• SXSW: 6 Bands To Watch

    Well SXSW music is officially here, and as I sit and ponder my existence while at work, I thought it would be fun to share some advice on bands to

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  • RayRay’s Top Songs – 2018

    When it comes to ATH and our areas of expertise, I like to think I’m the go to guy for song lists and bad ass playlists. If you’re doubting me,

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  • Best of Indiepop 2018

    Everyone has their own definition of indiepop; but I tend to ascribe to the original craft where DIY aesthetics and a softer response to punk were all the rage. But,

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  • ATH Top Albums – 2018

      This is our year end list for albums of the year. There’s four of us here, so it’s hard to come to a consensus, but we did our best.

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  • Nathan’s Top Austin Albums of 2018

    In the year’s end, those who “write” about music claim our superior tastes by spouting off about our favorite releases. I figured I should start off all the shenanigans with

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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]

New Secret Machines

The nice people over at RCRD LBL have a new song from Dallas band Secret Machines for you to stream/download on their website. The song is called “Dreaming of Dreaming” and will apparently NOT appear on the bands latest self-titled release due out in October. You can hear the song exclusively on the RCRD LBL website (they strongly discourage re-hosting songs). Is this better than the very underwhelming 2006 effort Ten Silver Drops?

Gospel Gossip @ Headhunters – 8/20

Sure there is lots going on these days, and Wednesday is packed of goodness, but my recommendation is to head on over to Headhunters for a surprise you’re sure to enjoy. I’ve been listening to Gospel Gossip‘s latest record kind of non-stop with its blend of shoegaze and pop. It’s like Dirty on Purpose, but with a female vocalist. Like I said, head somewhere unexpected and take it all in.

James Jackson @ Mohawk (8/19)

James Jackson Toth will be playing a set with one of our favorite new bands The Dutchess & The Duke (read our review of their recent album here) at Mohawk on Tuesday evening. Things are set to kick off at 9pm with tickets sold only at the door. Read more about the show on the Transmission Entertainment website. You can also listen to “Doreen” off James 2008 release Waiting in Vain below:

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/02-doreen.mp3]

Download: James Jackson – Doreen [MP3]

Novillero

We recently discovered this new pop styling band hailing from north of the border Novillero. The band has a new album coming out on September 9th entitled A Little Tradition and we have the title track of that new album right here for your listening pleasure.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/novillero-a-little-tradition.mp3]

Download: Novillero – A Little Tradition [MP3]

New PB&J

Swedish whistling pop band Peter Bjorn & John are finally giving us a follow up to their critically acclaimed 2006 album Writer’s Block. The boys new album will be called Seaside Rock and has a release date set for September 23rd here in the US.  The album is said to be limited to only 5000 copies in the states, released exclusively on vinyl with accompanying digital downloads.  A new song from the album entitled “Inland Empire” can be had below:

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/peter-bjorn-and-john-inland-empire.mp3]

Download: Peter Bjorn and John – Inland Empire [MP3]

Ra Ra Riot – The Rhumb Line

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Much has been made of Ra Ra Riot‘s history as a band, which, though interesting and heartbreaking, doesn’t really do a sufficient job of discussing the band’s current output. The Rhumb Line is their first full length album, although the band has been around for quite sometime, with nothing more than an EP to their name. And, I suppose that we could be disappointed that only 6 of the album’s 10 songs are new, but that would take away from the stunning debut they have given us.

The album begins with “Ghost Under Rocks,” a tune driven by the orchestral cello and violin work that the band uses to create the darker tones of their pop numbers.  The blistering drum work on the opener adds just as much power, making a mark on the listener almost immediately.  They follow this up with another song off their EP, “Each Year,” but it’s a driving song, with the guitar carrying the song, and those listening, along.

They do their best Vampire Weekend impression with “St. Peter’s Day Festival,” but the use of orchestral pieces gives the song a little bit more splendor, making it a song that won’t wear you down over time.  Ra Ra Riot slows it down a bit for us with “Winter 05,” a song that relies musically on violin and cello.  It’s a beautiful song, and one that gives you a break from the fast pace of the album.

Then its back to the EP songs, and two of the best songs that band has written up to this point.  “Dying is Fine” is truly one of my favorite songs of the year.  The music makes you tap your toes, while the vocals couldn’t possibly be better.  “Can You Tell” starts off slowly, with reference to a long lost lover, before it bumps up the pace.  This might be the peak moment of the album.

In “Too Too Fast” we find the band relying upon synthesizers to hold the aesthetic of this song.  The female vocal accompaniment during the chorus is quite fitting, and it pushes the song further into the music of the past.  Still, the song has a certain freshness that tells the listener to keep on going.

However, the album kind off falls off from here.  “Oh La” just doesn’t have the same impact on the listener as the previous numbers.  It’s slower, and it kind of throws off the pace of the album.  From here the band jumps to a Kate Bush cover, which is good, but it takes the number of new original songs down to 5. “Run My Mouth” marks the point where the album kind of loses its luster.  The final song just doesn’t add much to the overall feel of the album; it’s almost as if it could have been left off.

Now that the album is over, you kind of feel a little let down.  It didn’t end as well as it started off, which disappoints.  Still, the first seven songs on this album are ridiculously good, even the ones that were revisited from the past.  It’s worthy of repeated listens, and it’s worthy of being in your collection.

Death Vessel – Nothing Is Precious Enough For Us

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Sub Pop records claimed that most journalists would find it quite difficult to place Death Vessel, as the band is virtually indescribable.  However, I like a good challenge, and since I like this record, I have vowed to do it justice.

Joel Thibodeau is the man behind the music, and perhaps the reason people find it so difficult to classify his music is his voice.  His voice is what you might call androgynous, standing a thin line between being thrown in one direction or another.  Regardless, it is very soothing whilst matching the music that it carries along.

Musically, it isn’t as difficult to put into place, if you were one to do such things.  I suppose I am one for such things, and in my decision to this I have come to three various pieces of Joel’s musical recipe: Iron and Wine, Deerhoof and Stephin Merritt (solo).

Death Vessel has previously toured with Iron and Wine, and the touches of folk leanings are immediately noticeable, though not necessarily ripped off.  The production has the intimacy of early Sam Beem works, while maintaing its own personality altogether.  It’s not as gentle as Iron and Wine, which is where I think the strength lies in this album.

As far as referencing Deerhoof, that lies in the ability for the songs to operate on various tangents, pulling back together uniquely, and never making you feel as if you really strayed very far from the core of the song.  The first few songs alone go from folk, to a hint of rockabilly and on to vaudeville.  It makes for an interesting listen, yet maintains its own uniqueness.

Now Stephin Merritt references I don’t throw around lightly, but if you’ve ever run across his solo works, and looked at the instrumentation he uses, you will find that Mr. Thibodeau is not far off in his own endeavors.  He calls upon many many friends to gather and flesh out his songs, much as Merritt has always done.  The best thing about this effort is that while several songs contain multiple instruments outside from the usual fashion, they all seem to find enough room in these songs.

My only draw back with this album is my own inability to connect to the lyrics.  They are indeed outside the typical writing style, but at times they resemble Lewis Carroll. Despite my inability to connect, they are still displayed in such a polite manner as to make a listener draw in closely, going deeper into the music as they do so.

When its all said and done, this is a genuinely unique album worthy of multiple l suggest picking it up immediately.  And, if you fall in love with it, as I did, you can check out the band on September 12th at Emos Lounge.  Tickets are available at TicketWeb or you can click this link.

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