David Bazan – Curse Your Branches

hhhhhhhRating: ★★★★☆

With Curse Your Branches David Bazan returns with his second release with Barsuk Records (his first being 2006’s Fewer Moving Parts EP), and his first full length since the Headphone’s 2005 self titled album.  After collaborating with TW Walsh on both Pedro the Lion’s Achilles Heel (2004) and the aforementioned Headphones LP, Bazan once again finds himself the captain of the ship, as well as its only crew member.

Curse Your Branches is a fascinating record in that it feels both new and familiar at the same time. The same plaintive singer/songwriter is still present in Bazan that we’ve come to know and love (or loathe) for almost fifteen years now. Tracks like ‘Hard To Be’, ‘Curse Your Branches’ & ‘In Stitches’ feel lived in upon first listen. That’s not to say that these songs are stale. These songs have an urgency that was missing on the Fewer Moving Parts EP. Bazan brings a newfound confidence to these recordings, both musically and lyrically.  On ‘Bless This Mess’, ‘Please Baby, Please’, & ‘When We Fell’ Bazan exhibits a Randy Newman-esque smirk, exuding a swagger not usually found on past Pedro the Lion records.

To address the elephant in the room: David Bazan has written a, as Jessica Hopper put it, “harrowing breakup record” in which he dumps God.  I feel that that is an apt description of a heartbreaking record.  The lyrics on Curse Your Branches have catalogued the both public and private struggles Bazan has had since Pedro the Lion dissolved in 2004, from alcoholism to his departure from a lifetime of faith. This isn’t your feel good Summer road trip record. It’s weighty with its subject matter, it’s the story of growth, departure, and haunting, like the itch on a phantom limb.  This haunting is evident in the album’s closer, ‘In Stitches’: I might as well admit it/ Like I even have a choice/ The crew have killed the captain/ But they still can hear his voice/ A shadow on the water/ A whisper in the wind/ On long walks with my daughter/ Who is lately full of questions about you.

Something must be said about one man in a studio with a clear and concise vision of what he wants to put on tape. Everything, from the reverse playback of the melody at the beginning of ‘Hard to Be’ to the howl of a man with a broken heart on ‘In Stitches’, is in it’s right place. On Curse Your Branches, David Bazan has turned in the most focused album of his career.

David Bazan will be playing at the Mohawk on October 7th.


Download: David Bazan – Bless This Mess [MP3]

New Tunes from These United States

these-united-statesThese United States can’t seem to stop releasing new tunes, and this time around, Everything Touches Everything is going to be full of powerchords and pop magic.  It’s hard to see these guys stopping anytime soon, and with songs like this, who would really want them to.  The album hits stores September 1.


Download: These United States – Everything Touches Everything [MP3]

New Tunes from Ola Podrida

olaAfter spending time working on various projects, David Wingo finally returns to the writing of his fantastic soft-spoken numbers under the name of Ola Podrida. Rumor has it that he’s returned to Austin, but either way, we love the quiet beauty he’s given us in the past, so we’re looking forward to the release of his new record, Belly of the Lion, on November 10th. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s releasing it on Austin’s own Western Vinyl.


Download: Ola Podrida – Your Father’s Basement [MP3]

Lee Scratch Perry @ Flamingo Cantina (9/1)


Date Tuesday, September 1st
Location Flamingo Cantina
Doors 900p
Tickets $18 @ the Door

How can you not want to go see the 73 year old dub-reggae master get his groove on at Flamingo Cantina? Let’s face it, if you like reggae, and I do, you need to get stepping to see Lee Scratch Perry. Dr. Dubbist will also be in attendance. Perry produced the following song, which is one of my all time faves, so if you love it, see you Tuesday night.


New Tunes from Stricken City

stricken-cityLondon’s Stricken City are known for their avant garde videos and the beauty of their lead singer, but now with the release of Songs About People I Know awaiting release on November 3rd it’s time to focus on the music.  You can feel the bounce immediately here, and Raa’s sex-kitten vocals make it difficult not to fall for this song.


Download: Stricken-City-Pull-The-House-Down [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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UT Back To School Fest @ HITW (8/29)


Date 8/29/09
Location Hole in the Wall
Doors 9pm
Tickets Free – $7 @ Door

Hole in the Wall is the place to be on Saturday if you want to check out the best and brightest of up and coming local artists!  The lineup is just straight nasty and highlights include ATH favorites Quiet Company, Frantic Clam, Deathray Davies, DJ Mel and a whole butt load of others that won’t all fit in this small space. Ticket prices vary throughout the day so here’s the lowdown on that:

Free from 2-7
$3 from 7-10
$7 from 10-2am

So I say post up at 2, don’t leave, and never pay an entrance fee.  Check out do512 or that fancy poster for full lineup info.  Why not make back to school more like happy time?

More New Music From A.A. Bondy

Last month we dropped a new A.A. Bondy track on you and now that the release date for his new album draws nearer, we have another incredible new song for you to check out.  This one is called “I Can See the Pines are Dancing” and will also appear on upcoming album When the Devil’s Loose due out September 1st on Fat Possum Records.  Also don’t forget that Mr. Bondy will be dropping by Austin on November 13th in support of Elvis Perkins at the Parish.

[audio: https://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/06-I-Can-See-the-Pines-are-Dancing.mp3]

Download: A.A. Bondy – I Can See the Pines are Dancing [MP3]

The Postmarks – Memoirs at the End of the World

memoirsRating: ★★★☆☆

Last year, The Postmarks threw a collection of covers out to the world, and the year before, they hit us with their self-titled debut.  Oddly, they garnered little press, though their sound, resting somewhere between early Camera Obscura and slow-jam Stars songs seems like it would be all the rage.  Will Memoris at the End of the World be the album to get the group over the hump?

When opening up with “No One Said This Would be Easy,” you start to get the feel of the band; they know it won’t be easy carving out a niche, but their destined to do it all on their own terms.  You’ll find that the string arrangements being used here will draw some to conclude that The Postmarks have a place in the land of the twee, but there seems to be some sort of solemnity underlying here, which takes it somewhere else.

“My Lucky Charm” is the group’s nod to Camera Obscura, although singer Tim Yehezkely recalls a young Jenny Lewis from long ago.  Polite horn flourishes dance in the background bring that gentle tropicalia feel to the song, perhaps an aesthetic quality ingrained in the band from their hometwon in Miami.  But when you get to “Don’t Know Till You Try” you can see a slight addition of electronic touches here and there, which is where you might get a Stars meets Headlights sort of quality.

Still, once you get to this point, you start to see one of the unfortunate drawbacks to the album as a whole.  Every song is absolutely listenable, although “Theme from ‘Memoirs'” lacks a bit as far as interest goes, all the way until the album draws to a close.  However, none of these tracks absolutely have to be listened to at any given point in time.  You could skip around; you could buy one song on iTunes; or you could ignore it altogether.  Nothing on Memoirs at the End of the World stands out to differentiate itself from other like-minded groups.  You can easily enjoy listenting to the entire album for an extended period of time, but the question begging to be asked is do you really have to listen to it?

To be frank, you don’t have to listen to it.  It’s not something you absolutely have to have in your collection, but if you do happen to find it, and you’re into bands listed above, you would do well to pick it up.  Honestly, The Postmarks made a beautiful record, just not one that is begging to be listened to over and over again. You’ll probably love it, but then again, you might soon discard it. Pick your poison.


Download: The Postmarks – No One Said This Would Be Easy [MP3]

The Sword Return To Austin


Date 8/28 & 8/29
Location Mohawk
Doors 9pm
Tickets $15

Shine thine axe and prepare for two nights of face melting metal the likes have never before been seen when The Sword make their triumphant return to Austin this weekend.  Both shows are at Mohawk and are on Friday and Saturday.  Friday night also features Ratking and Pack of Wolves with Calm Blue Sea and Matthew and The Arrogant Sea inside after the headliners.  Saturday night includes opening support from Fingaar Bangaar and Woodgrain.  Get Friday night tickets here and Saturday ones here.  Don’t miss this… trust me.

[audio: https://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/06-To-Take-the-Black-1.mp3]

Download: The Sword – To Take the Black [MP3]

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