Grandaddy and Muse (maybe even Rooney) mashed up together, then drizzled with a little dosage of psychedelic heritage via harmonicaflourishes here and there. It might possibly be the most accessible psychedelic-tinted track. File this track as another feature in the band’s growing repertoire of well-crafted hits for their clamoring fans.

Distorted Tune from Happyness

unnamedSurely Happyness has hit your radar, as they’ve had an incredible run the last year or so.  They maintain their balance between huge walls of guitar noise and pop sensibility that really harkens back to the late 90s when bands like Grandaddy and The Comas were gods in my listening rotation.  You’ll hear a screeching guitar in the middle here before they bring back the power hook that comes with every vocal.  If you love pop, but still love to rock a bit, then there’s not going to be a better band for you in 2015.  Look for their new effort, Weird Little Birthday, on March 24th via Bar None.

Download Lost Track from Sister Flo

floRecently I posted about the Finnish legend, Sister Flo, trying to get some love for the band in honor of the group releasing Tragician’s Hat on its 10 Year Anniversary…it features a whole disc of unreleased tunes.  But, one tune that was lost to the world that unfortunately didn’t make it onto the collection of rarities is “The Look.”  Clerical errors and Finnish gnomes are said to be to blame, but Soliti Music is now offering the dream track for free download.  Those of you who long for the days of Grandaddy and the like will find yourself absolutely in love, which will hopefully encourage you to go back and discover the band for the first time; you’ll be happy you gave it some spins.  Soliti has the album for sale HERE.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/The-Look-1.mp3]

Download: Sister Flo – The Look [MP3]

Avi Buffalo’s Happy Return

aviI don’t know if it’s nostalgia, or if the return of Avi Buffalo is really winning me over.  Yesterday his latest single popped up, and  I just absolutely fell in love…making me what took so long for the songwriter to get it going again.  Something in the vocal reminds me of Jason Lytle, and I can hear a bit of that grandiose musical approach in the songwriting that was used by Lytle’s band Grandaddy.  If you’re not in love with this song, that’s fair, but we can’t be friend; I’m sorry. Look for At Best Cuckold to be in stores on September 9th, courtesy of Sub Pop.

New Jam from AM & Shawn Lee

If you were working hard partying, you might have missed the buzz at SXSW about the recent collaboration between AM (LA based pop artist) and Shawn Lee (British songwriter).  Regardless, now is your chance to get into the brilliant work that has come about by way of their union. They’ve signed a deal to release a record with ESL Music, and they’ll be releasing a 7″ on ESL July 19th.  We’ve got the title track, and it’s got me in a rather good mood today.  It opens with sort of a soundscape-electronica-pop feel, but when you get to the chorus, I swear you’ll hear the ghost of Grandaddy.  That doesn’t sound too bad to me.  Hope you kids like it.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/04_Dark_Into_Light.mp3]

The full length, Celestial Electric, comes out August 30th on ESL.

Admiral Radley – I Heart California

Rating: ★★★ · ·

Odds are you know more about Admiral Radley than you think you do.  Comprised of Grandaddy members (namely Jason Lytle) and Earlimart members, the band has concocted an album titled I Heart California, which has left the Internet hounds wondering precisely what would come of this collaboration.  Well, if you know these artists, then you know precisely what the sound will be, and you’ll either love it or hate it, depending on your attachment to aforementioned parties.

Kicking things off is this Grandaddy-esque “I Heart California.”  It’s laden with pounding piano, blended with textures from electronic land, and it blossoms during the chorus with that trademark wall of euphoria. Odd lyrics, well, for a song about California, such as “fake tits in the symphony” make one wonder about Lytle’s dedication to his homestate, especially after his move to Montana.  Nonetheless, it’s the catchiest number of the collection, and one worthy of so many repeat listens.

But, bubbly software pop is not all that fills the minutes on I Heart California.  Aaron Espinoza takes the lead vocal on several tracks throughout the duration, and his soft touch gives tracks such as “Ghosts of Syllables” a warmer, less-quirky sound.  It’s an interesting dynamic, providing listeners with a substantial bit of deviation between songs, although this might lead some to look at a lack of cohesion, or perhaps a schizophrenia within the writing process. Aaron isn’t the only Earlimart member to share his voice here, as Ariana Murray gets her own number with “The Thread.”  It’s something that seems to fit with her own personal style, using a certain light-hearted approach to the crafting of the melody, which really takes control of the song itself.  However, it seems oddly placed smack in the middle of the record, and it kind of breaks up any momentum the album had.

All their appearances aside, Jason Lytle is really the mainstay, or the big ticket here.  His presence alone provides Admiral Radley with a substantial amount of credibility from the get go, and it pays off with songs like “GNDN.”  Skeletal piano holds the song up, as quiet guitar strumming and light percussion build the landscape of the song itself.  Electronic beeps and blips, a Lytle staple, are largely absent, at least in the final mix, which actually makes a strong argument for Jason as a songwriter.  There’s something in the fragility of his voice here, something unnamed that makes it all extremely affecting.

Most listeners will likely find the last four songs the most enduring in their playtime of I Heart California.  “End of Me” starts the final run, and if you could strip the casio keyboard effects away, it might succeed as the best song on the album.  Beginning quietly, it erupts into a pretty solid rocker.  In fact, the more you listen, the more this might be  your favorite song here.  From there you go to “GNDN” all the way to “I Left U Cuz I Luft U.”  All if makes a strong closing statement, providing some structure and cohesiveness that seemed a little bit scattered from the beginning.

Casual listeners of Admiral Radley will definitely find some really rewarding moments on I Heart California. They’ll find pop gems waiting to make your day brighter; they’ll find the attraction to Jason Lytle many discovered years ago.  Those who fell in love with Grandaddy and Earlimart might be a bit disappointed, however, as you expect these four to knock it out of the park, blasting us all into sunshine.  Instead, they give us a good record, not a great one.  There’s nothing wrong with that in the long run, as good records are often rare nowadays, and, besides, isn’t it just nice to have Lytle still around writing music?  One listen here, and you’ll be sure to agree.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/1-I-Heart-California-1.mp3]

Download: Admiral Radley – I Heart California [MP3]

New Tunes from Admiral Radley

I”ve been waiting to actually get a listen to Admiral Radley for sometime, as the band is made up of two of my favorites, Grandaddy and Earlimart, so when this jam surfaced Friday (via ThaGum) I jumped on it.  It’s everything you sort of expected it to be, with Jason Lytle singing over electronic infused pop, seemingly longing to be back in California?  While it’s not the best work lyrically, it shows a lot of promise, and only furthers our anticipation for what the band’s album, I Heart California, hits stores July 13th.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/1-I-Heart-California-1.mp3]

Download: Admiral Radley – I Heart California [MP3]

MGMT – Congratulations

Rating: ★★★½ ·

After the surprising success of Oracular Spectacular, all indications from MGMT would point towards a different direction.  They had no need to reproduce a singles-heavy album in search of hordes of fans; if anything, they acknowledged that the new record, Congratulations, might be off-putting for many of the fans who came their way after hits such as “Kids” or “Time to Pretend.” While the band jump as far away as possible, this record, for musical accomplishments is by no means a letdown.

Opening moments of the album show a more developed group.  “It’s Working” immediately demonstrates that while they’ll remain playful, they won’t simply rely upon access to simple hooks, choosing instead to allow the joy in their work unfold as the songs carry on to their end.  For some reason, MGMT just sound more complete at this point.

Along the same lines as the first number, “Song for Dan Treacy” resembles the early works of Islands.  It uses odd time stops and oddball effects to draw you into the tune while refraining from becoming over-indulgent in the electronic backbone of the music, as some might have said in regards to their last album.  Similarly, MGMT use slow pacing for “Someone’s Missing” to let the song unfold before the listener’s ears, and unfold it does with 45 seconds to go, as the euphoric chanting of the song title with improved percussion bring the song to its end.

“Flash Delirium” is probably the best “single” on the record, if that’s what you’re looking for here.  It recalls the storytelling of Grandaddy, along with the approach of using space-age electronic sounds to build up the chorus.  Once again, the use the ending of the song to tell an entirely different musical story, so be sure not skip ahead, as you might miss some of the musical message hidden beneath.

One of the joys of this album is in the evolution of the band.  Their last album hit you hard in the beginning, but left you sort of bored near the end (at least for me), but the slow-burners on Congratulations have a much larger impact here.  “I Found a Whistle” just seems to trudge along, and while a bit of vocal inflection might have improved it a touch, it’s still one of those songs you’d put on a chill mixtape for a buddy.  You could even include it right along “Congratulations,” which is certainly a great song. All those slow moments that bored last time around, are somehow more interesting here, and that may be due to the well thought-out ordering of songs.  They’ve spaced out the slower moments between pop elements and experimenting (see “Siberian Breaks”).  You have to give them credit; it’s a much more effective approach, and infinitely more rewarding.

One problem with Oracular Spectacular lay in the fact that you enjoyed it immensely upon first listen, but the hooks wore out the more you chose to spin the record.  In contrast, Congratulations is a much different affair.  It’s not set out to make you dance in the same manner, nor does it intend to rely upon singles to boost album sales.  Instead, MGMT have chosen to focus on their writing, which not only make the songs better, but make the record itself much more durable.  It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/mgmt-flash-delirium.mp3]

Download: MGMT – Flash Delerium [MP3]

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