Twerps – s/t

Rating: ★★★★½

For those of you just meeting Twerps, you’d be surprised at the evolution of their sound.  When we first heard them via the folks at Chapter Music, they were a pretty basic lo-fi group, spinning tape loops and coming off a bit lackadaisical on songs like “Good Advice.” On their self-titled record, you’ll get a much more focused group bringing it all home.

“Dreamin” begins Twerps, giving you cascading guitar chords that cut through the careful jangle-pop, even tossing in some backing harmonies from female member Julia MacFarlane. It’s as tight as the band has sounded since they were introduced, and such songs only solidify their presence in our musical world. But, you’re still going to find that carefree spirit within this album.

On “Don’t Be Surprised” Marty Frawley just tosses his lyrics atop a much slower paced jingle, sort of like you’d expect Dan Treacy of Television Personalities to do, that is until mid-track where they just kick it off with this beautiful bit of noisy pop, only to return to their melodious bit of fun.  Twerps use a similar tactic on what is not only the record’s best song, but perhaps one of the top songs of the year, “Who Are You.”  It embodies everything magical in a song: catchy bit of guitar playing, a cool bit of vocal delivery and relatable lyrics.  When Frawley goes into his “who are you/to be actin the way that you do,” it’s all perfectly fitting, and it leads up to the playful “we’ll get drunk/we’ll get stoned/we’ll get high/we’ll get drunk” line that accompanies each chorus. Simply put, there aren’t many songs from this year better than this.

One of the best things about this entire record is that Twerps simply keep you interested, going places you can easily see, but didn’t necessarily expect from the group.  “Jam Song” sort of fills the middle of the record with a rambling bit of ballroom stomp, always keeping their groove.  Or, you could skip a few ahead and find yourself at the simple spoken-word track, “Bring Me Down,” which is joined by a polite little bit of guitar strumming.  There’s pretty much moments for every type of listener out there, be it jangling pop moments like “Dreamin,” or a more-subdued Wavves feel like the closer “Coast to Coast.”  It all fits in with the band’s aesthetic, and it never seems to grow stale.

Twerps have been around for some time now, but this self-titled record is going to be one of the dates that you’ll want to remember, as a band that puts it together this well is very rare.  They’ve got hooks, they’ve got creativity and they even have a bit of attitude (or essence), all making Twerps one hell of a ride.  Mark my word, everyone is going to be talking about this group and this record for some time to come.

Currently you can listen to the whole album HERE. Or jam the opener below.

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

Download: Twerps – Dreamin [MP3]

Geoffrey O’ Connor – Vanity is Forever

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Long have we lauded the sounds of Crayon Fields, the wonderful Australian pop group, but now we have more reason to cheer, as singer Geoffrey O’ Connor steps outside the band, releasing his first album under his own name.  If anything, Vanity is Forever, establishes O’ Connor as more than your average songwriter; his apparent gifts are too great to label him anywhere near average.

From the moment “So Sorry” takes off you can clearly see that Geoffrey O’ Connor is concerned with the arrangements surrounding his songs.  There’s a bit of sweeping ambiance that coats his cool vocal delivery, perhaps giving a nod to popsters of the 80s. But, it’s lead single, “Whatever Leads Me to You,” that combines modern tones with hints of nostalgia, crafting one of the year’s best tracks.  Geoff has this frivolous crooner personality, at least in the vein of his vocals, as if he’s somewhere between whispering in your ear and serenading you at a club.  The guitars are subdued, with emphasis on the string arrangements, building a wall of around the internal melody.  Simply magnificent.

You might label some tracks on Vanity is Forever as throwback-kitsch, such as “Proud,” which clearly revolves around the keyboard driven moments of yesteryear’s club hits.  Yet these tracks offer more in the way of his lyrics, which are always extremely personable, allowing O’Connor to present himself to his audience in a way that no longer seems in fashion.  In what I personally find to be one of his best penned lyrics, he sings “I hope my friends don’t all get married/that they leave some part of themselves for me,” on “Like They Say It Does.”  Perhaps one might find it a tad self-indulging, but one cane easily relate to the sentiment of longing to live a life filled with friends and accomplishments.  There’s nothing abstract in the presentation, and the sincerity is quite refreshing.

While there’s definitely a bit of pace to the majority of the tracks, in so far as you can swing your hips a bit, there’s a few wonderful slow burners that show Geoffrey O’ Connor in a reflective state that benefits the listeners, and we hope the songwriter as well. “Surely,” the album’s closer, is built on a slow-moving piano, and even it’s basic construction, cleared for the most part of the record’s arrangements, shines a light on how much confidence he has in his writing and delivery.  What may appear banal in most circumstances, shows its inner beauty under a different microscope.

As much as I’ve fawned over The Crayon Fields since I came across them years ago, Vanity is Forever is a different animal altogether.  It shows Geoffrey O’ Connor crafting gems that seem to fit in any time period, filled with melody and a bit of sensitivity that often escapes your run of the mill indie affair.  It’s an album that’s affecting on a personal level, even for those unfamiliar with his previous work, making the whole ordeal a timeless piece of beauty.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/07-Now-And-Then.mp3]

Download: Geoffrey O’Connor – Now And Then [MP3]

New Music from The Apartments

It seems that Australia is intent upon taking back pop music this year, and Chapter Music again is the team behind it all.  They’ve teamed up with Peter Walsh and his group the Apartments to release a new 7″.  It’s a single titled Black Ribbons, with two distinctly different mixes.  The one we have below drifts into the realm of twee-pop, but it does so with such beauty that you can’t help but swoon when you listen to this track.  I think we’ll look back on this in time and be thankful that the band took the time to craft such melodiously enchanting tunes.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/01-Blackribbons-Spring-Mix-MP3.mp3]

Download: The Apartments – Black Ribbons (Spring Mix) [MP3]

New Track from Dick Diver

It’s going to be a great year for our dear friends over at Chapter Music; they’ve already released Geoffrey O’Connor‘s record, and they’ve got the Twerps new one on the way.  But, more importantly, they’ve got the debut full-length from Dick Diver, yet another great band from Australia waiting to be heard over here in the States. Their record is titled New Start Again, and it will be released October 14th overseas.  On first listen, you’ve got to fall in love with the way the guitar gently trickles in, while a layer of brightness begs to burst forth.  It never does, but you’ll follow the song until its end, waiting.  Even if you have to wait, you’ll play it over again, just to make sure it’s as great a song as you thought it was in the first place.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/01-Through-the-D.mp3]

Download: Dick Diver – Through the D [MP3]

More New Music from Twerps

If you’ve been following us, you surely know about my love for Twerps, a band who I’ve fallen in love with ever since the great folks over at Chapter Music introduced us to them. Their sound has definitely grown, coming across with that warm Oceanic pop feel, and even cleaning up the production a bit.  There’s a quality that seemingly gives their songs the feeling of floating music from afar, as if you’re hearing their music dance across the Pacific.  You can grab this song, as well as the rest off their self-titled record on October 18th here in the States via Underwater Peoples.

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

Download: The Twerps – Dreamin [MP3]

New Music from Geoffrey O’ Connor

Damn you Pitchfork! Your big name status always gets you the singles first! Well, that’s okay, just because you got there first doesn’t mean I can’t continue to express my adoration for Geoffrey O’Connor of the Crayon Fields.  I met Geoffrey years back when he played at our showcase, and I was grateful that we were able to have a show featuring one of my favorite acts.  Now, he’s got some time, and with that, he’s crafted a solo record titled Vanity is Forever coming out on Chapter Music. The first single, though I’ve heard several other tracks floating around (which I posted before P4k back in November–I’m bitter), sounds a bit like O’Connor channeling a shy Jeremy Jay, just bringing a bit more sheen to the shimmering pop.  I can feel in my heart that this album’s going to be a winner.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Whatever-Leads-Me-To-You.mp3]

Download: Goeffrey O’Connor – Whatever Leads Me To You [MP3]

New Song from Laura Jean

We worked with the guys in Chapter Music to bring the excellent Crayon Fields to our SXSW show a few years ago, so I always like to keep track of what the label has going on.  They’re about to release A Fool Who’ll by songwriter Laura Jean on September 3rd, and I’m sure they’d be happy to send you a copy via the old fashioned mail.  Jean’s playing a somewhat muted guitar, quietly whispering “im missing you” to begin the track, but it’s her vocal performance that grabs you once the drums join in on the accompaniment. This is definitely a heartbreak song, and I’m definitely a huge sucker for such types. What are your thoughts?

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/02-Missing-You-MP3.mp3]

Download: Laura Jean – Missing You [MP3]

New Music from Hit the Jackpot

What? You haven’t heard of Hit the Jackpot?  Well, we’ve got you covered.  The group hail from Australia, and they’re lined up with the excellent people over at Chapter Music, home to ATH favorites The Crayon Fields.  They’re about to release a cassette with CM, but it’s going to be super-limited, so us US folks might find it hard to get our hands on it, but that doesn’t mean we can’t head over the band’s site and give it a listen.  The Holiday Tape is seven tracks, and all I’ve listened to sound pretty spectacular, in my humble opinion.  The opener, “Holiday” sounds like something you would have expected Sonic Youth to do, or you expect them to do, when they allow Kim to take the microphone, and use her gruffly warm vocals to approximate a pop song.  These are the kind of things that win our hearts over at ATH, so give it a chance to make your day.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Hit%20the%20Jackpot%20-%20Holiday.mp3]

Download: Hit the Jackpot – Holiday [MP3]

New Music from Geoffrey O’Connor

We’ve got more great news from our friend over at Chapter Music in Australia.  Geoffrey O’Connor, the lead man behind one of our favorites, The Crayon Fields, will be releasing a new solo record for everyone to enjoy early next Spring.  Based on this first track, it’s a slower affair, illustrating Geoffrey’s ability to control the melodies within his mind.  While it may be a slow-burner, it definitely has me excited, as I’ve loved everything I’ve heard from him up until now, so the guy can’t go wrong in my book. You might also go back and look for Geoffrey’s old solo work under the name Sly Hats.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/07-Now-And-Then.mp3]

Download: Geoffrey O’Connor – Now And Then [MP3]

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