New Track from Case Studies

Long did I champion the work of the Dutchess and the Duke, but as they’ve gone away, at least for the time being, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the release of Case Studies, the project of former D&D frontman, Jesse, which I caught wind of via our friend Toby over at Finest Kiss. Case Studies will be releasing The World is Just a Shape to Fill the Night via Sacred Bones on August 16th.  Listening to this, you’ll notice that Jesse seems to have a darker tone in his voice, and the female vocal accompaniment seems less like a counterbalance and more like an added instrument to give the song some depth.  His voice always carries the focus for me, and this track is no different. Hope this does well.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/The-Eagle-or-the-Serpent.mp3]

Download: Case Studies – The Eagle, or the Serpent [MP3]

Austin Psych Fest Preview

In 2008, Austin Psych Fest was just a one day event meant to display the collision between the visual and musical.  Two years later, the fest has grown into a three day ordeal.  It still holds to its mission of gathering bands that are pushing the envelop of expanding your mind on various levels, which makes it more than just a festival of great music.  It will take place this Friday thru Sunday, and it features some incredible bands we know you’ll love.

Friday features great acts such as The Raveonettes, Warpaint (so good live) and Indian Jewelry.  Saturday you want to get there to see local favorites The Black Angels.  Sunday’s line-up is ridiculous: The Black Angels, The Dutchess and the Duke, Warlocks and Yellow Fever.

Be Sure to go and grab your tickets and spend your weekend at the always enjoyable Mohawk.  Keep it local, keep it rocking.

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

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

The Dutchess & the Duke – Sunset/Sunrise

dutchess-duke-sunset-sunrise

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]

Top 40 Songs Of The Year

So when we thought making an albums of the year post was hard, this one proved to be even harder.  How do you take literally thousands of songs and narrow it down to the best 40 of the year?  Not too sure how to answer that question, but we tried.  Each of these songs scream 2008 in our ears.  As evident by this list, the year in music was quite a good one and we had some tough choices to make.  We’ve got some of the songs streaming for you or links to the song on youtube.  Follow the jump to see if your favorite tune of the year made the list.

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Albums Of The Year: 15-1

A few days ago, we gave you part one of our albums of the year list.  Today we bring you the best of the best from a wide range of artists who brought the noise this year.  We’ve fought it out amongst our ATH writers for weeks and these are the albums that we all loved.  These 15 albums went into thunderdome and emerged victorious.  Follow the jump to see if your favorite band made the Top 15 of 2008.

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James Jackson @ Mohawk (8/19)

James Jackson Toth will be playing a set with one of our favorite new bands The Dutchess & The Duke (read our review of their recent album here) at Mohawk on Tuesday evening. Things are set to kick off at 9pm with tickets sold only at the door. Read more about the show on the Transmission Entertainment website. You can also listen to “Doreen” off James 2008 release Waiting in Vain below:

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/02-doreen.mp3]

Download: James Jackson – Doreen [MP3]

The Dutchess and the Duke – She’s the Dutchess, He’s the Duke

Rating: ★★★★½

Before giving in to a dear friend’s suggestion, I hadn’t heard much about The Dutchess and the Duke.  Sometimes a lack of knowledge is precisely what you need to come across a brand new album with open arms, awaiting the approach of greatness.  Thanks Corey.

Here is some background information, though limited.  The band hails from Seattle, although they resemble very little of that signature sound.  Currently, they are touring our nation in support of Fleet Foxes.  Apparently, they’ve been friends for a long time.  That’s about all I’ve come across.

The opening “Reservoir Park” immediately brings to mind the Rolling Stones, which isn’t a bad place to start off an album.  The chorus, with dual harmonies, is absolutely perfect.  I believe that this song is going to be in my Top 5 Singles of the year.  I’ve placed it their already.

After opening appropriately, they switch it up–they go off sounding more like a product of Nashville or Louisville, filled with American traditional country pop goodness. The interplay between Jesse Lortz and Kimberly Morrison on the following songs is precisely what makes this so special. I feel like it’s everything that She and Him were built up to be, but here it’s much more real–much more authentic.

“Strangers” has them returning to that Stones flavor.  It’s everything you want in a song, with both singers harmonizing the whole way through the song.  There isn’t a bad thing to say here.  And they follow that up with “Back to Me,” a song about trying to recapture that great love of your life.  Sure, its cliche, but the earnestness wins you over.

And all of a sudden, they bust out the ghost, well soul really, of Bob Dylan.  “Mary” is the perfect song at this moment because it switches the sound, though not too much.  The band maintains their personality here, keeping the album interesting.  This band has an arsenal of classic musicians to reference, but never once does it feel as if they faked it.

The album closes with “Armageddon Song,” which, for me, is the exact ending I wanted to this album.  It’s an acoustic affair full of harmonies and whistling–its the song where they seem as if they’ve completely shed their influences, just to let you in closer to themselves.

Despite wearing their heroes on their sleeves, The Dutchess and the Duke have created a wonderful debut album; this is one that is sure to hold up as one of your favorites for a long time to come.  Don’t take my word on it; please please please listen.

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

Download: reservoir_park.mp3