Throughout my various twists and turns as a music fan, there have always been a handful of bands that have remained staples in my listening rotation, and Nada Surf has always been one such act. Today they announce that they’re back with a brand new album, and the opening single has that melodic guitar buzz that’s been there going on 30 years; it’s balanced by Matthew’s voice, giving the song that emotive softness. They do switch it up to offer a spoken word moment at the song’s forefront just before the 2 minute mark; it offers the band’s critique on the state of the world and how we can participate to make it better for all of us. Hooks and a message? Never Not Together is out on February 7th via Barsuk.
If you’ve learned anything about me over these last 10 plus years it’s that I’m the truest sucker for a good pop song, and I was no match for this Chris Staples tune. At first, I was drawn to Chris’ voice; it has this gentle whispering intimacy that sort of makes me nostalgic for the kid I was in the late 90s. But, as I spun it a few more times, there’s these little underlying musical hooks; I love the layering of the guitar tracks upon one another, with one strumming and the other one coursing throughout..kind of reminds me of ol’ Al Hambone JR, particularly in the chorus. I don’t know; this is the way to rule a Friday. His new record Holy Moly will be out on June 28th via Barsuk.
I’m absolutely in love with this new Chris Staples tune; I can’t quit playing it this morning. There’s something about his voice that makes it seem like it might be perfect for some classic pop tune your parents would adore, or maybe even an indiepop nod at the moment. But, the thing that has me is the arrangements that seem to almost caress Staples voice. The piano seems to get the most attention, though I appreciate the light strum; it sort of reminds me of the production on early Kings of Convenience tracks long ago; then those elegant strings come in ever so carefully…all of it seems to fit perfectly in place. Holy Moly is the new LP, out June 28th via Barsuk.
While meandering around the internet yesterday, I went into a Pedro the Lion/David Bazan wormhole and came out with information about a new LP from Bazan coming out this Friday. I have no idea what pile of rocks I’ve been under to miss out on this news, but Bazan is so important to my musical history that I’ll be sharing his music regardless of timeliness. The new album I previously mentioned is really more of a collection of songs which saw release on 7″ vinyl last spring via Bazan’s monthly series in 2 volumes. The songs have been reworked, fleshed out, and some have even been redone completely. As a preview, I found this new song “Kept Secrets” on soundcloud yesterday. As always, prepare to be amazed, entranced, and possibly broken down emotionally.
Blanco will hit stores this Friday, May 13th. Pre-order now via Undertow.
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Man I’ve really lost touch with Mates of State over the years. Well, maybe not just lost touch so much as not being a huge fan of their material from the last few years. Fair enough? Today I’m excited to be posting about the band for the first time in almost 6 years(yes I had to search that) with this sweet little track “Beautiful Kids”. For me, it’s a return to old form. Combined with a darker pop beat are those all too familiar perfectly synced vocals and lyrics sure to make even the toughest guy swoon just a little bit. Well done.
Mates have a new EP entitled You’re Going to Make It due out June 16th on Barsuk Records.
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I make no excuses for my love of really powerful pop music, even if it comes in the simplest of forms. That’s exactly why I like listening to the music of Small Feet…the project of Sweden’s Simon Stalhamre. When you listen, you’ll probably be most attracted to Simon’s voice…it creates the emotion that I remember when I first listened to James Mercer (before he got boring), and perhaps a touch of Fleet Foxes in there too. Also, if you listen closely around the 3 minute mark, I swear you can hear an homage to Third Eye Blind. Barsuk will release From Far Away Everything Sounds Like the Ocean on August 7th, so pencil in a date for some pop music.
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Seattle based musician Chris Staples is often times more well known for the artists he frequently supports as a guitarist than for his own outstanding solo material. Today I want to put the spotlight on Chris and share with you his beauty of a new single called “Hold Onto Something”. You can expect a mellow tune that may take some time to get under your skin and find a home, but once it does, you will find it’s not going anywhere. Chris easily has one of my favorite voices in the business.
Pick up new album, American Soft, on August 12th via Barsuk Records.
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It’s been a busy year for Yellow Ostrich, having released Strange Land earlier via Barsuk, but the band is already back at it again with a set of six brand new songs for your ears. The EP is titled Ghost, and the first single is currently available for you to download. It’s interesting, as the group’s clearly playing with utilizing empty space in order to bring to life some of the inner harmonies they produce with just the vocals. There’s some handclaps being looped, and backing vocals for accompaniment, but overall it’s a fairly open tune. Dare I say it’s almost as if you’re being haunted by a ghost?[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Yellow-Ostrich-Ghost.mp3]
Download:Yellow Ostrich – Ghost [MP3]
Brent Knopf is probably best known for his work in Menomena, but his work with Ramona Falls seems to be leading him in a really remarkable direction. The group will release their second album, Prophet, via Barsuk on May 1st, and I won’t be let down if it sounds anything at all like the track below. It’s got a lot of maneuvering going on musically, with slight bits of beautiful vocals thrown here and there. As it comes to a close, it takes on a more spirited emotion, ending with a track that we won’t soon forget. Better get on this soon; it’s that good. Plus, check out a track they tossed out earlier that I completely skipped over! Sorry about that.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Sqworm-1.mp3]
Download:Ramona Falls – Sqworm [MP3][audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/rf_spore.mp3]
Download:Ramona Falls – Spore [MP3]
When a band releases their seventh album in well over a decade, you have to wonder, what’s left to prove? Those of you who’ve followed the endearing path of Nada Surf for the duration will find that The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy is indicative of a band still willing to go out and have a blast in the studio; they’re completely willing to play to their strengths and bring you pure pop goodness.
While their last two outings might have come across as a bit subdued, Nada Surf has no intentions of resting on the middling ground of pop, so they bust forth with some of their most powerful tracks in years. “Clear Eyed Clouded Mind” jumps into your ears, pummeling forward, as much as the band is wont to do. Still, it’s Mathew Caws’ performance during the chorus that completely wins your heart over, just as he’s always done. They kick right into “Waiting for Something,” which comes across like a softer, but equally as powerful, Superchunk. Those guitar lines unleash melody after melody, accentuated by Caws. Surely, long-time fans, as well as newcomers, will hear the noticeable effort the band has created in putting these tracks together.
The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy might have just the perfect balance in song order, kicking things off energetically, then pulling back just a little bit whilst maintaining a whole lot of fluidity. “Jules and Jim” has a chiming guitar intro before Caws goes off into personal reflection lyrically. Still, the slightest touches of detailing such as the faintest sound of bells and far off vocal accompaniment prove Nada Surf is still focused on providing listeners with a complete sound in each track. But for all that, this is very much a guitar-oriented record.
“Teenage Dreams” has a nice bit of guitar choppiness correlating to the stomping drums, before the song searches for steadier pastures. And then “Looking Through” bursts through with a quick paced bit of the purest pop, the likes that only Nada Surf seem to have mastered. But, as much the guitars play a starring role throughout, The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy still holds dear to the tried-and-true principals the band has always stuck with: pop goodness. “Let the Fight Do the Fighting” is a return to the solemnity and melody that always drew me to the group. It sounds more polished than a lot of the other tracks, and the accompaniment of strings only serves to emotionally impact the listener. Pop music’s not supposed to be hard; it’s supposed to be good–this definitely falls into that category.
Whether you’re a long time fan or a newbie, Nada Surf are one of the few bands that have always seemed to offer up perfect albums. They write pop songs you can sing to; they give you hooks you can sink your teeth into; and their albums will still be enjoyed years after your favorite current fad is gone. Such is the power of great songwriting, the sort that’s present for the entirety of The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/03-When-I-Was-Young-1.mp3]
Download:Nada Surf – When I Was Young [MP3]