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

Dr. Dog – Fate

Rating: ★★★★½

When Dr. Dog released their second album, We All Belong, I hadn’t really heard much about them; that soon enough changed. Their blend of classic rock meets country meets indie pop had me cornered, and I didn’t mind it one bit. They follow that with the release of an album, Fate, that is more solid all the way through the album.

The fist thing I noticed on this album was that there was a lot more presence of the piano. Sure, it was there in the last album, but here it seems that the piano was the backbone of the writing process for this album, which, in all honesty, does wonders for the band. The melodies this time around are a lot stronger than on the previous efforts.

The first standout track was “The Old Days,” and everything about this song screams single. From the steady pace of the drum-mostly snare-to the splendid guitar work and piano accompaniment; then you can’t help but love the vocal progress of McMicken and Leaman. Then you follow that with “Army of Ancients” and you can tell the band is progressing. Whoever sings the majority of the aforementioned song really strains his voice, going to places I haven’t heard the band go before, and it completely works. It’s one of the more sincere songs I think the band has written.

From that point on, the album really just sticks up for itself. From the classic guitar work on “The Ark” to the more Motown-inspired “From,” one would be hard pressed to find a song that lets you down. Even when they slow it down, they are able to maintain the overall feel of this album without leading you somewhere else. And they close it all off with a rocker of a tune in “My Friend, which is just more classic rock appeal for your ears–and make sure you wait until about 3.3 minutes into the song because they mix it up perfectly–a sign of their progression.

I’m sure that you could fault this band for their lack of originality, for I feel as if I have heard these sounds many times before in my father’s record collection, but you can’t fault a band for that really. I mean, we all have to start at some point, and often that is our biggest influence, musically. I think the maturity on this album shows that Dr. Dog, despite their name, can keep coming back time and time again with great songs for ALL of us to enjoy.

Check out “The Old Days” off the new album now:

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/03-the-old-days-1.mp3]

Download: theolddays.mp3

Magnetic Fields Tickets on Sale

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

Black Kids – Partie Traumatic

Rating: ★★★★ ·

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.

Matt Pryor Solo Album

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.

Brendan Canning – Something For All of Us

Rating: ★★ · · ·

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:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/under-the-stairs.mp3]

Download: under-the-stairs.mp3

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