31Knots – Worried Well

Rating: ★★★★ ·

The Bush years have done a number on the psyche of 31Knots songwriter and guitarist  Joe Haege and it shows in the nervous energy that permeates Worried Well, the latest long player from the Portland/San Francisco trio. Using complicated rhythms, off kilter time changes, and borrowing as much from CAN and Sonic Youth as they do Fugazi, 31Knots manages to maintain and build upon the unique sound first laid out on 2005’s Talk Like Blood.

The album kicks off with a 43 second A capella hand clap session and brief rumination about the corrupting power of your money before kicking into the album proper. On the first full track “Certificate” you get a sense of the angular guitar work of Haege, complex bass lines provided by Jay Winebrenner, and the amazing stop and start drumming style of Jay Pellici. You may also get the notion that Dick Cheney is tapping you phone calls.

Lyrically Haege touches on themes of evil corporate backrooms, a war obsessed oligarchy, and a nation under surviellence. It’s the use of intelligent allegories that keep this commentary from slipping into the pretentious. Much like how Fugazi’s Guy Picciotto can tell you about how Capitalism is killing you in a round about way without inducing an immediate eye roll, Haege possesses this magical power as well.

Describing 31Knots to another person can be a bit problematic and this is why they are often categorized in indie/prog/math rock category, which essentially means these guys have managed to create a truly distinctive sound. Musically the album is filled with irregular guitar pulses, noisy synthesizer elements that build up then collapse, a small tickling of the ivory here and there and even a little Latin drumming. Tracks such as “The Breaks,” “Strange Kicks,” and “Worried But Not Well” are the high points that find 31Knots at the top of their game. On the whole they seem to be refining and perfecting the sound laid out in their two previous albums.

While a few tracks stray from their previous sound, most notably the Duran Duran inspired “Upping the Mandate” most of the album finds them on familiar territory mixing and matching the better elements of their catalog. Unfortunately the album closer, “Between 1&2,” is a bit of a slow Eno influenced toss away, but the rest of the album is strong enough to forgive the filler.

The only problem with the uniqueness of 31Knots sound is that by default they end up aping themselves over the course of a few albums. If you created a Venn diagram of their last three releases the amount of overlap is what keeps this album out of the great category, and into the very good. Pick up a copy of Worried Well, if a band’s dilemma these days is that they have such a distinctive sound that it lends itself to a little repetition, it’s a fine problem to have.

Have a listen to a new track from the album entitled “Compass Commands” :

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/31knots-compass_commands.mp3]

Download: 31Knots – Compass Commands [MP3]

Free Music From The State Bird

One of the few bands I know from Ohio, The State Bird, have a brand new EP out creatively titled 4 New Songs.  You can download this entire new EP from The Record Machine website.  If your one of those people who values their internet download times, check out “The Bright July Night” here on our website.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/01-the-bright-july-night.mp3]

Download: The State Bird – The Bright July Night [MP3]

New Clientele EP

The Clientele just released a new EP entitled That Night, a Forest Grew which is the third in a 3 part series of new EPs for the band. You can download the new tracks for a small fee over on the emusic website or you’ll have to wait a bit longer for your hard copy. We also have track number one from the new EP below called “Retiro Park”.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/01-retiro-park.mp3]

Download: The Clientele – Retiro Park [MP3]

The Lord Dog Bird

We recently read about this band, The Lord Dog Bird, on the NPR website and found their stuff quite interesting. The band is a stripped down side project of Colin McCann, who plays guitar for Baltimore rock band Wilderness. You can read more about The Lord Dog Bird or order the new self-titled album on the Jagjaguwar record label website. Newest single “The Gift of Song in the Lions Den” from Mr. McCann’s new solo act can be found below. Give it a few listens, and I’m sure you’ll learn to love it.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/thegiftofsonginthelionsden1.mp3]

Download: The Lord Dog Bird – The Gift of Song in the Lions Den [MP3]

Academicos Da Opera

Each week, we here at Austin Town Hall will be featuring one of the many great artists playing the late September Xemumba Latin Music Festival. This week, we cast the spotlight on Academicos da Opera. Academicos, a return act from last years Xemumba festival, are a group of about two or three dozen performers who will bring the pulse of Brazil, Samba, to Xemumba. The group will be playing that Brazilian Samba both nights at the Festival. Be sure to read our original post about Xemumba and buy your tickets. You can also check out an excerpt of that famous Samba music below which should get you jacked up for the show.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/academicos-da-opera-samba_clip.mp3]

Download: Academicos Da Opera – Samba Clip [MP3]

More New White Denim

We posted earlier this summer about White Denim’s latest single “Let’s Talk About It” which appeared on the band’s UK only release Workout Holiday. Lucky for us in The US & A, the band is dropping another album this year on Nov. 3rd entitled Exposion. First single from that album “Sitting” is below and it just might not be the White Denim you’re used to. You can stream more sweet tunes on the band’s website.

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

Download: White Denim – Sitting [MP3]

The Cool Kids @ Emo’s (8/20)

The latest craze in the indie hip-hop world, The Cool Kids, will be bringing their brand of jams to the outside stage of Emo’s Austin on Wednesday evening. Tickets for the event are a mere $12 with doors at 9pm and music kicked off at 10 with a DJ set by local legend DJ Mel. You can get your tickets in advance from ticketweb. Preview the show below with a song that is sure to drop into your dance party mixes “A Little Bit Cooler”.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/cool-kids-a-little-bit-cooler.mp3]

Download: The Cool Kids – A Little Bit Cooler [MP3]

1 1,050 1,051 1,052 1,053 1,054 1,066