Top Albums of 2017

Lists are arbitrary and burdensome, but why not join the fun everyone else is having? We gathered our lists, separate lists for all of us, then combined them into one that had 50 albums. What you get here are the four writers/contributors of ATH, giving you their meaningless opinions on what we thought was the jam in 2017. It’s alphabetical, and we put the initials next to it so you could track down your enemy!

 

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A Festival, A Parade Share Dark Alt Rock Single

afapA Festival, A Parade are a four piece out of Newcastle Upon Tyne who have got a Frightened Rabbit meets Preoccupations vibe with their heavy dark rock. This new single below, “If Dogs Could Talk,” has all the elements you’d expect from an alt-rock song: cutting riffs of electric guitar that duel throughout, furious drums with lots of cymbal crashes, and the deep vocals of Joe Allen that keep the song in that grumbling, low tone. This band has only been at it for about a year, so you can expect a bright future from these gents.

Bonus points if you can guess which track by The National that it appears this band has generated their name from.

 

Festival Recap: Eaux Claires

oh clair bannerEau Claire, Wisconsin is a long ways a way from Austin, but not too far away in terms of mindset: here, we call our city the Live Music Capital of the world, and in the Eau Claire is the Music Capital of the North. Nestled in the Chippewa Valley and overlooking the the river, we were treated to three days in the woods with 22,000 of our newly formed friends celebrating music, arts, and the spirit of the river valley. At the center of it all was the man who dreamed up such a festival: Justin Vernon, who, alongside Aaron Dessner, brought all of us together in essentially his backyard to experience something greater.

Read on for our recap of the inaugural Eaux Claires Music and Arts Festival and see some pictures from the fest.

**Feature Photo Courtesy of Graham Tolbert

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Festival Preview: Eaux Claires

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 10.00.28 PMSometimes the ATH crew ventures beyond the Live Music Capital and gets to experience rad festivals. Last summer, I had the pleasure of traveling to Barcelona for Primavera Sound, and while Spain may not be on the horizon for me this summer, Wisconsin is. In a few short weeks, we’ll be hitting the grounds of the first ever Eaux Claires festival, the love child project of Justin Vernon (Bon Iver/Volcano Choir) and Aaron Dessner (The National). While we’ll give you updates live from the festival so you can live vicariously through us and figure out which acts you need to see when they make their way through our neck of the woods, you can read on for the top five things we’re looking forward to about the inaugural festival.

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Stream This Pfarmers Debut FOR FREE

pfarmersHey man, we’re always just looking out for y’all here at ATH, so I wanted to let you know that the lovely folks at Jurrasic Pop records are letting you stream the new Pfarmers LP, Gunnera, for free for a limited time. Pfarmers is the project of The National’s Bryan Devendorf, Danny Seim of Menomena, and Dave Nelson of St. Vincent…so really with all that talent you should probably give it a listen. Everyone likes free, legal music, right?

 

 

 

 

New Track From The National????

TheNationalSingleEventThis is not a drill, nor a late April Fools joke as I first suspected. Everyone’s favorite broody sad dad rock band The National have dropped an out-of-left-field new track called “Sunshine On My Back,” which is probably the closest this band has ever been to an upbeat dance track, although the lyrics would have you believe otherwise. While the first part of this track sounds like the classic track from these gentlemen, as you progress the sound is a lighter kind of somber than we’re used to hearing with Matt Berninger’s vocals higher and airier than usual, but I’m digging it.  My day has been made by this surprise track, and I hope yours will be too.

The Lone Bellow – Then Came The Morning

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Rating: ★★ · · ·

Sometimes a band needs a little bit of help to get off the ground, or rather with the case of The Lone Bellow, where to go once they have. On Then Came The Morning, they brought in The National’s Aaron Dessner to produce their sound, which makes for some interesting tracks and a bit of progress from their first effort they put out a few years ago.

The Lone Bellow have a bit of a mild alternative rock sound—one you would expect to hear from a band on the radio. This quality isn’t intrinsically negative, but it is apt; their folksy blend of acoustic guitar and harmonies doesn’t push a lot of boundaries sonically. In this baseness, they’ve found their niche—within this genre they’ve got some good numbers you’ll want to give a second or third listen. On the whole, however, the sound isn’t exciting enough to set them strongly apart from what others have already done.

Opener and title track, “Then Came The Morning” is about as boundary-pushing as you’ll find here. It’s a bluesy waking up track—the tempo is slow and rolling, as lead singer Zach Williams’ raspy vocals chime in with their emotive quality. The backing group vocals provide an interesting sweeping effect to the tune, the “oohs” and “ahhs” as well as the repetition of the chorus gives the whole number a balloon-like sound, giving the album a positive start. Other good songs seem to come when the band is doing bluesy sounding rock—take snappy number, “Cold As It Is” as an example. This song holds the vocals in the limelight, which freshens up the sound that The Lone Bellow have already developed. This number is a stomper and a catchy one at that, and one of the standout bright moments of the album.

By the end of the album, there is a feeling as if the songs are repeating themselves, within this genre it seems difficult to craft boldly different songs, and with thirteen altogether, the band doesn’t do themselves a lot of favors. Then Came The Morning is far from a bad record technically—the production is clear and there’s intricate craftsmanship abundantly placed all over—but I’m left wanting more edge and bite from this group. Maybe you’ll find you enjoy the mildness of The Lone Bellow, but I can’t seem to get fully behind what they’re putting out.

 

 

Show Review: The National @ ACL Live (4/22)

The National

After last year’s RainCL debacle, many fans of these gentlemen from Brooklyn were disappointed to miss out on their set, which was scheduled for a brief slot on Sunday. To counter this missed show, The National came back in full force, booking two sold out nights and a third added in the aftermath of popular demand. Riding high off of their sixth full-length album, which has steepened their rise of popularity initiated by High Violet to a new level. They brought along the ladies of LA’s Warpaint to open, and the crowd was amped up to hear their new favorites off of 2013’s Trouble Will Find Me. 

Click through for more on the show and plenty of pics from the honorable B.Gray…

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Top 50 Albums of 2013

albums banner 2013 procMaking our year-end list of Top Albums is never something we take lightly.  We realize that it’s rather arbitrary in the grand scheme of things, but we realize that our role is to at least toss out our opinion, however meaningless it may be. In the long run, we had to take the tastes of several people, and whittle it into a list of 50 great albums that we think are vital to your listening experience.  We know it’s a matter of personal tastes, but the records below are reflective of our tastes and our site, so don’t get mad, they’re just opinions. But, feel free to tell us where we went wrong, or what we might have missed.  If you click on the album titles, you can also read our full reviews of each album, save the ones that we didn’t get to in time. Sorry we don’t like Kanye.

50 – WampireCuriosity
49 – Dot DashHalf Remembered Dream
48 – Mantles  – Long Enough to Leave
47 – The Appleseed CastIllumination Ritual
46 – Bad SportsBras
45 – Part TimePDA
44 – Dick DiverCalendar Days
43 – Math and Physics ClubOur Hearts Beat Loud
42 – Veronica FallsWaiting for Something to Happen
41 – Eat Skull – III
40 – The Lonely WildThe Sun as It Comes
39 – The Love LanguageRuby Red
38 – Gun OutfitHard Coming Down
37 – Cate Le BonMug Museum
36 – Daughn GibsonMe Moan
35 – Andre ObinThe Arsonist
34 – ArpMore
33 – Gap DreamShine Your Light
32 – The Black WatchThe End of When
31 – Ty SegallSleeper
30 – The StevensA History of Hygeine
29 – Of MontrealLousy with Sylvianbriar
28 – Mirror TravelMexico
27 – Local NativesHummingbird
26 – Girls NamesThe New Life
25 – GRMLNEmpire
24 – Small BlackLimits of Desire
23 – AudacityButter Knife
22 – Mikal CroninMCII
21 – Chelsea WolfePain is Beauty
20 – FoalsHoly Fire
19 – Radical FaceFamily Tree: The Branches
18 – Youth LagoonWondrous Bughouse
17 – Terry MaltsNobody Realizes This is Nowhere
16 – Shout Out LoudsOptica
15 – Kurt VileWaking on a Pretty Daze
14 –  BraidsFlourish//Perish
13 – Crystal AntlersNothing is Real
12 – TyphoonWhite Lighter
11 – Ski LodgeBig Heart

10 – GamblesTrust

Admittedly, this album makes nods to folk troubadours of Christmas’ past, but what grabbed me from the moment I heard this record was the sincerity in what’s being created.  In leaving us with a stripped down listen of folk tunes and incredible poetry, we’re asked to look into the history of American songwriting tradition; it’s been awhile since it was executed so well.

9 – The GrowlersHung at Heart

I’d put this album on any list for one song alone, “Someday.”  But, it just so happens that the rest of the album maintains the sensation that’s established on the opening track.  I’ve heard it referenced as a surf-psych opus, but what’s been assured in my mine is what an incredible listen we’re all be treating to when we put Hung at Heart on our record players.

8 – Wax IdolsDiscipline & Desire

Hether Fortune seems to scare people.  Her work is in your face, never making an excuse for who she is or what she believes.  That attitude carries on into her music, allowing listeners to experience a musical world void of any pretense.  The songs on this album are angular, dark and abrasive; the vocals have Hether dominating the scene of modern lady rock warriors.  If you don’t dig it, she doesn’t care, but I do because this record rules.

7 – Parenthetical GirlsPrivilege

While many of the songs on this effort leaked out before under various EPs, the whole masterpiece exists in the way it was tied together as a complete work.  It’s operatic and grand at every corner, but it’s also undeniably a pop record.  The emphasis might revolve around the more artful spectrum of pop music, but this is an album you can play for everyone in your family, and they’ll all find themselves swept up in the wonderment of Privilege.

6 – The NationalTrouble Will Find Me

What else really needs to be said about The National.  They consistently make great albums that are lauded then often overlooked, but we didn’t want to do that to one of our favorite acts.  I mean, if they played 8 shows in 8 days, we’d be at every one, and the DJ set after party.  Their accolades and recognition are warranted, and it’s especially clear on this, their latest release.

5 – LegsPass the Ringo

When listening to Pass the Ringo, I thought of one thing: this is the sort of record that makes a small label, like Loglady Records, a household name. It’s spun around garage rock and psych rock structures, whilst still maintaining an accessibility that few people working in that genre achieve.  Some albums can play in the background of your house, and might be happy to do so, but Legs created something that made me stop and listen at every turn; I’m thankful for that.

4 – Warm SodaSomeone for You

Someone For You came our way in January.  On my record player, it hasn’t left since.  This is one of the most rewarding power-pop records I’ve gotten my hands on, and trust me, I’ve gotten my hands on a lot of great records. Each song is filled with innate hooks and garage rock grit, encouraging you to tap your toes for the entirety of the record.  You’d think after a full year our interest would have waned, but with time we’ve only grown to appreciate the record even more.

3 – Coma CinemaPosthumous Release

At the moment, there’s not too many people releasing music that’s the quality of Mathew Cothran and Coma Cinema. There are elements of the bizarre, similar to the work of early Elf Power, yet there’s this intimacy that artists like Eliott Smith were able to create with their listeners.  You wrap that up and put it in a package of pop sensibility, and you have an album that can’t be ignored.

2 – Bubblegum LemonadeSome Like it Pop

In today’s musical climate, we buy into the fact that artists have to be doing something strange, or something that’s vastly different from their peers.  But, in the grand scheme of things, we often forget what it’s like to take enjoyment out of the music.  This album was one of the many reminders that music, when it’s good, can be quite special.  Every song here is a single, and worth your time; it’s the best thing Laz has done, and I feel like he’s just really getting started.

1 – Magical CloudzImpersonator

This album is about Devon Welsh.  From the first instant I heard his voice, it took hold of me. Throughout the year, Impersonator, consistently played on my radio. His voice was mesmerizing, captivating audiences on several occasions in Austin, convincing us to be as quiet as a mouse, so as to hear every note.  The unique quality of the album will reward listeners for years to follow.  It made us believe in great music again.

 

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