Festival Recap: Day 3 of Primavera Sound

Photo by Eric Pamies

Photo by Eric Pamies

Last Saturday in Barcelona was the last day of the main festival of Primavera Sound. For me, while day three was still filled with big names to catch on its program, was definitely the underdog of the day-by-day breakdown, but it turned out to be possibly my favorite day. I caught classic acts in new ways and newer acts in classic ways. Follow the jump for coverage of the last main day of the 16th edition of Primavera Sound.

Read more

ATX Spotlight: More New Tiger Waves Tunes

Tiger WavesAfter being relatively quiet for the last few years, the boys (and female friends) in Tiger Waves have been really hard at work. Today they unleashed another single they’ve been sitting on, and this time you’ve got two jams to get lost inside. Listening through, I’m continuously impressed by the band’s disregard for modern tropes, choosing instead to forge their own path. Take a listen to the second tune, “Turns to Sky,” which seems to employ the Brian Wilson everything and the kitchen sink method. Even with filling the space with sound, they still craft these undeniable melodies that you can’t pull yourself away from. Still no word on when all this comes out, or how, but when it does, it is destined to be well-loved.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/playlists/155474306″ params=”color=ff9900&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

Levitation Teases 2016 Lineup

LEVITATION-2016-square-1500-1030x1030For their ninth year in business as a festival, Austin Psych Fest has announced a preview of nine artists for Levitation 2016. The preview video is embedded below but check this out. While a few of the artists announced are festival stalwarts, we do have a few eyebrow raising teasers, one in particular. The list is as follows: Brian Wilson performing “Pet Sounds“, Animal Collective, Flying Lotus, Lee Scratch Perry, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, and Ty Segall.

Tickets are on sale already for weekend passes and camping. You can peep the lineup preview video embedded just below these words.

[youtube]135I_1QS2do[/youtube]

Still In Love with Cool Ghouls

coolzI can’t explain to you how much I’m anticipating the newest release from Cool Ghouls.  As the weather finally cools down in Austin (then heats back up), I’m thirsting for the perfect tunes for my backyard party playlist.  You know the sort, where the songs are going to grab the attention of a few of your friends, but the rest will let it fade into the background.  Still, it’ll start a conversation about great records, and I’m thinking that this next opus, A Swirling Fire Burning Through the Rye, will be just that conversation starter.  It’s got a drape of psychedelia atop a Brian Wilson harmony village…sounds perfect.  Look for the release from Empty Cellar on November 11th.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/164342346″ params=”color=ff9900&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Shimmering Stars – Violent Hearts

Rating: ★★★½☆

As the last few years have seen, recording in a home studio has reaped great rewards for many bands, and such is the case for Shimmering Stars, who recorded in a garage studio.  While some might yearn for cleaner production, the quality of the recording is one of the attributes that makes Violent Hearts so affecting.

Opening up with “Believe” and “I’m Gonna Try” established a mood rooted in the history of classic pop from an earlier era of music. “I’m Gonna Try” might portray an outcast, or even a rebellious teen, but the melody provides listeners with an endearing warmth, only made stronger by the perceived distance provided in the production.

“East Van Girls” has almost a psychedelic quality to it, pushed through by the deepness of the guitar.  Using a vocal that seems to drift in from another room allows Shimmering Stars to maintain that quality of effortless pop one usually achieves when focusing on the craftsmanship of the melody rather than simply using the best equipment available.

While Violent Hearts might have a tendency to get lost in its own dense quality, the brightness created in spots by Rory McClure’s vocal belting always provides a reassuring that the band isn’t here just to give you a muddied spin on pop of year’s past. For instance, “Sun’s Going Down,” opens with a great floating McClure line before the band jangles their way through the song.  His vocals always seem to rise and float above the music, sort of the way you would expect Brian Wilson to explore his own garage recordings.

Your first through runs through Violent Hearts might indicate that the band is creating track after track, all blending together, but a closer focus on minor details will reveal that this is not the case, at least not entirely. “I Don’t Wanna Know” easily fits into the modern spectrum of revisionist pop, with Shimmering Stars paying more attention to banging out their notes at various points, rather than holding them back.  The album’s closer, “Walk Away” is a trickling pop number, one that doesn’t really fit into the grand spectrum of the record, and it might lead you to wish the band had mixed this number earlier into the collection.  It takes a noisy little gallop at moments, always returning to it’s own softness–more such tracks would definitely have benefited the overall sound.

Shimmering Stars definitely have their ears pressed hard in the past, but of course, production value brings them into the present.  This is also a moot point, however, as the songs on Violent Hearts easily speak for themselves, allowing breezy pop moments to take the lead, whisking you away down a sunny Interstate drive.  At the end of it all, you’ll press play once again, returning to that place in your heart where nostalgia meets the present, pushing you to smile at the joys of music listening today.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/SS_NervousBreakdown.mp3]

Download: Shimmering Stars – Nervous Breakdown [MP3]

Violent Hearts is out now on Hardly Art Records.

New Music from Idiot Glee

A lot is always said about creativity amongst singer-songwriters, and recent hits like Jens Lekman (or I guess you could say James Blake) use the layering of textures to craft amazing tracks.  James Friley does much the same thing under the name Idiot Glee, except my itnerest in his tunes comes from his influences musically, such as Scott Walker or Brian Wilson…you know, real pop geniuses.  He’ll be making his way to SXSW this year, and you can look for a full-length at some point in the summer.  For now, just enjoy the fact that his layering of textures and melodies seems harmonious, as that’s what it should be about.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/idiot-glee-do-you-wanna-go.mp3]

Download: Idiot Glee – Do You Wanna Go [MP3]

Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavillion

Rating: ★★★★½

How does one truly classify a band like Animal Collective?  Let alone, how does one place a name on something that is easily unidentifiable?  You can’t, which has often led to praise for this band, as many love that which we don’t completely understand, yet sounds so beautiful.  Merriweather Post Pavillion is the first Animal Collective album that fully reaches beyond and into the masses.

From the get go, the band quickly falls into their typical IDM driven pop music. However, from the first entry on this album, there is a certain clarity to the vocals.  Animal Collective obviously has pushed beyond their own borders, grasping onto the vocal element with a clearer sense of purpose than before.  It’s a breath of fresh air, with a presence all it’s own.

This oddity in styling is reemphasized by the band choosing to also stay a little closer to the mainstream with the lyrical content.  Not only do the vocals sound better, but the lyrics aren’t coated in outsider allusions.  Oddly, this is the closest the band has come to writing meaningful lyrics that will translate to the laymen.  Don’t fret though, the band still primarily seems to use the vocal as an instrument in itself, as lyrics repeat time and time again.  This is where many people will find the Brian Wilson comparison obvious, though they’ve clearly expanded with spending time writing lyrics.

Many will claim that the album closer “Brothersport,” which caused loads of Internet controversy with its leak is the most accessible of the songs present here.  It would be hard to argue that all songs are not accessible this time round, but also consider “Summertime Clothes” as another popular ditty as the mini-chorus of “I want to walk around with you” dances along.

While this may be the first complete album the band has put out, there are always going to be detractors to an album by this group.  Occasionally, the band repeats itself too often, making the listener lose focus in the progression of the song.  It goes on a bit long, and many will get detached as they listen.  In all likelihood this album will be best on vinyl, listened to one side at a time. This is fortunate for all us fans because the band releases the vinyl version on January 6th, while Domino Records will release the CD version on January 20th.

As usual, the band has the knack to suspend listeners in a pop-induced trance, as rhythms steadily pound in your ears, accompanied by the vocal as an instrument.  It’s difficult to predict how some will react, but most can admit that there are many beautiful moments created by clever crafts of Animal Collective.