The Faint – Fasciinatiion

Rating: ★★ · · ·

It’s been several years since The Faint last released a proper full length. What have they been up to you ask? Well, they left Saddle Creek and started their own label, blank.wav, and they built their own studio. Unfortunately, they did not decide to find new ground musically.

The Faint remind me of a group of marines in training; they’ve been treading water for hours (years), always with their head just above the water (the rest of the crowd). Slowly, their legs grew tired, and that is where we find this album. Tired legs = sinking band. I’m sorry, but the band is just getting old, which is a huge contrast to the time when I thought they were extremely fresh.

The album opens up decently, but nothing spectacular. The beats sound left over from Wet From Birth, their last album, but I do like the fact that you can actually hear the bass lines in “Get Seduced,” because they are at their best when they combine their dance tendencies with actual rock music. At about the third minute, the tone in Todd Fink’s voice changes, and its great, just not enough, and too late for me to love this song.

They follow up the album with “The Geeks Were Right,” which is the obvious single. It’s probably the most immediately accessible song; its the one you want to dance to with your friends. Strangely, its one of the shorter songs on the album, which is unfortunate because it is the best–hands down. Honestly, the rest of the album after that sort of fades into the background. It’s not an irritatingly bad listen, its just not memorable, which is strange for this band because they always have extremely redeeming moments on their albums.

Lyrically, there is a lot of reference to science on this album, which I suppose is a different twist than the usual outing for this band, but by no means will you find the words significant. That’s always been the fault of the the band; lyrics have come secondary to the music.

As I continue to listen to this band, and this album, I am recalling a certain band from the mid 90s: Weezer. Do you remember when Weezer made things seem fresh?  They blew onto the scene via MTV (back when they had those music video things), and we all took notice. Then they progressed with their next album, but stopped there. They’ve been rehashing the same sound ever since that point. For me, that sums up The Faint. They’ve been doing this so long, it all just sort of blends together, and I might be ready to put them on the back burner until they reinvent the wheel.

That being said, most classic Faint fans will find that there are things to enjoy on this album, but not nearly enough for this to be one of your favorites. More than likely, it will make you dance while you’re getting ready for work, then it will go on the shelf in a few weeks. Sad but true.

Two bonus points exist: 1) The album artwork is solid, which is always a bonus for collectors because it encourages us to actually buy the album outside of the digital world. 2) The Faint are coming to Austin’s La Zona Rosa on AUgust 15th, and regardless of whether you like the band or not, they put on the most phenomenal shows–better than Ghostland Observatory, by far.

You can buy tickets for the show at GetTix. They’ll be accompanied by new Matador Records signees, Jaguar Love.

I Got Jay Reatarded Last Night

It’s less than twelve hours since I walked away from the scuzzy walls of Red Seven, and still my ears are ringing from the sheer level of noise that I gladly witnessed, as rock n’ roll returned once again to my life. It’s funny, I listen to a lot of music, but its seems rock has become less of a staple in my music dietary supplements. I would like to extend my gratitude to Jay Reatard for reaffirming my belief in it’s greatness – even with possible hearing loss.

Read more

Earlimart @ Waterloo/Mohawk – 8/5

California’s Earlimart will grace us twice tomorrow evening. They will first play a free set at Waterloo Records at 5 PM. Then they will be off to play a full set at The Mohawk with Austin bands Zookeeper and Silent Sunset (featuring Bill of Sound Team). I’ve seen them several times before, and they always put on an enjoyable show, and you have two chances to see them – don’t miss out. 

Tickets for the Mohawk show will be sold through FrontGate Tickets.

You can also check out our review for their latest album Hymn and Her.

Oxford Collapse – Bits

Rating: ★★★★½

Throughout this summer, music fans have mostly been greeted by mellower forms of tunes, with an absence of rock coming our ways–and by this, I mean the kind of music with loud guitars and banging drums. Well folks, Oxford Collapse wants to change that.

As the car peels out in “Electric Arc,” the drums come banging in your ears. Soon, the guitar will join this fray, and off the band goes. It’s hard not to feel your heart beating a little quicker in this song. Nice start boys.

They follow that up with another short song full of angular guitars and simple melodies, but its done just the right way, throwing the band back to the classic post-punk sounds of the mid-90s–a la Braid and Jawbreaker. Then they come with a tension building song in “Vernon Jackson,” which builds up continuously through the song, only to have the band slow it down in the end as the song begins to fade out. It’s clear by this point that they have enough control over themselves to pull back the reigns at just the right time.

They just keep going from here, pushing their guitars into your ears, as the drums pound away. Oxford Collapse sound tighter than they have, and a lot more comfortable as well, which may be why they claim “we’re doing fine” in “Young Love Delivers.” But, then they throw a change up. “A Wedding” slows things down, and sounds as if they took a cue from Final Fantasy, using string instruments to back the strength of their vocals. Its a good breathing point.

Then they go right back to it–walls of feedback thrown right back into your face as they continue their rocking onslaught. For me, they seem really straightforward with their approach, and they don’t seem to go off into the distance of atmospherics and noise as they did on their last album.

Towards the end, they start to switch it up, and its for the betterment of the album. “Children’s Crusade” is a brilliant song, and one that will probably make a lot of my mixes throughout the year. “John Blood” similarly slows things down, at least during the chorus, where a female chants her way through the chorus. Still, there is enough guitar work on this song, to make it border between rocker and ballad. “B Roll” also takes a gentler approach, but that approach is matched again by the tension building of the guitar work.  I do wish that this time, they just would have unleashed that guitar completely, but for me, this is their first misstep.

They close it off with “I Hate Nobody” which isn’t immediately gratifying, but as you work your way through the end of the song, it wraps up the album perfectly. Anguished guitars fueled by the deliberately dense drumming, and finally, you can breathe. It’s over.

It’s hard to find much wrong with this record. Personally, I think the mix on the vocals had some issues in a few places, but for the most part, I just went along with the album. It’s enjoyable as you follow around each of the corners and twists and turns.  Let’s hope for more rock like this as we wrap up 2008.

Oxford Collapse returns to Austin on August 27th at The Mohawk, but as of yet, tickets are not readily available.

Have a listen to a new song from their album:

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/birthdaywars.mp3]

Download: Oxford Collapse – Birthday Wars [MP3]

Jay Reatard @ Red Seven–8/3

This Sunday we will be fortunate enough to get to hear the garage rock of Jay Reatard.  He’s made lots of music news with his hard to come by set of 7″ series on Matador Records, and he will take the stage in our hometown at Red Seven.  If anything, it should just be a good old fashioned rock n’ roll show–just don’t get punched in the face. That means keeping your hands and feet in the bus at all times.

Pick up your tickets.

Also, you can hear University of Minnesota’s Radio K stream some in-studio performances by Jay if you hit this spot.

Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson – s/t

Rating: ★★★★ ·

I know I’m a little bit late with this review, since other people have already fueled the career of Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson, but I feel like I have to encourage this even more so.

Much has been said about the singer/songwriter’s difficult past, and a few touch on his TV on the Radio/Grizzly Bear connections. I want to focus on the strength of his debut self-titled album.

As a fan of music, this is exactly what you want a debut album to be. You want to see a lot of promise, and you sort of want to see a weak spot or two; a weak spot shows that there is more to be improved upon; a hopeful glance into the future.

I expected this to be sort of a folk record, dominated by acoustic guitars and gentle vocals. From the opening track, “Buriedfed,” you can tell that this is not the case. It starts off gently, as many of the songs do, but then the song picks up with percussion, and the vocals really can stand alone. His voice is somewhere along the lines of a warble, but at the same time, there is a certain assuredness in its delivery. Imagine Conor Oberst if he used to sing hardcore tunes.

There is a lot of loss going on in this album, lyrically. It’s clear that MBAR has had some rough times, and he definitely uses that for his songs. The sad thing, and I don’t know if it is a personal reference or not, but a lot of the album questions the purpose of living, which I know can only come from a person who has truly been in that position. Its got a touch of tragedy, but you want to route for the man. My own personal reference reminds me of Eliott Smith, and his way of connecting you to his life trials–MBAR does the same.

For some reason, this album is really hard to put into exact words. It feels really new, or at least the approach comes from somewhere else. The album comes across really dirty in a certain sense; there is a certain sound developed in this man’s songwriting that makes you go into the the darkness with him. Each turn the album takes allows you follow willingly, which you will.

With lines like “Fuck you, I just wanted to die,” I worry about MBAR, even if he is writing from an omniscient perspective. This man has some demons, but music fans know that this often creates some of the more powerful tunes. Hopefully he has his act cleaned up, and we can look forward to more great releases from him in the future.

Check out a new song called “Buriedfed” by Miles right here:

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/buriedfed.mp3]

Download: Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson – Buriedfed [MP3]

JC & Co 7″ Release @ Emos–7/31

Tonight, Jason Chronis from Voxtrot will be playing with his band, releasing his first 7″.  Apparently, the band is his project, with a lot of help from other Austin artists, including members of Bel Aire.  The show starts tonight at Emos at 10 PM, and you can be one of the first to get your hands on the JC & CO 7″.  Seems like a solid choice to me. 

You can hear some of Jason’s music over at his Myspace Page

Matt Pryor – Confidence Man

Rating: ★★★★ ·

This time around Matt Pryor opted to go it alone. He left his band behind, and wrote and recorded this entire fifteen-song album in his home studio. It’s more subdued than his other works, but it accomplishes more, letting him roam wherever he chooses.

Here we find Matt at his most personal, though not entirely in the lyrics. The usage of an acoustic guitar, though not entirely different from all Pyror projects, lets you sit in the living room of Matt, while he tries out all these new tunes for you, at least that is the aesthetic I took from listening.

Not surprisingly, his voice sounds really strong throughout the album. Sure, it’s distinctly Matt Pryor, but a few years removed from mass touring seems to have cleared the throat a bit, allowing for some of the more pristine vocals I have heard from this guy. For some, the tone might come off a bit grating initially, especially if this is your first meeting with Matt, but hold on, for you will remember it forever in the back of your mind.

Lyrically, he doesn’t stray far from the usual stylings he has come to grace us with in the last decade. His themes range from the typical love to loss to friendship to observation. The interesting thing throughout this record is how personal the songs feel, without always having to discuss personal topics. You come away feeling that Matt wrote these songs just for your ears, and as a listener you couldn’t ask for more from a singer-songwriter.

My complaint on the album, if I were to create one, is that there aren’t really standout tracks–meaning there is not clear single, or set of singles. However, this doesn’t mean that the songs are weak, it just means that he has come up with his most complete album to date. A listener can go from the first song to the end without getting lost or bored. I suppose this is a good thing–depends on how you look at it.

Whether he is stripped down to the bare bones of an acoustic guitar, or whether he is backed by a full band, Matt Pryor continues to write amazing songs, accompanied by lyrics you can identify with throughout Confidence Man. This is just another warning to the music masses that Pryor is indeed a songwriter who still has what it takes to write great songs.

And, he is coming to Austin on August 23rd with his other group The Terrible Twos. Pick up your tickets.

HEALTH Tonight @ Emos

Tonight Emos will host the danceable band HEALTH on the inside stage, fresh off their set at Pitchfork Music Festival. All signs point to a phenomenal show filled with dance tracks and crazed stage antics. If you’ve got nothing else to do tonight, this is where you should be. Even if you have something to do, this is still where you should go. Doors, as usual, are at 8 PM. See you tonight folks!  Below is a song by the band called “Crime Wave”.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/health-crimewave.mp3]

Download: HEALTH – Crimewave [MP3]

New Music from Colourmusic

Oklahoma’s Colourmusic is set to release their album, F, Monday, Orange, February, Venus, Lunatic, 1 or 13, on September 9th on Great Society Records. We have just gotten our hands on a new song for you to enjoy titled “Winter Song.” This is one of their slower tunes, but it shows the range of the band. Be sure to keep track of these guys as they are sure to build a huge following with their rocking live show.

For more info you can check them out on their Myspace Page.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/11-winter-song1.mp3]

Download: wintersong.mp3

1 899 900 901 902 903 907