A2W: Monarchs

Man it’s been a hot minute since we’ve run an Austin artist to watch feature hasn’t it?  Well now that the craziness of SXSW is over, let’s get back on the local hype machine wagon with a spotlight on Austin band Monarchs.  You can’t exactly call this group a straight up solo project, but leading lady Celeste Griffin is the primary songwriter/founder/manger/jack of all trades in the group.  Griffin, a recent transplant from Alabama, evokes a lyrical and vocal style similar to modern songwriters like Cat Power or Lissie while occasionally mixing in some old school twang elements along the lines of maybe Patty Griffin.  The grit and emotion in Griffin’s voice is generally the primary focus on the Monarch’s first two self-released EPs, and after a few listens, you’ll see why such a captivating voice is the backbone of this band.  Stylistically, Monarchs bring classical elements of southern blues while incorporating some subtle yet slick guitar and piano solos here and there.  I’ll save anymore comparisons here and just let you listen for yourself with track “Come On and Move Me” below.  Stay tuned for information on the band’s upcoming debut LP being recorded with famous local producer Mike McCarthy.  We look forward to it.

[audio: https://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/02-Come-On-And-Move-Me.mp3]

Download: Monarchs – Come On And Move Me [MP3]

Walking Sleep

Walking Sleep is an LA based band that recently made some noise with some of our local music friends during SXSW music week.  Having formed in 2007 under the name The Flying Tourbillon Orchestra, this six piece has since changed their name (for the better if you’re asking me) and are dropping a debut LP in May.  Check out this new track from the band “Final Chapter” to see if they’re for you.  I’m really digging the poppy sounds their bringing that you can’t help but tap your toes to.

[audio: https://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/walkingsleep_finalchapter.mp3]

Download: Walking Sleep – Final Chapter [MP3]

Harlem @ Mohawk (4/1)

Date 4/1/10
Location Mohawk
Doors 8pm
Tickets $8 from Frontgate

So if you haven’t heard yet, everyone in the local and national media is ready to label Austin boys Harlem the next big thing to make it out of our town.  Trying to prove this hype, the band will be celebrating the release of their new full length Hippies by playing a record release show at Mohawk on Thursday.  The locals will be joined by The Golden Boys and Cowabunga Babes.  You can pick up a fancy new copy of Hippies next week.  Previously mentioned first single from that album, “Friendly Ghost”, can be found for your enjoyment below.

[audio: https://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/Harlem-Friendly-Ghost.mp3]

Download: Harlem – Friendly Ghost [MP3]

Free Album From Ludlow Lions

Ludlow Lions are a relatively new band from Brooklyn who recently wrapped up recording on their debut full length album No Stories. To drum up some publicity about their new release, the band is giving away the album on a pay what you want system (or for free cheapskate…).  These guys market themselves as having an old school Guided by Voices/Pavement type sound which you of course know we can’t get enough of.  Check out the LP now.

[audio: https://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/01-Keyboard-Teeth.mp3]

Download: Ludlow Lions – Keyboard Teeth [MP3]

New Tunes from Darwin Deez

It’s so crazy that press releases say Darwin Deez describes himself as part Thriller, part Dismemberment Plan because I swear when I first heard this I immediately thought of my beloved Travis Morrison.  Regardless, Darwin will be releasing his self-titled album on Lucky Number Records April 12th.  I’m not sure why people aren’t all over this, as it’s one of the catchiest albums I’ve heard in a long time.  This is sure to be the hit of the Spring.

*audio removed at the request of label

New (ish) Tunes from Dick Diver

During SXSW I was hanging with some of the guys from the incredible Chapter Music, based in Australia.  Not only were these guys super nice, but they gave me some tunes I probably wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. One of my favorites is Dick Diver, who definitely have everything to do with the current jangle-pop scene in the States, though hailing from Australia, they probably don’t get the coverage they deserve.  Sunny classic guitar sounds and peculiar vocal delivery are too much for me to not point you to this great Australian gem.   If you dig it, you can get this from Chapter Music on the bands Arks Up 7″.


Download: Dick Diver – Purgatory [MP3]

SXSW In Pictures, Pt. 2

We promised you some real professional pictures from SXSW week, and that’s just what you’ll get today from ATH photo lady Mary Rehak.  Mary is well known for running around like a crazy person during the week and seeing as many bands as she possibly can.  Hell, based on her fancy photos, she may have seen more bands than the ATH crew members combined!  We’re proud to have such a hard working and creative person on the team.  Follow the jump to re-live the SXSW week through the eyes of a pro photographer.

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New Tunes from Gogol Bordello

Gypsy punk may not be for all of our readers, but after witnessing their stupendous live show at ACL a few years back, I can’t just push my feelings for Gogol Bordello away anymore.  I’m really excited for their new album Trans-Continental Hustle, which hits stores on April 27th.  Based on this new tune, it’s pretty much what you would expect from a bunch of gypsies, which is enough reason for you to love the band all the more.  Get gypsy!


Download: Gogol Bordello – Pala Tute [MP3]

Dum Dum Girls – I Will Be

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Initially gaining notoriety during the rise of similar bands such as Vivian Girls, it would be easy to lump Dum Dum Girls into the exact same pile, yet something separates those two groups from being perfectly aligned (despite sharing a DDG sharing a former member of VG).  On I Will Be, which is primarily the work of Dee Dee, there remains a large bit of influences, but underlying all that lies a certain sense of darkness.

You can put on “It Only Takes One Night” and immediately feel the edge that runs throughout the album.  Rather than buzz and pop, the guitars seem to ring from a darker place, not ever quite breaking out of that seemingly haunting place.  The vocals, too, have a bit of a dark influence to them, partly due to a bit of a vocal echo effect.  Surely this is the influence of Dee Dee’s friend Mike Sniper (Blank Dogs), who makes similarly haunting tunes.

Even with that sinister tone hiding beneath, the band also have a touch of a softer side to them, one that definitely has its roots in girl groups of the 60s.  You’ll find that style prevalent in songs such as “Bhang Bhang, I’m a Burnout” or “Rest of Our Lives.”  The former uses backing vocals to bring back that nostalgic aesthetic, and it does so effectively.  “Rest of Our Lives” is sort of a late 60s prom dance number.  It’s slow moving, and the rest of the girls in the group, or perhaps just Dee Dee’s overdubs, gently float vocals in the background, as one would expect to see.  These songs are easily enjoyable, though not necessarily pushing any new ground.

However much this band seems to stay in one of two places, they are capable of creating some spectacular songs.  “Jail La La” is every bit as catchy as anything that has come out this year.  This is one of the few songs in the collection that seems to rise above the influences and standout for its individual promise, making it a currently relevant pop track.  Whether its the precision drumming pushing the pace of the song or the vocal quality here, the song wins you over instantly, never letting go. Another winning track is “Blank Girl,” featuring Brandon from Crocodiles trading vocal parts.  The juxtaposed vocal tradeoffs are quite successful, and the psychedelic guitar cuts don’t inhibit this song either.

Adding a touch of kitsch, Dum Dum Girls cover Sonny & Cher’s “Baby Don’t Go” to close out the album.  Personally, this song is a lot more affecting than the original number, as you can’t resist Dee Dee’s warm vocals here.  Everything else seems to stop during this song, and the instruments themselves are just a tool for the female voice. At least you can accept the inclusion of the song for thematic purposes on this record, and for the fact that its a pretty enchanting cover.

As it ends, I Will Be is neither astonishing, nor is it a letdown (not by any means).  You just have to weigh your personal feelings about whether or not this style is fitting for your listening habits. There’s not necessarily an over-abundance of originality, but you can’t let that detract from the fact that Dum Dum Girls have recorded some quality moments of music, such as “Jail La La.” You’ll find more enjoyable moments than not on this record, which is something you can’t say too often nowadays.


Download: Dum Dum Girls – Jail La La [MP3]

Ted Leo @ Emos (3/31)

Date Wednesday, March 31st
Location Emos
Doors 900 pm
Tickets $15  @ TicketWeb

In case you didn’t know how much we loved Ted Leo, you haven’t read our latest review of his album The Brutalist Bricks! So many people love Ted’s live show that they had to move it from The Parish over to Emos.  This is one of those shows that you will certainly be sorry you missed, as Ted always guarantees a great live show; it’s just the way the guy rolls. He’ll be taking the stage with Screaming Females and Sally Crewe & the Sudden Moves.  Make sure to show your support of one of the great American songwriters. Period.

Ted will also be playing at End of an Ear @4 PM. 


Download: Ted Leo – The Mighty Sparrow [MP3]

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