New Track from Sarabeth Tucek

I’ll admit it, we probably don’t do the best job of promoting female musicians as much as we should around these parts. But, something about Sarabeth Tucek caught me today, perhaps it was the simplicity of her offering.  There’s just a gentle guitar that meanders throughout, and then there’s just the vocal that goes atop it all.  Something in the way Tucek sings is awfully reminiscent of one Hope Sandoval, but perhaps that’s just wishful thinking. Regardless, she’s got a striking voice, and you can hear more from Sarabeth when her album, Get Well Soon, hits stores on May 24th.  Sometimes you just need a little love from the ladies. Oh, and apparently she sang with Bill Callahan on Smog‘s Supper back in the day.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/sarabethtucek_getwellsoon.mp3]

Download: Sarabeth Tucek – Get Well Soon [MP3]

New Music from Bill Callahan

Long have I followed the career of Smog, or Bill Callahan, as we know him now, so when he became one of the many musicians to move to Austin, I was hopping with joy, hoping we’d get to see more of him around town.  We have been so lucky, as he popped up on numerous occasions, not to mention random talks, such as his upcoming appearance at Book People on April 10th.  But, more important is his music, and P4k premiered a new song yesterday from the gent in preparation for his new record, Apocalypse, which comes out April 19th on Drag City.  If we’re going off this track, it’s going to be your usual fair, with trickling guitar work and Bill’s soft and smoky voice.  Yeah, that’s right, it’s going to be goo.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Bill-Callahan-Babys-Breath.mp3]

Download: Bill Callahan – Baby’s Breath [MP3]

Bill Callahan – Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle

billRating: ★★★★☆

Austin resident Bill Callahan is more widely known for his releases under the Smog moniker, but the release of his second “solo” album will surely have heads turning in the direction of his future; his most recent ventures seem to be the most focused of any of his releases, which definitely prove beneficial to the listener.

Of course, there is really only one instrument on this album that is truly worthy of discussion, and that has to be the ragged baritone vocals of Callahan himself.  His voice is easily identifiable, but it also serves as the predominant element that courses through the entirety of the album.  Everything else seems to play second-fiddle to the vocals, and one can presume that that is precisely where Callahan would like to leave us.

Take, for instance, “Eid Ma Clack Shaw,” the album’s first released single.  The song is comprised mostly of two elements: one being the voice of Callahan, the other being tinkering piano that bounces gleefully in step with the vocals. “The Wind and the Dove” follows just after, and you’re caught on the brief moments when the pitch and delivery seem to change just the slightest bit, creating a sense of reserve.  Both songs emphasize the voice rather than the music, although this isn’t saying that the music is altogether uninteresting. One merely needs to listen to the gentleness in the production, even when other elements are added to the textural mix of the song, such as the female vocals that filter in and out of “Rococo Zephyr.”

This entire outing seems to come out of a place of reserve, as if Callahan is taking his time to think things through, watching the world around slowly go by each day.  Lyrically, the songs approach various levels of observation and commentary on fairly mundane things, but developed in the way only Bill can do.  Even the song titles seem to illustrate the idea of thought, and other such processes, which is apparently where a lot of the album stems from, as Bill admits to being a bit restless during the recording of the majority of the album.

At the end of the journey, you’ll find one of the longest songs in the Bill Callahan/Smog repertoire, which isn’t entirely a bad thing.  It’s the perfect bookend to the album, as the narrator here admits that it’s time to put some things away, such as God.  With the album coming to a close, it’s time to put it away, as Bill has clearly made his point.  He’s crafted a set of mellow semi-folk tunes using his voice as the instrument and his lyrics as your guide through his world and his thoughts.  It’s a good run through from start to finish.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/03-the-wind-and-the-dove.mp3]

Download: Bill Callahan – The Wind and the Dove [MP3]