Noisy Fun from Eat Fast

eatfastI always thought that Wavves had a pretty simple formula, but in that, it was also extremely fun, which is why they were so endearing. So, Eat Fast takes that formula, adds a little bit more noise, strips away some of the immediate hooks and forces you to invest a bit more in their latest tune. For you, that makes it a win, as you’ll hear similarities from one of your favorites, but you’ll get it louder and heavier, guaranteeing that this isn’t just some rehash effort. This stand alone single should leave you thirsting for more.

ATX Weekend Show Preview: Who Isn’t Playing In Austin?

ATX Popfest 10Nathan and I were commenting on the plethora of shows going down this weekend, so I figured it’d be nice to lay it all out night by night for you so you know where you need to be to hear the best tunes. I’ve got all your options broken up by days and if you play your cards right, it could be a weekend filled to the brim with great local and visiting acts. See for yourself after the jump and prep with some tunes… a few more hours and it’s the weekend!

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Vacation – Candy Waves

vacationcandywavescover

Rating: ★★★ · ·

Don Giovanni Records has had a good go of things lately, especially with the work of Screaming Females on their roster.  But, new boys Vacation aim to make their own mark with Candy Waves.  It provides listeners with sharp guitar lines and catchy hooks, while managing to sound appropriately unpolished.

Feedback opens the doors to Candy Waves with “Pyro Hippies” opening moments before the furiously quick drumming assaults your ears.  Here you’ll find the guitar chords knifing their way through the song, and the vocals border on angst, yet still retain a bit of melody.  Yet moments later, the bubbly bass work on “Make a Mess” is what grabs you by the ears and pulls you within the depths of the record.  This tune has less detail oriented guitar work, but the rhythm section surely offers enough to get your toes tapping and your body jumping about.  I want to attach myself to the vocals on this tune, yet they’re just a bit too far below the mix.

For my two cents, the band excels when they offer their pop affinity in their music.  “SFA” jumps right into your meat and potatoes punk rock, though spun through a sludgy blender.  The vocals offer a glimpse at anthemic moments, while the apparent allegiance to Vacation‘s metal influence is also visible.  It opens the way for the hook-laden “Candy Waves,” which might be the record’s standout tune.  Again, I think the lyrics could break through if they had just a hint more clarity in the mastering, but you can tell that this is a tune built for fans to join in during live performances.  You don’t think the band can share pop sensibility with their metal/punk pedigree? Just start listening at 1.36.  They make it three brilliant songs in a row with “Everyone Loves the Sun,” again establishing a gritty beach party feel.  This song excels due to the fact that every instrument, including voice, seems to be pulling in an opposite direction, while still maintaining a healthy balance that unites the tune.

Concluding Candy Waves is another of the record’s standouts, “Horny Politicians.”  Yes, the killer rhythm section comes through again to give a good push on the final tune, but I think it’s the vocal that allows this number to rise above the rest.  There’s clarity throughout the entirety of the song; this allows listeners to really partake in the joy of the song.  It’s the perfect closing moment, allowing us to glimpse Vacation at their very best, and perhaps a possible look into their future.  And in the end, the record ends with a bang, but you’ll go right back to the beginning to play it all over again.  You’ll get the feeling we all had when bands like Wavves felt dangerous, and you’ll be thankful bands like this are still doing it right.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/11-Horny-Politicians.mp3]

 

Yet More New Music from GRMLN

grmlnIs this album here yet? Every single time I get a new track from GRMLN I get excited by the prospect of the fun to be had when Empire finally hits stores on June 4th. Personally, the further we get along, the more I see a similarity in the hype that surrounded Wavves when Nathan first broke onto the scene. And just like those raucous tunes, the songs, including the one below, are filled with energy and brevity, giving us the perfect blend of brevity and pop goodness.  Carpark will be releasing the album, and you can be sure that I’ll have good things to say about it!

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/05-Do-You-Know-How-It-Feels_.mp3]

Download: GRMLN – Do You Know How It Feels_ [MP3]

Wavves – Afraid of Heights

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Rating: ★★★ · ·

Nathan Williams, better known as Wavves, may have crossed your radar at some point, be it through the media realm of the indie music world, or through his music; either way, Wavves is one of the most buzzed about bands. Back in 2010 he released a full length album, which seemed to take the buzz to a whole new level and his relationship with Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino made for his place as the title within his 2010 release: King of the Beach. Now that it’s been a few years and the buzz has died down some, will Nathan Williams come back swinging from the fade?

The answer isn’t so straightforward, as this is decent album, but the honeymoon stage for fans may be long gone. Afraid of Heights begins with some tinkering instrumental, feeding the anticipation of audiences. The first track, “Sail to the Sun” bursts into life quickly, though, the guitar wailing along with Williams’ vocals, as he kicks straight into it. Fast paced and laden with lyrics classical to the California punk lifestyle that Wavves has always explores. It’s a short and sweet track, but reminds audiences that this guy knows how to rock.

Pushing onwards, you’ll find that it’s not all full speed ahead on Afraid of Heights. The second song, “Demon to Lean on” evokes a sound that reminds me of a grungier, wilder, Weezer, which isn’t a bad thing. Tempo slowed, you can focus on the details that Williams has to offer, which include small nuances within the verses. Other strong moments on this album include, “Dog,” which gives listeners a break from blasting guitars and offers a catchy chorus to sing along. Later on, “Cop,” continues this milder, less garage-rock style, with mini-builds inside of it to explode into choruses, but as on “Dog” there aren’t those waves of dominating electric guitar. Some fans may detest this, but Wavves may be gaining some new fans.

What works against Wavves on Afraid of Heights is time—the album just feels long. With songs that are so repetitive and similar to each other, it seems like a few could have been cut from the track list that would have simplified the album and made for a snappier overall sound. Williams’ music gets a bit sluggish toward the end, and so did my interest, which may be the biggest problem for listeners on here.

Regardless of length, there are some excellent garage rock tunes on this album, which should feed the buzz just enough for Wavves.

FFF 2012: Saturday In Pictures

Ahhh. Home, sweet home. Back on the pit to bring you nine kinds of performance shots.

Saturday’s shots include Residual Kid, The Young, Gold Fields, Brendan Benson, Daughn Gibson, The Helio Sequence, Braid, The Spits, Surfer Blood, Tanlines, Paul Banks, Real Estate, Wavves and PiL. More from around the fest, of course. Fun was had by all, just bummed that I missed shooting Refused from the pit. It was “too busy”.

Click through to feed your eyes…

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Fun Fun Fun Fest Preview: FIDLAR

It’s been a way solid year for FIDLAR, releasing a nice little 7″ full of catchy garage rock jams, and then getting loads of press across the nation from new fans.  It’s no surprise they’re rising, they combine the catchiness of pop-punk tunes, fueled by a lo-fi recording done in someone’s garage; it’s ballsy, yet it’s exuberant, so what more could you want?  They’re going to continue their huge year by playing for us all at Fun Fun Fun Fest.  I get the feeling that they’re just on the cusp of being everyone’s favorite band, sort of like Wavves of 2009, which is all the more reason to get out there and see their set.  You can be one of those people that says “oh yeah, I saw them way back when…”  Not to mention the fact that it’s going to be energetic and kick you in the face!

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/fidlar_GotNoMoney.mp3]

Download: Fidlar – Got No Money [MP3]

FIDLAR plays Friday, November 2nd at 1:05 on the Black Stage!

Noisy Little Rocker from No Monster Club

If you’re looking for a band that lives somewhere between Fresh and Onlys and Wavves, then let me introduce you to No Monster Club!  The group came to my attention as I was following one of my favorite smaller labels, CF Records.  They’ve recently helped this Irish trio put out a small small run of their newest LP, Dublin, and it’s a pretty solid introduction to the band.  Below you’ll find a rambunctious bit of garage pop filled with infectious hooks and a bit of disregard for hi-fi recordings.  Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t get this jam out of my head.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/No-Monster-Club-Be-My-Bone.mp3]

Download:No Monster Club – Be My Bone [MP3]

Twerps – s/t

Rating: ★★★★½

For those of you just meeting Twerps, you’d be surprised at the evolution of their sound.  When we first heard them via the folks at Chapter Music, they were a pretty basic lo-fi group, spinning tape loops and coming off a bit lackadaisical on songs like “Good Advice.” On their self-titled record, you’ll get a much more focused group bringing it all home.

“Dreamin” begins Twerps, giving you cascading guitar chords that cut through the careful jangle-pop, even tossing in some backing harmonies from female member Julia MacFarlane. It’s as tight as the band has sounded since they were introduced, and such songs only solidify their presence in our musical world. But, you’re still going to find that carefree spirit within this album.

On “Don’t Be Surprised” Marty Frawley just tosses his lyrics atop a much slower paced jingle, sort of like you’d expect Dan Treacy of Television Personalities to do, that is until mid-track where they just kick it off with this beautiful bit of noisy pop, only to return to their melodious bit of fun.  Twerps use a similar tactic on what is not only the record’s best song, but perhaps one of the top songs of the year, “Who Are You.”  It embodies everything magical in a song: catchy bit of guitar playing, a cool bit of vocal delivery and relatable lyrics.  When Frawley goes into his “who are you/to be actin the way that you do,” it’s all perfectly fitting, and it leads up to the playful “we’ll get drunk/we’ll get stoned/we’ll get high/we’ll get drunk” line that accompanies each chorus. Simply put, there aren’t many songs from this year better than this.

One of the best things about this entire record is that Twerps simply keep you interested, going places you can easily see, but didn’t necessarily expect from the group.  “Jam Song” sort of fills the middle of the record with a rambling bit of ballroom stomp, always keeping their groove.  Or, you could skip a few ahead and find yourself at the simple spoken-word track, “Bring Me Down,” which is joined by a polite little bit of guitar strumming.  There’s pretty much moments for every type of listener out there, be it jangling pop moments like “Dreamin,” or a more-subdued Wavves feel like the closer “Coast to Coast.”  It all fits in with the band’s aesthetic, and it never seems to grow stale.

Twerps have been around for some time now, but this self-titled record is going to be one of the dates that you’ll want to remember, as a band that puts it together this well is very rare.  They’ve got hooks, they’ve got creativity and they even have a bit of attitude (or essence), all making Twerps one hell of a ride.  Mark my word, everyone is going to be talking about this group and this record for some time to come.

Currently you can listen to the whole album HERE. Or jam the opener below.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/The_Twerps_-_Dreamin.mp3]

Download: Twerps – Dreamin [MP3]

Total Babes – Swimming Through Sunlight

Rating: ★★★ · ·

When press first came out for Total Babes, a lot of attention was given to the fact that it featured a member of Cloud Nothings, and to a certain extent, that’s a fair association, as the similarities are definitely visible. However, Swimming Through Sunlight, the band’s debut on Old Flame Records isn’t just a re-imagining; it stand up on its own merit.

If you’re looking for a catchy lo-fi hook, you won’t have to look beyond the first song, as “Like They Always Do” features a chorus that grabs you while the noise distortion swells in the background.  It’s a quick hammering, not staying around too long for fear of giving you a little bit too much sugar. But, while this shares that affinity for noisy-garage pop a la the aforementioned association, the next track, “Be So Sure” shows resemblance to another lo-fi pop band, The Thermals (it’s not just me is it?).  Perhaps the vocals could be cleaned up a bit more on the recording, but it definitely has that sweetness mixed nicely with a bit of excessive noise, just like Hutch would want it.

One of the best things about listening to Swimming Through Sunlight is that you can see various touches of the modern musical landscape, but the inherent melodies and songwriting enable to group to move beyond pure mockery.  “Someone to Blame” sounds an awful like Wavves at their best, even featuring a similar lyrical style, using simple words to convey a message.  I suppose that various sources can knock the group for a lack of originality, but you can easily look beyond that once you get to the core of the songs.  They’re not too long, giving you just a taste of their glory, then moving on, asking you to revisit at a later point.

Personally, I would like to see Total Babes revisit the studio with a bit more of a polish and sheen.  For instance, there’s a brightness to the opening guitar line in “Without Your Heart,” but that clarity eventually parts for a grittier sound.  This isn’t entirely a bad thing, as it serves its purpose in a great deal of the tracks featured on the record, but a certain sharpness could really propel these songs to the next level.  Even in the closer, “Tip of My Tongue,” there’s this incredible element of pop, but it’s buried so far beneath the mix that it comes off sounding more like a demo than a final product.  It’s the slightest difference between an incredible song and just a really good one.

All in all, Swimming Through Sunlight is full of bright spots, and its clear that the songwriting is far more than just your moderate fare, but Total Babes still have a bit of work to do in the finished product.  Clear vocals here, bit of distortion removed there, and you’ve got a wonderful record full of memorable hooks, sing-a-long moments, and enough power to kick the rest of the genre in the face; looking forward to that day!

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/02-be-so-true.mp3]

Download: Total Babes – Be So True [MP3]

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