New Music From Handsom Furs

This week has been pretty crazy for new music from big name acts and now Handsom Furs are gettin’ in on the fun.  New track “I’m Confused” from upcoming LP Face Control just popped up on the web today and is already getting heavy rotation at the ATH offices.  It’s got some dirty sounding guitar work mixed in with a pretty typical Handsom Furs synth beat.  You can get your hands on the new album March 10th via the always awesome Sub Pop label.  The band also plans to be a part of our SXSW festival in March.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/handsome-furs-im-confused.mp3]

Download: Handsom Furs – I’m Confused [MP3]

Oxford Collapse – Bits

Rating: ★★★★½

Throughout this summer, music fans have mostly been greeted by mellower forms of tunes, with an absence of rock coming our ways–and by this, I mean the kind of music with loud guitars and banging drums. Well folks, Oxford Collapse wants to change that.

As the car peels out in “Electric Arc,” the drums come banging in your ears. Soon, the guitar will join this fray, and off the band goes. It’s hard not to feel your heart beating a little quicker in this song. Nice start boys.

They follow that up with another short song full of angular guitars and simple melodies, but its done just the right way, throwing the band back to the classic post-punk sounds of the mid-90s–a la Braid and Jawbreaker. Then they come with a tension building song in “Vernon Jackson,” which builds up continuously through the song, only to have the band slow it down in the end as the song begins to fade out. It’s clear by this point that they have enough control over themselves to pull back the reigns at just the right time.

They just keep going from here, pushing their guitars into your ears, as the drums pound away. Oxford Collapse sound tighter than they have, and a lot more comfortable as well, which may be why they claim “we’re doing fine” in “Young Love Delivers.” But, then they throw a change up. “A Wedding” slows things down, and sounds as if they took a cue from Final Fantasy, using string instruments to back the strength of their vocals. Its a good breathing point.

Then they go right back to it–walls of feedback thrown right back into your face as they continue their rocking onslaught. For me, they seem really straightforward with their approach, and they don’t seem to go off into the distance of atmospherics and noise as they did on their last album.

Towards the end, they start to switch it up, and its for the betterment of the album. “Children’s Crusade” is a brilliant song, and one that will probably make a lot of my mixes throughout the year. “John Blood” similarly slows things down, at least during the chorus, where a female chants her way through the chorus. Still, there is enough guitar work on this song, to make it border between rocker and ballad. “B Roll” also takes a gentler approach, but that approach is matched again by the tension building of the guitar work.  I do wish that this time, they just would have unleashed that guitar completely, but for me, this is their first misstep.

They close it off with “I Hate Nobody” which isn’t immediately gratifying, but as you work your way through the end of the song, it wraps up the album perfectly. Anguished guitars fueled by the deliberately dense drumming, and finally, you can breathe. It’s over.

It’s hard to find much wrong with this record. Personally, I think the mix on the vocals had some issues in a few places, but for the most part, I just went along with the album. It’s enjoyable as you follow around each of the corners and twists and turns.  Let’s hope for more rock like this as we wrap up 2008.

Oxford Collapse returns to Austin on August 27th at The Mohawk, but as of yet, tickets are not readily available.

Have a listen to a new song from their album:

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/birthdaywars.mp3]

Download: Oxford Collapse – Birthday Wars [MP3]

Grand Archives @ Stubbs (6/21)

Grand Archives will be coming to Stubbs this Saturday in support of their recently released album Grand Archives. The band will be joined by label mate Sera Cahoone who will be showcasing songs off her recent Sub Pop release Only as the Day is Long. You can find tickets to the show on Stubbs website for only $10 or you can get one at the show for $12. ATH will be on hand for what should be a stellar show, with a full review and pictures of the show coming early next week. Songs from Grand Archives & Sera Cahoone can be found below:

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/couch.mp3]

Download: tornbluefoamcouch.mp3

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/long.mp3]

Download: onlyasthedayislong.mp3

Wolf Parade – At Mount Zoomer

Rating: ★★★☆☆

From the minute Apologies to the Queen Mary came out a few years back I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the new Wolf Parade album.  I loved that record so much so that I bought everything released by all the members of the band. But, it seems as if all those side-projects sucked the life out of the band.

“Soldier’s Grin” starts out the record promisingly.  It’s an upbeat song from the get-go; the kind of song that we know the band will blow you away in the live setting–and they will blow you away live–I hope.

From here, you get the best two songs on the album in succession, those being “Call it a Ritual” and “Language City.”  Both songs are full of keyboards/piano bouncing heavily along, with just enough grit and clarity in the music to make them both exceptional songs.  It’s at this point in the album that we find Wolf Parade at their best, with Spencer Krug yelping at his best.

From here it starts to gently slide away in the wrong direction.  I’ll admit this: the chorus on the 5th track,”California Dreamer,” is really a rocking moment–once again I salivate at live possibilities–but the rest of the song doesn’t have much to it. Then you have the final good moment of the album,”The Grey Estates.”  Something about Dan Boeckner’s voice is one of my favorites.

That’s it though…the remaining three tracks of the album seem to me as if the band lost some steam. The songs don’t seem to be as fleshed out musically as the previous 6, and they come off sounding like skeletons of mediocre songs, or B-sides of one of the various side-projects.

My other complaint is that the vocals have matured.  They’ve lost that oddity in their vocals, which-personally-takes a lot of the really interesting moments away from the band.  These fellows come off sounding half-hearted, but like I said, this is only apparent in the last three songs.

All in all, this is a record worth listening to, but I’m just not sure how many repeated listens those first few songs really garner when paired with the latter half of the album.

Rest assured, the band will bring the rock when they come to La Zona Rosa on July 25th–this is a must see.  You can buy tickets for the show at this fancy place .

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