Dead Stars – Slumber

deadRating: ★★★★☆

After a couple of great EPs, New York’s Dead Stars have completed their debut full-length, Slumber.  As an early fan of the band, let me tell you that it’s more than lived up to my expectations.  It sounds like a composite of Dinosaur Jr and Nada Surf, using great guitar work to enhance the group’s melodic sound.

When “Someone Else” opens the record, you can hear the band pushing forth with distorted guitar work and a pounding rhythm section.  It’s the best way to open this record, providing listeners with a glimpse of the band’s brand of guitar pop.  But, while there’s a definite wall of noise, beneath it all lays the secret to the group’s success: it’s all pop inside.  Just take one listen to the tone of the vocals and you’ll get precisely what I’m talking about.  But, while the opening tune on Slumber is rather loud, the group does possess a natural skill to pull back, as they do on the next few tracks, “Summer Bummer” and “Walking Away.”  These two tracks offer up gentler takes on guitar pop, with a more relaxed feel and a larger focus on harmony.

Still, the bread and butter for the band, in my opinion, are when they turn up and rock it out.  “Crawl” is the perfect vision of this attribute; the guitar has a sharp edge to it, and the song seems to almost work too fast, creating this excellent tension that’s fully unleashed when the band angrily launches into the chorus of “I can crawl away if you want” for the third time, just before the track abruptly ends.  Your last look at like-minded tunes comes via “Wasted,” which is placed perfectly near the end of the record.  The distorted guitar work gives just the right amount of energy, balancing out the softer end of the LP.

While Dead Stars choose to slow things down a bit on that latter half of Slumber, you’ll still find some really special songs lurking about, such as “Older.”  It’s a strummed ballad with a really soft touch on the vocal; you could easily see the band fleshing this out into another distorted guitar pop tune, but their reluctance to do so actually makes the song more refreshing, providing a little bit of differentiation within the confines of the album.  I’ve also grown to enjoy “Never Knew You” quite a bit.  There’s some recording touches like the clicking of the drum sticks in spots that really add a cool touch.

In the end, Dead Stars have completed an album that’s perfect as summer really gets underway.  It’s filled with songs that you can blast on your stereo while you sing along to your favorite lyrical pieces.  With guitar pop regaining it’s prominence in the rock n’ roll world, you’re not likely to find it executed any better than on Slumber…so what are you waiting for.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/04-Crawl.mp3]

Download: Dead Stars – Crawl [MP3]

Available now via Old Flame Records.

Old Flame Records On a Roll This Summer

oldflameIt’s always great to see the success of labels that have worked diligently to foster acts they love, and that’s why I’m really impressed with the work of our friends over at Old Flame Records.  Next week they release the much anticipated Dead Stars LP, Slumber, but they’ve also got some other great things in the working.  They’ve got a new single from Shark?, which is this great instrumental jam that’s perfect to fit into the middle of your road trip mix tape.  Then, they’re working on the next release from The Pharmacy; they’re album Spells will be out on August 12th, and it’s definitely a jamming type record, filled with rock n’ roll swagger.  Take a listen to the two respective singles from each band below, “Big Summer” by Shark? and “Masten Lake Lagoon” by the Pharmacy; keep an eye on Old Flame.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/A1-Big-Summer-V1.mp3] [audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/05-Masten-Lake-Lagoon.mp3]

More New Music from Turn to Crime

ttcJust a bit ago I offered you a track from Turn to Crime, and why not share their brand new tune today?  It’s the focal point of their new EP, Cant Love; it offers a glimpse into the world the group is creating.  There’s hints of Americana in the delivery of the vocals, combining hints of Southern charm and a  whiskey-worn touch to boot.  Guitars meander in the background and the drums have this spiritual pounding that’s quite enchanting.  You’ll be able to grab the group’s new EP from Old Flame Records on July 1st.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/02-Cant-Love-TTC.mp3]

 

 

Fresh Rocker from Dead Stars

dead-stars-2014At this point, I can’t really get enough of the new tunes from Dead Stars.  It’s interesting that more people haven’t taken notice of the band, up until now, as they’ve had songs this great for quite some time.  But, that being said, this guitar pop jam is exactly what the doctor ordered this morning.  The vocals are delivered calmly while the guitars push the pace forward; you should wait for the awesome break down with the rolling drums. I reckon there will be a handful of songs as good, if not better, when the band release their new album, Slumber, on Old Flame Records this June.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/04-Crawl.mp3]

Download: Dead Stars – Crawl [MP3]

Fresh Jam from Dead Stars

dead-stars-2014It seems like the rest of the world is catching on to what we already knew: Dead Stars are a rad rad band. So much so, that I actually walked two miles during SXSW to catch them play live (it was worth it!).  This new single is just as catchy and enjoyable as anything I’ve heard in this vein this year; it’s got a driving beat, fuzzed out guitar, but what I like the most is that there was extra attention to the vocals in the mix. This is one of those bands I put on little mixes to try and hip my friends to all the great jams out there. You can pick up their new album, Slumber, from Old Flame Records on June 17th.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/01-Someone-Else.mp3

Download: Dead Stars – Someone Else [MP3]

Shark? Mellow Us Out

sharkBrooklyn based Shark? is a band who have become well known for their interesting take on the updated garage rock/loud guitar genre.  As Rocky once said however, everyone can change right?  This new track from the band, “Wither”, is certainly a bit of something different sonically when compared to other songs.  Personally, I think it’s a great little acoustic based ballad that will surely fit in nicely with all the other rockin’ tunes on the band’s upcoming album Savior.  You can pick that one up on October 1st via Old Flame Records.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/98432689″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=false” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Rockin Out with Mean Creek

meancreekNothing like finding something to perk you up a little bit, which is exactly what will happen when you press play on this new Mean Creek track.  They’ve just announced that they’ll be releasing their new album, Local Losers, with our friend over at Old Flame Records. In just over 2 minutes you get the brash attitude of a band pumping out pummeling rock hits, of the likable sort.  The Massachusetts act might push forward with sharp guitar chords and rolling drum lines, but I like the softer moment in the track, letting us in on the group’s blend of rock and pop.  You can look forward to the album’s release in January, but for now, you’ll have to settle with this sweet tune.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Mean-Creek-Cool-Town.mp3]

Download: Mean Creek – Cool Town [MP3]

Gross Relations Bring Out Another Single

grossrelations_masksRayRay posted the first sweet jam from Gross Relations less than a month ago, and I have to follow in his footsteps in order to bring you this new single from the band.  This new single still maintains the group’s lo-fi aesthetic, at least in so far as the recording goes, but personally, I’m feeling a hint of 90s alternative rock.  No, it’s not “Cumbersome,” unfortunately, but those of you who grew up with 90s radio will probably hear the same sort of catchy accessibility, while still seeing that the group isn’t just pandering to fans by making watered-down alterna-rock.  Their self-titled album will be in stores next week from the dependable folks at Old Flame Records.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/04-Discovery-Zone.mp3]

Download: Gross Relations – Discovery Zone [MP3]

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