Last Week’s Jams (11.27 – 12.1)

I know Spotify is the devil, so please pass judgment knowing that I know it’s the devil, but I can’t turn my back on the beast…not to mention, the ease of access for everyone, which is where Spotify dominates the market. Alas, yes, I’m using Spotify for my playlist…until Bancamp offers me something better, but even they can’t be trusted anymore! So, I’ll just wrap up last week on my one! ATH Wrapped! We covered a lot of music, with some heavy-hitters like Real Estate, JAMC and Ducks Ltd. popping off with new stuff. There was a ton of tuneage from Australia: Pop Filter, Sachet, The Brights, Alluvial Nuggets and Good Morning. Plus, I’m flipping a coin between the Umbrellas and Bolis Pupul for my fave track of the week. What’s yours? Find out below!

Real Estate Return with Water Underground

This news announcement is a shout out to my dear wife, who is an avowed Real Estate stan, and I’m sure she’ll love the airy nature of this tune here. Those crisp guitar sounds are exactly what made us all fall in love with the group initially, and their charm shines brightly on this track. According to the band, the lyrical content is all about the well of inspiration that artists draw from; it’s an apt analogy, as you can interpret the various stages of writing with water…sometimes its plentiful and other times drought hits hard and things dry up…like my writing here today! Oh, and fellow New Jersey natives and Nickelodeon fans might recognize cast members of Pete & Pete making an appearance in the video. They’ll release Daniel in February of next year via Domino Recording Co.

Stream Michael Angelheart’s Best of Vol. 1 2012-2017

Michael Angelheart has spent the better part of the last decade playing in Scott and Charlene’s Wedding, a band that had him bouncing back and forth between Melbourne and NYC, not to mention the various tours around the world. In that time, he was able to record a bunch of tunes on his own with friends from Real Estate and the Ocean Party (both bands we adore), and now those are all put together in one great record. As you’d expect, the record is filled with great little guitar pop tunes like standout single “What If You,” though I’ll admit I’m really partial to “Holding on for the High” and “LSD (Got a Hold On Me).” There’s bound to be something for you all in here, so dig into Michael’s Best of Vol. 1 2012-2017.

Go Fawn over Margot

It’s probably easy in the guitar-pop stage of the music world we’re in to make comparisons to Real Estate, but I don’t think you’ll find a single band as on point in that style as South London’s Margot. You’ll immediately notice the way the guitars have this sharp intermingling in your ears; you’re going to feel like you’re cruising down the highway with a huge freaking grin on your face. What really sold me on the group was the softness of the vocals; they seem feathery in comparison to the guitar work, lending a dreamier quality to the sound than one would first offer up. A debut EP is on its way shortly!

SXSW Superlatives: Nathan.Lankford

AlvvaysWith SXSW this year there was lots of hubbub about fewer bands and less corporate entities flooding the streets, but despite all that, I still managed to have myself a good old time.  I’ve got some thoughts and awards to hand out, and these are strictly my experience, as we tried at ATH to split up and cover as much as we possibly could.  You can read on, if you’ve got the time, to see what I had to say.  Read more

Top 50 Albums of 2014

TOP 50 ALB 14These lists are everywhere, so you’ll be excused if you just roll your eyes and skip on. But, that being said, we always seem to be way off the mark when it comes to our Top 50 Albums of the Year.  Sure, we have some of the sure fire hits on this list like Angel Olsen and Sharon Van Etten, but don’t even read on if you’re look ing to see where Run the Jewels made it…they’re not there. Sorry not sorry.  So, if you’re into arbitrary lists by people who like to push their own agenda, then this list is for you! Read more

ATH & ACL: 5 Bands to Watch

acl2014It is time.  Though it’s hard for me to believe, it’s time for us to start gearing up for yet another ACL Festival in October.  ATH has done this thing a few times now so we feel like we’ve earned the right to offer a little bit of advice about bands to see and the proper way to go about attending.  I’m jumping off our coverage today with a list of 5 bands I think you should see over the 2 weekend event.  As a disclaimer, I typically recommend bands that many people either don’t know very well or write off for whatever reason.  So yeah go see Spoon & The Replacements for sure, but let’s not forget about the underdogs.  Let it begin after the jump.

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Real Estate – Atlas

AtlasRating: ★★★★☆

Here in Austin, whenever March rolls around we usually find ourselves baring our arms and legs to the air, the weather on the toasty side for what most would consider to be the end of winter or the beginning of spring (though the recent uncharacteristic cold snap would suggest otherwise). What that means for us is that we are ready for sunny and breezy indie pop long before most other parts of the country. So if you’re still trudging through snow and ice, you may not think you’re on board for the bright and surf-y guitar riffs of a band like Real Estate quite yet—Atlas may just change your mind.

Real Estate have already arrived at their third full-length release with Atlas, despite forming as a band just four short years ago. Their first two records were widely hailed in the indie-sphere, allowing this conglomerate of talented gents, some of which have their own successful projects outside the band, to keep progressing in their sound. “Had to Hear,” begins the album, instantly evoking the mood of a perfect spring day that’s perhaps chilly in the shade, but balanced out by the sunlight. The angular guitar riffs are there from the second you press play, but you don’t really focus on them until the choral hook, akin to the sun emerging from the clouds of winter. It’s a long number, pushing five minutes, but a welcome lengthy introduction to the record. The instrumental outro yields itself to grooving along to the tame jam.

“Talking Backwards,” and following track, “April’s Song,” are a back to back combination that should have fans of this group salivating and those who have never heard this band before completely hooked; here are two songs that perfectly compliment each other with the effortlessness that Real Estate have on lock. The first of these two songs is a sure single for the group, with their premier dueling guitar riffs abundant and Martin Courtney’s semi-transparent vocals adding another layer to the guitars in its angular qualities. The soft percussion compliments the sharp hooks of the guitar, generating a dreamy soundscape for you lavish in. The end of this song builds to a climactic finish, which would suggest a drop off to the next number, but they compensate with “April’s Song,” an entirely instrumental number that will bring you down slowly from the high of the previous track. If these two tracks weren’t enough, it’s impossible to forget a slower number like “How Might I Live,” where we see a slight change of pace as well as vocals for the group, while maintaining their signature sound, though with a touch of blues.

There’s nothing to really dislike on Atlas—it’s solid through and through. My only qualm is that it doesn’t really push my already established appreciation of this group to a new level; the tracks aren’t a stretch from what this band has already done on previous albums. This however, does not diminish their worth, nor their ability to make you feel like you’re strolling amongst flowers in bloom on the perfect day, which is a feat in itself.

Ducktails – The Flower Lane

Ducktails-Flower-LaneRating: ★★★½☆

The Flower Lane is the third studio album from this group, fronted by Real Estate’s Matt Mondanile. The band specializes in garage-esque, murky alternative rock music, though they take a step further into clarity with this release.

The album starts out on an unmistakably high note, with “Ivy Covered House,” which is one of those tracks that makes you yearn for that perfect sunny day so you can roll the windows down and just let the breeze ruffle your hair—it’s that glossy and smooth of a tune. This first number is just about as full of jangly guitar as possible and it is as though Matt Mondanile is evoking the style of his other band, Real Estate, which is far from a bad thing. Regardless, when the band circles around to the final repeated chorus after a short instrumental break, it’s impossible not to be onboard.

Though this is about as jangly as Ducktails go on this album, and the next few tracks put some distance between its sound and the others. Two tracks later on “Under Cover,” the band still has their swirling guitars, but have leapt into the realm of jazz, complete with saxophone interludes; it is safe to say that this isn’t a predictable Ducktails track. That being said, this album is quite a different step for the band, not only in a decrease of fuzziness via the production, as well as the different experimental directions they take.

But what is interesting about The Flower Lane is that if you skipped ahead to the latter part of the album, you’d probably be confused as to if you were still listening to the same band. Though they have already jumped a few genres earlier, there are a few tracks toward the end that don’t really seem to fit in with the rest of the tunes on this album. “Letter of Intent,” the second to last track on The Flower Lane, is really more electronic than anything Ducktails has put out up to this point in time, as it is a collaboration with Dan Lopatin on Synths, and the feminine vocal styling of Jessica Farkas of Future Shuttle. It’s a groovy number, but it really strikes hard as out of place after you’ve been listening to a primarily guitar motivated album. The track before it, at roughly two minutes long, “International Date Line,” retrospectively only feels as though preparation for the track that follows, but alas, it still doesn’t really sit right when the band returns to their ‘normal’ sound on the final track after it.

Even with this odd ending, this album is still one that has a number of good songs to entertain those who are a fan of garage rock. So if you haven’t yet, give Ducktails a spin.

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