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

Top 13 Bands of FFF Fest

1112top5coverFun Fun Fun Fest snuck up on me quite a bit this year and it’s hard to believe that we are just one short week away from Austin’s best festival.  Good times will be had by all I’m sure and of course ATH is here to ensure that you will be aptly prepared for the weekend of fun.  Today we’re continuing our coverage of the fest with a look at 13 bands you definitely shouldn’t miss out on.  Why 13?  Because it’s Halloween and we’re cool.  Follow the jump for the list in no particular order.

Read more

Thus Far….Albums of 2014.5

docIt’s still rather early in the year to start talking about best records of the year and what not, but as we’re midway through 2014, every one is doing it…so why not join in the fun.  But, with this in mind, remember that these lists are arbitrary, and if anything, pretty meaningless in the long run; you never know if your thoughts will change in six months…and really, they’re just like, our opinions man.  We’ll have two sections…one for national albums and another section of Austin albums released up to this point in 2014.   Read more

Sun Kil Moon – Benji

Benjisunkilmoon

Rating: ★★★ · ·

For a long while, Mark Kozalek has been making music under the moniker of Sun Kil Moon. To be more specific, Benji marks the sixth full-length release from this man and the company that he surrounds himself with. He crafts his version of the singer/songwriter tale and takes you with him, if you’ll let him.

“Carissa” opens the album, presenting you with the potential beauty that can be found on this album—it’s Kozalek at his finest, with his dark vocals and lyrical creativity that make Sun Kil Moon what it is. Melancholy guitar plucking immediately fills the space once you begin, and immediately brings you into an intimate conversation with the artist. The chorus breaks in, Kozalek is joined by other voices coming together and suddenly it feels like you’re shooting the shit around the fire pit in your best friend’s backyard, sharing honest stories from your past and not worrying about the clock. This first track works like that—before you know it, you’ve been in it for almost seven minutes, letting it take you where it wants to in its wandering tale of nostalgia and grand simplicity. Most of the songs here do just this, taking you on a journey into some sad tale which may or may not resolve, or just leave you staring into the fire.

The odd thing about the songs that are found on Benji is a dissonance between the gravity that the instrumentation and vocal quality present and the lyrics that Kozalek has crafted. With the often-simple combination of acoustic guitar patterns accompanied by Kozalek’s solitary voice, one might expect poetry set to music—the songs becoming complex and intricate fastenings of wit and poignancy. While this does happen frequently on this record, it is not always the case on Benji. There are some moments that stick out painfully from the subtle beauty of Kozalek’s music. For example, take “Dogs,” which is the crude depiction of the loss of virginity of the songwriter—most of the song is uncomfortable imagery that is very much disconnected from the tonality of the music it’s set to. Another moment of this uncomfortable simplicity is the track “I Love My Dad—” which, while dear and sweet, leaves little to the imagination in its honest confession of exactly what the title proclaims. I don’t mean to be critical of the sentiment, just the means, or the lack thereof, of communication present in some places here.

But perhaps the moments of human simplicity on Benji are what draw some to Kozalek; the reality and closeness to human consciousness serves as a reprieve from lofty contemplation. For the most part, I can see such allure, but at some points these moments seem a little too base, adding comedy or seeming parody to something that is meant to be serious.

Show Preview: Mark Kozelek @ Scottish Rite (9/21)

Date 9/21/12
Location Scottish Rite Theater
Doors 8pm
Tickets Sold Out?

My apologies to the Mark Kozelek fans out there for the super late show post, but I’m sure you keep up with the guy and knew about this already.  For those of you who were clueless like me, Kozelek has a planned solo show going down at the Scottish Rite Theater in Austin Friday night.  If you’re going to keep being like me, I’ve been a huge fan of Kozelek for a long time so I expect to see you at the show.  The guy crafts some of the best singer/songwriter, albiet depressing, music in the game.

Oh and it appears that tickets are sold out so showing up to the venue and scalping is recommended.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/SunKilMoon_CarryMeOhio.mp3]

Download: Sun Kil Moon – Carry Me Ohio [MP3]

FTC: Red House Painters

So as I read through the Pitchfork’s very admirable attempt at listing the top tracks of the 90s, I came across a song by Red House Painters called “Katy Song” that I hadn’t thought about in a long time.  I’m not totally sure why I haven’t been spinning any RHP tracks as of late, but it might have something to do with it not being the best “summer music”.  So after listening to that epic track again from the band’s second LP(also known as the Rollercoaster LP), I started delving back into some of my old Mark Kozelek tracks.  Honestly the guy still doesn’t get his due even after 20+ years in the songwriting game.  Maybe it’s because his music defines the term “acquired taste” or it’s just too depressing for some people, but you can’t deny the beauty he creates.  I mean the Red House Painters debut LP came out almost exactly a year after Nevermind yet no one puts this band, or Kozelek for that matter, in the same breath as Cobain or other great songwriters.  I’m here to say he’s got that kind of talent.  Instead of blabbing on all day, I’ll just tell you to spend some time with the Red House Painters and their 5 releases in the 90s.  Then move on to some of that sweet Sun Kil Moon action via debut Ghosts of the Great Highway or April from 2008.  Below is one of my personal favorites “All Mixed Up”.  Yes I know it’s a cover, but honestly I don’t care much for the Cars and creating great covers is another one of Kozlek’s trademarks.  The track appears on the incredible album Song for a Blue Guitar which was the last release with the group still together until “lost” album Old Ramon came out after that big legal dispute.  Enjoy.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/08-All-Mixed-Up-The-Cars-cover-1.mp3]

Download: Red House Painters – All Mixed Up [MP3]