New Music from Seth Bogart (Hunx!)

Hunx & PunxIt’s surprising to me that this new single from Seth Bogart has sort of flown under the radar, considering how important Hunx has been to the musical culture over the last few years. Perhaps it’s because on this tune he’s turned down the garage inflection, instead choosing for a more pop-centric approach to his songs. There’s some casio-keyboard beats and a distorted guitar meeting up with Seth’s voice. Personally, I always think he’s best when he’s writing introspective songs, such as on Hairdresser Blues. This new album is titled Forgotten Fantazy, it’s being released in late February by Burger Records.

Soulful Swinger from Shannon & the Clams

ShannonAndTheClams1I’m so excited for both Hardly Art and Shannon & the Clams! The two have joined up to release the next record from Shannon and her posse, titled Dreams in the Rat House; it comes out on the label on May 21st.  I’ve long enjoyed Shannon’s work, and not just with the Clams, but with the other projects she’s taken a liking to throughout the years, such as Hunx.  This tune illustrates her penchant for tossing her raspy voice into the mix on an otherwise soul-influenced track; she’s definitely gritty, but also has an incredible range.  I think this is my favorite union of the year so far!

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/ShannonAndTheClams_RipVanWinkle.mp3]

Download: Shannon & the Clams – Rip Van Winkle [MP3]

Top Albums of 2012: 50-1

Here it is.  I know you’ll hate it; I know you’ll disagree, but that’s not the point in making an arbitrary list.  We here at ATH worked really hard to fit in the tastes of the four of us, and when we decided upon our Top 50, it really boied down to simple math.  What albums did we love when they came out?  Do we still enjoy spinning those records months later? If they’re in the Top 50, then the asnwer is probably yes.  I mean, our Top 2 records came out in January, and still play a vital part in my weekly listening.  There’s no disclaimer here.  We are who we are, we like what we like, and we hope that’s okay with you. If not, drop us a line and let us know where we went wrong.

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Top Live Shows in Austin in 2012

Our year end coverage begins with the three chiefs over at the ATH offices reveling in what was an incredible year in Austin, musically speaking.  Tons of rad bands blew us away with their live sets, and, well, there were just tons of bands.  I think we did more show coverage this year than in previous years, but as always, the great thing about our site is diversity.  We’re also linking back to our full reviews and photos of some of these nights, so you can get more of a feel of our thoughts, not to mention, checking out Brian’s great photographic 2012. Read on for thoughts on live acts from the three main contributors.
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New Soulful Jam from Shannon and the Clams

One of the great things about hitting up the record store on new release day is stumbling upon tunes you weren’t expecting, like this new tune from Shannon and the Clams.  The band’s been sort of quiet, but that’s probably because Shannon’s been touring with Hunx.  However, the group is back with a few new 7″ records, and this one comes out from Volar Records (I picked it up last night). Shannon has a voice that sounds like the heir apparent to Janis Joplin, and I mean that in a flattering sense, as very few people can combine the raspy and the soulful and pull it off; this young lady can definitely do it.

New Jam from Punks On Mars

As much as I hate to run the same stuff as P4K, I have to continue for Ryan Howe and his project, Punks On Mars.  His newest track encapsulates every inch of what I love about his music, using hooks wrapped around Bolan-esque guitar riffs, all the while traveling off the beaten path just a tad.  It’s in the same vein as my faves King Tuff and Hunx, but in a completely different manner.   If you’re loving this jam, you’ll find more tunes just like it when his new full-length, Bad Expectations, comes out via Zoo Music on October 30th.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Punks_on_Mars_-_Showers_of_Pain.mp3]

Download:Punks On Mars – Showers of Pain [MP3]

KIng Tuff – King Tuff

Rating: ★★★½ ·

In the brief bio on Sub Pop‘s web page for King Tuff, and his new self-titled album, it alludes to the fact that the entirety of the record is just rock n’ roll and that you can’t really listen to it with critical ears.  For what it’s worth, the bio is pretty spot on, as King Tuff is something you’re just going to have to experience for yourself.  But, I’ll do my best to point out some highlights.

While “Anthem” is the official song to kick off the record, the best served song to begin your listening experience might be “Alone & Stoned;” it’s a bit on the poppier side, which could ease you into the listening experience.  King Tuff‘s vocals have a slight resemblance to Nobunny or Hunx, and his musical style is definitely similar, though this track does show you a nice bit of polish–though there’s still that element of playfulness.  That light-hearted attitude is something that definitely benefits the record, coming through on other songs like “Keep Movin” and “Baby Just Break.”

But, while KT can come across as setting out to have fun, he’s also got a penchant to infuse a bit of traditional garage rock into his tunes, just as he does on the album’s standout track, “Bad Thing.”  It’s fueled with guitar solos and an angrier moment that’s not present anywhere else on the record.  Personally, I dig the way the he slows the chorus down just a bit before blasting off into “I’m a bad thing” one last time.  It’s the hit single for sure, but stick around as this thing is full of other noteworthy tracks.

There’s softer ballad-ish moment lurking here and there, such as “Swamp of Love.”  It’s built around a strummed guitar and a piano backbone, but it illustrates that King Tuff might not be as tough as the name indicates.  He’s got other moments that come earlier, although possibly too short to be completed ballads, like “Baby Just Break.”  I think these are the tracks that standout the most to me, as I expected the whole record to have an certain amount of ferocity like “Bad Thing,” but aside from album closer “Hit and Run” there’s really nothing that’s just a straight out rocker.  Personally, it fits better this way; you get peaks and valleys on the journey, all with different bits of enjoyment, depending on the listener and what he/she is looking for in King Tuff. 

While it may not need critical ears to listen to this self-titled record, most of the audience will surely find it successful because of its ability to keep you from finding the songs stale.  You can get a quick rocker or a ballad; you can find hints of garage rock; you basically can find gem after gem waiting for your own personal discovery, so it’s probably best to get on it now–go pick up this album from King Tuff.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/King_Tuff_-_Bad_Thing.mp3]

Download:King Tuff – Bad Thing [MP3]

New Single from Hunx

The great new album from Hunx, Hairdresser Blues, has been out for some time via Hardly Art, but that doesn’t mean the world doesn’t need more reasons to listen to the whole record.  For one, Hunx’s performance at Mohawk last month found him more endearing and honest than I’ve seen him before, and the record follows along in the same tribute, with two tribute tunes (to Jay Reatard and his father) that still break my heart.  On this little ditty you’ll find Seth (Hunx) pleading for his lover to let him in to his heart. Just another great song off a record you need to own.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/03-Let-Me-In.mp3]

Download:Hunx – Let Me In [MP3]

Hunx – Hairdresser Blues

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Almost less than a year ago, we got Too Young To Be In Love, the second (sort of) album from Hunx and His Punx.  It was filled with its usual amounts of scuzzy punk and bits of kitsch.  But, that era of frivolity seems to have dissipated, if only temporarily, leaving us with the first solo outing of Hunx.  Unlike his normal gig, we find the man much more exposed, emotionally speaking, giving us a personal spin on his always affecting tunes.

“Your Love Is Here to Stay” begins the mellow affair with Hunx reflecting upon a lasting love, but it’s the gentle strummed guitar that distinguishes this from his more frenetic numbers.  There’s an element of innocence here too that’s certainly endearing for listener’s, exposing our narrator.  “Private Room” maintains that same sentiment, yet with the added female vocal accompaniment and impacting drums, you’ll find a bit more pace on this number.  Stylistically, it’s more what you’ve come to expect from Hunx‘s traditional fare.

The one-two punch of hits on Hairdresser Blues comes in the form of “Always Forever” and “Hairdresser Blues.”  The first of these two tracks definitely has that California garage-rock feel to it, but only with more restraint–in a positive way.  For me, the response of “always forever” certainly grabs my attention and makes it a song I’ll play for some time. “Hairdresser Blues” is a jangling piece of joyousness, though the lyrical content might make you think otherwise.  It’s sort of like Hunx‘s version of a Sonny and the Sunsets, compiling pieces of sunshine, pop, and grit to craft a well-written tune.

Perhaps what hits home the most with the record are the two closing tracks.  “Say Goodbye Before You Leave” reminisces about Hunx‘s relationship with Jay Reatard, a personal favorite, so it definitely hits a personal note.  But, more importantly it’s a song about loss, which holds a universal theme for us all, so regardless of the subject matter for our songwriter here, we can all relate to this, especially the closing statement that “it’s just too bad.” Apparently, “When You’re Gone” is another homage to a bit of loss, with Hunx reflecting about his deceased father.  Again, the universality of his lyrics on this effort stand out, bringing home the personal message that seems so important to the narrative being spun on Hairdresser Blues. It wraps up the record with an emotional reminder that surely resonates with every listener–worth the dozen or more spins I’ve given it in the last hour.

What stands out the most about this record really has to be the exposed persona of Hunx on Hairdresser Blues.  While he’s usually a bundle of energy and sexuality (things I enjoy), there’s a personal note on this effort that really supersedes the music.  While it is a bit solemn, the sincerity leaves you with a bit of solace, a bit of clarity and hope.  If he starts to combine these elements with his old-school brashness, there’s no telling what a huge hit Hunx could be.

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

Download:Hunx – Always Forever [MP3]

New Music From Hunx

Earlier this year, Seth Bogart (often known simply as Hunx) released incredible throwback album Too Young To Be In Love with his Punx in tow.  As much as we loved that record around these parts, it seems likely that we’ll equally love Hunx first solo effort Hairdresser Blues out February 28th via the ever expanding Hardly Art Records.  Until that date, enjoy this new song “Always Forever” and let us know what ya think.  I think it’s my jam of the week.

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

Download: Hunx – Always Forever [MP3]