Required Listening: Another New One From Stef Chura

This track may have dropped yesterday, but we’re big fans of pretty much everything Stef Chura has done and is doing, so we’d be remiss not to share another hit from the artist. “Sweet Sweet Midnight” features another familiar voice in the form of Car Seat Headrest‘s Will Toledo, which compliments Chura’s dry yelp so well, you’ll be wishing for a supergroup from the two. Instrumentally, the track is kind of minimalist at times before it ramps up to its killer and somewhat violent ending. Chura’s new album,Midnight, will be out on June 7th via Saddle Creek and apparently Toledo’s influence is on the rest of the album as well. Be sure to pre-order your copy of what will surely be a smash LP.

New Single From Rural Alberta Advantage

Much has been said about on this here website about Toronto based band Rural Alberta Advantage. Though with all that coverage in the past, we’ve somehow managed to completely flake on posting about the band’s latest album. I’m rectifying our foolishness with a quick blurb about the group’s most recent single “Toughen Up”. This really is typical RAA music here with always impressive vocals from Nils Edenloff, beautiful harmonies from Robin Patch, and a reliable tight, folk rock sound throughout.

New album The Wild is out on October 13th via Saddle Creek (pre-order).

In Love with This Sam Evian Tune

In the late 90s, thanks to a few friends, my musical tastes gradually began to change. I fawned over tunes by the Glands, Beulah and Grandaddy…and for some reason Sam Evian‘s new single brings that period to mind. There’s this incredible craftsmanship, no doubt aided by his collaboration with Chris Cohen, but even with that, it still maintains this lighthearted quality that allows you to lose yourself completely, overtaken by a general pleasantness. It’s smooth pop, with hints of California sunshine; I think I could play this song all day long. Look for the collaborative EP with Chris Cohen to be released by Saddle Creek on October 6th.

Graceful Track From Hand Habits

This new song from Hand Habits is a winner. It’s the kind of track that just feels right– the kind of song that plays in your mind when the pieces of life all seem to fall together in their proper places. “yr heart,” is melodic and warm, with unapologetically romantic lyrics like “you are heat/you are serenity” that go tandem with the gentle folksy instrumentals comprised of lush acoustic guitar and soft percussion. Take a listen and fall in love a little bit.

This song is being released as a part of Saddle Creek’s Document Series. Pick up your copy here.

 

Rural Alberta Advantage Return with New Album

mendThe last Rural Alberta Advantage album, Departing, still plays quite frequently in my rotation of millions of albums.  There’s something about the band’s combination of folk-influenced rock and Nils Edenloff’s vocals that just gets in my soul, refusing to ever let go of it’s stranglehold on my ears. This song has the band opening softly, just for a moment, before the group blasts off with this pummeling roll of the drums and gang vocals from Edenloff and Amy Cole; the rest is about as good as it gets. Look for their album, Mended with Gold, on September 30th via Saddle Creek.

PUJOL Continues His Garage Pop Career

pujolYou’ve likely heard about PUJOL on these pages before, as we’re always clamoring for whatever new music Daniel Pujol is working on. He just announced that he’ll be releasing KLUDGE, his newest album,on May 20th with Saddle Creek.  The Nashville artist still holds onto his DIY garage aesthetics, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that his songwriting is taking a liking towards a more pop-centric writing style.  It doesn’t hurt his songs though, as you’ll clearly see this one as just another hit from one of our favorite songwriters.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/03-03_Pitch-Black.mp3]

Download: PUJOL – Pitch Black [MP3]

New Badass Rock From The Thermals

thermals

I don’t really have a whole lot to say about this song other than it’s by The Thermals and it has that sense of no B.S. rock n roll  we’ve come to expect from the band over the last 10+ years.  It rules.  Duh.

What you might not know is that a new album is coming from the band on April 16th via Saddle Creek Records entitled Desperate Ground.  Also, a free download of this tasty tune can be had on the band’s website in exchange for your email address.

New Music from Big Harp

The last time we heard from Big Harp they were touring behind their debut for Saddle Creek Records, but the second album is well on its way.  On first listen to the lead single from that album, Chain Letters, has a more complete sound to it, albeit one that still remains as intimate as their previous work.  There’s always a personal element to the lyrical content, but you can see more dedication to the art of song arrangements and accompaniment here.  It adds a little bit more depth and personality to a group that just needed a slight push to become something special.  The album will be in stores January 22 of next year.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/01YouCantSaveEmAll.mp3]

Download: Big Harp – You Cant Save Em All [MP3]

Bright Eyes – The People’s Key

Rating: ★★★½ ·

Having been a long time fan of Bright Eyes, I was really interested to see how his return to the name would go, since I haven’t been overwhelmed, necessarily, by his Conor Oberst output.  For the most part, it’s a return to form, though most people will find that The People’s Key more closely resembles Digital Ash as far as production goes, rather than going the route of lush orchestration that was present on Lifted.

Of course, the album opens with over two minutes of spoken word, which, if you’ve been a fan, is something Conor has almost always used to begin his records, and in doing so, he seems to be stating that while it might have been some time, he’s still treating Bright Eyes as he always has.  Once “Firewall” gets going, you’ll find that his country-twang has dissolved returning him to the more soft-spoken troubadour of old.  And who doesn’t love a bit of Magic Mogis orchestration to accompany his work.

When I first heard “Shell Games,” the piano backbone reminded me of early work on Fevers and Mirrors, except this is definitely a more mature Oberst, one who now should celebrate great control over his voice.  As the song moves along, there’s definitely a more futuristic (read electronic) sound pushing the track.  My favorite line is “I’m still angry with no reason to be,” showing long-time fans that he’s still out there searching for the perfect path, much like the search we’ve all gone upon ourselves. Then to move from a semi-ballad to “Jejune Stars,” well, its a perfect move, while both songs share some sonic similarities, but differences allow for change in perceived mood.  Personally, the stuttering of the guitar lines, not to mention the rise and fall chorus, make this track a stand-out in my mind.

“A Machine Spiritual” opens up with some typical strumming, which slowly retreats into the background of the song as Conor’s voice takes control.  For some reason, his approach on this song, as well as throughout The People’s Key, gives him a sense of rejuvenation, as if he’s gone back to his twenties. He seems gentler somehow, almost more naive, but perhaps this all revolves around his subject matter.  Using bits like “impart to me/your wisdom/and eventually I’ll float into the ether” remind us that one of the great thing about Bright Eyes, past and present, is that he often walks the same path that his listeners seem to take; sometimes we’re all looking at a world we’re not happy with, struggling to find our own meaning, in a world we’re not sure we can necessarily change. It’s this sort of a theme that goes along with “Ladder Song,” that constant pursuit for what it all means, and how we can change it all.  Ultimately, it seems that Oberst realizes we all must live on our own terms, and the song is incredible, if not one of his best.  The fragility in his voice during the chorus, his openness with listeners, and the simplicity of the structure of the song serves as a reminder of just what an incredible writer he is…love him or hate him.

It’s been said that this would be the last Bright Eyes release under the name, and if so, then I’ll admit I’m probably a bit saddened by that thought.  The People’s Key is a reminder of just how amazing Oberst is as a songwriter, and that with his pal Mogis behind production duties, how heartfelt his music can truly be.  If he does manage to leave it all behind, let’s just hope that his new work can somehow manage to encapsulate all the things that make listening to his work great such as spirituality, great lyrics, and a certain nakedness, one that allows us to see ourselves in our favorite musicians. Here’s to that.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/02-Shell-Games-1.mp3]

Download: Bright Eyes – Shell Games [MP3]

New Music From Tim Kasher

I think we’ve made it pretty clear here at ATH that we have long been behind any and all music created by the indie great Tim Kasher.  With his huge catalog of material in Cursive and The Good Life, what’s not to like about the guy?  So after all this time Kasher has decided to put out his very first album of new material under his own name.  Below you can find a sneak peak at the new solo album, The Game of Monogomy, in the form of track “Cold Love”.  We’ll be the first in line when Kasher’s solo album hits stores on October 5th on Saddle Creek. (via)

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/05-Cold-Love.mp3]

Download: Tim Kasher – Cold Love [MP3]