Warm Soda – Young Reckless Hearts

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Rating: ★★★★½

When a musician steps away from a well-followed act, it’s difficult to say where things will end up.  But, in the case of ex-Bare Wires member, Matthew Melton, his move to form Warm Soda seems to be paying off immensely.  The band’s first album, Someone for You was spot-on power-pop, and Young Reckless Hearts picks up where that album left off, smoothing out the edges towards perfection.

“Going in Circles” starts the album off, indicating that while the riffs still maintain their crunchy edge, they might be polished up just a bit. The track offers a smoother delivery than previous Warm Soda tunes, though it still has that powerful driving rhythm prompted by the pounding drums.  Then you’ll move right into “Postcards,” which employs more of an angular guitar cut.  Personally, I love the way that Melton moves in and out of different vocal ranges within this number. You can then push forward to the record’s title track, “Young Reckless Hearts,” featuring a guitar part that our parents would have happily air-strummed at their favorite arena-rock show. However, there’s still an intimacy with what Melton and his cohorts are crafting; there’s an inherent warmth to the way vocals are delivered and how the pieces all fit together.

Honestly, the greatest thing about listening to Young Reckless Hearts is that you’re not going to find a single track that you’ll want to skip over, even though we’re all guaranteed to find our own favorites.  My last few rounds I’ve really been enjoying “When Your Eyes Meet Mine.”  It has a call-and-response backing vocal that really adds some pop-sensibility (as if much more was needed) to the song; it also has Melton working with my favorite vocal inflection. “Things That We Said” is also another winner, in my book.  If you jumped into the track just prior to the 1 minute mark, you’ll hear exactly why I love this tune; there’s this swirling pop sensation that’s crafted by multi-part vocal harmonizing backed by a twangy guitar sound.  Just don’t think that the group can’t still deliver a killer punch amidst all this shimmering pop.

The closing tune, “Stranger to Me,” is one of the songs on the record that’s most reminiscent of the band’s earlier works.  The sound of the guitars is much more forceful, providing a nice discordant ring through your speakers. You’ll also find it filled with lots of guitar solos allowing for the band to demonstrate some of their fine musicianship; it even includes a nice little jam session before pushing forward to wrap up the track with a final explosion of glittery garage goodness.

You’re going to find it hard to dismiss Warm Soda nowadays.  There lives shows have garnered huge responses, and it seems like the hits from this group just keep on coming.  Young Reckless Hearts is a record you’ll enjoy at full volume, making it perfect for your entrance into Spring…or you’ll just be glad these guys released another batch of kick ass songs.  Either way, I’m happy.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/07-When-Your-Eyes-Meet-Mine.mp3]

 

 

SXSW 2014 Interview: Cocktails

601398_405080359582896_591050954_nI’m most definitely a sucker for some good crisp power-pop, which is one of the reasons I love the work of San Francisco’s Cocktails.  It doesn’t hurt that some of their work for Father Daughter Records was recorded by Matthew Melton of Warm Soda.  These guys are high up on my list of bands to catch at SXSW, and after reading a few words from the Patrick Clos and Lauren Matsui, maybe you’ll feel the same. Read more

Brand New Warm Soda Track

warmsodaI hope Mathew Melton never quits writing songs.  There’s nothing he’s done under Warm Soda that hasn’t simply won me over, as evidenced by last year’s spot in our Top Albums List.  I’m actually surprised he’s come back so quickly with more jams that sound just as good, if not better.  These track actually seems more casual, but in the perfect power-pop sort of way; it’s steady and not overly energetic.  His new record, Young Reckless Hearts, cannot get here soon enough! It’s out on Castle Face Records on March 11th.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/YoungRecklessHearts.mp3]

Download: Warm Soda – Young Reckless Hearts [MP3]

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.

 

New Pop from Warm Soda

Warm-SodaIf you haven’t seen us raving about Warm Soda, then you probably haven’t been following our site for too long.  Their album released earlier this year was full of delicious power pop that continues to show up on all of our playlists.  But, the band has turned around instantly with the Tell Me In a Whisper 7″.  The A-side isn’t as furious as previous work, but it definitely exemplifies the group’s habit for constructing perfect melodies around their guitar chords.  Soft or not, this is such a sweet jam that it only convinces me this band won’t do anything wrong.   Keep writing the hits boys!

Warm Soda – Someone For You

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Rating: ★★★★½

Out of the ashes of Bare Wires comes Warm Soda, but this time around things are going to be glistening with pure pop.  It’s not like this wasn’t lurking around the corner, but with Someone For You the band has created something that will inevitable find itself stuck in your head, and heart.

Let’s get the bad thing about this record out of the way, if you can even really find a fault here.  Okay, it does sound a little bit the same through and through, but I’m not biting that that’s entirely awful.  After all, when you find so many songs filled with hooks and anthemic choruses you’re going to be happy they didn’t try to diversify their sound too much, choosing to rock it the way they do best.

“Violent Blue” kicks off the album with one of the heavier tracks present on Someone For You, using a quick pace and steady drumming to propel the track.  But, the chorus of “violent blue” hints at the more pop-centric leanings of the group, preparing you for a fun filled ride of hits.  Basically, that starts as soon as you hit tune #2, “Someone For You.”  While the cymbal work and drumming hint at a more garage filled sound, the soft quality of the vocals working against the chiming guitars definitely makes you feel good.  I especially like the way vocals blow you away with the drawn out “you” at the 1:47 minute mark. It’s just a teaser though, making way for the crunchy goodness of “Jeanie Loves Pop.”  If you need a standout track to pass along to your friends in mixtape format, then you have to include this song.  There’s a rawness to the guitar playing, yet the chorus is as anthemic as you can get, begging you to shout it out at the top of your lungs.

I think one of the best attributes of Warm Soda is the ability for the drums/guitars to work against the brighter quality of the vocals.  For the most part, the drums are pretty steady and pushed up in the mix, like in “Waiting For Your Call.”  Here, the guitars and the cymbal work build this incredible tension that you expect the band to unleash, but the twist of the knife comes via the melodic chorus relief.  Is the track heavy? Is it a pop tune? Neither, it’s just a rad tune. The same can be said for “Busy Lizzy” with its knife’s-edge guitar work and quick blasting drum work, all centered around a cool vocal that’s slightly coated.  Just wait for the boys to bang out the ending with pure pop class.

Honestly, I know a lot of people that think the Exploding Hearts sound could never be done again.  It came at the perfect time in indie rock, but now is the time for Warm Soda.  They combine elements of garage rock and power-pop to perfection; there’s not a band out there doing things as well as these lads.  Someone For You is filled with hit after hit, and you can’t ignore a single song for fear of missing greatness.  The best thing you can do? Buy this LP right now!

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/06-Waiting-For-Your-Call.mp3]

Download: Warm Soda – Waiting For Your Call [MP3]

 

Ray Ray’s SXSW 2013 Recap

Ray Ray SxSW ThoughtsSo it’s been said already that the festival has wrapped up and we’re all trying to recover as best we can back at work Monday.  It was a fun and exhausting week full of incredible music, tons of booze, and many an old friend.  We’re each taking a look back at our week in free live music with some recaps and now it’s my turn.  Follow the jump for more.

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ATH & SXSW: 3 to Watch Part 2.

sxsw-&-athWell, it’s that time of year again; your liver hurts just thinking about it, and your Excel program has never seen so much action since Windows 98 first came out. Let’s put all that anxiety aside and concentrate on some really rad bands that are going to be making it our way in the next few weeks. These are three of the bands I’m most excited about seeing, and I have a feeling that I’ll see one or more of them at least twice…I’m just that guy.

More shows are popping up by the day.  Keep your ears to the Internet for the coolest party info.

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