New Music from Teens

What’s the best new music your $3 can buy?  In my opinion, it’s gotta be the new self-titled record from Teens.  It’s the perfect short little release for summertime, filled with bits of garage rock, hints of psychedelia, and perhaps a hint of classic surf twang.  The vocals are a bit gritty, but you can’t deny the passionate approach of these guys.  Each song breezes in, making you shuffle your feet just a bit, then goes off into the next song before you’ve had a chance to sit down and breathe. If you want to have a wet n’ will summer filled with hooks and debauchery, I suggest you choose the Teens to be the soundtrack.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/02-OLay.mp3]

Download: Teens – O’Lay [MP3]

The Wooden Birds – Two Matchsticks

Rating: ★★★ · ·

It’s not like Andrew Kenny is new in town, so if you haven’t heard of his work before, you better get back to your homework.  But, that being said, his work with American Analog Set has seemed to dominate discussions, at least in comparison to his other projects.  While he made small steps away from that with the first Wooden Birds release, Magnolia, it appears he can clearly put the past aside, as Two Matchsticks is his best work date.

The meandering guitar line, softly walking across your speakers on “Folly Club,” is something that has come up often in Kenny’s work, as he’s really simplified his compositions of late.  What does stand out upon the first track is Leslie Sisson, who has spent time with Matt Pond PA (Matt is also all over this album).  Her voice is the perfect accompaniment for Andrew’s gentle warmth, providing almost a folk aspect to the minimal indie rock sound. Listening to the title track from Two Matchsticks, you continue to immerse yourself in a bit of folk, with the group giving what might just be a small nod to Iron and Wine.  This should come as no surprise, as the recording was done in a small bedroom in Austin, as Sam B. used to do in the golden years.

While the proper pacing might lack at times for The Wooden Birds, it’s the differentiation of presentation that really appeals to you on this LP.  For instance, Sisson takes control of the lead vocal on “Baby Jeans,” which provides a different dynamic, though the music sounds similar.  But, that’s the thing this round that makes the album a new step for Kenny and his mates, they share in the songwriting/singing duties fairly equally, giving the record a wider range than what you might have found on Magnolia.

Still, there’s something classic to the way the lyrics are being written on Two Matchsticks.  In a time when many are likely to shirk literary responsibilities in favor or obscure references or “carefree” (read careless) lyrics, things go differently in this land.  While I have no idea about the narrators in the songs, at least you can see story lines,  and personable notes within the lines, allowing listeners to make those connections with either the band, or themselves.  This isn’t to say this Oxford English here, a la Colin Meloy, but the crafting of the phrases and the stories within the songs should definitely be something that piques your interest.

You know, the first dozen listens to this record, and it might be fewer for most, may not strike you as anything breathtaking or otherworldly, but give Two Matchsticks just a bit more time.  Just as you begin to find things rather drab, you discover lyrical gems, drawing yo closer into the landscape of the songs, such as “Too Pretty to Say Please,” laying in wait for you near the end of the record.  If anything, those extra listens will lead you to see the careful little touches made by Kenny and The Wooden Birds, leaving you with a fairly remarkable listen.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/02-Two-Matchsticks.mp3]

Download: The Wooden Birds – Two Matchsticks [MP3]

Show Review: Antlers @ Emos (6/7)

As the heat beats down upon us, it’s always nice to find yourself enthralled in a decent evening of carousing with the locals, especially if said shenanigans include a night filled with incredible musical accompaniment.  I’m pretty sure that’s what all of us got over at Emos on Tuesday night, with Antlers and Little Scream giving us just what we needed.

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Show Preview: Not in the Face CD Release @ the ND (6/10)

Date Friday, June 10th
Location The ND Venue
Doors 800p
Tickets $7 @ the Door

Many shows have come through our town, but we wanted to spotlight a local show for one of the hottest new acts in town, Not in the Face.  The duo are known for their rollicking live shows, pummeling audience with their straight-up rock n’ roll sound.  Besides, you gotta get your hands on their album, as it’s your job (and ours) to support the local Austin scene!  Plus, you’ll get the benefit of seeing several other Austin area acts prior to the night’s highlight such as Lights Go Out and The Ripe.  Preview a track from NitF below!

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/03-Downtown-Girl.mp3]

Download: Not in the Face – Downtown Girl [MP3]

New Music from Male Bonding

It’s been a crazy few months for stalwart label Sub Pop; they’ve been putting out killer record after killer record, and it doesn’t seem like they’re going to stop anytime soon.  Today they announced the release for the newest album from Male Bonding titled Nothing Hurts, hitting stores on August 30th.  This one is going to be a heck of a good time if you’re going off the featured track, “Bones.”  It’s a bit noisy, as far as the guitar sound goes, but it maintains this perfect sense of melody throughout, which really has us excited.  It won’t take long before you’re blasting this song around your office all day.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Male-Bonding-Bones.mp3]

Download: Male Bonding – Bones [MP3]

New Music from Hit the Jackpot

What? You haven’t heard of Hit the Jackpot?  Well, we’ve got you covered.  The group hail from Australia, and they’re lined up with the excellent people over at Chapter Music, home to ATH favorites The Crayon Fields.  They’re about to release a cassette with CM, but it’s going to be super-limited, so us US folks might find it hard to get our hands on it, but that doesn’t mean we can’t head over the band’s site and give it a listen.  The Holiday Tape is seven tracks, and all I’ve listened to sound pretty spectacular, in my humble opinion.  The opener, “Holiday” sounds like something you would have expected Sonic Youth to do, or you expect them to do, when they allow Kim to take the microphone, and use her gruffly warm vocals to approximate a pop song.  These are the kind of things that win our hearts over at ATH, so give it a chance to make your day.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Hit%20the%20Jackpot%20-%20Holiday.mp3]

Download: Hit the Jackpot – Holiday [MP3]

New Track from Stephen Malkmus

Okay, this song is all over the internet, with focus on that fact that the “senator wants a blowjob,” but what’s wrong with everyone giving a little press to our hero Stephen Malkmus?  His newest record, Mirror Traffic, will be coming out via Matador on August 23rd, and it’s clear that the Beck produced record is going to have a bit of spit and polish to it.  This track below has those Malkmus cascading guitar cuts going through it, but you can definitely feel a bit of the gritty edge removed, or at least pushed down in the overall mix.  At some point, people have to make changes, and I expect this to be a great one for Stephen and his Jicks.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/stephen_malkmus_jicks_senator.mp3]

Download: Stehpen Malkmus and the Jicks – Senator [MP3]

New Song from Milagres

The hit making city has struck again! Brooklyn churns out more than its share of music, and Milagres is one of those bands that has slowly been on the rise; they’re ready to go beyond the city though.  They’ve just signed on with Kill Rock Stars who will be releasing their record, Glowing Mouth, at some point in September.  The first single, the album’s title track, has this electronic vibe to it, but what really grabs me, and hopefully you as well, is the way the vocals come across; they seem to be manipulated so carefully, showing perfect control in both pitch and tone.  I’ve just been replaying this all afternoon, so I figured you folks out there would enjoy it as well.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/milagres.mp3]

Download: Milagres – Glowing Mouth [MP3]

New Tune from Cut Off Your Hands

For some reason I passed on this song when MOKB ran it, but I guess that was just a bit of laziness on my part, as I love Cut Off Your Hands.  Official news came today that the band will be releasing their newest record, Hollow, on August 16th via Frenchkiss Records, the label that put out their previous effort.  The press release talks of Nick Johnston sort of hitting a wall, and going back to those records of simple joy, which helped him find his way back to solid footing with his own songwriting. The track below definitely has an Oceania vibe to it, reminiscent of my all time favorite, The Go-Betweens.  It does sound a lot less angular and British, which, in my opinion, is going to make this record incredible.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Cut-Off-Your-Hands-You-Should-Do-Better.mp3]

Download: Cut Off Your Hands – You Should Do Better [MP3]

Country Mice – Twister

Rating: ★★½ · ·

You don’t tend to think of Southern rock when you think of the musical influences of New York City, but that doesn’t seem to affect the kids in Country Mice.  They’ve been building a name for themselves slowly, and Twister has the band poised for bigger horizons.  It’s a little scattered here in there, in regards to over all sound, but don’t let that be a detractor, as there are really special moments inside.

When “Ghost” breaks into its stride to begin the record, those of you who’ve listened to the few singles from the band might be surprised to find a heavier version of what you remembered.  Sure, there’s those sprawling country effects, but it’s definitely a heavy-handed song.  “Festival” takes hold of the same theme, and if anything, it steps up the Southern rock repertoire even more.

Just as you thought you were getting a feeling for the band, they offer up what is easily one of the best songs on Twister, if not one of the best of the year.  The vocals of “Morning Son” seem distant, as if Justin Rueger recorded his vocals from the back of a barn.  Still, there’s this rolling movement to the song, guiding you along, as if following a trail through some wooded land.  And, this is the ground where Country Mice seem to be so comfortable.  “Rabbit on a Leash” follows a similar pattern, though you’ll find this number fueled with various guitars cutting back and forth across the background of the sound.  It’s the simple country approach, and in that, you’ll find joy and comfort for during your listening.

Despite its softer moments, Twister, definitely can’t escape the leaning towards alt-country and like-minded Americana outfits.  “Clover” is an example of a track that seems to wear the influence of My Morning Jacket.  It’s not quite a rocker, but it has the influence of bands that have come before Country Mice.  It’s a good song, but not one that is exceptional, which may weigh on the ears of the listener.  It leads right into a bit of a misstep for the band too, as “Worn Hearts,” a track that seems to venture too far into the pop-country medium for the liking of most.  But, they return with the very pleasant “Bullet of a Gun,” showing that they still have what it takes to win over any listener, crafting another joyous moment that culminates in a rise and fall melody.

So you come to the end of Twister, and my bet is that you’ve found several tracks that really stood out, whether you like your Southern rock or your more country-balanced pop.  That’s the good and the bad about Country Mice, at least up to this point in their career.  They seem to be walking the line between the two, and those two are vastly different, but that’s a decision we can expect to see the band make as they come more into their own.  Let’s label this effort a good starting point, with great moments, and hope there’s more to come in the near future.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/countrymice_morningson.mp3]

Download: Country Mice – Morning Son [MP3]

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