Over the course of spring and summer, I feel like I’ve already attended enough weddings to fulfill some sort of lifetime achievement award. As most people say, “I’m at that age”, that age when it seems like everyone is either getting married, recently married, or making their first offspring. Frequent wedding goers will reluctantly agree with me when I say that our favorite pastime at weddings and wedding receptions is to judge the shit out of every little detail. Come on, we all do it. Don’t try to lie to my face and tell me you aren’t talking trash about the way too long ceremony, the annoying wedding DJ, or why your friends decided to get married outside in the middle of July. We all do it people. Today I’d like to focus on the music side of things (we are a music site BTW) and point out 5 songs that should be banned from your reception while giving you an acceptable alternative. Everyone is thinking the same thing… I’m just the A-hole prepared to call you out. I apologize ahead of time if anyone is offended that I think their choice of “Wonderful Tonight” as a first dance number is way too cheesy. Follow the jump for more.
It’s been two years since Pete and the Pirates released Little Death, so personally, I’ve been waiting for them to hook us up with something new. As a Christmas special, the band have leaked a track from their forthcoming album, which is untitled, yet slated for a May 2011 release. The rhythm in the single, “Winter 1,” definitely has a solid driving beat to it, giving the track a hell of a kick. Vocals sound a touch like the Mystery Jets, which doesn’t bother me by any means. It seems they’ve definitely been honing their chops in the absence, and I can’t wait to hear more of the soaring melodies from the group as we get closer to the release date.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/01-Winter-1-1.mp3]
Download: Pete and the Pirates – Winter 1 [MP3]
Years ago Mystery Jets began as a father/son project, influenced by the father’s classic tastes on Zootime. They followed that up being influenced by the masses and the trends on Twenty One. Now, we find them with Serotonin, matured and self-assured. The latest release provides one of the most consistently enjoyable albums for all sorts of listeners. Having stepped into their own, there is no telling where we’ll go from here.
You can barely hear the trickle of noise as the album opens, but as the vocals slowly climb on “Alice Sings” you can feel the rising tension. Enter crashing drums, and we’re off into a blissful romp of a tune fueled by knife-like guitars and Blaine Harrison’s maturing voice. It’s really this maturity, and not only with Blaine’s voice, but with the band’s sound as a whole that makes this one hell of a listen. “Too Late to Talk” begins with a bit of cheesy keyboards, but they provide a certain sense of vibrance here, as opposed to the kitsch factor that was evident in previous listens.
There’s stylistic touches all over the record that keep the listening fun and frivolous, yet this doesn’t mean that the whistling on songs like “Flash a Hungry Smile” do anything to detract from the overall quality of the songs. Really, it provides a deeper devotion to the purity of pop music. They know they can use clever tricks, but if they focus on the rest of the writing, then they escape clear of cliches. “Serotonin” has a similar little keyboard element kicking the song off, but the rest of the song sounds sort of bleak and dark, despite the subject matter.
Near the middle of the album, after you’ve been won over by song after song of special goodness, you hit the trifecta of amazing pop moments, surely the best moments on Serotonin. That little bit of a jangling guitar in “Dreaming of Another World” along with Harrison’s rising vocal melody makes this song stick out, for some reason, right in the middle of the album. Final production touches like the rolling drum beat near the end only make the track all the better. “Lady Grey” has this bubbling quality to it as the band sort of chugs along, but the kill factor comes during the chorus when Harrison asks “will you still love me in the morning.” His vocal delivery is one of the best you’ll hear from him, even going back to the early years. You’ll cease swinging your arms here if you listen to this chorus on repeat. Finally, the third of the brilliant moments here comes via “Waiting on a Miracle,” slow pop polishing, just before Harrison belts out “I think you’re waiting on a miracle.” Search all you want, but you probably won’t find pop music this good, indie or mainstream.
Closing out this album, it’s hard to find a single place where Mystery Jets took a misstep. Every song has its own personality, and in that, they all carry bright choruses fastened to tight songwriting of the pop-leaning sort. Serotonin is one of the most vibrant records of the year, built on the back of a band who seems to finally have come into their own as songwriters. Perhaps this isn’t what everyone expected from them, but we should all be thankful that there are bands still willing to make music as lovable as this.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/07-Dreaming-of-Another-World.mp3]
Download: Mystery Jets – Dreaming of Another World [MP3]
Long have we hyped up Mystery Jets, but I guess our work hasn’t been enough, seeing as the group just hasn’t quite hit it big in the United States. Still, the band continues to grow, continues to transform their sound, and continue to release ridiculously enjoyable records that we’ll spin for months. Their new album, Serotonin, comes out in the UK in July, but no word on whether or not it will make it here. But, they have a new single full of jangling guitar pop and sounding a whole lot more adult. Hope you get your hands on Serotonin, as its a great album by a band that continues to surprise.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/07-Dreaming-of-Another-World.mp3]
Download: Mystery Jets – Dreaming of Another World [MP3]
It’s been some time since we fell in love with the jangly pop tunes on Mystery Jet’s last LP from 2008 Twenty One. Well now the UK boys are back in the action and have this new pop number “Flash a Hungry Smile” ready for download. The track is set to appear on the band’s upcoming new album which currently has no title or release date. Glad they snuck in this new jam just in time for some summertime fun.
Update: album is titled Serotonin and will come out July 5th.[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/01-Flash-a-Hungry-Smile.mp3]
Download: Mystery Jets – Flash a Hungry Smile [MP3]
UK band Good Shoes got a lot of great press after the release of their last album, but they’re ready to make huge waves with their newest record No Hope, No Future, which comes out on January 25th. The rhythmic bounce in this song makes it perfect for a Friday tune; it reminds us a lot of our favorite UK band the Mystery Jets. Maybe they’ll both hit the U.S. together! We can only hope, but for now, let your feet tap! Or head to their site for a preview of 4 songs off the new album.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/04-Under-Control.mp3]
Download: Good Shoes – Under Control [MP3]
Bricolage released their self-titled album earlier this year in the UK, but little fanfare made its way over to the United States, aside from a little bit of bubbling press; rest assured that Bricolage is an up-and coming act that will surely win you over upon your very first listen. And let’s not all act surprised that this is yet another solid band hailing from Glasgow.
Here you find a band that is ready to make guitar music you can dance to, and they do it in the most straightforward fashion that you have to be enamored by everything that they do. The second track, “Flowers of Deceit” brings to mind the boot-stomping moments from early Franz Ferdinand records, but in a much less post-punk sort of way. Guitars are a little bit warmer, as if each chord is struck with a little bit less anger/more affection.
Something sunny this way comes. “Footsteps” is just another track that exemplifies the swinging emotion of the band. Layered guitars and precision drumming bring to mind the poppier moments of bands such as The Lodger or Mystery Jets. All these bands use warm vocals to counter the angular guitars; you can’t help but roll down the window and let the music carry you down the road.
Let’s not think that this band is nothing but a modern dance troupe as they have the ability to carry a classic pop ballad along the way, such as “Plots are for Cemeteries,” which seems to use a bit of tropicalia in the overall crooning aesthetic. “Sleepwalk to Me” is similar in that it slowly maneuvers along, progressing without ever really picking up the pace. Even in the slow moments the band can catch your attention.
“Turn U Over” is an obvious single, instantly ready for your best dance party, at this late moment in the album, it makes you look back at the album as a whole; the album is full of great moments and great songs from start to finish. The latter half of the album packs as much punch as the first part of this album, and the only thing that detracts from this entire collection of songs is that you might find that the band walk the same line for much of the album, but using multiple vocalists allows enough strength to each song that you never get the feeling that the band is retracing their steps. Bricolage is just another reason we should all move to Glasgow.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/02-flowers-of-deceit.mp3]
Download: Bricolage – Flowers of Deceit [MP3]
So when we thought making an albums of the year post was hard, this one proved to be even harder. How do you take literally thousands of songs and narrow it down to the best 40 of the year? Not too sure how to answer that question, but we tried. Each of these songs scream 2008 in our ears. As evident by this list, the year in music was quite a good one and we had some tough choices to make. We’ve got some of the songs streaming for you or links to the song on youtube. Follow the jump to see if your favorite tune of the year made the list.
Are you looking for that dance hit of the summer? If you are, I think Mystery Jets can provide it for you. The band released a single called “Two Doors Down” earlier this year off their new album Twenty One which has already hit stores in the UK. We have no idea when this album will be coming to us in the US so enjoy what you can from the Mystery Jets. You should also check out the video for the song on youtube in all its Duran Duran/A-Ha awesomeness.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/06-two-doors-down.mp3]