Another Hit from Literature

artworks-000086575693-phkdjg-t500x500Listening to the new Literature album, Chorus, I get a little teary eyed that I only got to help put out their first record, Arab Spring.  I wish I could be part of this great new release.  There’s tons of great indiepop moments throughout, filling the LP with soft touches and energetic bursts of delighting pop music.  This latest single is one of the more spirited tracks on the album; I personally am in love with the sound of the guitars on the mix here.  It’s a great fucking album, and you’ll be bummed if you don’t get your hands on it as soon as you get the chance; it is being released by Slumberland Records on August 19th.



Blissful Pop from Finnmark!

finnI’ve been following the lads in Finnmark for some time, and while they’ve been quiet for the most part, I’m happy to share this new track from the band with you.  The vocals are a bit deeper in tone than on their previous work, but the guitars are still as intoxicating as ever.  These guys write the sort of music that makes you feel good about yourself and about your day, so you’d do best to press play right now.  Wait to find yourself totally hooked around the 1.40 minute mark when things take off.

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Great Tune from The Growlers

groLast year, The Growlers found their way into our Top 10 Albums of 2013, but it looks like they’re aiming for a repeat with the release of their new record, Chinese Fountain.  They’re off to a great start with this swaggering new single they released the other day; it’s filled with ringing guitars work and a really catchy chorus…you know, the type you want to sing with your friends.  I guess I’m just one of those folks who can’t get enough from this band; they always mix a certain catchiness with a bit of hip grit.  You can grab their record from Everloving Records on September 23rd.

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Show Preview: A Giant Dog @ Mohawk (7.31)


Date Thursday, July 31st
Location Mohawk
Doors 9:00 PM
Tickets $7

So many great shows, so little time.  And tonight you get to see three incredible Austin acts tearing up the Mohawk.  It goes without saying that A Giant Dog, who are recording their 3rd LP, are one of Austin’s better live bands.   But, even with that in mind, you need to get there early to catch the other two openers.  Trustees kick off the night; they’re one of the most impressive bands in town at the moment, though we’ve yet to here recorded material, so you’re only chance to hear them is at Mohawk.  And, Hundred Visions will also be rocking in the middle of the line-up; they never put on a bad show, at least in my opinion.  So you’ve got three bands. Three killer bands.  Plus, you’re likely to run into Norman Wanklord.


Download: A Giant Dog – To Put it Bluntly [MP3]

Hikes – Hikes EP

hikesRating: ★★★½☆

Sometimes I like to test out a band on my fist listen by putting on their album while I am preoccupied. Its a little game I like to play called “Can you grab my attention?” The idea behind it is to see if the music is interesting or powerful enough to climb to the top of my cognitive pyramid. It also is also a great way to divine the most immediately noticeable tune of the album.
I decided to put on Hikes’ EP during a slow afternoon at work. I had heard the name tossed around in conversation and decided it was time for a listen. I popped in one ear bud and hit play while I caught up on email. That was the plan at least. Halfway through the intro of Spring Forward I had popped in my second ear bud and stopped working. Sorry boss, thank you Hikes.
It’s hard to find something I don’t like about this EP. Which is honestly strange as Hikes employs a few musical pet peeves of mine. First off, they are undeniably Prog. Ok sorry, they are math folk, but let’s be honest the “math” genre is a bunch of Prog players trying to avoid being called progressive rock. Second, as a guitar player myself, I almost unilaterally hate tapping. It always make me think of an Ibanez add of an airbrushed Steve Vai with awkwardly long, highlighted hair. Tapping is a flashy technique that almost always results in an audible loss of tone. And you know what? It’s a guitar, not a piano.
That being said, Hikes has managed to meld intricate tapping melodies and counterpoint with standard picked riffs and rhythms in a way that does not detract from their tone. My hats are off to the Hikes guitar players.
Hikes’ songwriting style is expansive and free flowing. They note water as being a main inspiration, and it’s easy to hear that in their songs. Their songs go through quiet, thoughtful phases that evoke a slow moving creek wandering through pastures. Then, they surprise you by turning the bend and quickly transforming into a rushing rapid of notes and syncopation. As a listener you feel very much like a passenger on this river, drifting off during the gentler sections only to be pulled back in through stretches that demand your active attention.
After making it through the lengthy EP, I couldn’t help but wonder how these songs would work out in an album setting. The 4 track EP is already nearly the length of most pop albums, clocking in at just over 25 minutes. I am not sure that a full album worth of Hikes’ intense, meandering songs could captivate the average listener’s attention for more than a few songs at a time, or even for the entirety of a 8 minute song. That may be the point, though. Hikes’ is surely not your average band. While searching and striving for the zenith of musical creativity, they appear to be intentionally ignoring the lowest common denominator. If you are someone who enjoys a challenging listen, I would recommend this EP. If you are someone who prefers to consume his audio in 3 minute bits… you know what, give yourself an aural stretch. It’ll be worth it.


Song Premiere: Lace Curtains

LaceCurtainsSunsetBlvd3grabMany of us remember Michael Coomer for his time in Austin giants Harlem, but with their now hiatus status, Coomer has had more time to focus on his Lace Curtains project.  After The Garden of Joy and the Well of Loneliness impressed just about everyone in 2012, it’s just been announced that we have a new album of material to look forward to this year.  Offering us a preview is this great new track I’ve been jamming all morning called “Wilshire and Fairfax”.  It’s a groovy, breezy sort of pop number with some elements of doo-wop that would be great for your early morning.  From past work, I’m expecting the entire album to be just as superb.

Pick up the new LP entitled A Signed Piece of Paper on October 23rd via Female Fantasy Records.

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Nice Bit of Indiepop from Working

moreThis little gem popped up last week from Shelflife Records, whom we adore.  Working is a Rhode Island quartet, who are making some pleasantries, though they’re doing it with a heavy-handed touch.  Singer Catherine’s got a great softness to her voice, but it works against (and with) the distorted guitars that are ringing out of your speakers.  It’s not everyday that an indiepop act bangs out a track that bursts over the four minute mark.  You can grab the More Weight EP from the label HERE, or just enjoy the beautiful stream below.

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Jenny Lewis – The Voyager

the-voyager-1404940221Rating: ★★★½☆

Jenny Lewis, long time indie star, has been making a lot of waves recently with this new album, yes, but with her star-studded music video for “Just One Of The Guys.” Regardless, this lady has put in a lot of time and effort into her musical career and many projects she’s worked on and all the buzz around the Voyager is well deserved, as it’s a joy to listen to from start to finish.

Last time around on her solo effort on Acid Tongue, Lewis got mixed reviews when it came to the reception, but 2008 is long ago and a lot can happen in six years, as this album is a testament to. Her songwriting takes center stage, and each track is either a story from the past or a commentary on the changing times; of love and lost and what exactly it means to be in Jenny Lewis’ shoes. The first track that grabs you just so happens to be the opener, but what reaches out to me is the guitar riff and not the songwriting. “Head Underwater,” though not devoid of witty and reflective lyrics, seems a little bland until about halfway through the track where this precision guitar riff and some backing “oohs” pulls you in to this gypsy folk funk-twisted rock. The beat of this track is quick and Lewis’ voice is all power and commands the song in all its hops and skips. Next up you get a little deeper into this groovy take on bluesy rock with “She’s Not Me, ”which is one of my favorites from the record, complete with a string breakdown and guitar solo outro.

As the album progresses you begin to focus more and more on the songwriting and therein the storytelling that is to be found here. Deeper tracks like “Late Bloomer” and the title track,” The Voyager,” both give you full stories to reflect in and on. The first of these two tracks delves into the past of the narrator, recounting and retelling when she was sixteen. It’s obvious that Lewis has a vast amount of experience to draw on and spin into tales of intrigue. “The Voyager” closes the album by starting off with some epic string arrangements only to scale it back to just Lewis’ vocals and some acoustic guitar. You can here the simplistic brilliance in the songwriting through the choral tag:  “If you wanna get to heaven get out of this world–” she takes simple life instances and turns them into deeper reflections.

My criticism of this album is that it feels a little too easy to listen to. While that may seem to be a ridiculous critique to you, dear reader, there’s a small part of me that worries the ease of listening may detract from the overall longevity of the record, as I’ve yet to really live with this album for a while. Time will tell if The Voyager can withstand its own voyages.

Touring w/ a Band: A Handy Guide with A. Sinclair (Part 6)

asinclairIt’s that time folks! We get to update you on the road travels of our friend Brendan Bond, who filled us in on the latest exploits in his life on tour with A. Sinclair and What Made Milwaukee Famous.  They’ve been traveling all over the Midwest and the South, and they’re working their way home to us.  Brendan briefly filled us in on his life today.  Here’s Mr. Bond from the road. Read more

Give Wand a Listen

wandoI probably haven’t told you how much I enjoy Wand, but now seems like the right time, especially since they just unleashed a new jam today.  “Broken Candle” is the second shortest track on the record, so it’s easily digestible; it starts with a bit of a psychedelic stomp to it, though there’s a bit more of a collectivist pop bit as the tune progresses.  The album, Ganglion Reef, has a great deal of fuzzy elements to it, but they walk this fine line between being noisy and radio friendly.  Check out the release on August 26th via God? Records.



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