Prior to it’s June 29th release date, you can stream Wolf Parade’s upcoming LP Expo 86 on the band’s myspace page. Gotta say I wasn’t a big supporter of the album after a few listens, but it’s really starting to grow on me. Check it out now and let us know what ya think.
So by now you’ve seen the two new tracks streaming around the internet from the upcoming Wolf Parade LP Expo 86. That streaming stuff is all well and good, but we wanted to offer you up a tasty little MP3 of new track “Ghost Pressure”. It will of course appear on the new LP from the band due out June 29th on Sub Pop Records. You can also check out Spencer Krug led track “What Did My Lover Say? (It Always Had To Go This Way)” right over here. Enjoy![audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/WolfParade_GhostPressure.mp3]
Download: Wolf Parade – Ghost Pressure [MP3]
What? You still listen to THAT album? That record is so 2004! Well, that’s okay, because we really like that one too, which is why we decided to come up with a list of our favorite albums of the last decade (2000-2009). Sure, these might not be YOUR favorite records, or the most critically acclaimed, but we sat down and really thought out every record from the past ten years that we keep coming back to in our collections. You’re likely to disagree with some of these, and we won’t tell you we’re absolutely right we just know that these happen to be OUR favorites. If you think we totally blew it here, feel free to tell us so, but be nice, as our egos are kind of fragile. Follow the jump for more.
Let’s face it, Spencer Krug is a prolific guy. Not only does he have the time to put together hits with his friends in Wolf Parade, but he also has made several records under the Sunset Rubdown moniker. Dragonslayer is his third proper album under the title, and it’s being released by Jagjaguwar Records.
Since the release of his first album, Shut Up I Am Dreaming, Spencer has enlisted various other members to flesh out his sounds. The most noticeable change on this new album is that Camilla Wynee Ingr plays a more prominent role in singing backing vocals. Her voice does a great job to compliment the sometimes wavering voice of Krug, providing a solid balance to the sound.
Of course, since the first release, we’ve come to expect that the songs of Sunset Rubdown would be grandiose affairs, almost epic in a sense. This album gives you much of the same as almost every song sprawls over the five minute mark. Opener “Silver Moons” is your traditional piano driven Krug tune, and the restraint he uses in staying within the boundaries of the song definitely provide the listener with some of the album’s finer moments.
But, the opener is followed up by three raucous numbers, which those in search of a faster pace to accommodate Spencer will enjoy. While “Idiot Heart” slowly builds towards a calamitous ending, “Apollo and the Buffalo and Anna Anna Oh” takes off from the minute it picks up. One of the detractors from this period in the album is that at times there seems to be too much going on in the space of the song. Spencer’s softer side seems to be the most fitting for his voice in this setting, and when he goes into other territory, the songs seem a bit strained. “Black Swan” is one of those numbers that seems to struggle with too much going on within the song.
As always, this man can pen some absolutely wonderful songs within the span of an album. “Paper Lace” is one such song where you realize just how perfect he can be. Keyboard and guitars seem to just hang in thin air, while his voice never seems to falter one single bit. If only he could consistently knock out ballads like this every time out. And it also serves as the song that kicks off the best moments of the album.
“You Go On Ahead” and “Nightingale/December Song” are some of the best moments on this album. Here the band finally has all the pieces of the cryptic puzzle put together. Tribal drums dully rumble beneath the songs as Ingr’s vocal accompaniment displays the depth of the line-up. When the sprawling tunes sound this strong it’s hard to see look back and see where the album ever took a misstep.
Then we close it out with “Dragon’s Lair.” It’s the ten minute epic that caps off this record perfectly. It combines all the elements that you’ve witnessed on the album early on, and it puts them in a one-song extravaganza to encapsulate all the ideas posed by Spencer and the rest of Sunset Rubdown. It’s a fitting end to a splendid story.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/05-paper-lace.mp3]
Download: Sunset Rubdown – Paper Lace [MP3]
Spencer Krug continues to work hard outside of his steady Wolf Parade gig as his side project Sunset Rubdown readies their next release. The Canadian outfit will be dropping Dragonslayer on JagJaguwar later this year on June 23rd. First single from the new album “Idiot Heart” is available for download and stream below.[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/02-idiot-heart.mp3]
Download: Sunset Rubdown – Idiot Heart [MP3]
Dan Boeckner and his wife/girlfriend/whatever, Alexei Perry are releasing their second album, Face Control, on Sub Pop Records under the Handsome Furs moniker. The first outing had a lot of interesting moments, carried mostly by Boeckner’s voice. Interestingly enough, you don’t find the band breaking new ground with their latest release.
The instant the album kicks off with “Legal Tender” one will immediately note that the beats on this round are a lot more prevalent than on the last outing. That’s not to say that Dan doesn’t throw in some slicing guitar licks, as he surely does so on this track, but they seem merely as extra moments. It’s as if the beats support the entire infrastructure of the songs, while the guitar seems to be an afterthought.
Still, one has to question whether or not this is enough to carry an entire album’s worth of songs. Answering this question will more than likely divide a lot of people, as the better tracks coming from this album, such as “Talking Hotel Arbat Blues” or “All We Want, Baby, Is Everything,” are really fantastic, displaying how some of the more thought out moments on the album can rise above the simplistic formula.
And yes, there is Boeckner’s phenomenal voice. As part of Wolf Parade, he’s pushed his voice to the limits, sometimes letting his voice curl into a bit of a yelp. This is not so on the Handsome Furs work, where we find him restraining himself quite a bit, allowing for the vocals to pull out every ounce of emotion from both his voice and the listener. Clearly the power of his voice is capable of serving as the backbone of an entire album, but probably not as the sole focus of said album.
“I’m Confused,” for instance, relies upon Dan entirely, using his voice to carry the entirety of the song until his guitar work angularly cuts through the background of the song. It’s an interesting sound, but it fails in the fact that it comes across as if the whole song was just merely a momentary thought; it has no flesh or filling. This is not what one asks for in such cases. Sadly, this is the feeling a lot of listeners will be left with when listening to this album all the way through, time and time again. There are moments when you can’t help but to be taken aback by the songs, but other moments exist when you might ask for a bit of density to the songs, a little exaggeration if you will.
You’ll come to the end finding that you’ve enjoyed the album as a whole, most notably for previously mentioned tracks, but you won’t find yourself dying to listen to it over and over again, only asking yourself questions about whether the band could have done more to fill some of the blank space that stands motionless throughout the album.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/03-talking-hotel-arbat-blues.mp3]
Download: Handsome Furs – Talking Hotel Arbat Blues [MP3]
Swan Lake is a supergroup, featuring members of Frog Eyes, Wolf Parade, and Destroyer. Their newest album, Enemy Mine is slated for release via Jagjaguwar Records on March 24th. While early indications claim Frog Eye’s Casey Mercer as the better writer this time out, you can’t count out Destroyer’s Dan Bejar. Just take a listen to the following track.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/swan-lake-spider.mp3]
Download: Swan Lake – Spider [MP3]
It’s 2009, and here at Austin Town Hall we are looking to help promote the Austin scene, and thus comes our new segment on Austin Artists to Watch. Our first little blurb comes after catching this band, The Great Nostalgic, at Emo’s Friday night during Free Week. Follow the jump for full story and free tuneage.
The majority of the world might not recognize the name of Sebastien Grainger, but most of you know who he is, and I’m sure some of you saw him play. Grainger is the former drummer for Death From Above 1979, that dueling barrage of blips and banging that burst onto the scene a few years back. Dude’s on his own now; the question is can he deliver like he used to do when he stood atop his stool breaking our ears and his drums?
Upon first listen, you will immediately discover that Sebastien has long ago departed from the intensity he once carried into our bedrooms. “Love Can Be So Mean,” the opening track, is about as deliberate a step into the pop spectrum of things we could expect him to go; he goes there unexpectedly, but he still brings a punch or two with him.
For some you might hear a touch of his past in a good amount of these songs, as the guitars usually carry a large amount of fuzz with them, much like that horse we’re beating into the ground. Another similarity in transitions is the vocal quality built into these songs; the vocals never sound very clear, coming off muddled in the mix. It’s not horrible, especially since he attaches a lot more melody this go round, but you can still see the shadow of his past looming just over his shoulder.
“I’m All Rage Live 05” is Sebastien doing Wolf Parade, which is okay since they both hail from north of the border, but the most disheartening thing about this song is that Sebastien holds back during the chorus; he has every opportunity to let loose like we know he can, but he holds back instead. It gives a less angst-ridden approach to the song, but most would love to see him belt it out. And it’s clear he has plenty of angst to let out, as evidenced by songs such as “I Hate My Friends.”
There are steps in all sorts of directions here, which makes this album a little unfocused. There are some allusions to 80s power ballads mixed with shadows from his past wrapped around various other late-nineties influences (see Saddle Creek Records, the label releasing this album). You’ll even find more direct approaches to ballads and harmonies, but you won’t find focus. When he’s on, the record has amazing moments worth playing again and again; when he’s not, you just hope he can rein it all in for the next go round. Really, you just want him to let loose completely. A record without the evident inhibtions from this record could just prove brilliant.
Have a listen to latest single “By Cover of Night” below:[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/03-by-cover-of-night-fire-fight.mp3]
Download: Sebastian Grangier – By Cover of Night [MP3]
Dim the lights. Shadows form on stage. Crowd screams. The sharp slam of a snare drum beats down signaling the beginning of “You are a Runner and I am my Father’s Son”. Wolf Parade has just entered the building. Sit back and enjoy the spectacle. So marked the beginning of a masterful show by Wolf Parade on Friday night at La Zona Rosa in Austin. Read more