Holograms – s/t

Rating: ★★★★ ·

When you get a record from Captured Tracks, you sort of know what you’re getting into, but Holograms, one of the newest bands on the label, are here to change your preconceived notions.  Their self-titled debut is dark, but it’s definitely fueled by a punk sensibility that provides listeners with an angst ridden record you can throw on to lift your spirits.

“Monolith” is the second longest track on the record, and it comes with a great sense of foreboding. A bass line slowly moves in just before you get the swirl of the angry guitar sound.  Hollow vocals dictate a more industrial feeling, and then they blast forward.  Energy, distortion, brash youthfulness; it’s all there. But, then “Chase My Mind” comes into play, giving more of a traditional pop sensibility to Holograms. Light synthesizers and a steady drumbeat provide little bits of a propulsive hook.  It’s the sort of track that energizes you; it encourages you to appreciate the vibrance that underlies a great deal of punk rock.

One of the things that differentiates this self-titled affair is its reliance upon a tradition that encourages anthemic choruses, no matter how angry and bitter the music may sound. Take a track like “ABC City” and you immediately feel the bass growing in your speakers, and as the band jettisons off, you’re tossed back to an era when frivolous pogoing was popular.  Even the lyrics have a tendency to be screamed at the top of your lungs, though the Swedish accents make it a touch more difficult to perfect your sing-a-long. Holograms even seem to have captured the swagger that I adored in my punk rock heroes growing up, which is sometimes lacking in modern acts.  “Fever,” for instance, is a pretty straight forward punk rock tune, but the vocal delivery reeks of cockiness (or brattiness if you like) and as you listen you can feel the grin creeping upon your face. Still, the band’s not just content to revel in the past.

A great deal of the record also has that industrial post-punk sound, which honestly revolves a great deal around the way the vocals are recorded.  They seem distant on a track like “Memories of Sweat” where the swirling guitars and pounding drums do the body of the song’s work.  There’s a primal element to the track, giving it a raw emotion that makes it endearing to listeners. Some might find that the recording of such tracks weakens the effort, but I think it’s quite the contrary, allowing the band’s songwriting and vibrant energy to push beyond the limits of your speakers.

Holograms is a record that warms your heart as you listen, especially if you consider yourself voiced in the annals of punk rock.  What makes it thoroughly enjoyable though is that it goes beyond some of the typical stereotypes, adding a darker element that often goes missing in modern renditions of the style.  Still, Holograms have given you hooks too, which will make any listener swoon; it makes for a great record that you’ll soon learn to love.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Chasing-My-Mind.mp3]

Download:Holograms – Chasing My Mind [MP3]

 

Great New Single from Alpaca Sports

One of my favorite discoveries of the last year has been Sweden’s Alpaca Sports.  The duo creates hook-laden pop that dares you to play the songs just once; I promise you that’s not a possibility.  Lucky for all of us the group has been kind enough to let us stream their new single, “She’ll Come Back for Indian Summer,” which I sincerely hope is a Beat Happening reference.  You can get your hands on the digital single on June 20th via Luxury, and then you’ll have it on your own stereo to play over and over again.  Keep your eye on these guys, as there’ definitely going to be more gems from them coming our way soon. Also, you can check out a video for the single that just went up today by clicking HERE.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Alpaca-Sports-Shell-come-back-for-indian-summer.mp3]

 

Mellow Electronic Jam The Deer Tracks

It’s Monday, and while my body recovers from Chaos in Tejas, let’s throw something a little bit more chilled out in your direction.  This Swedish group is currently in the middle of releasing a trilogy of albums titled The Archer Trilogy–Part 3 should be out later on this year.  One of the reason’s I like the group so much is that I can see similarities to other electronic duo’s like the Knife, but this group has a sound completely all their own; it’s always good when you can build on influences and take your own direction.  The Deer Tracks is set to come to the US (though not Austin) in June, so keep a look out for them in your town.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/W.mp3]

Download:The Deer Tracks – W [MP3]

New Track from Tallest Man on Earth

It’s good to have Tallest Man on Earth back again, not that he’s really been gone, but you know what I mean.  Rolling Stone posted this great new track, “1904” from the songwriter today, and it’s exactly what you want from the man we fondly refer to as the Swedish Bob Dylan There’s No Leaving Now is the title of the new record, set for release on June 12th on Dead Oceans.  There’s a little bit of a change to Kristian’s vocals in the second half of the song, which hopefully shows that he’s looking to add something to his sound.  In the end it’s not really going to matter much because he’s got this quality that makes everything he writes emotionally touching.  He better be ready for more praise!

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/The_Tallest_Man_on_Earth_-_1904.mp3]

Download: The Tallest Man on Earth – 1904 [MP3]

Brand New Music from Solander

I feel like I need to apologize, briefly. I’ve been jamming to a lot of rock n’ roll, as Spring is just around the corner.  But, I figured I’d throw out something a little more composed and craft today via Sweden’s Solander. This creative trio is going to be releasing their Passing Mt. Satu album on March 13th via A Tendervision Recording.  When you listen to this track, it might be the whispering quality of the vocals, or the incredible craftsmanship that goes into the details, but most definitely it’s the emotional hook that follows you throughout. Be on the lookout for this record, as its beauty might sneak up on you quickly.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Book-Of-Advice.mp3]

Download:Solander – Book Of Advice [MP3]

Great Gem from The Mary Onettes

I’ve never wavered in my adoration for The Mary Onettes, and with the upcoming Love Forever EP, it looks like I won’t have to change my position.  You’ll probably notice a slight change if you’ve been following the band, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  On this track, there’s a bit more of a studio polish to the daunting pop number, giving more clarity to the lyrical element than you might have found on previous effort Islands.  You can find this track, and three others when the EP debuts via Labrador on February 28th.  Try to hate this song; you just can’t.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/01-Love_s-Taking-Strange-Ways-1.mp3]

Download:The Mary Onettes – Love’s Taking Strange Ways [MP3]

Spritely Pop Tune from Alpaca Sports

When I found this gem in my inbox, I tried to look up some info, as the hooks made it nearly impossible to ignore this group.  In truth, there is little information on Alpaca Sports at the moment, other than that it’s a solo project of Andreas Jonsson of Sweden, filling out his sound with the help of friends.  One thing is for sure, the Internet seems pleased with this tune, as its popped up in various places aside from ours.  This single is extra playful, reminding me of recent tracks by Hospitality.  If this track doesn’t get your toe tapping or put a smile on your face, please consult your doctor immediately.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Just-for-fun.mp3]

Download:Alpaca Sports – Just for fun [MP3]

More Swedish Pop from The Pale Corners

I have no idea what actually goes on over in Sweden, but in my head, the country is just full of people that sit around and write great little pop tunes.  I discovered The Pale Corners (via OTR) this weekend, and really have been digging this pleasant little track from the group.  It’s got a bit of an atmospheric wash that opens up the ground, but that quickly disappears into the background, opening up for a much more casual melodic hook to evolve.  The string arrangements really add an extra bit of depth, but overall, the group just kicks into gear in the way only the Swedes seem to do–perfecting blissful pop.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Fireflies.mp3]

Download: The Pale Corners – Fireflies [MP3]

New Tunes from Mary Onettes

mary You’d be hard pressed to find a better place to play than the current state of things in Sweden.  One of those bands who hasn’t gotten too much press, but who deserves a great deal of praise is The Mary Onettes.  Their upcoming Dare EP is set to come out digitally, with a physical release slated for June.  Here is a taste of the title track off said EP.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/dare.mp3]

Download: The Mary Onettes – Dare [MP3]

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