Built by Snow – Mega

Rating: ★★★½ ·

When it comes to the Austin music scene, it’s pretty difficult to break into the scene out of nowhere, as most bands that make it out have spent years winning over audiences in our town. Built by Snow is set to be one of those bands, as they release their album Mega on January 20th.

The first actual track, “Something in 3D” immediately catches any listeners ears, as their angular pop melodies infectiously invade your head. The backing vocals of “whoos” and “whaas” add the perfect compliment to the song’s structure. It’s a song reminiscent of early Rentals material.

Another solid track, “All the Weird Kids Know,” follows with a similar strength, as the band goes all the way back to traditional 80s pop sytlings as they create a number that most bands would kill to create on their own. This is one of those songs that everyone yearns to hear, and it’s sure to be a crowd pleaser as they seek to etch out their place in the local Austin market. Besides, who doesn’t love a well-done gang vocal?

They slow it down a little in the middle, allowing space and Nintendo-esque keyboard work to provide the skeletal workings of their gentler numbers. Sure, there are some gaps here that show a necessity for further song exploration, but even the base of a song like “A-Beta” shows a band that is willing to work on all aspects of their album, rather than just settling for the same patterns over and over.

In all actuality, the band has reference points left and right, though they never seem to rest solely on the forefathers of their sound. Hints of The Rentals dash in and out due to the keyboard work, but then they push you in another direction. “Invaders” recalls a less catastrophic version of Los Campesinos, as the band spins you around your room with fists in the air. Once again, they win you over with their willingness to keep it simple and clean, all the while keeping it as catchy as possible.

One of the best things for this band’s album has to revolve around the fact that they don’t misstep once. It’s possible that the infectious hooks might not be for everyone, but for those that adore this genre, they will be pleased to know that it’s solid through and through, which is a great accomplishment for any band, especially such a small fish in a large pond. At the end, we can all be thankful for a new band worthy of our time and adoration here in our home town.

Look for the band around town as they have sets this Thursday at Beauty Bar and their CD release party on January 24th at Club Deville.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/03-all-the-weird-kids-know.mp3]

Download: Built By Snow – All the Weird Kids Know [MP3]

Albums Of The Year: 30-16

The year of 2008 is winding to a close, so it’s only appropriate that we wrap it up with our year-end albums list. We don’t expect many to necessarily agree with our list, but we worked really hard to make sure we had what we thought were the best thirty albums of the year. These are the records that spun over and over again in our heads and stereos, so this list is dedicated to their longevity in 2008.  We’ve conveniently broken it down into two segments, with albums 30-16 after the jump. Read more

Los Campesinos – We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Two records in one year is a highly ambitious goal from anyone, but the majority of the songs released on the debut full length from Los Campesinos, Hold On Now Youngster, has been lying around for a few years.  Still, the band aimed to keep the pace with their angular jangling pop, releasing We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed, in the last week.

Everything about this band just screams sheer fun. The guitars pummeling your ears as the gang vocals ebb and flow throughout each song, and you find that your hooked immediately.  Their flirtation with nonsensical lyrics makes code deciphering something all of us can enjoy.  It’s energetic, and they never let up, not for a second.

Trading male and female vocals is always a perfect way to gather fans quickly, be it a band like Comet Gain or a group like Mates of State.  The dynamic quality of such songwriting always makes it interesting for any listener, and lets face it, with so many bands putting out decent albums nowadays, it’s hard to find one that perfectly distinguishes itself from the masses.  Yet again, Los Campesinos are standing out in the crowd.

A lot of credit gets thrown around for vibrant young bands, chasing the teenage underclass with energy-packed singles.  Bands like Ra Ra Riot or Tokyo Police Club most recently come to mind, but Los Campesinos stand above the rest.  Their guitars always seem to be combatting one another, as if the war to write a pop song could only be one.  Aforementioned vocals dynamics prevail, mixing it up around any corner, just for kicks.

Take title track, “We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed” for instance. It opens up with a killer percussion line powered on by a little synthesizer, just before the rest of the band comes in for the attack.  Swelling guitars pulsate, up and down, then make a splash, hinting at the chorus.  Throw in a set of gang vocals, and you have a perfectly juvenile song written for adults.

Sure, the band is not breaking newer ground here with this album.  In fact, you’ll find that a lot of the sounds appear strikingly similar to previous works put out by the band this year.  Still, listening to an album like this reminds you of what fun we can all have if we just let it all loose once in awhile, taking in everything for the sake of fun.

Los Campesinos! Bring New Sounds

Already having released Hold On Now, Youngster… earlier this year, Los Campesinos! are bringing us more new music before the end of the year.  We have a song for you below that was just released called “How I Taught Myself to Scream” and it sees the band continuing their power pop mastery.  Apparently the song will not be appearing on the band’s newest LP We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed due out Oct. 13th in the UK and Nov. 11th for we Americans.  Hope this tides you over till then.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/los-campesinos-how-i-taught-myself-to-scream.mp3]

Download: Los Campesinos – How I Taught Myself to Scream [MP3]

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