ACL Interviews: Phoenix

phoenixLet the ATH ACL festival madness begin! So we’ve started off light with a few spotlights on lesser known ACL artists and now we’re really getting serious with artist interviews. Last year we spoke to some pretty big bands and we hope to reach as many artists as we can this year. To start off our interview series, we have none other than French pop hit makers Phoenix. Guitar player Christian Mazzalai recently sat down with us to chat a bit about his now 10 year old band. Follow the jump for full interview.

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Girls – Album

TRUE-010-Girls-Album-small

Rating: ★★★★½

You’ve all heard of the San Francisco duo, now set up to include two more bros from California to complete the band Girls.  They’ve been posted about, not just on our site, but on every other web site across the web, and people have been buzzing about this record for a long time.  So here we have Album, the group’s first full length, and surprisingly, they hit exactly the mark they were set up to miss.

Opening an album with one of the competitors for song of the year is never a bad way to begin, and “Lust for Life” fulfills from the start. Jangling guitars and the backbeat of beach music, create one of the catchiest numbers in 2009.  And, the subject matter, though not the most poetic, seems rife with optimism, and the band are ready to “make a brand new start.”

So you slide into “Laura,” and you can see a possible drawback as soon as singer Christopher Owens opens up is album.  He’s got a voice that doesn’t ever seem to hit a note, but its those imperfections that seem to make the record continuously successful.  It’s reminiscent of countless indie singers, singing with the only tool they’ve got, and despite the occasional off-kilter note, their exists a certain honesty which makes it all so endearing.

Adding another element to the mix is the group’s diversity within their own lo-fi spectrum.  “Ghost Mouth” is the ballad, slowly waltzing through a hazy bit of light guitars and mellow percussion. From here, they switch it up by adding a bit of art and obscurity to their own li-fi spin on “God Damned.”  Then, they blast off down the stretch of California coastal highways on “BIg Bad Mean Motherfucker, kicking out the traditional surf rock.  All this building to the perfect opus that is “Hellhole Ratrace.” As those who caught wind of this tune months prior to the album’s release can attest, you’ll be hard pressed to find another drawn out song, with such simple lyrics, that can draw you into it time and time again.  Hell yeah it’s repetitive, but it’s so rewarding that the group might just be giving Phoenix a run for their money by releasing two great singles on one album.

Still, they never seem to be a static band, rarely staying in one place throughout the entire album.  In a time when a lot of music comes off redundant on albums, this one seems to offer something new around every little corner. “Lauren Marie,” for instance, is a sparse number with little else to add to it other than Owens continuous cooing of the name Lauren Marie. Yet, you’ll take your time to listen to it over and over again.  But, they continue their change-ups with “Morning Light,” with it’s fuzzy full throttle take on the straight ahead pop tune. This is precisely why Girls seem to be one of the few bands coming to us by way of the endless hype machine that can truly back up the world’s adoration by placing us into such an enjoyable listen.  You’ll surely find yourself listening to Album time and time again.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/01-lust-for-life.mp3]

Download: Girls – Lust for Life [MP3]

FT5 – 2009 Jams of the Summer

0626top5coverWe’re right in the beginning of summer, as we can all tell by the ridiculous heat has been beating down upon us.  For us, we just sit around all day listening to sweet tunes, hoping that we can create the perfect playlists for our long drives to nowhere.  As per usual, we think we’ve provided you with a list of songs that are destined to have you turning up your stereo as you drive through the hill country or maybe you just want to throw them on during your barbecue.  Regardless, these are our jams of the summer.
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Free Sampler From Urban Outfitters

lstn5-logoHip clothing company Urban Outfitters are offering up a free 23 song sampler filled with some of the best acts from this year.  Crazy good track listing features singles and previously unreleased material from Phoenix, Delta Spirit, Grizzly Bear, St. Vincent and tons more great artists.  You can stream the sampler online or you can download it from the itunes store.  Here’s one of the tracks from the sampler by Crystal Antlers called “Andrew”.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/crystal-antlers-andrew.mp3]

Download: Crystal Antlers – Andrew [MP3]

FT5: Albums of the Year (So Far)

0529top5coverAs we see it, we’re about midway through the year as far as record releases go, seeing as how no one really puts albums out in December for fear of being left off year-end lists. Since we’ve hit the half-way mark, we thought we would throw out a list of our Top 5 Records so far this year. Keep in mind, this list is subject to change, should something mind altering come our way, or should we just get bored with one of the following records.

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New Tunes from Your Twenties

lookahereYour Twenties is a London based group who we probably won’t get to see on our shores for quite some time, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy one of their most recent singles from afar? This song “Caught Wheel” sounds a little bit like some of the recent French pop stylings from bands like Phoneix, but it also has a California sunny twist. Regardless, it’s definitely enjoyable.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/01-caught-wheel.mp3]

Download: Your Twenties – Caught Wheel [MP3]

Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

phoenix

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Phoenix is a Frecnh pop group.  That being said, it seems more likely that their success lies in the United States, far away from their homeland.  Their third album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, is sure to tie the band into your consciousness for the duration of the upcoming months, if not for the rest of the year.

The best one-two punch of the year comes via the band’s first two opening tracks, “Lisztomania” and “1901.” “Lisztomania” has a stomping affect that likely entails itself to handclap moments amongst your friends as you dance in the living room.  That is until the keyboard comes in for the chorus, and the impending crescendo have you all flailing your arms about.  “1901” is just one of the most solid tracks to come around in a long time.  Finding a beat this good is hard to do, and they combine it all with the catchiness of the chorus as singer Thomas Mars shouts “fallen” over and over again.  You won’t find two tracks back to back that sound this good on another record this year.

But then the band step it back a bit, so as not to blow you away too quickly.  They toy with a little bit of sensuality in “Fences and the lengthy slow-jam “Love Like a Sunset,” which quite possibly gets a bit over indulgent.  Still, at this point, the band seem to just want to show their range, demonstrating to us all that they are more than just a one-dimensional band of singles and such.

And then we’re right back into it.  Slow jams are gone, and the pace returns with “Lasso.” This song, like those before it and those after it exemplifies everything in which the group succeeds; their songs build and build, seemingly increasing the pace as the song, along with Mars’ vocals, races to the end.  It’s as if their formulaic songwriting allows the band to push for the optimal amount of punch and pop sensibility.  Even when they find themselves in the middle-ground, such as on “Girlfriend” you can still see the skeletal remains of their capabilities.

While some may wish that the band could go beyond their normal stylings and push for even more in the dance-pop spectrum, such as their massive single “1901,” it’s still nice to see the band sticking to what they do best. Although they’ve yet to write a complete album where every song is perfect, this is the closest that they’ve come; Phoenix continues to write great songs and progress as they move forward.

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

Download: Phoenix – Lasso [MP3]

ACL Lineup Announced

acl_lineup_adIt’s finally here.  You’ve been waiting all Spring; you’ve even bought your tickets, and now the 2009 ACL lineup is here.  I won’t lie, the headliners aren’t really doing anything for me, esepecially because of my extreme hatred for Dave Mathews Band.  But, there are some killer bands that will be gracing smaller stages that you’ll definitely want to check out such as Sonic Youth, Phoenix, Grizzly Bear, The Dodos, Passion Pit and the Walkmen.  You can still buy tickets for a measly $185 here.

New Music From Phoenix

phoenix_band01French pop band Phoenix are finally offering some new music for their fans to check out.  The new track available for download is called “1901” and will appear on the band’s upcoming album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix due out May 25th.  Anyone got some thoughts on the first new material in a few years?

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/1901.mp3]

Download: Phoenix – 1901 [MP3]

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