• Top Albums of 2021

    Honestly, I’m pretty over lists at this point. They’re arbitrary and don’t really reflect anything but someone’s tastes, except here where they reflect the tastes of three individuals…because that’s how

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  • Show Pics: Idles @ Stubb’s

    After over 2 years of being a home body and living with anxiety, mixed with a dash of unease, it was an overwhelmingly cathartic experience to get out of the

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  • Fest Pics: ACL 2021 In Review

    We are a little bit clear of ACL 2021’s two weekends. We dealt with the mental gymnastics required to attend both weekends during a pandemic. Proof of a negative test

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  • Rock n’ Recipes: Quivers

    Earlier this year, Quivers released the most excellent Golden Doubt, receiving rave reviews all over the globe…not to mention ATH adoration. So, having followed the band, we reached out to

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Sigur Ros – med sud I eyrum vid spilum endalaust

Rating: ★★★★☆

This band is epic. Given the task of singing “Happy Birthday” at an 8 year old’s birthday party, they could likely stretch the performance several minutes with multiple movements involving choirs of children and the London Sinfionetta. (see Ara Bitur`) That is just the natural skill of this foursome from Iceland. And though they showcase that skill in several areas of their new album; med sud I eyrum vid spilum endalaust, they have expanded their repertoire with looser, shorter, more traditional songs this time around.

The first track/single “Gobbledigook” isn’t quite their attempt at Ipod commercial appeal, but at just over three minutes, they might finally get to play on Letterman. In fact, there are only four songs on the album clocking in past five minutes. The single uses heavy percussion, alternating acoustic guitar lines, and harmonized vocals to create something… fun. Somewhat of a departure from the glacial, sparse musical landscapes they have focused on with their past five albums.

Building on the same theme, the second track is Inní Mér Syngur Vitleysingur. Though accompanied with brass and string sections and a soaring vocal melody, the driving force in this track is the bassline, piano, and four on the floor drumbeat.

Fans of the traditional epic sounds of Sigur Ros will also find much to enjoy on endalaust. Five minutes into Festival, the bassline and steady kick drum start the final build. Symphonic horns and strings add from there. Vocal harmonies, additional horns, and seemingly whatever other instrument is lying around the studio, take hold of the simple melody and build it to a stunning climax.

For me, the peak of the album comes with the turning point in Ara Bitur at four and a half minutes through the song. A simple piano line is augmented with lightly struck bass, and Jonsi’ Birgisson’s repeating vocal is suddenly accompanied with an entire symphony and children’s choir. At its peak, the song features 90 musicians playing at once. Recorded in one take in the Abbey Road studio in London, this is most epic track on the album.

In several niches of popular music, you can find dramatic shifts in loud/soft dynamics with bands like Explosions in the Sky, or even certain tracks like “Everlong“ from the Foo Fighters, but songs like this show just how far above their contemporaries Sigur Ros can be. It is tough to describe the resulting energy in this song relative to where it begins. Just make sure you only listen to it on empty desert roads with no speed limit, or seated comfortably in your home. But turn it up.

So with endalaust, Sigur Ros have shown that while they can narrow their scope and create succinct, meaningful, and well constructed songs that open them up to shorter attention spans and wider appeal, they are still kings of the epic.

06/26 Kadane Brothers Show + Interview

The Kadane Brothers delivered an intimate two guitar and no frills set at Emo’s Austin on Thursday night. Austin was the first show in a series of quick North American tour dates for Matt & Bubba Kadane without their backing band The New Year. The brothers showcased a few new songs off their forthcoming self titled release The New Year due out in September with their band of the same name. Each song of the set featured one of the two brothers singing lead with the other brother singing harmonies to back up. Read more

No Age @ Emos Tuesday (7/1)

No Age will be showing up at the Emos Austin indoor stage this Tuesday (7/1) with supporting act Abe Vigoda in tow. You can purchase tickets for the low low price of $8 on the ticketweb website. Opening act The Strange Boys are set to start at 10pm so No Age will probably be getting a fairly late start for those of you with jobs. Read more about No Age or hear a song off their critically acclaimed new album Nouns entitled “Eraser”:

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/no-age-eraser.mp3]

Download: eraser.mp3

The Omen

In all fairness 101x does have a rather good show on Sundays called The Next Big Thing. I’m afraid thats the only nice thing I have to say about 101x. Unless, of course, 101x wants to purchase a large amount of ad space on Austin Town Hall, in which case we are the biggest 101x fans around!

Alkaline Trio – Agony and Irony

Rating: ★★★★☆

For those expecting Alkaline Trio to come up with an entirely new formula for this album–their sixth full length–it may come as a disappointment, although it shouldn’t, that the band sticks close to their guns. They’ve been honing their skills at the pop-punk game for so long, that it might do more damage to fans if they strayed in a new direction.

Of course this album has the classic Alkaline lyrical stylings, filled with allusions to the darker side of things, which has always been Matt Skiba’s forte. An example of this lies in the song “Into the Night,” where Skiba sings “The carrion has been forgotten/Left for dead in the sun rotting.” It’s also visible with track titles such as “Calling All Skeletons” or “In Vein.” There is a real personal vibe in the lyrics as well, but I’ll let you listen to those on your own time.

There are some slip ups on the album such as the redundant lyrics in “Do You Wanna Know,” which is forgivable because of the quality of the music. Also, “Love Love Kiss Kiss” just doesn’t pack the same punch that the rest of the album offers listeners–not to mention how ridiculous the chorus is on this song.

However, there are some phenomenal songs here, such as “Over and Out,” which is probably one of the best songs I think that they’ve written in recent years– driven during the verses by some solid bass work. “Ruin It” is just another song that exemplifies everything that Alkaline Trio has been creating since their jump to the majors–and they throw in a nice vocal effect near the end to boot.

At first, I was weary of the really clean production on here–as I love the grit of that dirty guitar sound–but it really works to the benefit of the band here. Skiba’s melodies are well-suited by the newer sound the band has taken on. It makes the band sound sound really close to being at their absolute best. All good things.

Like I said, there isn’t anything new here–excluding the fact that there are new songs, of course–yet this is a solid effort from a well-seasoned band that has been doing it longer and better than most. Not quite the perfect album, but pretty close.

Below is a song called “Help Me” off the new album:

Download: helpme.mp3

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/alkaline-trio-help-me.mp3]

Modey Lemon @ Emos – 6/28

Modey Lemon was one of the more intriguing artists I caught a few years back at SXSW.  Their particular blend of post-punk was the perfect dosage of rock n’ roll that I needed.  Now they are headed our way again this Saturday night at Emos.  They’ll be accompanied by The Strange Attractors, Manikin and Black Panda.  

For those in need of a good evening, check out this guaranteed show. As usual, doors at 8, show at 10. You can get a good sample of their tunes by checking them out personally.

Keep Austin Weird Festival

The sixth annual Keep Austin Weird Festival & 5K will be taking place this Saturday(6/28) at Auditorium Shores. With us being a music website, we don’t really care too much about all that running so let’s talk about the killer lineup of bands for the festival. Bands will be getting started at 3 pm with Super Pal Universe and going until 8:30 pm with headliner Alejandro Escovedo. Other highlights include Austin band What Made Milwaukee Famous and my favorite new artist coming out of Austin Black Joe Lewis. Wristbands for the event are only $10 which is less than what you would pay to see any of these bands. Check out the website for the event for more information & band lineups. If that’s not enough to make you want to go, listen to “Gunpowder” by Black Joe Lewis and you’ll change your mind. Promise.

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

Download: gunpowder.mp3

06/23 Islands Show @ Waterloo

Islands are forever. Islands showed me at Waterloo on Monday what they were trying to do with the new album. If you read our review of their most recent album Arms Way, you know that we were kind of indifferent to the new direction the band was taking. We don’t hate the songs, but we don’t love em either. After Monday, Islands changed my mind about the album as so many bands can do when playing new material live. Read more

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