Literature – Arab Spring

Rating: ★★★★½

No mincing it, we love this band. So much so that Nathan has Austin Town Hall backing the vinyl which can be ordered here. So why do we need to review the record? Probably because it is warranted. A recent blog post by Michael Corcoran lamented the mediocre Austin music scene. I simply retorted you aren’t trying.

Make no mistake, there are jams being laid down by several bands born of the Live Music Capital and Literature is one of the bands doing it in their blue collar, super pop way.. So let’s examine Arab Spring.

The album opener is a gentler affair, easing into the poppy blasts that are coming. And blasts they are with the longest track weighing in at an impressive 2:51. This pace creates the punk tension, stay on top of it, or you might miss something. So, “14 Seconds” features a break midway of guitars, a recurring theme for the rest of the album. Great introduction to the band and the interplay of Kevin and Nathaniel on vocals.

“Lily” starts to really show off the melodic constructions, from the vocals to the building guitar layers. Has a feel of Arctic Monkeys in the best way, without accents and over indulgence. “Push up Bra” brings unleashed pop, jangly riffs, quick lyrical delivery and festive backing vocal destined for sing along participation. “Criminal Kids” starts the swing into my favorite span of the album. “This town scares me.” – attributable to Corcoran? The band follows with “Arab Spring”, the title track, “Then there is you, and others too, that will be left uninvited.”

“Grifted” and “Rooney” are two songs I would use to show off our Austin scene. The former is my high point, best opening hook I have heard in a long while. Nice breakdowns and layering as the vocals resume and proper use of keys to settle the song in for the outgoing jam. The latter is the biggest song on the album, another great guitar hook that climbs and gives way to loud chords. The short run time just makes you want to play it again, right away. Again, trading vocals, trading guitar lead, all while Mike and Seth run the show with the rhythm section.

The album’s finish is composed of a three song set. “O.J.” is the tender vocal moment with a great climbing and falling bassline from Seth. “Esquire Esquire” asks what am I supposed to do? when I can’t win, can’t lose. The finale, “I am Right Here”, doesn’t let us off easy; staccato, fast, short and sweet. Vocals are delivered in a matter of fact way.

So what do I want to complain about? It is over too soon. But it has to be. Arab Spring as a collection of songs is fast, to the point and leave you wanting to do it again. Literature captures the essence of pop, bridging gaps, sometimes more serious and sometimes more playful. Most important, the album shows where we are going. Things are breaking down and our “scene” is getting back to basics. It is time to have fun at shows. It is time to get sucked into two minute blasts of energy, take a short break and do it again.


Download: Literature – Grifted [MP3]

Here is a little video of the song “Rooney” taken a few months back…

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