New Tunes from Jaill

It seems like August is shaping up to be a month for guitars, and well, minimal electronic intrusion. One of those bands, Jaill, is ready to prep the release of their new album, That’s How We Burn, with our friends over at Sub Pop.  While their latest single has hints of modern post rock, the rest of the album has a nostalgic sound to it, one that sounds like The Feelies on speed.  Guess that’s my impression. Whatever the sound, you’ll surely fall for this band.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/01-The-Stroller-1.mp3]

Download: Jaill – The Stroller [MP3]

New Music From The Vaselines

That’s right folks, The Vaselines are returning in 2010 with their first record of new material in over 20 years.  The duo plan to release new LP Sex with an X on September 14th via Sub Pop Records.  Until then, enjoy the first MP3 of new song “I Hate the 80s” which also just happens to be the title of a terrible Duran Duran song.  This song is sure to remind you why The Vaselines rule.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/The-Vaselines-I-HateThe-80_s.mp3]

Download: The Vaselines – I Hate The 80s [MP3]

Blitzen Trapper – Destroyer Of The Void

Rating: ★★★½☆

ATH Favorite and Portland, OR’s own Blitzen Trapper are back with their latest from Sub-Pop; the ominously titled Destroyer of the Void. The task of following up 2008’s critically acclaimed Furr was no easy one. Following in such momentum of an impressive record and equally hyped tour however is easy with the laundry list of talents and influences which Blitzen Trapper wear proudly on their sleeve. The last time we spoke to the band during ACL in 2009, they told us they were going to highlight more piano and it quickly becomes apparent with their latest they held true to form.

From the first notes of the title track to the last not on ‘Sadie’, the record as a whole is very piano heavy utilizing once again strong song writing fundamentals from Eric Earley. ‘Destroyer of the Void’ (the song) shows in no uncertain terms the sampling of everything in their bag of tricks. These influences and genres include piano ballads, strong off-kilter harmonies, good old fashioned rock, a little country thrown in for good measure, and as always strong songwriting fundamentals. On the second track, ‘Laughing Lover’ the piano is again the focus and this time it is the catalyst for wonderful layering techniques that are quickly becoming the band’s new trademark sound. ‘Below the Hurricane’ and ‘The Man Who Would Speak True’ form a good 1-2 punch with slow intros building into a tempo that the band seem to thrive in, similar to that found on ‘Black River Killer” from Furr. Solid harmonica play starts in the former and continues through the latter creating wonderful flow and consistency. If Earley is good a one thing as heard in the release, it’s creating compelling stories.

From there, the group deals with duality on ‘Love and Hate’ and again on ‘Heaven and Earth’. The latter finally shows more of the heavy blues sound listeners grew used to on such releases as Wild Mountain Nation. This change in pace is short-lived however, with Earley back into piano ballad mode with the latter.  The high point for this listener comes a little halfway through the album starting off with ‘Dragon’s Song’ and its bluesy, almost Shin’s worthy instrumentation, into a wonderful duet with Alela Diane on ‘The Tree’, and topping it off with ‘Evening Star’, perhaps the most lasting and single-worthy track on the entire release.

Overall, the album is much quieter and subdued than any previous release. That may not be the best thing to keep a relatively new and hungry fan-base appeased, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing either. It shows some growth into not relying too heavy on one idea and for Earley, shows the continuous drive for writing the perfect song. Though I continually refer back to Furr and Wild Mountain Nation in years past, only time will tell if this album holds the same staying power. On first taste, the momentum gained by the band following Furr is slowed a little by this release, but only sidelines it slightly. The strengths of Blitzen Trapper are growing and they do many things very well.  This release definitely fills the void left by Furr, but Destroy? That may be a little presumptuous.

Free EP From Grand Archives

Despite my indifference to their latest album Keep in Mind Frankenstein, I still dig the sounds created by Seattle band Grand Archives.  To celebrate their upcoming summer tour, the boys are offering up a free download of a short 3 song/1 video EP entitled The Story So Far…  Each song on the EP is taken from a different Grand Archives release.  I’ll reminisce a bit with “Miniature Birds” from the bands steller self-titled Sub Pop debut.

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

Download: Grand Archives – Miniature Birds [MP3]

New Music From Wolf Parade

So by now you’ve seen the two new tracks streaming around the internet from the upcoming Wolf Parade LP Expo 86.  That streaming stuff is all well and good, but we wanted to offer you up a tasty little MP3 of new track “Ghost Pressure”.  It will of course appear on the new LP from the band due out June 29th on Sub Pop Records.  You can also check out Spencer Krug led track “What Did My Lover Say? (It Always Had To Go This Way)” right over here.  Enjoy!

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

Download: Wolf Parade – Ghost Pressure [MP3]

New Music From Blitzen Trapper

Hell yeah!  One of my favorite bands, Blitzen Trapper, are returning in 2010 with new album Destroyer of the Void.  Lead singer Eric Earley told us at ACL that the new album would feature more piano written songs and this new single “Heaven and Earth” seems to hold true to that statement.  I’ll be curious to see what else is in store for this much anticipated album.  Destroyer of the Void is out June 8th on Sub Pop.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Blitzen-Trapper-Heaven-and-Earth.mp3]

Download: Blitzen Trapper – Heaven and Earth [MP3]

Happy Birthday – s/t

Rating: ★★★☆☆

One of the most recent signees to historic Sub Pop is a relative newcomer to the music scene.  Happy Birthday, for those of you stumbling upon the band, just formed in 2008, and their self-titled album is their first official recording.  This album fits nicely into the new fascination with fuzz-riddled guitar pop, though the band isn’t just a one trick pony.  While the majority of the album is filled with charm, there are a few missteps that keep it from taking off.

Happy Birthday kicks off their debut with one of the catchiest tunes of 2010, “Girls FM.”  Jangling guitar rings hollowly in the background as Kyle Thomas wails a bit, just before the drums are added.  Once you get to the chorus, where Ruth Garbus joins Thomas, you can’t escape the sugary sweetness.  Placing this song up front establishes a lot of the music as surf-pop, though the group does go in different directions at times.

One of the tricks the band employs to great effect is to have Kyle’s vocals carefully backed by the warmth of Ruth’s voice.  “2 Shy” utilizes this tool, and it moves the music away from garage band to polished power-pop.  Such a combination creates blissful moments for the band, and they pull it out just often enough to make it memorable. You’ll see the same elements in “Maxine the Teenage Eskimo,” which might be the secret gem of this album.  It’s late in the collection, and this general sweetness comes in a bit later in the song; stay with this one folks, as you’ll be rewarded greatly.

Interestingly, there are some odd Marc Bolan-esque vocals floating throughout spots on this record.  “Subliminal Message” has that trademark T. Rex guitar, and Thomas seems to channel a bit of Marc’s vocal inflections on his delivery–this actually makes for a really fixating slow jam.  Unfortunately, they return to this same formula for “Pink Strawberry Shake,” at a point in the album when you’re really looking to be revitalized by something new; you might find yourself bogged down at this point.

Still, a new band has to have some drawbacks, right?  Well, this is true of Happy Birthday.  At times, they seem to have a little bit too much simplicity in their songwriting, which can be translated to childishness.  “Zit” is just one of those songs that demonstrates some of these weaknesses; it’s a juvenile song, both lyrically and musically.  While the lyrics throughout definitely hint at the unpolished quality of the group, this song takes it a bit too far.  Clearly, there is room for simplicity and youthfulness, but it kind of goes too far at points on the album.  This is just another factor the band will eventually work out on the next album, as they sometimes don’t seem to know when to hold back, pushing songs beyond a point of impact for the listener.

However, don’t end the album without listening to closer, “Fun.”  Yes, it does use that recently popularized style of mundane lyrical songwriting, but there is a touch of real brilliance here.  Some might recall Superdrag or Teenage Fanclub, and fans of those bands will surely love the ending to this album.  All things considered, Happy Birthday‘s debut has demonstrated room for growth, with touches of brilliance throughout, so we should expect a solid second outing based on the charms of this beginning.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/01-Girls-FM-1.mp3]

Download: Happy Birthday – Girls FM [MP3]

Retribution Gospel Choir @ Stubbs (2/11)

retribution_gospel_choir-somebodys_someone

Date 2/11/10
Location Stubbs
Doors 9pm
Tickets $10 from Frontgate

Great show for a great price on Thursday night in Austin at Stubbs with Retribution Gospel Choir coming to the stage.  The band will be joined on the stage by Tunnels.  If you don’t gotta work the next day, this is the place to be on Thursday night.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/6177.mp3]

Download: Retribution Gospel Choir – Hide it Away [MP3]

Free Sub Pop Sampler

subpopSub Pop is at it again with another free sampler featuring some of their best tunes from last year along with a few previews of upcoming material.  You’ll see staples like Beach House, Grand Archives, The Ruby Suns, and tons more.  You’ve probably seen a lot of these songs here on our site, but isn’t it easier to get them all in one big zip file?  Si!  Oh and your favorite 1990s internet graphics are back and ready for some fun!

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/05-Falling-From-The-Sun.mp3]

Download: The Album Leaf – Falling From The Sun [MP3]

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