Top Songs of 2013

best songs ath 2013We’ve put our pretty little heads together ladies and gentlemen to bring you our favorite songs from this past year.  It was a difficult task with our ever growing staff, but we feel like this list best represents the diverse taste of our staff.  Love it or hate it, it’s ours to call our own.  Hit play and put your head down or dance or shimmmy or drool or whatever works. Most of all we hope you hear something you missed, something you want to buy or something you want to see live.

Scroll past the playlist for full the run of the bestest songs ever this year.

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Austin Show Preview: Grape St. @ Hotel Vegas (11/2)

Grape St.I’m feeling local this weekend, and though there are a couple of interesting traveling tours coming into town (Those Darlins/The Blow), I really think your best bet is to end up at Hotel Vegas on Saturday night. Some of our favorite bands will be playing that evening; these are bands we’ve supported in some fashion since we started this site. You’ll get to catch Booher, which is the new project from former Zykos member, M. Booher.  Plus, you’ll get Frank Smith, who’ve put out tons of great songs, all of which we’ve enjoyed.  Headlining the night will be another band we clearly support, as we helped the band put out their self-titled LP: Grape St.  They’ve only gotten better over the last year, and you should expect a full house to bring things to a riotous evening. And, it’s going to be cheap, so why not hit up a great local show?!

[audio:https://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/10-Track-10.mp3]

Download: Grape St. – Double Golds [MP3]

First Round of SxSW Artists Released

I can not believe it is time to start thinking about SxSW. It is like the Christmas decorations at Home Depot, earlier every year.

The initial list of artists invited is out and it is a local heavy list. Not too many big acts, but I think there is something for every music fan interested in day parties and collecting wristbands. Warm up your RSVP skills, March 11, 2014 will be here before you know it. I am on four VIP lists already.

Head past the break for the big list via the PR text…

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Parquet Courts Return with New Single/New EP

parquetcourtsThey may not want to admit it, but for all intents and purposes, Parquet Courts are a Texas band! So, as a Texas-based site, we’re going to say nice things; they’re label What’s Your Rupture rules pretty hard too.  With the announcement of a new EP, the band is sure to start making waves again, just as they did with Light Up Gold.  This new track has the same chugging guitar lines their debut featured, but it includes new touches like a bit more distortion on the guitars and a recorder/flute.  It adds another dimension that will surely make the Tally All the Things That You Broke EP another success.  It hits the streets on October 8th, and the band will be playing both weekends of Austin City Limits.

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Black Lizard – s/t

blacklizard_frontcover-640x639Rating: ★★★½☆

In my mind, it’s got to be hard to start to craft your own sound, unburdened by the music one consumes, unless of course you’re in a semi-remote area, such as Finland.  It’s clear when listening to Black Lizard that they bear the touchstones of many acts, but their self-titled debut sees the group creating something entirely their own; it’s an album with diverse sound that will please any listener.

Sonic exploration seems to be the key to the album’s opener, “Honey, Please.” Like a storm, it rolls in quietly on the back of a ringing guitar, with happily haunting vocals drifting atop.  For me, the marvel is the restraint show on the tune, as Black Lizard seemingly stay in one mode for the entirety of the track; I’d be apt to just let go with a wall of noise. However, the band moves into more psychedelic territory on the following “Boundaries,” which is in danger of having some of the atmospheric guitars bleed all the way through your speakers.  Percussion on this tune takes a more tribal approach, while the vocals still have that foggy coating, even with a bit of clarity opening up briefly before the song fizzles out in a haze.

Even though the more broad reaching tracks on Black Lizard definitely hold a spot on my weekly playlist, I think that one of the facets that works best for the band is when they go for simplicity, such as on “Dead Light.  Sure, the pacing in the beginning has that slow opening, but when the chorus lets loose with distorted guitars and vocal swagger, it’s perhaps one of the best moments on the album: a sure hit. “Forever Gold” is similar, especially in the realm of length, but it’s a quick banger that allows the band to tightly weave their sound into a neat little package for listeners.  It’s not that the group gets too expansive, I just enjoy when they get a bang-on chorus that makes me bob my head, and that’s present in both these tunes.

If I were to counsel the group, I think my advice would be to allow for the vocals to shine through a bit more though, just a bit.  “Love is a Lie” is one of the most memorable tracks on the album, and it’s success is that it combines that stomping rhythm, bits of distortion, but also vocals you can attach yourself to, allowing listeners to fully invest themselves in the record.  But, aside from that small slight, Black Lizard clearly are defining a sound all their own, making this an effort worthy of your time. You want post-rock? Shoegaze? Psychedelia? It’s all here, and it’s all execute with a style that perhaps could only be captured in the land of Helsinki.

[audio:https://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/BLACK-LIZARD-Love-Is-A-Lie.mp3]

Download: BLACK LIZARD – Love Is A Lie [MP3]

Black Lizard is out now on Soliti Music.

 

Grape St. LP Release Party @ Hotel Vegas (4.24)

913731_645909895424336_625905147_oSo your plans are to hit up Youth Lagoon, but you can’t stop there. Once the rock n’ roll gets started, you’ve got to keep it going.  The best place to head on Wednesday night is over to Hotel Vegas for the Grape St. LP release; this is the band featuring Curtis from Harlem…seriously one of my favorite records of the last year.  Of course, you can buy it HERE if you’re not in Austin.  Just because we’re putting out the record, doesn’t mean you can miss a single of the opening acts; they’re some of our favorite, and the best, rock acts in town.  You’ve got Pharaohs kicking things off, with John Wesley Coleman and Rayon Beach warming up the crowd for all you folks. There will be balloons, A Date With You LPs, and just a ton of incredible bands.  It’s dirt cheap, so help support the local scene and come join us for this celebration.

[audio:https://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/10-Track-10.mp3]

Download: Grape St. – Double Golds [MP3]

[audio:https://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Pharaohs-Babes-Booze-Bam-Bam-Baby-01-Prettiest-Girl.mp3]

Download: Pharaohs – Prettiest Girl [MP3]

SxSW 2013: The Rest of the Showcase Pics

Nothing quite like figuring out that you still have 1600 shots to go through after six posts already up for SxSW…

Sorry, SxSW seems like a distant memory, but I may just rekindle some fond memories of the smaller shows that you should have gone to. Official SxSW stuff, I have already shared the shots of The Flaming Lips headlined party and Iggy and The Stooges. This gallery has shots of Mompox, Young Galaxy, Local Natives, Gold Fields, Shout Out Louds, Shout Out Out Out, GEMS and more. If you click, you will also get a few quick notes on winners and losers.

So do it. Sing with me, MEEEMMMOOOORRRIIIEESS!!!11!shift+1

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Andre Obin – The Arsonist

Rating: ★★★★☆

We rarely think of electronic artists carrying stage presence. We rarely consider live performance an important aspect of an electronic act. Andre Obin won electronic performer of the year according to hometown Boston’s Music Awards.

The reality is that having good material can trump all. The latest album effort from Andre is called The Arsonist, assumingly for the strong third track we have shared here. But we’ll get there, let’s start at the beginning.

The first seven minutes of the record is dedicated to a song called “Golden Hair”, a simple progression of tones set the stage for an oncoming bassline that starts in the higher octaves and is filled in with angrier deeper synth tones and an inevitable drum track no less that two and half minutes in. I love the slow builder, though formulaic, when the right sounds are peppered in, it can be raise the hair on your arms at high volume. This sends me right to my roots in electronic music of GOA trance, D&B and bands like Orbital and Higher Intelligence Agency. Lofty affected vocals, allegory to Rapunzel, fill the content so the wife doesn’t get mad about songs with out words.

“Blue Powder” changes things up a beat, slows it down, less dream, more synth ballad. Lyrically soft, but intentionally, so, think M83. Title track next, holy crap, I love this song. And quite honestly, it may be the biggest barrier to me upping the score on the album. It is a stand out for me, setting an unreasonable bar.

“Lemondrop” peppers in more M83 vibe, maybe even a little chill wave meets Massive Attack, coolly hollowed breaks and dominant drum track. “Soft Rain” is the probably the poppiest jam on the album. I used it in the SxSW preview and the synth hook makes you smile. Mood changer. “Gazelle” is a mantra-driven darker jam, perhaps the low point on the album for me, but the previous and next tracks are that much better. “Enjoy” deploys the longwave synth bassline and high atmospheric tags that I have always been a sucker for. It is brow down driving music.

The 43 minutes with Andre ends with track eight, “Anthem”. It is a statement, kind of all the things he loves in one song. Big synth hooks, changing tempo, breaks and beats; I think Andre is a Gary Numan fan. The circular lyrics run, “it’s a lot to take home, the thoughts that take hold, there’s so much at stake, it’s a lot to take.”

Unfortunately, my brief SxSW encounter was a late night technical difficulty. The tracks I heard performed were hampered by I/o issues, but did still sound solid as he tours with a drummer and and synth/bass/guitar. I would like to see him again in a proper setting…

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Brighten Your Day with Songs for Walter

coverCloudy days always seem to go one or two directions, musically speaking.  I can delve into my sad bastard catalogue, or venture about for some good old fashioned pop gems.  I’m going to do both, but I’m going to share this new Songs for Walter track in hopes that it will pick you up today. Main man Laurie Hulme has a great voice to accompany his pop balladry, and he’s agreed to release a song a month until his next proper full length is ready.  I like the light instrumentation here, with the crisp string sound really doing its job to win me over.  Pay attention to his label, Bleeding Gold, as they’re likely to keep you in the know about future single and that full-length right around the corner.

[audio:https://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Bleeding-Gold-Records-BG046-Family-Hold-Back-01-Family-Hold-Back.mp3]

Download: Songs for Walter – Family Hold Back [MP3]

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