Your Favorite Colour Drops Debut Single

You might not know Your Favorite Colour, but here’s to hoping the music finds its way into your home. The backstory, and one reason for my adoration, is that Ben, the songwriter here, is from The Lodger…a band so vastly underrated that its criminal. These two tunes have slight hints at the the past sound, though they’re slightly more subdued in regards to energy; it closely resembles some of the stuff The Lucksmiths were known for crafting. Central to the power will be the melody, though I like the quiet of “A Quick Goodbye,” sincere and intimate, even as extra layers billow through your speakers. Not sure what this means for the future, but for now, another great reason to celebrate Thursday. Also, it gives me reason to go back and listen to THIS GEM.

Really Enjoying This New Iles Song

ilesFrom the second I clicked on this new Iles tune, I figured it was going offer me something in the way of The Lodger; it’s got that same high energy high step guitar line, creating a stomp of the feet.  Then the vocals enter carrying the tune off into a dreamier realm; it creates a rad little juxtaposition, filled with slow melodies and high energy.  This is the lead single off of the album titled Apartments, which should be out this Spring via Forged Artifacts.

Welcome Return of the Lodger

the_lodgerNow, I’m not sure how I missed this track popping up a few weeks ago, but I’m so glad that I stumbled back upon the Lodger.  They’ve been one of my favorites acts over the last five years, and I was sad, thinking they’d seemingly taken a permanent hiatus.  But, this new jangle pop deliciousness is precisely why I’ve found the band so endearing; it’s while I continue to shout their name even if I’m one the only ones listening.  The guitars are crisp and the vocals are absolutely spot on in this new single.  Plus, it’s just a blistering pace, clocking in with two minutes of the best pop you’ll hear today. Go on, dig it.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/The-Lodger-Fast.mp3]

Download: The Lodger – Fast [MP3]

Northern Portrait – Pretty Decent Swimmers EP

Rating: ★★★★ ·

It’s been almost three entire years since we’ve heard anything new from Northern Portrait, but this four song affair will make us forgive the gap between releases, as this is some of the most accomplished music the band has crafted to date.  The Pretty Decent Swimmers EP may only be a short little stop gap until a full-length comes our way, but fans old and new will surely find solace in the well-manicured pop of these Danes.

It’s early in the year, but you’re going to have to try real hard to find such a splendid piece of pop musical openings for the rest of the year.  There’s a casual entrance, building the listener’s internal tension, and then unleashing enchanting bliss at the 36 second mark.  You can sing along to the chorus of “Happy Nice Day,” aided by the perfect vocal control of singer Stefan, which never hurts the audiences ability to attach themselves to the music.

“Greetings From Paris” is an eternally satisfying track, full of literary allusions and a ringing guitar line that infects any pop lovers soul.  It’d be easy to take Stefan Larsen’s voice and make Morrissey comparisons, but this song demonstrates the softer quality of the vocals, stripped of the over-bearing sexuality.  I have to admit, I’m a sucker for monosyllabic lyrics sung in repetition like the “la la la las” that close out this little gem.

If you were wondering if Northern Portrait was going to pick up a little bit of the energy, then wait until you get to “Bon Voyage.”  The cutting guitar lines are extremely sharp, which provides a natural bit of pacing to the song…almost a dance floor shuffle.  But, like other pop classicists, The Lodger, there’s a bit of restraint, focusing instead on the harmony within the tune rather than force you to stomp your feet.  Closing out the song is a soaring bit of vocal melody and a tinkering it of piano…you don’t get better than that.

And it all comes to a grand close with the longest track, “I Feel Even Better.”  Larsen here seems to express a bit of solemnity, if only in the way he delivers his vocals.  Sure, the lyrics guide one to think there’s a bit of a reawakening, but you can hear the distant pain that the narrator had to live with at one point.  For me, the attached arrangements present in the background reinforce the pristine sound of twanging guitars that seek out your heart.  A perfect bookend to the whole listening experience.

If you aim to be frustrated about anything on Pretty Decent Swimmers then you’re going to find difficulty in that search.  There’s not a single misstep or faltering moment, but rather a complete collection of four songs exemplifying pop writing at its very finest. Cheers to you Northern Portrait: and welcome back!

Pretty Decent Swimmers is available now from Matinee Recordings.

Magic Bullets – s/t

Rating: ★★★½ ·

San Francisco of late hasn’t really offered up a lot of genuine pop records, instead it has a great deal of bands weirding out if you will.  That is until you hear the delightful sounds coming from the self-titled album by Magic Bullets. There’s a lot of obvious influences that you’ll hear on this, their second album, but regardless of where they’re coming from, the group is sure to be up for good things in the future.

It’s hard to tell if the band is using California as their starting off point, or if they’re just channeling classic Orange Juice riffs.  They’ve got sharp guitar hooks fueling the song, and the drums give it an extra bit of spring.  You might find a hint of Robert Smith in the vocals, but the overall atmosphere of the song is much more vibrant, creating less of a mood swing and more of a foot stomper.  A similar effect is employed in “Lying Around,” the single for the band, but the pseudo-yelp in the vocals can only evoke a magical quality you’ll find in the band’s name.  Bubbling bass work here goes a long way to give a bit of a groove, and one you’ll use to get your friends moving about your house.

Still, this isn’t your typical album chocked full of jangle pop, as slow-movers exist to provide an underlying level of depth.  “They Wrote a Song About You” catches you in the arms of your lover, twirling you about, as the vocals have a smooth croon, which is different than early exposure to the band.  “China Beach” moves really slowly, but careful guitar strumming provides listeners with a chance to give themselves over entirely to the emotive quality here.  As other songs seem to encourage you to catch up with Magic Bullets, this song asks that you slip into the song itself, going gently into the swirling beauty of the chorus.

Surely everyone will find joy in songs like “On Top of the World” with its ringing guitars reminiscent of recent work by The Lodger.  This is the music you can dance to while your arms flail about and your feet struggle to catch the beat.  It’s a track that lets you get lost in joyousness and carefree times.  Similarly, “Sigh the Day Away” goes all nostalgic, reflecting guitar oriented dance tracks of the mid-80s (this is before the cursed invention of laptop dance).  You’ll hear songs like these, with their solid percussive elements, and you’ll have no choice other than to give yourself over to the rhythm, as you should.  Just let yourself go.

Magic Bullets self-titled album has a lost of trademark sounds taken from various other groups, which I suppose could be the one knock against the group, but when you’re able to perfect such qualities, taking them to your own place, then you’re a success.  Every bit of this album sounds familiar, friendly and danceable.  Grab your friends by the hands, drag them to your living room dance floor and enjoy this pleasurable record.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/04-Track-04-1.mp3]

Download: Magic Bullets – Lying Around [MP3]

The Lodger – Flashbacks

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Leeds’ band The Lodger have released two albums to date, those being filled with angular guitar knives and steady drum beats.  Not keen to repeat themselves, the band changed it all a bit for their new album Flashbacks.  While it certainly retains a certain sense of familiarity for fans of the group, you’ll find a bit more exploration in regards to the overall sound of the band.

With the band’s first single “Back of My Mind” you get the sense that singer Ben Sidall is, as usual, always contemplating the state of his relationships, or his life as he states “I fall to the ground and say/I’m lost in the back of my mind.”  Thematically, there’s a bit of stasis here, but the song itself is about as dense a song as the group has writtern; it’s as if the song is wearing some sort of grey (not gray since they’re British) sweater.  All in all, it’s a step to the side of minimalist pop, keeping the band’s personas while searching for new ground.

Stylistically, “Have a Little Faith in People” and “Time to Wait” return to hallowed ground, but even then the band is building their sonic palate, adding tiny flourishes that you might not pick up on, but definitely add to the sound.  Horns are used atop the hooky guitar chords in both songs, as are female backing vocals listed only as Sarah and Georgia. All these miniscule moves remove a bit of the energy, creating a layer of warmth that does indeed alter The Lodger on this record.

This album’s title track has quickly become one of my favorite tracks as I’ve listened over and over again.  It’s such an understated quiet number, utilizing the additional string elements in the beginning of the track.  While it does come off as a bit of an elegy to a loved one, the emphatic climax of the song, coming off somewhat like a Jarvis Cocker revelation, seems to show Ben moving on from this loved one.  A gorgeous closing minute and a half of the song is begun by a melancholy trickling piano just before the horns come in, as if to rejoice at life’s progress.

Whoever this girl is surely did a number on Mr. Sidall.  “Lost” tells the story of a narrator nervous about losing his girl, eventually  hoping she’ll let him go, as she’s left him lost in some confused state of mind.  Once again, string arrangements really bring this song home, adding more depth than one would normally except from this band (no offense fellas).  Still, the girl’s memory pushes on in this collection, encouraging Ben to lose himself once again in “Nothing’s Impossible,” which is probably the song that most resembles the band’s previous work.

It’s hard, as a fan, not to be in love with this record entirely, but it really is a solid piece of work.  While the jangling guitar hooks and precision percussion remain, they’ve added more to fill out the sound of Flashbacks.  Using horns, strings and female vocals to add a little contrast has created a gentle album eager to fill your days with innumerable amounts of listening pleasure.  It’s consistently good, listen after listen, making me (and you I hope) fall in love with The Lodger all over again.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/The-Lodger-The-Back-Of-My-Mind.mp3]

Download: The Lodger – The Back Of My Mind [MP3]

New Tunes from The Lodger

I’ve long been a fan of British band, The Lodger.  I loved their album, Life is Sweet, with all its jangly cutting guitars and infectious pop ditties.  Now, the band are set to release their newest album, Flashback, on Slumberland Records on April 27th.  We’ve got a new tune to offer you, and while there is still a bit of a jangle to the guitar, you can definitely tell that the band has put some work into evolving their sound.  Pretty excited for this one!

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/The-Lodger-The-Back-Of-My-Mind.mp3]

Download: The Lodger – The Back Of My Mind [MP3]

Bricolage – s/t

bricol

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Bricolage released their self-titled album earlier this year in the UK, but little fanfare made its way over to the United States, aside from a little bit of bubbling press; rest assured that Bricolage is an up-and coming act that will surely win you over upon your very first listen.  And let’s not all act surprised that this is yet another solid band hailing from Glasgow.

Here you find a band that is ready to make guitar music you can dance to, and they do it in the most straightforward fashion that you have to be enamored by everything that they do.  The second track, “Flowers of Deceit” brings to mind the boot-stomping moments from early Franz Ferdinand records, but in a much less post-punk sort of way. Guitars are a little bit warmer, as if each chord is struck with a little bit less anger/more affection.

Something sunny this way comes.  “Footsteps” is just another track that exemplifies the swinging emotion of the band.  Layered guitars and precision drumming bring to mind the poppier moments of bands such as The Lodger or  Mystery Jets.  All these bands use warm vocals to counter the angular guitars; you can’t help but roll down the window and let the music carry you down the road.

Let’s not think that this band is nothing but a modern dance troupe as they have the ability to carry a classic pop ballad along the way, such as “Plots are for Cemeteries,” which seems to use a bit of tropicalia in the overall crooning aesthetic.  “Sleepwalk to Me” is similar in that it slowly maneuvers along, progressing without ever really picking up the pace.  Even in the slow moments the band can catch your attention.

“Turn U Over” is an obvious single, instantly ready for your best dance party, at this late moment in the album, it makes you look back at the album as a whole; the album is full of great moments and great songs from start to finish.  The latter half of the album packs as much punch as the first part of this album, and the only thing that detracts from this entire collection of songs is that you might find that the band walk the same line for much of the album, but using multiple vocalists allows enough strength to each song that you never get the feeling that the band is retracing their steps. Bricolage is just another reason we should all move to Glasgow.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/02-flowers-of-deceit.mp3]

Download: Bricolage – Flowers of Deceit [MP3]

The Lodger – Life Is Sweet

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Leeds band The Lodger released this album in May of this year, but Life Is Sweet has been taking its time to get completely acquainted with those of us on American soil.  Surely you will find tragedy in that, for this record is precisely the type of album that made British music a mainstay in U.S. college radio throughout the 90s.

This album opens up with “My Finest Hour,” which is a piano-laden song, gently sweeping along.  It floats somewhere in the world of Belle and Sebastian until the chorus brings in pounding piano and a quickened pace with the vocals.

Moments later you’re treated to the best song on the album, not that the rest aren’t here for your enjoyment.  It’s a foot-stomper of a song, with guitar work similar to that of Franz Ferdinand, but with a more pop-driven vocal.  “The Good Old Days” is sure to get you moving, no matter what your into.  It’s the perfect blend of upbeat indie rock and modern pop music.

The more you listen to the album, the more the infectious melodies lodge themselves inside your brain.  It’s similar to the first time you threw on a Smiths LP or even Orange Juice.  It isn’t anything that will go down as the most creative music of all time, but it’s the fact that the band has honed their skills to perfection; they get the most potential out of every single song on the album.

You could drop the name of pretty much every seminal Brit-pop band from the early eighties on when describing this band, but despite their shared commonalities with their influences, The Lodger is able to go beyond those same sounds; they create a sound entirely their own.  Surely this deserves our notice over here in the United States, as we can only hope that we get more guitar-pop from our distant cousins rather than the same re-hashed dance music time and time again.