RIP Nick Talbot

GravenhurstTypically, I just get bummed on my own when a musician passes.  It’s never easy when someone you felt connected with passes, but for some reason I’m really finding the loss of Nick Talbot, aka Gravenhurst, an extra bummer.  I first fell in love with his music via Flashlight Seasons.  It was a record that accompanied me through my own personal adventures into what, at the time, was a great unknown.  I remember listening to the song below on repeat for several weeks, and it still pulls at me even now.  It’s a sad day, indeed.  That being said, I’ll forever be grateful for this song.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/02-Fog-Round-The-Figurehead.mp3]

Download: Greavenhurst – Fog Round The Figurehead [MP3]

Top Albums of 2012: 100-51

It’s really hard to narrow down a list of Top Albums of 2012, especially when you have four contributors with different opinions.  We gave the reins to Nathan.Lankford and Nicole Baumann on this one, since they write the majority of the album reviews, but we all have a little representation within this.  Now, we do realize that our site has specialized tastes, so please realize that these are our OPINIONS.  You’re welcome to disagree, and, in fact, we encourage that process.  Also, we’re doing a Top 100 because so many records came out this year, it wouldn’t be fair to narrow it down.  Not to mention it might lead you to discover some hits you hadn’t heard about yet. Oh, and we don’t really like Frank Ocean or hip-hop…just a personal choice…here’s the first segment.

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Stunningly Beautiful Track from Gravenhurst

Sadly, I’m not really sure how many people out there in the Internet world are aware of Nick Talbot and the incredible music he’s been making under the Gravenhurst moniker.  In case you haven’t, then let this be an introduction to one of the songwriters that will go on to be part of your life for the duration. His latest effort, The Ghost in Daylight, will be released by Warp Records on May 1st, and I’m in love with this sprawling single by Talbot.  It’s quiet and subtle, until you get this burst of creativity near the end of the song.  It’s the sort of song that begs you to listen through and through, and that’s the kind of music you’ll get with Gravenhurst.  Hope you like your new favorite band!

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/01-The-Prize.mp3]

 

Great Lake Swimmers – Lost Channels

great

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Toronto’s Great Lake Swimmers have consistently managed to put out albums of sufficient folk-pop, resting on the tightrope between overtly melancholy and cleverly sprawling acoustic-pop.  Their newest album, Lost Channels is of precisely the same vein; this isn’t an entirely bad thing considering it’s done so gracefully.

Immediately, “Palmistry” establishes the album’s purpose, as the gentle voice of Tony Dekker is accompanied by a similarly gentle strumming of guitar, as other instrumental pieces flesh out the song; it’s as if the band is painting precision landscapes with a brush so gentle it barely scratches the surface of the canvas.

Every number on this album has a familiar touch, as the band never tries to push too far beyond their pre-established boundaries.  The one admirable quality here is that they can continuously add layer after layer to each individual song, but never take away from the crystal-clear quality of the song.  Take, for example, “Concrete Heart;” it opens with a basic approach to a soft folk tune, just before strings creep into the background, and all the while there is a tinkering piano waiting to enter stage left, completing the song.  It is this delicate approach to songwriting that makes Great Lake Swimmers crafters of the perfect song; no tune has too much, or too little for that matter.

Even with a majority of the songs resting in the same spectrum of the genre, the band never stays in one place for too long, which allows them to keep the listener from growing bored.  Just a song away from solemnity comes “The Chorus in the Underground,” which shifts the approach over to a more bluegrass playing field, equipped with banjo and all. It’s a pleasant enough number, but the focus always rests around Dekker’s voice.

Sure, most bands rest their case on the singer’s voice, but not all bands will utilize this as an instrument all its own.  Dekker has a certain softness to his voice, which lends it to rest carefully in several different ranges of music; he can go from traditional folk to country-pop to bluegrass.  Up and down he rides with his voice, but it still maintains its very distinct quality, which seems as if current artists have borrowed from its fragility.

And with each new moment on the album, comes an entirely new picture to be painted in your mind, hidden in the caverns of your subconscious. The band, like Gravenhurst, crafts their songs around a certain moment within the group dynamic, and these moments are later fleshed out to create enjoyable moments for the listener.  You could describe it as organic, or as folksy soundscapes, but you best describe it as restful beauty, as this is the ultimate adjective for Lost Channels.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/04-concrete-heart.mp3]

Download: Great Lake Swimmers – Concrete Heart [MP3]

Deerhunter – Microcastle

Rating: ★★★★ ·

For most of the fans of Deerhunter, this album seems to have been floating around the world in some form or another, so many of you have already gotten to know Microcastle, the band’s sophomore release.  Those of you that haven’t listened to it yet will definitely need to get your hands on this album.

Admittedly, the band has left behind a little bit of the atmospherics that were present in Cryptograms, instead pushing forward with a more immediate sound.  Mr. Cox has even gone so far as to say that he didn’t mind if the band took on a sort of Strokes‘ sound, which, it really doesn’t.  You can only go so far before you aren’t the same band, but Deerhunter sound every bit themselves here.

Sure, the songs definitely ascribe to a little bit of the pop, but they surround each song in their very structured fuzziness, clouding every inch of tape with something worthwhile for the listener.  It’s as if they chose to completely focus on every song, providing all of them with their own personality so that in turn, they resonate individually with the listener.  Slowly, the band builds each song, as if they were putting together tiny bricks in order to construct microcastles.

A lot of the songs, however, are reminiscent of the sounds bands like Grizzly Bear or Gravenhurst.  Gentle vocals are paced between intricate musicianship, and then walled in with extemporaneous sound, creating the perfect song within a soundscape.  It’s becoming a bit over-done, but you won’t find any who do it much better than the Georgians from Deerhunter.  But, they also jump far away from this in songs like “Cover Me Slowly” and “Nothing Ever Happened,” which may be more in the way of what future albums might sound like.

For now, the band seems to be happily stuck between their own walls of sound and their desire for a less eclectic sound.  They do seem at their best when they push the pace a bit, allowing themselves a touch of greatness, but each time they resume to other formats, they fall back into something more commonplace in the modern indie music market.  Either way, Deerhunter have created another album that is sure to rise to the top of many people’s year end lists; as it should.