I wonder if Dion Nania is still playing with Twerps? I reckon it’s irrelevant at this point, with his Free Time project announcing a brand new single. Today we’ve got the mellow vibe of “Guess Work” for your listening pleasure, and while there’s similarity to his Australian friends, there’s an interesting spin he offers on this song. It’s definitely got an Australian vibe in the guitar playing, but I hear a bit of Kurt Vile in the vocal delivery; it’s a nice touch that makes the song rather reflective in nature. This here is the B-Side to the Esoteric Tizz 7″ that’s being released by Underwater Peoples in mid-August.
Making our year-end list of Top Albums is never something we take lightly. We realize that it’s rather arbitrary in the grand scheme of things, but we realize that our role is to at least toss out our opinion, however meaningless it may be. In the long run, we had to take the tastes of several people, and whittle it into a list of 50 great albums that we think are vital to your listening experience. We know it’s a matter of personal tastes, but the records below are reflective of our tastes and our site, so don’t get mad, they’re just opinions. But, feel free to tell us where we went wrong, or what we might have missed. If you click on the album titles, you can also read our full reviews of each album, save the ones that we didn’t get to in time. Sorry we don’t like Kanye.
50 – Wampire – Curiosity
49 – Dot Dash – Half Remembered Dream
48 – Mantles – Long Enough to Leave
47 – The Appleseed Cast – Illumination Ritual
46 – Bad Sports – Bras
45 – Part Time – PDA
44 – Dick Diver – Calendar Days
43 – Math and Physics Club – Our Hearts Beat Loud
42 – Veronica Falls – Waiting for Something to Happen
41 – Eat Skull – III
40 – The Lonely Wild – The Sun as It Comes
39 – The Love Language – Ruby Red
38 – Gun Outfit – Hard Coming Down
37 – Cate Le Bon – Mug Museum
36 – Daughn Gibson – Me Moan
35 – Andre Obin – The Arsonist
34 – Arp – More
33 – Gap Dream – Shine Your Light
32 – The Black Watch – The End of When
31 – Ty Segall – Sleeper
30 – The Stevens – A History of Hygeine
29 – Of Montreal – Lousy with Sylvianbriar
28 – Mirror Travel – Mexico
27 – Local Natives – Hummingbird
26 – Girls Names – The New Life
25 – GRMLN – Empire
24 – Small Black – Limits of Desire
23 – Audacity – Butter Knife
22 – Mikal Cronin – MCII
21 – Chelsea Wolfe – Pain is Beauty
20 – Foals – Holy Fire
19 – Radical Face – Family Tree: The Branches
18 – Youth Lagoon – Wondrous Bughouse
17 – Terry Malts – Nobody Realizes This is Nowhere
16 – Shout Out Louds – Optica
15 – Kurt Vile – Waking on a Pretty Daze
14 – Braids – Flourish//Perish
13 – Crystal Antlers – Nothing is Real
12 – Typhoon – White Lighter
11 – Ski Lodge – Big Heart
Admittedly, this album makes nods to folk troubadours of Christmas’ past, but what grabbed me from the moment I heard this record was the sincerity in what’s being created. In leaving us with a stripped down listen of folk tunes and incredible poetry, we’re asked to look into the history of American songwriting tradition; it’s been awhile since it was executed so well.
9 – The Growlers – Hung at Heart
I’d put this album on any list for one song alone, “Someday.” But, it just so happens that the rest of the album maintains the sensation that’s established on the opening track. I’ve heard it referenced as a surf-psych opus, but what’s been assured in my mine is what an incredible listen we’re all be treating to when we put Hung at Heart on our record players.
Hether Fortune seems to scare people. Her work is in your face, never making an excuse for who she is or what she believes. That attitude carries on into her music, allowing listeners to experience a musical world void of any pretense. The songs on this album are angular, dark and abrasive; the vocals have Hether dominating the scene of modern lady rock warriors. If you don’t dig it, she doesn’t care, but I do because this record rules.
While many of the songs on this effort leaked out before under various EPs, the whole masterpiece exists in the way it was tied together as a complete work. It’s operatic and grand at every corner, but it’s also undeniably a pop record. The emphasis might revolve around the more artful spectrum of pop music, but this is an album you can play for everyone in your family, and they’ll all find themselves swept up in the wonderment of Privilege.
What else really needs to be said about The National. They consistently make great albums that are lauded then often overlooked, but we didn’t want to do that to one of our favorite acts. I mean, if they played 8 shows in 8 days, we’d be at every one, and the DJ set after party. Their accolades and recognition are warranted, and it’s especially clear on this, their latest release.
When listening to Pass the Ringo, I thought of one thing: this is the sort of record that makes a small label, like Loglady Records, a household name. It’s spun around garage rock and psych rock structures, whilst still maintaining an accessibility that few people working in that genre achieve. Some albums can play in the background of your house, and might be happy to do so, but Legs created something that made me stop and listen at every turn; I’m thankful for that.
Someone For You came our way in January. On my record player, it hasn’t left since. This is one of the most rewarding power-pop records I’ve gotten my hands on, and trust me, I’ve gotten my hands on a lot of great records. Each song is filled with innate hooks and garage rock grit, encouraging you to tap your toes for the entirety of the record. You’d think after a full year our interest would have waned, but with time we’ve only grown to appreciate the record even more.
At the moment, there’s not too many people releasing music that’s the quality of Mathew Cothran and Coma Cinema. There are elements of the bizarre, similar to the work of early Elf Power, yet there’s this intimacy that artists like Eliott Smith were able to create with their listeners. You wrap that up and put it in a package of pop sensibility, and you have an album that can’t be ignored.
In today’s musical climate, we buy into the fact that artists have to be doing something strange, or something that’s vastly different from their peers. But, in the grand scheme of things, we often forget what it’s like to take enjoyment out of the music. This album was one of the many reminders that music, when it’s good, can be quite special. Every song here is a single, and worth your time; it’s the best thing Laz has done, and I feel like he’s just really getting started.
This album is about Devon Welsh. From the first instant I heard his voice, it took hold of me. Throughout the year, Impersonator, consistently played on my radio. His voice was mesmerizing, captivating audiences on several occasions in Austin, convincing us to be as quiet as a mouse, so as to hear every note. The unique quality of the album will reward listeners for years to follow. It made us believe in great music again.
The crowd filled into Mohawk on a warm August evening, selling out for one of the most popular names in the indie realm, Kurt Vile. He came into town behind praise for Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze, his latest album; he was supported by Sonny and the Sunsets.
I probably had different feelings than most leaving the night, so you can read those thoughts, or just check out the great photo work of our boy Brian Gray.
|Tickets||$20 @ Door|
Our apologies for the short notice on this one, but we feel the need to let you know about such a great show regardless of timeliness. So tonight you should head on down to Mohawk for a great dual bill featuring Kurt Vile & The Violators along with Polyvinyl vet Sonny & the Sunsets. It’s rare that you’ll find a bill in town with not one, but two solid indie rock n roll acts so we suggest you make the most of this rare opportunity. Ya dig?[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/kurt_vile_never_run_away.mp3]
Download: Kurt Vile – Never Run Away [MP3]
It’s that time of year where everyone on the Internet is throwing in their two cents as to what the best records of the year are, at least up to this point. We thought we’d give it our own go, with each of us tossing out our choices. I can tell it’s going to be a huge fight come time to make our year end list.
It’s hard not to fall head over heels for any release by Kurt Vile, no matter what he does. There’s something about his vocal delivery, and the mood he manages to establish with every tune he writes. Wakin On a Pretty Daze isn’t any different; it maximizes his chill factor, yet wraps it all in a neat auditory box for you to play over and over.
Looking at the track listing, you might be overwhelmed by the length of “Wakin on a Pretty Day,” which clocks in at 9.5 minutes. But, don’t let the number be daunting, as Kurt Vile manages to capture your attention from the get-go, carrying you with his smoky vocals for the entire duration of the track. The guitars, of course, have that swirling effect that highlights both the tone and the strumming style. Even when he tapers off toward the end with a string of “yea, yea, yeas” it’s hard not to feel the emotional pull of his songwriting. In fact, many of the songs on Wakin On a Pretty Daze are well-over the typical length one expects, like this one, but not a one of those could really be discarded.
For me, the beauty in what Kurt does is not just in the lyrics or the songwriting, but in the overall mood left with the listener, myself in this case. I like the solemnity presented in a song such as “Girl Called Alex,” opening with a trickling bit of guitar before Vile makes his grand entrance. He fills some of the negative space with distorted guitar. There’s no rush in what he’s doing, always showing restraint where others might push on too quickly. That track fits perfectly back to back with “Never Run Away,” which uses a touch more pace, though the vocal delivery is what holds my interest through this track; I also appreciate the way the guitar lines work in and out of the track’s quieter moments. It’s easy to be concise in a shorter time frame.
While I enjoy all of these tunes, I think he accomplishes more in the little songs here. “Shame Chamber” has a bit of a crunchy stomp to it, though lower tones of Kurt’s drawn out vocal and the cutting guitar plucking soon rid the track of that sentiment. He even flirts with this pop vocal inflection (see 1.16) that leads me to believe he’s flirting with visiting other musical territory. This number is much like the following tune, “Snowflakes Are Dancing;” that track has a nice little coat of haze and gentle tones on the vocals to accompany the natural warmth of Vile’s guitar playing.
After spending hours listening to the new album, I think you’ll find it’s strength lays in the fact that the length of the songs and the emotional pull allow you to completely let yourself get lost. I imagine that’s what Kurt Vile has always been after, creating guitar pop that leads its listeners into an endless state of wonderment. Take a few trips around the block with Wakin On a Pretty Daze and you’ll surely feel the same.
I just absolutely love Kurt Vile. While some artists I adore seem to be hit or miss, this guy just doesn’t ever seem to write a bad song, let alone a mediocre one. His latest single features those smoky vocals and light guitar sound, occasionally stopping for some careful strumming moments; I even like the stuttering vocal of “away-ay-ay-ay” that he throws in there. His new record, Walking on a Pretty Daze, will be released on April 9th via Matador Records, and I guarantee that it’s not going to get a bad review from anyone, unless they’re crazy folks.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/kurt_vile_never_run_away.mp3]
Download: Kurt Vile – Never Run Away [MP3]
I can almost assuredly say that by the year’s end, everyone at the ATH offices will have admitted at one point or another that Kurt Vile‘s upcoming record, Wakin on a Pretty Daze, is one of our favorite album’s of the year. It seems outrageous, I agree, but such is the power Kurt holds over us, especially with this new single he’s just released. There’s something to his simplicity in songwriting that maximizes his emotional draw between himself and listeners. It sounds like almost anyone could write these songs, but no one could do it so effectively. The album is out on April 9th via Matador Records.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/kurtvile_-_wakinonaprettyday.mp3]
Download:Kurt Vile – Wakin On a Pretty Day [MP3]
Earlier this year everyone raved about Mac Demarco after the release of Rock N’ Roll Night Club, which had Mac scatter-brained, musically speaking. He’s back already with his first proper full-length, 2, focused and ready to take aim at your most intimate chill session. If you need that will help you unwind, then turn on the subtle genius of Mac.
Almost immediately, I was won over. “Cooking Up Something Good” is a catchy little guitar ditty, opening with a funky guitar line that almost seems off-key at points–in fact I’m positive he bends those strings out of tune. Still, you wouldn’t be able to escape the relaxed atmosphere Mac Demarco offers you from the get-go. Following that laid-back vibe is “Dreaming,” a tune that’s coated slightly in the atmospherics of Demarco’s guitar. There’s something about his voice that draws you in, even with its lack of polish; it’s got a smooth delivery, yet it resonates as if he’s singing from your couch.
My ears can’t help but think of 2 as the perfect counterpoint to Real Estate‘s Days. Where as that band pleasantly spun harmonies around bright guitar sounds, Mac seems content to slow things down with a similar guitar sound and a more intimate approach. “The Stars Keep on Calling My Name” definitely has that twang in the guitar, but the slower pacing, if that’s possible, allows for the listener to sit back and absorb the melody, rather than pursue a more passionate sound. That’s not to say that Demarco isn’t passionate about what he’s doing, or that you won’t feel an emotional draw, but rather that he seems more content to be your friendly couch-crashing troubadour. One listen to “Still Together,” the record’s closing number and you’ll completely understand my sentiment. The tune features a quiet guitar strum and vocals that strain to reach the right pitch. Those little imperfections demonstrate that 2 is created by an artist in his own world, but one that’s willing to let you be a participant.
There’s also some of that clever electric guitar jamming that made Mac Demarco so mesmerizing, even though he spins it in his own way. He uses it to open “Freaking Out the Neighborhood,” and then sinks into his groove to offer more of a croon with the guitar sinking further into the background. The added touch of backing vocals helps perfect this tune too. But, for me the most special moment comes during “My Kind of Woman,” featuring a swirling guitar that wraps around Mac’s voice, and the faint hint of a female vocal counterpart. Here you’ll find the song a slow trudge of what one can only describe as pretty sounds–and that’s never a bad thing.
I hate comparing musicians to others, especially if it really has nothing to do with the artist at hand, but I’m going to say that Mac Demarco seems poised to make a Kurt Vile-ish run at the masses. As a songwriter, he seems to be equal in his output, and 2 is a representation of a musician you can’t really put in one place. We’re witnessing the unique birth of a man who’s got a true craftsman’s style to songwriting; he’s just getting started, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/03-Freaking-Out-The-Neighborhood.mp3]
Download:Mac Demarco – Freaking Out The Neighborhood [MP3]
It’s that time of year again, with the Austin City Limits Festival just around the corner. As one of our favorite festivals, and one of the many musical outlets in the city, we thought it was our job to keep you updated on the acts that are vital to a successful weekend out at Zilker Park. Our first act to take a look at is Philadelphia’s The War on Drugs. Read more