Ladies and gentlemen, we’re proud to introduce you to the “Lost in Austin Take Away.” We’ve been working hard behind the scenes for some time trying to find the best way to incorporate our love for Austin music (or music in general) and video footage. Lucky for us, we ran into the excellent filmmakers of Guerrilla Waltz. Together, we’re hoping to bring you a new experience that incorporates our love for music with the greater Austin community, shooting film all about town, capturing our favorite artists playing our favorite songs. This is the first of what we hope will be many great videos. Read more
If someone were to tell me that a band with falsetto, auto tuned on occasion vocals, and folk music backing was one of the most soothing and beautiful sounding groups they had ever heard, I would probably scoff at them and laugh. When describing Bon Iver, it seems as though this band should not fundamentally sound as lush and gorgeous as it does, but I’m not complaining. After their first album, For Emma, Forever Ago, was released back in 2008, Justin Vernon and company have been gaining praise, as well as attention, and this sophomore effort certainly seals their place as giants of the Indie world.
From their last album, there is certainly not that much immediately different to the sound of Bon Iver. You have the faded and distant sounding drums, the swells and builds in sound, the delicate ferocity in Vernon’s falsetto voice. It’s all there, but now it sounds a touch more refined and practiced than that of the previous release, as though the band went the extra mile to make these tunes sound polished and pristine. On “Holocene,” the third track, the intricacy in the layers of sound is especially noticeable. Gentle guitar floats upon subtle waves of synthesizer, the ever-graceful vocals leading the song at a meander. Such is the kind of song where you just want to close your eyes and let the music hit you like a gentle breeze; it’s simply beautiful.
One of the more noticeable changes of this group is the distancing of lyrics and the focus on the sound of their wispy music. The instruments do not overpower the songwriting, but they share the space coming out of your speakers rather than the words riding above. This does make it a bit more difficult to discern exactly what words Vernon utters, which is only a drawback if you don’t have the luxury of looking them up in the album booklet. If anything, this vagueness makes me want to listen to this collection of dramatic songs more, in attempts to ascertain the meaning behind them.
The bottom line is that this album is simply magnificent. Whatever you want to call it, folk, drifting soft rock, it is beautiful in every song, in every note, and capable of pushing you emotionally. It is the perfect anthem for anything: driving, walking the dog, bedroom listening, and I can see this becoming a staple in a large number of listening catalogs. Rightly so.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/08-Calgary.mp3]
Download: Bon Iver – Calgary [MP3]
It’s been a crazy few months for stalwart label Sub Pop; they’ve been putting out killer record after killer record, and it doesn’t seem like they’re going to stop anytime soon. Today they announced the release for the newest album from Male Bonding titled Nothing Hurts, hitting stores on August 30th. This one is going to be a heck of a good time if you’re going off the featured track, “Bones.” It’s a bit noisy, as far as the guitar sound goes, but it maintains this perfect sense of melody throughout, which really has us excited. It won’t take long before you’re blasting this song around your office all day.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Male-Bonding-Bones.mp3]
Download: Male Bonding – Bones [MP3]
One of the great things about SXSW is that it introduces you to bands you’ve never heard of, and often don’t remember days afterward, but then when you come across a new tune you get really excited, remembering all the promise the band showed in their brief set. Such is the case of Grooms, having come across them last year at SXSW. Having been quiet since the release of their last album, Rejoicer, the group has now lined up the release of Prom, set to come out July 12th via Kanine Records. This first track comes off with this real muddy feel to it, filled with noise throughout, seemingly about to crash down up the listener. All the while the vocals have this thoughtful quality, as if the lyrics are an observation of the music. It all makes for a listen that will have you pushing repeat until the button breaks.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/grooms_tigertrees.mp3]
Download: Grooms – Tiger Trees [MP3]
If the rumors are true, The Felice Brothers started their musical careers as a band playing in the New York City subway system, which would explain their vagabond sound. With this being their fourth full-length releases to this date, this band looks to continue their folksy alternative rock on Celebration Florida.
If you’re someone who has never listened to this band, it may take a little while to acclimate to their scatterbrained style of jams. I mean, it’s nothing revolutionary, but there is a certain looseness that takes getting used to. On the fist song, you can see this creative lack of order. Starting out with “Fire at the Pageant,” the primary sounds that arrive at your ears are that of some percussive elements, which begins the stomper. Transitioning back and forth between explosively loud and then quiet and soft, they seem to be playing a bit with their audience, giving them a taste of the whimsical yet seriousness of their craft.
Despite the jangly start, there seems to be a hint of sinister creeping through the notes on the first number, which continues later on in the album, but is pushed under the rug for the next few songs. The next standout track comes on “Honda Civic.” Despite my affinity for this song, I feel like I would like it about five times more than I do if auto-tune wouldn’t have been used on the chorus. Otherwise, this number is great; horns throughout combining with the prevalent vocals make for a groovy beat.
Some of the melancholy and more serious side of The Felice Brothers is evident on “Ponzi,” which features dramatic and sultry piano throughout. But only serious for a little while, until they break out of the tango-esque mold and into their own jamming style. However, this seems to be the tone of the rest of the album. This band keeps on doing their thing to the very end, whether it’s breaking things down, or keeping them stoic and reserved.
They maintain this balance pretty well on Celebration Florida. Things get a little boring for me at the end, but the great start compensates for this. Overall, it definitely has some songs that are enticing enough to become part of my every day repertoire, but not nearly enough to land Celebration Florida among my list of greats. Regardless, give it a listen yourself.
A month or so ago I tossed out a track from Radical Dads, a new up-and-comer who had caught my ears. They had released a few tracks/singles, but now they’re premiering the first track from their upcoming album Mega Rama, which comes out June 14th via Uninhabitable Mansions. This song has this cascading pop element, rising and falling all the way to it’s end. Vocals have a bit of youthfulness, even when the screech of the climactic moment joins the track. If this is any sign of what we can expect from Rad Dads, then sounds like we’re in for an enjoyable record we’re all sure to love.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/6297184.0.mp3]
Download: Radical Dads – New Age Dinosaur [MP3]
A few years ago I caught wind of this band by checking in on Bloc Party, but don’t let that confuse you, as they sound nothing like the band. Wet Paint have a sound more akin to those who’ve recently been slogging in the muck with early 90s slacker/nerd rock. Their new record, Woe, should be out this month, and I can’t help but just swoon over these collection of tracks. You can see the past living in their songs, but it’s not overly reminiscent of any band in particular, which gives the band of a punch of originality and freshness. Go back in time with me and enjoy this track folks.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/01_Gone_So_Long.mp3]
Download: Wet Paint – Gone So Long [MP3]
If there is be a perfect time for Times New Viking, it’s now. With the rise of so many different jangly pop and lo-fi bands, there could not be a more suiting atmosphere for this album to be released. Already equipped with a significant fan base, this band is here to show the rest of the music world that they are at the top of their game; more defined in their noise pop sound.
Heavily distorted vocals and echo-y guitars fill the first number, “It’s A Culture,” which sort of feels a little mismatched and out of order at its beginning, but develops into a fuzzy toe tapper, with Adam Elliot and Beth Murphy sharing the muddled vocal responsibility. It’s a bit of a foggy start, only to be contrasted by the second song, “Ever Falling in Love,” where the band seems to tighten things up a bit, wrapping overlapping vocals about a steady guitar riff.
A common problem with having an album largely based on short simple songs, is that that some of those little bits become throw-aways, and leave you wondering why they were included into the mess. Songs like this, in my opinion, come on the utmost of shortest jams, such as “New Vertical Dwellings,” on which everything is out of sync. For the most part, the drums don’t match the guitar, which doesn’t match the vocals, leaving the song to sound like a bunch of elements thrown together haphazardly. At only one minute and nine seconds, a song without substance may not seem like that big of a blemish, but it just makes one question the production of this album. Even though a band’s sound is lo-fi, doesn’t mean they can skimp on the quality of music they produce.
But Times New Viking doesn’t completely fail on this album; the tartness of “Fuck Her Tears” gives a taste of the classic sound that this band exemplified on their last album, while “Somebody’s Slave” slows things down for a gravelly slow burner that keeps you hanging on to the rolling drums. Following this is the weirdly distorted and emotional “No Good,” that is a simple and odd way to end the album.
Abundant with its carefree nature and brisk songs, Dancer Equired, feels just right for the increasingly hot weather and sunshine. Despite some less than satisfactory numbers, the fun of the good ones combine to outweigh the bad, leaving you with a pretty mediocre, yet enjoyable album.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Times-New-Viking-Ever-Falling-In-Love.mp3]
Download: Times New Viking – Ever Falling In Love [MP3]
Dancer Equired is out now via Merge Records.
In the days of computers for instruments, and a heavy weight on the vocals of a band, be it gang or solo, where do Explosions In The Sky fit in? Filling neither of these two aspects, they rely solely on the strength of their instruments to weave their listeners into an intricate web of simplistic, stripped down instruments. Known as Post-Rock, this genre of music allows for the music to be left up to your utilization: background music, inspiration for creativity, or something to contemplate.
For a merely six-song album, Explosions In The Sky do not fall short in the field of time for a full-length album. Instead, each song is long and sprawling, providing those crescendos and an abundance of catharsis that this band is famous for doling out. Take the first song, “Last Known Surroundings,” for example. Over the course of almost eight and a half minutes, you are taken to a variety of places by the changing rhythmic cycles of the instrumentation. Squalling, yet controlled guitars dominate the foreground of the song, while explosive drums kick in the background, leaving with the simplistic elegance that any song that this band produces contains.
While one might think that the long songs on this album would make each one stick out from each other as its own work of finesse, the contrary of this is true. Much like the chapters of a good book, each is brilliant, and they weave together to form a collective brilliance as an album. The sound fluctuates from loud to soft, and then back to loud again, giving those rolling hills of depth that are able to be filled with whatever strikes your fancy. Such depth allows for catharsis after catharsis and build after build without tire.
As I said before, one of the best qualities to this band is that they leave it up to you instead of forcing it down your throat. They pick the best possible times to grab your attention. So even if you are using their delightfully serene music as the filler of space while you work or think, they still have the ability to command your attention back to the music so that it can be commended as excellent craft. This is all you can ask from Explosions In The Sky.
The incestuous punk rock scene in Texas is alive and well, and I’m grateful for that fact. Wax Museums returns to the forefront of the movement with their latest release, Eye Times, after a three year hiatus, which will be in stores June 28th via Trouble in Mind Records. Lyrically, you’ll probably find the track to be a touch on the simple side, but it’s such a quick power-driven number that you can’t help but get attached from the moment those drums clash with the guitars in a cacophonous moment of energy and melody. With members from Bad Sports, Silver Shampoo and Mind Spiders, there’s not a reason in the world why this won’t be super awesome.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/WaxMuseums_EyeTimes_Sunburn.mp3]
Download: Wax Museums – Sunburn [MP3]