The New Tigers – s/t

Rating: ★★★★☆

It’s got to be hard to get your music across the Atlantic, especially when you’re a little known band from Finland.  Fortunately for you, The New Tigers self-titled album has slowly begun to trickle across the seas, bringing us fuzzy pop that’s sure to appeal to listeners of all sorts, crafting tunes that will resonate with your ears time and time again.

Of course, one of the greatest things about listening to The New Tigers is their ability to build their pop from within a realm of lo-fi noise, but then let the songs sprawl out into the great unknown.  Album opener “Clocks of Destruction” is one of two such tracks, building in momentum just near the minute mark, but fading into crafty noise, like Broken Social Scene would pull of when they were in a jamming mood.  It takes a special track to build on what could easily be a two minute pop song and still maintain interest throughout.  “Pocketful of Sand” is the other such track, but it takes just a bit longer to reach the vocals, but they’re so light that you’re likely to just see them as a floating piece of the inherent melody the band has built.  These two tracks alone make for a special listen, but this isn’t all the band wants to offer you.

“Transitions” is a much quieter offering from the band, providing listeners a moment of rest and relaxation as the song itself slowly prods along.  Softly the song meanders along, letting you know that this doesn’t always have to be a forceful trip to the noisy horizon; The New Tigers can win you over with a slow number as well. You can then jump right into the bubbly “Door on the Floor,” a more light-hearted bouncing track that resembles Pains of Being Pure at Heart during their quieter noise-pop days.  It’s great to offer sprawling tracks, but being able to contain yourself is a trait that not every band seems to possess, so its nice to see these guys exploring structure and length.

Perhaps one of the secret gems on The New Tigers lives near the end; it’s called “Velvet Jam.” The more I listen to this track, the more I seem to absorb, pulling me further into the song itself.  There’s bits of jangling guitar, ramshackle drumming, and wispy vocals of the softer sort, carrying the melody along perfectly.  Personally, I like the touch of the knifing guitar line that cuts in and out during what seems like the chorus, just before the jangle kicks back into the track.  It’s the sort of song that begs you to listen over and over again.

It’s interesting when listening to The New Tigers how much they sound like a lot of the American bands we all adore, yet at the same time, they’re able to add their own little pieces, allowing the record to sound vibrant and refreshing. Just one listen to the self-titled record will surely not be enough, as you’ll have to go back again, just to check if it’s as wonderful as it sounded.  I got news for you: it is.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/05-Pocketful-Of-Sand.mp3]

Download: The New Tigers – Pocketful Of Sand [MP3]

The New Tigers is out now on Soliti Music.

More New Music from Hospitality

I can’t tell you how excited we are for this Hospitality record.  When we first run their track “Friends of Friends,” RayRay and I were so excited, that we both wanted to post it, almost letting us post it twice.  So yesterday when Stereogum ran the second single from the group’s upcomingself-titled album, I got super stoked all over again.  Merge Records is going to put it out on January 31st, and it just can’t get here soon enough.  This band is clever and whimsical, but there’s definitely a lush pop quality to the music they’re creating.   It’s just a simple formula, but the perfect execution makes it perfect for what any music listener looks for in a hit. Try the new track out.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Hospitality_-_Betty_Wang_LP_Version.mp3]

Download: Hospitality – Betty Wang [MP3]

Beautiful Pop from Treefight for Sunlight

It’s sort of sad, in my mind, that there’s this vast sea separating us from some incredible music, most of which seems to come from places other than England.  A few months back, I first heard this exquisite piece of folk-pop from Treefight for Sunlight, but I had completely forgotten about it, that is until it resurfaced in my daily search for great music.  This particular track comes from the bands self-titled album, not to mention the fact that you can take a jump HERE to see the interesting short that was composed to accompany the track itself.  While you might see this as a beautiful piece of pop, there’s still definitely a bit of haunting to it, which always appeals to me.  Who knows, if this drought in Texas spreads, maybe we’ll no longer be separated from such great music by the Atlantic.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/10-Time-Stretcher.mp3]

Download: Treefight for Sunlight – Time Stretcher [MP3]

F**king Great Track from The New Tigers

I caught wind of this group back in the summer when I discovered the great new label, Soliti Music.  They’re dealing predominantly, at least as of now, with Scandinavian acts, and The New Tigers are one of those acts.  They released their debut album recently in Finland, and I hope I can somehow get my hands on it over here in the States. This track just sprawls in the most beautiful way, launching into this blissful moment that carries you away.  Seriously, I jammed to this once in the past, but just recently found myself getting lost in this number.  And if this isn’t enough, you can also check out another track HERE.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/05-Pocketful-Of-Sand.mp3]

Download: The New Tigers – Pocketful Of Sand [MP3]

New Music from The Darcys

It seems like Arts and Crafts Records has been rather quiet for some time, but I’ve finally come across some new music from the label, by way of The Darcys.  They’ve got a new album, self-titled, coming out on October 25th, and this single is grabbing my attention.  It begins with this operatic opening, soaring vocals taking the focal point, but keep on listening. About midway, however, the song gently erupts with discordant guitars and bits of ambient noise exploding into the background.  It’s like Antony and the Johnsons if they chose to jump off and throw some guitars in the mix.  Should be an interesting listen come October.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/04-Shaking-Down-The-Old-Bones.mp3]

Download: The Darcys – Shaking Down The Old Bones [MP3]

New Sleepy Pop from Sea Oleena

I’ve got to give out a shout to our reader James for bringing this wonderful track to my attention.  Sea Oleena is Canadian songwriter Charlotte Oleena, who composed the songs for her most recent self-titled album with the help of her brother.  It’s got this dream quality to it, but more in that wooded dream as opposed to the more dense dream-pop of late. Something about Oleena’s voice really draws you into her songs, encouraging you to devour every last second of the record.  You can grab the album for the special “name your price” deal over at her Bandcamp.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Sea-Oleena-Sea-Oleena-02-Asleep-at-the-Wheel.mp3]

Download: Sea Oleena – Asleep at the Wheel [MP3]

The Drums – Portamento

Rating: ★★★★½

After much global adoration, and possibly some skepticism, The Drums return to follow up their self-titled debut.  This outing appears to still bubble and brood, if not more so than the band’s first record, which makes Portamento a thoroughly enjoyable listen from start to finish.

If you wanted to see how the group would move into their next phase, then you need to look no further than “Book of Revelation.”  Bouncing bass rhythms control the sign, and while similarities remain vocally, there’s a definite growth in Jonathan Pierce’s voice, sounding much more grounded. And if that didn’t solve your dilemma, then perhaps you can look at “What You Were” to see the band attempting to distance themselves, just a hint, from their past. Pierce’s delivery is vastly different than earlier work, sounding almost indifferent, in an endearing fashion.  Even a horn instrumentation demonstrates the band moving forward.

You’ll still find some excellent numbers worthy of your favorite flailing arms dance move such as the single “Money.” While the lyrical content may not see the band pushing through literary barriers (that’s never been their style), the speedier pace of the drumbeat and Pierce’s vocal shifts during the chorus will allow any listener to realize this band has hooks galore. But, the first half, while catchy and superb in its own right, doesn’t hold much water to the depth of exploration the band made in crafting the second half of Portamento.

With songs like “Lets Go Surfing” on their debut, it seemed the group was intent upon beating you over the head with these incredible hooks.  But, The Drums have switched things up just a bit on this go round, allowing the tracks to brood a little bit, rather than being so forceful.  “If He Likes It Let Him Do It” has a much darker quality than most of the tracks we’ve heard from the group, sounding more like some sort of dark-wave post punk, as opposed to bright surf-ish dance pop. Even the album closer, “How It Ended” seems much more patient in its approach to grabbing listeners, coming off with a much warmer tone than what we were presented with in the band’s early works.  Musical touches are familiar, allowing the fan base to appreciate the olden days, but the best thing is that new listeners will find themselves rewarded by Portamento’s ability to pull you in for a whole song, even album, rather than just a momentary hook.

While I’ll admit that I have some reservations about the group, due entirely to a live performance I witnessed, I can’t escape the fact that the band simply crafts amazing records.  For me, Portamento is a huge step up, and is worthy of ten times the repeated listens in comparison to the first release from The Drums.  It’s got hints of everything any modern listener needs: dance, bounce, brooding, atmospherics.  You really can’t go wrong spending your time listening to this entire album again and again.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/04-Money.mp3]

Download: The Drums – Money [MP3]

More New Music from Light for Fire

Last month I brought you an incredible track from Light for Fire, and they’ve just pushed out another little single for the masses.  This time around, they give you a bit more of a folk-troubadour sound, but you know that’s never a bad thing in our book.  It seems that every track this band puts out just begs to be played over and over again, regardless of where you are.  Their self-titled album is out now, and available for your pleasure, so take my advice, as this is a collection of songs that won’t leave your record player for some time.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/thehuckster.mp3]

Download: Light for Fire – The Huckster [MP3]

New Song from Elba

There seems to be a small amount of buzz growing behind Seattle group Elba, and I’m here to further their endeavor.  In September, the group will be releasing their self-titled album, which will hopefully put the band’s name out there.  On this track, the ringing guitar floating is mesmerizing, while the quieted backing vocals provide a new level of depth to the song’s sound.  Like me, you’ll scour the Internet for more tracks; you can find one on their BANDCAMP, and another HERE.  All signs point to a great release to further our already busy listening schedule in the fall.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Elba-From-A-Sinking-Ship.mp3]

Download: Elba – From A Sinking Ship [MP3]

Her Space Holiday – s/t

Rating: ★★★½☆

It seems like just yesterday that Marc Bianchi began his Her Space Holiday career, when in fact it was 15 years ago.  Finally, the sun is setting on the project, and with this close, Marc’s releasing his final album with the moniker, Her Space Holiday.  It’s perhaps his most complete work, leaving us all with one final album, but so many memories.

“Anything for Progress” begins with a soft-spoken Bianchi singing over light instrumentation; it’s a solemn beginning for a farewell.  But, as the drums march in, arrangements rise and fall, giving us a splendid pop venture fitting for our goodbye as Marc sings “this is all I know.”  Even with the sadness of giving up Her Space Holiday, the explosion of joy and melody at the end of the track is evidence that Mr. Bianchi has come to terms with his decision, aiming to go out with one last momentous affair.  He even follows this up with “Black Cat Balloons,” a song that seems to follow with similar construction.  Gentle beginning, exuberant chorus, wash, rinse, repeat; well played sir.

Despite the bright beginnings, there are some more somber moments throughout Her Space Holiday, though they eventually evolve into well-crafted pop.  “The Candle Jumped Over the Spoon” offers up lightly strummed guitar, Marc’s quiet singing, nice female accompaniment, but it really takes off with the influence of accordion, turing the quiet affair into a piece of swinging good fun.  It’s interesting, as none of the tunes on this record completely give into one style or genre, even with prolonged entries.  Like the aforementioned tune, “The Bullet, The Battle, The Trigger, The Barrel and Me,” presents us with some quiet time with Bianchi, but it can’t last forever, can it?  Well, in short, the song ends with a burst of light, stomping until the sound has subsided.

Perhaps one of the best things about Her Space Holiday is the attention to detail; every sound is purposeful, being used to flesh out each song.  It’s made Bianchi one of the stronger songwriters, oft-overlooked by his peers.  Hopefully as the curtain closes on this chapter of his life he’ll finally receive some recognition for this characteristic.  “Death of a Writer” employs subtle touches of string arrangements, and while it would be easy to see this as fanciful fleshing out of bare tunes, it’s clear that Marc left space in the music for such bursts of accompaniment.  It could be horns, strings, backing vocals; it could even be empty space, but it’s there for a reason: that’s craftsmanship.

I’m sure that somewhere in the future we’ll hear from Marc Bianchi again, and we’ll all be grateful for his return.  That being said, it’s sad to say goodbye to something that has been a part of our lives for so long, especially when it’s executed as well as we find on the last proper release of Her Space Holiday.  We bid you a fond farewell, and we hope to see you soon.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/01-Black-Cat-Balloons.mp3]

Download: Her Space Holiday – Black Cat Balloons [MP3]

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