Show Preview: Nick Diamonds @ Holy Mountain – TONIGHT

islands14You’ve got about a month to close out the existence of Holy Mountain, and like we all expect, the venue is doing it in style, leaving you with some great shows (and memories).  Tonight is no different, as they’re bringing Nick Diamonds of Unicorns, Islands, Human Highway and Mister Heavenly. Whether you know it or not, Nick’s had a pretty big influence in the indie music realm, and in the ATH offices, so it’s probably best you go see him in such a small space.  Plus…he’s friends with Michael Cera, so maybe that guy will show up since his movie career is over. The Tulips will be opening, so come early, celebrate Nick and Holy Mountain.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/the-sound.mp3]

Download: Human Highway – The Sound [MP3]

New Tunes from Islands

islands17We’ve long been fans of Islands, not to mention the various other projects by Nick Thorburn (especially Human Highway), so we’re always happy when he pops up with a new song. His group are back, after a little over a year, with a brand new album titled Ski Mask; it hits stores in September.  The first single we get to here builds really slowly, but jumps off into the collage-o-pop masterpiece that has made Nick so endearing over all these years.  Plain and simple, the guy knows how to write catchy tunes.  Listen and see.

New Mellow Jam from Islands

After the release of the Human Highway record, featuring Nic from Islands, I truly expected a lot more of a mellow approach to singwriting.  But, then Nic went out and threw Vapours at us. It’s not that I minded, but I was looking forward to a more contemplative side of the man, which might be what we’re getting when Islands release A Sleep and A Forgetting on February 14th via Anti- Records.  He seems calm here, willing to lay down a great harmony to build the song around.  He’s great when he’s spastic, but this is an interesting touch on an ever-changing career.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Islands_-_This_Is_Not_a_Song.mp3]

Download: Islands – This Is Not a Song [MP3]

New Tunes from Miniature Tigers

The Gum just tossed this Miniature Tigers song up this morning, and I’ve been rocking to it ever since then.  The great thing is that it was produced by adopted Austin artist Alan Palomo of Neon Indian fame.  It sort of reminds me of something along the lines of an electronic version of Human Highway.  Basically, that means it rules.  This jam is set to come out on the group’s album Fortress, which hits stores July 27th.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/play.mp3]

Download: Miniature Tigers – Gold Skulls [MP3]

New Tunes from Islands

islandsWe’ve been closely following news that Islands will be releasing Vapours this September on Anti Records. Anything Nic Thorburn lays his hands upon turns up to be genius in our books, be it this band or Human Highway or the much missed Unicorns. This new track is a different approach to songwriting for him, with the empty space left open for his voice to soar.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/islands-no-you-dont.mp3]

Download: Islands – No You Don’t

Top 40 Songs Of The Year

So when we thought making an albums of the year post was hard, this one proved to be even harder.  How do you take literally thousands of songs and narrow it down to the best 40 of the year?  Not too sure how to answer that question, but we tried.  Each of these songs scream 2008 in our ears.  As evident by this list, the year in music was quite a good one and we had some tough choices to make.  We’ve got some of the songs streaming for you or links to the song on youtube.  Follow the jump to see if your favorite tune of the year made the list.

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Albums Of The Year: 15-1

A few days ago, we gave you part one of our albums of the year list.  Today we bring you the best of the best from a wide range of artists who brought the noise this year.  We’ve fought it out amongst our ATH writers for weeks and these are the albums that we all loved.  These 15 albums went into thunderdome and emerged victorious.  Follow the jump to see if your favorite band made the Top 15 of 2008.

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FT5: Bands to See at FFF Fest

We here at ATH are getting really pumped about this weekend’s Fun Fun Fun Festival.  But, as we all know, it’s difficult to figure out who to see when there are so many bands playing.  You have time conflicts, you don’t know who some of the bands are and you wonder who will put on the best show?  Well, our Friday Top 5 is a compilation of bands that ATH is excited to see.  Hopefully this helps you make some decisions before you head out to the festival.  We’ve also got some MP3s you can stream for each band in the list, so fire up the ATH Radio and enjoy.

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Human Highway – Moody Motorcycle

Rating: ★★★★½

This album didn’t receive too much press, nor did the band, but this is definitely an ex-Unicorns side project worth noticing.  Human Highway consists of former UnicornIslands front man Nick Thorburn and singer-songwriter Jim Guthrie–it’s about as Canadian as you can get.

Opening track, “The Sound,” will probably make a cut for many singles of the year lists, and probably mine.  It’s got sort of an island feel to it–by that I am referencing the volcanic ocean formations rather than Thorburn’s band, though that is there too.  Guthrie closely resembles Patrick Wolf here, but the overall feel pushes you for a little beach time.  It’s probably the most upbeat song on the album.

From here they go on to pursue their original intentions in creating this record, that of chasing after the harmonies of 50s/60s R&B groups.  They can achieve this fairly easily considering Thorburn’s abilities to tie harmonies in twisted knots, and they do this throughout the record.  In fact, this really is the record for the most part.  It’s a stripped down affair full of matching harmonies with accompanying guitars and minimalist percussion.

Those of you searching for the awkward catchiness of the Unicorns and Islandswill probably have a momentary lapse of judgment when you listen to this album.  Immediately, it won’t be accessible to your ears, but I beg you to go on for a few more listens.  This album resembles all those bands and projects you love from Thorburn, but in a more traditional singer/songwriter vein.  It’s like an acoustic Islands album, which probably garners it more longevity than Arm’s Way–the album by the aforementioned band that came out this year.

You’ll find all the great harmonies you’ve come to love, and you will find Thorburn’s vocal styling all over the place–he frequently goes from casual crooner to that soft whisper we’ve come to know so well in his productive career.  I don’t want to take away from Guthrie’s presence here either–his heavier voice, though gentle, definitely adds a sublime contrast to the higher pitched Nick T.  And of course, you will find that the lyrics, though a bit more personal, still have that hint of absurdity.

At the end of the day you will come to find that this album is hard to put away.  Each song continuously unfolds for me, turning me into fans of different songs throughout the day, only coming back to revisit the album in its entirety.  I might be on an island all by myself listening to this, but damned if I don’t enjoy every instant.