Albums Of 2011

We’ve already brought you our songs of the year and Texas albums of the year, so now it’s time for the much anticipated albums of the year list.  I’m sure many of you will notice some big names off the list and you will be ready to plead your case about why we are wrong.  We’ll hear ya out… Feel free to drop us a comment with your own list or just to debate with us.  Follow the jump for list.
50) The New Tigers – s/t

49) Secret Cities – Strange Hearts

48) AM & Shawn Lee – Celestial Electric

47) Rural Alberta Advantage – Departing

46) Blue Skies for Black Hearts – Embracing the Modern Age

45) Geoffrey O’ Connor – Vanity is Forever

44) Dum Dum Girls – Only in Dreams

43) Destroyer – Kaputt

42) Obits – Moody, Standard and Poor

41) The Rosebuds – Loud Planes Fly Low

40) Tim Cohen – Magic Trick

39) Bad Sports – Kings of the Weekend

38) Chelsea Wolfe – Apokalypsis

37) Chad Van Gaalen – Diaper Island

36) Male Bonding – Nothing Hurts

35) Crystal Stilts – In Love With Oblivion

34) Cold Cave – Cherish the Light Years

33) Devon Williams – Euphoria

32) Okkervil River – I Am Very Far

31) Sonny and the Sunsets – Hit After Hit

30) Smith Westerns – Dye It Blonde

29) Wax Idols – No Future

28) Grooms – Prom

27) Cut Off Your Hands – Hollow

26) The War on Drugs – Slave Ambient

25) Ducktails – Ducktails III

24) Papercuts – Fading Parade

23) Atlas Sound – Parallax

22) Mind Spiders – s/t

21) Craft Spells – Idle Labor

20) Yuck – s/t

19) The Joy Formidable – The Big Roar

18) Comet Gain – Howl of the Lonely Crowd

17) The Drums – Portamento

16) Snowmine – Laminate Pet Animal

15) King Creosote and Jon Hopkins – Diamond Mine

14) The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Belong

13) Girls Names – Dead to Me

12) Light for Fire – s/t

11) Other Lives – Tamer Animals

10) Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

9) Iceage – New Brigade

8 The Antlers – Burst Apart

7) Seapony – Go With Me

6) Pure X – Pleasure

5) Cloud Nothings – s/t

4) Real Estate – Days

3) Gold Leaves – The Ornament

2) The Twerps – s/t

1) Wye Oak – Civilian

So that’s it ladies and gents, we are officially putting an end to 2011.  What do you like and what do you not like?  Let’s hear it.

Show Preview: Gold Leaves, AA Bondy @ the Parish (11/13)

Date Sunday, Nov. 13th
Location The Parish
Doors 800 pm
Tickets $15 from Frontgate

One of the shows I’ve been anticipating since it was announced is this show featuring two of my favorite bands, AA Bondy and Gold Leaves.  AA Bondy is touring behind his new record Believers, but more importantly is the appearance of Gold Leaves.  Their record, The Ornament, has been playing around my house since it was released in August on Hardly Art, and it is still going strong.  It’s comprised of beautifully ornate pop tunes, which I’m sure will sound remarkable inside the Parish.  It’s got great sound, and with these great bands, you won’t want to miss this show.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/GL_TheOrnament.mp3]

Download: Gold Leaves – The Ornament [MP3]


Gold Leaves – The Ornament

Rating: ★★★★½

Every once in awhile, you come across a record that fits into your life perfectly, filling the empty emotional space, revitalizing your spirit.  Just one listen to Gold Leaves is all it takes to find that The Ornament seeps into your soul, establishing itself as an album that meets all your musical needs.

“The Silver Lining” is one of those perfect pop songs, carefully constructed for the maximum benefit of listeners.  It’s a gentle number, similar to the recent work of Camera Obscura (in construction at least).  But, what makes the track stand out is Carl Olsen’s voice.  It waivers somewhere between Ward and Banhart, touching every emotional chord for those with a hankering for all things sad-bastard.  While there’s a bit of solemnity to the opener, “The Ornament” provides a bit of brightness with just the slightest change in pacing.  You’ll find that same careful arrangement with every bit of accompaniment propelling the song’s essence. It’s not a track to be taken lightly, echoing in your memory long after the song has skipped onto the next.

“Endless Dope” opens a new chapter for Gold Leaves.  While other tracks have featured lush arrangement, this track seems more sparse in those regards, though elements still remain.  But, Olsen’s vocals play the main role here, drawing you into his poetic verse, as opposed to letting you get washed away with waves of pop brilliance. Similarly, “Cruel & Kind” refuses to rely upon the maximum arrangements, carefully meandering through your mind.  Inside this track you’ll find yourself getting lost, but in a manner that only the best of music can accomplish; it’s simplicity lets you drift in and out of consciousness, always drawn back by the inherent melody built within the tune.

Even when The Ornament doesn’t draw itself out with meandering tracks, a great deal can still be accomplished.  For instance, “Hard Feelings” is one of the shortest songs on the record, but in a short span you’ll find trickling guitar lines, string pieces swirling in the background, and Olsen at the center of it all.  Eventually, it crashes spectacularly in the middle, switching things up just slightly. There’s a denseness to this number, as it seems filled to the brim, but in writing in that fashion, Gold Leaves still leaves room for the melody and the emotion to find its way to your inner ear.

If you haven’t found room in your day for this collection, then you need to put down everything immediately.  The Ornament is the kind of album that begs to be listened to, begs to be played over again and again.  After one listen, you’ll end up clearing your schedule, finding yourself lost inside the depth and emotional pull of everything Carl Olsen has managed to put together for this outing. Not a note goes wasted, and that in and of itself, is something to praise–but this record is so much more. So stop reading this now, and drift away with Gold Leaves.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Gold-Leaves-Cruel-And-Kind.mp3]

Download: Gold Leaves – Cruel/Kind [MP3]

More New Music from Gold Leaves

Awhile back we brought you an early listen to “The Ornament,” the first single from the upcoming album, The  Ornament, by Gold Leaves.  It’s really easy to see comparisons to other folk acts such as Fleet Foxes, but one thing I enjoy that is a bit different is the lush arrangements behind the sound on each track.  We’ve got another one today, and you’ll hear hints of the kind of orchestration you usually find on the quiet tracks of Papercuts records. Yeah, those are great qualities to have, so you won’t hear any complaints coming from my end right now.  Be sure to pick up the record on August 16th via Hardly Art.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Gold-Leaves-Cruel-And-Kind.mp3]

Download: Gold Leaves – Cruel/Kind [MP3]

New Track from Gold Leaves

Grant Olsen looks like he’s going to be making a name for himself this year.  He’s just signed on with our dear friends over at Hardly Art, and completed the recording of his album The Ornament with one of my favorites, Jason Q of the Papercuts.  The label plans to release the record under the name Gold Leaves on August 11th, and you’re going to love it.  There’s this warm melodic quality to it, sprawling out with a bit of melancholy and vocal that will remind you of a lot of great voices, namely that of Robin Pecknold, just more subdued.  This truly is a magnificent song, and it’s going to be a fantastic record.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/GL_TheOrnament.mp3]

Download: Gold Leaves – The Ornament [MP3]