Top Albums of 2017

Lists are arbitrary and burdensome, but why not join the fun everyone else is having? We gathered our lists, separate lists for all of us, then combined them into one that had 50 albums. What you get here are the four writers/contributors of ATH, giving you their meaningless opinions on what we thought was the jam in 2017. It’s alphabetical, and we put the initials next to it so you could track down your enemy!

 

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Stream This Pfarmers Debut FOR FREE

pfarmersHey man, we’re always just looking out for y’all here at ATH, so I wanted to let you know that the lovely folks at Jurrasic Pop records are letting you stream the new Pfarmers LP, Gunnera, for free for a limited time. Pfarmers is the project of The National’s Bryan Devendorf, Danny Seim of Menomena, and Dave Nelson of St. Vincent…so really with all that talent you should probably give it a listen. Everyone likes free, legal music, right?

 

 

 

 

Top 50 Albums of 2014

TOP 50 ALB 14These lists are everywhere, so you’ll be excused if you just roll your eyes and skip on. But, that being said, we always seem to be way off the mark when it comes to our Top 50 Albums of the Year.  Sure, we have some of the sure fire hits on this list like Angel Olsen and Sharon Van Etten, but don’t even read on if you’re look ing to see where Run the Jewels made it…they’re not there. Sorry not sorry.  So, if you’re into arbitrary lists by people who like to push their own agenda, then this list is for you! Read more

St. Vincent – s/t

St-Vincent-album-cover

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Recently quoted, when Annie Clark was asked why her fourth full-length solo album was self titled, she responded with something along the lines that this record felt the most like who she is. If this is the case, the version of St. Vincent that the public eye can see has undergone a sort of metamorphosis since Strange Mercy. Call it touring with David Byrne, or whatever you will, but Clark has gone regal in her style. If the pastel-bleached untamable curls or her seat atop a throne on the cover wasn’t enough to show this, just start listening.

“Rattlesnake,” opens the album with the classic sound that audiences have come to know with St. Vincent: buzzing and eclectic guitar work. What are new, however, are some jazzy sounding synth riffs that make up the backing soundscape. Clark then spins a tale of broken isolation with her distortedly beautiful vocals that are a mirror to the instrumentation; it’s choppy and sporadic, as if you were to take a hammer to a cohesive synth-rock song and break it up into pieces. Regardless, it’s a hell of an opening track, peaking the interest of newcomers and established fans alike.

If the opener was choppy and up and down, the follow up and single-ready “Birth In Reverse,” is an all out cohesive triumph that combines Clark’s turbulent style with the qualities of a pop song. From the start, you have the gritty guitars, but it is joined with a rapid pace beat seems to hold everything together. Even as we are lead through the up’s and downs of the jumps from verse to chorus, it feels like a natural path to be taking, and will make you dance—what more could you want?

I could go on about the other single, “Digital Witness,” with it’s jazzy horns and killer grooviness, but chances are you’ve probably heard it, and if not, get to it. A later track on the record that captures the overall sound of this release and that will have you grooving right along with Clark is “Psychopath.” It’s a softer, more approachable tune, but it is not devoid of the rough prowess you’ve already grown fond of. Instead, the vocals are pushed further back in the mix, letting it sit on equal footing with the instrumentation and the driving synth beat, so that when Clark enters the choral arches of the song, the effect is a gentler build and an interesting balance unparalleled by the other tracks.

At the end of this record, one thing is clear—St. Vincent has indeed turned herself inside out—the ferocity that once seemed buried beneath the innocent softness of an alternative-rock star is no longer hidden, but cherished. The result will have you playing this album on repeat for days; all-hail Queen St. Vincent.

New (ish) Track from Cate Le Bon

I know this track’s been floating around for a little bit now, but I wanted to give it some love, as I really felt like Cate Le Bon won me, as well as many others, over during her recent performance opening for St. Vincent.  She’s solidified details for her upcoming record, CYRK, which will hit stores on January 17th. It’s great hearing her voice in this setting, as live, she seems so endearingly fragile, but you can clearly see her talent soar on this track.  Her voice sounds remarkable, and the arrangements that accompany the track really bring her songwriting to the forefront.  Give the gal a chance; it’ll be worth your time.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Cate_Le_Bon_Work.mp3]

Download: Cate Le Bon – Puts Me to Work [MP3]

Contest: St. Vincent @ ACL Live (10/24)

It’s contest time kids!  It seems like forever since we’ve had ourselves a ticket contest and I’m pumped that our first one in a long time is for St. Vincent tickets.  So I’ll cut the crap and give you some contest deets:

Rules: Leave a comment below with why you should win and we’ll pick winners with the best answer.

Prize: 2 tickets to the St. Vincent show at ACL live on Monday the 24th.  We will pick TWO winners who will each receive ONE ticket.

Timeline: We’ll pick our winners and email them sometime this weekend.

Tickets for this on are still available for $20 if you don’t win.  Don’t forget to leave a valid email address in the comment section so we can get in touch with the winners.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/st-vincent-actor-out-of-work.mp3]

Download: St. Vincent – Actor Out of Work [MP3]

St. Vincent – Strange Mercy

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Annie Clark has definitely been around the musical world a fair number of times for the short amount of time that her music has been in circulation. Granted, she was in several other bands before her debut as front-woman in St. Vincent, such as The Polyphonic Spree and backing for Mr. Sufjan Stevens. So it wasn’t a surprise when this lady took things by storm and it isn’t a surprise that this third release is just as savory as the previous two.

A clear standout track that you can pick up on first listen, or even before, is “Cruel,” a single from this album.  From the beginning, you have this creepy sweeping, lullaby-gone wrong trance-like sound, which then switches quickly to a down-right dance able tune, with psychedelic beat in tow. Clark’s vocals resound solidly through the whole song, switching between power and wispy, but nevertheless, pushing the song forward. The end result is a song that lends itself to almost the dance-pop genre, which is a bit of a surprising, darker twist for St. Vincent that is sure to have you bobbing your head and shaking yourself all over the place along to the buzzing guitar and the steady dance beat.

Something different on Strange Mercy that wasn’t so apparent on the last releases is the shift from innocence and the transition to darker, deeper tracks that aren’t afraid to pack a punch. “Cheerleader,” the third track, holds such intensity, as Clark asserts that she “don’t wanna be a cheerleader no more,” over and over again while resolute drum beats drill her vocals in like a hammer driving in nails. Clark is assertive and adopts a woman-in-charge flair whose presence can be felt all the way until the end of the album, especially on the very last song “Year of the Tiger,” in which the band builds to it’s explosively powerful ending. Meanwhile, Clark’s voice remains impeccable, holding you to listen like a super charged magnet until the gritty musical elements kick in towards the end, and the song switches from sweet to the prowl of a tigress.

Overall, it’s a pretty complete album; there is a range of various types of songs, all of which seem like different aspects of Clark’s soul, as her voice is the delightful motif that makes its way through all the tracks. While the elements that surround her vocals may change, what remains is a strong front woman who isn’t afraid to experiment with varying kinds of sound and you are bound to enjoy at least a few of these lovely songs.

Show Preview: Jackson Browne @ Moody Theater

Date Friday, May 13th
Location Moody Theater
Doors 800p
Tickets $125 for 2 Tickets

Of course I realize that most of us folks don’t have the kind of money to see Jackson Browne, but I absolutely love the guy.  I blame my dad of course, who always had folk/country jams about the hardship of life playing around our house as a kid.  It’d be easy to dismiss Browne as an oldie (but a goodie), yet his influence over American music, even modern indie rock looms large.  One track alone has reverberated for years, as Nico, Mates of State and most recently, St. Vincent, have all covered his fabulous track, “These Days.”  It’s just one song in a catalog full of great tracks that you’ll surely be lucky enough to enjoy if you’ve got the dollars to witness this American great. The song below is a live version of the previously alluded to tune, so you can get the jist of it all.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/26-These-Days.mp3]

Download: Jackson Browne – These Days [MP3]

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