Show Pics: Merchandise @ Strange Matter (10/23)

MerchandiseI missed my Austin, but Cleveland was pretty cool and I ended up getting an Austin vibe from Richmond, Y2K Austin vibe. It is a smaller place, college town, passed over by national tours and a filler stop for guys in vans.

ATH on the road checked in at Strange Matter. It is a venue that again reminds me of the old Emo’s inside, only with a full kitchen that can satisfy your burger cravings while you girlfriend gnoshes on Vegan faire. Playing at Strange Matter was Merchandise. Italy’s Ninos Du Brasil are on the road with Merch and locals Dead Fame and Bermuda Triangles rounded out the bill.

Click through for a few thoughts and plenty of pics…

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Ariel Pink Releases New Single

bbDespite his ability to ruffle the feathers of Ariel Pink, the dude still has a way of making tunes that fascinate me. This new single, “Black Ballerina,” has an interesting musical angle.  Part of it reminds me of AP’s traditional work, though other parts seem to blend the smooth skills from Of Montreal with something you’d expect to hear Ian Dury release, and for all intents and purposes, I’m totally okay with that.  I think the beats pretty solid, and I like the oddity that comes with any Pink touch.  His new record, Pom Pom, will be available from 4AD on November 18th.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/14-Black-Ballerina.mp3]

 

Show Pics: Daughter @ The Mohawk (9/17)

There aren’t too many bands out there right now on the up swing of buzz that Daughter currently enjoys. The Mohawk was kind enough to host the freshly minted headliners as they rolled through town in a big bus, pulling a trailer with guitar techs and stage managers en employ. Though the forecast threatened a rain out, the people streamed in to endure the moist conditions and sweat to their new favorite band. Bear’s Den opened.

Click through for a few thoughts and plenty of pics.

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Camera Obscura – Desire Lines

desire

Rating: ★★★½ ·

Everybody loves Glasgow. Well, everyone should love Glasgow because that city puts out more great indie rock bands than most and Camera Obscura is no exception to that, as they’ve returned for their fifth studio album, Desire Lines.

The introductory song to this album is reminiscent of that bit of music that accompanies the production company/studio’s logo before a great movie begins. A mixture of some brief string arrangements, “Intro” gives out a slightly different vibe then you are used to with our Glaswegian Indie Pop power group. Though the group has never lacked maturity, this thirty-second opening lets you know that they are back and with a new take on their original sound that they first presented twelve years ago on Biggest Bluest Hi Fi and even vastly different than on My Maudlin Career, their most recent studio release.

So what’s changed you may ask? What has this varsity band done differently this time around to make their music stand out to new fans and still appeal to old? For the most part, not too much; you still have subtly confident front woman Tracyanne Campbell spinning tales of love and loss from behind the mic. Her vocals are ever the perfect balance of present and yet not overwhelming and missing a lot of the reverb that was present on their last album. In addition to the clarity in vocals, the reverb seems to be also missing from the rest of the elements of Camera Obscura’s indie pop to reveal a more straightforward rock approach. Such is apparent on single “Do It Again,” in which you have a fun little bouncy number complete with buzzing guitar and hyper percussion carrying you through. Another snappy number that will welcome you nicely to Desire Lines and make you glad you pressed play is “Troublemaker,” which jumps out for its bouncy tempo and catchy lyrics.

Really, there are a lot of little gems to be found on Desire Lines, but on the whole, the album rings a little flat in reference to the other albums in Camera Obscura’s long list of full lengths works. Perhaps it is a slower burner and this new collection of songs will grow to become favorites, but this new work doesn’t really wow you upon first listen or even after a few listens. Desire Lines is good, but not as grand as you’ve come to expect from such a band.

The National – Trouble Will Find Me

20130321_national_trouble_will_find_me_91

Rating: ★★★★★

Though already a staple of brooding indie rock and alternative music in general, The National are going to be one of those bands that follow you years down the road, regardless of their continuation of putting out new records. Fact of the matter is, time after time they have doled out albums whose entirety have wowed audiences, as they are filled to the brim with tracks that speak on a deeper emotional level while also rocking out pretty hard at points. If you haven’t figured it out by now, they’re sort of a big deal, and if you haven’t fallen in love with them by now Trouble Will Find Me is yet again another perfect place to start.

Around for 14 years and counting, this group of middle-aged men has found an uncanny way of speaking to you in ways you never thought they could and they keep on digging their way deeper on this sixth full length studio release. They’ve made some changes, but overall they’re still the same tight knit crew of brooders that will break your heart in some strange way that you enjoy. First up on Trouble Will Find Me is “I Should Live In Salt,” which brings you into the new sound for the band. As always, front man extraordinaire Matt Berninger croons away behind the lead vocals, but his voice has found a new vulnerability in its higher register here. Instead of his deep baritone, borderline mumbling voice, which is the norm for the band, we are introduced to this higher version of our favorite dark and cynical voice and the result is already and emotive difference. If you can believe it, The National have added yet another layer to their emotive depth, making this one of their most accessible albums.

As with any brilliant album, upon the first listen through, every song seems to be fighting for the prize of best track in your mind; every twist and turn the band takes seems to build upon something bigger. On Trouble Will Find Me, this is truth in every sense—the imagery carries through from track to track and if you’re listening closely, from their previous releases. However, it’s not just a rehashing of what they’ve already done, but a slightly different take on the dark and swirling mood that The National is famous for. Don’t get me wrong, they’re still extra dark and swirling like you like them, but at places, these dark clouds part a little to reveal a little glimmer of light. Take some lyrics from one of the most anthemic songs the band has written, “Graceless:” “Put the flowers you find in vase/if you’re dead in the morning they’ll brighten the place/don’t let ‘em die on the vines, it’s a waste.”

When I said accessible earlier, I didn’t mean easy or lazy or boring, but the very opposite. I could go through song by song here, iterating to you how excellent each one is, but Trouble Will Find Me speaks for itself. If you’ve been present in the indie world in the last few months, it’s quite possible you’ve already heard anywhere from one to five of the songs off this album without participating in any sort of illegal activity; the band has played the songs. They were confident that every song on this album is a solid, well-produced addition to their already extensive catalogue of highly emotive and outright beautiful music. They were right.

 

Mellow Jam from Camera Obscura

cameraobscura11Man, I can’t tell you how long I’ve waited to hear more from Camera Obscura.  Their last two albums have long haunted my playlist, always leaving a special place in my heart.  Today they released the second single from their upcoming album, Desire Lines, which will be released by 4AD on June 4th.  Listening to this track, I love the relaxed quality of the tune, taking its time for Tracyanne to win us all over with her vocals.  It’s a simple tune in construction, aside from some soloing guitar work near the latter half of the song, but it’s perfect in execution, guaranteeing that we’ll love the new record.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/fifth_in_line.mp3]

Download: Camera Obscura – Fifth in Line to the Throne [MP3]

Twin Shadow Takes Texas

It’s time ladies and germs, Twin Shadow is coming to Texas finally and Mr. Lewis Jr. with his PR team are doing some special things to get everyone excited for his Lone Star dates.  For starters, here’s a quick list of where Twin Shadow is playing and if tickets are available:

9/13 – @ Trees in Dallas ($15 @ Frontgate)

9/14 – @ Mohawk Austin (SOLD OUT)

9/15 – @ Waterloo Records in Austin (FREE) – 5:30 pm

9/15 – @ Mohawk Austin (SOLD OUT)

9/16 – @ Fitgerald’s Houston ($15 @ Stubbwire)

9/17 – @ Cine el Rey Mcallen

All shows are supported by Sub Pop band Nikki and the Dove.

Twin Shadow will also be selling a new 7″ on the road exclusive to his Texas dates and a few exclusive Lone Star state record stores.  The record single features sweet tune “Run My Heart” with new bonus track “Get What You Want” as a B-side.  Those not able to make it down to Texas can check out a stream of “Run My Heart” below and can follow this link for a handy stream of the new tune.  Stay tuned later this week for a giveaway to one of the Austin shows with a free 7″ as well.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/RunMyHeart.mp3]

Incredible Pop Number from Twin Shadow

This little jam’s been floating around for a day or so, and it only gets more incredible with time.  We loved the first release from Twin Shadow (the working name of George Lewis Jr.), so when Confess comes out on July 10th (4AD)  you know we’re going to snatch it right up. From my first listen, there sounds like there’s going to be a bit more of a pronounced production value on this release.  Here, you can almost place the track inside your favorite 80s movie; you’ve got to love the sharpness of the guitar.  Lewis’ vocals are top notch and captivating on this song to boot! Enjoy.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/fiveseconds.mp3]

Download: Twin Shadow – Five Seconds [MP3]

More New Music From Broken Records

Broken Records are gearing up to release their new LP Let Me Come Home on 4AD Records next week.  Leading up to the release, the band has a few surprises in store.  First up is new single “You Know You’re Not Dead” found below for downloading and streaming.  Even more enticing, you can stream the entire new album prior to next week over on MOG.  Last but not least, the band recently recorded a 4AD live session featuring some of the tunes from their new album.  Muchas gracias Broken Records.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/08-You-Know-Youre-Not-Dead.mp3]

Download: Broken Records – You Know You’re Not Dead [MP3]

Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Deep within the confines of the vast, mysterious internet, news of a certain album emerged. Following the leak debacle of the last release, Bradford Cox and Co. took a more ambiguous approach to releasing a record. The Atlanta based quartet known for their post-punk, shoe gaze roots and enthralling live shows have been relatively quiet since the fantastic Microcastle and pre-release fiasco. The only news we heard even related to Deerhunter was a small tour with untitled new material. This tour debuted while much more press attention was paid to Bradford Cox’s solo outfit Atlas Sound, with its 2009 release of Logos and subsequent tour. Grumblings here and there and a subversive marketing strategy soon after allowed us to put the pieces together and alas we find ourselves in the midst of another gem of a record, Halcyon Digest released via 4AD.

On the opening track ‘Earthquake’, Deerhunter takes a slow, steady approach in reintroducing themselves to the listener. At once, we find ourselves in the middle of an alien, yet unmistakably familiar soundscape. Like the spider and the fly, Cox has a way of pulling the listener in with his swan-song voice while slowly sucking the life out his prey with the rhythm. Though this process is not a violent one; it’s a beautiful dance where Deerhunter spin their web, all senses at once pulsate before it seems like it’s too much. The tapping of a foot turns to muscle memory and we can barely hear the world around us. Rise and fall, these moments erase from existence and what are left are Cox, Pundt, Fauver, Archuleta , and their stunning torturing devices only to open us up and let them in. There’s no way to resist, as our grey matter is their lunch.

On Cryptograms, the band went through a rough stretch and this era brought out a more disjointed song structure while producing some of the group’s most complex ambient elements thanks to Lockett Pundt’s silky-smooth approach. With Microcastle, Cox and Co. reformed with a new purpose and the while the ramblings of previous times are more or less gone, a stronger comprehensive album composition emerged, though the group can’t quite reach that same level at present. There are elements of both sides to the story on display here with ‘Basement Scene’ and ‘Revival’, respectively. This shows that the band is aware of their roots and is willing to not hide their past while searching for perfection. Obviously they are on the right track and even find a new lighter style as heard on ‘Desire Lines’, a definite highlight on the record.

“The devil is now gone from me” croons Bradford Cox on the near perfect track ‘Helicopter’, but I don’t believe him. It’s evil how seamlessly he can create touching and soft, yet unreasonably haunting lyrics. It’s straight up sinful how he can pair these lyrics to the music with such reason and perfection. The tone changes and compositions on this track alone are catching the eye and ears of everyone far beyond the indie community.

With Halcyon Digest, Deerhunter have found themselves as comfortable in their own sound and skin as never before and we can hear this stability in the record as a whole. The vast waves of psychedelia contrasting with the subtle nuances Cox is growing to become well known for are everywhere to be heard. Hipster communities will wine and cry about it, but they’re going to need to find a new band to love, as Deerhunter is soon to become mainstream news. This album has solidified them in the driver’s seat in the indie genre (perhaps even more) and there’s no hope of commandeering the wheel. They are on a road, destination unknown, and you might as well jump in the back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/08-Helicopter.mp3]

Download: Deerhunter – Helicopter [MP3]

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