I feel like this is an obligatory post for our boy B. Gray while he’s out on the road doing that real job thing. He loves Superhumanoids, and this single is definitely another reason to be excited by the group’s work. I love the little electro glitch sample that seems to serve as the driving force in this track, while guitars splash upon that backdrop. The impressive vocal performance doesn’t damage the song’s emotional pull either. You can find this track on the band’s new Come Say Hello/Hey Big Bang, which was just released…and also check out their full-length, Exhibitionists.
I sort of feel like Avi Buffalo was the great band that many people forgot about, which is fair, as the band’s fallen mostly silent since the release of their debut of their self-titled album in 2010. But, an amped up schedule of touring, including this year’s SXSW (where I caught them) indicated that they were ready for a return. This track does a great job filling in on the promise that their debut offered, using spritely hooks to capture the listener. After repeated listens, count me in as one of the many that’s on board with anticipation for the group’s new album, At Best Cuckold, which will see a release of September 8th via Sub Pop.
Manna is an Algerian/Finnish songwriter who has just recently announced her signing to our favorite little label, Soliti Music. Her sound rests on her voice, at least on this track, with her vocals starring in the stripped down performance. There’s little more than a flash of strings and piano, but that sultry vocal gets you every time. I’m also really interested in her understanding of the English language, as these lyrics are pretty remarkable for an artist who speaks it as a second language. Be on the look out for her new album from the label this fall.
The introduction of this outfit comes with a bit of sadness, as Southern Boutique taking a full-time role means the dissolution of one of our favorite acts, Tiger Waves. The former act crafted these incredible pop soundscapes with warm harmonies, often employing multiple layers and sounds that made their music more dyanmic than most. But, in the case of Southern Boutique, those pieces still remain, albeit more fine-tuned than ever before. This is their first official single, and it employs the same spectacular melodies that made them so endearing. I have no doubt that with a renewed focus, the group will blossom into one of the most unique acts in Austin, winning over everyone. You can expect to hear more from the band when they release their new album later this summer. Grab their new two song single HERE for the NYP payment method; it’s worth a solid donation.
Personally, I’m struggling this week. It’s my last week with my students, and as 13 year olds, they’re likely to be a little rambunctious, so I’ve got to match their energy. This new tune from My Gold Mask does just the trick, with a pulsing rhythm that moves the song forward. Gretta sounds a little bit bratty, but in that endearing sense that empowers women and makes boys swoon. There’s moments of this track that remind me a bit of Raveonettes, but of course, if you up the dance attitude. Expect a new album from the group later on this year.
When I first received Dalliance in the mail I had to go back and listen to the debut, Are You Falling in Love. It reminded me of just how great the songwriting was, though I felt the first LP was a bit uneven in spots. On the return for Gold Bears, this is not the case; the songs here are successful in every single way, with not a single throw away of the eleven tracks present.
Dalliance opens where Are You Falling in Love left off, starting things with “Yeah Tonight,” but this round you’ve got an immediate winner. The idea has been shortened, pounding away from the instant you press play. It doesn’t hurt that singer Jeremy Underwood is balanced out here by Emma Kupa (formerly of Standard Fare), as her presence provides a nice sugary dosage to a track noisily rocks from the get-go. Screeching guitars await around the bend with “Chest.” It’s reminiscent of The Thermals at their best, offering up punk intensity with hints of pop sensibility that make the song an undeniable hit; you’ll want to blast this with the windows down.
But, while this new album from Gold Bears kicks you in the face, musically speaking, you’ve got to have a proper amount of balance; they accomplish that perfectly with “I Hope They’re Right.” It’s a ballad with a distorted guitar rocketing through the background, while a female vocal harmonizes perfectly with Underwood. It’s a nice bit of respite, allowing listeners to catch their breath for a short instant. Surely the gentle quality of this tune will illustrate just how far the songwriting has come since the band’s inception. It’s similar in approach to “Hey, Sophie,” at least in so far as both songs are meant, in my eyes, as breathers. They introduce soft moments, though “Hey, Sophie” uses more of a ringing circular guitar approach as opposed to a stretched out ballad with guitar accents. These songs tie the record together; they still hold to thematic points, but they give you a different approach from which to view the band.
Still, Dalliance succeeds the most when it’s loudest, and no song illustrates that point more so than “For You.” As soon as the words “you’re a mistake” are uttered, the song comes crashing in. Drums pound and guitars course through your ears with ferocity, though I think there’s a definite infectious quality in the delivery of the vocal. At the point of writing, it’s probably one of my favorite tracks of the last few months. I especially appreciate how the song’s energy fades away into the back of the track; it’s a touch that I wasn’t expecting, but that caps off the tune in way that’s indescribable.
Gold Bears had the tunes long ago, but I feel that Dalliance is the record where it all seems so right. There’s a vitality in the album that provides a connection with the audience; it refuses to fade. You can turn it up loud when you need to rock out, or you can have it as the perfect background to a backyard gathering, but regardless, you’ll feel this record crawl beneath your skin, inserting itself, permanently, into your consciousness.
Today seems to be one of those days where our tracks are by artists who’ve stepped out of the shadows of other projects to make a go on their own. Guy Blakeslee is no different, putting out his first record outside his other act, The Entrance Band. I really like the vocals on this number; they seem to come close to straining Blakelee’s voice, yet they’re held, just under. Musically, the song’s a bit of a drifter, with the guitars seemingly pushing themselves in and out of the picture; it’s a stunning effect. His solo effort, Ophelia Slowly, will be released on June 10th via Everloving.
Liam Betson once played guitar in Titus Andronicus, and while you can definitely see remnants of his foray in that outfit in this tune, it’s nice to see that the sound takes on a bit of new direction. The vocals definitely harken to the TA days, at least in the way they were recorded, but the guitar takes on a different tone entirely. The tone takes on a nice bit of twanging dream pop, with guitars cascading all over the tune. He’ll be releasing this new batch of songs on The Cover of the Hunter, which is being released on July 22nd. Take a listen.
Earlier this year I ran into a new 7″ from Steve Adamyk Band. I was immediately excited, as a new single usually indicates a full-length is on its way. That was just the case, as Dirtnap Records have announced that they’ll be releasing the new record from the group, Dial Tone. This track is quick and to the point, which encapsulates my ideas about the group; they offer up a good dosage of punk rock in quick spurts, always bringing hooks that make their albums playable time and time again. You can get your copy of the record on July 1st.
Once in a blue moon you stumble across an album that defies the odds. You might recognize bits of various genres within this sort of album, but every song sounds completely refreshing. You’ll get precisely this when you listen to Crunch, the newest album from Athens’ Eureka California; they’ve created a pop rock record that doesn’t give a fuck if you like it.
One of the great attributes, of which there are many, on Crunch lives in the fact that only one song on the album breeches the 3 minute mark, with most falling far short of that mark. Take the opener, “Edith” which is finished in just under a 1.5 minutes, as an example; it’s a jangling rocker with a nice little bounce, but rather than hit you over the head with redundancy, Eureka California quickly gets to the point, then wraps it up. This is a tactic that’s used far too rarely nowadays, as many bands want to make sure you acknowledge their musicianship. Here it’ll allow you to bob your head to track after track, never tiring of a single note.
Still, you can’t just rely on short bursts of joyous pop, you’ve got to have great songs tune, and they’re filling up this entire album. I love “There’s No Looking Back,” opening with a casual chugging riff and vocals, but as you’re growing accustomed to the tune, it blasts off furiously into a more ramshackle version of itself. There’s also “This Ain’t No A-Side,” which might be one of the album’s better tracks. It uses a little bit of fuzziness on the instruments, while holding onto this youthful vibrance that burrows into your eardrums. And you can’t forget the lead single from Crunch, “Twin Cities.” This song in particular gathers all of my favorite bits of the band and throws it into one song; there’s hooks in the vocals, well-executed guitar riffs, various movements and it all seems like the band is on the verge of falling off the tracks.
There’s a reckless abandon to the entirety of Crunch. After many many listens it seems like the group got together to bang out the loudest, most fun set of pop tracks they could. They clearly weren’t concerned with where they fit in the grand spectrum of the music world, they just wanted to write a bunch of great songs; it’s part of what makes every track so endearing, and ultimately what makes Eureka California something quite special.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/08-Twin-Cities.mp3]