Another Great Tune from Cut Worms

While I’ve admittedly been a really power-pop/indiepop state of mind, this tune from Cut Worms was able to make its way into repeated spins. Songwriter Max Clarke is said to have written this tune after the passing of Lou Reed, and I think Lou’s looking down with a grin. The slight quiver in the vocals really helps deliver that emotional pull, and I like the natural melodic turns that come with change of phrasing. Something nostalgic here, making me wish I was turning this up as I drove off into the horizon. Look for the Alien Sunset EP from Cut Worms on October 20th via Jagjaguwar.

More New Lower Plenty

The first single from Lower Plenty‘s new record had a foot in the modern Aussie sound we’ve all be championing here in the States, but the latest tune takes an entirely different approach, offering a slow burner. I’m sure this will get annoying for the band, but you can’t help but to hear some lineage to Lou Reed being channeled in this song. It’s mostly carefully touched percussion, guitar and vocals, with a special touch being layered with string arrangements. I like to see that there’s two sides of the coin with most bands, especially when you haven’t heard the whole record…so you never know what you’ll get. Look for their new album, Sister Sister, on November 18th via Bedroom Suck Records.

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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The Clean – Mister Pop

mister

Rating: ★★★★ ·

It’s hard to tell where a band will end up after remaining rather quiet since 2001, yet alone to see how they’ve progressed in a career that has spanned over three decades.  Still, New Zealand’s The Clean have left their jangling influence all over the map, and with the release of Mister Pop on Merge Records, they look to reestablish themselves in your listening rotation, if they aren’t there already, as they probably should be.

Of course, the jangling has diminished a bit, and we have seen the band expand their sound, completing the expansion of their sound to include slow surf-psychedelia such as they do on the album’s opener “Loog.”  Despite the lack of a proper lyrical track, you cannot really pull yourself away from the song. “Simple Fix” works similarly, though it has a standard beach appeal to the instrumental, while the other instrumental track wavers on a more space-influences structure.

Then they move on to the meat and potatoes in “Are You Really on Drugs.”  Although the lyrics may resonate with many, there’s not much to them overall, but what will get listeners is the subdued strumming with the hollow, yet moving, vocals that seemingly bounce off the background of the song.

Never satisfied the group goes into a territory that will seem familiar to everyone, combining that classical indie guitar sound that distinctly belongs to them along with the female backing vocals.  You’ll also find one of the staples of the album inside “In the Dreamlife U Need a Rubber Soul” as guitar licks cut through the blank spaces; it’s something that the band uses to near perfection on this album, without ever overdoing it.

“Back in the Day” and Factory Man” are two of the strongest songs on the album, stuck right smack dab in the middle.  Vocals are delivered in that classic Lou Reed delivery circa “I’m Waiting for the Man” while the rest of these songs come off like similar artists such as Comet Gain.  There is something in these songs that immediately makes them feel familiar, as if you’ve been listening to them all of your life, and in fact, you probably have.  Whether or not The Clean have influenced hundreds of bands will never be discovered, but if they didn’t, then people have done a great job approximating their sound without admitting to common thievery.

An odd bit in the midst of the album is “Tensile.”  The vocoder effect used just sort of throws off the mood momentarily, although it clearly portrays the expanding horizons of the group.  Still, it’s a bit off, which is somewhat shocking, as the rest of the album has seemed to fit perfectly up until this point. But rest assured that the group close the album properly with “All Those Notes,” a song drenched in the electronic cloak of a keyboard. Such a slow number as this is a fitting end to Mister Pop, an album filled to the brim with interesting listens you’ll keep coming back to as you graciously thank the heavens for the return of The Clean.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/3-the-clean-in-the-dreamlife-you-need-a-rubber-soul.mp3]

Download: The Clean – In the Dreamlife you Need a Rubber Soul [MP3]

FT5: Party Ending Albums

0424top5coverIt’s 3:30 in the morning and you’ve had your fair share of oat sodas, not to mention all that Makers Mark, yet the party at your place continues to rage all around you. That asshole that wears a scarf during the summer won’t shut up about the Decemberists and the only ladies left are dating each other, it’s time to put this party out to pasture. Follow the jump for the Top 5 albums that can clear the place out so you can get your ass to bed.

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