Juan Wauters – NAP: North American Poetry

juanwauters

Rating: ★★★ · ·

Juan Wauters is best known for his work with the Beets, but he’s stepping out now to make a name for himself.  His first full-length, North American Poetry, builds on his songwriting, but still bears the mark of his previous work.  There’s some hits and some misses, but those hits are definitely worth your undivided attention.

If you’re just now encountering Juan Wauters, I’d advise you to skip “Let Me Hip You to Something.”  It’s not a bad song by any means, but the vocal performance might not be the best introduction; you should come back to it later once you have a finer understanding of Wauters. The next two tracks, however, are must listen destinations.  I love the chugging power of “Sanity or Not,” which might bear a resemblance to a lot of modern garage-pop tracks, though the guitar playing provides an emotion that evokes a sense of traveling.  Then “Lost In Soup” offers a slower version of Juan’s goals, using interesting lyrics to keep things playful, while driving home a strong melody listeners will find endearing.

I think one of the great things about listening to North American Poetry is that the majority of the songs are fairly short, so you get a fresh spin with each song; it makes the songwriting last longer, as  it can get stuck in one place, stylistically speaking. “Woke Up Feeling Like Something” again has that familiar Wauters’ guitar chug on the tune is familiar, presented in earlier tunes on the record, but the “oohs” and the careful way he delivers each note are just right for this number. Then there’s “All Tall Man Will Fall,” which feels more like a poetry experiment fitting with the album’s title.  This is one of the distinctive touches of Juan’s music; he keeps things playful lyrically, using various syllabic inflections to impact the message.

The last few tracks do get the extra benefit of including the voice of Carmelle.  Her performance on “Breathing” alone makes the song rise above some of the previous tracks; differentiation can always add so much to a record’s collective spirit. Similarly, “How Do They All Do” uses Carmelle, though there’s a slower pace to this number.  Personally, I think the album would have been more successful as a whole if these two tracks were spaced out, rather than stuck right next to each other at the end.  Her voice is vital, however, fitting in seamlessly with the songs Juan presented her.

In the end, I find that I enjoy most of the tracks on North American Poetry.  I love the lyrical playfulness, as well as the heart of the songs themselves, but that being said, at times the album gets stuck in one place.  Had the appearance of Carmelle been scattered, it might have added just the right touch to make Juan Wauters solo debut a great listen, rather than just a good listen.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/04-Escucho-Mucho.mp3]

 

Spanish Music from Juan Wauters

juanwautersIf you know the homies at ATH personally, you likely know that we speak a little bit of the Spanish; one of us  might even teach a little bit of the Spanish to kids.  That being said, it makes it easy for us to understand the lyrics to the new single from Juan Wauters, who’s stepping away from the Beets for the release of North American Poetry.  I won’t let you in on the lyrics, as that might take away the fun for you, but the title is translated to “I listen a lot.”  The music is definitely relaxed guitar, with a focus on the recording of the actual strumming as it echoes in the mix.  You’ll have a chance to get the album on February 4th from Captured Tracks.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/04-Escucho-Mucho.mp3]

 

The Beets – Let the Poison Out

Rating: ★★★½ ·

Three years ago, back in 2008, The Beets began their garage-y, sporadic, and minimalist percussion rock up in New York. After a few years of scraping under the radar and keeping to punk scene of up north, The Beets have made their way into the eye of those previously unfamiliar with their lo-fi stylings. Although still lo-fi in nature, this band has come a long way from their original sound, which was muddied to the extent that it consumed the entirety of the music. After cleaning up their sound and holding on to the best bits, they are able to emerge as skilled crafters of the garage sound.

First up is “You Don’t Want The Kids To Be Dead,” which gently eases you into the fuzzy, campy sound that the Beets are doling out. Juan Wauters’ mousy voice wavers with the jangle of the guitar and the soft drum beats barely making themselves apparent. It establishes the lighthearted attitude that is the backbone of the sound on this album, and allows you get familiar with this breezy style of jam, if you hadn’t already waded into the waters of The Beets. Up next is “Now I Live,” relying on the vocals to carry it through the minute and a half in which it lasts, until the third track “Preso Voy,” is up. Third up, this song is entirely in Spanish, which if anything increases the interest level, latching onto syllables belted out with heightened emotion.

As far as this style of records go, The Beets follow the pattern that has become synonymous with punk-garage rock: more than ten songs of which only one reaches above the three minute mark. However, whereas most bands tend to fall victim to this structure, The Beets manage to use it to their advantage, avoiding that dreaded repetitive monotony that can sometimes accompany such choppy albums. You have songs coupled together such as “As The World,” which relies on feminine ooh’s to keep it chugging along, and “I Don’t Know,” which comes across as one of, if not the most, old-timey songs on this album. Together, they balance each other out, to make for a meet in the middle groove, keeping The Beets above banal sound and makes for a standout among other releases of this genre.

Let the Poison Out is sure to live in your CD player for a while; its brevity ensuring that you’ll be singing right along in no time.

New Music from The Beets

Honestly, I can see why there are some people that haven’t completely gotten into The Beets, but that’s such a shame.  Perhaps the vocals aren’t as pristine as similarly-minded bands, but that doesn’t apply for the great melodies the band has crafted over the last several years.  They’ve just signed on with the increasingly superb Hardly Art, who will be releasing their new LP, Let the Poison Out, on October 24th.  On their last run through, I fell absolutely in love, and you should spend a bit of time with their last record, Stay Home, and it will only get you more excited for this much anticipated release.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/BE_DoingAsIDo.mp3]

Download: The Beets – Doing as I Do [MP3]

Chaos in Tejas Highlight: The Beets

With so many acts in town this weekend, it’s not easy picking out the best, but for Saturday night, I had it easy, as The Beets are going to be here, playing over at Beerland.  If you haven’t heard of the band, you’ll probably find that their recent album, Stay Home, off of Captured Tracks is as good a place to start as any.  If you’re looking for that lo-fi spirit with a bit of humor, then you’re going to have to be out there having fun with these guys.  In my mind, it has a softer spin on what the Dead Milkmen seem to have perfected during their hey-day.  There’s twanging guitars, simple hooks, and the band always poke fun at themselves.  It’s definitely something that can win people over, and careful listening will probably leave you and your friends to each have your own favorite song, arguing through the night about which was best.  It’s simple, they all are, so we’ll see you at Beerland Saturday.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/02-Dead.mp3]

Download: The Beets – Dead [MP3]

New Single from The Beets

If you haven’t listened to The Beets latest release, Stay Home, then you’ve probably been missing out my friends.  But, have no fear, as they’re giving away another track from the album called “Dead.”  It was already one of my favorite tracks, but it just has this oddball quality to it that gets me, sort of reminding me of the Feelies.  Don’t listen to me, listen to the Beets! You can grab their latest from Captured Tracks right this very minute, and if you live in Austin, you’ll be able to catch them in June at Chaos in Tejas!

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/The-Beets-Dead.mp3]

Download: The Beets – Dead [MP3]

New Tunes from Craft Spells

It’s going to be a huge year for Captured Tracks, and it’s got me super giddy sitting here at my desk. They’ve got releases from Minks, The Beets and who knows what else.  One band I don’t know a great deal about, but I’ve been jamming all day via P4K is Craft Spells (not to be confused with Cast Spells). Sure, it’s got that club-disco swing groove to it, but you mix that with a bit of far-off vocal effects and you’ll have me swinging my arms from side to side.  Honestly, that’s probably not such a bad thing, and a decent way to kick off the weekend. Maybe it’ll help get you started.  And you’re sure to find more hits like this on March 1st when the band releases their full-length, Idle Labor.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/After-the-Moment-1.mp3]

Download: Craft Spells -After the Moment [MP3]