New Music From Broken Records

Broken Records are a Scottish band that have been on our radar for awhile, so imagine or excitement when reading today that a new record is soon to hit stores.  New album Let Me Come Home will be released October 25th on 4AD Records.  Latest single “A Leaving Song” from the upcoming record can be had for your enjoyment below.  We’ll be one of the many saying this record will be a good one.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/A-Leaving-Song-1.mp3]

Download: Broken Records – A Leaving Song [MP3]

Stornoway – Beachcomber’s Windowsill

Rating: ★★★½☆

In what seems an endless stream of choral, men’s folk group releases in the past year or so (i.e. The Avett Bros., Mumford and Sons to name a few), another has come along with a highly impressive entrance; this time from across the pond. Coming in with their debut album via 4AD, is the quartet (+ two) Stornoway, hailing from Oxford. Their debut album is chockfull of beautiful vocal arrangements and tight folk instrumentation, including a healthy string section, a scholarly intelligence, and a distinctive character to today’s folk music.

Although Stornoway resonate folk in its purest sense, few folk groups can convincingly croon about the topics of which these Oxford lads converse. The opening track, ‘Zorbing’ gives the listener a good sense of the experiential disconnects. (Try to make it through the whole video without feeling nauseous.) Zorbing if you weren’t aware “is the recreation of rolling downhill in an orb”. This track was the first single to catch the airwaves several years ago in the U.K.. The release only whet the appetite for hungry ears, though only recently are they getting much attention states-side. Correspondingly to this rather obscure hobby, the album slowly rolls along a gentle slope in a graceful and joyous manner. The addition of organ and harpsichord on ‘Fuel Up’ makes this song a dense, catchy tune. The violin and piano intro combined with the stark vocals give ‘The Coldharbour Road’ a more dark, haunting, and bitter tone but the track builds into a warming glow like a lantern on a dim-lit ocean-side.

While listening to ‘We Are the Battery Human’ and a healthy dose of banjo with barber shop quartet vocals is the perfect soundtrack to jump in the Lorry with a group of mates and drive aimlessly after a few pints. This reaction is similar to the way the record as a whole feels. It’s carefree and simple but with a sophisticated tone about it. ‘Watching Birds’ is without a doubt the heaviest anthem on the record. It’s a barn burner with the accompaniment of a kazoo! The title of this track refers to the fun fact that lead singer Brian Briggs holds a PhD in Ornithology, the study of birds. Supposedly during their live sets, he likes to teach the audience of habits of birds and their characteristics, though I have to see this to believe it.

The group slows the tempo back down for ‘On the Rocks’, a slow building ballad focusing more on the vocals and beautiful songwriting. Before long, the snare drum beat accelerates into a locomotive pushing the song along with wonderful harmonies and the vocals grow into a goose-bump inducing crescendo. On ‘Long Distance Lullaby’, the bell tolls for the final track and an echo of “good night” and a wonderful send off for one of the finest debut records to come wafting in the winds from the UK in a long time.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/01-stornoway-zorbing.mp3]

Download: Stornoway – Zorbing [MP3]

New Tunes from Stornoway

I’m really surprised that we haven’t heard too much on this side of the pond about Stornoway.  They’ve got everything we love about our own bands, not to mention Brian Briggs’ incredible set of pipes.  Luckily, this single has come to us from 4AD, and it will be on the band’s debut album Beachcomber’s Windowsill.  This song begins with percussion and gentle strumming before Briggs decides he wants to carry the rest of the song with his voice (the music stays, but his voice dominates).  If this is what we can expect, then huge things are expected from this band.  Check out their album on May 24th.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/09-On-The-Rocks-1.mp3]

Download: Stornoway – On the Rocks [MP3]

New Music From Blonde Redhead

Man, when was the last time you remember hearing anything from Blonde Redhead?  I can’t seem to remember anything from the band since their last LP 21?  Being a supporter of the group, I was pumped to find this new MP3 “Not Getting There” floating around the internet today.  The track apparently appeared on the exclusive 4AD 12″ vinyl released on Record Store Day.  Hopefully this means we can expect more new material in the near future.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/blonde-redhead-not-getting-there.mp3]

Download: Blonde Redhead – Not Getting There [MP3]

New Music From Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti

The “ecentric” musician Ariel Pink and his new backing band, Haunted Graffiti, are planning their first group effort LP for release this spring on 4AD.  Prior to the album date, the group plan to release a 7″ single which will be made available physical and digitally on april 26th.  The tune below, “Round and Round”, is the A-side on the upcoming single.  Deets on the full LP to come.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/RoundandRound.mp3]

Download: Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Round and Round [MP3]

Efterklang – Magic Chairs

Efterklang_Magic_Chairs_emailRating: ★★★★½

Following on the recognition in part to a dedicated fan base, a live repertoire rapidly becoming known as one of the best acts to catch in the world, and a newly inked contract with 4AD, the Copenhagen-based quartet Efterklang are set to release their 3rd studio album, Magic Chairs. Trying to improve on Parades, one of the best albums of 2007 and last year’s vastly underrated live recording, Performing Parades is a difficult feat. Luckily for the listener, Efterklang are fully committed to the challenge.

In comparison, this release is by far their most extroverted album and with their imminent reprise at SXSW 2010, after a US tour with locals Balmorhea, these indomitable souls are positioned to make big waves. On this release, they adopted a unique approach to recording, displaying their acumen for performing. Ask anyone who has seen their show and they will tell you that their skill flourishes with their unrivaled live presence. These songs were born in a live venue and after the blemishes were removed and the arrangements completed, the setting was reproduced in the studio with the help of their touring members including siblings Peter and Heather Broderick. The tracks were then mastered with the help of famed British producer Gareth Jones (Depeche Mode, Interpol, and Grizzly Bear). The overall aesthetic is obviously something taken very seriously as Efterklang has enlisted Hvass & Hannibal to once again produce beautiful and provocative album artwork.  

With Magic Chairs, Efterklang has bridged the gap into a more accessible realm of pop music. The first single is the relentlessly catchy “Modern Drift” which opens with a simple piano pattern soon paired by Casper Clausen’s deep and vibrating vocals before building into a sound of trademark Efterklang as we know them.  This back to basics style is quite a leap from earlier releases, especially their 2004 debut Tripper. In doing so, they may have abandoned a few fans who have grown used to the more prominent electronic influences from Mads Brauer, Casper Clausen’s soaring (though unrecognizable) lyrics and Peter Broderick’s vast string arrangements.

Efterklang seek perhaps a more profitable labor and have mostly abandoned their immense, cinematic presence and incomprehensible lyrics for a more understandable, logical approach. Songs titles “Harmonics” and “Natural Tune” are obvious indications of this endeavor. However, what they have left behind has not completely vanished and with repeated listens, the layers remain; though more subtle and carefully placed. This attention to detail is most impressively heard in the one-two punch of “Raincoats” and “Harmonics”, which is by far one of the strongest moments on the album. Here they draw obvious influences from the Dirty Projectors by means of majestic harmonization, utilizing heavy percussive elements, and the addition of subtle Radiohead-esque arrangements.

The one weak moment in the album for me is the bubbly “Scandinavian Love”, which is undeniably the most poppy track on the album and although the rifts ate catchy, it feels like a rushed product. I will withhold-complete judgment until I hear it performed live.

Other highlights include “The Soft Beating” with soaring vocals and subtle electronic influences which calmly and delicately build into a strong finish where “it all comes down” and the dreamy, thought provoking “Mirror Mirror” which seems to feed my imagination seems like the only obvious bridge between their last release, Parades. The last track on the album, “Natural Tune” contains a beautiful and supple duet with simple piano and guitar interplayed. It’s a stunning finish to one of the best albums of the year thus far and I fully expect to find it on many best of lists.

After multiple listens it’s truly a difficult process to find fault besides those mentioned above. That says much about Efterklang’s work ethic and their endless steps towards pop perfection. I reserve a half star due to the fact that these songs were instinctive live songs and fittingly their place is in a live setting.  Luckily for them, I’ll be at SXSW seeking them out with my gold half-star in hand. 

Also the whole album is streaming right now over on Sound Venue.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/01-Modern-Drift.mp3]

Download: Efterklang – Modern Drift [MP3]

New Music From Efterklang

efterklangWe were introduced to the greatness known as Efterklang during SXSW last year, and we’ve been following the band ever since.  Previously only available in video form as of a few days ago, this new song “Modern Drift” now has an MP3 available for downloading.  The track will appear on the band’s upcoming album Magic Chairs due out Feb. 22nd on 4AD.  I’m honestly enjoying this track probably more than anything else that has come out so far this year.  Let’s hope the rest of the album delivers as well.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/01-Modern-Drift.mp3]

Download: Efterklang – Modern Drift [MP3]

Free Sampler From 4AD

4adThe huge UK record label 4AD are back in action again at the end of the year with another free sampler that highlights their releases from 2010.  You’ll see ATH favorites Camera Obscura, Big Pink, M. Ward, and a slew of others.  You’ll also find this gem from The National called “So Far Around the Bend” which appeared on the Dark Was the Night compilation.  The sampler is free to download for the price of an email address.  While you’re at it, check out the sampler released by 4AD around this time last year.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/1-05-So-Far-Around-The-Bend.mp3]

Download: The National – So Far Around The Bend [MP3]

New Music From Tindersticks

tindersticksReally not sure how I missed this sweet new Tindersticks tune “Black Smoke” that hit the interwebs a couple of weeks ago.  It’s sort of a 60s throw back sounding tune with vocals that fit in perfectly alongside that sweet sax solo at the end.  The new Tindersticks album, Falling Down a Mountain, will hit stores Jan. 25th in the UK (via 4AD) and Feb. 16th in the states (via Constellation). This should be another album to watch for in 2010.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/07_Black_Smoke.mp3]

Download: Tinderstick – Black Smoke [MP3]

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