New Single and Video From Rey Pila

I am a Rey Pila fan. I wanted to get that out of the way in case you readers out there didn’t already know. The search results don’t lie….As a longtime supporter of the band, it brings me great pleasure to be one of the first to share their new single and video for track “How Do You Know?”. This is easily one of the catchiest and most infectious songs the band has ever delivered. The hook in this song delivers each time you hear it, and the track obviously has a great Casablancas vibe to it similar to his solo work. I’m excited to hear moreas Rey Pila continue to progress their sound. Viva Mexico.

This track appears on the new Julian Casablancas produced EP Wall of Goth out April 28th on Cult Records.

Diamond Rings – Special Affections

Rating: ★★★★ ·

In a world currently dominated by millions of people with laptops creating music, one has a hard time finding the perfect blend of electronica and pop.  Luckily, the hype behind Diamond Rings has brought John O’Regan to the forefront, just in time for him to drop his debut Special Affections.  It’s clear that his sound might not be the most innovative, but one thing is for sure, it’s definitely well-executed, leaving listeners with an album to spin over and over and over again.

Beginning with “Play by Heart,” you get a slow intro, with some tribal drums filling in the space left by the electronic atmospherics.  O’Regan’s deep voice, which often shifts tones, playfully discusses his heart-on-sleeve romance with a former lover. It establishes the mood of the entire record, walking along with personal retrospective lyrics and craft blended electronic pop.  Still, “Wait and See” is where the album really begins to take off, using a little bit of guitar riffage, and heavier beats.  The change in vocal tone, with additional layered vocals, during the chorus really brings the track home, offering up one of Special Affections best moments.

“On Our Own” keeps up the pace here, giving us more driving beats and blips, along with touches of orchestration to provide the record with a little more depth.  The chorus here has a delivered hook, similar to something you might have heard on Julian Casablancas’ solo record.  Surely this song will make you want to break into slow-dance mode with your buddies, shaking your hips and kicking up your feet.  It leads right into “You and Me,” which is one of the more playful songs in this collection, but once again its a shift in the tone of the vocal that provides just enough differentiation to make Special Affections interesting.  Simple beats and spoken-word delivery can wear you down, but John O. does well to twist in turn, whether it’s with his change in voice, or his carefully painted flourishes of additional sounds.  One listen to his twenty second electronic-rap near the end of the song, with a raised voice to end it all exemplifies his willingness to take his songs beyond the average band.

Despite his best efforts, it does seem that Special Affections has the ability to wear you down, especially when the slow songs begin to evolve.  Tracks like “Pre-Owned Heart” aren’t off songs by any means, yet they do get a touch redundant, as the extra touches present elsewhere seem to have dissipated.  Don’t give up on the record though, as Diamond Rings still has more to offer you in songs like “It’s Not My Party,” a track filled with a bit of electronic haze, O’Regan’s voice, and it only picks up from there, though never quite going too far.  The restraint showed here allows you to see how gifted a songwriter he is.  And it all ends with “All Yr Songs,” the shortest track here, but it illustrates his range, giving off a bit more of a summery appeal, as opposed to the earlier slow-club bangers he fills the album with up until this point.  As the song closes to an end, you’re probably noticing a smile on your face, noticing that you had fun listening to this track, and to Special Affections.  Not a bad way to end a solid debut.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/10-All-Yr-Songs.mp3]

Download: Diamond Rings – All Yr Songs [MP3]

4/14 Julian Casablancas @ La Zona Rosa

Wednesday night was a busy one for the ATH crew in Austin, TX.  We had a few folks over at the White Rabbits/Here We Go Magic show, a couple at the Bonobo show, and a even one or two over at Adi’s indie karaoke shindig.  I however couldn’t pass up the chance to see one of the great front men of the past decade, Mr. Julian Casablancas.  Follow the jump for a quick review and more photos.

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Your Wednesday In Austin

Let’s be straight here.  Austin is the shit.  No seriously, this is the best city in the world.  You know it you not cool people who don’t live here… I say this because this post is only possible because of the great place we live in.  One night and too many options for live music.  Most cities would die to have these kind of choices in a month span.  We get em all in one night!  Here they are for tomorrow night:

From The Mind Of AdiEnglish Teeth, The Georgian Company and Followed By Static @ Mohawk ($5 cover. Doors @ 6pm)

White Rabbits & Here We Go Magic @ The Independent ($13 tickets. Doors @ 9pm)

Julian Casablancas & Funeral Party @ La Zona Rosa ($20 tickets. Doors @ 7pm)

Bonobo, Yppah, & Jesse Brede @ The Parish ($15 Tickets. Doors @ 9pm)

Where you gonna be?

FT5: Modern Rock Stars

0115top5coverWe really live in a day and age when the idea of being a rock star is just about gone. Gone are the days of the lead singer who gets mobbed by fans everywhere they go or sleeps in hotel rooms full of strange women.  We don’t even get a lot of musicians with drug and alcohol problems anymore or who quite obviously don’t give a shit what anyone thinks.  You know, those people who were just way cooler than you ever hoped to be?  Dylan, Jagger, Plant, etc.  We all know the names.  That’s what makes them rock stars.  So today I wanted to create a list of those “modern rock stars” who have carried the torch of debauchery and coolness into a new age.  These guys (and gals) represent all the great things about being a rock star: alcohol/drug rehab stints, celebrity girlfriends, trend setting, don’t give a shit attitude, members of popular bands, and decent music all earn you a place on this list.  As a disclaimer I’ll say that all these artists rose to fame in the last decade so this means you won’t see a Dave Grohl or Eddie Vedder on this list because they have long been in the halls of the greats.  I’ll also make an attempt to compare each artist to who they most closely resemble from years past.  Please don’t assume that I’m comparing anyone artistically, I just wanted to give you a  frame of reference.  Follow the jump for the full list.

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FT50: Songs of 2009

bestof2009cover_songsWe have to start this list off with a disclaimer.  We have three writers, all with different tastes, so the list should reflect that a little bit.  Also, these are our opinions, and by no means, are they meant to be seen as an “end all be all” to the question of what were the best songs of 2009.  That being said, we like our list quite a bit.  Sure, it’s got some expected numbers at the top, but the rest of the list is genius.  We’ve got some of the songs streaming for you, and the rest take you straight to youtube.  Follow the jump for full list.

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Julian Casablancas – Phrazes for the Young

julian-phrazescover

Rating: ★★½ · ·

It’s been a long long time since the essence of cool was brought back by The Strokes.  No longer do we have to listen to stagnant rock on the radio, and the indie underground seems to have grown substantially.  We owe a great deal of that to Julian Casablancas.  His new album Phrazes for the Young creates a certain sense of nostalgia; it makes you look back to those days when it all seemed new and vibrant. 

Hands down, the first three songs on this record, “Out of the Blue,” “Left and Right in the Dark,” and “11th Dimension,” are all ridiculously good songs.  You can say that they have a more pop-centric leaning than most of the work done by Casablancas other band, but you can’t deny that the infections hooks are in abundance on these first three tracks.  If you take “11th Dimension” alone, you can see that combining the swagger of The Strokes with the electronic pop of Phoenix packs a huge punch.  This is such a killer opening to the album, that it really makes the latter half of the album fall flat on its face before our eyes.

Once you get to the last five songs, the pace is gone, and with it, the depth that seemingly existed from the outstart.  “Ludlow St.” has sort of a throwback feeling to a summer folk string, almost as if The Beatles have just entered into Julian’s lexicon, while the lyrics are reminiscent of Whitman’s Song of Myself.  It’s clever, but it is not a song that will last long in your memory.

“River of Brakelights” does sound exactly like some of the more straightforward rock songs that eclipsed the gems that were on First Impression of Earth.  Unfortunately, Julian Casablancas has a difficult time as it is differentiating the tones in vocals, and this song makes that all too apparent, which lead to the damage that devours this track. 

All this seems to head towards the trudgingly slow “Tourist,” a song that is lyrically akin to “Ludlow St.” All the punch is clearly gone at this point, and you can feel your heart sink as the album draws to a close.  It’s a shame actually, as the record began with such a promising start that you wanted the entire thing to be successful, but our luck has run out here.  Still, for those die-hard completists, you will find the voice of The Strokes living in a different place, one that at times, is as exciting as we’ve ever heard him.  Perhaps such moments make it onto the new work of either of his bands.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Julian-Casablancas-11th-Dimension.mp3]

Download: Julian Casablancas – 11th Dimension [MP3]

New Music From Julian Casablancas

JulianCasablancas2This brand new Julian Casablancas track has been tearing up the interwebs over the last few days and I figured I could share it with anyone who hasn’t heard it yet.  It’s called “11th Dimension” and will appear on the famous front man’s upcoming solo debut album Phrazes for the Young out October 2oth on RCA.  Upon first listening you may cringe at the trendy 80s beat, but give it some time, it grows on you fast.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Julian-Casablancas-11th-Dimension.mp3]

Download: Julian Casablancas – 11th Dimension [MP3]

Nickel Eye – The Time of the Assassins

Rating: ★★★ · ·

The last several months have brought the music faithful three different Strokes side-projects, the newest being from bassist Nikolai Fraiture, aptly titled Nickel Eye.  All this output makes one wonder what could have been accomplished had all the players remained as prolific as they seem to be.  But, this one leaves some questions for listeners.

Opening the album, it’s clear that Niklai holds his instrument of choice dear to his heart, as the bass-work is precisely what he provided listeners with when he took to the stage with his mates.

Then comes “Back From Exile,” the first appearance of an acoustic guitar.  It’s not that the songs aren’t enjoyable, as they surely are just that, but you start to go elsewhere with the music as you listen.  His voice sounds oddly like his band-mate’s, which leads one to wonder precisely what Julian thinks of his friends finding replacements for his vocal styling. Still, the second song featuring acoustic guitar, “Fountain Avenue” definitely is worth a listen, possibly over and over again.

Enter “Dying Star,” a possible suggestion at where The Strokes could have gone, or were going, or are going for that matter.  It’s winding guitars and hurried sound seemingly fit the mold of that other band.  It’s at this point that it all begins to slowly make sense.  “Brandy of the Damned” has a similar bounce to that of Fab’s band, Little Joy, but still definitely has a quality unmistakably similar to the central band.  That is where you begin to figure it out.

Nikolai seems to have a lot of difficulty moving away entirely from the sound he helped to establish. Whereas you feel like Albert Hammond and Little Joy have both established themselves, distancing their sound in certain ways away from their alma mater, Nikolai flirts with walking away, but never quite goes the distance here. He can’t seem to eclipse the huge shadow that looms large over his career.

That being said, the last few songs, “Another Sunny Afternoon” and “Hey, Thats No Way to Say Goodbye” both push those boundaries just a little bit, in a folkier manner.  It’s at the end of the album, which makes it come off as an afterthought, though you’ll surely enjoy “Another Sunny Afternoon.”

While listening to this album, you will definitely find a lot of it’s appeal, as there are many songs worthy of making your favorite mix-tape.  Yet, this album, is not one where you ask for more from Nickel Eye.  It’s pleasant and enjoyable, but where you wish Little Joy had another record, here your okay with just a few listens.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/07-brandy-of-the-damned.mp3]

Download: Nickel Eye – Brandy of the Damned [MP3]