I always check in with Lost Sound Tapes, as you’ve got to keep an eye on the labels you love the most, which is how I discovered this really incredible number from Tim the Mute…the label’s most recent offering. I know this sounds weird, but imagine yourself listening to the world where the upbeat Neutral Milk Hotel tracks crash into the world of Robert Pollard; that’s the only explanation I can think of, but it’s the most fitting. You’ll find it to be one of the more endearing scuzzy rockers you’ll hear today, so grab the new album Take My Life…Please from the label now! You can also stream the whole album over HERE.
You know we’re always keeping our eyes on the scene in Finland, and Varvara is one of the band’s overseas making some waves with their new effort on the way. This time around, they’ve released this cracking rocker, akin to some classic college rock sounds. Maybe it’s just me, but the more I listen to this song, the more I feel they owe a debt to Robert Pollard, though I will say that the group have definitely upped the production quality on their offering. Stay tuned to the track for the soft breakdown lurking in the middle. They’ll be releasing Death Defying Tricks in January via Haminian Sounds.
More often than not, I’m skeptical of Robert Pollard‘s work; he’s so prolific that I often wonder how he’d sound if he had a music editor in his studio. That being said, his latest tracks are worthy of checking out, be it Ricked Wicky (still hate the name) or his new solo effort. This latest single, just under Bob’s name, is a perfect piece of power-pop, free of the frivolous touches that often dissuade listeners. The song builds from the opening minute into this blissed out guitar pop with Pollard’s voice taking a great bit of focus. His new album is titled Faulty Superheroes, and it’s due in late April; I think I’ll reserve some funds to pick this one up.
Just because GVB might be on permanent hiatus doesn’t mean Robert Pollard is going to quit writing songs at a ridiculous pace. His new project, Ricked Wicky, has just released their latest single and it’s quite a stunner. I love the pace of the track, allowing the guitars to perfectly accent Pollards distinct vocals. I don’t know why, but I feel like this is one of the better tracks Pollard has written; I’m pretty sure I’ve already played it a dozen times today alone. Look for the new album, I Sell the Circus to come out this week via GVB Inc Records.
We all now how busy Robert Pollard is, constantly writing songs for himself and for GBV, so he doesn’t want to waste any time here; he wants to give you another jam to take you into your Friday. He’s got a new record titled Honey Locust Honky Tonk, which will be in stores on July 9th. This is actually one of my favorite tracks of his recent output, which doesn’t mean I hate anything or love anything in particular, only that I like this track quite a bit. Never a bad day when you’ve got Bob to take you into the weekend.
Just a few years ago, Merge Records ran a 3-disc retrospective on the career of Big Dipper…Boston’s nerdy power-poppers. Inspired by the reception, the band went back into the studio to record Big Dipper Crashes on the Platinum Planet. It’s filled with their trademark jangling cum twangy guitars and a bit of nerdom in the lyrical content. You just don’t get better than bands like this, at least if you’re asking me. Oh, and if you needed further proof of their excellence, they’ve got the full support of Robert Pollard…and that guy is a pretty big deal.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/BigDipper_01v1_LordScrumptious.mp3]
Download:Big Dipper – Lord Scrumptious [MP3]
There’s something special in a Guided By Voices performance, something that brings out hordes of old fans desperate to see their favorite front-man take the stage, bottle of beer in hand. For all intents and purposes, the set at Emo’s was exactly what was asked for, with opener Detective doing a good job warming the audience up before our heroes took to the stage.
Lo-fi recordings and accompanying jangle pop rock have been the rage for sometime, and that’s all well and good, but sometimes you just want to have a little bit of a twist on tried-and-true fashions. When you head to your local record store, and you should do so immediately, to pick up the self-titled record from Royal Headache you’ll find exactly what you’ve need. This album’s furious and fun, but just different enough to make the group stand out among the masses.
Side A of this excellent LP opens just as you would expect from a band with garage leanings, furiously paced by the gritty guitar sound. But, then enters frontman Shogun, using his voice to take you back to the nostalgic soulful recordings of the 50s/60s. Perhaps you’ll hear bits of angular post-rock similar to Cloud Nothings, but the vocals take you somewhere else entirely. Oddly, the powerful dynamic between Shogun and the rest of the band fits the mood of Royal Headache perfectly. From start to finish, Side A is a winning adventure of six incredible tracks, with the frenetic “Girls” remaining my personal favorite. That being said, the exuberance isn’t always a pummeling in-your-face affair as evidenced by the somewhat slowly paced “Kinds of Love.” The fact that there aren’t any lyrics might come as a surprise after the first five tracks, but it’s the perfect cleansing before you flip the record on its backside.
If you fell for Side A then Side B is absolutely going reaffirm that Royal Headache are your new favorite band. “Down the Lane” definitely fits into the modern musical spectrum though it has a tendency to sound dated–in an absolutely good way. At times, Shogun even sounds a bit like Robert Pollard stretching his vocals to the maximum; it’s perhaps one of the most emotionally captivating songs on the entire record. Plus, you don’t want to miss the closer, “Pity,” another track that seems to have ingrained itself in my mind. I definitely enjoy the steadiness in the vocals on this number, leaving you with the sentiment that the group has evolved with regards to the conceptual aspect of the record.
Nowadays it seems that a lot of people can record in their bedroom or make an album of lo-fi tracks that quickly burst into a huge success, but you’re not going to find anything at all like Royal Headache. That alone is one reason that you need to get your hands on this LP, but you couple that with the fact that there’s not a single track on this record that you could skip, and you have a winning group of songs that you might not ever escape. Each song is infectious, whether you base that on the inherent hooks or Shogun’s performance; you’re not going to want to listen to anything else for some time to come. Yeah, I said it; it really is that good.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/RoyalHeadache_Girls.mp3]
Download:Royal Headache – Girls [MP3]
Italian Horn is the musical moniker of NYC writer Anthony Pappalardo. Dais Records just announced they’ll be releasing his Red Affair 12″, which is limited to only 300 vinyl copies, so head HERE to pick it up. It’s interesting that Robert Pollard produced the cover art collage for this album, as you can see hints of old GBV in the track that we’re featuring today. This one’s a little more gritty in terms of the overall production, but you can sense that feeling of just writing a track solely on the evolution of a single melody. I’ve been digging this today, so I figured I’d share.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Red_Affair.mp3]
Download: Italian Horn – Red Affair [MP3]
It’s clear from the recent rise in Finnish music trickling overseas that there’s quite a bit of great music being created in the country; Black Twig is another act determined to share their creativity with the world. Paper Trees is their first proper album for the newly created Soliti Music, and while the label may be small, they’ve got some huge sounds to promote.
There’s definitely a diverse sound when you take your first trip through Paper Trees. For me, the biggest standout track was “Death Scene,” the albums fourth track. It’s got a certain earnestness to fit as much as possible into the song, not unlike recent releases from Cloud Nothings. Yet, you’ll find one large unifying force lurking in this song, and the album itself; the pleasant vocals help maintain a perfect sense of pop sensibility.
Going back to the beginning, you’ll realize that this seemingly effortless bit of cool was present all along. Album opener “Four Notes” has a decently jangling guitar line, but the breathy vocals keep the song steadying in the waters of traditional pop tunes. But, just as you think the band’s settled into traditionalism, they warp up the song with squalls of feedback and noise, though not in an overbearing sense. Such touches are present off and on throughout Paper Trees, demonstrating that Black Twig are definitely working out their sound. And in playing with such sounds, you end up with experimental tracks that seemingly come out of nowhere.
“Kouvala (Slow)” is one such track; it’s a sprawling piece of post rock stretching over seven minutes long. Vocals on this track are practically non-existent, but the restraint the band displays in the songs construction perfectly displays their supposed intentions, leaving listeners with a taste that is more than just your average pop record. It’s also indicative of the second-half of the record, which seems to hold a dark, nosier side of things in place. You’ll just have to listen to album closer “Antichrist” to see that the band can sufficiently produce edgier moments with chords knifing in and out of atmospheric negative space. It will also leave you with the feeling that Robert Pollard just wrote a four minute track, as the vocal stylings and mixture of noise and traditional pop fare both lean towards the aforementioned musician’s work.
Paper Trees seemingly goes all over the place, from screeching post-rock to quieter moments of blissful pop, and yet it’s tied together so well that you’ll hardly notice the change in mood from one point to another. Black Twig surely are a potent songwriting force; it’s clear in the way the songs are written, and the way the record plays out: you’ll find yourself jamming to this one over and over again, grateful that Finland is finally making its musical mark abroad.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/04-Death-Scene.mp3]
Download: Black Twig – Death Scene [MP3]