What’s That? New Yumi Zouma!

yumiI’m in the middle of getting ready to throw a bunch of tunes on what I hope is the greatest playlist of my life (my own wedding soundtrack), and this new track from Yumi Zouma might just find a home there. There’s a pop-tastic innocence, and something in the vocal that recalls early Stars, though here it seems more bent for a club-banger. Listen closely for the subtle male vocal lurking far off in the latter half of the song…a special touch. Regardless, maybe it’s just the musical element, but something here’s so joyous I can’t stop playing it. Look for the group’s new effort, Yoncalla, on May 27th via Cascine.

 

The Megaphonic Thrift Makes Its Way to the USA

megaphonicIt’s been a rather big year for The Megaphonic Thrift, winning all sorts of awards in their homeland, Norway. But, there’s still the US market left to conquer, which should be easier now that the band has signed on with Old Flame Records to release Sun Stare Sound on this side of the pond. Their sound reminds me a lot of the tunes of early Stars, playing upon the dynamic interchange between male and female vocalists. I will say there’s a little more detail added to the songs too, giving a more artistic touch to theircraftsmanship. Look for the band to make waves when the album comes out later on this year.

Sego Stream New Single

segoOnce Was Lost Now Just Hanging Around is only a few weeks away from its release, and this track here should definitely increase your interest in Sego. My ears play tricks on me with the latest single, trying to determine where the guitar chords seemingly go in and out of tune; it’s an interesting effect that’s buoyed by the precision drum work. This might not be breaking down any barriers, but it’s execution makes it an enjoyable tune you can spin again and agin. Look for the new album on Dine Alone on March 4th. The group will also be following the release up with a little tour, including some SXSW dates.

ACL 2012: Sunday in Pictures

This post is going to be huge with good reason. The artists were very photogenic on a gorgeous day. The lawn held together for the most part despite the rain and spirits were high going into day three with beautiful blue skies and a dry breeze.

Here is the rundown for Sunday pics: Stars, Gary Clark Jr., Polica, Two Door Cinema Club, Die Antwoord, Willis Earl Beal and Crystal Castles. I took plenty of Zef Side shots, have a quick cameo from Moon Duo and got sad because of the closed pit for Crystal Castles that was “in the rider” though none of us photogs knew that. Willis Earl Beal may have been the highlight of my ACL with a small crowd to start that quickly grew as people were pulled in by the emotion and vocal power. Wonderful stuff.

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Have A Nice Weekend

It is going to be raining. There are a lot of shows. Be safe. Be happy. This song makes me happy.

Stars just released The North and will be touring through the fall including a stop at ACL, playing on Sunday during my birthday party at 1:15. I’m inviting all of you to the Barton Springs stage. I know some of you may venture off towards the Freelance Whales or Moon Duo. I understand. I may even stop by.

In the mean time, I give you 4:39 of happy.

New Music From Memphis

Torquil Campbell of Stars and Chris Dumon are returning with their band known as Memphis for a 3rd LP under the moniker.  Below you’ll find new track from the guys entitled “I Want the Lights on After Dark” for your enjoyment.  Of course you’ll hear a lot of the influence from Campbell and his many years in the Canadian powerhouse.  Hell, this could probably even be labeled as a Stars song and most people couldn’t tell the difference right?  New album Here Comes a City will be available on March 8th via Arts & Crafts.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/03-I-Want-The-Lights-On-After-Dark.mp3]

Download: Memphis – I Want The Lights On After Dark [MP3]

Stars – The Five Ghosts

Rating: ★★★ · ·

Toronto band Stars has spent years crafting albums full of emotion, politics and love.  It’s now 2010, and the band have switched labels for The Five Ghosts, perhaps signaling a change in the band’s mentality, or at the very least, their dynamic sound.  Signing to long-running emo label Vagrant may not have been a bad idea in regards to exposure, but would such exposure exist on the merit of the music alone?

“Dead Hearts” oddly begins with the feel of a melodic Death Cab for Cutie song, with the guitar barely trickling beneath the alternating vocals of Torq Campbell and Amy Millan.  It’s a pleasant enough number, and one that newcomers to the band will surely enjoy, but it seems as the album begins to take flight that the group is already taking a rest.  “Wasted” similarly seems uninspired, as if Stars opted to craft songs in the vein of friends Metric; the lyrics even bear the mark of Emily Haines.

By the time you encounter “I Died So I Could Haunt You” you’re looking for some sort of extreme contrast.  The sonic barrage apparent on In Our Bedroom After the War (“Take Me to the Riot”) is no more.  Sure, the thick bass line definitely adds a brooding quality, but as the song builds towards an unknown climax, listeners will find themselves a bit unfulfilled.  Really, where are the drums here?  But, perhaps this is the direction the band has chosen to head, so we shouldn’t knock them for treading new ground, that is until you arrive at “We Don’t Want Your Body.”  Frankly, it’s a bit of a juvenile number, and where you want to find a bit of passion, you only get a little coy vocal from Millan.  Oddly, none of it really seems too bad, but at this point, it all seems bad in comparison to other works by the group.

Luckily for the band, Amy Millan is just incredible.  Lack of inspiration never seems to hold her back, as witnessed in “Changes.”  She practically carries the song all on her own, with, as usual on The Five Ghosts, very minimal instrumentation shining through.  You have to give her credit in the end, as her light definitely has a bit of shine to it, while the rest of this album seemingly fades into banality.

Still, there are some bright elements on this record to assure us all that they still have a knack for writing good hooks.  “Passenger” has this catchy little moment during the chorus that appears as part electronic, part vocal, and for whatever reason, it just grabs the listener. On “How Much More” there’s a bit of a ringing guitar to go with another great vocal Millan performance.  Back beats here give a little boost of energy to go along with it all, rounding it out to be one of the better tracks.

Not long ago I would have sworn by Stars, such was the quality of their back catalog, but The Five Ghosts just seems like an anomaly.  It doesn’t seem like a record within the character of the group I’ve gotten (or we’ve) to know for the last ten years or so. It would be wrong to call it uninspired, but you could easily say that this is nowhere near the band’s best work to date.  Hopefully, this is just a brief identity crisis, and one that will bring the band back stronger next go around.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/Stars-Wasted-Daylight.mp3]

Download: Stars – Wasted Daylight [MP3]

New Music From Stars

We are happy to anounce that one our favorite Canadian bands, Stars, is returning in 2010 with a new album in June.  The new LP is set to be titled The Five Ghosts and features this new single “Fixed”.  Physical copies of the new album will be in stores June 22nd via Vagrant Records.  Very excite!

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/04-Fixed.mp3]

Download: Stars – Fixed [MP3]

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