I’m currently rocking four jobs, so forgive me if I’m not always minutes behind the tunes…I still had to post this new Temples track. For me, there’s something new going on in their sound; they’re no longer just touching on psychedelic rehash. Instead, they seem to be favoring a huge swath of pop sensibility…recalling the best moments of Flaming Lips (been listening to the Lips a lot lately). The lyrics are slightly coated, yet it’s impossible to hear the melodies bursting forth from beneath the surface of these tracks. Their new album Volcano will be out on February 3rd via Fat Possum, and if it sounds at all like this song, it’s going to be a huge success.
It’s really hard to narrow down a list of Top Albums of 2012, especially when you have four contributors with different opinions. We gave the reins to Nathan.Lankford and Nicole Baumann on this one, since they write the majority of the album reviews, but we all have a little representation within this. Now, we do realize that our site has specialized tastes, so please realize that these are our OPINIONS. You’re welcome to disagree, and, in fact, we encourage that process. Also, we’re doing a Top 100 because so many records came out this year, it wouldn’t be fair to narrow it down. Not to mention it might lead you to discover some hits you hadn’t heard about yet. Oh, and we don’t really like Frank Ocean or hip-hop…just a personal choice…here’s the first segment.
I’m going to say this right off the bat…you’re going to have to do a lot of work in order to love Volcano!‘s newest record, Pinata. I don’t say that because it’s not an enjoyable listen, but I say that because it’s up, down, left, right, and any other direction the album wants to go. That’s actually why it’s such a rewarding bit of pop music; it begs you to follow along, asks you to go with it in order to reap the ultimate reward: pop enlightenment.
“Pinata” opens up the record, using throbbing bass beats just before Aaron jumps in with sort of spoken word vocals. At times, he’s excitable, matching the precision drumming and reaching higher scales; it’s what you would imagine if you gave LSD laced with amphetamines to Dirty Projectors. It’s schizophrenic, but planned and organized; you can’t help but bob your head. But, just as you wanted to lump Volcano! in with art-pop acts of similar ilk, they go in other directions, such as the stop start vocal delivery at the beginning of “So Many Lemons.” It’s almost like he’s scat singing, but then he sinks into the groove with the rest of the band, touching on a more polished pop side. At this point, you might scratch your head a bit, yet you won’t be able to deny the quality (and tightness) of the songwriting.
Honestly, the more I listen to each song, the more I realize that each song can be written about like an album review, as there’s so much texture and creativity put into each track. “Child Star” for instance begins with an emphatic vocal, matched by choppy guitar and knob twiddling, but it bursts off into this other realm, giving us Aaron’s best vocals on Pinata. Still, it ends up somewhere entirely different than where you expected it, in the best possible way. I even thought that “Plate Breaker” might be a more traditional song, nearing the realm of an angular ballad, until the track speeds up around the 40 second mark, gets jittery…and goes to God knows where. You’ll like it, and you might even love it, but have fun trying to explain your affection to your friends.
Volcano! have one thing going: they don’t sound like anything else out there. In doing that, they’ve crafted a listen that many people will describe as a “difficult listen,” but those that can stick through the entirety of the record will have something they won’t soon forget. Songs like “Long Gone” have infectious hooks, that though brief, stick in your head like only the best pop can. Some of the songs evolve slowly, like “St. Mary of Nazareth,” and appear more delicate; you’ll never know, though, when the band will go in their own direction. Take some time out of your day, sit down with Pinata, and see if you can unravel the mystery lurking beneath the odd time switches, yelps and, indeed, hooks. If you make it through, you’ll not only thank me, but you’ll thank the band for being one of the band’s doing something truly original and creative.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/09_Long-Gone.mp3]
Download:Volcano! – Long Gone [MP3]
Not less than a month ago I brought you the title track from the new record, Pinata, by Volcano!, so I’m happy to offer up another fun track that I know you’re going to enjoy. It’s still a little bit off-the-beaten-path pop, using tight guitar work as the backbone of the song. I swear there’s a moment in the song when Ted Leo makes an appearance, but that’s just wishful thinking. It doesn’t even matter, as there’s a shaky quality here, but also a soaring pop element that is crafted near the end of the track. If you like your music to keep you entertained and twisting, then listen to this gem of a tune. Pinata is out June 12th on The Leaf Label.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/09_Long-Gone.mp3]
Download:Volcano! – Long Gone [MP3]
Beginning with an odd stutter-step propulsion, this new track from Chicago’s Volcano! moves into a space occupied by few in the indie spectrum. The group’s combination of electronics and off-kilter timing makes for a hard pill to swallow; it’s immediacy is not apparent, but repeated listens find you warming to the spastic pop gem. The group are set to release Pinata, their third record, on June 12th via the Leaf Label, and it’s shaping up to be a listening experience you aren’t likely to find anywhere else. Seriously, a patient ear will lead you to the immense pleasure this track has to offer.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/01-Piñata-1.mp3]
Download:Volcano – Pinata [MP3]