Despite a horrible toll on our souls and families, there have been some minimal bright spots in the art world, like friends working together to organize compilations. Last week Dandy Boy Records dropped this incredible Television Personalities Tribute. Not only does the album pay homage to one of my favorite bands, but its filled with artists we’ve covered countless times. As I write this I’m jamming to Jeanines cover “Jackanory Story,” but of course it never hurts to hear the “Silly Girl” cover by Friendless Summer. Plus, you get our friend RE Seraphin, So Cow, and Odd Hope (recent single via Slumberland Records). I could go on and on with all the great tunes, or I could just leave Mummy Mummy Please Look at Me below for you to enjoy today!
I reckon that It’s the Mick Trouble LP will probably be a niche record; it will be a hit to those who adore the Television Personalities and other oddball popaholics. But, one thing I hope you agree about upon listening is how timeless these tracks sound. Sure, you could place them in the early 80s UK, but they’re definitely a collection that’s ever as vital nowadays. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that if you’ve listened to any of the art-punk of the last few years, you’re going to be salivating listening to this LP below. It’s 12 absolute hits you’ll want to have in your record collection; I think my favorite tune is “Weekend at the Wag.” Grab it from Emotional Response right now!
It’s been a wonderful week for Emotional Response Records, what with news bits from Neutrals and Seablite, but new of the an Eleventh Hour Adventists might be the biggest news of the week. The band is made up of Jowe Head (TV Personalities, Swell Maps) and Jasmine Pender (Rotten Bliss), so you’re getting two revered artists who’ve always played by their own rules. This first single is something of a mix between folk ballad and haunted sea shanty, with both Pender and JH trading vocal duties throughout. However, just like their meeting, things are not of the ordinary with these two…skip just to the 4 minute mark (if you need proof) for the brief noise experiment symbolizing the duo’s desire to manipulate tradition. Who knows where their self-titled LP will leave us, but one things for certain it will be anything but boring; it drops on June 7th!
Admittedly, Television Personalities are not a band for everyone, yet I feel as if they’ve informed a lot of the work I adore today. Luckily, the band’s lost album, Beautiful Despair, is being released by Fire Records on January 26th. This song, crafted after an encounter with Evan Dando sounds a bit muddied, almost like a demo, yet like all the best TVP work, there’s a beauty in its imperfections. Oh, and the lyrics, always so clever and hilarious, even when being serious…sitting here I’m just grinning. Dan Treacy was the forefather that every literary indie rocker didn’t know they loved, and hopefully with this release getting some attention, people will start to go back and fall for the band all over again.
Spain’s The Yellow Melodies have been on my radar for quite some time, thanks to our friend Wally at The Beautiful Music. I think I first fell in love with their tribute album to the Television Personalities back in 2012, but they’re back with a brand new album titled Life. I’ve been jamming it quite a bit the last few weeks, and today you get your chance to get your hands on the LP. If you press play below you’ll find an album filled to the brim with charming melodies and indiepop delights; it’s a complete gem from start to finish. I could go on and on, but who needs my words…you just need the songs below!
I think it’s time we all give credit to Sonny Smith, leader of Sonny & the Sunsets. For six “official” albums and countless other releases/projects he constantly is redefining his sound. While I have my personal favorites, I’m really stoked on his new approach. On this single, it seems like it’s a crash of new-wave style and the Television Personalities, so I can clearly get behind that sound. It’s interesting, yet still has some of the same stylistic approaches all Smith records wear; it’s great to move and change. His new LP, Moods Baby Moods, comes out on May 27th via Polyvinyl Records.
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A few years back, Dan Treacy of Television Personalities used Crocodiles as his backing band, and that’s when I first caught wind of the group. I trust Dan, so I scoured the net in search of news, only to stumble upon a group that I thought was unfairly being compared to Jesus and the Mary Chain. Sure, I see the similarities, but as evidenced by Endless Flowers, the group has a lot more in relation to jangling art-pop than JMC.
“Endless Flowers” does utilize some squalling guitar wailing to kick off the whole affair, but vocally, it harkens back to the musical re-imagining of early 00s band such as Longwave; there’s a simple melodic tone that gives listeners that soft-footed shuffle. “Sunday” again has that atmospheric guitar sound, so everyone’s going to already toss the JMC comparison back onto Crocodiles, but mentally I’m stripping the sound off these tracks, choosing instead to focus on the bright quality of the vocal delivery; it provides a youthful exuberance akin to Pains of Being Pure at Heart.
As Endless Flowers evolves, you begin to see the gentler side of the band, offering a steadier dosage of pop melody as preferred to noise. “No Black Clouds for Dee Dee” is definitely a heartfelt ballad, considering the band’s relation to Dee Dee (not Ramone). It’s a standout song, demonstrating that the group’s not always content with upping the noise quotient. Interestingly, as they begin to unleash a lighter side, they also begin to let that element fully collide with their noisier moments. It leads to some of the longer tracks, such as “My Surfing Lucifer” and “Dark Alleys,” with the latter remaining as one of my favorite tracks on the record.
They break through it all to wrap up the record quite nicely, giving you a rollicking stomp track in “Welcome Trouble.” The jagged guitar line cutting in the background just builds you to the raucous stomp that ups the ante during the chorus. It’s got a bit of post-rock swagger to go along with the energetic chorus, and it definitely helps illustrate the group’s progressive direction. Closing out with the quieter “You Are Forgiven” again finds Crocodiles in a steady ballad form that should leave no doubt that the band is capable of affecting songs without having to fill each track with noise. Admittedly, the chirping of the birds in the background of the recording might make it seem like a B-Side or an afterthought, but the strength of the song itself warrants its inclusion here.
I can see the Internet still hyping up the JMC connection, but perhaps when I listened to Endless Flowers, I was hoping for more, so I forgave its presence and looked closer at the core content in the songs. If you approach listening to the latest from Crocodiles then I have the feeling that you’ll understand where I am coming from. Regardless, I’ve had a lot of fun listening to this whole album, especially when you turn it up to 10 (11 is so cliche).[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Crocodiles-Sunday-Psychic-Conversation-9.mp3]
Download:Crocodiles – Sunday (Psychic Conversation #9) [MP3]
Just in time for Valentines Day, you can pick up this incredible reissue of the Tronics classic Love Backed by Force. Sure, it came out decades ago, but you can definitely throw it right into the current mix, and it would fit right along side bands like Beat Happening or Television Personalities–both solid bands in my book. The good people over at Whats Your Rupture will be releasing the album February 14th for all you fans of art-pop, and if you’re in love like I am, they’ve also got a sweet shirt from the band’s heyday that you can pick up as well. Start your day off right with this track.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/03-Theyre-Talking-About-Us-1.mp3]
Download: Tronics – They’re Talking About Us [MP3]
For those of you just meeting Twerps, you’d be surprised at the evolution of their sound. When we first heard them via the folks at Chapter Music, they were a pretty basic lo-fi group, spinning tape loops and coming off a bit lackadaisical on songs like “Good Advice.” On their self-titled record, you’ll get a much more focused group bringing it all home.
“Dreamin” begins Twerps, giving you cascading guitar chords that cut through the careful jangle-pop, even tossing in some backing harmonies from female member Julia MacFarlane. It’s as tight as the band has sounded since they were introduced, and such songs only solidify their presence in our musical world. But, you’re still going to find that carefree spirit within this album.
On “Don’t Be Surprised” Marty Frawley just tosses his lyrics atop a much slower paced jingle, sort of like you’d expect Dan Treacy of Television Personalities to do, that is until mid-track where they just kick it off with this beautiful bit of noisy pop, only to return to their melodious bit of fun. Twerps use a similar tactic on what is not only the record’s best song, but perhaps one of the top songs of the year, “Who Are You.” It embodies everything magical in a song: catchy bit of guitar playing, a cool bit of vocal delivery and relatable lyrics. When Frawley goes into his “who are you/to be actin the way that you do,” it’s all perfectly fitting, and it leads up to the playful “we’ll get drunk/we’ll get stoned/we’ll get high/we’ll get drunk” line that accompanies each chorus. Simply put, there aren’t many songs from this year better than this.
One of the best things about this entire record is that Twerps simply keep you interested, going places you can easily see, but didn’t necessarily expect from the group. “Jam Song” sort of fills the middle of the record with a rambling bit of ballroom stomp, always keeping their groove. Or, you could skip a few ahead and find yourself at the simple spoken-word track, “Bring Me Down,” which is joined by a polite little bit of guitar strumming. There’s pretty much moments for every type of listener out there, be it jangling pop moments like “Dreamin,” or a more-subdued Wavves feel like the closer “Coast to Coast.” It all fits in with the band’s aesthetic, and it never seems to grow stale.
Twerps have been around for some time now, but this self-titled record is going to be one of the dates that you’ll want to remember, as a band that puts it together this well is very rare. They’ve got hooks, they’ve got creativity and they even have a bit of attitude (or essence), all making Twerps one hell of a ride. Mark my word, everyone is going to be talking about this group and this record for some time to come.
Currently you can listen to the whole album HERE. Or jam the opener below.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/The_Twerps_-_Dreamin.mp3]
Download: Twerps – Dreamin [MP3]
Following the career of cult band Television Personalities you’ll see that the band never seemed to eclipse the work on their debut And Don’t the Kids Just Love It. All that aside, the band has continuously put out clever off-kilter pop albums since their inception, and their newest, A Memory is Better Than Nothing, is just par for the course. The thing is, par for the course for this group never creates run of the mill pop album; they’ve always seemed one step above, despite failing to receive critical acclaim.
Choosing to open with the title track “A Memory is Better Than Nothing” is a great choice. Slowly beginning with mainstay Dan Treacy offering up his thin British voice just before bouncing into a warm jangling pop song, all this before the song waivers off into realms of quiet. Reminiscing about memories does seem to prove that Television Personalities will always have something glorious to hold onto, no matter how far in the past. Then you skip ahead to “She’s My Yoko,” where once again Dan waxes about his past, mostly choosing to hold on to a relationship of the past/present. Offering this up as the lead single was probably a smart choice, as the mixture of varying layers of keys, minimal percussion and Treacy’s voice make it appealing to almost anyone.
Nostalgia seems to dominate this album, as the subject matter never seems to stray from lessons learned, precisely as it does in “Walk Towards the Night.” Treacy is still talking about his relationship with an unnamed partner, and the gentle strumming provides an excess depth to his emotions. But, just as you begin to feel comfortable with the feel of the record, “Funny He Nver Married” comes on through your stereo. Treacy sings differently here, almost entirely in a way you’ve never heard from him before, his voice floating very lightly over cuts of guitar moving in and out of the song itself. It’s simply a nice little break from the band’s bread and butter.
One of the greatest attributes of the group pops up on “People Think That We’re Strange.” They use the most simplistic lyrics and coat them in feedback and steady drumming, but you find yourself drawn into the depth of the song, whether or not that depth actually exists at all. Their ability to absorb you into the music has always been one of their gifts, and the same formulaic approach can be seen in their past works, as well as on A Memory is Better Than Nothing. “You Don’t Want Me” uses this formula perfectly, with soft strumming accompanying Treacy as a more pronounced guitar line is layered over the entire song. It’s nothing special, but listening to it definitely creates an overwhelming level of emotion.
Closing moments offer some interesting moments to boot, such as “The Good Anarchist,” which uses a lady for the lead. Featuring a female vocal is not something entirely new from the song, but it stands out on this collection of songs, as its the first time you find such a prominent female appearance. It’s all bookended by slower moments than the rest of the album, and it does provide a moment to pause and reflect over what you’ve just listened to through these past thirteen tracks. I’d say listening to Television Personalities is an acquired taste, but it’s one that I feel should be acquired by all. If you’re looking for a band to adore, then take a listen to A Memory is Better Than Nothing, then go revisit all the stupendous work in the band’s catalog.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/05-television_personalities-funny_he_never_married.mp3]
Download: Television Personalities – Funny He Never Married [MP3]