New Music From Sam Champion

Up and comers Sam Champion have a new song for your listening pleasure entitled “Be Mine Everyone” off their album Heavenly Bender which is set to come out September 2nd.  Rolling Stone recently featured the band as a breaking artist on their website so you should be hearing a lot about these guys soon.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/samchampion_bemineeveryone.mp3]

Download: Sam Champion – Be Mine Everyone [MP3]

Li’l Cap’n Travis @ Club Deville (6/20)

Local boys and ATH favorite Li’l Cap’n Travis will be showcasing their talents at Club Deville on Friday in Austin. The band usually puts on stellar live shows with some Beach Boys covers thrown in for good measure. Head on over to Club Deville’s website to get more information on the show. Have a listen to “Sugar Buzz” off the band’s newest album Twilight on Sometimes Island:

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/sugarbuzz.mp3]

Download: sugarbuzz.mp3

Cryptacize – Dig That Treasure

Rating: ★★½ · ·

On the sixth track of Crytpacize‘s debut album they sing “every note is an unfinished song,” and clearly they take this to heart, but far too much for my liking.  This song comes off just as the lyrics, leaving the feeling that they have collected a plethora of unfinished songs.

From the get go, I really was interested in this album.  Asthmatic Kitty puts out a lot of really good records, and recently, Sufjan Stevens put out his support for the band.  A lot of promise.  Then you add the perfectly beautiful vocals of singer Nedell Torrisi, and, well, the promise of this album continued.

That was about as far as the promise got for me, although I have to admit, that something curious inside me lingers to keep listening to this album–that I can’t explain.  Maybe I have to be in the middle of a different season, rather than this Texas heat.

Where did the promise go?  Probably the same place as the percussion on the majority of these songs!  It evaporated! I mean even the Five Civilized Tribes used predominantly percussive instruments. This album lacks them, severely, which makes it hard for the album to progress in any direction, instead it leaves it to meander through twelve uneven tracks.

Sadder still is that these guys have the ability to write some really special moments, such as in the song “Heaven is Human,” where I begged the guitar to break loose throughout the song, but they held it back. They showed you a guitar, a few solid lines, and then they took them away just as quickly.  This band does have a lot of potential, it is just not there yet.

Then again, Sufjan Stevens likes them, so maybe I’ve got it all wrong.  Perhaps I just don’t understand this genre of music, where musicianship takes precedent over songcraft–you can have the best musicians in the world, creative even, but if you can’t write a song, it doesn’t mean a thing.

I think you should go and see for yourself.  The band plays at the Mohawk this Saturday with Devon Williams.  You can find yourself some tickets at this convenient Interweb sales-site.

Colourmusic

While on vacation in Oklahoma, I was treated to a little melting of the face by Oklahoma’s Colourmusic at The Vault Video. They began the evening by involving the crowd in some serious stretching, just so we were prepared. From this point on, it was nothing but sweat and rock n’ roll. Musically, they reminded me of Belle and Sebastian covering metal songs; it was clever and poppy, but with a hint of some darkness. I expect to see huge things from this band in the future–and if every crowd behaves the way the one last night did, you’re in for one hell of a rock show! See some scandalous snapshots here. Read more

Mystery Jets

Are you looking for that dance hit of the summer? If you are, I think Mystery Jets can provide it for you. The band released a single called “Two Doors Down” earlier this year off their new album Twenty One which has already hit stores in the UK. We have no idea when this album will be coming to us in the US so enjoy what you can from the Mystery Jets. You should also check out the video for the song on youtube in all its Duran Duran/A-Ha awesomeness.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/06-two-doors-down.mp3]

Download: twodoorsdown.mp3

My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges

Rating: ★★½ · ·

When describing “Evil Urges,” the title track from Louisville-based My Morning Jacket’s new album, frontman/chief songwriter/spaceboots-wearin’ fearless leader Jim James talked about how the band would just “go off into space” when writing new parts to the song. The five-minute plus tune evokes soulful R&B grooves to Kentucky fried-dual guitar freakouts and back to it’s central refrain as it is relaunched into orbit. “Evil urges baby, they’re just part of the human way. It ain’t evil baby, if ya ain’t hurting anybody,” James sings in high-falsetto. And he couldn’t have made it more obvious himself because My Morning Jacket not only are throwing fans a musical curveball, but have some inner demons to conquer themselves on their latest offering.

As a faithful MMJ fan, I was fully aware writing a review of “Evil Urges,” their first album since 2005’s life-altering, astonishing marvel “Z,” was NOT going to be easy. However, it wasn’t as difficult writing this blurb as it was hearing this record in it’s entirety. “Urges” is a frustrating listen from the opening drum-wraps to the album’s final four seconds of nonsense. Missing are MMJ’s trademark reverb-soaked vocals, “motivated” guitar jams, and most depressingly, songcrafting.

The one thing I will forever adore about this band is how they create inspired songs laced with an honesty behind their Southern-tinged seven-to-eight minute rockers. Inspiration is certainly M.I.A. on this record.

“Evil Urges” zig-zags like a staggering “Glass Joe” in Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out, shifting from funky R&B grooves (title track) to James Taylor man-crushin’ (“Sec Walkin'”) to arena-sized riff-rockin (“Aluminum Park”) to WTF!? (“Highly Suspicious”) The song is so painful that by the time you’ve endured Olmec from Nickelodeon’s “Legends of the Hidden Temple” chanting “Highly Suspicious of You” for the 27th time, it makes you yearn for the cheesy, but appropriate sounds of Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watchin’ Me.” Hell, if “Highly Suspicious” was released in 1984, MMJ would’ve given Berry Gordy Jr.’s prodigee a run for his top 40 blood money. Now if they could just get Jermaine Jackson to guest vocal on the chorus instead of a giant animatronic talking piece of foam.

After the undeniably disastrous first half of “Urges,” we’re introduced to a little ditty called “Two Halves.” It’s a nice 60’s-style doo-wop rock tune that reminds us this band can do anything they damn-well please and it works in all it’s Roy Orbison-worshiping glory.

“Librarian” has to be one of the best narratives James’ has ever penned. “Sweetest little bookworm, hidden underneath is the sexiest librarian…take off those glasses and let down your hair for me.” Obsessed much, I know, but the way this tune floats around amidst it’s dusty stack of books and pitch-black summer skies, it’s difficult not to be enthralled by the mood of James’ storytelling. Plus, it’s about damn time someone wrote a great song about a sexy librarian. Gentlemen, we’ve all been there, don’t deny it.

The album concludes with the haunting one-two punch of “Smokin’ from Shootin'” and “Touch Me I’m Going to Scream Part 2.” “Shootin” is an excellent builder from Bo Koster’s quiet key-tappin’to guitarist/MVP Carl Broehmel’s heavy-plucking as James brings his A-game to a deafening climax that would make Charles Bronson proud. The song wanders into “Touch Me…,” an eight-minute disco “jambulance” where drummer Patrick Hallahan’s beating eerily reminds me of the B-52’s “Summer of Love.” It’s space-rock-prog-disco-psychedelia at it’s finest…woah.

“This feeling is wonderful…don’t you ever turn it off,” James exclaims as his gang caps off a confusing conclusion to a record that is more intrigued with sounding eclectic than creating the memorable MMJ moments we’re so fond of. If it weren’t for “Urges'” hard to swallow first half, this album would be destined for healthy repeated listens instead of turning the “wonderful feeling” off.

Don’t forget that the band will be showing off one of the best live acts around later this summer at Stubbs. The show isn’t sold out yet so hurry up and buy some tickets. And be sure to check out our (fake) interview with Jim James.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/mmj_evil_urges.mp3]

Download: evilurges.mp3

Wolf Parade – At Mount Zoomer

Rating: ★★★ · ·

From the minute Apologies to the Queen Mary came out a few years back I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the new Wolf Parade album.  I loved that record so much so that I bought everything released by all the members of the band. But, it seems as if all those side-projects sucked the life out of the band.

“Soldier’s Grin” starts out the record promisingly.  It’s an upbeat song from the get-go; the kind of song that we know the band will blow you away in the live setting–and they will blow you away live–I hope.

From here, you get the best two songs on the album in succession, those being “Call it a Ritual” and “Language City.”  Both songs are full of keyboards/piano bouncing heavily along, with just enough grit and clarity in the music to make them both exceptional songs.  It’s at this point in the album that we find Wolf Parade at their best, with Spencer Krug yelping at his best.

From here it starts to gently slide away in the wrong direction.  I’ll admit this: the chorus on the 5th track,”California Dreamer,” is really a rocking moment–once again I salivate at live possibilities–but the rest of the song doesn’t have much to it. Then you have the final good moment of the album,”The Grey Estates.”  Something about Dan Boeckner’s voice is one of my favorites.

That’s it though…the remaining three tracks of the album seem to me as if the band lost some steam. The songs don’t seem to be as fleshed out musically as the previous 6, and they come off sounding like skeletons of mediocre songs, or B-sides of one of the various side-projects.

My other complaint is that the vocals have matured.  They’ve lost that oddity in their vocals, which-personally-takes a lot of the really interesting moments away from the band.  These fellows come off sounding half-hearted, but like I said, this is only apparent in the last three songs.

All in all, this is a record worth listening to, but I’m just not sure how many repeated listens those first few songs really garner when paired with the latter half of the album.

Rest assured, the band will bring the rock when they come to La Zona Rosa on July 25th–this is a must see.  You can buy tickets for the show at this fancy place .

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