The ATH Top 50 Albums of 2015

Albums ListYear-end lists are everywhere…and I can see why they’re important to people. But, seeing as we generally walk off the beaten path more often than not, our list of the Top 50 Albums of 2015 is in no particular order, save alphabetically. It seems pointless to rank one piece of art higher than another, especially when the four of us at ATH all have varying tastes. We just put this list together of the albums we loved the most this year. Are we saying they’re better than records by Grimes or Kendrick Lamar? No, we’re just saying that these are the records we loved more than others. So, you can read on for what we thought was hot.

Also…put links to individual stores where you can buy the albums from the bands…as that’s how we all survive in this music world.
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Did You Hear This Jonathan Bree Tune?

breeI’ve been looking all day for something totally weird and out there, and of course, it’s easy to settle with the likes of Jonathan Bree. He’s got this incredibly operatic voice, living in the world somewhere between Majical Cloudz and Magnetic Fields. The musical accompaniment is fairly simple, just carefully playing on some of Bree’s classical influences such as Tchaikovsky. If you ask me, the entirety of his new record, A Little Night Music, is pretty genius stuff, so you’ll want to catch onto it before he’s a household name for everyone. Enjoy the track below. 

Majical Cloudz Majic

Majical CloudzI honestly hate the streaming youtube single motif. I mean, why not embed an MP3 or a Soundcloud? But, over the last few years I’ve been constantly obsessed with the music of Majical Cloudz, so I’ve got to hold onto that and give in to Youtube. They just announced a new album, Are You Alone, via Matador on October 16th.  There’s plenty of open space on this track, and Devon’s voice seems almost pretty, but still fragile and intoxicating.  Give a listen by playing the “video.”

Always Listen to Juan Wauters

jdubsI don’t know what it is about Juan Wauters that makes me come back time and time again.  Sometimes there’s the musical movements within his tracks, but other times, like this latest single, it’s his poetry and vocal delivery.  It’s quite distinct, and I don’t think there’s quite anyone making music precisely in his style, or with his approach.  This track raises the hairs on my arms each time I press play, similar to what happened when I first heard (or still listen to) Majical Cloudz.  I’m excited to hear his new LP, Who Me?, which comes out on May 12th via Captured Tracks.

Top 13 Bands of FFF Fest

1112top5coverFun Fun Fun Fest snuck up on me quite a bit this year and it’s hard to believe that we are just one short week away from Austin’s best festival.  Good times will be had by all I’m sure and of course ATH is here to ensure that you will be aptly prepared for the weekend of fun.  Today we’re continuing our coverage of the fest with a look at 13 bands you definitely shouldn’t miss out on.  Why 13?  Because it’s Halloween and we’re cool.  Follow the jump for the list in no particular order.

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Megafortress Works with Negative Space

billimI know the sort of music being crafted by Megafortress has been around for ages, but it never really sunk into my listening rotation until I obsessively delved into Majical Cloudz.  Now, saying that, it doesn’t mean that Bill Gillim of Megafortress is crafting precisely the same music.  For one, his voice has a gentler tone; one that is possibly more palatable for listeners.  Still, there’s not much movement musically, working with the internal melody of the voice while sparse bits of instrumentation spring up from behind.  Should make for an interesting listen when Believer is released by Driftless Recordings on November 4th.

New Tunes from Majical Cloudz

devonDevon Welsh has one of the most striking voices in the current music scene.  I’ve watched him silence crowds notoriously known for being noisy, and I’ve let his voice haunt my listening habits for the last year or so.  His album Impersonator was our #1 choice for Top 2013 Albums, and I can’t wait for his next outing.  To hold us over, he’s unleashed a great interactive video to accompany his brand new song, which you’ll find HERE.  At the moment, I’m pretty sure that there’s not a whole lot Majical Cloudz can do to sway us away from our supreme fandom.  You can also listen to the tune below….and wait patiently for the next genius release from the act.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/love_soul.mp3]

Download: Majical Cloudz – Love Soul [MP3]

Top 50 Albums of 2013

albums banner 2013 procMaking our year-end list of Top Albums is never something we take lightly.  We realize that it’s rather arbitrary in the grand scheme of things, but we realize that our role is to at least toss out our opinion, however meaningless it may be. In the long run, we had to take the tastes of several people, and whittle it into a list of 50 great albums that we think are vital to your listening experience.  We know it’s a matter of personal tastes, but the records below are reflective of our tastes and our site, so don’t get mad, they’re just opinions. But, feel free to tell us where we went wrong, or what we might have missed.  If you click on the album titles, you can also read our full reviews of each album, save the ones that we didn’t get to in time. Sorry we don’t like Kanye.

50 – WampireCuriosity
49 – Dot DashHalf Remembered Dream
48 – Mantles  – Long Enough to Leave
47 – The Appleseed CastIllumination Ritual
46 – Bad SportsBras
45 – Part TimePDA
44 – Dick DiverCalendar Days
43 – Math and Physics ClubOur Hearts Beat Loud
42 – Veronica FallsWaiting for Something to Happen
41 – Eat Skull – III
40 – The Lonely WildThe Sun as It Comes
39 – The Love LanguageRuby Red
38 – Gun OutfitHard Coming Down
37 – Cate Le BonMug Museum
36 – Daughn GibsonMe Moan
35 – Andre ObinThe Arsonist
34 – ArpMore
33 – Gap DreamShine Your Light
32 – The Black WatchThe End of When
31 – Ty SegallSleeper
30 – The StevensA History of Hygeine
29 – Of MontrealLousy with Sylvianbriar
28 – Mirror TravelMexico
27 – Local NativesHummingbird
26 – Girls NamesThe New Life
25 – GRMLNEmpire
24 – Small BlackLimits of Desire
23 – AudacityButter Knife
22 – Mikal CroninMCII
21 – Chelsea WolfePain is Beauty
20 – FoalsHoly Fire
19 – Radical FaceFamily Tree: The Branches
18 – Youth LagoonWondrous Bughouse
17 – Terry MaltsNobody Realizes This is Nowhere
16 – Shout Out LoudsOptica
15 – Kurt VileWaking on a Pretty Daze
14 –  BraidsFlourish//Perish
13 – Crystal AntlersNothing is Real
12 – TyphoonWhite Lighter
11 – Ski LodgeBig Heart

10 – GamblesTrust

Admittedly, this album makes nods to folk troubadours of Christmas’ past, but what grabbed me from the moment I heard this record was the sincerity in what’s being created.  In leaving us with a stripped down listen of folk tunes and incredible poetry, we’re asked to look into the history of American songwriting tradition; it’s been awhile since it was executed so well.

9 – The GrowlersHung at Heart

I’d put this album on any list for one song alone, “Someday.”  But, it just so happens that the rest of the album maintains the sensation that’s established on the opening track.  I’ve heard it referenced as a surf-psych opus, but what’s been assured in my mine is what an incredible listen we’re all be treating to when we put Hung at Heart on our record players.

8 – Wax IdolsDiscipline & Desire

Hether Fortune seems to scare people.  Her work is in your face, never making an excuse for who she is or what she believes.  That attitude carries on into her music, allowing listeners to experience a musical world void of any pretense.  The songs on this album are angular, dark and abrasive; the vocals have Hether dominating the scene of modern lady rock warriors.  If you don’t dig it, she doesn’t care, but I do because this record rules.

7 – Parenthetical GirlsPrivilege

While many of the songs on this effort leaked out before under various EPs, the whole masterpiece exists in the way it was tied together as a complete work.  It’s operatic and grand at every corner, but it’s also undeniably a pop record.  The emphasis might revolve around the more artful spectrum of pop music, but this is an album you can play for everyone in your family, and they’ll all find themselves swept up in the wonderment of Privilege.

6 – The NationalTrouble Will Find Me

What else really needs to be said about The National.  They consistently make great albums that are lauded then often overlooked, but we didn’t want to do that to one of our favorite acts.  I mean, if they played 8 shows in 8 days, we’d be at every one, and the DJ set after party.  Their accolades and recognition are warranted, and it’s especially clear on this, their latest release.

5 – LegsPass the Ringo

When listening to Pass the Ringo, I thought of one thing: this is the sort of record that makes a small label, like Loglady Records, a household name. It’s spun around garage rock and psych rock structures, whilst still maintaining an accessibility that few people working in that genre achieve.  Some albums can play in the background of your house, and might be happy to do so, but Legs created something that made me stop and listen at every turn; I’m thankful for that.

4 – Warm SodaSomeone for You

Someone For You came our way in January.  On my record player, it hasn’t left since.  This is one of the most rewarding power-pop records I’ve gotten my hands on, and trust me, I’ve gotten my hands on a lot of great records. Each song is filled with innate hooks and garage rock grit, encouraging you to tap your toes for the entirety of the record.  You’d think after a full year our interest would have waned, but with time we’ve only grown to appreciate the record even more.

3 – Coma CinemaPosthumous Release

At the moment, there’s not too many people releasing music that’s the quality of Mathew Cothran and Coma Cinema. There are elements of the bizarre, similar to the work of early Elf Power, yet there’s this intimacy that artists like Eliott Smith were able to create with their listeners.  You wrap that up and put it in a package of pop sensibility, and you have an album that can’t be ignored.

2 – Bubblegum LemonadeSome Like it Pop

In today’s musical climate, we buy into the fact that artists have to be doing something strange, or something that’s vastly different from their peers.  But, in the grand scheme of things, we often forget what it’s like to take enjoyment out of the music.  This album was one of the many reminders that music, when it’s good, can be quite special.  Every song here is a single, and worth your time; it’s the best thing Laz has done, and I feel like he’s just really getting started.

1 – Magical CloudzImpersonator

This album is about Devon Welsh.  From the first instant I heard his voice, it took hold of me. Throughout the year, Impersonator, consistently played on my radio. His voice was mesmerizing, captivating audiences on several occasions in Austin, convincing us to be as quiet as a mouse, so as to hear every note.  The unique quality of the album will reward listeners for years to follow.  It made us believe in great music again.

 

Top Songs of 2013

best songs ath 2013We’ve put our pretty little heads together ladies and gentlemen to bring you our favorite songs from this past year.  It was a difficult task with our ever growing staff, but we feel like this list best represents the diverse taste of our staff.  Love it or hate it, it’s ours to call our own.  Hit play and put your head down or dance or shimmmy or drool or whatever works. Most of all we hope you hear something you missed, something you want to buy or something you want to see live.

Scroll past the playlist for full the run of the bestest songs ever this year.

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