ACL 2013 Recap – Saturday (10/5)

Fridays tend to ease you in, Saturdays tend to beat you down. Or at least the odds of self-inflicted wounds go up exponentially. You have a little hangover, perhaps you start the day with a bloody mary, but by the end you are shirtless, missing a flip-flop and wondering why your hand is blue. For me, it was a pretty non-stop run at awesome; I won at Festival.

Click-through for a few notes on the first Saturday. *spoiler alert* The Cure wins in the end.

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New Pop Hit from Oh No! Yoko

The great part of being involved in little music communities outside the blogosphere is that you always discover fun little gems that you mightn’t have found otherwise. That’s where I discovered this fun little track from Vancouver group, Oh No! Yoko. They just released a nice little album full of similarly fun tunes titled Pau Pau, so if you dig what’s going on below, it’s worth taking a hard look at.  For me, I kind of get the feeling of Passion Pit or Harlem Shakes, but I think a lot of that has to do with a serious vocal link.  So sit back, take it in, and enjoy yourselves.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Ohnoyoko-90skids.mp3]

Download: Oh No! Yoko – 90’s Kids [MP3]

Passion Pit @ Stubbs (6/18 + 6/19)

Date 6/18 + 6/19
Location Stubbs
Doors 7pm
Tickets Both Sold Out!

So a little bit of a lengthy show post here so read carefully for all information you need.  First up, Passion Pit has their highly anticipated shows with Tokyo Police Club and Brahms planned for Friday and Saturday night at Stubbs.  Both those shows are sold out, but a quick craigslist search shows a slew of tickets going for fairly reasonable prices.  You can also catch a free set by Tokyo Police Club and Passion Pit at Waterloo Records around 6pm.  I’d also recommend an interview we did with Passion Pit during ACL and a show review from a year ago.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/passion-pit-moths-wings.mp3]

Download: Passion Pit – Moth’s Wings [MP3]

Rogue Wave – Permalight

Rating: ★½ · · ·

Let’s face it, Zach Rogue hasn’t had it easy.  He was forced into rock n’ roll because of the dot-com bust, and his band lost a former member/friend in a fire, not to mention his own health issues. Through it all, Zach has tried to put a light on his life with Rogue Wave.  Now comes the release of their fourth album, Permalight.

“Solitary Gun” begins the album on the right foot.  It features Zach’s cool California vocals with a twangy guitar.  Percussion here correlates to the song itself, brightening the aesthetic quality of the tune, despite the underlying dark theme. But, this is about as good as it will get.

“Good Morning” has Zach channeling a bit of Passion Pit as he uses synthesized beats to build the hook within the song.  Somehow, the chorus sounds a lot like Postal Service (or Owl City if you like).  It comes across really generic and uninspired, especially the bouncing beat that goes with the chorus.   Such a song is shocking considering the depth in all the songs on Asleep at Heaven’s Gate.  All that depth has clearly gone out the window; disappointing.

A lot of Permalight seems really mundane, if not a bit forced.  “Stars and Stripes” features more of that out of place electronic palette. But, what hits you the most is the redundancy of the lyrics; you here the words stars and stripes too much to recollect any of the other banal details in the song.  Similar issues plague the lyrics on “Fear Itself;” you can only repeat lyrics so many times before they lose all importance.

Don’t forget, however, that Rogue Wave has always been capable of crafting really good pop moments.  “Right With You” seems like something Nada Surf would have done long ago, or maybe Ok Go.  “I’ll Never Leave You” is also standing near the end of the album, but it’s one of the few tunes that really tugs at your heart.  It’s a mostly acoustic number with some sort of shaker echoing in the background while Zach’s vocals carry the whole of the song. Much can be said, too, of “All That Remains.”  It ends the album on a high note, at least as far as quality goes.

Looking back on Permalight as a whole, you can’t help but feel really let down.  There are some moments here, like “I’ll Never Leave You” that show the abilities of Zach and his band, but you get the feeling throughout that the album is somehow left unfinished.  It’s as if the label needed something, and this was all there was, which perhaps explains the foray into electronic backing during certain moments.  Despite a few enjoyable moments, the album struggles to rise high like the previous Rogue Wave records.

ACL Interviews: Passion Pit

passionpit_interviewContinuing or ACL coverage today, we are excited to bring you an interview with buzz worthy band Passion Pit.  These guys have been getting a whole bunch of praise heaped on them from numerous sources and we tend to think they deserve that praise.  We recently spoke with Jeff Apruzzese from the band who discusses the hype and buzz surrounding his band.  Of course that’s not all we talk about, but you’ll just have to read more to see it all.

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Cale Parks – Swift Mars EP

cale

Rating: ★★★ · ·

It’s funny that Cale Parks spent the majority of this summer touring with Passion Pit, as the member of Aloha seems in an entirely different league altogether on his latest, the Swift Mars EP, which is out now on Polyvinyl Records.   As a musician, he most well known as a drummer, but his usage of electronics and layering on this EP tells a story of a different sort.

We’re first presented with “Eyes Wont Shut,” a precursor to the electronic features on this album.  While the music doesn’t sound too far from many of his peers around the park, his stalled delivery of vocals here actually strengthens the beats beneath the track.  A warm chorus breaks into a throwback glam-dance as the song sparkles to and fro, until it comes to an end.

On “Knight Conversation” we find his understated vocals accompanied by a female counterpart.  While the music here isn’t entirely out of this world amazing, it does just enough to push the song to its focal point, which definitely has to revolve around the vocal duets going back and forth.  The strength of the song lies in this recipe.

“Crystal Air” hits the album at its peak.  Here we see Cale layering just as we know he does best.  Simple progressing piano walks along the song itself, with various electronic atmospherics entering from stage left.  Although you might strain to hear the vocals at some points on the song, and the album for that matter, you are definitely drawn into his barroom persona, somewhere between Sinatara and Patrick Wolf. “One at a Time” supposedly is the single from the album, but it isn’t as pronounced as a winner as some of the previously mentioned tracks.  Vocals sort of seem drawn out, and somewhat secondary.  It’s just not a strong effort, and an odd choice for a single.

“We Can Feel It” closes out the EP with a swirling set of combined noises, from steady drums to the bursting of bubbles as they boil.  It’s a new setting for the album, somewhat reminiscent of a more experimental Grizzly Bear, minus the remarkable vocals harmonies.  As it ends, you can’t help but think that Cale Parks has a clear path ahead of him to break new ground and accomplish great things as his musical career continues to blossom before us.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/01-eyes-wont-shut.mp3]

Download: Cale Parks – Eyes Wont Shut [MP3]

Discovery – LP

discovery

Rating: ★½ · · ·

When news that Rostam from Vampire Weekend and Wes from Ra Ra Riot would unite to create an album under the name of Discovery, the Internet was afire with fans of both bands, all hoping that they could combine the magic of their individual outfits into something that would supersede both.  LP is the title of said album, and while there are definitely moments that seem worthy of accolades, it’s unclear at this juncture just how far the adoration will carry the group.

Opener “Orange Shirt” hits from the opening with musical beats reminiscent of Passion Pit, except it goes beyond that similarity, as Wes actually has a quality vocal to place atop the beats.  However, the beats just don’t seem to hit too hard, nor do they really go anywhere; it’s sort of a stationary song in itself, and doesn’t quite build.

“Can You Discover” is somewhat of a remix, as the lyrics come from Ra Ra Riot‘s “Can You Tell.”  Unfortunately, once you strip away the textures from the original, the song seems really simple, as if it was sort of an afterthought in its production.  Also, using auto-tune on the vocals seems like a huge injustice, ruining the power of Wes Miles’ voice.

The middle of the album seems to be where you find the meat and potatoes of the album, or maybe it’s just the potatoes.  “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” features Angel from Dirty Projectors, which adds a different touch to the monotony of the album, and it probably has one of the stronger beats on the album, but the keyboard meanderings get a little tiring. “Swing Tree” is in this section of the album, and it probably carries the most interesting production, at least up to this point in the album.  The high pitched electronics don’t sound too basic, though the beat looped in seems to be one of the most common element throughout the album itself.  And here, you also find “Carby” which has vocals from Ezra of Vampire Weekend.  It’s probably one of the gems on the album; probably one of the few songs you could throw into a club mix.

In it’s entirety, the one thing that this album doesn’t have is the catchiness factor, which both members exude in their own right with their main gigs.  Almost every beat seems mundane, as if they just took the samples from the radio, and reran them through some sort of mixer.  It takes the heart out of the music itself, and all the moments of joy that we usually associate with these two artists are rendered useless for the most part.  Overall, the album comes off as a generic stab at taking indie bands to the dance floors of the world, but ultimately, it seems like this might fail.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/07-carby-ft-ezra-koenig.mp3]

Download: Discovery – Carby [MP3]

Rarest of Them All Party @ The Long Center – 6/3

gruposBefore you decide to hit up Passion Pit at Emos on June 3rd, you might want to stroll on over to the Long Center where Austin’s Rare Magazine will be hosting a little gathering of local rareties, and what could be more rare than great music here in Austin? Aside from local food vendors handing out booze and food for free, you can catch tunes from great Austin bands such as Grupo Fantasma, Harlem and White Denim. You can snag yourself a pair of tickets for this evening by heading here.

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