Jaguar Love – Hologram Jams

Rating: ½ · · · ·

When the Jaguar Love project first came to fruition, it was initially 2 parts Blood Brothers and 1 part Pretty Girls Make Graves.  They released an incredible single with “Highways of Gold.”  That was then.  Now the band is 2 parts Blood Brothers and no parts PGMG; will this affect the sound of Hologram Jams?  The answer is yes, and you’ll be surprised how much.

Take Me to the Sea, the group’s first album was fueled with the energy you would expect from Blood Brothers, but this new band doesn’t even really resemble anything of that, other than that you can always recognize Johnny Whitney’s vocals.  That’s about the only thing remaining that you will find on Hologram Jams.

Unfortunately, the missing percussionist Jay Clark really leaves a huge gaping whole in the music.  Instead of turning to another drummer, the remaining duo went straight to a drum machine.  The Nylon Tour in 09′ featured the group as such, but many hoped that this was just a temporary solution.  Without Clark, the beats seem really uninspired, and the guitars of Cody Votalato don’t really add an extra dimension.  If you take “Cherry Soda,” it just sounds like programmed beats with auto-tune. 

After all the promise of the early recordings of this band, Hologram Jams is an enormous let down.  Lyrically, it just seems extremely cheesy. Here’s a sample from “Up All Night” : “We stayed up all night, and saw the sun come up.”  This is disheartening, as the lyrics just come across as if they were written by a teenager in the midst of his first experience with partying. 

While your nostalgic tendencies want to recall the glory dates of Blood Brothers, this album seems to damage everything that they established.  People remarked that this was a New Order meets Black Flag, but instead it comes across like a hardcore Kesha album, only cheesier. 

Perhaps the criticism is extremely unfair, and I’m being overly harsh.  I thought about that sincerely, especially after I praised this band all during the summer of 08, but I feel like I owe every person who read that stuff an apology.  This is possibly one of the least enjoyable listening experiences of my life.  I can back this up with four simple comments: 1) These sound like the beats already programmed into any keyboard you buy at Wal-Mart 2) The guitar doesn’t even seem to serve a purpose on this record 3) Lyrics are pre-pubescent 4) I just deleted this from my iTunes.

Sorry guys, but while I love early Jaguar Love moments, Hologram Jams is the least listenable thing I’ve come across in a lifetime.

New Tunes from Past Lives

pastlivesYou know if you’ve been following our site that we loved the Blood Brothers, then moved on to loving Jaguar Love. Now we’ve got another family relative of Blood Brothers, this time from former lead singer Jordan.  His new group Past Lives isn’t quite in the same world as his former band, though their first single “Hex Takes Hold” did have some of the vocal memories.  This new one, however, slowly trods along, almost as if they are playing with some slo-core stylings.  You be the judge. And if you like it, grab Tapestry of Webs on February 23rd.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/Past-Lives-Deep-In-The-Valley.mp3]

Download: Past Lives – Deep In The Valley [MP3]

New Music From Jaguar Love

jaguarlove06Oh man.  We really like you Jaguar Love.  We really do. But what is this new direction you’re going in?  I guess we should have seen it coming when drummer J. Clark left the band and Johnny and Cody continued on as a two piece.  This new song is sort of a techno sounding number with way too much production work and the same lyric chanted over and over.  Let’s hope that more new material is on the way with more of that old punch and energy.  Maybe it’s not sooo bad, but it really makes me want to try out as drummer for the band.  This track will appear on a new album from Jaguar Love out sometime in 2010 via Fat Possom.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/Upallnight.mp3]

Download: Jaguar Love – Up All Night [MP3]

7/1 – Nylon Summer Tour @ Antones

patrickwolf_04We were excited to be hitting up the Nylon Summer Tour at Antones, as the bill featured the likes of Jaguar LovePlasticines and Patrick Wolf. These are several bands we had been following for a long time, but had yet to get a chance to see on our home-turf.  Anxiously, we grabbed a few Lone Stars and awaited the evening with enthusiastic uncertainty. Follow the jump to read our take on the show.

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Nylon Summer Music Tour @ Antone’s (7/1)

nylonmagIt’s finally July and what better way to celebrate summer with a mini-festival being put on by Nylon Magazine at Antone’s on Wednesday night.  We call it a mini-festival because the lineup for the late afternoon/nighttime show features 4 incredible acts that should tickle your fancy.  The lineup includes showman Patrick Wolf headlining, Living Things, Plastiscines, and long time ATH fave Jaguar LoveTickets for this big show are only $15 so we suggest you make plans to be there for this extremely cheap show.  Doors are at 6pm and first act starts at 7pm.  If you don’t like the idea of being at Antone’s for so long, get there early, get stamped, and come and go as you please.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/02-hard-times.mp3]

Download: Patrick Wolf – Hard Times [MP3]

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/01-highways-of-gold1.mp3]

Download: Jaguar Love – Highways of Gold [MP3]

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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Jaguar Love – Take Me to the Sea

Rating: ★★★½ ·

When I first head about the union of former Pretty Girls Make Graves member, Jay Clark, with two of the Blood Brothers, I was salivating in wake for the release of a full length.  The potential for this combination could reach no bounds in my imagination, but come to find out, there are some boundaries for this band.

The opening track, “Highways of Gold,” fails to let me down.  Each time I play this song I’m invigorated by the rise and fall of the guitar work, as it approaches the angular tour de force that I anticipated. Had they reined it in about thirty seconds, then this could be a front runner for one of my favorites of the year.

I suppose that at this point, I should let you know that singer Johnny Whitney’s voice can be grating.  Personally, I’ve adapted to it after settling in to several Blood Brothers’ albums, but I can foresee this as a problem for many listeners.  If you can’t look past it in the first song, then you can’t get through this album.

Still, the next three songs are solid tracks.  In particular, “Georgia” won me over with its proximity to a modern indie ballad done in the post-punk way.  Lyrically, these songs set the face, from the doomsday homages in “Jaguar Pirates” to the personal pain that comes with “Georgia,” which still kind of deals with the effects of living in the modern world.

However, the album starts to get repetitive at this point.  The musicianship is exactly what you expect, with tight drumming and throbbing bass, piled upon razor-sharp guitars, but at this point it kind of blends into itself.  There isn’t any differentiation in the vocals, and the music, like a Blood Brothers album, or the later Pretty Girls Make Graves records for that fact.  It’s not that the music is uninteresting, but the pace and power disappear.

Then comes the eighth track on the record, “Bone Trees and a Broken Heart,” which is another slow song for the group.  Strangely, their slower songs are just as intriguing to my ears as their louder material.  For me, it represents the talent this group possesses, not to mention their abilities to go pretty much anywhere on this record.  It’s just too bad that they don’t really go anywhere, aside from the expected barrage of noise I predicted in my earlier fantasies of this band.

Once you get away from Whitney’s vocals, you’ll find–those of you that like to rock–that this record has a lot of redeemable qualities about it.  It’s listenable all the way through, at least for those of this ilk. It might not be anything that takes you out of this world, but then again, it meets almost all of my expectations.  Good start fellas, now hit the showers.

The Faint – Fasciinatiion

Rating: ★★ · · ·

It’s been several years since The Faint last released a proper full length. What have they been up to you ask? Well, they left Saddle Creek and started their own label, blank.wav, and they built their own studio. Unfortunately, they did not decide to find new ground musically.

The Faint remind me of a group of marines in training; they’ve been treading water for hours (years), always with their head just above the water (the rest of the crowd). Slowly, their legs grew tired, and that is where we find this album. Tired legs = sinking band. I’m sorry, but the band is just getting old, which is a huge contrast to the time when I thought they were extremely fresh.

The album opens up decently, but nothing spectacular. The beats sound left over from Wet From Birth, their last album, but I do like the fact that you can actually hear the bass lines in “Get Seduced,” because they are at their best when they combine their dance tendencies with actual rock music. At about the third minute, the tone in Todd Fink’s voice changes, and its great, just not enough, and too late for me to love this song.

They follow up the album with “The Geeks Were Right,” which is the obvious single. It’s probably the most immediately accessible song; its the one you want to dance to with your friends. Strangely, its one of the shorter songs on the album, which is unfortunate because it is the best–hands down. Honestly, the rest of the album after that sort of fades into the background. It’s not an irritatingly bad listen, its just not memorable, which is strange for this band because they always have extremely redeeming moments on their albums.

Lyrically, there is a lot of reference to science on this album, which I suppose is a different twist than the usual outing for this band, but by no means will you find the words significant. That’s always been the fault of the the band; lyrics have come secondary to the music.

As I continue to listen to this band, and this album, I am recalling a certain band from the mid 90s: Weezer. Do you remember when Weezer made things seem fresh?  They blew onto the scene via MTV (back when they had those music video things), and we all took notice. Then they progressed with their next album, but stopped there. They’ve been rehashing the same sound ever since that point. For me, that sums up The Faint. They’ve been doing this so long, it all just sort of blends together, and I might be ready to put them on the back burner until they reinvent the wheel.

That being said, most classic Faint fans will find that there are things to enjoy on this album, but not nearly enough for this to be one of your favorites. More than likely, it will make you dance while you’re getting ready for work, then it will go on the shelf in a few weeks. Sad but true.

Two bonus points exist: 1) The album artwork is solid, which is always a bonus for collectors because it encourages us to actually buy the album outside of the digital world. 2) The Faint are coming to Austin’s La Zona Rosa on AUgust 15th, and regardless of whether you like the band or not, they put on the most phenomenal shows–better than Ghostland Observatory, by far.

You can buy tickets for the show at GetTix. They’ll be accompanied by new Matador Records signees, Jaguar Love.

Radio Free OKC

Austin Town Hall recently made nice with our friends Radio Free OKC, a podcast/mix tape based out of Oklahoma. Radio Free will be taking a recommended song from Austin Town Hall each week and doing a special segment about our site. This is arguably one of our favorite podcasts around so we are pumped about this new partnership. Go to Radio Free OKC’s website to get this weeks episode featuring the song “Highways of Gold” by Jaguar Love straight from Austin Town Hall. You can also find and download all of Radio OKC’s podcasts for free from the itunes store.

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