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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New Video and Song from The New Year

In just a few weeks we can all celebrate the glorious return of The New Year. This brand new track perfectly illustrates what’s made me fawn over the band for quite some time; it begins slowly, almost ominously. However, just beneath the front of the mix is this softer guitar tapestry, building slowly as percussion grows into the track. Vocals won’t even come in until the last minute or so of the tune, but the execution of the song and its accompanying video are sure to grab your attention. There’s such care placed on this song, that’s its no wonder everyone is anxiously awaiting the release of Snow; look for it on April 28th via Undertow Music.

Sorry I Missed This: New Doubting Thomas Cruise Control

I loved what I heard from Doubting Thomas Cruise Control back in 205 with their Remember Me John Lydon Forever LP; it offered up a heavier, punkier version of the slow-core perfected by the likes of Bedhead. Now, they’ve just released Bob Ross II, with similar notes, though the puncher elements bring an added attitude of quirkiness/nerdiness, like theshort jam “Catch My Drift.” The album also has an ode to everyone’s favorite foil Falstaff, so that works for this bookworm. If you’re looking for a rocking act that owes debts to the New Year or Pinback, then go grab this LP now, and feel free to enjoy rock n’ roll again.

More New Music from Will Johnson

Looks like I’m just going to listen to Undertow Records for the entirety of the year 2017. They’ve got the new David Bazaan, The New Year and this great new LP from Will Johnson. On his latest single, I can’t help but be nostalgic about being a Texan; it’s a pride that runs deep…and whether Will means it or not, he’s captured that. I can hear myself playing with friends in the yard as music plays in the distance, or studying for school while my dad’s record collection plays through the walls in the other room; there’s bending strings, extra orchestration and of course, Johnson’s croon.Something about this song just feels like home. Hatteras Night, a Good Luck Charm comes out via the label on March 24th.

The New Year Is Back

Perhaps they’re not a household name in the realm of indie rock, but the Kadane brothers are quietly revered in circles all around. That’s fitting, as their work in Bedhead and The New Year falls into a quiet place in the canon of indie tunes. Today they announce the return of the New Year, their first album under the project in almost ten years! There’s a slightly heavy tone to on this new single, allowing for a sensational brooding quality; these guys have always crafted the best lyrical post rock possible. You’ll have to wait for well over a minute to hear Matt enter with his voice, though that drawn out wait is always what’s made the band so special. Snow will be released on April 28th via Undertow Music; it’s currently the only thing I plan to listen to for the rest of the year.

My Evening with Low: A Show Review with Photos

LowI met up with Brian, our photographer just after 8 on Tuesday night, a little anxious and a little weary. Low, since the late 90s has been a consistent part of my listening experience, not to mention one that I’ve often had trouble explaining my fandom. But, if anything, I left the venue that night with an expression of gratitude, to the band and the many fans that filled the Parish; it was one of those musical encounters few will understand…but those that do will cherish.

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Papercuts – Fading Parade

Rating: ★★★★½

Jason Quever always seems busy, whether producing other people’s work, or writing his own tunes.  Regardless, it seems that everything he touches somehow finds its ways to my ears, eventually leading to massive amounts of pleasure.  On Fading Parade, his fourth record as Papercuts, that’s precisely what you’re going to get, endless spends of moving music that will never tire.

Something about the guitar line opening “Do You Really Want to Know” hinted at perhaps a more light-hearted Quever to open up this album, but as soon as those densely coated vocals entered the scene, I knew deep down that this was already going to be an exceptional listening experience.  The climbing guitar in the background, those precision drumming moments, all lead you towards blissful listening.  “Do What You Will” brings in the same sentiment, especially as Jason’s voice soars during the chorus, though that breathy quality he has for the duration of the song really gets to me.  Going two for two isn’t a bad way to begin Fading Parade.

It’s when you hit the third track, “I’ll See You Later I Guess” that the newest Papercuts release really began to sink in, emotionally seeking.  This tracks a slow-burner, similar to the work of a band like The New Year, yet as always, the production coats it in that heavy bit of fog, giving it a quality that seems to speak to you from the beyond.  Yet this isn’t the only track you’ll find on here that’s going to really move you, if you’re into a headphones listening experience.  “The Messenger” is perhaps one of the best songs Quever has written to date.  Slowly the song creeps forward, suddenly offering up a bit of unsteady vocals, before returning to the quiet mood.  Beware, these songs are begging you to listen again and again.

Tracks such as the aforementioned “The Messenger” offer a slight alteration in the overall sound of your everyday Papercuts recording.  Take for instance, “Winter Daze,” which gently tip-toes along with down-trodden piano.  Sure, that effortlessly warm pop element you’ve found is definitely a staple in Quever’s repertoire, but there’s new territory being explored, structurally especially.  In the past Jason’s possibly rushed forth with the unfolding of melodies in his tracks, but instead he barely lets the melody escape on this number, which makes it all the more powerful.  It’s the same sort of technique you find on album closer “Charades,” another track that gradually relinquishes its hold on melody and ecstasy.

Long have I been a fan of Jason Quever, and the more work he produces, the more I’m amazed at his gifts as a songwriter. Fading Parade shows him in complete control of every aspect he’s worked on since his debut, Mockingbird.  It’s not like he’s really put out a single bad record, but something about the latest bit from Papercuts shows him creating art above and beyond what I would expect.  This is not a dialed-in record; this is a record of great craftsmanship, and one you should all go enjoy now.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Papercuts_-_Do_What_You_Will.mp3]

Download: The Papercuts – Do What You Will [MP3]

The New Year Ticket Giveaway

ATH is teaming up with Touch and Go Records to give away 2 tickets to the upcoming The New Year show at Emo’s on Saturday, September 20th. If you read our recent review of their new self-titled album, you know this is a must see event. The contest is simple. In the comments section, tell us why you want to see The New Year this weekend. We’ll judge the best responses, and announce the winner on Thursday, September 18th. 

The New Year – The New Year

Rating: ★★★★½

Long ago, in a time far far away, Bedhead graced us with a several albums throughout the nineties; each one revolved around their slow, emotive sound.  Years later, decades in fact, the Kadane brothers carry on with their similar stylings, only with a new moniker; The New Year.

Their third album under the new name, The New Year, carries with it similar sounds.  In fact, a fair assumption would be to assume that the bands are one in the same, despite the absence of several members.  Still, the Kadane brothers have always been the center of this slow-core universe, and they remain so today.

Case in point is the opening track, “Folios.”  For three plus minutes it slowly builds and builds; gentle guitars pick their way through the track, backed by the slightest of drum beats.  By the time the vocals join in the song is near its close, but it leaves you with one of the main thematic statements from this record, as Kadane sings “I don’t think the good years I have left can wait/so what are we staying for.”  It seems to be an album about isolation and moving forward.

The largest change on the album is the skeletal importance of the piano work.  Sure, I’ve seen it before on their previous projects, but here it gives a greater weight to each song in which it uses, and it is used as the sole instrument on “MMV.” It is just one of the many ways The New Year has managed to branch out their sound on this new album.

Interestingly enough, the band doesn’t seem to have too many contemporaries these days, which is perhaps why I find this album so interesting.  There aren’t any elements of folk dancing about, and you’d be hard up to find a dance number here; not to mention the fact that the excess noise in these songs is used merely as a compliment, not as focal point.   They’ve perfected their format, and without the like of American Football and other like-minded bands, The New Year is on top of their game.

For me, their specialty has always been their ability to control the ebbs and flows of their music.  As quickly as they build up the pace and the tension in their songs, they turn around and return it all back to the pleasant pacing of where they began.  Few bands have been able to touch on this balance, always dancing on crescendos, and yet always holding back.  I’m sure one day they will let go, and that one day will be everything you want it to be, but for now, I’m okay with their ability to control it.

The gentle approach of this album carries a lot of power for me as the listener, and for you as well, I hope. It’s the sort of album you want to play in your bedroom when you are all alone, just absorbing yourself in aan album in its entirety.  It lacks pretension, yet each listen unfolds more and more.  Put your headphones on, and get deep into The New Year.

If you are more of the live setting kind of person, rather than headphones, then you should check them out live when they come to Austin on September 20th.  They will be hitting the stage at Emos.

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