Thee Oh Sees – Putrifiers II

Rating: ★★★★½

Putrifiers II is the third or fourth LP in the last two years from Thee Oh Sees, depending upon whether or not you’d like to include their single collection.  They’re hard-working, clearly, but what impresses me is that the tiniest details alter the sound from record to record, though Castlemania is a bit of an outlier.  Again, the group’s giving you a psychedelic garage rock run with a bit of punk rock energy kicking down the doors.

As soon as you turn on Purtifiers II  you better turn it up loud because “Wax Face” is best listened  to at high volumes.  After opening with a playful twinkling guitar line, the band jumps on the distortion pedals and bangs out a stomping number.  Interestingly, the vocals almost seem an afterthought here, coming off as an extra instrument rather than a pertinent piece of storytelling. But, that’s the opposite case with “Hang A Picture,” the following tune, which definitely has Thee Oh Sees playing to their strengths as tight knit unit; this track has that same pscch stomp feel, but it’s as if the group’s rocking this one out together around a campfire.

I know it’s hard to see this band getting much better than they already are, but with tracks like “Flood’s New Light,” it’s clear that they’re not resting on their laurels, even if you can see the lineage between the various records.  The opening bass line completely won me over, and then the horn jumped in, on came the vocals, creating one of the catchiest tunes I think I’ve heard from Thee Oh Sees.  On the chorus you’ll find a little monosyllabic lyric, continuously improving the delectable flavor apparent on this tune.  Speaking of that chorus, it sort of indicates a slight R&B sensation that also seems to occasionally pop its head up here.  “Will We Be Scared” might not come across as classic Motown, but the guitar work, the airy vocals and the way the bass walks through the tune really gives you a nice groove.

Ultimately, the differentiation on Putrifiers II is what makes it a winning collection of tunes. The album’s title track (“Putrifers II”) begins with this slow-handed light pop element, but as the guitars and drums get going, there’s a layer of depth that provides you with a darker sensation.  However, the restraint is where the band seems to really switch things up…I kept expecting them to fully blast off, but they don’t go that route.  There’s an increased pace, but it’s not as in your face as one would expect, if you’re familiar with the previous works of the group. Then you get the contrast with the folk-ish album closer, “Wicked Park.”  It feels like something the Kinks might have put together early on in their career–it’s definitely a step away from the band’s garage-psych blend, and the record is better off for it.

If you’re a fan of Thee Oh Sees, you can pretty throw all your expectations out the window when you pick up your copy of Putrifiers II.  Yes, it does have hints of the band’s storied sound, but at the same time they never seem to stay in one place for too long.  That’s what makes them so dynamic, both live and on record, which will only continue to grow their fame.  I’m continuously impressed with the group’s work, and once you get your hands on this, you will be too.

 

The Intelligence – Everybody’s Got It Easy But Me

Rating: ★★★★☆

It’s been almost two years since Males, the last record from the Intelligence came out, so I of course welcomed a return to the fold with Everybody’s Got It Easy But Me (In the Red Records).  It’s all over the place, in the best way possible of course, giving listeners everything you need to enjoy listening to an album from start to finish.

Listening to “I Like LA,” the album’s opener, I feel as if group leader Lars is having a pleasant go with the listener, slowly introducing himself to the world all over again; for the most part, it is an introductory type song, that is until the band joins him in a heavy-handed rocking until the end.  Oddly, it’s the diversity of this track that really sets the scene for the rest of Everybody’s Got It Easy But Me. Just as soon as you think you have the feel for what the group’s doing, you get the jittery “Hippy Provider;” it’s short and jagged, but it’s the sort of song you expect to see hordes of fans pogoing about in their favorite club.

It all seems like fun and games for the Intelligence, until you arrive at “Techno Tuesday,” the group’s latest single.  It’s not your conventional hit, but I feel that it is one of the more accessible tracks the group’s written to date; the heavy strumming with Finberg’s vocals floating over is perfect for fan’s of early Shins–even has a similar bounce.  It’s similar to the garage ballad that comes later via “Little Town Flirt,” which is a Del Shannon cover–it also features Shannon (of Clams and Hunx/Punx fame).  Throwing these sorts of mellower tunes definitely propels the record’s longevity, breaking things up for the audience.

Of course the meat and potatoes of Everybody’s Got It Easy But Me has to be the edgy rock leaning of the band.  You’ll find it lurking in the stylistic approaches of all the songs, but the power lives in songs like “(They Found Me in the Back of) the Galaxy.  While it starts off with a similar riff (one of my few complaints about the record), the guitar work throughout provides a sense of creativity and juxtaposition, all the while sounding as tight as you’ve heard the group.  These are the sort of attributes the Intelligence is known for, and they’re exhibited left and right on this effort.

By the end you’ll find yourself with two long-ish jams, with “Fidelity” remaining my personal favorite. Sure, the lyrics define some of the heartbreak Lars has endured, but the emotional quality of the song supersedes the thematic element.  Eventually, it blasts off into sort of a cacophonous melody, hopefully highlighting a transcendence for Mr. Finberg.  It’s precisely the type of bookend you need for a great record, again recapping the diversity that lives within.  Everybody’s Got It Easy But Me is filled with artful rock n’ roll, but there’s enough of a mixture that moves the group beyond falling into the trap of sounding too redundant.  I’m sure after your first listen, you’ll feel the same.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/08-They-Found-Me-In-The-Back-Of-The-Galaxy.mp3]

Download:The Intelligence – (They Found Me In The Back Of) The Galaxy [MP3]

Also, if you want an excellent read on Lars’ thoughts on the album, had over to Finest Kiss for a great interview/explanation now!

More New Music from The Intelligence

Summertime (I’m a teacher) is perfect for me to catch up on listening to records I’ve gotten that I haven’t given my full attention to, yet. This new album from the Intelligence is high on my list, so as they break out more great tracks for everyone, I’ve always gotta share.  Today this new single hit the web, and it’s more of a steady strum, as opposed to the jittery number they released earlier–that is until you get a little bit of swagger in the last minute of the track.  You can pick up the band’s new record, Everybody’s Got It Easy But Me, on June 19th via the good folks at In the Red Records.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/04-Techno-Tuesday.mp3]

Download: The Intelligence – Techno Tuesday [MP3]

New Jam from Ty Segall Band

After watching Ty Segall rock it out Friday (we’ll have more on that soon), it only seems appropriate that we throw up this track today.  This is a song from his full-band effort, Slaughterhouse, which comes out on June 26th via In the Red Records.  You’ll probably find this track sort of indicative of the work Ty’s put into this year, as the music’s got a heavy bent, while there is an evolving softer element to his singing.  Regardless, when the band bang’s it out, you know you’re going to get right into it–Ty’s been killing it all year long, and it doesn’t look like he’s slowing down, so enjoy another great jam.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Ty_Segall_Band_-_I_Bought_My_Eyes.mp3]

Download: Ty Segall Band – I Bought My Eyes [MP3]

The Spits – Volume V

Rating: ★★★½☆

The Spits are technically five albums into their career, but the odds are they’ve written more than that, with limited edition pressings and such.  If you’ve followed the group, then you’re accustomed to their sound; it’s pop punk if you washed it with fresh sewer water.  Yeah, I said it, and I’m going to say I love it.

“All I Want” blasts out from the beginning, bringing you a bit of dark edged punk, though the lyrics lean towards a bit of a love song.  It’s the great dichotomy of The Spits brand of rock n’ roll. They’ll take you on an even more furious ride with the next track, “My Mess,” which definitely has a sloppier feeling to the vocals.  Don’t get stuck on this one too long, as it’s pretty much over almost as quickly as it started, closing out with steady machine gun drumming and odd bits of telephone noise.

Perhaps one of the things that seems to differ on Volume V is the steady inclusion of this slacker, or subdued vocal.  It’s as if singer, Sean Spits is relaxing while the rest of the group blasts through each track.  Lead single from the album, “My Life Sucks” see the band pushing forcefully towards the end, while Sean seems to lackadaisically lay his stories atop the tune.  It’s not so much the lyrical content that does well to break up the monotony of typical punk fare, but the overall delivery, pushing a different spin on punk rock.

For me, it’s tracks like “Fed Up” and “Acid Rain” that grab at my punk heartstrings.  They’ve got a much more traditional feel, not that I necessarily need that, but that’s definitely where nostalgia and appreciation for modern punk meet.  I even feel as if I hear a bit of The Riverdales in “Fed Up,” but perhaps that’s just wishful thinking on my part.  It’s everything a good old punker needs: simple and fast–the perfect recipe.

Interestingly, The Spits never seem like they’re willing to settle in one place, which is perhaps why they’ve attracted me so much over the last several years.  Closing number “Last Man on Earth” has this Ian Drury approach to the songwriting, all placed over what seems to be a synthesized drum beat. This isn’t the sort of thing you’d expect from a band such as this, but its successful because it never grows stale, always giving you something to look forward to, or at least talk to your friends about in the end.

Regardless of whether the group is up your alley or night, you’ve got to appreciate the fact that they’re not settling for your run of the mill punk rock.  They’re pushing the boundaries, even within their own group, making Volume V as in enjoyable, if not more so, than all their previous records.  You’ve gotta love the Spits, and if you don’t, you’re missing out.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/07-My-Life-Sucks.mp3]

Download: The Spits – My Life Sucks [MP3]

Sludge Punker from The Spits

Man, since I’ve really been pushing myself back into rock n’ roll this year, my part of the site might have gotten a little bit heavier than we’ve had in the past, but I’m totally down with that.  One of my favorite acts, The Spits, just released their new album today on In the Red Records, and of course I had to get my hands on it. This new little number is quick and to the point, and it’s definitely one of the muddier feeling tracks on the record.  Lyrically you might not find a great deal of inspiration here, but hey, I’d buy it just for the cheap price and the album cover.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/07-My-Life-Sucks.mp3]

Download: The Spits – My Life Sucks [MP3]

Thee Oh Sees – Castlemania

Rating: ★★★½☆

A bit of time has passed since Thee Oh Sees released Warm Slime, but we’ve not got the first of two 2011 releases from the band, Castlemania.  Apparently the band dedicated a lot of time in the studio to the recording of this record, and while the songs are kept short, the extra layers definitely provide a great deal of depth to the band’s sound.  It’s a record full of twists and turns, all of which leave us asking, what can the band do next?

“I Need Seed” begins our affair with bit of a repetitive stomp from the group, though that’s a good thing here.  Call and response lyrics, make this a catchy ditty, but it’s not too polished, keeping the live element of the band on the studio recording.  Then you’ll move into a bit of a boogie with “Corprophagist,” which blasts off with horns and such amid the cacophonous vocals evident here.  It’s an energetic beginning to Castlemania, and one that sets the tone for the places Thee Oh Sees will go.

Studio effects are definitely apparent by the time you get to “Corrupted Coffin,” which features some sort of organ, atop all the horn work.  Slower pacing creates the space for the band to bring their own noisy style into the area where one might normally place a chorus.  But, this track doesn’t prepare you for the following number, “Pleasure Blimp.”  You can see similarities with Sonny and the Sunsets, using that old barroom country effect to create a sing-a-long melody, though their version is filled with a little less clarity in regards to the sound of the vocals.  Different band, different spin.

Even with all the twists and turns, you can easily follow the musical path on Castlemania, which, personally, contains some of my favorite tracks. “Whipping Continues” shares some style with the opener, providing you with a bit of a stomp, but it’s the melodious vocals, aside from the baritone in the background, that really reach out and suck you into the song.  Wild yelps give you hints at how Thee Oh Sees kick it out live, combining great studio moments with live attributes.  You’ll then find a bit of swagger with “AA Warm Breeze,” which uses varying vocal approaches, not to mention a mean little harmonica soloing in the various spots.  Then the band get as close as they probably ever will to a nice ballad with “If I Stay Too Long.”  Everything about this track should make you a fan of the band, or at the very least the song.  There’s that bit of discordant noise, yet the chorus with its dominating female vocal illustrates just what a bit of focus in the studio can do for an already incredible band. Probably one of my favorite tracks of the year.

There’s sixteen songs on Castlemania, and not a one of them could be considered a bad track. From the minute the whole record kicks off, Thee Oh Sees are taking a new approach; they’re combining quality recording time with their live energy.  At times, you feel as if you’re right there stomping your feet along at your favorite venue, and at other points you’re glad the band had the wherewithal to give a little bit more depth to their powerful sound.  In the end, you’re not going to go wrong spending a lot of time here.

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

Download: Thee Oh Sees – I Need Seed [MP3]

Castelmania is out now on In the Red Records!

New Jam from Thee Oh Sees

One of the groups we’ve really been into over the last few years, which was reinforced by their solid SXSW sets this year is about to release a new record.  Thee Oh Sees are putting out their new album, Castlemania (not to be confused with Castlevania), on In the Red Records on June 14th. Surprisingly, this first listen has a lot less anxious chainsaw guitar, and more of a folky little swagger to it, though I’ll admit that the change of pace and styles is never something these guys seem to steer away from.  All in all, seems like an excellent way to get people excited, as this a pretty solid little number.

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

Download: Thee Oh Sees – I Need Seed [MP3]

New Music from Davila 666

Considering that two of the ATH writers have spent time living abroad in our past, how could we not support the movement of good rock n’ roll from our Latin American bretheren. So here you have Davila 666, a band from Puerto Rico, a band about to release their new album, Tan Bajo, next week here in the states.  It’s a bit noisy, using rhythmic grooves to provide a nice bit of hyponitizing hooks for listeners.  If you need help translating for this track, feel free to hit us up, as we swear we’re studied in Spanish.  And, if you like what you hear, don’t only buy the record, go see the group in March when they come to Austin for SXSW.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/davilaregreso.mp3]

Download: Davila 666 – Esa Nena Nunca Regreso [MP3]

New Tunes from Tyvek

After releasing their latest release, Nothing Fits, last week, these Detroit bros are out to set the record straight, and get you pumped about the whole affair.  Tyvek have just released a new MP3 today, and it’s just another reason that those in the know are getting stoked on the band.  Put the bunny hats aside, and you’ve got a power-fueled record that will definitely get your heart pumping and your feet stomping.  If you haven’t gotten to know this band yet, now is your chance, so don’t miss out on the latest beast from Detroit.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Tyvek-Underwater-To.mp3]

Download: Tyvek – Underwater To [MP3]

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