Pleased to Meet You: Frontperson

Let’s get niceties out of the way; pleased to meet you, Frontperson. Wait! This band is Kathryn Calder and Mark Andrew Hamilton from Woodpigeon forging out as a unit? And Stereogum premiered their video over Kanye news!? Honestly, I’m just being a dick, but I really like this track. Even though the band features Kathryn from New Pornos, the tune seems to have this early Broken Social Scene feel…maybe it’s that underlying groove during the verses…regardless, it gives the song that hook. I also think Calder’s voice has this delicate sharpness that contrasts perfectly with Hamilton’s. Together the two will release Frontrunner on Oscar St. Records.

Afternoon Delight with AC Newman (+ Neko)

You know, I feel like I beat the world over the head today with some rock n’ roll, so I figure we could close out the day with a little touch of perfect pop from our beloved AC Newman.  The singer has teamed up with his New Pornos bandmate, Neko Case, combining for a mellow little pop ballad that’s sure to give you a spritual lift as you try to wrap up the world’s longest Friday.  This track will be featured on Newman’s upcoming record for Matador Records, Shut Down the Streets, which will hit the stores on October 9th. Hope everyone has an awesome end to your Friday. Be safe out there folks.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/A.C._Newman_-_22Encyclopedia_of_Classic_Takedowns22.mp3]

Download: AC Newman – Encyclopedia of Classic Takedowns [MP3]

New Gem from AC Newman

I’m not going to lie to you; I think AC Newman is perhaps one of the best songwriters around.  Sure, a lot of people agree, especially when you throw him with New Pornographers, but I feel like a lot of people overlook his solo efforts (sadly!).  On October 9th Matador Records will be releasing AC’s 3rd record, Shut Down the Streets, and hopefully you’ll listen to this song below and realize just how awesome his songwriting is.  Personally, his voice alone, with its tiny inflections, gets me every time.  Listen here, and try to argue with the gifts of this dude.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/a_c_newman_not_talking.mp3]

Download: AC Newman – I’m Not Talking [MP3]

Kathryn Calder – Are You My Mother?

Rating: ★★★½ ·

You all might know Kathryn Calder from her role in The Immaculate Machine.  You might have also seen her grace the stage as a member of The New Pornographers.  But, now she has stepped aside from it all to record an album of her own, influenced by time spent with her mother during a terminal illness.  Are You My Mother is just another step in her progression as one of the great female voices on the scene.

“Slip Away” begins with some small maracas draped over a tinkering piano progression. Once Calder steps into the fold, you can see precisely why she has the ability to go it alone, as her vocals have an innocent quality, but one that seems established and confident at the same time.  You’ll find the power behind the chorus enchanting, though it’s little more than “oohs.”

While she establishes strong vocals from the beginning, her range is shown on “Low,” which recalls early recordings from Rilo Kiley.  Here, the piano treads lightly, and in the same manner, Kathryn softly lets her voice float atop the musical accompaniment, not pushing too hard to make it all work cohesively.  This same approach to her songwriting is used a lot on Are You My Mother, but she has the capability to turn her vocal tool in different directions, such as she does during the chorus on “Arrow.”  Such warm vocals definitely encourage you to fall head over heals with every word, and every uttered sound.

One of the great things about the record is that despite the vocal similarities on many of the tracks, she seems to push herself into direction that you might not expect her, challenging you, the listener.  “Follow Me Into the Hills” has a folk quality to it that you can grasp from her other collaborations, but it’s successful here in that it takes you down a different path than the preceding songs.  “A Day Long Past its Prime” takes a driving momentum to push the song forward, and male vocal accompaniment gives the album a bit of a heavier tone, albeit for a brief moment.  It’s those little touches that demonstrate her willingness to build her own musical resume, differentiating herself as she goes along.

Closing out the album is a soft little touch titled “All It Is.” Her voice has a bit of a whisper to it, giving you the impression of listening to an intimate confession.  It ends things with a crashing chorus, a magnificent summation of the record and its emotive powers.  From the production of Are You My Mother to Kathryn Calder‘s incredibly delicate voice, you see the rise of a solitary musician.  Her hard work honing her craft definitely has paid off here, creating a gentle collection of pop songs capable of warming your heart and spirit.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/Kcalder-Arrow.mp3]

Download: Kathryn Calder – Arrow [MP3]

New Tunes from the New Pornographers

newpornosIn a year that already seems full of releases from our favorite bands, there is yet another one to keep us on pins and needles.  The New Pornographers are set to release their fifth album, Together, on Matador Records on May 4th.  Thanks to the Matablog, we’ve got a new tune to bring your way this morning.  Enjoy!

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/new_pornographers_your_hands_together.mp3]

Download: New Pornographers – Your Hands Together [MP3]

FT50: Albums of the ’00s

0828top5coverWhat?   You still listen to THAT album?  That record is so 2004!  Well, that’s okay, because we really like that one too, which is why we decided to come up with a list of our favorite albums of the last decade (2000-2009).  Sure, these might not be YOUR favorite records, or the most critically acclaimed, but we sat down and really thought out every record from the past ten years that we keep coming back to in our collections.  You’re likely to disagree with some of these, and we won’t tell you we’re absolutely right we just know that these happen to be OUR favorites.  If you think we totally blew it here, feel free to tell us so, but be nice, as our egos are kind of fragile.  Follow the jump for more.

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A.C. Newman – Get Guilty

Rating: ★★★★ ·

The majority of the listening world will know A.C. Newman by his other gig in New Pornographers. This new effort, released by Matador Records, isn’t far off from the land of his pop-supergroup, especially when one looks back at an album like Challengers.

From the minute “There are Maybe Ten or Twelve” takes off you can tell exactly the direction that this album is going to go.  It’s a subdued number, with high volume interludes, but the focus remains predominantly on Newman’s voice.

An album such as this is blessed by such a voice, as his is one that remains truly unique in this modern age.  He can go higher than most, while he brings it all back again to his normal singing voice.  In all his recordings, this is clearly the best he has sounded, which may owe a lot to remarkable production.

Keeping that in mind, most will settle with this album, knowing that your expectations will be met precisely.  Melodies will rise and fall, being matched at every corner, but, the pace isn’t exactly pushing listeners forward, looking for more from each song.  In fact, the only song that picks up any speed is “The Palace at 4 A.M.” Still, you can sit through this album in it’s entirety with a great deal of enjoyment; it’s just not going to grab you like other tracks A.C. Newman has done in the past, especially those featuring a certain Destroyer. Be sure to get through until the end for “All of my Days & All of my Days Off” is probably one of the best songs he’s written in years.

All in all, you come to the end of the album with one clear realization: A.C. Newman can spit out pop genius no matter where he is in his life.  Each song is interesting, in both melody and structure, as he often uses his voice to carry the songs, which is precisely where the whole album began.  It’s not every day when you come across a musician who can win you over with his voice alone.  And for that, we should all Get Guilty.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/01-there-are-maybe-ten-or-twelve.mp3]

Download: AC Newman – There Are Maybe Ten or Twelve [MP3]