More New Music from Santiparro

santiGOLDJust last week I encountered the music of Santiparro.  I was struck by the fragile quality of the vocals, placed gently atop these great little folk-influenced ballads.  On his latest single, that’s the case once again, though I turned my speakers up to the max so I could hear the tiny little details that lurk in the background of this song.  Clearly he’s made a name for himself already, as this song features that Kyp Malone chap from TVotR, so people are taking notice of his work, and I hope you’re one of those as well.  Look for his new album, True Prayer, to come out on February 24th via Gnome Life Records.

 

FT5: Indie Rock African Americans

This is a serious subject, and one I don’t plan to take very lightly.  As I’ve attended several shows recently, even small local ones, I began to look at the racial dynamic in the Austin music scene.  Oddly, one giant sore thumb sticks out: the lack of African-American attendees at these shows.   This is probably the same way in every city across the land, and I tend to think it’s quite unfortunate.  I’m not here to debate how to solve the problem, if you deem this a problem, but rather to honor my Top Five African-American participants in the realm of indie rock.   This is just my opinion, but I immediately banned the guy from Bloc Party because he put out two bad records and continues to make bad electronica music.
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Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson – Summer of Fear

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Rating: ★★★ · ·

Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson burst onto the scene a few years ago with the support of the New York hierarchy.  Now, as he releases his second album, Summer of Fear, which is his first for Saddle Creek, he goes and grabs Kyp Malone of TV on the Radio to aid in production duties.  Would having such a producer ultimately effect the aesthetics of our new favorite troubador?  How would Malone put his own touches on the record, or would he?

Upon first listen all the way through, you can immediately tell the difference between Summer of Fear and Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson.  Sure, there are ecclectic touches, no doubt influenced by the presence of Malone, but there is a certain sesnse of urgency lacking in these songs.  “Shake a Shot” opens the album without making that statement you expected, although you can still feel the passion in the lyrics.

“Always an Anchor” is the second song, and it happens to be one of the more powerful song on the record. You can hear the struggle of daily life in the guttural power behind MBAR‘s vocals, which is precisely what made his first effort so powerful.  This time around, it’s a bit more sparse than you would otherwise want, or rather, expect.  If you listen to it closely, you can almost hear the “Wolf Like Me” guitar chug in the background.

What does seem more pronounced on this album, or perhaps clearer due to the clarity of the voice is the clarity of the lyrical content.  We all know by now about MBAR‘s struggles, but it’s how he spins those around to churn out great tunes which is admirable.  Not only that, but he sings about the despair of humanity, but in doing so, he seems to sing it with such conviction and understanding that you can’t really be worried about it any longer.  It’s as if he has come to accept it more as fact, and the listener should too.

Listening to this album, you will find your songs that you like, and you’ll find flourishes of things un-MBAR, such as the various string elements, seen in songs like “Hard Row,”  that occasionally seem out of place mid-song.  Still, the more songs this guy churns out, you feel as if the better off we all are, as Summer of Fear, though hindered by various elements, demonstrates the songwriting capabilities of Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson; we should all be grateful for such an emerging voice.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/03-The-Sound-1.mp3]

Download: Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson – The Sound [MP3]

Rain Machine – Rain Machine

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Rating: ★ · · · ·

We all know and love TV on the Radio, right?  So it seems only natural when one of the band’s most integral members, guitarist/vocalist Kyp Malone (recording as Rain Machine), steps out and releases a solo record we should take notice, right? Well, you would be about half right.

The first half of Rain Machine’s self-titled debut (released this week on Anti-) is good, maybe even better than good. The songs are the polar opposite of what would be released as a TV on the Radio track. They lack the density and the sense of paranoia that the band has finely crafted over the years. Malone, as Rain Machine, writes songs with room for the listener to breathe. The tracks almost seem like skeletons of TVOTR songs, waiting for Dave Sitek to fill them in.  Standout tracks include ‘Give Blood’, ‘Smiling Black Faces’ and ‘Driftwood Heart’ which easily rival anything Malone’s main band have ever released.  Seriously, these songs are that good.

But after track six, ‘Hold You Holly’, something happened to the album. It appears that Malone, for lack of a better word, stopped giving a fuck (Sorry, Ma! If you need proof I’ll let you listen. The expletive is warranted.).  The last six tracks make up for 35 minutes of the albums one hour running time, and boy are they painful.  The seventh track, ‘Desperate Bitch’ could’ve easily had four minutes shaved off it’s almost nine minute life span. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the lengths of the tracks that get my goat, it’s the lack of respect for my time.  Author Kurt Vonnegut believed, and I’m paraphrasing here, that you should make your writing (here, songs) easy for your audience to ingest, because you are asking a lot for them to pay attention to you.  If you are going to write a 1,000 page book or 9+ minute song you makes sure fill with as much meat as possible (TWSS!). Malone has a blatant disregard for this listener’s time.

The last half of this album is pure, self-indulgent jack-assery.  Sorry, Kyp, I don’t mean to rain on your slow, boring parade. You are not Curtis Mayfield, you do not have the fortitude for an extended, meandering jam.  I used to have a theory that every song was someone’s favorite song.  For the million of people that love U2’s ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’ there was always one that loved ‘Lemon’. But Kyp Malone disproved this theory. It is impossible for anyone to like the last six songs on this album, let alone having them be someone’s favorite song (It’s a fact, I did extensive research.)

A five to six song EP or a couple of singles would have easily brought three to four stars, but as a full length, those first six songs just aren’t strong enough to carry the bloated dead weight of the rest of the album.