FT5: Austin Dive Bars

Now that the east side seems to be exploding with a new bar popping up daily and hordes of people everywhere, I’ve started to seek refuge in some of my favorite old haunts from years past.  These are places that were frequented by me a lot more towards the end of college and into early post-graduation, but are increasingly becoming apart of my weekend routine once again.  Before I reveal my list of top dive bars, let us point out what I feel qualifies as a “dive” bar.  For starters, ease of parking and access is a must, so you won’t be seeing bars on 5th-7th street (sorry Side Bar).  It’s also important that these bars have that old rundown feel about them to create a nice atmosphere for drowning your sorrows in booze.  I also require that my dive bars have unique jukeboxes with not a single hint of a 101x ready song inside.  Plenty of seating, familiar clientele/staff, bar games, drink specials, and uncrowded places are also a must.  Bonus points can always be awarded for random ass decor, crazy old ladies, bikers, distance from downtown or good food.  These are places you want to go to get away from the downtown hastle, sit with friends and enjoy each others company (or being alone).  My list has also been broken up into regions so you can pick your poison based on where you live in relation to these dives.  Follow the jump for list.

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More New Music from Gold Bears

A little over a month ago we brought you a brief introduction to Gold Bears.  And today we got news that the band has just signed with Slumberland Records, one of my personal favorites.  The label will be releasing the band’s album Are You Falling in Love on May 17th, and it should be full of great things.  Listening to lead track, “Record Store,” it’s got the feeling of early Lucksmiths’ lyricism and bubblegum flavor, but with a bit more of an edgier punch to it overall.  These are the kind of tracks that great records are made of, and I have a feeling this is going to fall right in line with my expectations.  Give it a gander.


Download: Gold-Bears – Record Store [MP3]

New Music from David Vandervelde

David Vandervelde has to be one of my absolute favorite musicians. Sure, he sounds like Marc Bolan, but don’t you dare come at me and say that’s a bad thing!  I got news yesterday that David’s working on some new stuff, just this time under the moniker Vandervelde.  He’s releasing a digital single via the good people over at Secretly Canadian.  This one definitely has David giving off a different vibe, one that’s more drenched in heartache than the past of Tyrannosaurus Rex; his voice even sounds a touch warmer, albeit just as good, than it has on previous efforts.  Not sure if this is a sign of more Vandervelde work in the future, but whatever it is, if it sounds this good, we’ll gladly take it.


Download: Vandervelde – More Than You Can Feel [MP3]

New Music From Golden Glow

Pierre Hall is a singer songwriter from Manchester who writes and records music under the name Golden Glow.  Hall began his project in 2009 after a terrible automobile accident left him unable to walk and often times alone with his thoughts.  Through this period in his life came the songs which are set to appear on his debut LP entitled Tender is the Night due out June 21st on Mush Records.  Below you’ll find the Joy Division-esque album opener “Adore Me”.  This guy is gonna be one to watch out for this summer.

[audio: https://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/01_AdoreMe.mp3]

Download: Golden Glow – Adore Me [MP3]

Cass McCombs – Wit’s End

Rating: ★★★★☆

On his website, McCombs claims that this fifth record is a venture “going deeper into the mania of a man buried alive inside his self-made catacombs,” indicating that this album is a continuation and further explanation of said metaphor. However, even without this tidbit of knowledge from the man, Wit’s End is inclination enough to denote this surge to a more intricate and deeper reaching sound for Cass McCombs.

Wit’s End begins on a nonchalant note: the slow-moving drum beats and Cass’s gentle voice just sort of slips you into to his realm of ambiguity. No moment of anticipation, or calm before the storm, rather, in an instant you’re with him on an adventure to discover, or explore the human psyche. Such is the case with “County Line,” and continues onto “The Lonely Doll,” in which an eerie lullaby tinkling meanders through the song meanwhile you are narrated through a spindly tale of the title character. At this point, McCombs comes off as a Bob Dylan esque figure in getting lost in his own mind. “Buried Alive” describes this feeling as being “in a sea of black” and you can’t help but empathize with this man; we’ve all such a feeling of lost-ness somewhere along the way and Wit’s End makes this feel natural, and even right.

As far as the actual music goes, there is not too much to rave on about. It fits with the overwhelmingly powerful lyrics, and I think that is all that really matters for this album. Yes, there is the softly eroding piano on numbers like “Saturday Song,” that slowly beats you down with every press of the keys. And yes, there is the tender horn-work on the finisher “A Knock Upon the Door,” but there isn’t a reliance on that musical crescendo of majestic beauty. Cass McCombs is unapologetically cryptic and shady because that’s just the way he is.

At first listen, it seems that Mr. McCombs may have gone too far around the bend. The soft plucking of the guitar accompanied by his whisper of a voice sounds akin to that of a jaded old man with several regrets and misfortunes. However, the more listens acquired, the easier it is to ascertain the meaning behind this mans’ madness. Or if no meaning arises to your ears, it is at least devastatingly interesting to listen to the plight of another. It will grow on you.

New Track from BNLX

Man, you’ve got to thank your lucky stars if you live in New York.  On May 20th and 21st, BNLX, will be playing several shows to celebrate the release of EP #5.  We tossed out a track a bit ago, but the more these guys write together, the stronger their sound gets.  The lead single from the new EP, “Burn the Boats” reminds me of early Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, when that band was blowing out amps and burying us with feedback.  You can hear that feedback squall swirl around BNLX on this track, and the steady delivery of female/male vocals has this hypnotic yet driving influence that’s just perfect for any sort of rampage.  The more they write, the happier we are.  You can grab your copy of the new EP from Susstones.


Download: BNLX – Burn the Boats [MP3]

Girls Names – Dead to Me

Rating: ★★★★☆

While it may be extremely easy to write about Girls Names, based on the fact that they fit right into the musical landscape as it currently stands, it’s almost impossible to get their latest effort out of your head. Being released by Slumberland, Dead to Me displays a band that’s sharpened their knives, ready to go to work crafting infectious pop you can bounce about to while working on pretty much anything that comes your way.

One of the great things about Dead to Me is that you aren’t likely to get bogged down listening to one particular track over and over again, as only two songs go beyond the 3 minute mark.  “Lawrence” begins it all with that jagged club dance guitar, but the drums themselves sound as if you’re tapping your toes, not like your normal snare work. And that just takes you right along to another track that gives you a little bit of pep in the step, though “I Could Die” has a much more gritty guitar that hammers throughout those hypnotic melodies.  Strikingly, the guitar, at times, has a sunny disposition, which is odd considering the group hails from Belfast, not Cali, but you’ll be glad they’re utilizing such style.

“No More Words” takes a softer approach to the craft of Girls Names, as Neil Brogan’s vocals warmly float over the entire track.  It’s not like you’ll find too much different here, but Brogan manages to off-set the pep by slowly drawing out his vocals, which might remind listeners of early work by Tim Cohen. Still, it’s all done in short time, so you’re sort of taking at shot in the dark at finding various textures, that is until you get to the longest track on Dead to Me, “I Lose.”  There’s a cloudy coat that barely drapes itself over this song, and the guitar’s are furiously pumping through the track, and you can tell that this isn’t just your ordinary stab at rehashing things that have come before the band.  It’s at this point, while noticing the differences, that you can clearly say you see the Girls Names as a fully functioning entity.

There’s likely to be comparisons to band’s like Crystal Stilts, especially after listening to the record’s single “Seance on a Wet Afternoon.”  There’s a darkness to the track, and one that likely permeates from the title Dead to Me, but perhaps it’s not fair to lump the band in with anyone else.  Brogan clearly has similarities to other dark crooners of the pop cannon, but his performance here makes it’s own mark, often feeling a bit unsteady, but in a heartening manner.  Surely by this point, if you’ve made it through all ten tracks as you should have, then you’ll recognize that it’s simply a joy to involve yourself with Girls Names.  They’ve worked hard to tighten up the unit, flesh out the sound, and it pays off huge dividends for both the band and listeners alike.


Download: Girls Names – Seance on a Wet Afternoon [MP3]

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