Paint Branch probably isn’t a household name, but in my circle of friends, the members of the group are two of the most heralded in our collections…both being founding members of Q and Not U (why can’t Fun x 3 Fest book that reunion!?). However, don’t expect their emo-leaning art punk to come through your speakers, as the duo have been crafting more melodically influenced pop rock since they started this project. This tune below if from their most recent Paint Branch EP, which hopefully means the duo will be writing more songs this year.
I’ve enjoyed the previous works from the Jet Age, so it’s good to see the band at it again, prepping a new effort, Destroy.Rebuild. Listening through the first single, I can definitely hear some of the Washington D.C. influences, at least in so far as lead singer Eric Tischler’s voice goes; it’s part Q and Not U, part Leo. Musically, the song owns this subdued guitar progression that works it’s way in and out, only to be interrupted by crashing bits of guitar noise turned way up in the mix. It’s a good way to start out your Thursday…in my eyes anyways. Their new effort will be out at the end of August.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Tj8V0GPyKnSc.128.mp3]
Download: Jet Age – It Cuts Both Ways [MP3]
For a slew of folks, moving beyond adolesence in the late 90s brought us into a world of great new music. For me, one of those acts was Q and Not U, who ended their career years ago. Since then, I’ve kept an eye on the members, particularly John Davis, who has done Title Tracks and Georgie James. Looking into his projects the other day, I noticed that he had reunited with old pal Chris Richards (QandNotU) to form Paint Branch. Now, don’t go expecting the group to sound anything like their old act, and that’s not even really the point…just glad to see my old idols banging out new hits. They’ve just released an album titled I Wanna Live, which you can grab from their bandcamp page for the convenient Name Your Price. I’ve enjoyed rocking out to it all day today, so perhaps you will too.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Paint-Branch-I-Wanna-Live-05-Cherry-Blossom.mp3]
Download: Paint Branch – Cherry Blossom [MP3]
Well, this track isn’t precisely a loud rocker, but it’s loud in the sense that the Mynabirds, and main songwriter Laura Burhenn, came across a lot quieter on their first effort. Now the group is back with Generals, again produced by the excellent Richard Swift; you can get your hands on the ablum on June 5th via Saddle Creek Records. According to our sources, the record revolves around the concept of political protests, which isn’t surprising considering she used to work with John Davis of DC’s Q and Not U. Several listens in, and this feels a little bit like a political bent on the Kills–not a bad thing. Give this one a taste, and be sure to check the group out at SXSW.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/01-Generals-2.mp3]
Download: The Mynabirds – Generals
It’s weird to say this, but John Davis finally seems to be finding his own voice, his own way. After working with Q and Not U, he then formed up the pop-duo Georgie James, then went on to write the first Title Tracks record. Here, on In Blank, the approach is much simpler than previous works, just giving you straight-ahead power-pop, and in doing so, he’s giving you what seems the best demonstration of himself.
A pounding drum, quick rhythmic guitar and a somewhat spoken lyric begins on “Shaking Hands,” but it’s when John’s voice actually takes on the singing depth that the song begins to take flight. It’s an energy fueled rush that grinds to a nice sudden stop. You’ll then take on “Turn Your Face,” a song that really represents the abilities of John, and one of the things that attracts so many to his music. While the song has a similar, though more rugged, approach to the first track, it’s the ups-and-downs of his voice that make his tunes more than re-hash power-pop. He finally has control of his distinctive voice with all its little flips, and this is the song where it all seems to come together in perfect pop harmony.
While the first Title Tracks record definitely had a jangling punk troubadour sound a la Ted Leo, In Blank, as previously mentioned, begins to give John a voice that he can claim is his own. “I Can’t Hide” seems to take the best of his two latter projects and twist it all tightly in a nice little ball of good pop. Sure, there’s that straight pop-punk drumming element, but the guitar work alone begins to take on an attitude of his own. Lyrically, he’s talking about a lady and his emotions, but the song definitely seems to represent his inability to hide his own musical ideas from the world anymore. It’s at this point where John Davis has eclipsed all preconceived notions of himself. More of this follows when you arrive at the next track, “Forget the Ghost.” There seems to be a hazy little fog floating atop the song, and vocal delivery definitely begins to offer glimpses of a more developed musical palate. If you were looking for more power-fueled pop songs, then John’s here to show you he can do anything he wants, and with great success.
Of course, John’s not one to forget his roots and his early passions, bringing us that punk element in various different forms as In Blank draws to a close. You’ve got explosive power-pop, you’ve got jangling tunes, and even a bit of pop-swagger by way of “It’s Wrong.” Closing out the record, you end up having a nice little smile upon your face, happy that John Davis has been able to continually push himself, and really happy that there are some exceptional songs throughout the latest in the Title Tracks catalogue. Good album from a guy that keeps writing his own good story.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/titletracksalltricks.mp3]
Download: Title Tracks – All Tricks [MP3]
If you haven’t been introduced to John Davis before, you must’ve been hiding behind a rock of some sort. He was in Q and Not U, one of the phenomenal Dischord bands and he fronted Georgie James for a bit. Both bands earned a respectable following, but now John’s working on his new group, Title Tracks, who are about to release their second album, In Blank, on April 19th via Ernest Jenning Records. These tunes are full of a steadier, less angular guitar groove, allowing Davis more room to develop his vocals, not to mention his overall craftsmanship. If the rest of the record sounds anything like this, we’re destined for another brilliant work by one of the most under-appreciated songwriters around. You can also check out another track from the upcoming record on his SITE.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/titletracksalltricks.mp3]
Download: Title Tracks – All Tricks [MP3]
If you’ve been following the life of John Davis, then chances are you’ve enjoyed a great deal of music. He made waves with his role as the drummer in Q and Not U, then jumped into the pop world with Georgie James. Now, he’s playing under the name Title Tracks, which brings in some new sensibilities on It Was Easy. You’ll find traces of his work in both previous bands on the album, but you’ll also see a new direction coming through.
As it all begins, you get “Every Little Bit Hurts,” which definitely has one foot in Georgie James, yet you can feel the ghost of Ted Leo (or his spirit, since he’s not dead, thank God) making his presence known. The guitar sounds are similar, and the drumming is spectacular (done by John himself). Why we know that Ted uses The Jam and Nick Lowe as reference points, you can see John go straight to Ted; just look at the way he tries to hit that falsetto note near the end of the track.
And so he slows it down to a little dub-step number with “No, Girl.” Here yo see the pop sensibility of Georgie James coming through. If it weren’t for the reggae-ish guitar, then it might very well be one of the leftover demos from his old group. This isn’t a knock on the man, as GJ surely had some great elements across Cake Parade.
This is one of the most important notes from It Was Easy. A lot of these songs wear the mark of Georgie James, and to be honest, a lot of the sonic exploration Q and Not U did with their last album Power. John clearly isn’t staying in once place, which might be one of the reasons that this album just doesn’t blow you out of the water; you can see his next release being something ridiculously good.
One of the treats for me was listening to “Tougher Than the Rest,” a number which features my favorite Tracyanne Campbell. Her voice is simply to wonderful to be ignored completely, yet it once again brings about the idea that John hasn’t fully left the ideas behind from the whole Georgie James affair. Still, they lyrics are really heartfelt, and it’s precisely the thing you expect Tracyanne to be singing.
You’ll want to listen to “It Was Easy” and “At Fifteen” as these are two of the songs which really show you that John is trying to step out of the shadow of his past. “At Fifteen” is one of those sleeper tracks that I can see being one of my favorites. It’s nothing more than guitar and whispering vocals; it’s just the sort of think I adore.
Closing out It Was Easy is a cover of The Byrds “She Don’t Care About Time,” just one more signal to the abundance of influences for John Davis. Title Tracks have made a good start, but the one thing lacking is just a bit more cohesiveness all over. Sure, the record is full of great songs and great influences (I’m looking at you Ted), but you can see a bright future in store for John Davis once he tightens the reins and kicks into gear.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/04-Piles-Of-Paper.mp3]
Download: Title Tracks – Piles Of Paper [MP3]
John Davis used to rock the world in Q and Not U. Then he played some catchy tunes with Georgie James, but now he’s finding that middle ground with his new group Title Tracks. His first album with the new group comes your way on February 9th, and fans of his later work will find precisely what they need here. “Piles of Paper” has a lot of remnants leftover from the Georgie James days, which is never a bad thing, as I enjoyed that work too. So get ready for It Was Easy coming your way real soon.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/04-Piles-Of-Paper.mp3]
Download: Title Tracks – Piles Of Paper [MP3]
Prior to listening to Thao with the Get Down Stay Down’s new album, Know Better Learn Faster (Kill Rock Stars), I knew absolutely nothing of Thao Nguyen or her band. Boy, am I glad that has been remedied! Know Better Learn Faster has got to be one of the most pleasant listening experiences I have had in some time.
Those who have met me know that I am not drawn to dance parties or music played at dance parties, but I have to tell you, Nguyen has crafted a tight and whimsical long player that is essentially a dance party on a five inch piece of plastic (or a twelve inch slab of vinyl, depending on your tastes). Starting with rowdy hand clapping and foot stomping of ‘The Clap’ you are transported to a sweaty living room filled with pulsating bodies. The thirteen tracks on this album are sweet and sexy and just plain fun.
The influences on this album tend to shift from song to song, which would normally irritate me, but somehow on Know Better Learn Faster, it works. The music goes from Minus the Bear to Andrew Bird to No Kill No Beep Beep era Q and Not U sometimes in the same song (see the title track). Nguyen’s vocals are a little harder to pinpoint. They are at time reminiscent of Nico, Rebecca Pearcy, or Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney, which are all really good things!
I have a hard time finding something bad to say about Thao and the Get Down Stay Down. Know Better Learn Faster is perfect for the changing seasons; it will continue to bring sunshine into these dreary Fall months.
What? 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.