New Klaus Johann Grobe

kjg_promo1 (1)Wow. Trouble In Mind should really have no problem selling this new 7″ they’re releasing from Klaus Johann Grobe, or maybe that’s just my opinion. But, imagine the crossroads where Peter Bjorn and John meet up with Stereolab, drawing upon a relaxing sensation of pop and electronic experimentation. In the end, this A-side sounds like the perfect lounge act for those of your friends with really good tastes, working with some killer harmonies that draw you in, no matter what language you speak. It’s just a feel good tune, particularly as I’m staring out my window at showering rains. Look for it in shops on December 4th.

Fresh Music from Laetitia Sadler

laetitiaI’m really enjoying the newest single from Laetitia Sadler; there’s something in the inflection as she sings that really grabs me.  There’s a bit of oddity to it, though it’s able to grab hold of melody at the same time.  It reminds me of the much misses Deep Time, though the music has more of a singer-songwriter aspiration, albeit one that’s maximized by strings and horns.  This song will feature on her new record, Something Shines, which is slated for release on September 23rd via Drag City Records.  It also doesn’t hurt that she was a big part of Stereolab either, does it?

New Music from Stereolab

So, while we were out performing our ACL duties, we neglected to notice that there were still things going on in the rest of the music world.  Luckily, I was able to catch up by heading over to MBV, and those kids had tossed up a new track by one of my faves, Stereolab. The group has a new record titled Not Music coming out November 16th on Drag City.  Rest assured, it is music, and if you’re a fan, you’ll have to admit, it’s pretty much always good music. You be the judge folks.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/stereolab-sundemon.mp3]

Download: Stereolab – Sun Demon [MP3]

Here We Go Magic – Pigeons

Rating: ★★★½ ·

When we first heard from Here We Go Magic on their self-titled album, the work was largely the product of Luke Temple.  On Pigeons, we find Luke extending the olive branch to his bandmates, collaborating on the collection of tunes, which leads to a more complete sound for the group, and one that shows a great deal of cohesiveness.

A crazy little bass line opens up the album, coated by the usual layering of the rest of the group on “Hibernation.”  More construction seems to be the biggest difference here, as details are fleshed out in every bit of space.  Temple’s vocals are really soothing, almost warm, which makes the vocal more of just another way to fill out the sound.  It all leads into one of the band’s best songs to date, “Collector.”  Temple’s vocal delivery when he says “I got a mild fascination” just gets me every time, and its not even the best vocal performance of his on the song.  Furious pacing by guitars and drums alike barely give you time to breathe, and before you know it you’re blasting on towards the end.

Some weird moments pop up throughout Pigeons, and perhaps this is just a personal thing.  By weird I mean there are some odd influences, that may not be conscious ones at all.  “Casual” really has a Stereolab feel to it, using electronic beats to build gentle melodies, with very soft vocals barely sitting atop the mix. “Bottom Feeder” is one of those sneaky tracks that doesn’t seem to fit quite into the entire album, although the Nada Surf feel might not be too far fetched for these NYC kids.  It’s a gem of a pop song, though it doesn’t fit the mold of the rest of the songs, but just focus on the fact that its a killer track.  Let’s not forget the quirky “Old World United,” which just feels good to listen to it.  It’s got a throbbing bass line and key use of electronic touches allows for maximum amounts of listening pleasure.

While the latter half of the record seems to largely be constructed of more jamming pieces, such as the fast paced “Moon,” the variance softer numbers are some of the more rewarding upon repeated listens. “F.F.A.P.” moves really slowly, and its one of the few songs of the set where Here We Go Magic seems to let Temple’s voice shine through, which it should do more often.  His voice holds this track in place while the music is secondary, used more as filler.   But, while those bright moments have all shown greatly during Pigeons, the album end sort of anticlimactically.  Two of the shortest songs close it out, and they seem more likely to be moments of tinkering and studio downtime than well thought out tracks one would include on a record.  It’s the one disappointing thing about the entire group of songs because up until this point in the album, it appeared that the group was really hitting their stride.  Alas, those weak moments aside, you’ll find growth and depth in the sound of Here We Go Magic, and no one can complain with artistic progress.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/02-Collector-1.mp3]

Download: Here We Go Magic – Collector [MP3]

Atlas Sound – Logos

walkabout-cover

Rating: ★★ · · ·

I must preface this review by stating that I have never been a fan of the work of Bradford Cox.  I realize that this is heresy in today’s indie scene, but I really just have a difficult time giving a shit when there is so much more quality music to which to listen.  Now I’m not saying the man isn’t talented, he is.  His work with Deerhunter is listenable, but I feel like I have heard it all before, and better. I have listened to Deerhunter’s entire catalog and all I am left thinking “Man, this would be great, if My Bloody Valentine had never existed.” Then I go and listen to My Bloody Valentine instead.

So with the release of Bradford Cox’s solo project, Atlas Sound, new album, Logos (Kranky), I approached it with trepidation. Surely the My Bloody Valentine influences would be stripped from the sound and I would finally be able to see what Bradford Cox could really bring to the table creatively.  Plus there were numerous high profile guest appearances, most notably Lætitia Sadier of Stereolab and Noah Lennox of Animal Collective, which warranted, at least, a cursory listen.

You know what? On the first listen of Logos, with the lack of My Bloody Valentine influences, it tricked me into actually liking this record.  I wanted to listen to again. It was light and airy. There was room to move around in it rather than the oppressive wall of sound that is a Deerhunter album. 

But on subsequent listens this album felt familiar for all the wrong reasons.  I know that artists rely on their influences. It’s what makes them who they are.  But there is a huge difference between being influenced by an artist and mimicking.  Bradford Cox continues to come off as an imitator, a highly talented one, but an imitator, nonetheless. While what he is releasing is good, it feels like he has yet to find a voice of his own. 

The majority of Logos sounds exactly like Joan of Arc b-sides and not awesome How Memory Works b-sides, but shitty Live in Chicago, 1999 b-sides.  When joined with Lennox (Walkabout) or Sadier (Quick Canal), we have the highest points of the album, but ultimately the songs sound like the sum of their guest musician’s full time bands.

I hope Bradford Cox finds an original voice soon, because people will soon tire of a band that continually pull too liberally from way more interesting sources.

Atlas Sound will be playing at Fun Fun Fun Fest on the Orange Stage this Sunday at 3:00 p.m.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/Walkabout-w_-Noah-Lennox.mp3]

Download: Atlas Sound – Walkabout (w/ Noah Lennox) [MP3]

New Tunes from Holden

holdenI’m not really up on the scene of the independent world music, but somehow I stumbled across the sublime tunes of the French duo Holden. Their understated combination of melody and electronics reminds me of a slower paced Stereolab, which is never really a bad comparison to make. They have a new album coming out titled Fantomatisme, and though you will have to search the Internet to find it, I’m bringing you a nice little track to give you a little taste test. Enjoy.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/05-un-toit-etranger.mp3]

Download: Holden – Un Toit Etranger [MP3]

Frantic Clam – Celebrity EP

Rating: ★★★ · ·

Local Austin band Frantic Clam originally joined forces while serving in the armed forces in Iraq.  The two founding members, Zack and Joe,  spent their spare time crafting simple tunes.  Celebrity is the band’s first EP, but a full length album is scheduled for release this Winter.

Opening track “Mary Elizabeth Winstead” is definitely rooted in a Southern soul sort of vibe, as the guitar work is really gritty.  The vocals are reminiscent of a Issac Brock being raised in the Deep South, with backing vocals added to fill in some the empty space in the song.

They wander off to “Everything is Perfect,” which is probably the best song on the album.  The vocals at the beginning are really crisp, which packs a stronger punch than some of the fuzzier recording that comes along later.  It’s a gentler approach to their songwriting; an attribute the band should consider employing full time.

“Richard Cory” is another mellow number at track 3.  A slower pace allows the band to focus on the melodies here, and this ends up demonstrating the band’s abilities to intertwine hooks with their space infused Southern rock sound. Similarly, “Amnesty” is filled with space keyboards and lyrics battling the mundane world, along with mundane problems.  It comes off like an old Grandaddy b-side.

They close the album with samples of Oz, as they finish with “The Emerald City.” It’s a song that exhibits a bit of funk, as if the band smashed into Stereolab all of a sudden.  It is another sound that demonstrates the possibilities the future holds for this band.  Keep an eye on this group, as I’m sure we’ll hear more of them in the future.

Speaking of hearing more, the band has a gig on December 12th at Hole in the Wall, so go check it out; keep it local.

You can also check out single from the album Richard Cory elsewhere on our site.

Stereolab @ Emo’s (9/24)

Stereolab, now working on 18 years of existence, will be playing at La Zona Rosa on Wednesday evening.  The show may be one of the only legit shows going down this week that has nothing to do with ACL.  Tickets for the show are $25 and can be bought from Gettix.  Below is a song from the band’s 2008 album Chemical Chords entitled “Three Women”.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/0911_stereolab_-_three_women.mp3]

Download: Stereolab – Three Women [MP3]