Maybe you’re still shaking off the cobwebs of tiredness from your eyes from this weekend, but it’s time for you to muster up the strength to hit up the Mohawk tomorrow night for what will surely be an evening well worth your time. Headlining the inside stage is London’s Shopping, who have been wowing us with their post-punk jangly jams for sometime now, so it’s exciting to see how this sound will translate to the live setting; something tells me these tracks are going to be even more robust and require some dancing shoes. Opening up for them are locals Xetas and Feral Future, so be sure to get there early and support your locals. And if you feel like double-dipping and making the most of your night, get there even earlier to catch Youth Lagoon and Moon King on the outside stage at 6:30. Otherwise, doors for the inside stage are at 9 and tickets are 10$…get them here.
Making 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 – Wampire – Curiosity
49 – Dot Dash – Half Remembered Dream
48 – Mantles – Long Enough to Leave
47 – The Appleseed Cast – Illumination Ritual
46 – Bad Sports – Bras
45 – Part Time – PDA
44 – Dick Diver – Calendar Days
43 – Math and Physics Club – Our Hearts Beat Loud
42 – Veronica Falls – Waiting for Something to Happen
41 – Eat Skull – III
40 – The Lonely Wild – The Sun as It Comes
39 – The Love Language – Ruby Red
38 – Gun Outfit – Hard Coming Down
37 – Cate Le Bon – Mug Museum
36 – Daughn Gibson – Me Moan
35 – Andre Obin – The Arsonist
34 – Arp – More
33 – Gap Dream – Shine Your Light
32 – The Black Watch – The End of When
31 – Ty Segall – Sleeper
30 – The Stevens – A History of Hygeine
29 – Of Montreal – Lousy with Sylvianbriar
28 – Mirror Travel – Mexico
27 – Local Natives – Hummingbird
26 – Girls Names – The New Life
25 – GRMLN – Empire
24 – Small Black – Limits of Desire
23 – Audacity – Butter Knife
22 – Mikal Cronin – MCII
21 – Chelsea Wolfe – Pain is Beauty
20 – Foals – Holy Fire
19 – Radical Face – Family Tree: The Branches
18 – Youth Lagoon – Wondrous Bughouse
17 – Terry Malts – Nobody Realizes This is Nowhere
16 – Shout Out Louds – Optica
15 – Kurt Vile – Waking on a Pretty Daze
14 – Braids – Flourish//Perish
13 – Crystal Antlers – Nothing is Real
12 – Typhoon – White Lighter
11 – Ski Lodge – Big Heart
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 Growlers – Hung 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For some of us, catching Youth Lagoon on this tour would be the first time we caught the group with a full line-up, as the last time I caught Trevor Powers he was working the stage on his own. Such a change was likely to mix the sound up. We arrived early to catch the recent signing to Matador Records, Magical Cloudz.
Read on for my thoughts and photos from the excellent Brian Gray.
Catch up post for a new track called “Dropla” from Youth Lagoon, a track fit for a Friday leading you into a smooth jam.
Trevor and the boys landed a sweet spot opening for The National at The Barclay’s Center in June. Whoa. Brooklyn friends, be advised. Nathan was a little let down by their live sets during SxSW last year, but I can see that the potential for a compelling live set was there. They better bring it in the house that Jay-Z (and a Russian billionaire) built.
The new album called Wondrous Bughouse lands 3/5 on Chubby Creepy Nocturnal Marsupial.
When I first encountered Austin’s Tiger Waves, I was caught off guard by their experimental inclusion of bits of noise that eventually shifted into snippets of grandiose pop. However, on their recent release, Don’t Be Yourself, the band tends to switch it the other way around–clearly indicative of a band who have grown in their songwriting capabilities.
“From the Start” begins with a bit of a noise snippet, but the impressive forcefulness of the track quickly breaks into full stride. Personally, I like how the lyrics are hiding just a bit behind the music, almost like the classic rock we all grew up jamming to in our parents living room, and then it ends. But, the motif of classic songwriting comes in with the hints of psychedelia that are present on “Quebec.” Perhaps it’s just that jangling tambourine and the affected vocal that gives it the San Francisco effect, but it fits perfectly with the mood of the entire album.
When Tiger Waves breaks into “I Hope You’ll Feel Alright” you can tell that the band has abilities beyond just living with their influences; they’ve created their own sound with fluid movements amidst many of the tracks. Here, you get almost a quieted chant from the get go, but the lurking backing vocal seems to make way for the entire group to make some mono-syllabic noise in unison. And this is where you’ll find Don’t Be Yourself really taking hold of listeners, as the record moves into “Summer.” It’s the sort of constructive pop that recalls bands like Youth Lagoon or Ducktails, but only done more effectively since they’re utilizing the songwriting of an entire group in the studio. Layering the vocals atop the music on this track definitely creates special moments that you won’t want to miss.
As Tiger Waves prepare to wrap up the whole affair, they close things out with the perfect juxtaposition of their unique sound. Of course, “I Love You George Harrison” surely harkens back to the careful craftsmanship alluded to in the song’s title–and I’m sure it would make George proud. But, then you end Don’t Be Yourself with the hauntingly brilliant “Underground.” It’s the quiet atmospheric touches, mellow pacing and steady dosage of pop writing that initially drew me to this band; it comes full circle as the band closes out this EP, going out in quite a fashion.
Hopefully this isn’t your first introduction to Tiger Waves, but if so, do yourself a favor and spend some time with the group’s music. If Don’t Be Yourself is anything with which to judge these young lads by, then they’ll probably be around for some time, hopefully writing more great tunes such as these. You can grab this EP, as well as other great tunes by visiting the band HERE.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/14_Underground.mp3]
Download: Tiger Waves – Underground [MP3]
It’s really funny that this track popped up in our inbox the other day, just a night after I was talking to our friend Marcus about the lack of credit given to the Idaho scene. In 2011 the scene hit big with Youth Lagoon, and the state is the home to Built to Spill, who took out the band Finn Riggins for several tours. This track from Finn Riggins definitely has a nice little groove to it, and it’ll feature on the band’s Benchwarmers EP, which is set for release on April 21st for Record Store Day. This is the perfect way to kick off our Monday; the band will be in Austin playing the Boise Showcase at SXSW if you’re looking for a place to catch them.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/FinnRigginsBenchwarmers.mp3]
Download:Finn Riggins – Benchwarmers [MP3]