SXSW Superlatives: Nathan.Lankford

AlvvaysWith SXSW this year there was lots of hubbub about fewer bands and less corporate entities flooding the streets, but despite all that, I still managed to have myself a good old time.  I’ve got some thoughts and awards to hand out, and these are strictly my experience, as we tried at ATH to split up and cover as much as we possibly could.  You can read on, if you’ve got the time, to see what I had to say.  Read more

Cymbals Eat Guitars – LOSE

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Rating: ★★★ · ·

There’s a lot to be said about a band’s third record; gone are the first impressions that come with a debut and the jitters that a sophomore release present. With a buffer record under their belt, Cymbals Eat Guitars, currently a four piece from New York, can go wherever they want, and LOSE feels, mostly like a manifestation of this freedom as well as growth. This third album is mature and varied in ways that Lenses Alien was lacking.

“Jackson,” begins as the open that you would expect from the group, but quickly grows into a slightly reformed version of the group. You get the same quiet, growing introduction, but just when you expect them to burst into the song with all guns a-blazin–’ and they do burst in quickly—they jump with more control. The electric guitar squalls in the background, but the percussion aligns with the subtle “oohs” that glide in smoothly. It’s as if the band has entered off the high dive with a precision, effortless trick, instead of just a cannonball. “Jackson” undoubtedly brings the rock too, it comes through with D’Agostino’s vocals that cut through the instrumentation with his occasional guttural screech as well as the back and forth between quiet and peeling out. This track doubled down with “Warning,” that has D’Agostino reeling off lyrics line after line with a quick tongue and a bitter heart, saying things like “friendship’s the biggest myth” and “the shape of true love is terrifying enough.” If these lines don’t scream unhappy endings, I’m not sure what does.

While LOSE shows a lot of growth, some of the tracks fall mediocre and fail to hold on to my interest as they go through. “XR” begins with promise and a little bit of harmonica, but then spins around itself a few times and ultimately goes no where—this isn’t to say that every track has to build to a climactic ending, but the sound is grating at the end of the 2:35 time, and feels like a step back from the first two songs. This is to be a pattern: you get a few solid songs that pique your interest and show progress, and then a little step back.

When you reach the end of LOSE, you will feel an immediate desire to return to some really great tracks, such as “Chambers.” This is the best song from the album and maybe one of the best that Cymbals Eat Guitars have put out, but there isn’t the cohesive qualities of a spectacular-knock-you-off-your-feet album here; it’s good, just not great.

Show Preview: Cursive @ Mohawk (4/14)

Date 4/14/12
Location Mohawk
Doors 8pm
Tickets $12 @ Frontgate

You music fans have one hell of a show going down at the Mohawk in Austin on Saturday night with a dual headlining show by Cursive and Cymbals Eat Guitars.  We here at ATH have always been huge fans of Cursive, even in or young teen days, and we’ll stand by this band being one of the best live acts in the business.  Seriously, if you haven’t seen them live before, just fucking do it ok?  Opening support for this show is provided by Conduits.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/03-The-Sun-and-Moon-1.mp3]

Download: Cursive – The Sun and Moon [MP3]

Show Pics: Cymbals Eat Guitars @ Emo’s

Plenty of shows getting thrown about these days, this was the end of a three night run. Cymbals Eat Guitars headlined with Milk Thistle and Hooray for Earth.

The nostalgic feelings grow with each show at Emo’s. I found myself taking more pics of the place for the archive. There was ice in the urinal. No pics of that. Milk Thistle shared crafted Indie-Pop, Hooray for Earth battled technical difficulties and Cymbals Eat Guitars played a perfect set.

A few more thoughts and plenty of pics after the break…

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Cymbals Eat Guitars – Lenses Aliens

Rating: ★★★ · ·

Hailing from New Jersey, Cymbals Eat Guitars are a four-person band with one album, Why Are They Mountains, under their belt already. Released in 2009, that album rewarded this band with comparisons to bands like Modest Mouse, and Pavement. On this new effort, they looked to work on it more collaboratively, and the effect of this is a band that sounds more controlled, and the instrumental parts feel tightly knit and well thought out on Lenses Alien.

The first song is “Rifle Eyesight (Proper Name),” which is an eight and a half minute long track, but it’s really just two songs pushed together with the help of some atmospheric guitar feedback noise in between the two. For roughly the first three minutes of this track, you have this lovely bouncy and jangly alternative rock song, complete with the harsh vocals of lead singer, Joseph D’Agostino, whose voice reminds me a bit of John Paul Pits, of Surfer Blood, due to its ability to turn ragged and grungy in an instant. You get a chance to see this switch to grungier on the second half of the first song, in which the guitars are fiercer, the cymbals crash more, and the pacing is faster. D’Agostino gets his chance to command the song with his vocals that are exasperated and rough at first. However, as the song calms down, so does the raspy nature in his voice, softening, if only for contrast as the song resurges to its final height.

After this monster of a song, it would be easy for the rest of the other tracks to pale in comparison, but each brings a lovely new element to the table. On “Shore Points,” you have a nice little surf rock jam, complete with angular guitars and enticing backing vocals from the other band members. Following immediately on “Keep Me Waiting,” there’s a killer bass line just bubbling under the surface, waiting for your ears to pick it out and move your body to it.

 While there are softer songs on here, like “Wavelengths” toward the end of the album, Lenses Alien does seem to fall a little one dimensional upon the inaugural listen. Perhaps there is too much of a good thing on this album; the heavy guitar and nasal vocals seems a little grating by the end of the ten song album. Maybe, with much repeated listening, there is more to this sophomore release, but as of now, it’s a pretty middle of the road album.

New Power-Pop from Jacuzzi Boys

A slew of jams popped up yesterday by the likes of Real Estate and Cymbals Eat Guitars, but the one I have been enjoying, actually a few weeks before yesterday, is this pop hit from Jacuzzi Boys. Based on what I’ve heard from their upcoming record, Glazin, which comes out August 30th on Hardly Art, they’ve got to be one of my two favorite bands of the moment…the other being Texas’ own Bad Sports.  I mean, it doesn’t get a whole lot better than gritty licks and power-pop kicks.  If you’re in need of a pick me up, put this track on 11, and go to town–the day will only get better from here.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/JB_CoolVapors.mp3]

Download: Jacuzzi Boys – Cool Vapors [MP3]

Show Preview: The Thermals @ Red 7 (10/23)

Date 10/23/10
Location Red 7
Doors 9pm
Tickets $12 @ Frontgate 

Everyone’s favorite indie punk kids The Thermals are making a stop in Austin at Red 7 on Saturday night.  Cymbals Eat Guitars will also be on hand to play some jams which makes the show that much more enticing to a blogging nerd like me.  The Coathangers will be providing your opening support for the night.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/The-Thermals-I-Dont-Believe-You.mp3]

Download: The Thermals – I Don’t Believe You [MP3]

2009 Top 50 Albums

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Creating a Top 50 Albums list is never easy.  You have to battle with what you think the world believes, and what you truly believe in your heart, to be solid jams.  We have even more trouble because we have to three writers, all who have different ideas, and we have to make those ideas fit into a neat box.  Well, we got it done, and honestly, our criteria was based on two things: how great we thought the album was, artistically speaking, and how long we listened to it without getting bored.  That’s it. It’s fool proof; you might not like it, but it’s our list, so here it is… Read more

FT50: Songs of 2009

bestof2009cover_songsWe have to start this list off with a disclaimer.  We have three writers, all with different tastes, so the list should reflect that a little bit.  Also, these are our opinions, and by no means, are they meant to be seen as an “end all be all” to the question of what were the best songs of 2009.  That being said, we like our list quite a bit.  Sure, it’s got some expected numbers at the top, but the rest of the list is genius.  We’ve got some of the songs streaming for you, and the rest take you straight to youtube.  Follow the jump for full list.

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