Well, we’ve finally recovered, and we hope your sunburn is peeling and your liver is resting quietly in a tub of water. After a long weekend, filled with good memories, tunes and pretty much anything else we needed, we got down to the nitty-gritty. That’s right folks, after careful collaboration, and tireless hours of discussion, we bring you our Top Ten Acts of Austin City Limits 2010.
So, while we were out performing our ACL duties, we neglected to notice that there were still things going on in the rest of the music world. Luckily, I was able to catch up by heading over to MBV, and those kids had tossed up a new track by one of my faves, Stereolab. The group has a new record titled Not Music coming out November 16th on Drag City. Rest assured, it is music, and if you’re a fan, you’ll have to admit, it’s pretty much always good music. You be the judge folks.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/stereolab-sundemon.mp3]
Download: Stereolab – Sun Demon [MP3]
The So So Glos recently made the move to become part of the ever growing, and solid, Brooklyn music scene, but don’t let your preconceived notions get the best of you just yet. Low Back Chain Shift, though short, is filled with promise of a ramshackle good time. Surely this is going to be a band to keep your eyes, and ears, on as the future unfolds for this young band.
“Fred Astaire” kicks off this party with soft vocal from singer Alex Levine, but even early on you can see there is a gleam of trouble lying in wait. Soon, you meet that, as Levine gives off a bit of a growl, as guitars cut through the steady drumming. It’s not a bad way to start off an EP, and although the songs do hold pop tendencies, perhaps Levine can take the group to new boundaries.
Indeed, Levine will carry the band, not to disregard the contributions of the other three members, but “Live Like TV” definitely uses a nice little blend of surf guitar jangle entwined with precision garage drum antics. Such songs are fairly typical nowadays, but Alex has this whiskey grit to his delivery, much like Hives frontman Pelle Almquist. It brings a level of excitement and energy needed to make any band of this genre relevant.
“New Stance” is definitely an outlier in this brief collection of five songs. It’s a slow dance number, using limited percussion, minor guitar strumming, and Levine. It’s probably not the most creative song the band has written, but somehow, cleverly placed in the middle of the EP, and short, it works really well. Once again, we can’t discount incredibly distinct voices, so Levine’s getting more points.
When you arrive at “Here Goes the Neighborhood,” the band has left there direction quite open, purposefully. They’ve got dirtier surf-pop and mellow tracks, but here, they take the surf-pop in a much-welcomed direction, giving the sound a nice bit of The Clash. Damn you Alex Levine! Your voice is fitting to every stylistic change on this EP. Towards the end, you just get a bit more of a nice rock-steady beat and groove, which never hurts.
“Lindy Hop” is the single track off the Low Back Chain Shift EP, although further listens reveal that any number could take that place. This is probably the grittiest version of the band, with a nice little rattling percussive beat in the back, and Levine doing his best to bring some post-punk flavor to the band’s sound. There’s a little bit more fury in this track than in previous numbers, especially with that little no-wave saxophone blast, but it just goes to show you that the band are willing to travel in any direction they choose, as long as it sounds good.
Your short visit with Low Back Chain Shift will surely leave you begging and pleading for more. The So So Glos have slowly built a name for themselves, and a release with this much quality and diversity is not going to hurt that reputation much either. There’s something for us all in here, giving us grit and pop all mixed up. You won’t know what to do.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/sosogloslindyhop.mp3]
Download: So So Glos – Lindy Hop [MP3]
I’ve really been enjoying the great work by In the Red Records this year, as they’ve been putting out some really solid releases, at least in the vein of garage pop bands. The newest record from Cheap Time, Fantastic Explanations (and Similar Situations), is just another gem waiting to be grabbed up by everyone. For some reason it reminds me, vocally, of that old punk band The Saints, but the music is a bit slower, and a little bit more straightforward. You can get your hands on these sweet tunes now![audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/cheaptimealone.mp3]
Download: Cheap Time – I’d Rather Be Alone [MP3]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]