New Tunes from Ugly Cassanova

Ugly Cassanova is the side-project of Modest Mouse frontman Issac Brock.  He’s recorded a bunch of tracks for the soundtrack for the movie 180° South, and this is really the first batch of songs without the band in quite some time.  The soundtrack comes out on June 22nd on Brushfire Records. Personally, this is how I remember Brock in his hey-day, all wobbling vocals with a touch of soul.  The track “Lay Me Down” really takes off once the horns kick in, and you realize that despite some of the trappings of recent MM works, Brock still knows how to write one hell of a tune.  Take a listen.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/Lay-Me-Down-1.mp3]

Download: Ugly Cassanova – Lay Me Down [MP3]

FT5: Greatest Disappointments of the 00s

0108top5coverAlright, so we just finished wrapping up the 00s, and it’s left some of us (namely me) feeling a bit nostalgic for a decade that went by way too quickly.  It left me thinking about things I ruined or things I succeeded in, but most of all, it’s left me reflecting upon the most disappointing moments in my life.  Oddly, I deflect my own animosity for my life, and turn to the world of music.  Below is the five most disappointing things for me, musically, in the decade that passed.  Some have a chance at redemption, but others, well, you blew it big time.

bengibbardstolemygirlfriend5. Ben Gibbard stole my girlfriend

Look, I know that this happened only recently, but I also have come to believe that Zooey‘s hotness has only increased exponentially in the past few years.  All that aside, it’s not just that Ben stole my girlfriend (really, he did!), but he stole the dreams of me and my many like-minded friends.  Out of nowhere, he popped up his now skinny head, and crushed the dreams of many.  Shame on you Ben Gibbard.

 
 

thewrens_meadowland4. The Wrens don’t put out another album

The Wrens put out Meadowlands, which is absoltuely one of my all time favorite albums, and that feeling of joy when I put the needle to the record will never fade away.  What did fade away was the feelings of joy I had in regard to The Wrens.  Lead man Charles did a little bit of work, most recently with Will from Okkervil River, which means dudes were getting work done.  Why didn’t I see any of it at all?  Why did they leave me just as I was falling in love? Nearly a decade with no new tunes? You fail.

 
 

wilco-yhf3. Wilco couldn’t replicate Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

You go against the odds and record one of the most brilliant masterpieces in modern pop music, one which everyone still talks about, but then you slowly decline all the way towards 2009s Wilco, the Album.  You can’t entirely blame the guys, as they lost Jay Bennett (as did we all, RIP), but they went from such great heights to such a low.  Not only this, but people somehow kept believing in them, as if they could bring back the magic.  I admit it! I was a sucker; I fell for it.  Never again Wilco!

 
 

weweredeadbeforetheshipevensank2. Modest Mouse sold out

Sure, this is the age-old debate about whether or not you deem it okay to allow your favorite secrets to better themselves and move their careers forward.  My answer? No!  Modest Mouse had the control of the indie world after Lonesome Crowded West; they could do no wrong.  Sure, a lot of people think Moon and Antartica was their best, but those people are wrong!  Modest Mouse went to the majors, lost their luster, and they lost a fan (though I know I’m not the only one).

 
 

ryanadams_cardinology1. Ryan Adams

I’ll admit that I was a little bit late jumping on the Ryan Adams train, but I jumped all the way on.  It baffles me how the guy that made Whiskeytown brilliant, then put out Heartbreaker, can rush down the hill of mediocrity so quickly.  I know he landed Mandy and all, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that I willingly sat down to listen to things like 29 or CardinologyRyan Adams was my biggest disappointment.

 
 

Look, I know you all disagree with some of these, and I get that, but I had to let you know how disappointed I was in these things; isn’t time to be reflective, at least for another week? If you had a bigger disappointment, or want to tell me why I am wrong, we’re all for it! Leave a comment.

Holopaw – Oh, Glory. Oh, Wilderness.

holopaw-oh-glory-oh-wildernessRating: ★★★☆☆

Holopaw had a decent output back in their days on Subpop, but they had been quiet for the better part of the last four years.  That is until Bakery Outlet released news that they would put out Oh, Glory. Oh, Wilderness.  And, despite that singer John Orth has ties with Mr. Brock from Modest Mouse, you can’t really feel the odd signatures and multi-instrumental moments that he threw into the completion of the Ugly Cassanova album.  It’s much more of a mainstream approach, but by that, perhaps it just means it’s more straightforward than what one would expect.

When “The Art Teacher and the Little Stallion” first burst onto the Internet, there was something really casual about the vocal delivery.  It seemed like a band that was comfortable in what they were creating, and that, for me, was quite refreshing.  It was just a simple guitar driven song, nothing special about it, but nothing one would consider mundane.

For the most part, the album doesn’t do too much else to steer you away from that understanding.  “Boys on Motorbikes” has a strange feeling of 90s radio meeting with vocals of someone like Bazan or Enigk or even one of the Kinsella brothers.  Something in the vocal just seems to pull at that emotional level just enough to differentiate itself, but not so much to where you will forever remember the vocals.

A special moment does appear on “Cherry Glow,” the album’s fourth track.  Strummed guitar serves as the primary background for Orth’s voice, and then it slowly builds towards a quickening of the pace.  And as the lead guitar takes over, you’re reminded that you’ve found a song; the female backing vocals cooing in the background don’t hurt too much either.  Similarly, “The Last Transmission” is perfect as a single instrument strong.  Sure, the flourishes in the background from the slide guitar aren’t really going to hurt anyone, but by itself, you can really get pulled into the song itself.  All this can probably be placed at the foot of Holopaw‘s history, as they were forced into a duo years ago, only to pick back up as a group very recently.  

The group aesthetic is all well and good, but some of the songs, such as “Little Stallion with a Glass Jaw” sometimes seem a bit overdone by having the full band presence.  This is what makes Oh, Glory. Oh Wilderness. a good album as opposed to a moderately great one.  Intimate moments across the album are perfect and rewaring, but occasionally, you just seem to get stuck in the middle of the album.  Alas, they’ve just reformed a proper band, so the future for Holopaw could be very bright.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/holopawartteacher.mp3]

Download: Holopaw – The Art Teacher and the Little Stallion [MP3]

FT50: Albums of the ’00s

0828top5coverWhat?   You still listen to THAT album?  That record is so 2004!  Well, that’s okay, because we really like that one too, which is why we decided to come up with a list of our favorite albums of the last decade (2000-2009).  Sure, these might not be YOUR favorite records, or the most critically acclaimed, but we sat down and really thought out every record from the past ten years that we keep coming back to in our collections.  You’re likely to disagree with some of these, and we won’t tell you we’re absolutely right we just know that these happen to be OUR favorites.  If you think we totally blew it here, feel free to tell us so, but be nice, as our egos are kind of fragile.  Follow the jump for more.

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New Music From Modest Mouse

modestmouse460Modest Mouse have some new tuneage coming your way just in time for summer.  This new song “Satellite Skin” will appear on an upcoming limited edition 7″ orange colored vinyl out in stores May 26th.  The song will also appear on a new EP No One’s First and You’re Next out in August.  This EP will be comprised mostly of songs that didn’t make the cut for the band’s last two albums.  Check it ouuuuuut.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/modestmouse-satelliteskin.mp3]

Download: Modest Mouse – Satellite Skin [MP3]

Modest Mouse @ Stubbs (3/4)

modest-mouse-band-photoIt’s hard to believe that Modest Mouse are still going strong after all these years and yes we are still excited about them coming to our little town.  You can catch this now veteran act on Wednesday at Stubbs along with opening bands Mimicking Birds & Japanese Motors.  Doors for this show are at 7pm.  Tickets have been sold out for quite some time now and are selling for way more than what they are worth on Ebay.  Try a scalper?

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/modest-mouse-spitting-venom.mp3]

Download: Modest Mouse – Spitting Venom [MP3]

FT5: Egregious Indie Rock Sell Outs

Some poor kid is listening to Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” for the first time today and he wants to like the song, he really does. The problem being that each time he hears Iggy say “I got a lust for Life”  he pictures some nine year old cracker with a goofy smile running down the deck of a cruise liner. Thanks to the marketing gurus at Carnival Cruise Lines that song is most likely ruined for a generation. I know nowadays the kids like to fall all over themselves defending their decision to sell out, and I’m not saying that I wouldn’t punch my grandmother for a little extra bread, but it’s never a pretty sight when you see an artist you respect making a sales pitch for some crappy chain restaurant. Like it or not, when an artist lends their music to a commercial it then loses its creative and artistic merit and is relegated to the status of jingle. So here it is; after the jump is a list of five of the more heinous indie rock sellouts.

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ACL Preview: Mason Jennings

Mason Jennings has been through his ups and downs as a songwriter, but mostly he’s been on the ups. His incredible vocals always lead those in his mass followings, such as Issac Brock of Modest Mouse, to a pleasurable listening experience. The crowds at Austin City Limits will surely be witness to his magic when he takes to the Austin Ventures stage this Saturday at 6:30. Read more after the jump.. Read more

Faces on Film – The Troubles

Rating: ★★★½☆

Somehow this little group from Boston, who is actually just one dude, made its way into my pile of things to listen to.  Unaware of the band, Faces on Film has now won me over, unexpectedly, with their album The Troubles.

“Friends with Both Arms,” opens up the album pleasantly, with Mike Fiore coming across your ears like a more eager Hamilton Leithauser.  The vocal quality is quite similar, at least in that hollow echo aspect; here it sounds more complete than Hamilton.

From here it goes into “I’ll Sleep to Protect You.”  Upon several listens this sounds like a lost Modest Mouse demo that we never got the chance to hear.  It has a little more beauty, which I think keeps the track focused, but it still has that primitive folk sound.

Then we take a short jump onto “Natalie’s Numbers,” which recalls the bedroom folk of Eliott Smith, as far as guitar sound goes, with the vocal tracings of Win Butler.  The chorus is fixed with nonsensical lyrics accompanied by a female vocalists, and although its unexpected at this point, it provides an interesting view to the insight of this song.

“Troubles at Last” is one of those songs that shouldn’t have been included.  Its just studio noise.

“Famous Last Words” carries on with a bit of bounce, but it still appears to maintain that Arcade Fire association, which when prepared isn’t entirely off-setting.  I suppose the majority of this allusion is due to the vocals, all which resemble early AF.  And it’s juxtaposed with a Walkmen meets Modest Mouse echo of a song in “The Winner’s Daughter.”  Although the feeling is similar to that of other songs, it seems out of sorts for some reason, and is probably one of the weaker songs on the album.

The rest of the album follows suit, wearing concert t-shirts of previously mentioned bands, only adding a Dr. Dog reference point near the end with “Medical Mind.”  But just wait until the end because “Indicator, Indicator” is really fantastic.  It is the precise closing moment for this album, letting the listener relax and rest as the album draws to a close.

Despite a lot of obvious references, some too obvious, the album has an enjoyable quality to it, one which gives it some merit.  However, it lacks a bit of pace, and I mean that in the sense of the song, not in the flow of the album.  Each song would benefit from just a bit of pace, but then again, its not my album.  At the end, it ends the way it should, leaving Faces on Film with a few merit badges for their effort and a few more for quality.

You can download the entire album on their Myspace Page.

06/21 Grand Archives Show + Interview

The people at Stubb’s Austin were treated to an outstanding set by Seattle’s own Grand Archives on Saturday night. The band mostly stuck to songs from their self titled debut album Grand Archives, which came out earlier this year in February. The set list provided a good mix of upbeat songs along with some of the slower tracks from the album. One big highlight for me was the superb cover of Sam Cooke’s popular R&B song “Another Saturday Night”. Most members of the audience were cracking smiles and singing along to the huge ’60s hit from the late singer. Read more

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