New Tunes from The Cinammon Band

After touring with Wolf Parade, The Cinammon Band made quite an impression.  So much so that they were fortunate enough to be invited to record at the band’s Mt. Zoomer studio.  The session left the group with a four song EP of swelling indie rock full of melody and soul, something you wouldn’t expect necessarily from a duo to pull off so successfully.  But on the All Dressed EP (out 8/10), they do, and they do so with promise for a future full of great sounds. Here’s to the future.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/01-Im-Asking-You-1.mp3]

Download: The Cinnamon Band – I’m Asking You [MP3]

Wolf Parade – Expo 86

Rating: ★★★½ ·

Three albums into their career, it’s difficult to explain what exactly the entity Wolf Parade actually is, as it stands at present.  Their insanely popular Apologies to Queen Mary blew us away, but as more side projects came into the foray, the group didn’t seem as tightly knit as they once were, almost as if they exhausted their creativity in other works.  Will Expo 86 see the return to greatness? Will it finally win everyone over?

Pounding drums introduce the album, with singer Spencer Krug letting his wavering voice accompany the guitars on “Cloud Shadow of the Mountain”  There’s a sense of urgency in the song, as if the band is dedicated to make an impression.  If there is a note to make from the get go, it’s that Wolf Parade have come out firing with a barrage of noisiness–not a bad idea.

You’ll relive the heavy bounce of the group’s olden days when you come upon “What Did My Lover Say.”  Keyboards are met by slicing guitar lines, and Krug sort of his hangs his vocals in the air during the chorus, but clearly the cohesiveness wins out here, as all elements work together tightly.  As usual, this isn’t just Krug’s entourage, it’s a group with two dynamic singers.  Dan Boeckner brings his throaty post-punk vocal to “Little Golden Age,” which is an energized number with dark undertones of electronics that drive the song to its rambunctious climax.

You’ll find traces of the individual projects of key members lying around here. “Ghost Pressure” definitely wears the influence of Handsome Furs, using Boeckner and heavy electronic touches to give a little backbone to the tune.  Most people will find Dan’s chorus vocal extremely appealing (as I do), but you’ll also note the blasts from 80s house electronica coming through.  Krug plays his part too on “Two Men in New Tuxedos,” which bears his mark not only on the vocal, but just in the songwriting in general.  He definitely plays the role of the odd writer in the group, giving us less straightforward lyrics to follow than his partner.  All in all, there individual voices flourish throughout, but the success of Expo 86 lies in the team aspect.

Their disjointed presence at times has clearly dissolved.  You take a song like “Yulia,” which is probably one of the band’s most honest pop tracks to date, and you’ll notice that everyone is working together.  Drums are tight, Krug adds his keyboard flourishes, Boeckner takes lead, and it’s all so tight.  Separately they’ve honed their craft, and finally brought it all together to create a strongly united Wolf Parade.  Perhaps they’ve given up on offering hooks and whatnot to the audience, choosing to create art of their own liking with the perfect balance of all members taking precedent.  It makes Expo 86 a great rock album, and one that everyone will be listening to for the unforeseeable future, as the band is back, doing what they do best.  They’ve given us unique rock of the heavier sort, which suits us all just fine.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/WolfParade_GhostPressure.mp3]

Download: Wolf Parade – Ghost Pressure [MP3]

New Music From Wolf Parade

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]

FT50: Albums of the ’00s

0828top5coverWhat?   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.

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Sunset Rubdown – Dragonslayer

drag

Rating: ★★★½ ·

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]

New Music From Sunset Rubdown

sunsetrubdownSpencer 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]

Handsome Furs – Face Control

furs

Rating: ★★★ · ·

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]

New Tunes from Swan Lake

swansSwan 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]

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