2009 Top 50 Albums

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Creating a Top 50 Albums list is never easy.  You have to battle with what you think the world believes, and what you truly believe in your heart, to be solid jams.  We have even more trouble because we have to three writers, all who have different ideas, and we have to make those ideas fit into a neat box.  Well, we got it done, and honestly, our criteria was based on two things: how great we thought the album was, artistically speaking, and how long we listened to it without getting bored.  That’s it. It’s fool proof; you might not like it, but it’s our list, so here it is… Read more

12/12 – The Dutchess and the Duke @ The Mohawk

dutchessduke08This here is a story of heartbreak, a story of fallen heroes.  The Dutchess and the Duke made their way once again into Austin amongst strong praise for their recent release Sunset/Sunrise.  Our expectations were high, and we promoted the show as best we could, hoping many would see the greatness that was D&D.  Unfortunately, the night fell far short of our expectations, or mine at least.  Follow the jump for full review and photos.

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ATH Presents: Dutchess & The Duke

ATHpresents_d&dHooray!  We are now happy to anounce a killer show we will be helping out with at Mohawk in December.  One of our favorite bands of last year (#1 to be exact) Dutchess & The Duke are returning to Austin on December 12th and we couldn’t be more excited.  They will be joined on the stage by two other buzz bands: Oakland’s own Greg Ashley and Denton, TX boys Fergus & GeronimoThe last time D&D were in Austin they played as an acoustic duo, but word has it that they are now touring with a full band to bring the rock!  Tickets will only run ya $8 so we really don’t know why you wouldn’t be there…  Plus it’s a Saturday night!  Check out some previews of this show with an album review of D&D’s debut album of 2008, one for their more recent LP Sunset/Sunrise, or an interview we ran the last time they made it to town.  Stay tuned for more details and a possible contest for tickets to the show.  In the meantime, check out one of our favorite songs from last year “Reservoir Park” and what will surely be in our top songs for this year “The River”.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/01-reservoir-park.mp3]

Download: Dutchess & The Duke – Reservoir Park [MP3]

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/10-The-River.mp3]

Download: The Dutchess and the Duke – The River [MP3]

The Dutchess & the Duke – Sunset/Sunrise

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Rating: ★★★★½

When The Dutchess and the Duke burst onto the scene last year, creating havoc for every person using Microsoft Word, we couldn’t have been happier.  Their acoustic duets recalled The Rolling Stones, but with a little bit more with portrayed in the lyrics. Now, they return, with their second album, Sunset/Sunrise, willing to do it all again.

“Hands” opens the album, and it’s clear that the sun has gone down on this duo.  Lyrical messages hint at dark times for the narrator, but as the chorus bursts through, you see the same formula from the hits off their first album. Sure, there is a hint of guitar soloing, but it’s just enough to show hints of change, without altering the game completely.

“Scorpio” exists as one of the finest moments on the album; you would call it the brightest were it not for the lyrical imagery.  Flourishes of orchestration (a violin perhaps) fittingly add a bit of melancholic tone to the tune, hinting at the gravity which exists at the heart of the song.  So when you come across “Living This Life” you can see that the distance referenced in “Scorpio” has finally come to sit in with the band.  Everything about this album seems to exemplify a distance, be that with family or lovers. As the guitar meanders, seemingly over a horizon afar, you can feel the emotional change of the group.

As you hit the album’s almost title track, “Sunrise/Sunset,” the picture of a shift in the writing process has come to complete fruition.  Kimberly Morrison has taken over vocal duties for this song, as well as “When You Leave My Arms” Although her smoky vocals are a perfect accompaniment to Jesse Lortz, these two songs demonstrate that she has a knack for pulling every bit of emotion out of her songs.  It’s a refreshing twist to Sunset/Sunrise, clearly deepening the repertoire of the group, rather than labeling them as re-hashers of classic rock.

Unlike the last album, which hit you in the face real hard up front, the new record seems extremely even. From start to finish, there seems to be some sort of focal point for the group that allows for such balance, which ultimately might make this album stronger than its predecessor.  And you come to the perfect ending with “The River.”  The song is treated by some soft touches of piano, perhaps providing it with a touch of the epic ending.  Ultimately, this song serves as a summary for the album.  Questioning one’s existence, and one’s relationships to loved ones, all wrapped up in one final tune.  Perhaps it was written for the soon to be child of Lortz, who, like us, will look on Sunset/Sunrise with pride, longing, and perhaps a little bit of reflection.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/10-The-River.mp3]

Download: The Dutchess and the Duke – The River [MP3]

New Tunes from The Dutchess and the Duke

dutchYou may recall that The Dutchess and the Duke recorded our favorite album of last year, and now they are set to win us over again.  Their new album, Sunset/Sunrise comes out on Hardly Art this October.  Here’s a listen to the new track “Hands.”  Dare I say, we love it already?

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/Dutchess-and-the-Duke-Hands.mp3]

Download: Dutchess and the Duke – Hands [MP3]