Show Preview: The Kills @ Stubbs

Date Wednesday, Jan 25th
Location Stubbs
Doors 700 pm
Tickets $23 from Frontgate

One of the more enduring and endearing rock acts of the last several years is the Kills, having put out album after album of sludgy guitar rock with the always fierce Alison Mosshart fronting the group.  They’re loud, they’re bratty, and they, dare I say, always “kill” it live.  But, for me, the more intriguing opening act of Jeff the Brotherhood is what’s going to bring me to throw my dollars away.  Last year’s We Are the Champions filled my ears with hit after hit of sharp-edged jams and hooks galore.  And, they won’t be the only opener, as Hunter is set to kick the whole night off.  If you’re looking for an actual rock show featuring pure on rock n’ roll, then meet me at Stubbs on Wednesday night.

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

Download:Jeff the Brotherhood – Shredder [MP3]

 

New Rocker from X Ray Eyeballs

It’s been a busy few years for XRay Eyeballs, the project of several members of Golden Triangle; they released a full-length, a 7″, and now they’re back with a new album titled Splendor Squalor.  Their new effort will come out on February 28th via Kanine Records, and you know we’ll be supporting this group.  If you’re looking to make a musical connection, think of The Kills with a mid-70s Max’s Kansas City vibe to it; it’s fueled by bits of garage rock with hints of sexuality tied into it. These guys always make for a great listen, so get on it now.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/03-X-1.mp3]

Download:Xray Eyeballs – X [MP3]

Show Preview: The Kills @ La Zona Rosa (4/20)

Date 4/20/11
Location La Zona Rosa
Doors 7pm
Tickets $20 @ Frontgate

The crazy mad week of shows we have in Austin continues on Wednesday night with a show by veteran duo The Kills at La Zona Rosa.  I’m sure most of you know the ATH fascination with Allison Mosshart so we promote that you find your way towards the front of the stage and enjoy the show.  Making the evening that much more enticing, solid opening bands Cold Cave and The Entrance Band will also be on hand.  This also gives us a great reason to finally share the band’s latest single “Satellite” which somehow never made it onto the site.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/02-Satellite.mp3]

Download: The Kills – Satellite [MP3]

The Kills – Blood Pressures

Rating: ★★★½☆

With a name like The Kills, there is a general connotation of thick, deep-set rock and roll that comes with this band. With past releases that have realized this connotation, this group consisting of merely Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince, has methodically strummed and beat their way to the front of the indie rock music scene. With Blood Pressures, they keep on with their distorted guitars and slightly rough around the edges sound.

The first track, “Future Starts Slow,” begins with some twangy yet grunge guitar work accompanied by vocals from both members. With the drums resounding slightly higher over the top of the track at points, you can get a clear grasp of the emphasis on percussion elements in addition to that of just the guitar. As the words “You can blow what’s left of my right mind,” are doled out during the chorus, you can feel the sweet release of this band. They are just trying to make some swell tunes, and by poking fun at a failing sanity, they offer everything that’s left of their creativity to their audience to take and make their own.

Whereas their last record, Midnight Boom, was a step away from their traditional serious sound, Blood Pressures is a culmination of their grainy rock alongside lighter bits. There are the simple songs that bring lighter notes on the short “Wild Charms.” While hardly offering whimsy, it is a quick break from the thick guitars and the vixen-esque voice of Mosshart and a glimpse at a solo from Hince. Contrarily, on the very next track “DNA,” you have everything that the track before it was not; the garage rock guitars, some choppy percussion and the seductive vocals of Mosshart.

But for me, the band’s full excellence comes on “The Last Goodbye,” in the latter half of Blood Pressures. Gone is the prominent guitar and present are the comforting lullaby feeling words. With just a piano and some crackly record player sound effects, the track makes you feel as if you are in a different time, perhaps saying goodbye to a good friend, or even a lover. At this stripped down level, the basic fundamentals of this group are savory and sweet, despite the solemnity of the song.  Despite the cheese factor that it could have had on this album, I feel like it would have been much wiser to end with this track. It is such a strong track from this group that the other songs that follow just kind of get lost in the shuffle.

Regardless of track order, this is still a fairly enjoyable album. With its ups and downs, and transitions from grit to clean, The Kills have once again produced a good effort.

Sleigh Bells – Treats

Rating: ½☆☆☆☆

Sure, you could say that we’re a little bit late on getting into the whole Sleigh Bells Treats hype, but we do have our reasons.  The first one is that the album didn’t actually make it out until today.  Our second reason is that we’re (ATH) just not into it at all, and we haven’t been for quite some time (since the beginning to be honest).   The question for most of you will be can we legitimately rally against this album with substance rather than just go against the grain.

First, let me get the fun factor out of the way.  I see that some people might find this an enjoyable record to listen to while they’re prepping for the evening, and I respect your right to feel that way.  But, I’m not sure where the fun is being generated from.  Opening track “Tell Em'” has some watered down arena rock power chords thrown in there, and the beats are probably one of the more annoying things I’ve come across, not to mention the fact that they aren’t interesting in the least bit.  Perhaps it’s the banging beats that resemble some sort of cheesy radio-friendly single, or the fact that her vocals in some part greatly resemble MIA, who I’m personally not into either.

Speaking of lacking originality, my main factor for hating this band is their blatant rip off of The Kills.  I promise you that if you were to go and listen to the construction of the songs, you would notice some striking similarities.  For instance, take “Infinity Guitars” then go listen to The Kills “Alphabet Pony.”  It’s far too similar for this to be merely a coincidence, and since Derek comes from a sort of punk background, he’ll likely know about Alison Mosshart if he knows his history.  Instead of the dirtiness of The Kills, Sleigh Bells is using a more metal guitar sound, and what sounds a lot like reggaeton dance beats (the uninspired ones).  Personally, neither of those attributes really instills any emotions within, and despite being awfully loud, the musical sounds just aren’t really progressive enough to catch my attention.

And at time, Alexis is just moaning or making grunts into the microphone during the entirety of songs, such as “Rachel.”  I’m not sure how that qualifies as fun or enjoyable, but I know a lot of people out there who seem to be enjoying it.   Really, the most disruptive thing about Treats is the fact that I feel like I’m in some high school gymnasium preparing for the big homecoming football game against our bitter rivals.  Alexis is that annoying cheerleader you all think is hot, but you  probably hate (not that I hate Alexis, or know her even), who just yells to pump you all up while you stomp your feet on the bleachers.  How is that interesting?  I hated pep rallies, and having to endure an album’s worth of pep rally is just far too much for this listener.

So, in conclusion, you should go listen to The Kills (they’re far better).  You’ll love Sleigh Bells (or hate them) for all of about ten minutes of Treats before you realize that it’s not really fun, and in fact, its quite grating.  There are better bands that use electronics and guitar parts for a far more creative output.  Then again, this is all just one man’s opinion, so please don’t take offense.  You’re allowed to like what you like, and I’m allowed to have my voice, so let’s leave it at that, remaining friends forever.

**Note** This review is in no way sponsored by The Kills or approved by The Kills.

Dead Weather – Horehound

deadweath Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Did you say Alison Mosshart? Yes please! Wait, Jack White too? Absolutely! These were the thoughts of many as news broke of a collaboration between the two, to be named Dead Weather.  Now the band have released their debut, Horehound, and for many, this album will be precisely what you wanted to get from the band, but for others, it might seem like the blues-rock version of Phish.

As the album opens with “60 Feet Tall” Mosshart makes her presence known.  Her sexually toned lyrics are full with the spirit of the blues, much as they were on the The Kills first album, Keep On Your Mean Side.  Sure, the song is full of ear-splitting guitar work, but it kind of seems as if the band is trying to indulge in their classic-rock chops just a bit too much, leaving Mosshart as the standout for the album within the opening minutes.

“Hang You From the Heavens” was the first single from the album, and it definitely packs a bit of a punch.  Fuzzed out guitars burn up and down through the song, meeting with the vocals of Alison as the seems to writhe in the negative space of the song. Perfecting the single is Jack White’s drumming, which will never be confused for the most exhilarating, but as he shows in this song, he knows just how to put the right touch on a song; he’s done this for years, and we can assume he will continue on that path.

“So Far From Your Weapon” demonstrates the lackluster elements of Horehound. Slow pacing and sparse instrumentation definitely make the tracks a lot weaker, as if the band’s meandering through their pantheon of influences took too much of the focus away from the band’s songwriting.  But, it’s juxtaposed with “Treat Me Like Your Mother,” a stomper of a song where White and Mosshart’s vocals collide in a furious explosion before guitars splice up the song, albeit momentarily.  But, yet another fault is that this song goes on way beyond where it should.  The groups seems to carry on, treading the proverbial water of this song.

So you come to the latter half of the album with songs like “Bone House” and “3 Birds.”  The only thing that goes on for a majority of this part of the album is the vocals of Mosshart.  In “Bone House” it’s her come-hither-howl that draws any attention to the song at all.  “3 Birds” as an instrumental song doesn’t seem to tell a story at all, as most instrumentals should do, instead it just exposes the lack of creativity that seems to be thrown into the mix far too often for the liking of most listeners.

This all sort of sums up the record as a whole.  Mosshart saves the album, as her dominating vocals never seem to lose their touch on the ear of listeners, but the music itself doesn’t seem to be much more than an exploration, and a poor one at that, of styles long gone away.   Sure, blues and classic rock have their place in the history of American music, but this album can’t kiss the feet of either of those two genres.

FT5: Hot Ladies Of Indie Rock

0612top5coverI think you all knew that ATH would go here at some point and alas today is the day that I take the leap and display our true male hormone driven selves with a top 5 about the hot ladies of indie rock.  I won’t beat around the bush here, this post has little to do with the musical talents of these ladies, and more to do with how they drive me crazy with their good looks.  I promise not to offend anyone and also promise that these women have made my list because they are empowered and musically talented women who also just so happen to be pleasing on the eyes.  I love them all and would probably just turn into a bumbling idiot if they ever actually spoke to me…  You will see a lot of familiar faces on the list and probably take issue with some big names being left off.  I love you too Feist and Neko, just not quite enough for you to break into my Top 5.  If you really wanted to mess me up, you should have gotten to me sooner!  Follow the jump for our full top 5 breakdown.
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FT5: Things To Buy On Record Store Day

0417top5coverThis Saturday, April 18th, is Record Store Day all across these United States. Sure, that seems like just another Saturday to most buyers, but the true record geek in all of us is already waiting in line. You see, on Record Store Day, you get to do two things: you get to support your favorite local indpendent record store and you get loads of limited edition stuff.  Me, personally, I can’t wait. I’ve already crafted a list so as to move through my favorite record store with ease in pursuit of such rarities that one can only dream.  The following is the list of the great things one can find at their local indpendent store, and we encourage you to do so, as this is the day the stores give back to us, and we give back to them.

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