The Moose Lodge

I’m sure many of you aren’t aware that our local chapter of The Loyal Order of Moose recently underwent a huge renovation at their lodge on the east side.  Why is this important you ask?  Well music fans, The Lodge is starting to put together some pretty interesting shows/parties full of great local acts you might want to check out.  Tonight (12/18) the Moose Lodge brings you Hollywood Gossip, The Gary Newcombe Trio, & MIss Jackson.  Friday night (12/19) things get even better with The Golden Boys, Harlem, Welfare Mother, and Alright Tonight putting on a show.  If those two nights don’t work for you, wait till Sunday (12/21) and make it out for Plutonium Farmers.  Doors for all shows will open at 8pm.  Directions to the venue can be found here.

The Hood Internet V.3

The internet has gone crazy this week with free mix tapes!  I have no doubt that the new Hood Internet Volume 3 Mix Tape will end up being the best one yet. (or at least the best one we’ve told you about this week)  If you aren’t familiar with The Hood Internet, the duo take one indie rock song and blend it with a popular rap/hip-hop song which usually results in dance party gold.  The new volume includes 34 brand new mashups with madness like Ludacris Vs. She & Him, Ghostface Killah Vs. Caribou, and Fleetwood Mac Vs. Daft Punk.  Yikes!  Check it out now and get the party started right!

TV on the Radio – Dear Science,

Rating: ★★★★☆

Does the absence of a song such as “Wolf Like Me” devalue a new venture by a popular band?  TV on the Radio poses such a question to the audience of independent music with their newest effort Dear Science,.

By opening with “Halfway Home” the band walks the thinnest of lines between new direction and tried and true talent.  The pounding song, full of handclaps, pushes forward, with an atmospheric guitar swirling in the background.  Outside of the chorus, listeners will immediately notice the more subdued approach the band has embarked upon.

Oddly, the band discards the often apparent gang-vocals approach they’ve used in their previous albums, instead choosing to focus the singing duties for one singer per song, at least for the most part. Stranger still is the lack of real instruments present; the drums sound more programmed than anything they’ve done before.  Sure, you have strings and horns, adding a strikingly subtle emotion to the entirety of the album, but no real musicianship, give or take a few songs.

Yet at the core of the album is a band that is able to perfect exactly what they want.  This album comes off more as a traditional R & B album, with a revisionist standpoint.  Of course there are a few odd songs, such as “Dancing Choose,” which is full of vocals reminiscent of Billy Joel when he was telling us that “we didn’t start the fire.”  Then you juxtapose that with a song like “Family Tree,” which some might call the most beautiful song TV on the Radio has ever written, even with its Brit-Pop leanings.

Admiration is owed to the band for their desire to go in newer, albeit, stranger directions.  They haven’t rested on their popularity; they have continued to progress with their own direction in tact.  The throbbing bass lines of “Golden Age” with its funk skeletal backbone might have pushed some listeners away, but those that used the surface value of this song as a statement on the album will surely miss out on some of the more amazing moments that come out on this record.

At the end of the day, TV on the Radio have answered the question in regards to the necessity of having a driving single to push album sales. With or without a huge hit, this is an album that shows superior growth in an entirely new direction, as the band continues to open new doors for themselves.  It’s all up to them to see where they can go.  I expect those new progressive moments to be as beautiful as the Gill-Young Wedding I attended this past weekend.

Xemumba ’08 Afterthoughts

The Latin music festival known as Xemumba can best be summarized as an audio/visual extravaganza that takes hold of your senses and never lets go. One minute you’re sipping on a beer listening to the latest salsa coming out of Cuba, and then your running upstairs to watch the UT ballet folklorico cuttin’ a rug. Oh and then you have tasty South American treats to munch on, while watching a Spanish documentary made by local film makers. Xemumba even had opportunities to help out less fortunate young hispanic girls in the community. Not impressed yet? After the jump is a quick review of each band we saw on Friday at the festival with photos (Saturday unfortunately was postponed to a later date. We’ll of course let you know when the event is rescheduled). 

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Jaguar Love – Take Me to the Sea

Rating: ★★★½☆

When I first head about the union of former Pretty Girls Make Graves member, Jay Clark, with two of the Blood Brothers, I was salivating in wake for the release of a full length.  The potential for this combination could reach no bounds in my imagination, but come to find out, there are some boundaries for this band.

The opening track, “Highways of Gold,” fails to let me down.  Each time I play this song I’m invigorated by the rise and fall of the guitar work, as it approaches the angular tour de force that I anticipated. Had they reined it in about thirty seconds, then this could be a front runner for one of my favorites of the year.

I suppose that at this point, I should let you know that singer Johnny Whitney’s voice can be grating.  Personally, I’ve adapted to it after settling in to several Blood Brothers’ albums, but I can foresee this as a problem for many listeners.  If you can’t look past it in the first song, then you can’t get through this album.

Still, the next three songs are solid tracks.  In particular, “Georgia” won me over with its proximity to a modern indie ballad done in the post-punk way.  Lyrically, these songs set the face, from the doomsday homages in “Jaguar Pirates” to the personal pain that comes with “Georgia,” which still kind of deals with the effects of living in the modern world.

However, the album starts to get repetitive at this point.  The musicianship is exactly what you expect, with tight drumming and throbbing bass, piled upon razor-sharp guitars, but at this point it kind of blends into itself.  There isn’t any differentiation in the vocals, and the music, like a Blood Brothers album, or the later Pretty Girls Make Graves records for that fact.  It’s not that the music is uninteresting, but the pace and power disappear.

Then comes the eighth track on the record, “Bone Trees and a Broken Heart,” which is another slow song for the group.  Strangely, their slower songs are just as intriguing to my ears as their louder material.  For me, it represents the talent this group possesses, not to mention their abilities to go pretty much anywhere on this record.  It’s just too bad that they don’t really go anywhere, aside from the expected barrage of noise I predicted in my earlier fantasies of this band.

Once you get away from Whitney’s vocals, you’ll find–those of you that like to rock–that this record has a lot of redeemable qualities about it.  It’s listenable all the way through, at least for those of this ilk. It might not be anything that takes you out of this world, but then again, it meets almost all of my expectations.  Good start fellas, now hit the showers.

I Got Jay Reatarded Last Night

It’s less than twelve hours since I walked away from the scuzzy walls of Red Seven, and still my ears are ringing from the sheer level of noise that I gladly witnessed, as rock n’ roll returned once again to my life. It’s funny, I listen to a lot of music, but its seems rock has become less of a staple in my music dietary supplements. I would like to extend my gratitude to Jay Reatard for reaffirming my belief in it’s greatness – even with possible hearing loss.

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The Notwist – The Devil, You + Me

Rating: ★★★★☆

The album opener sets the tone for this album. “Good Lies,” kicks off this record with an introduction to the group’s guitar-work. It’s quite a change from their near-perfect Neon Golden. This song bounces along, being pushed by the guitars, but it doesn’t quite have the pace of songs like “Pilot,” off their previous album. Where you hope for a dramatic shift, it just goes along, then adds a little bit of the electronic beats, which is where the band receives a lot of their accolades.

Another solid number that opens a new vein for The Notwist is “Gloomy Planet.” The soothing voice of Markus Acher is layered beneath a strumming acoustic guitar, while the minimal beats dance their way to the background. The subject matter of the song seems a bit gloomier than prior efforts, but I think that title of the album really sets that mood from the minute you purchase this album.

There are definitely some redundant parts on this album, such as “Alphabet,” but I think it is really hard to pull of this dynamic sound without treading over the same round again and again. On top of that, you add the lack of range for Acher, and at times the album kind of just blends in with itself, which I think is going to be the biggest complaint from any listener. That, and there are a few moments where they push the electronic buttons a little too loud and too far, which got a little grating on my ears, as short-lived as it was.

Given some weaknesses, there are some supreme moments on this album. For me, as a listener, “On Planet Off,” is reminiscent of some of the Industrial nineties music that I just adored, only a great deal more ambient than all that. Not to mention, you don’t find a lot of songs better than “Devil, YOu + Me” these days. Then you comes along a song like “Boneless” near the end of the album to pick the pace back up and put a little bit of a bounce back in your step.

You add the faults and the good moments in this record, and you find a rarity in today’s music world. You find an album that you can listen to from start to finish; each track requires careful attention, and with that attention, each song continues to open up new doors for you. It may not be the album that blows your hair back, but it is an album that fails to let you down, which is a lot to say for a band that was surrounded in hype and anticipation.

Here’s a track off the new album called “Good Lies”:

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

Download: goodlies.mp3

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