Sometimes you can’t explain the hit cycle and why some of the more deserving bands don’t end up on the hype machine. For me, I’m personally putting some hype onto Last Leaves (a predominantly Lucksmiths super group). They’ve just released this stand alone single via Matinee Recordings, adding to the earlier hit from Matinee Idols Comp; it’s a fuzzy bit of beautiful guitar pop. Vocals have this gentleness, calm and warm, and layers of guitars work on top of each other, only barely fighting against another to create enough tension to seduce listeners. This song will featured on the group’s Other Towns Than Ours, which is slated to arrive early this fall. You can also see a video accompanying this new tune right HERE.
You can put all your preconceived notions about music in Brazil to the side now. Pale Sunday are nothing like CSS or Bonde Do Role. While I appreciate the regional flavor of those acts, The Fake Stories About You and Me seems so distant; it’s an album of pristine guitar pop in the realm of bands like Lucksmiths or Nada Surf–it’s somewhere in the middle there.
It’s a short EP, but “Happy (When You Lived Here)” is perhaps going to be one of my favorite guitar tracks of the year; it’s easiest the best track from the band that I’ve heard to date. Luis’ voice sounds incredible here; it’s calm and cool, yet there’s a smoothness that coincides with the rest of the music. Everyone else’s accompaniment fits perfectly into the track, from the backing vocals to the steady propulsive drum beat. So good; I wish everyone would write tracks like this.
“About Your Life” seems a little bit more straightforward in the vein of classic pop songs. The guitars aren’t quite as clean here, and the synths provide an extra element to the background. I can’t quite put my finger on what makes this song so familiar, but I put it all down to Luis Gustavo’s voice. In contrast to the casual cool of the EP’s opener, here he sounds a bit softer, yet more distant in the mix. It might seem like I’m not enthused by the difference, but I assure you that I’m having a hard time not playing this track over and over. Screw it. I’m playing all four songs constantly.
Pale Sunday gives a bit of a bouncing drum roll on “That’s the Way,” giving the third track a bit of swagger and swing. It’s a song about getting high with a friend or loved one, feeling lost in an emotional sense. Towards the end of the song it sort of careens with guitar work that sort of bursts into a solo…perhaps providing the listener with that feeling of taking off into the far out realms of one’s mind.
When The Fake Stories About You and Me came to a close with “The Winter Song” I was taken aback at first. It’s a song focused on strummed guitar, and a different pop appeal than the previous tracks. For me, it seems a lot more thoughtful, as if the band intended to leave you with a departing note about how we should go on with our lives. I like the way there’s a musical emphasis from the rest of the group that seems to arrive just after the 2 minute mark. It’s a gorgeous track, and one that’s a fitting end to this EP. Just as it ends, you want more, which might be my only detractor here, but with songs this good, Pale Sunday isn’t going anywhere any time soon. I’m grateful for that.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Happy.mp3]
Download: Pale Sunday – Happy [MP3]
The Fake Stories About You and Me is available now from Matinee Recordings.
Haven’t heard about Bart and Friends yet? Well, if you follow the Australian pop scene, then surely you’re aware of bands like Lucksmiths, Zebras and Black Tambourine…all which have members in this wonderful supergroup of sorts. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that they’re releasing their There May Come a Time EP on one of our favorite labels, Matinee Recordings. This is precisely the sort of gems the label is known for, featuring some of the best pop you’re going to hear around the globe. This tune has Pam Berry taking the lead, backed by a steadied hand of gorgeous pop destined to make you swoon. Give it a listen, give it some love.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/There_May_Come_A_Time.mp3]
Download:Bart and Friends – There May Come a Time [MP3]
What happens if you remove a bit of fuzz in the production process? You get a breezy pop gem like Romantic Comedy. It’s the second record from Big Troubles, and their first from Slumberland Records. All those looking for a brighter vocal sound, but with the same general feel as the group’s first outing, will certainly be pleased.
You can definitely hear the polish in opening track, “She Smiles for Pictures,” as the guitars have sort of an angular bounce. Vocally, there’s a nice bit of soft comfort in the delivery, sort of like what you’d expect an American Teenage Fanclub to sound like. But, it’s the next track that will force you to stand on one side of the track or the other.
“Misery,” for all intents and purposes is Pains of Being Pure Heart lite. Get rid of the scuzz from the aforementioned band’s debut, and you’ve got little gem. However, I like the fact that the vocals are so clean and clear; it’s something you don’t normally associate with a PoBPaH record, so for me it wins. Yet, I can see it being derivative, but weren’t the Pains originally the same thing? Perhaps some people grow up faster. “Sad Girls” is similar here, providing a hint of soft-bit swagger, but the vocals during the chorus are what allow the band to differentiate themselves, sounding much different than the nearest comparison.
Personally, I really like the straight pop gems, such as “Softer Than Science,” which has a bit of the Lucksmiths sense of melody. There’s a pounding bit of drum work, and the guitars are definitely sharpened. But, there’s a nice bit of restraint in this number, letting the band focus on their harmonies. It’s a song that contradicts its successor, “Time Bomb,” the closest track you could call a straight ahead rocker. The noisy solo in the end definitely reminds you of those 90s guitar moments we’ve all come to treasure.
Yet, Big Troubles faces sort of a problem in the long run. Romantic Comedy, while definitely enjoyable, wears down listeners quiet quickly. You’ll likely go from really enjoying the whole record, then the magic begins to fade a bit. It’s not entirely their fault, as we’ve just been bogged down with so many like-minded records in the last few years. In order for you to be the best, you’ve got to rise above the rest, and I’m just not entirely convinced the band accomplished that feat. Still, a good listen from start to finish.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Big-Troubles-Misery.mp3]
Download: Big Troubles – Misery [MP3]
A little over a month ago we brought you a brief introduction to Gold Bears. And today we got news that the band has just signed with Slumberland Records, one of my personal favorites. The label will be releasing the band’s album Are You Falling in Love on May 17th, and it should be full of great things. Listening to lead track, “Record Store,” it’s got the feeling of early Lucksmiths’ lyricism and bubblegum flavor, but with a bit more of an edgier punch to it overall. These are the kind of tracks that great records are made of, and I have a feeling this is going to fall right in line with my expectations. Give it a gander.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Gold-Bears-Record-Store.mp3]
Download: Gold-Bears – Record Store [MP3]