New Music from John Wesley Coleman

Austin’s full of great songwriters, so occasionally you pass by one that you wish you had spent more time with during their career.  Sure, this guy is in the killer local outfit The Golden Boys, but I don’t have time to listen to every release put out in town (I’m Sorry!). Luckily for all of us here in Austin, John Wesley Coleman is alive and well. So well, in fact, that he’s going to release a new solo record later this November on Goner Records titled Bad Lady Goes to Jail. I’ve been jamming out to this release all day, and it’s got a bit of classic rock n’ roll sound, with little hints of garage-style recording throughout.  One thing I won’t call it is lo-fi.  The recording, while possibly on the low-end is brimming with solid work, so JWC should be proud of this recent effort.  For all our readers, you can catch John traveling the country; go check his tour dates HERE.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/01-John-Wesley-Coleman-Track01.mp3]

Download: John Wesley Coleman – Bad Lady Goes to Jail [MP3]

New Music from Kisses

We premiered “Bermuda,” the debut single from Kisses earlier this year, but now we want to bring you another great track from the band.  This jam is a little bit more of a mellow club banger, but it’s got this understated little bubbly bass popping in the background.  Personally, the vocals are pretty groovy–sort of up my alley. All this is in preparation for their release, The Heart of the Nightlife, which comes out in stores on November 16th.  We have a feeling that a lot of people will be slowly getting behind this as we get closer to the release date.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Kisses-Kisses.mp3]

Download: Kisses – Kisses [MP3]

New Music from Discodeine

Last week I raved about my man crush on former Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker, so I couldn’t resist running this track.  Sure, its not exactly what one thinks of with relation to JC, but his voice is so perfectly fitting to the electro work of Discodeine.  This is what all dance music should be like, if I made in my room on my laptop.  I’m just tossing this out there because Jarvis is one of the Guys I’d Go Gay For, so check out this song, and just chalk up another sweet tune that proves the sexual prowess of one of my favorite musicians.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Synchronize-feat.-Jarvis-Cocker-1.mp3]

Download: Discodeine – Synchronize (feat. Jarvis Cocker) [MP3]

New Tunes from Talbot Adams

What do you do when your rock n’ roll career is hampered by the birth of children? Well, in the case of Talbot Adams, you retreat to your home, turn the amps down from 11, and start writing kick ass songs.   His new Jack and Jesse EP, which is possibly inspired by the birth of his twin boys, contains four tracks, all of which are really short, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a lot of spirit and heart!  You can get said business by visiting Douchemaster Records, who consistently put out solid records for us all. Here’s a sample of Talbot’s new work.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/cinematic.mp3]

Download: Talbot Adams – Life is Good When Cinematic [MP3]

New Tunes from Yuck

While I might not be 100% behind the name of this group, I definitely can get behind their sound.  Yuck hails from the UK, and they’ve just signed an American deal with Fat Possum, which seems to be picking up lots of solid groups.  You might say they have a little bit of POBPAH in their sound, but the female vocals are a lot stronger, giving a youthful vibe to the group’s sound, while still keeping it in that gaze arena.  The band has the Georgia single coming out in the Stages on November 23rd, and you can look to find a whole full-length in 2011. Buen Proveche.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Georgia-wavv-1.mp3]

Download: Yuck – Georgia [MP3]

Tim Kasher – The Game of Monogamy

Rating: ★★½ · ·

It seems like Tim Kasher has been at it for years and years. His most renown projects include Cursive and The Good Life, but he finally wants the glory all to himself.  His first release under his own name, The Game of Monogamy, seems to work like much of his other projects, pulling auto-biographical references from his own life, laying them before the ears of the listener.

Oddly, “A Grown Man” begins with Tim’s statement: “I’m a grown man/I don’t know what I want,” which really puts the purpose of this entire album out in the open.  It seems that age hasn’t brought Tim too much clarity, though such difficulty has typically benefited his musical aspirations.  While he moves into brighter moments musically with “I’m Afraid I’m Gonna Die Here,” a song that uses a nice horn opening moment, the thematic element of struggling with self-worth once again dominates the lyrics.

It’s funny, but if you’ve been listening to Tim for years, as you probably should have been, it all seems like territory to easily visited time and time again.  The Game of Monogamy appears like a re-hash of a lot of his older songs, at least when it comes to the subject matter.  That being said, Tim’s storytelling never gets boring, despite the redundancy of ideas from album to album.  Keeping that in mind, the one thing that really lacks on this record, if you look through the lyrical homage to early works, is the music.  Even with The Good Life, Tim crafted these sweeping movements within his songs, mostly based upon the melody of his voice, but these new songs don’t seem to be as developed.  “Bad, Bad Dreams” has a nice horn arrangement, which seems to have become a favorite go-to move for Tim as of the last several years, but overall, the rest of the songs just doesn’t come off as elaborate as the work you would associate with him.  The guitar lines are just basic streaming, and the horns dominate a lot of the moments that used to seem intimate.

Of course, Tim Kasher always has a way to suck you back in with his openness, such as he does with “The Prodigal Husband.”  His memorable voice is able to carry the entire song, even with the light string (read: harp) work that softly dances in the background of the song.  Mid-song appears a nice little female accompaniment, which really gives a bit more depth to the song, making it one of the strongest pieces on this album.  Similarly, “Cold Love” is exactly the song you wanted Tim to write time and time again.  It’s got a nice little synthesizer in the background, and Tim’s voice changes pitch and tone, giving way to that heartache we all know he feels.  The man can still write a great track when he wants, and we’re all grateful for that.

Perhaps its old age, and perhaps its just that we’re all as jaded as Tim Kasher, but something about this record just really leaves you wanting more.  Usually his solo work relies upon his voice, with other instruments bringing the songs to life, but here, while much is the same, the horns and strings just don’t hold up to a guitar or throbbing electronic beat ; even his guitar seems absent throughout the entirety of The Game of Monogamy. While there are several great songs here, sadly, this is one Tim Kasher release, among the many I love, that I can’t whole-heartedly get behind.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/05-Cold-Love.mp3]

Download: Tim Kasher – Cold Love [MP3]

New Music from Cavalcade

The Cavalcade hail from Northwest UK, and, well, they definitely sound like it.  They’ve just released their latest album, Many Moons, and its precisely what we’ve all come to associate with that area of prolific musicians.  Influenced by the likes of Felt, they’ve got a casual bit of smooth swing, pristine guitar cuts, and whispering vocals. It’s one of those records that just has you casually tapping your foot beneath your desk, falling in love, hoping that no one else around notices.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/01-Meet-You-in-the-Rain-1.mp3]

Download: The Cavalcade – Meet You in the Rain

New Music from Gentleman Jesse and His Men

Make no mistake, Gentleman Jesse and His Men have been one of my favorite groups over the last few years.  No matter what happens, I always return to their simplistic power-pop, and pogo about my room like a child.  This is probably what we all needed a little bit more of in our life, isn’t it? Well, lucky for you, Jesse and his posse have released a brand new 7′ titled She’s a Trap.  I picked it up at his show not too far back, but you can grab it from his label Douchemaster.  Keep an eye on this chap, as there’s surely a new record right around the corner, but for now, here’s the title track off the recent release.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/trap.mp3]

Download: Gentleman Jesse and His Men – She’s a Trap [MP3]

Violens – Amoral

Rating: ★★★★ ·

For years Violens have slowly been compiling EPs and mixtapes, all pleasing to a greater audience, allowing them to build up a fan base before releasing Amoral.  That it hit the shores of the UK is a sure sign that the band owes a great deal more of their musical influences to the British than to most American bands.  Regardless, they’ve earned their successes and praise, and these twelve songs remain just another example of the band’s craft.

Amoral opens with this ridiculously bass line, and then a twangy guitar comes in, joined by a bit of echo atmospherics. Here is where you notice the British touches, as the band seems to pay homage to the acid house/pop blend of bands like The Stone Roses.  You can almost dance to it, but the actual soundscape of opener, “The Dawn of Your Happiness is Rising,” is ultimately more rewarding than mile dance numbers.  They’ll stick with this stylistic approach, adding bits of funk to go along with a more soothing vocal, as they do in “Full Collision.”  Easily you can see the swaying hips of every hipster in town, especially when the gently obscured “oh oh ohs” rise and fall in the background.

“Acid Reign” is an easy choice for your modern single, as the guitar line definitely has this driving sensibility to it, but as is par for the course, the band covers the easily accessible pop elements beneath clever piano lines, adding a bit more of creativity.  Still, the gunfire drumming is phenomenal, which probably helps establish a good rapport with audiences looking for a little jangle and shimmy with their singles. Another winner of a track, though they all remain as such, is “Violent Sensation Descends,” a song that seems to hold a past with the darker psychedelic pop bands of the 60s, typically British, again.  But, what differentiates this track from simple rehash is the fact that the vocal delivery has a warmth to it, but in a catchy modern manner.  Something about this song will stick with you for days, or more.

Let’s not look at this record as merely a collection of singles, as that’s clearly not the point of Violens.  You can trace the band’s work all the way back to their previous careers in Lansing-Dreiden, what was then deemed an art-project of sorts.  Having that mentality allows for the band to experiment a bit more with modern song cycles, and while you’ll still find straight pop songs like “Another Strike Restrained,” the band still has it within themselves to offer up dark mini-collages such as the album’s title track, “Amoral.”  It’s their experimentation within modern boundaries that makes it all seem so clever, and unique. After all, that’s what we seem to be looking for from our modern indie heroes, a willingness to push boundaries of various genres, and Amoral does precisely that.   Perhaps this is yet another juncture in the band’s career before they shift gears and confound us all again, but they’ve earned that right.  Who really cares what how they shift and change when they can write pop songs so intimate and challenging simultaneoulsy?

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/03-Acid-Reign-1.mp3]

Download: Violens – Acid Reign [MP3]

Adam Haworth Stephens – We Live on Cliffs

Rating: ★★★½ ·

Two Gallants is a rocking good time, so what would we see when Adam Haworth Stephens decided to go it alone for his first solo release, We Live on Cliffs.  It’s precisely what you don’t expect, as aside from his distinctive vocals, you find a young man fleshing out his sound, exploring territory that’s familiar to him, though not necessarily associated with his work.

When we first jump into his solo debut, you can immediately see that Stephens wasn’t too sure about how far he wished to take this venture, as opening “Praises In Your Name” definitely has some alignment with the tunes of his main gig.  It has that little bit of twangy swing to it, and you might find it hard to see his disassociate his recognizable vocals from his prior outings.

However, when you encounter the softly picked “Vengeance Come,” you begin to see that he does have the capability of establishing his own sound.  A female vocal accompaniment allows the song to take on a much for folk-rooted sound, coming off in the same genre as other bands like The Cave Singers.  The song has a subtle quality, giving the listener plenty of time to just sit back and absorb the melodies, and the ornate instrumentation.  Similarly, “Heights of Diamond” goes the route of a slow-walking number.  It’s at this point where Adam Haworth Stephens really begins to distance his vocal, using less of that throaty raspiness, giving off a more calming presence.  Using this approach definitely provides a mellower quality to the songs themselves, as Stephens doesn’t sound as urgently rushed as he has at times.

We Live on Cliffs definitely uses musical patterns that continue to build upon each other. “The Cities That You’ve Burned” slowly creeps along, but eventually bouncing drum beats and barroom piano sort of give the track a bit of extra momentum.  You can’t help but get carried away as Stephens’ vocals soar in and out with the rhythm of the song itself.  “Southern Lights” uses that same piano sound, with a little bit of a southern drawl to eek out the emotion, and the chorus will certainly grab you, if you haven’t been hooked by this slow jangle already.

By the time you’ve wrapped up the entire listen, you’ll probably note that there’s nothing wrong with any of the sounds or construction elements.  Given, at times there’s not a lot of differentiation from track to track, but its clear that Adam intended to take on an entirely different approach here, giving himself a warmer, fire-side folk appeal.  While you can knock that like-minded song pattern, you have to admit that as you pour through We Live on Cliffs, every song seems to have its own strength, its own ability to stand on its own merits.  Isn’t that really all you want from a good songwriter?  If we didn’t know Adam Haworth Stephens could write great songs, this album is yet another reminder for us all.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/02-Second-Mind-1.mp3]

Download: Adam Haworth Stephens – Second Mind  [MP3]

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