I hate to make comparisons to bands, but when you first tell people about someone, it’s always good to have a name check. So in the case of Twin Limb, I’m going to give a slight nod towards the Beach House sect…though I think they hold onto a bit more clarity in their production. Don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely a nice lush sound building behind the strength of the vocals, but in the simplicity the song is able to reach great heights (such great heights?). They’ve also just released a video for the song, so you can check that out HERE. I’ll keep you posted as I hear more from the band.
The big bands get all the love, so I want to further piggyback on B.Gray’s earlier post from last week and encourage you to go check out Widowspeak. I’ve loved their sets since I first caught them at SXSW a few years ago. While their sound has changed slightly since their first release, you can always count on the band to release tunes that deserve the adulation they’ve received. This year started out with the release of their underrated Almanac album on Captured Tracks, and they’re already backing that up with another set of tunes on the Swamps EP. They will be taking the stage in the earlier part of the day, but that’s all the more reason to show up to ACL early in order to catch some of the lesser-known joys of the music festival. For me, the Beach House set a few years back was what solidified my undying love for that act, and I have the sneaking suspicion that this year’s band may well be Widowspeak.
The band takes the stage each Friday at 12:45 PM on the Samsung Galaxy Stage. Enjoy a new song from the group that just got released below.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/03-Calico.mp3]
Here it is. I know you’ll hate it; I know you’ll disagree, but that’s not the point in making an arbitrary list. We here at ATH worked really hard to fit in the tastes of the four of us, and when we decided upon our Top 50, it really boied down to simple math. What albums did we love when they came out? Do we still enjoy spinning those records months later? If they’re in the Top 50, then the asnwer is probably yes. I mean, our Top 2 records came out in January, and still play a vital part in my weekly listening. There’s no disclaimer here. We are who we are, we like what we like, and we hope that’s okay with you. If not, drop us a line and let us know where we went wrong.
In what was an absolutely hectic night for the Austin music scene, we started our evening at Stubbs catching two of the better acts in the whole scene, The Walkmen and Beach House. For my two cents, there was only one clear-cut winner on the evening, but for that you’ll have to read on.
…not to mention you’ll get great pics from Brian Gray that you can’t get with your cellphone.
Do I really need to say anything about this show? I don’t think so. If you don’t have tickets, try to find some on craigslist kids. This show is sure to be one of the most anticipated in town of the year. Both of these bands are some of the few that can actually deliver what they record into the live setting. Opening support is provided by Dustin Wong. Oh and make sure you note the early door times so you don’t miss anything.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/01-Myth.mp3]
Download: Beach House – Myth [MP3][audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/The-Walkmen-Stranded.mp3]
Download: The Walkmen – Stranded [MP3]
Well, everyone else is doing it, so why don’t we? We’re going to toss out our top five albums of the year, except we’ll be doing it with our four main contributors, so hopefully that’ll mix things up a bit. Obviously, we’re only half-way through the year, so things are subject to change, and by things I mean our minds.
Let’s face it, there’s no one out there crafting music just like Beach House. That is, except Beach House. Seems redundant doesn’t it? Well, if you’re looking for a fault on the band’s fourth LP, then it might be that the group seems a bit cornered on Bloom. While the music itself is beautifully emotional, it’s not too far from where they left off with Teen Dream; that’s going to appease hordes of folks, but it might also leave some detractors this go round.
Beach House has a knack of opening an album with brilliance, much like they do here with “Myth.” That twinkling keyboard line complimented by the lofty vocals of Victoria Legrand demonstrate that the duo will continue to find themselves atop year-lists, with few songs capturing the eloquent pop of this track. When the group takes a slight turn near the 2 minute mark it’s clear to any listener that few songs can eclipse this one. Bloom is filled with similar moments like this opener, but it’s hard to top your first impression of this listening experience.
“Lazuli” seems to have a bit more sparkle to its construction, which enables the track to stand out from many others on the record. There’s an underlying quality of brightness to this track that’s not always present with regards to the wistful quality of Legrand. You get the feeling that she pushed herself here in the studio, and it pays off huge dividends…these are the moments you long for from a group with such a distinctive sound. Other moments such as this one exist on the record, and Bloom succeeds due to their presence. “The Hours” is the shortest of the tracks on the record, and its brevity definitely is filled by the group pushing for a slightly different sound, be it the vocals or the guitar work. And near the end, “On The Sea” gives us a completely different side of Beach House, using a less electronic side of the keyboard. Really it’s Victoria who steals the show, and while there’s still that element of smoky fuzz in her voice, you’ll also notice a songstress giving the recording of a lifetime (in my opinion).
You see, Bloom has absolutely fantastic elements sprinkled here and there for the listener, so be sure to listen to the record through and through. However, other tracks do find the group in some middling territory, seemingly unable to escape the remarkably distinct sounds they’ve created in the past few years. Those moments were beautiful, but at times they do come across as a bit of audio overkill. Beach House is growing here, showing glimpses of new dynamics in their songwriting; they just haven’t completely distanced themselves from Teen Dream. For some, that’s exactly what you’re looking for this go round; others, like myself, love it, but can’t wait to see where the group takes us on the next go round.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/01-Myth.mp3]
Download:Beach House – Myth [MP3]
This new single from Seapony is by far the best I’ve heard them sound. Hazy pop vocals are coated over every bouncy bit of this track, and so we’re really happy that our friends over at Hardly Art have picked up the band. They’ll be putting out Go With Me on May 31st, and after listening to this upbeat gem of a tune, I can’t help but get those tinglinging feelings of joy. Right now, I feel like I’m taking the emotional aesthetic of Beach House and blending it with some straight twee power-pop. That’s right, that sounds delicious.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/SP_BlueStar.mp3]
Download: Seapony – Blue Star [MP3]
It seems like Merge Records can do no wrong as of recent, with stellar releases this year from names like Destroyer, Telekinesis and Apex Manor. So it is not a big surprise that this record is remarkable, well produced and enticing. Wye Oak has indubitably grown a great deal since their last release, and continue to amaze with how fulfilling their sound is for just a two member band.
Civilian is typical in that it has its immediate standouts, but unique in that after repeated listens, those that didn’t stand out before begin to emerge from the background, becoming new favorites. The opening track, “Two Small Deaths,” is one that grabs your attention upon the first listen. A bit of indiscernible chatter opens the song, giving that feeling of the moment before a show is about to start. It puts a bit of anxious-excitement about what is going to come after the chatter falls away, and Wye Oak certainly do not disappoint. Some simple feedback eases you in, and then the elegant and buttery vocals of Jenn Wasner hit you over the head, commanding your attention. The track ebbs and flows between the swell of folk sound from the beautiful vocals and the shoe gaze guitars.
While the start to this album is certainly calm in it’s nature, it is by no means a template for the rest of the songs. On numbers like “Plains,” there are drastic build-ups to the powerful, vocal and instrumental, crescendos. It is here, along with the rest of the album, where the rich and strong vocals of Wasner are comparable to that of Victoria Legrand from Beach House. It’s so easy to get lost in the delicate, yet hurricane force strength of the vocals, but it’s not a feeling of misdirection. Instead, it’s the wonderful feeling of having nowhere to be, and getting lost leads you to something that you never would have found otherwise.
On the title track, “Civilian,” the song builds upon itself, layering the crispness of folk and the grit of the guitar. It grows and grows, and then hell breaks loose; all tension that has been built is suddenly released in a cathartic swell of squalling feedback. Elements of brilliance such as this are found all over Civilian, both in the attention grabbers and the slow burners. The prevalence of control and detail that Andy Stack and Jenn Wasner bring to their sound allows for them to push their boundaries, all while staying calculated. Sound like this merits multiple listens, and careful listens at that, or else you might miss a savory indie rock treat in this album.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/05-Civilian-1.mp3]
Download: Wye Oak – Civilian [MP3]
Oh it’s the most wonderful time of the year isn’t it? I’m sure some of you people are just about sick of all this year end list mumbo jumbo (as we sort of are too). We do however realize that some of you may have secretly been waiting for us to drop more lists your way. Well here you go friends, I give you the Austin Town Hall Top 50 songs of 2010. This list typically proves to be the hardest one to narrow down since we usually start with over 200 songs and somehow get it whittled down to a managable number. I guarantee some of you will love it and some of you poop faces will be disgusted by it. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below. Follow the jump for list.