On October 14th, the Magnetic Fields will be blessing us with their ukulele driven baroque pop. The show takes place at the Paramount Theater, and you can be sure that this show will be one of those moments that will live on in your memory for years to come, if not for a lifetime, at least those are my expectations–thus why I bought a front row ticket. Stephin Merritt is clever and genius, and he’s been doing this for well over a decade, almost two. Label me stoked. Click here to buy tickets for the Magnetic Fields Show
Let’s face it, for the last year or so we have heard whispers of how grand this band was supposed to be. Some of us might have even heard their Wizard of Ahhs EP. It’s hard for a band with all that hype to step up to bat and hit one out of the park, but for this listener, they actually did.
For those of you who checked out that EP, then the first song, “Hit the Heartbrakes,” won’t be a big surprise. The song is filled with dueling male and female vocals, and the ferocious beat throughout the entire song is destined to make you move.
They follow that with two new songs, both which maintain the same power of the opener. They blast through these two songs with such fervor that its hard not to admire a young band with such spirit. It might not be the most original thing out there, but it holds true to the form the band has established.
Then they go back to the safety of their EP with “Hurricane Jane.” It’s a slower song, that definitely is defined by its bass lines and Reggie Youngblood’s voice. The chorus is probably the highlight here, at least for these ears.
“I’m Making Eyes at You” is another new song, this one with a bit of the slow moving dance music that was so prevalent in the eighties. Youngblood shows some range on his voice, but the pace of the album kind of slows down here, which is where it makes its first misstep.
Then its back to the oldies. The next two songs are both the remaining songs from Wizard of Ahhs. “I’m Not Going to Teach Your Boyfriend to Dance” is probably the best song on the album. This song should make lots of year end lists concerning favorite songs to dance to at a party. It’s really hard not to like this song at least a little bit.
After that we visit a few skippable songs. There is some redeeming qualities in both “Love Me Already” and “I Wanna Be Your Limousine,” but the lyrics come off kind of cliche. An example from the former song is “with friends like these/who needs enemies.” I guess it just kind of weakens the songs for me, or just shows the youthful qualities in the band’s writing.
They close the album out with a little bit of the synth and a touch of the high hat. Those are the dominant instruments, even with the guitar all over this song. The disappointment comes with the rap/spoken word element that kicks in throughout the song. It kind of reminds me of that moment when Deborah Harry thought she could rap. She couldn’t, and Black Kids can’t. It was a disappointing ending to the movie, to the partie if you will.
All in all, this was a worthwhile album for me to listen to throughout the day. Spirit is one thing this band has, and although the dueling male/female vocals get a little weary, it didn’t bore me quite as much as I expected. If you need a fun album to throw on to get your spirits up, or to throw on the mix when your cruising with the windows down, then this is the one for you.
Admittedly, I was way into that new-Emo that came out of Lawrence back in 1997. I was hopelessly devoted to The Get Up Kids, and traveled to see them over a dozen times. I followed Matt Pryor, the lead singer, onto his New Amsterdams project. Now, he has a solo release, done completely on his own. I couldn’t be more excited. It comes out July 29th on Vagrant. You can listen to the album Confidence Man at Matt’s MySpace page.
For those of you that love all things Bright Eyes, it might come as a shock that Conor Oberst is set to release his solo debut on Merge Records. Does this mean the end of Bright Eyes, or is it just an alternative, or a break from tradition. Regardless, this album is sure to please most fans, and possibly garner some new ones. You can listen to the album in its entirety at conoroberst.com.
Dear Arts and Crafts (and Broken Social Scene),
You really had me fooled. From the minute you threw You Forgot It In People at me, I was hooked; I pledged allegiance to your label and its output. I trusted you; I considered you a friend.
You kept dishing it out, and even the first song on this record, “Something for All of Us” had me thirsty. It was murky, with driving percussion that just sounded like I needed it. You knew I would just listen to the first song and buy it. I now call you out, tricksters!
There was magic, albeit momentary, then it disappeared. Immediately Brendan jumps into a song that eliminates the magic. It’s really slow, which isn’t a fault, but a majority of the song sounds like he just re-recorded the end of a Broken Social Scene song as the band faded away.
I thought that “Hit the Wall,” with the pace of the song alone would bring it back to the goodness, but there just doesn’t seem to be a focus in this song. I just couldn’t get that feeling back. So you thought you’d let him get away with a soft acoustic song, “Snowballs and Icicles.” It was good, but then it ended – how is one of the better songs on this album the shortest?
So you try and get groovier with the next couple of numbers, but this is when I caught your ploy. You’ve been covering Canning‘s voice over this whole album. Sure, he doesn’t have the greatest range, but it sounds as if you disguised it, hidden behind a mask of harmonies, staying low in the mix.
I got lost in the next couple of songs, spending more time trying to make myself like this than anything else. Even after those two songs, “Possible Grenade” showed me promise, then it just floated way off into nowhere. That’s exactly what happened with the rest of the album, and in time, I am sure the whole album will float off into the back of my collection
I know that Broken Social Scene is a collective of sorts, but I don’t know where Canning fits in. I suppose his ideas are fleshed out by the rest of the band; or else he just completely went far off his usual course here. You unleashed him Arts and Crafts. You let him put out an entire album that meanders in and out of listenability, often within the same song. I hold you responsible for this. I don’t want my money back; I enjoy the majority of your output, but I would like the four straight hours I spent listening to this album back. You owe me. Or else we are not friends.[audio:https://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/under-the-stairs.mp3]
Nomo is an instrumental band from Michigan, who seem to have everything going their way at the moment. Accompanying the band will be local pop darlings Loxsly, who have always seemed like a mellower version of Voxtrot on record. But their live show has really improved, and they pack a little more bite live. Sample the musical styling of Nomo right here:[audio:https://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/brainwave.mp3]
Download: Nomo – Brain Wave [MP3]
We here at Austin Town Hall are quite fond of Oxford Collapse, so when we got ourselves this little piece of magic, we had to post it. The song is called “The Birthday Wars” and it comes off the new album BITS, which is going to be released by Sup Pop on August 5th. The guitar work alone makes this song for me. Look for our review of BITS soon.[audio:https://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/birthday_wars.mp3]
The highly anticipated release of Okkervil River‘s The Stand-Ins has finally let us get our hands on a single to toss your way. This song has an additional singer on it, or Will has done a lot of work on his vocals. The rest of the song seems really low-key, but in a throwback to old Okkervil River.
Don’t forget that they will be playing this year at Austin City Limits, and I’m sure they’ll schedule another show around that time for all of us to enjoy.
The Stand-Ins comes your way on September 9th via Jagjaguwar Records.[audio:https://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/lost-coastlines.mp3]
This album kicks off with “Jager Yoga,” which-in my opinion-could have come off the last record by CSS. It’s got a throbbing bass line, some solid beats, backed by more prominent guitar work. It’s like a continuation, but in that, it kind of prepares you to travel with the band.
Suddenly, the next track brings in some heavy guitar work. This song resembles The Sounds, which bring in the full power of the band, giving them a different route to travel than just the typical dance track. It’s as if they came to rock, to melt faces if you will.
Then they go back to the old pattern with “Reggae All Night,” which kind of takes the album back a step, but sure enough, they bring back out the guitars in “Give Up.” I don’t know if the juxtaposition in songs builds a steady flow for a complete album, but most listeners will see a band with a new purpose.
The next three tracks offer something a little different, something a little aged. “Beautiful Song” and “Move” take the band as close to the eighties as they have been before, and in all honesty, it works for them. You can tell they put a little more focus on the instruments here, still creating rhythms we can all dance too, but without the requirement of blasting the beats in our ears.
“Beautiful Achieve” is a stranger phenomenon than other tracks. They slow it down here, but use the samples and loops that established the band. It’s an interesting touch to this album, throwing in a little variety.
“Air Painter” finally brings it all to a close, but it brings you to a new realization, quite different than the opening track. If I’m not mistaken, The Sounds singer, Maja Ivarrson, makes an appearance. The song is great – hands down, but it does come off a bit like a cover song.
The emphasis for me, and for the reference to that other band, is that this album lets CSS out of the the strict dance routine. Each song is over 3 minutes long, which means the band spent more time writing the songs, and fleshing out the sounds, allowing the songs themselves to carry the beat, rather than the beat carrying the song. I think its an impressive step, even if sounds like some other band did it before It shows the band stepping out, and stepping up. At this point, there is lots of room for CSS to move towards for their next album, which should be a great one.
This is a good album, especially since it leaves you wanting more from the band in the future. It might not go down in history as their best, but it certainly solidifies them as a band to look out for in the future. Cheers to you Sub Pop Records; just another good release after another.
Check out the single from the album, “The Rad is Dead (Rage)”:[audio:https://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/rat-is-dead-rage.mp3]
Now that we’ve got you set up for the weekend, let’s start planning our week. Alkaline Trio is as powerful a three-piece as you will come across, and they come to La Zona Rosa to win us over this coming Monday night. You can check out our thoughts on their newest record and sample some tunes by going back in time.
You can still buy tickets to the Alkaline Trio show here. See you there!