6/14 – White Rabbits @ Emos

whiterabbits01Fresh off the release of their It’s Frightening, White Rabbits returned to Austin, riding the wave of praise heaped upon them by various media outlets, ATH included. We ventured to Emos salivating at the chance to hear “Percussion Gun” live, as that clearly is one of our songs of the year. Local Austin band The Boxing Lesson opened up the evening, but they were practically done with their space-electronica when we made it into an empty indoor Emos. Follow the jump to read the full review.

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Top 40 Songs Of The Year

So when we thought making an albums of the year post was hard, this one proved to be even harder.  How do you take literally thousands of songs and narrow it down to the best 40 of the year?  Not too sure how to answer that question, but we tried.  Each of these songs scream 2008 in our ears.  As evident by this list, the year in music was quite a good one and we had some tough choices to make.  We’ve got some of the songs streaming for you or links to the song on youtube.  Follow the jump to see if your favorite tune of the year made the list.

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Albums Of The Year: 15-1

A few days ago, we gave you part one of our albums of the year list.  Today we bring you the best of the best from a wide range of artists who brought the noise this year.  We’ve fought it out amongst our ATH writers for weeks and these are the albums that we all loved.  These 15 albums went into thunderdome and emerged victorious.  Follow the jump to see if your favorite band made the Top 15 of 2008.

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Blitzen Trapper @ Mohawk (11/26)

Contenders for record of the year, Blitzen Trapper, will be playing a Thanksgiving Eve show at Mohawk on Wednesday night.  The bill is actually pretty impressive with Pink Nasty and Parson Redheads opening things up for the Portland based band.  Even more impressive, New York band O’Death will be playing on the inside stage in between the main acts outside.  Tickets can be bought now for $8.  Here’s one of my favorite pop songs to come out in several years “Punctual as Usual” by the Parson Redheads.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/04-punctual-as-usual.mp3]

Download: Parson Redheads – Punctual as Usual [MP3]

Blitzen Trapper – Furr

Rating: ★★★★☆

On their first album, Wild Mountain Nation, Blitzen Trapper was all over the place.  They played classic rock in a crooked modern pop manner, but the vocals lacked clarity in delivery.  Their newest album, Furr, offered hopes of better production with the backing of Sub Pop Records, and dreams of consistency.

Those of us with high hopes might have to admit that despite the band’s efforts, we are only having our needs fulfilled on one level, that of the vocal delivery.  It’s predominant departure from their previous effort, which does make this one exceedingly better than its predecessor.

One would be hard-fought not to notice the 60s-70s rock influences draped across this entire album, but they were there in the past.  The previous albums spoke softly of such influences, but they step it up entirely on this album.  All of this is furthered by the strength in production on this album, which pushed the influences to the forefront, rather than disguising them in  a lack of clarity created by walls of noise.

They did write one of their worst songs ever, and chose to include it.  “Love U” is full of unadulterated yelping, and it rarely provides anything worth holding onto.  It’s merely walls of screaming, accompanied by sloppy musicianship, and it stands right in the middle of the album–just skip it.

Almost every single listener who has a weakness for the folkier moments in rock n’ roll will surely find the rest of the album enjoyable.  Each track seems to recall another musician at every turn, as if the band set out to write an album full of covers.  Songs like “Echos/Always on/EZ con” and title track “Furr” are purely magnificent.  The subdued tones of each song warrants repeated listens for the rest of the year; the folkier side of Blitzen Trapper is where the band, ultimately, performs at their best.

It would be easy to pigeonhole this band as one intent upon revisiting the past, but they seem to have their own spin on our heralded past.  One would be remiss to toss this band to the side due to a lack of originality; give it a couple of spins and you’ll find that the songs seem strikingly modern.  The band is knocking at the door step of a solid album, and Furr is an album that furthers that dream for both the listener and the band.

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