Well ladies and germs, it’s here, our friends over at Margin Walker have yet again outdone themselves this year with an incredibly impressive lineup. Simply looking at the big names of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Grizzly Bear, Iggy Pop, and The Shins should be enough to get your butt out there. Digging deeper we’ve got Cloud Nothings, Japandroids, my teenage self in various forms via Taking Back Sunday, and holy hell… Cannibal Corpse! Even the small names near the bottom are impressive with Hoops and Girlpool just to name a couple. Something here for everyone. Well done guys, well done. The festival will again take place out in Sherwood Forrest on November 10th-12th.
Well, color me mystified. Late last night I received an email with little more than a link to a song; I’m not even sure if the name is for real, but I’m digging this mysterious entity. Whoever it is, definitely has their ear to the pop writing wheel. It reminds me of what the older version of the Shins might have sounded like if they had gone on exploring the world. It’s careful in construction, yet beneath lays a monster of pop ready for rebirth. All I can say at this point is that Southern Boutique are exciting, and they’re from Austin. Here’s a great song for you to check out (with another at their SOUNDCLOUD). If any one knows more about this band, please let us know; we want the inside scoop.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Rabbit-Trails.mp3]
Download: Souther Boutique – Rabbit Trails [MP3]
Rain was in the forecast. The poncho that had been neatly folded in factory specifications previously dormant in my camera bag for three festivals was going to be called into duty. Two heavy bursts occurred, before and after the Shins. I was able to keep relatively dry as the revelers drank in the rain. People that weren’t there asked me yesterday how muddy I got. Apparently, the news sensationalized the few real mud holes I saw into #Mudpit2012.
Well, everyone else is doing it, so why don’t we? We’re going to toss out our top five albums of the year, except we’ll be doing it with our four main contributors, so hopefully that’ll mix things up a bit. Obviously, we’re only half-way through the year, so things are subject to change, and by things I mean our minds.
It doesn’t take too much to get me hooked on indie pop; I like casual melodies and simple hooks. When I got this new track from The Tins, I definitely got that anxious indie pop feeling…somewhere between The Shins and Avi Buffalo. It’s perfect tunes to give you that longing feeling as you look out your window onto a bright sunny day. This is from their Life’s a Gas album, and it’s really got me in the mood to get outside and play. There’s an innocence throughout the album that’s refreshing, and honestly, it’s sort of like when the Shins changed my life.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/11-Whiteout.mp3]
Download: The Tins – Whiteout [MP3]
This new track popped up on Stereogum yesterday, and I just had to post it. We’ve heaped praised upon So Many Wizards since back in early 2011, and I’m still supporting, especially as their sound continues to grow. In February I kind of gave them a nod to old school Shins, and they still have that propensity to dig into the pop realm from a very dense arena; these are the sort of things that always make us happy here at ATH. You can find this song as well as others we’ve raved about on August 14th when the band releases their album, Warm Nothing, via Jaxart Records.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/So-Many-Wizards-Happy-Birthday.mp3]
Download:So Many Wizards – Happy Birthday [MP3]
If you seriously still don’t know who The Shins are and call yourself a person interested in music I would have to call you a liar! Well, not exactly, but if you’ve been anywhere close to the indie scene since the turn of the 21st century, you should recognize James Mercer’s usually scruffy face as the front man of this band. Whether you’ve known about it or not, the Shins made indie pop classic, releasing three albums that gained them a cult following that has been dying for some new tunes since their five year hiatus. With such a long period between the last release, you walk a tightrope. Stay with what you know and be labeled boring, or move into sacred, fragile new ground and run the risk of not sounding like yourself?
Yes, it’s the fourth album from the The Shins, but it feels the most youthful with respect to energy. Mercer’s voice is louder; it’s in your face, whereas it used to blend so tightly with the guitars. The guitars are more active, exploring twists and there’s an element of jangly that you just can’t really find on prior releases. Take songs like opener “The Rifle’s Spiral,” the single “Simple Song,” and “No Way Down” as testaments to this heightened energy. Each one explores a new and different level of bursting brightness. “The Rifle’s Spiral” gives you layer upon layer of guitar hooks and tinkling high notes embedded into the synth noise. “Simple Song” goes for the prominence of Mercer’s voice that commands the song as it moves through at its confident and collected pace that is expected of this band. “No Way Down” explores a faster pace, with less synth noises and a reliance on sharp-witted lyrics as its champion. All of these songs explore the old Shins style in an updated and fresher filter.
But it’s not all sunshine and daises—there are slower, subdued moments. For me, I feel nods of nostalgia for the older albums of this band on a song like “September,” whose simplicity is well placed and crafted amidst a sharper than expected grouping of songs on the primary half of the album. Another slower number, but by no means boring track is “Port of Morrow,” on which a falsetto’d Mercer leads you twisting through the tale he has crafted.
And in the end, Port of Morrow is a tightrope walked fairly well. Mercer doesn’t fall into the pressures of being anything he is not, he just pulls more quirky yet insightful material from his past and weaves them together with a brighter overall tone, which may stir mixed feelings from past fans and newcomers. It’s unfair to expect “New Slang” Shins after all this time; things have changed. However, you can still expect a relevant and resounding collection of classic indie pop tunes on this album.
Being a Shins fan at this point in my life has put me in an odd position. I always prayed and hoped that the band would be more animated/more rocking in the live setting, and after last night’s performance at ACL Live, it seems they’ve accomplished that feat; I’m just not sure if it’s what I really want. Read more
We first discussed So Many Wizards back in 2011, when the project was just getting started, but I’m happy to report the band has grown and blossomed into something spectacular. The LA acts is slated to have an album, Warm Nothing, arrive later this year, and if it’s filled with tracks like this, then it’s going to take over the whole Internet. For me, there’s a resemblance of what you would expect the Shins to sound like if James Mercer still kicked it old school, draping careful melodies across light instrumentation. Come on, you can’t tell me this track doesn’t make you happy.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/LoseYourMind.mp3]
Download: So Many Wizards – Lose Your Mind [MP3]
On a day when the announcement of a new Shins record is probably taking lots of attention, there’s news from the former Shins camp that, for me, is just as exciting. Former member Dave Hernandez who made his fame pre-Shins with Scared of Chaka has a new outfit titled Little Cuts. The band is set to release their first 7″, Plastic Disaster, via the excellent Dirtnap Records, and this track we’re premiering is excellent. It’s got this brooding post-hardcore feel to it, but still is able to maintain a great bit of pop sensibility, showing that the band can go any which way; it’s everything you want if you’re an old rocker growing up. I’m pretty excited for this, and I hope you are too![audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Plastic-Disaster.mp3]