Premiere: Stream Lost in Between EP from Sonic Visions

I’ve talked about Finland’s Sonic Visions here before, and we’re fortunate enough to be able to bring you the stream of their Lost in Between EP a week before its release on Soliti Music. The band seems to have found the perfect place where the pop sensibility of early Oasis meets the cascading noise of Jesus and the Mary Chain. It’s not quite shoegaze, yet not quite full Brit pop…it really does live in between the two, which should definitely captivate listeners all across the globe. It’s a short collection that I’m sure is more than worth your listening time, and in fact, it’s actually required (by me). Go ahead, get ready for a great musical treat.

Continuing Love Affair with The Black Ryder

blackPretty sure this is the umteenth time I’ve written about The Black Ryder, and if they release a single for every song on their new LP, then I’m going to write about it.  There are parts of the album that have this shimmering shoegaze, but there are other pieces that unleash this hazy beauty, like the track below. It’s a really drawn out track, sprawling with this floating melody for just over 4 minutes.  As if my love wasn’t enough, the band has been awarded the opening slot on some of the JAMC tour dates, so people are taking notice of the act.  Look for the Door Behind the Door on February 24th via the Anti-Machine Machine.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/04-let-me-be-your-light.mp3]

Download: The Black Ryder – Let Me Be Your Light [MP3]

Crocodiles – Endless Flowers

Rating: ★★★½ ·

A few years back, Dan Treacy of Television Personalities used Crocodiles as his backing band, and that’s when I first caught wind of the group.  I trust Dan, so I scoured the net in search of news, only to stumble upon a group that I thought was unfairly being compared to Jesus and the Mary Chain.  Sure, I see the similarities, but as evidenced by Endless Flowers, the group has a lot more in relation to jangling art-pop than JMC.

“Endless Flowers” does utilize some squalling guitar wailing to kick off the whole affair, but vocally, it harkens back to the musical re-imagining of early 00s band such as Longwave; there’s a simple melodic tone that gives listeners that soft-footed shuffle.  “Sunday” again has that atmospheric guitar sound, so everyone’s going to already toss the JMC comparison back onto Crocodiles, but mentally I’m stripping the sound off these tracks, choosing instead to focus on the bright quality of the vocal delivery; it provides a youthful exuberance akin to Pains of Being Pure at Heart.

As Endless Flowers evolves, you begin to see the gentler side of the band, offering a steadier dosage of pop melody as preferred to noise.  “No Black Clouds for Dee Dee” is definitely a heartfelt ballad, considering the band’s relation to Dee Dee (not Ramone).  It’s a standout song, demonstrating that the group’s not always content with upping the noise quotient. Interestingly, as they begin to unleash a lighter side, they also begin to let that element fully collide with their noisier moments.  It leads to some of the longer tracks, such as “My Surfing Lucifer” and “Dark Alleys,” with the latter remaining as one of my favorite tracks on the record.

They break through it all to wrap up the record quite nicely, giving you a rollicking stomp track in “Welcome Trouble.”  The jagged guitar line cutting in the background just builds you to the raucous stomp that ups the ante during the chorus.  It’s got a bit of post-rock swagger to go along with the energetic chorus, and it definitely helps illustrate the group’s progressive direction. Closing out with the quieter “You Are Forgiven” again finds Crocodiles in a steady ballad form that should leave no doubt that the band is capable of affecting songs without having to fill each track with noise.  Admittedly, the chirping of the birds in the background of the recording might make it seem like a B-Side or an afterthought, but the strength of the song itself warrants its inclusion here.

I can see the Internet still hyping up the JMC connection, but perhaps when I listened to Endless Flowers, I was hoping for more, so I forgave its presence and looked closer at the core content in the songs.  If you approach listening to the latest from Crocodiles then I have the feeling that you’ll understand where I am coming from.  Regardless, I’ve had a lot of fun listening to this whole album, especially when you turn it up to 10 (11 is so cliche).

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Crocodiles-Sunday-Psychic-Conversation-9.mp3]

Download:Crocodiles – Sunday (Psychic Conversation #9) [MP3]

BGray’s SxSW Reflection

I had my camera. I took almost 4,000 pictures. That seemed like a lot, but once I factored in the number of bands, the odd things that have to be documented, the friends gathering for shenanigans and the eight long days involved, it really wasn’t surprising. I haven’t done the final tally, but it would be fair to say that I saw part of a set from around seventy bands.

It is my turn to give a rundown on bests and worsts of The Conference. The many highs were tempered by very few lows. I chased that BUZZ that drives the relevant music fan. My summary will be a little different because I did the whole damn thing; twelve movies, several Interactive and film panels and of course all the music.

So, plenty on the movies, panels and bands and a flurry of pics to accompany all that 411 after the break…

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Twin Tigers – Gray Waves

Rating: ★★★★½

It’s hard nowadays for a debut album to really blow people out of the water, unless you’ve had success and backing from various media outlets.  Twin Tigers have had a mild amount of press in that regard, but odds are the release of their album Gray Waves will have more people clamoring to find as much information on the group as possible.  This record moves back and forth between several musical spectrums, often times within the same song; in following this formula the group has constructed one of the most creative straight-ahead rock records in recent memory.

From the moment you click play on your stereo, you get the feeling as if you’re in for something entirely special; the discordant noise sets an ambient tone before the drums and feedback squall shatter the sonic setting on “Passive Idol.” But, just as you expect a blistering number, Twin Tigers pull back, choosing to create a more melodious moment for listeners.  Mathew Rain’s vocals seem to have some sort of echo in them, which makes him seem both haunting and dangerous.  Either way, you can’t help but to fall into this record from the get go.

“Red Fox Run” recalls some of the mid-to-late career albums of Sonic Youth, in so much as it maintains a balance between using appropriate melody and blistering noise.  Movement within the song is hard to ignore, and you can tell that thought went into every detail of the way the song unfolds.  Similarly, “Everyday” grabs you right from the get go, using a summery underlying hook that borders on bubble pop.  Still, waves of guitar noise remain in the background, and the chorus provides the perfect amount of angst that is necessary for pure rock songs.  All this before the song blasts into another direction towards the ending, only to return to the hook featured at the beginning.

Yet, Twin Tigers are not a one-trick pony they refuse to rely upon their Sonic Youth tendencies, or Rain’s howling Jesus and the Mary Chain vocals.  They’re capable of almost anything here, as “Gray Waves” suggests.  If they ended at the midpoint, this would easily be a great song of typical indie pop such as Deerhunter, but they push beyond influences, forging new ground all on their own, as witnessed by the darker vocal performance by Rain near the end.

An aside that is necessary here is the performance of Dougie Crump.  A steady drummer is a definite must if you’re going to construct mini-suites mid-song.  You’ve got to have someone who can keep everyone on track by providing the perfect rhythm; Young does this spectacularly.  On top of that, his work is magnificent in its own regard; his drum fills alone really flesh out the group’s sound as a whole. Cheers to that Richard.

All in all, Gray Waves is a remarkably refreshing debut.  Angular guitars cut and feedback throughout the entirety of the record, all the while Rain tries to utilize his vocals to keep a hint of melody to the core of Twin Tigers.  Not once can you deny the creativity and vibrance of this young band; they’re here to take their influences and build a world all their own.  And, who knows, the way they cut and paste the sonic collage here shows they just might tear that world all to pieces, but odds are you’ll still love every minute of it.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/03-Everyday.mp3]

Download: Twin Tigers – Everyday [MP3]