Nude Beach – II

Rating: ★★★★½

There’s very few records out there that force you to pause and take a deep breath, momentarily reflecting upon the great possibilities that await you.  This is precisely what happened to me when I first put on II, the latest release from New York’s Nude Beach.  For me, it’s exactly everything I love in music…a little bit punk, a little bit pub and a whole lot of hooks; isn’t that what we all want?

“Radio” is the opener for II, and it’s a great way to start things; it’s sort of power-pop, but the type that was sung by your older brother when he was hanging out doing Springsteen covers with his friends. This vocal’s not punk rock; there’s a bit of classic American pop sensibility, which is refreshing in this genre.  And of course, the band moves into a bit of their Elvis Costello work on the following track “Walking Down My Street,” but I like the slight bit of yelp that comes through; it balances out with the smoothness of the song’s chorus.

But, as much as I love to write about great power-pop tunes, Nude Beach adds an extra bit of pop that lays outside the tried-and-true formula. You take a  tune like “You Make It So Easy,” and you can tell that this group isn’t defined by the historical context of the tunes they obviously favor.  I like the mellower approach, the touches of keyboard bouncing in the background and I don’t even mind the guitar solo.  You’ll also find hints of a good old-fashioned ballad by way of “Don’t Have to Try,” which is pretty much just a slow jam to close down the night at the bars, again with a late touch of organ in the background.

While it’s refreshing to see that II isn’t fueled by pure energy through and through, the peppy songs don’t hurt the release by any means. “Cathedral Echoes” is perhaps the most punk rock jam on the album, with furious pacing by the percussion section and a bratty bent on the vocals.  I like the swagger you can feel coming through the speakers on this tune, adding a bit of bounce to the record as it’s stuck between a few softer tunes. Album closer “Loser in the Game” has a similar edgy punch to it, but the song itself is a bit steadier, with a bit of that pub-rock swoon swinging atop the instruments.  For me, it’s all good fun, and that’s what I want from my rock n’ roll.

Nude Beach may have been bouncing around their local scene, but they’ve executed a pretty flawless album with II.  There are songs with a romantic leaning, there are tunes with energy, but it’s all done with a working class sensibility, making it one of the most enjoyable records I’ve written about in a long time. Now’s the time for these dudes, and this effort shows that times are good…and they’ll only get better.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Walkin_Down_My_Street.mp3]

Download:Nude Beach – Walkin Down My Street [MP3]

Punk Rock from Parquet Courts

I feel like it has been awhile since I’ve posted a good punk rock jam, but luckily today, I got ahold of Parquet Courts latest album, Light Up Gold.  The band has roots in Texas, although they currently operate out of New York, so it only seems natural that I’d gravitate towards their sound.  On this effort, they’ve got the production down, which has really made way for the songwriting to reach the listeners.  Those of you interested in the period where punk merged into post-punk will find yourself happy, as the grooves definitely are pogo worthy, and the vocal delivery is spot on.  Happy to support these guys; you can grab their record from Dull Tools.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/02-Borrowed-Time.mp3]

Download:Parquet Courts – Borrowed Time [MP3]

New Jam from Punks on Mars

Ryan Howe has gotten a lot of love for his Punks on Mars project, and I have a feeling he’s on the verge of unleashing something magical.  The New York power-pop glam rocker has just released a new digital single, and he’s been generous enough to let us share one of the latest tracks from the People Talk single with you.  I love the fact that he relies heavily on the keyboard/organ sound with this track, whilst still maintaining that sinister edge of garage pop.  This is definitely becoming one of my favorite acts to jam to; you’ll dig it if you want a little bit more glitter pop with your tastes for the likes of Hunx.

Awesome Track from Island Twins

Island Twins just released their self-titled album a short bit ago, and it’s finally making its way into my daily rotation.  Man, this is one helluva listen.  I wanted to give you this track from the band to illustrate the trio’s songwriting power.  It begins in an almost fay manner, sort of like you’re being asked to go on some otherworldly journey.  However, out of nowhere it just blasts off into this explosive chorus full of noise and distortion, only to return quietly.  It’s almost as if the song itself is meant to accompany the story line from the lyrics, but I’m just pushing my own agenda there I’m sure.  No matter, this band is rad. Check it out.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Island-Twins-The-Wolfs-Lair.mp3]

Download: Island Twins – The Wolfs Lair [MP3]

 

We Can’t Enjoy Ourselves – Make A Mess of Sacred Ground

Rating: ★★★★ ·

I’ve been pleasantly following the career of We Can’t Enjoy Ourselves for well over a year, and it seems to have all come to a head with their excellent new LP, Make a Mess of Sacred Ground.  Sure, you’re going to find hints of Smiths and Northern Soul all over the record, but this isn’t your typical re-hash; the group’s songwriters are too good to be run-of-the-will.

The first time I heard “Winsome William,” the opening track, I knew it was going to be a hit.  There’s that happening stomp and jangling guitars, then the vocals come in with this crooning swagger; it’s absolute bliss.  They’ve captured the best part of the Northern Soul movement, providing you with a song where you can swing your lover about, whilst still having lyrical content that begs attention.  While the sharpness of the guitars doesn’t necessarily continue in the same fashion on “Stop Moving,” the rolling drum beat that opens the track definitely makes way for some good listens. Personally, I love the urgency in the vocal delivery; you can hear the passion behind the voice–with lyrics that lean towards a sort of Dev Hynes construction.

Make A Mess of Sacred Ground isn’t just going to beat you over the head with jangle rock; the group loves the soul aspect to boot!  “Heart in a Sling” beings almost as if you’re chilling in a hip lounge somewhere, listening to a tight backing band support their favorite crooner.  Then the group joins in to take you on a twangy crash into the seas of pop precision.  Interestingly, they take a completely different approach altogether with the following track, “Eloise.”  It’s similar in structure to the album’s opener, yet here you’ll find a quieted acoustic guitar with vocals soaring at the front of the mix.  I was already in love with this song from the beginning, but then some string arrangements join in for accompaniment and I swooned; I can’t stop listening to this track.

If you haven’t heard of We Can’t Enjoy Ourselves, then you’re definitely in for a treat once you put this record on play.  From the spirited opener of “Winsome William” to the jangling bookend “Devil in the Old Folk’s Home,” you’ve got a diverse set of eight tracks that wrap themselves around your brain and heart.  Make a Mess of Sacred Ground is a quick listen, but it’s so infectious that you won’t be able to resist flipping it over and playing it again and again.  If you’re looking for a flawless record that you can show off to all your cool friends, then pick this one up and hopefully we can help spread the word about this great band.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Devil-In-The-Old-Folks-Home-1.mp3]

Download: We Can’t Enjoy Ourselves – Devil In The Old Folks’ Home [MP3]

More New Pop from My Great Ghost

A few months back we brought you the tune “Plain Sight” from the self-titled EP from My Great Ghost.  Now, as the date draws near for the July 10th release of their EP, we’ve got another track from their EP to share with you, “Photograph.”  Again, the duo has crafted some well organized electronic pop that builds steadily throughout the track, which is indicative of all the tracks on the group’s EP.  With a start like this EP, the future looks bright for the groups from New York, so be sure to check out the release, and keep the band on your radar.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/01-Photograph.mp3]

Download:My Great Ghost – Photograph [MP3]

New Track from Nude Beach

Now, this is a band I’m definitely going to get behind!  Nude Beach is from NY, and you can see some lineage to old school NY.  The group’s got this swagger and this street-smart sound…and there’s a hint of garage pop to boot.  They’ve recently signed on to Other Music Recording Co, who will help put out the group’s newest record, II, on August 14th this year.  It’s a track that should have pretty much all music fans salivating, using bits of modern indie rock fused with a classic street sound.  I’m going to love this record, and I bet you will too.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Walkin_Down_My_Street.mp3]

 

Catchy Pop Number from We Cant Enjoy Ourselves

I feel like I’ve got some heavier tunes on the site today, so I wanted to toss up something ever-so catchy.  I’ve talked about We Can’t Enjoy Ourselves several times before, so with their new album, Make A Mess Of Sacred Ground, coming later this year, I figured I’d get this ditty up for your tastes.  It encompasses everything we’ve come to expect, and love, from the group, featuring a bouncing rhythm and nice hook.  Personally, I’m always a sucker when the whole gang jumps in to offer up supporting vocal moments.  You can never have enough good tunes, so enjoy this one as we spring back into the week.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Devil-In-The-Old-Folks-Home-1.mp3]

Download:We Can’t Enjoy Ourselves – Devil In The Old Folks’ Home [Mp3]

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