What’s better than a great show in the middle of the workweek to get you through to the weekend? Nothing. Wednesday night’s lineup had me geared up for a high-energy evening of sunny dream pop and rambunctious percussive pop music. Both bands did not fail to bring a large supply of that energy and each doled it out in very different directions. Read about the refreshing evening after the jump and see some HQ super wonderful iPhone shots from yours truly.
Now this is a show I am super excited for as both of these bands are on the heels of releasing killer albums, so you really can’t afford to miss out on this night of music. Up first will be Springtime Carnivore, the psychedelic pop project of Greta Morgan, whose debut album is filled with classic pop hooks and effortlessly reverb soaked vocals that will set your feet to dancing and your head bobbing in approval. If you’re having doubts check out “Name on a Matchbook” below and get hooked.
And of course, who can forget the main act of the night, The Dodos, whose recent fifth studio LP felt like a trip back to their high energy sound. They’ll surely bring a setlist of new and old tracks, both of which are bound to delight. If you haven’t already, listen to “Competition,” so you’ll be refreshed and reminded of how infectiously good these guys are at making rustic pop music.
I’ll be honest and say that after this band put out their first record, back in 2008, that their music lost the same kind of forceful spirit that Visiter seemed to embody. Each following record they put out pulled me in with a single or two, but failed to put together something cohesive enough to really stick as a staple in my listening catalog. Individ is as close as San Francisco duo Meric Long and Logan Kroeber have come to duplicating the success of that first record.
Now, Individ doesn’t simply duplicate the same exact sound that these two began with, but repurposes the original style and tweaks it in a new controlled chaos that works for this rustic and forceful core sound. The tracks feel more refined but not any less exciting; they build and change, emotive and powerful. On a whole, the songs grow on each other, and the album is a true slow burner, picking up strength and peaking at the end. That’s not to say that the early numbers aren’t interesting: opener “Precipitation” is a long number that reboots and refreshes your memory of The Dodos. This song starts loosely and then gets tightened as it goes, mirroring the progression of the album as a whole. Long and grittily buzzing guitar noises welcome you, and then those infamous full and But before you know it, the band turn the corner and bust into full force, from subdued and controlled to a full sprint or a dance around the fire. This is the sound that you came to know and love early on from these guys and its back.
“Competition” marks the place in the album where The Dodos really hit their stride and only go up from here. This track is among the shorter and snappier numbers of stripped and energetic rag-tag rock that the band offers on the record, with its extra full sounding lead guitar sharply carrying the track, backed with a secondary cutting riff. In addition this song is completed with a vocal part that moves past the usual softness and into an emotive and interesting state. After this you get other wonderful songs like the sweetly melodic “Goodbyes and Endings,” that utilizes the full drums to juxtapose with the high yells of the chorus. Then there’s “Bastard,” a completely understated track that feels like The Dodo’s doing some extra lo-fi action a-la The Velvet Underground.
Soon you’ve reached the end of this forty-minute adventure, and while this album takes a lot of positive steps in a direction that seems natural and right for the band, Individ has a little trouble taking off, and some tracks are lackluster. However, the growth and attributes that this album contains overall outweighs the mediocre and leaves you ready to spend more time with The Dodos once again.
The Dodos have always been a band beloved by those of us at ATH even if their more recent material has left us longing a bit for the good old days. Today I’m happy to share with you this new track “Competition” that is really a return to old form in my opinion. The song is a simple pop number with those folky overtones that made us fall for this band back in the day. Truly a hit for the winter season.
Pick up the brand spankin’ new album Individ on January 27th via Polyvinyl Records.
|Tickets||$15 @ Mohawk App|
Non-festival goers have some nice options for live music this week in and around Austin. One of the best choices has to be The Dodos playing at local favorite venue Mohawk. Joining the indie mainstays are Dustin Wong and Daniel Francis Boyle. Having seen The Dodos several times before in the live setting, I can tell you that you won’t be disappointed if you scoop up a ticket to this show.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/The-Dodos-Dont-Stop.mp3]
Download: The Dodos – Dont Stop [MP3]
The folk soundings of Laura Gibson are marked by a variety of sounds. While the words simple yet elegant seem fitting to describe such an artist, I think intricate and raw also have their place in the description of La Grande. However, through all of this soft and roughness, Gibson’s sugary vocals remain constant, serving as the syrup to run between the sounds. In its folk genre, this album seems to go a lot of places and somehow stay in one place.
Strewn through La Grande are various instances of gentle serenity, which seems to be the bigger of the two paths that this album takes. You have moments of subtle beauty apart from the obvious pretty voice of Gibson of herself and the accompanying, soft acoustic guitar. On the second song, “Milk-Heavy, Pollen-Eyed,” these subtleties culminate to produce a solid, slow moving gem; the quiet xylophone, Gibson’s meek voice meandering through the song, the bare minimum percussive elements make the track feel a little sleepy, and yet ever enjoyable. Another instance of this chill folksy combination is on the later track, “Crow/Swallow” in which Gibson croons simply over some guitar plucking, which makes for a calming listen.
On the rowdier side of things are songs like opener and title track “La Grande,” on which the emphasized percussion reminds me a bit of The Dodos; the very base of the song is the constant, stomper of a beat. Of course, Gibson’s vocals prove a start contrast to the deep drums that resound deeply towards the end of the song, giving it that edge to avoid the song turning into a mess of beats and dulcet tones. Another song that rides the rowdier waves in a stronger percussive sense is my personal favorite, “Skin, Warming Skin.” On this track, you’ll find the build to a climax that is lacking in places elsewhere on the album. Gibson’s voice contrasts with the likes of drawn out guitar sound and eerie backing “oohs.” It’s easily the most interesting song on here.
Overall, this album isn’t entirely overwhelming, but it will present you with moments that can overwhelm you. Sure, you will have some instances in which you are even underwhelmed a tad, but the music is presented in many forms and Gibson leaves it up to you to discern your favorite—the simple combination of honeyed vocals and guitar plucking explored in a slightly new light in some instances and shining in the same glow in others.
The Dodos are a long way from where they were musically in 2008. What started as a duo of percussive madness faded to a more reigned in, and slightly boring effort, on Time to Die. With such a distinct and limited amount of sound producible with only a few members in a band, it seems like the only direction that The Dodos could go with No Color is backwards.
This revert to their old style of barely controlled chaos starts from the beginning with “Black Night,” but it isn’t exactly as rough as songs like “Fools.” Logan Kroeber starts things off with his furious drumming as always, and you can feel that this sound will build up to something great when Meric Long steps in with his strong, yet tinted with a tiny shred of whine, vocals. This song starts the album out right; a step back from too much production, but not a setback in the quality of the song. They continue this walk down percussive and rhythmic lane for the first three songs, which takes up a large chunk of this simple nine-track album, which is definitely something that I wanted to see.
On “Sleep,” the presence of Neko Case is especially apparent; her simple role in background vocals alters the very nature of the song. She takes what would have been just an ordinary song from this group and adds the icing on the cake, if you will, making something already desirable and good into something grand. While I wouldn’t think that I would enjoy the song with a lot of instruments from this group, it works surprisingly well. Normally what seems most effective for The Dodos is simplicity, but on this pretty little number the layers of instruments, a bit more depth to the vocals with the addition of Neko, and the overall contrast in complexity makes this a sure standout track.
A little later comes “When Will You Go,” which feels more like a pop tune than that of their traditional tunes at first—the drums feel far away, while the guitar is precise and tight. There isn’t the general feeling of about to spin out of control, or that climactic ferocity, but it’s an interesting spin for the group. Yes, the drums and guitars kick up toward the end, but it’s still a good knock at a solid poppier sounding tune, if that’s where they were trying to go.
After “Don’t Stop,” rounds out No Color with some intricate drums and then a final resounding beat, you feel pretty satisfied. There are certainly some weak places here and there, but for the most part, The Dodos have managed to entertain once again with their zestful rambunctiousness.
A couple of EPs and a full-length under their belt sees Miniature Tigers returning to the fold, offering up another gem of an indie pop record for the masses. Fortress has the band coming off confident as ever, backed by popular demand and praise from the blogosphere, not to mention classic print media like Rolling Stone.
A little bit of tinkering with percussive elements brings the listener’s ear closer on the album’s first track “Mansion of Misery,” just before the drums bounce in, along with Charlie Brand’s vocal presence. It climaxes with a crashing bit of cymbals, right before piano and rising vocals carry us into the end. It’s a formula indicative of where the band lives, switching things up to meet their fancy. They employ it again on “Rock n Roll Mountain Troll,” going in three different directions in just over a minute, but the chorus is where you’ll grab the most pleasure from this track, not that there’s a bad spot in it.
Single “Gold Skull” has the benefit of working with Neon Indian, though you have to admit that a producer can only do so much, you know, if the song isn’t actually there. Electronic blips raise the bar on the band’s pop elements, giving it a bit more of a pulse. Warm melodies come in and out of the song, putting this group on a competitive level with every other band out there. However, this song just has a certain something that rises above the rest, making it a favorite for many lists come the end of the year. From here they go right into another grand number, “Bullfighter Jacket.” Aside from the somewhat annoying “yayayayaya” throughout the song, there’s this ridiculously glorious drum work that accompanies every harmony created by the band. It’s like a more elaborate version of the Dodos, working with better melodies and higher pitches.
But, you should know that this isn’t all about pop goodness and sweeping melodies. Miniature Tigers have a bit more to offer you here. You can take “Dark Tiger” and the fragility in Brand’s vocal display, and you’re in some different world entirely, as if you’ve gotten lost in a world of lollipops and gumdrops, finding yourself reflecting in a bit of solemnity. Sure, there are some light touches of multiple harmonies within this track, but for the most part, it’s lightly picked guitar and a fragile lead singer.
In the end, Fortress is exactly what you wanted it to be; it’s an album with crafty melodies in the pop spectrum, but leaning to the left of the main vein in American music culture. Listening to this album, it seems to have the same craftiness of Grizzly Bear, using delicate touches here and there to build the sonic element within the tracks, but at the same time, Miniature Tigers are a lot more accessible in the long run. This is an enjoyable listen, giving you a sense of positive emotions listen after listen. Definitely a good place to find yourself as summer winds down, and you need a little revitalization.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/play.mp3]
Download: Miniature Tigers – Gold Skull [MP3]
We all set out to brave a warm evening in Austin, looking forward to catching the greatness that is the New Pornographers. Accompanying the band on this summer night was Imaad Wasif and The Dodos. While we were excited to see all the bands, it was clear that everyone’s anticipation was geared towards the Canadian outfit. Follow the jump for more.
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