Your friendly neighborhood ATH staff members have emerged from SXSW week and I think we’re all finally ready to reminiscence on what transpired. As we’ve done in the past, it seems like a perfect time to hand out some awards for the festival with superlatives that we made up like 5 minutes ago. Keep in mind we saw a lot of bands, had a bit to drink, and ventured out to more venues than we can possibly remember. So buckle up, hit the jump and see who we deemed worthy and deserving of our very prestigious awards.
While my love of the last few years has clearly been my fascination with the Aussie scene, the pop music of Scotland has always been near and dear to my cliched heart. Today I’d like to introduce you to True Gents, a new act to my ears that draw from a huge swell of sounds, though most notably the pop sort that you’ll hear on this tune. The opening moments are quite nice, almost with a vibe akin to Arab Strap, though much more positive; there’s some quiet strings and children playing beneath the front of the mix, so keep your ears close to the speakers. A slight pick up comes after the two minute mark, pulling in drums and amplifying the strings just a touch. Look for the band’s new release, Blood Moon, to come your way soon.
In a few weeks Alasdair Roberts will bring us his new album, Pangs, and today he’s bringing out his most playful bit of folk. The song opens with such a lighthearted mood that you might be surprised when it settles for a more traditional feeling during the song’s chorus. It’s this sort of songwriting that’s elevated Alasdair, building his own sound on the back of folk traditions, while pushing it in a new direction. I love the slight warble in his voice, which could perhaps be owed to his Scottish accent, but just listen to the way lyrics roll off his tongue in the song’s latter half and you’ll be just as appreciative. Pick up the new record on February 24th via Drag City.
It’s been awhile, quite awhile, since I’ve heard anything from former Arab Strap member Malcolm Middleton. I kept checking back in, hoping he’d offer up something similar to the brilliant Waxing Gibbous. Well, the follow-up has been announced via Nude Records…and somehow I’m just now hearing about it! But, I’m a bit unsure of the lead single…or at least what it might lead to. While the last solo effort was stripped down and ornate, this single offers glimpses of an electro-pop bit of sadness coming our way. It’s still Middleton’s voice and distinct delivery, so I like it, but not sure it’ll endure for the entirety of an album. I guess we’ll see when Summer of ’13 hits on May 27th. Make up your own mind!
It’s been a really long time since anyone has heard from California Snow Story, at least in so far as new music goes, but you got the feeling with some posts in November of last year that new tunes were in the work. Just Friday the band released the first single, which will be handled collectively by Rallye and Shelflife, so you know it’s already got great support. I love this tune; it’s the casual side of indiepop, letting you relax while your soul is filled with melody. We’ll have to wait until May to hear the whole thing, but for now, this is about as good as it gets from the genre.
I feel that the burst of folk-influenced indie rock led to the bastardization of the genre, watering it down with meaningless drivel. But, every once in awhile I stumble upon something that’s fascinating for some reason or another, which is where I found the brothers that make up JR Green of Scotland. They’ve discarded the oft-used fiddle/violin and replaced it with accordion, adding something that creates a melodic buzz behind the lead vocal; I like the occasional shouted vocal for backing that jumps out from time to time too. You’ll find this song on the band’s new Bring the Witch Doctor EP, being released at the end of the month by Hits the Fan Records.
It was a shame growing up without music on the Internet; I feel like I missed out on so many great things, only to discover them later on in life. This was much the case with Nectarine No. 9, who I only discovered a few years ago while following a UK forum on 90s tunes. Luckily for those like me, Heavenly Recordings is reissuing the band’s great LP, Saint Jack. Probably the strangest thing is seeing how much I would have loved this, knowing that I stuck pretty close to a lot of the Brit-pop acts of the mid-90s. I’m glad I came across a few of these songs a bit ago, and now you can discover them for yourself…unless of course you had already found them.
I’m sure some of you heard this track yesterday so I apologize for my tardiness in sharing this if you’ve already heard it. That’s okay by me though because The Twilight Sad has long been an ATH favorite and this new track called “There’s a Girl in the Corner” is just too good not to share. The band yet again highlight their special way of blending dark pop with heavy bass lines and emotionally packed vocals. These guys continue to get better and better.
New album, Nobody Wants to be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave, is due out October 28th on FatCat Records.
After reaffirming their prowess with me during SXSW, Scots We Were Promised Jetpacks are returning this fall with an album of new material. Previewing the new jams before the release date is this new one called “Safety in Numbers”. To be honest, the song lacks a little bit of that power that we’re used to from the band, but the melodies are still there and hard to deny.
Stay tuned for the release date of new album Unravelling this fall on Fatcat Records.
SXSW coverage continues this week with Scottish band Withered Hand. They’re heading overseas just in time for the release of their album, New Gods, which is coming to us courtesy of Slumberland Records/Fortuna Pop. Both labels are reliable, and the music has already proven to be worthy of high praise. Read on for the band’s answers to our questions, and look forward to dates featuring the band coming soon. Read more