The Blow – The Blow

The-BlowRating: ★★★☆☆

Listening to The Blow has always been a mild obsession, but I’m pretty sure every girl I dated since 2007 ended up with “Parentheses” on some mix tape of mine.  But, after spinning a good deal of time with The Blow, it’s good to see that Khaela Maricich hasn’t dropped off much since the departure of Yacht.  In fact, my book has her better off, as this record’s bursting with fun.

The work on previous efforts from The Blow is still prevalent, as this seems mostly like a continued experiment for Khaela’s voice, with the beats coming in second place.  “Make It Up” holds tight to that formula, with Maricich operating on various pitches throughout the track.  It picks up in the back end, uniting vocal samples atop vocal sample. But, in writing about a record by the project, it’s always difficult to work through by just talking about the beats that back up the vocal.  However, I think the range in the vocals are what ultimately make the record more than enjoyable.

On a track like “A Kiss,” you get the whole spectrum of the offering.  It opens with a semi-sultry croon from our frontwoman, paced playfully in the foreground.  It sucks you in immediately, and moments later, there’s a slight rise in the pitch, while the beats stutter.  From there, it floats off into a loftier vocal realm that adds a new level to the track.  It’s all complimented by the backing vocals soothingly approaching from the background.  These are the sorts of songs where The Blow really excel, showing that despite a very simple approach, there’s still some dynamism in the process.

For me, part of my whole experience also circled around the search for the standout track, and for the most part, I think that’s where this record might have a step above its predecessors.  Each track on here is purposeful, and none of the above should be discarded during your listening experience. That being said, I’ve really been drawn to “Hey” during my last several spins.  It starts with heavier pulsating beat, carefully building tension before the song slowly rises to its musical climax.  You can feel it in the vocals, as a lighter keyboard begins to accent the driving rhythm; I especially like how the song holds out longer than expected, then unleashes the hook.  It’s definitely a song that’s piqued my interest.

All in all The Blow have another great little listen on their hands.  They’ve never been knocking down the doors of creativity, but they’ve always given the audience something that’s ultimately rewarding/endearing.  It’s becoming increasingly harder to look away from the group, especially when things are as focused and enjoyable as The Blow.



Catching Up With RJD2

You know, we leave a lot to be desired when it comes to covering indie hip-hop. This post proves we acknowledge you might want to nod yo head.

RJD2 has put out some pretty sweet records to kill time to and the latest album will be out soon, October 8th if you must know. The album is called More Is Than Isn’t and you can stream all of it over at Potholes In My Blog. This track features a collaboration with Phonte Coleman. It is a slick jam.

RJD2 will be at FFF8.

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Freakout With Beaty Heart

I am not a big Animal Collective fan, save for Merriweather Post Pavillion. It was a consensus no brainer best-of for us. The follow-up, not so much.

Thankfully, it seems that Beaty Heart has picked up with the various bears and creatures of the collective could not and put out this sweet little piece of psych-pop. It shares the lovingly effected vocal echo, the conflict of presence and distance, and building layers around a wonderful guitar hook. It is quite fun. LOOOOK OOUUUTTT!!

Debut record from the band, Mixed Blessings, lands 11/11 on Nusic.

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Drifting Pop from Cross Record

crossrecordIt looks like Austin lost another great musician when Emily Cross, the young songstress behind Cross Record moved to Chicago.  It’s a shame, as her work, which is being re-released by Ba Da Bing Records is something truly special; I think it would have added an extra dynamic to our current music scene.  Be Good surfaced at the end of 2013, but with the backing of her new home, including this brilliant track, I figure her music is about to get a lot more coverage. The darkly emotional instrumentation fits her voice, making it hard to escape the incredible work that fills this album.

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Austin, The Return of Art Disaster!

ARTDISASTERNo16_october3rd_red7+holymountain (5)Every year as the city, and our visitors, gear up for ACL Fest, there’s something special that always spotlights the city’s talents, reminding us that we’ve got quite a bit of talent here in town.  Art Disaster has been going on for a few years, and we’re happy to be one of the sponsors for this event.  You’ll have two venues , Red 7 and Holy Mountain, offering great bands like Driver Friendly, Good Field and The Black and White Years, not to mention drinks and the cool people of A-town milling all about, including us! If you RSVP, you can get in to see the all the acts for a measly $3.  Pretty much no excuse for you guys since it’s cheap, and you already took off Friday for the festival.


Download: Good Field – Tell Me Ida [MP3]

New Tune from The Stevens

stevensNot too long ago The Stevens released their debut EP via Chapter Music, and now that you’ve had time to absorb that gem, we’ve got a brand new song from the Aussies.  With fresh news that the label will be releasing their first full length, A History of Hygiene, it seems only fair that we accompany such great news with this scrappy pop number. I like the bouncing rhythm that is immediately established by the drumming, and the slight bit of echo on the vocals.  When gang vocals ring, the track really hits its stride, stepping in line with the ringing guitars.  The album will be available on November 1st, finishing off a great 2013 for the band…and you.

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Gambles – Trust

gamRating: ★★★★½

Admittedly, I’m a music consumer on a massive scale.  It means that I get to enjoy tons of great bands, but on the downside, it takes a lot to emotionally move me.  In 2013, I’ve had that happen once with Majical Cloudz; it’s happening again as I spend repeated listens to the debut album from Gambles, Trust.

From the instant that “Angel” came through my speakers, the sincerity in the work of Matthew Siskin, aka Gambles, was extremely clear to me.  There’s a slight echo in the way his vocals have been recorded, as if your best friend had you recorded his rooftop ramblings.  However, these aren’t ramblings; these are well penned lyrics of life, love and all the things in between.  I guess it’s no surprise that the following track is titled “Rooftops,” though the strumming of acoustic guitar on this track is much more intimate and softer than the opening tune.  An entire verse seems to be sung via whistling, aligning Siskin with troubadours of our hearts from days of old; it’s striking how such a simple touch can seem so personal.

The incredibly moving moments from Trust continue into the third track with “So I Cry Out.”  It was this song that really made me fall in love with what’s being created within the confines of this album.  As that music consumer, some moments of creation have become predictable to me.  So much so that I can typically figure out where a lyric or note will start and end.  This is not so here, as Matthew holds on to notes for his own sake, often elongating syllables for the emotional effect; this slight personal affectation has allowed him to stand out among many of his peers, if not all of them.

But don’t think that this debut album by Gambles is short on solid listening after the powerful opening tracks.  It’d be easy to write and fawn over everything on the record, but I’ve taken to loving “Penny for a Grave” the last few days.  The humming is a nice alternative to the traditional whistle, but the lyrical substance is really great.  My personal favorite line from the track: “is it the smell of your old bones/calling me home again.”  Even more personal to me is the fact that you can’t simply decipher the lyrics, they’re shrouded in metaphors that I dare not attempt to uncover.  But, that’s what makes it personal, that’s what makes it special; I can ascribe my own meaning to these tracks.  “265” is another such tune that I’ve taken a liking to, as well.  There’s a rise and fall to the song, in both the vocals and the musical accompaniment.  Siskin does well too with his guitar playing, alternating between soft strum and heavy-handed stroke, and always with purpose.

It’s difficult to see past the bullshit sometimes, and even more difficult when you’re only working with your guitar and voice.  But, somehow, somewhere, Matthew Siskin has created a gift for listeners.  You can rush to rip off the wrapping or you can choose to go slow, but one thing can be assured: you’ll never ever regret the day you picked up the first full-length from Gambles.  May Trust be our first introduction to a long and remarkably affecting career.


Show Review: Terry Malts @ Mohawk (9.26)

There are just some bands that you’re going to fawn over, so I’m always glad when I get a chance to see Terry Malts.  It didn’t hurt that they had some great local acts supporting them before their set, which made for an all-around enjoyable night for us.  Staying up late on a school night, well worth it.

You can read on for my thoughts and such things, not to mention B.Gray’s photos of the evening.

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Swinging Pop Ditty from The Teen Age

The-Teen-AgeI’m in serious need of a pick me up today, as I spent my sleeping time rocking to the Terry Malts.  So I’ve turned to The Teen Age, who have just been prepping the release of a new 7″ via Paper Cup Music.  I like the way the guitars are being used here, not to mention the sort of classic doo-wop sound in the vocals; it’s definitely making me nostalgic for sitting around the house rocking with my mom’s tape collection.  Anyways, just dug this track, so I figured I’d share it with you all. Here’s to the weekend.

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