Bright New Pop from Imperial Teen

Much like the beginning of 2011, stalwart label Merge Records is going to kick off 2012 with another excellent gem; they’ll be releasing the new release from Imperial Teen titled Feel the Sound.  The record is going to hit stores on January 31st, and it figures to hit all the spots you’ve come to expect from the band, including gang vocal sing-a-longs full of bright harmonies.  Every time I go back and listen to an Imperial Teen record I just get this feeling of giddiness that’s only accomplished by listening to the best pop out there.  Surely after listening to this track we can expect that same feeling when this new release hits early next year.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/01-Imperial-Teen-Feel-the-Sound-Runaway.mp3]

Download: Imperial Teen – Runaway [MP3]

Thee Oh Sees – Carrion Crawler/The Dream

Rating: ★★★½☆

If you already found yourself enjoying this year’s Castlemania, you might want to preview the newest release from Thee Oh Sees, as it’s not quite the same animal, but equally as important in the band’s catalogue.  Carrion Crawler/The Dream is really comprised of two EPs, and while their most recent work focused on short psych sprints, this one definitely has a distinguished jamming quality, akin to their live setting.

“Carrion Crawler” begins this affair with a brief exercise in strutting about, musically, before the band moves into their psychedelic wiggle, with chords being strummed rapidly as Thee Oh Sees find themselves getting into their groove.  While previous efforts, at least in 2011, placed emphasis on the vocals, this time around they just come off as part of the mix.  It might not be the most convincing recording, but it definitely gives you the image of the band’s phenomenal live show.  You’re pretty much going to find Carrion Crawler/The Dream revolving around this realm for the first few tracks of the album, that is until you get into the night-tinged instrumental, “Chem Farmer.”  From here, you’ll find yourself getting into the classic sound, if we could call it that, of the band.

“Opposition” is a furious bit of jangle pop, with a catchy vocal delivery, similar to the works on Castlemania, though there’s a bit more grit to this one.  Still, you can’t help but hear the influence such songs have on the group’s live performance, with bits of guitar meandering in contrast to the rest of the group, providing that ramshackle joy Thee Oh Sees bring to the stage. Similarly, “Wrong Idea” has a stomping rhythm that seems to bounce the listener in the right direction, before the rest of the track sort of goes into a sort of psychedelic haunting.  But, what’s important is imagining the band banging this one out, as those guitar lines are clearly made for audio destruction.

Personally, I find the latter half of the record to be the most appealing, at least when putting this record on repeat for continuous spins.  Songs like “Crushed Grass” display the band’s vibrance, with John Dwyer’s enthusiastic yelps blasting through the speakers.  Even as the feedback fills your ears and the chugging guitars cut through on the back side of the track, you can still hear what makes this band so enjoyable, on record or at the local club. They’re dark, yet playful, which owes to what we must be led to believe is an exceptional amount of work  honing their skills.

Carrion Crawler/The Dream definitely provides listeners with an entirely different view point than what was offered up earlier in the year with Castlemania. That being said, it seems to fill the gaps between studio album and live show, bringing those with careful ears the knowledge that Thee Oh Sees are on the track to surpassing all their peers.  Just another step in the right direction for one of my favorite groups.

New (ish) Track from Cate Le Bon

I know this track’s been floating around for a little bit now, but I wanted to give it some love, as I really felt like Cate Le Bon won me, as well as many others, over during her recent performance opening for St. Vincent.  She’s solidified details for her upcoming record, CYRK, which will hit stores on January 17th. It’s great hearing her voice in this setting, as live, she seems so endearingly fragile, but you can clearly see her talent soar on this track.  Her voice sounds remarkable, and the arrangements that accompany the track really bring her songwriting to the forefront.  Give the gal a chance; it’ll be worth your time.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Cate_Le_Bon_Work.mp3]

Download: Cate Le Bon – Puts Me to Work [MP3]

New Music from Sea Lions

Make no mistake about it, the last few years have seen a huge resurgence for Slumberland Records, and yet the consistently seem to discover great band after great band.  Sea Lions is their latest signing, and this little number right here is a perfect fit to the label’s sound.  There’s a bit of a washed out jangle floating in there, but singer Adrian Pillado have a fairly distinct vocal delivery, which differentiates the outfit from a lot of their current peers.  Personally, I like the clarity of the vocals because, whether or not this is true, they seemingly have no vocal effects in the mix, making it easier for you to find your favorite lyric.  First Sea Pinks and now Sea Lions? Must be the year of Sea creatures.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Grown-Up-Single-Edit.mp3]

Download: Sea Lions – Grown Up [MP3]

Their album, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sea Lions But Were Afraid to Ask is out on 11/22 via Slumberland.

New Girl Pop from Jennifer O’Connor

Don’t let anyone tell you we don’t give love to female stand-alone artists.  I’ve been following Jennifer O’Connor for some time, and I always appreciate her simplistic approach to crafting listenable gems.  She’s got a brand new album available titled I Want What You Want, which will hit stores on November 8th via her own Kiam Records.  Her first single from the record is exactly what you’d expect her to do, writing a song tipped with a personal story.  You’ll find that it’s mostly just a stripped down guitar and a bit of percussive accompaniment, all geared towards winning you over with a sing along track.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/07_JOC_IWantWhatYouWant_RunningStart.mp3]

Download: Jennifer O’ Connor – Running Start [MP3]

Sludge Punker from The Spits

Man, since I’ve really been pushing myself back into rock n’ roll this year, my part of the site might have gotten a little bit heavier than we’ve had in the past, but I’m totally down with that.  One of my favorite acts, The Spits, just released their new album today on In the Red Records, and of course I had to get my hands on it. This new little number is quick and to the point, and it’s definitely one of the muddier feeling tracks on the record.  Lyrically you might not find a great deal of inspiration here, but hey, I’d buy it just for the cheap price and the album cover.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/07-My-Life-Sucks.mp3]

Download: The Spits – My Life Sucks [MP3]

New Track from The Golden Awesome

New Zealand’s The Golden Awesome aren’t necessarily what you’d associate with the typical Oceanic fare, but that’s a good thing. They’ll be releasing their album, Autumn, via M’Ladys Records on November 15th, and it’s shaping up to be a darkly tinged bit of poppy noise rock.  If you stream the single below, you’ll be met with walls of guitar noise drenched in warm female vocals.  Clearly there’s an element of pop one can’t escape in NZ, but there’s more than enough darkness lurking in the songwriting of this group.  Stream the jam below for a taste of great things to come.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/03.mp3]

New Music from Cate Le Bon

It’s been an odd year, as I seem to be warming to incredible female vocalists quite a bit more.  Welsh singer Cate Le Bon is yet another of my discoveries, spinning songs that have this majestic quality to them, recalling music of the past that seems far more enchanting than anything else I’ve heard recently; it’s like french pop spun around the emotions of the British Isles.   If you love the song below, you’ll love Put Me to Work, her new album that just came out.  I keep finding myself getting completely lost in it all, and that’s a perfect way to wrap up my evening here. Hopefully you’ll take the same from this tune, and this record.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Cate_Le_Bon_Work.mp3]

Download: Cate le Bon – Puts Me to Work [MP3]

Twin Sister – In Heaven

Rating: ★★★½☆

Hailing from Long Island, New York, Twin Sister is a primarily chillwave, but also pop band who, according to their website, recorded this album in a rented house during the off season in the Hamptons. Filled with shadows of longing for summer days, In Heaven is solid electro-pop album that serves as a transition from summer into those crisp fall days, or rather, if you live here in Austin, from uncomfortably hot to just hot.

In Heaven packs a punch in the beginning portion of their album. The first song is “Daniel,” which starts with some eerily calm xylophonic sounds that are joined by mechanical sounding drums, which gives the song it’s pick up into dream pop from simple electronic noises. Andrea Estella chimes in with her angelic falsetto vocals that coat the song in a buttery warmth that juxtaposes with the electronic hard that the instruments bring. “Stop,” follows, which jumps right into its groove with the male voice of Eric Cardona leading the way. For a track that doesn’t go very far in four minutes, you would think the sound would get overbearing quickly, but it simmers reasonably groovy for its duration; the dual vocals serving as some kind of cooling agent to counteract the spice of the jam.

Highlights later on come in the form of short little songs like, “Gene Ciampi,” whose prevalent guitar parts move the sound closer to the plain pop as opposed to the computer generated sounds. This track is propelled by the natural guitar, which shows the musical variety that this band is able to pull off. It isn’t an album of all one note. Rather, each song fits with another, but takes liberties from the track before it. Another example of this is apparent on the last track, “Eastern Green,” which builds slowly over the course of four minutes. It breaks from this climax at about three minutes, and gives the album a delightfully soft close, devoid of those harsher elements that were at the beginning.

As far as electro-pop/chillwave goes, In Heaven is a good balance of atmosphere and presence. Due to the production on this album, the vocals are the central focus, allowing listeners to grasp onto something memorable. For this reasons, Twin Sister has got something really going for them. You are sure to find one or two, or maybe even more songs that strike your fancy here.

New Music from Golden Bear

We were fortunate enough to throw some love to Golden Bear on our Summer Mixtape, offering up the new track “Who We Are” for you to enjoy.  Still, as the October release date for the band’s new record, Alive, nears, we wanted to throw out another track that’s been floating around.  It’s more pop rock goodness from these local boys, indicating that you’re set to have a whole new record worth of tunes for your vast enjoyment.  The light keyboard/piano sound in the background really provides some great little details to this number.  Hope you enjoy it, and get behind this great local act.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/03-Prospect-Park.mp3]

Download: Golden Bear – Prospect Park [MP3]

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