Hope You Bought the New Tedo Stone LP

tedoSome days an album creeps up on you, and all of a sudden you can’t turn it off. This is precisely what happened to me this past weekend when I put on the new Tedo Stone LP. The press release reads as “T. Rex meets Neil Young,” and that’s a pretty good tag, though I think it definitely has some more recent lineage to the likes of Kurt Vile. I think my favorite touch comes from some of the recording, like on this new single, which allows you to hear the detailed guitar strumming when the song goes quiet. His Marshes LP is now out, so do yourself a favor and pick it up.

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New Slow Jam from Ty Segall

I’ve raved about Ty Segall for quite some time, and many assumed he would take the place of dearly departed Jay Reatard.  All signs pointed to this, that is until recently when he began to mention a slower approach to his songwriting on the his new record.  Goodbye Bread will be out June 21st, and it will be his first for Drag City.  This first single from the album shows exactly what Ty promised, using a more drawn out garage sound, similar to the slew of T. Rex covers he tossed out not to long ago.  This track’s all well and good, but we’ll have to wait for the jury to return when the whole collection of songs hits the streets this summer. Give a listen to a less rambunctious Ty below.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Ty-Segall-You-Make-the-Sun-Fry.mp3]

Download: Ty Segall – You Make the Sun Fry [MP3]

Smith Westerns – Dye It Blonde

Rating: ★★★★☆

When the Smith Westerns first came about, I showed them a bit of indifference, and I think that was justified.  Vocals on their last album were really muddy, and almost hurt to listen to at point.  But dammit if the band just didn’t up and turn it around for their latest, Dye It Blonde.  Not only do the vocals feel vastly improved, but the music itself appears pristine at points, allowing the band’s talents to be presented to you in all their sonic glory.

“Weekend” really kicks things off on the right foot, and it even shines through with a bit of the musical nods to bands of the past.  That opening guitar squall, as well as many that appear throughout the record, definitely give me the feeling of “The Concept” by Teenage Fanclub.  Such a gentle vocal approach really sets the audience up for a warmer listening experience in comparison to the aforementioned early works; if you’re not hooked right away, just hold on a second. They give off a bit of an off-kilter vibe in “Still New,” using a steady drum beat to accompany the feedback of the guitar as it maneuvers sharply through your ear canals.  Personally, this is the song that grabbed me, but admittedly, I’m  a dork for classic power-pop, even if you can see Bowie/Bolan prancing around in the background.

You’ll find the band’s glam influences evolved, and they no longer feel as if that’s the sole inspiration for the writing on Dye It Blonde.  Sure, you can hear it in a track like “All Die Young,” especially with that high-pitch vocal touch, yet the band seems really bent on creating the perfect hodgepodge of all things pop.  If you can combine glam and Britpop, turn it on its head to make it sound modern, you’re bound to find winning tracks left and right; that’s just where Smith Westerns have gone beyond our expectations.  Besides, the fuzzed bass on “Fallen in Love” melded with some jangling guitar and cymbal work really provide you with everything you need in a solid pop album.

The thing I’ve noticed about Dye It Blonde is that its appeal is so large that everyone is going to discover their own personal gem, and I think that really defines this record in the long-run.  Personally, the whisper of the vocals on “Only One” grabbed at me right away, pulling me in as a listener.  It went on to move a bit away from the glam influence, almost reverting back to the days of pop that served as a precursor to the likes of T. Rex. There’s even a bit of a jammy breakdown near the end, so you know it’s going to be a rocking number live too!

You couldn’t have asked a band to do more in a short period of time than what Smith Westerns have accomplished.  They pieced together an album that utilizes their various influences, given those touches some nice fresh tweaks, and everything else dazzlingly fell into place. If you’re going to search for a record you can share with you and your friends, all of whom love different things from the rock n’ roll musical canon, then Dye It Blonde is assuredly the one for you.

FTC: T. Rex

Seems like forever since we’ve run a proper From the Closet, so what better way to start things back up than with a little coverage of one of our favorites, T. Rex.  You can get a piece of the band’s collection brand new starting October 26th, as Fat Possum is re-issuing the catalogue, one LP at a time, beginning with The Slider.

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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]

David Vandervelde – Waiting for the Sunrise

Rating: ★★★½☆

In early 2007, David Vandervelde droppped out of music sky, rocking me like the only the bastard son of Marc Bolan could.  For me, his first record, Moonstation House Band, was just a revamped T Rex–and for its part, I loved it.  I mean can really tire of T Rex?

This time around David Vandervelde is still stuck in that classic rock sound, but this one comes off far away from the likes Marc Bolan.  It’s much more subdued, and gone are the chunky guitar riffs that made the last albm so outstanding.

Here we find David hopelessly devoted to the largely acoustic stylings of folk rock.  Sure, his voice still holds a little bit of that T. Rex pitch, but musically, he’s chasing the like of Neil Young or The Band.  Despite his continuous homage to his influences without taking on a new approach, he still manages to write some incredible songs.

“Someone Like You” is quite possibly the best song he has ever written.  Lyrically it throws a look into the life of a struggling musician, one who is trying to cope with his rock n’ roll status, fueled by drugs and excess. Of course, said person dies.  It’s a little cliche, but the melodies in this song are simply ridiculous. This song can be played all day long.  Similarly, “I Will be Fine” is another great song, and an appropriate beginning to the album.  It’s a simple song, but one that sets the tone for the work that is being done on this album.   Lyrically, its lacking, but what are you going to do?

I’m not going to lie; I love this guy’s voice.  He has quite a range, and it does justice to every single song he writes.  He accompanies each melody and harmony the way one can only dream of, but lacking is his writing, lyrics, that is.  They appear really simple, and come off a bit cliched. The last album focused more on the sound of the band, as where this one is more sparse, so it opens you up to listening more to the lyrics–and clearly they lack much to be desired.

Overall, this is a good album, just not one that is going to show David Vandervelde breaking new ground.  If you love clean classic rock sounds, this one’s for you kids.  Excuse me while I go listen to “Someone Like You” for the eleventh time today.