Lorelei – Enterprising Sidewalks

Rating: ★★★ · ·

DC’s Lorelei have a somewhat storied past, though it seems more steeped in the history of their label, Slumberland Records, since the band only released one LP during their  time.  But, they’re back with their second LP, Enterprising Sidewalks; it’s interesting, as the record feels a bit like it has a more modern influence than their previous release(s).  Lets take a look.

The first song that stuck out to me was “Majority Stakes,” the second track on the record.  When it begins, the vocals are draped neatly over a distant drum roll, giving off a haunting mood, but as it progresses it blasts off into what I would deem Interpol territory.  I know Paul Banks came later in life, but I swear he’s the one singing this tune. Still, the ringing guitar makes it a solid jam, though it might carry on a bit too long.  The inherent darkness subsides a bit when you move into the next song, “Wound Up.”  While I’m not overly sold on the vocal (it sounds a bit flat to me), I can’t get over the way the words wrap around the guitar lines.  There’s something classic about the way Matthew Dingee plays guitar, and it’s executed perfectly here, demonstrating why the band’s name has made it this far.

As I spend more time with Lorelei, I realize that the band’s really a guitar based band.  In listening to a song like “Sorry for the Patience,” you can tell that the time spent writing the track revolved around the guitar.  I’d kill for more songs to sound like the opening twenty seconds with that bright angular guitar ringing in the foreground. I guess it’s the group pushing songs a bit too far that sometimes gets me, but their more concise songs are worthy of repeated listens.  Another song that really gets me is “Dismissal Conversation.”  There’s a trickling guitar meandering in from the beginning, but it takes a step to the side for spoken word lyrics to break out, but they wrap it up neatly, giving you a succinct example of the talents they have in their hands.

I’ve spent several hours with Enterprising Sidewalks, and there’s something just a bit off, for me.  I love the fact that the group combines elements of bands like The Wedding Present and Interpol, which would normally make them a shoo-in for one of my favorite groups, but what is that thing that’s amiss? As I’ve tried to figure it out, I’ve come to the realization that it could be one of two things, or perhaps both.  The vocals often sound flat, and don’t always seem to fit in with the feeling of the songs.  But, the songs also carry on a bit too long for me.  Only one song goes under the 4 minute mark, and that’s my favorite one.  I guess I just feel like they’re trying to fit too much into a limited space.

In the end, I like the record, and I know I’ll listen to it for times to come, but I’m not entirely sold on the group’s complete return to form.  In time, I reckon Enterprising Sidewalks will grow on old fans, but they’ve got a little work to do in order to completely win over fans who are just now getting to meet Lorelei.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/01-Hammer-Meets-Tongs.mp3]

Download:Lorelei – Hammer Meets Tongs [MP3]

Show Preview: Interpol @ Stubbs (10/28)

Date 10/28/10
Location Stubbs
Doors 7pm
Tickets SOLD OUT

Veterans, and maybe now even considered legends, of the indie scene Interpol are making their highly anticipated stop at Stubbs on Thursday night.  You’ll also be treated to a special guest set by ATH favorite White Rabbits.  Sure it’s sold out, but I’m confident you can find a way in right?  Most recent single from Interpol “Lights” can be found below.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Lights-1.mp3]

Download: Interpol – Lights [MP3]

Interpol – Interpol

Rating: ★★½ · ·

A few years back, Interpol seemingly could do no wrong with indie fans, but then came the debacle that was Our Love to Admire.  It wasn’t an affair many of us remember fondly, but that is all supposed to be in the past now that Interpol, the album, is ready for the streets.  While it definitely reverts back to older stylings of the band in its hey-day, it is a record that will force you, once and for all, to get off the fence.

Listening to “Success,” you’ll find those dark rhythmic bass lines and Paul Banks darker vocal effects giving you that personal haunt as guitars ring in the background of the track.  However, it comes off as a bit of a lackluster rendition of the band on Turn Off the Bright Lights.  Some of the bass work here is super-solid, but the entire sound of the song isn’t entirely new.  “Memory Serves” even appears in the same vein, though its execution is far superior to its predecessor.  Those stuttering guitar chords dancing on the shoegaze horizon are superb here, and the slower pace allows you to delve deeper into the band’s mood.

“Lights” came out to the masses with a great video accompaniment, portraying the artier side of the band.  And while the song, for the most part, is actually a solid effort, it begins to display the same trappings of Interpol trying to revisit their early career. They use similar guitar lines, and nothing is utterly distinguishable from the old band, other than a more polished production value.  “Barricade,” for its part, gives a bit of an affront to the audience, using a sort of stuttering guitar line to mix dance grooves with the haunting of Paul Banks.  Despite the powerful chorus, it seems forced, and sort of generic in its overall presentation.  It’s right about this point that Interpol seems to have sort of blended together, mashing up the grooves of the past with the polish of latter day sins.

At first listen, “Always Malaise” doesn’t appear to be too much. It’s got a tinkering piano that unites Banks with the listener, but it’s the echoing effects in the background that make this song worthy of several run-throughs on your home speaker.  Perhaps a sharper guitar would have given it even more of an edge, but you have to appreciate a step into newer ground on this number.  And that’s when it all seems to grow a bit cold and ordinary.  The creative spark doesn’t survive on the latter half of the album, and you could honestly cut out some tracks to make just a decent EP.  Interpol, for all their great work in the past, haven’t come back as strong as you expected after their last falter.  Listening to Interpol probably won’t make you hate the band, at least not if you’re an early fan, but it’s not likely to win back those that left, or new fans.  It’s an album full of songs you might think about listening to, but probably wouldn’t come back to time and time again.  It’s sad, frankly, as I’m looking at the band from the other side of the fence.

New Music from Philistines Jr.

You probably know Peter Katis better as the man behind the soundboards for records from The National and Interpol (not to mention TGUK), but he’s working on releasing an album of his own with help from his brother and friends.  The group goes by Philistines Jr, and their new album If a Band Plays in the Woods comes out October 19th.   This track is really short, but you get the feeling that with a collection of songs that sound like this, it’s going to be a winner.  Personally, these vocals just sound great, and I can’t wait for this to come my way.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/PhilistinesJr-The_Bus_Stop_Song.mp3]

Download: Philistines Jr – The Bus Stop Song [MP3]

Adam Franklin @ Emos (1/13)

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Date Wednesday, January 13th
Location Emos
Doors 900p
Tickets $10at the door

Lets face it, Adam Franklin is a very busy man.  Whether he’s playing with Interpol’s Fogarino in Magnetic Morning or he’s reuniting with Swervedriver, he’s got a pretty solid schedule.  Somehow he found time to get with his new project Adam Franklin and Bolts of Melody, to tour the states.  He’ll be joined Wednesday night by local buzzworthy bands Ringo Deathstarr and My Education. You won’t want to miss this legend!

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/adamfranklin-seizetheday.mp3]

Download: Adam Franklin – Seize the Day [MP3]

FT50: Albums of the ’00s

0828top5coverWhat?   You still listen to THAT album?  That record is so 2004!  Well, that’s okay, because we really like that one too, which is why we decided to come up with a list of our favorite albums of the last decade (2000-2009).  Sure, these might not be YOUR favorite records, or the most critically acclaimed, but we sat down and really thought out every record from the past ten years that we keep coming back to in our collections.  You’re likely to disagree with some of these, and we won’t tell you we’re absolutely right we just know that these happen to be OUR favorites.  If you think we totally blew it here, feel free to tell us so, but be nice, as our egos are kind of fragile.  Follow the jump for more.

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Julian Plenti – Julian Plenti is…Skyscraper

jplenti

Rating: ★★★½ ·

Julian Plenti isn’t really a new band, rather it’s the sidecar for Interpol frontman Paul Banks.  His latest release on Matador, Julian Plenti is…Skyscraper, attempts to re-up the ante for his career, and honestly, that of his band.   After a brief departure into a more mainstream approach Banks is seen hear , expectedly, treading the ground he’s walked upon for so long now.

Opening track “Only if You Run” demonstrates that despite going it alone, his heart is never too far away from his mainstay. However, the trickling guitar lines show a touch of brightness, which also seems to collide with the lyrical content.  He does however bring back that recognizable throaty vocal when he shouts “surprise” near the end of the track.

“Skyscraper” begins with a great deal of promise for new direction, as punctuated guitar strumming is accompanied by symphonic flourishes.  It’s a brooding number, one that might benefit greatly for some strong vocals, and just as you think there won’t be any, Banks enters the picture.  Haunting as he can be, it would have been nice to see him go a bit further in this direction on the entire record.

“Games for Days” probably sounds exactly like what you would expect from this album had you heard nothing else other than the involvement of Banks.  It’s as close as you get here to an Interpol cover song, although his work in the chorus does seem as if he tried to push himself a bit into new space, especially with the guitar work that crashes at the end, coming off a bit like a heavier version of The Killers. Of course, this song backs up to “Madrid Song” which is about as minimal of a song as you can carry on with.  It’s all piano and soundbytes; it would have been nice to see the album here.

But the thing is, you could see this train coming from miles away with the blogosphere telling you of the arrival of new work from Paul Banks.  Those of you who were die-hard fans of Interpol were salivating, and there are definitely moments here that shine, or rather give off a faint sparkle.  Still, aside from interesting moments such as “Unwind” with the blasting horns and marching vocals, the album is fairly predictable in regards as to the direction that you would expect it to venture.  This isn’t entirely a bad thing, after all, the last record was sub-par.  Julian Plenti is a solid reminder that the forces of Interpol are still something to be excited about as we head into the future.

New Tunes from Julian Plenti

jpJulian Plenti is the new name for Interpol frontman Paul Banks. He is set to debut his new album Julian Plenti is…Skyscraper on August 4th via Matador Records. I wonder if it will be in the realm of people like Albert Hammond Jr and be an Interpol lite album?  Based on this track, it seems JP is going off on his own a bit, which is a good thing in our book.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/julian-plenti-games-for-days.mp3]

Download: Julian Plenti – Games for Days [MP3]

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