I’ll admit, sometimes I’m a bit skeptical of the Mexican Summer Myths Series. They’ve brought together some brilliant artists, though I tend always adore 1/2 the union, and not the other…but not this time. This time its Cate le Bon and Bradford Cox. Really, this feels like a Cate tune with an outro from Bradford, if you’re going with the vocal performance alone. Still, don’t you want to fall in love with music? Cate’s voice has this crystalline quality, floating carefully; there’s this build in tension during the chorus that’s built around this perfect melody…particularly that woodwind instrument lurking (is it an oboe or a clarinet!?). Bradford closes it out with a nice spoken word as the song fades to black. It’s brilliant, as you can tell. Myths 004 will be out on November 1st.
In case you missed it, last week, Pill dropped a video for their single “Dead Boys,” which is the perfect October aesthetic for those of you looking to get in the Halloween mood. The video features the band frolicking around in a graveyard– Houdini’s grave to be exact– and the post rock tune makes for a great soundtrack to the video. Check it out and then go scoop up Pill’s latest release here via Mexican Summer.
We’re pushing forward to the release of the new Weyes Blood album, furthering my belief that the ladies are killing it this year. Here, we have the new single from Natalie Mering’s project, and not only does the video captivate an audience (as it should), but I like the structure of this track. It kind of opens with this warped, backwards looped electronic moment, opening the way for the guitar and Mering to move into the track. Then there’s this huge swell where to song takes a slightly different turn…only to settle back before the song comes to a close. Front Row Seat to Earth, the new record, should be something to behold; it’s released via Mexican Summer on October 21st.
As you may know, Quilt are on their way to releasing their upcoming album, Plaza, on February 26th viaMexican Summer.In promoting said album, they’ve released yet another single for us to salivate over, this time in the form of “Roller.” This track is sleek and refined; the guitars take the form of tight knit riffs accompanied by the occasional twang of synth. Of course, the lush vocals of Anna Rochinski bathe the whole psych pop song in a bit of sunshine. While the lyrics may be somewhat scathing, you can’t help but smile and take in the warmth of those vocals, especially when they’re combined with the backing “ohs” of the rest of the band. Take a listen and get stoked forPlaza.
No Joy is a Montreal based band I’ve been into since the band first kicked off back in 2009. A genre is difficult to come up with for the group as they mesh some of the best shoe gaze sounds with psych and pop elements. Maybe you can come up with something better after you check out this new single “Hollywood Teeth”. Labels or no labels, the band creates short yet memorable tunes.
Pick up new album, More Faithful, on June 9th via Mexican Summer.
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Went to the record store and picked up some sweet jams this week: Growlers, Rat Columns, So Cow and then I also got the new Arp. Sure, it’s an EP, but man, there’s some really great gems on the album, like the one below. The last full-length that Alexis G. put out was pretty right on, though there were some developmental moments in the LP. The Pulsars and Quasars EP might be a little stop gap, but it definitely shows progression in what he’s been able to accomplish since last year. The EP is available as of this week via Mexican Summer, so if you like what you hear below go grab that stuffs.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/04-UHF1.mp3]
Download: Arp – UHF1 [MP3]
I’ve been waiting to play this wonderful new track from Arp for you for a couple of weeks. I fell in love with his last album, More, and it seems that with his new EP, he’s got a slew of great new songs for you. There’s a bit of fuzz bursting from the background on this track, but there’s this plodding pop hook that runs throughout; it’s no wonder he’s signed on to work with Mexican Summer. While it’s not quite a full-length, the Pulsars e Quasars EP is really going to win a slew of new fans. I really can’t stop listening to this track. You can get the EP on September 23rd.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/02-Pulsars-e-Quasars.mp3]
While there’s no word on the future release on Mexican Summer here in the US, the Lower Plenty album is out now from Bedroom Suck Records. Why does that matter? Well, the Australian act is pretty much one of my favorite things right now (in case you care). They’ve got a sound similar to other acts like Twerps or Dick Diver, with this relaxed approach to songwriting, yet wholly versed in the world of pop. The album is said to be a collection of moments and recordings captured, then organized into the album format. Whatever it is, Life/Thrills is a pretty enjoyable listen from start to finish.
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The Fresh and Onlys have been on fire, more or less, for the last five years. No matter what they do, it’s hard to find detractors of their musical accomplishments, and yet it still seems like the band have something to prove, or room to grow. House of Spirits is a record draped in imagery, largely crafted during a period of isolation in Arizona for member Tim Cohen; it’s an example of how well the band works when crafting songs together.
“Home is Where” opens up with little more than Cohen’s voice, illustrating the bare bones approach that led towards the completion of the record. Soon, the rest of the group joins in, providing a spirited pace that comes off as an exhilarating stomp with cascading guitars falling through the cracks left by Tim’s haunting voice. It gears you up for “Who Let the Devil,” which is perhaps one of the best songs the bands have written to date, seriously. There’s a trickling bit of guitar beneath the cymbal work, leaving room for the distant howl of Cohen to lurk in the distance. While the vocals still hold onto the traditional fare from Fresh & Onlys, they also soar into a loftier pitch during the chorus. But, like most affairs from the band, they don’t stand in one place for too long.
There’s this feeling of contemplation that permeates House of Spirits, but perhaps no track exemplifies this more than “Animal of One.” I’ve grown fond of the line “the point of forgiving is so you forget, that being forgiven is all in your mind.” Taken out of context, it might not seem as drastically poetic as I feel it is, but put into the context of this track and the album, it takes on greater meaning. The delivery of the chorus is also emotionally striking, rising high in the mix, while the rest of the song seems to hold back for some Western-influenced introspection. But, while the lyrical content of this album is superb, there’s also these little touches that have really brought the record alive.
On “April Fools,” for instance, there’s a wash of keyboards just barely audible. It’s not particularly forward-thinking, but these little flourishes have really added to the depth of sound in the band’s writing, demonstrating just how much they’ve grown since their inception…they seem to have left the idea of psychedelia behind, in some respects. This is especially evident on “Ballerina,” which comes across like a track that the Walkmen would have written at their best; it’s a simple ballad that works atop a simple percussive element. You’ll also find a backing vocal that perfectly accents the chorus from Cohen. And such are the fine touches that make the group rise above their peers.
For me, there’s a change in the sound of Fresh & Onlys, and one that’s been foreseen if you’ve followed the work of the members outside of the band, such as Magic Trick or Wymond Miles. On House of Spirits, the band seems to have brought in elements from all their various projects, leaving listeners with a cohesive record that will long stand up in the hearts of its audience.
While the masses revisit the soul of the sixties, the sounds eventually blend together, leaving you with more of a rehash effort than a remaining, but on Quilt‘s new album, Held In Splendor, they make those nods, but they incorporate a more expansive palate, creating a more diverse sound that’s wholly their own.
You’ll start your journey with “Arctic Shark,” which comes across as a sexualized stomp with Anna Rochinski taking the vocal lead. You can imagine her swaying in front of a field of friends as the sound of sitar enters the picture, but it’s her flowing melody that really takes the focus. Interestingly, the band are just incorporating bits and pieces of their influences, rather than over-indulging. You’ll hear that unfold even more as Held In Splendor moves forward with “Saturday Bride;” the harmonizing alone makes the song worth your time, but it’s the restraint shown in the psychedelia that allows you to see that they’re not willing to allow their own personalities get carried away in reminiscing.
I think one of the most successful pieces of the Quilt‘s composition is that they keep songs short and sweet, with the majority of the tracks living beneath the 3 minute mark. Songs like “The Hollow” are short and to the point, yet they’re actually filled with multiple musical movements within. This track begins as a bit of a casual poet’s ballad with intricate guitar playing being enforced by string arrangements, yet the pace is adjusted as the drums push the song forward just a bit. These mini-movements are what allow the group to keep their music impactful, without wearing you thin with too many historical references.
Personally, I think my favorite tracks are those with a traditional balladry to them, such as “Eye of the Pearl” and “Talking Trains.” The former is a steady number with a great vocal performance, emphasized by a nice backing vocal that’s draped directly atop the main vocal. And while the latter is a ballad, the guitar has a darker tone, which is more fitting for Rochinski’s vocal performance. Both songs represent the fact that simplicity often requires more skill in order to make the songs standout, and in the case of these two songs, it’s true.
While the genre of psychedelia and paisley-influenced jams allows many of us to revisit our favorite musical era, the realm of that genre can often get tired and wearisome, treading over itself far more often than going in new directions. That being said, Held In Splendor doesn’t get bogged down in nostalgia, instead using it as a launching off point for Quilt‘s dynamic songwriting process. It’s a listen draped in history, but pushing us forward towards a new future…you’ll like where you end up.