Robert Forster Shares Tender Years

Our first glimpse into Robert Forster‘s new album was the heartbreaking “She’s a Fighter,” which detailed Forster’s wife current battle with cancer. On this new single, Robert takes on that personal level all over, yet in this instance, it feels like something that could aptly be applied to any listener’s life…it’s that timelessness that always draws me into Robert’s work. The video reveals Robert dancing and singing in his kitchen, and perhaps my favorite moment comes right after the 3 minute mark. Robert takes to soloing, and form there, the song ventures into familiar Forster territory, where you get to hear the past and present of his songwriting all collide into this beautifully warm pop track. I’m not going to lie here…this might be one of my favorite post-GB Forster tracks, period. The Candle and the Flame is out on February 3rd via Tapete Records.

Sapphire & Steel Share Evelina

Jorn and Estella, or Sapphire & Steel as they’re presented here, have been working in the indiepop circle for quite some time, and as they continue to charm with their singles, we’re here to share those with you. This new single definitely has a nod towards classic Grant McLennan penned tunes, taking notes from the jangle pop realm, but perhaps dolling them up a bit in a more sophisticated package. Sweet guitar notes ring here and there, but they crash into the softened melodic vocal play of the two songwriters, offering up this sort of indifferent cool, like they know how good the song is, and they’ll leave it at that. I mean, listen to the way “Evelina” gets dropped in the chorus and try to tell me you don’t get the feels.

Playlist: R.E. Seraphin

R.E. Seraphin was a staple in the Austin music scene for years, even working with ATH Records own Mean Jolene…but, life led him out to California where he’s just released a really wonderful new collection of songs: Tiny Shapes. I reached out to Ray to see if he’d be willing to share a playlist of tunes that influenced his latest release…and he kindly obliged. After the jump you’ll get 10 songs that helped R.E. Seraphin make a great new record. And if you’re so inclined, go grab a copy from Paisley Shirt Records!

Read more

Robert Forster Shares New Single

I had everything mapped out today, scheduled and what not, then Robert Forster goes and drops a single from his new album. I’ve spent countless hours listening to Inferno, and I can tell you that it’s quickly grown to be one of my favorites. There really feels like two sides: a gentler, elegant side and powerful pop numbers, like this one; it kind of sounds like Robert meets Pulp. I love how he stretches his voice into a curled growl on this one, aided by a nice backing vocal to smooth out the edges. Robert is one of the greatest songwriters of our time, at least in my meaningless opinion; I know a handful of others who would agree. Inferno drops March 1st via Tapete Records.

Festival Recap: Day 3 of Primavera Sound

Photo by Eric Pamies

Photo by Eric Pamies

Last Saturday in Barcelona was the last day of the main festival of Primavera Sound. For me, while day three was still filled with big names to catch on its program, was definitely the underdog of the day-by-day breakdown, but it turned out to be possibly my favorite day. I caught classic acts in new ways and newer acts in classic ways. Follow the jump for coverage of the last main day of the 16th edition of Primavera Sound.

Read more

ATH Abroad: Primavera Sound 2016 Preview

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 10.10.50 AMIn one week I’ll be touching down in Barcelona, Spain with around 200,000 of my closest friends in order to attend Primavera Sound. While you may not be in attendance, as this festival is quite a long jaunt away from the ATX, there are quite a few bands on the excellent and exciting lineup that will be making their way to our own city limits in the near future. As this is essentially the first super fest of the summer season, I’m on my way to Parc del Forum to scoop out who you must see when they come to a city near you, and who you should expect to step into the limelight of the indie world in the near future. Sure, I’m super stoked to see Radiohead, LCD Soundsystem, Beach House, Wild Nothing, Sigur Ros, Destroyer, Beirut, Dinosaur JR. … the list goes on. But what about those acts that get overlooked by these huge names? Read on for my top 5 international semi-under the radar acts that I’m most excited to see.

Read more

New Tune from Cut Off Your Hands

For some reason I passed on this song when MOKB ran it, but I guess that was just a bit of laziness on my part, as I love Cut Off Your Hands.  Official news came today that the band will be releasing their newest record, Hollow, on August 16th via Frenchkiss Records, the label that put out their previous effort.  The press release talks of Nick Johnston sort of hitting a wall, and going back to those records of simple joy, which helped him find his way back to solid footing with his own songwriting. The track below definitely has an Oceania vibe to it, reminiscent of my all time favorite, The Go-Betweens.  It does sound a lot less angular and British, which, in my opinion, is going to make this record incredible.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Cut-Off-Your-Hands-You-Should-Do-Better.mp3]

Download: Cut Off Your Hands – You Should Do Better [MP3]

FTC: The Go-Betweens

gobetweensIt’s rare that an Australian band maintains the longevity like that of The Go-Betweens. They began their careers in 1977, and were on and off until about 2006 when original member Grant McLennan passed away unexpectedly.  Fortunately for everyone out there, the band left a slew of wonderful tracks, and albums, out there for all those music fans who came to fall in love with their music.  If you’re not familiar with the band, you might want to take a peak at Bellavista Terrace, which is a compilation of sorts of the best of their early works.  You’ll find tracks for fans of The Smiths, but you also find a history that led to some beautifully crafted pop gems on later albums such as Oceans Apart.  Their popularity was brought back to my attention when a bridge in Australia was recently named after them, a high honor in my opinion.  So sit back, enjoy this track, and go browse the beautiful history of The Go-Betweens.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/06-Cattle-and-Cane.mp3]

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – s/t

painsRating: ★★★★½

Some of the simplest music occasionally connects with you on the most personal level, and this probably is just one of those times.  The Pains of Being Pure at Heart have released one of the most personal albums of the year, and yet there is no explanation.  From start to finish, the album wins you over, time and time again.

Minute one is full of the jangly guitar pop that leapt all over the indie landscape throughout the late 80s and into the 90s.  Surrounded in layers of reverb and feedback, it chugs along, claiming that “you never were a contender.”  Lyrically, it is one of the most simple ideas put to paper, but you can carry that any which way you like; it never takes away from the magnificence of the music.

At times, you can clearly see the influence of bands like My Bloody Valentine, as the band use various effects to coat their sound in a darker spectrum, but at the heart of it all is a clear understanding of the craftsmanship in pop formulas.  Suppose you cleared away all the atmospherics intentions of the band, just for a moment.  You would find the most accessible pop song you’ve come across this year, but that’s what makes it so wonderful. This New York quartet didn’t take the easy way into your hearts, they took  the road less traveled.

Vocalist Kip seems like the sort of guy you always wanted to hang out with when you walked through your campus.  He wasn’t pretentious, not even in his writing, as he was assuredly an English major. Still, every time you saw him cross your path, you knew he had something to him; you knew he could take over the world.  Here, his voice is warm and entirely unassuming. The songs he crafts are all the things you wish you could’ve written, and he’ll gladly share them with you.

One of the more intriguing elements here is that the bobbing bass work is precisely what this record needs to move along.  It’s got a certain bounce to it that makes you want to continually move your feet.  It’s club music for those that  just don’t have the need to go to the club every single night of the week. Toss that in with the simple, yet exact, drum work, and you have a rhythm section that can really claim to be the backbone of this band. See “Teenager in Love” for the perfect example of the strength of the rhythm section.

Vocal interplay across the album is perfectly fitting, coddling every little harmony.  There is nothing modern about this record, other than the fact that it came out in modern times.  It could fit in alongside the best albums of the Cure or even the Go-Betweens, yet it stands on it’s own two feet.  Each turn brings you a new melody, a new angle with which to approach the songs. You don’t want to put it down, as you are sure that there has to be more to what lies beneath the album.

But, greatness aside, there is a drawback to the album. You want to keep listening to it over and over again. You want to play it on your walks, in your house, in your car on a sunny day.  That can be a bit much, and since the sound is a bit repetitive at points, you might find yourself worn out on the album in a short time frame.  Rest assured, you’ll be back soon to keep listening to this album time and time again

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/07-everything-with-you.mp3]

Download: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Everything With You [MP3]

The Go-Betweens – Bellavista Terrace

Rating: ★★★★★

This is another album in our mini-series of old albums that you should probably revisit, or say hello to for the very first time. Our current selection comes from the Australian band The Go-Betweens.

Background information from this album:  First off, this is a compilation of some of their best songs from their earlier albums. It’s a good starting point, as it was the place that I first began. The band revolved around the songwriting partnership of Grant McLennan and Robert Forster. They played together, taking breaks, up until 2006, when McLennan passed away.

The closest comparison I can think of when referencing this band is to say that they come off a bit like The Smiths, which isn’t a bad way to begin if you ask me. I think that comparison deals more with the sounds of the vocals; there is a great deal of resemblance to the way Morrissey sings.

However, they don’t have a Johnny Marr, so the angular guitar sounds are a little bit smoother, which allows room for some really solid melodies. For me, it gives a little bit of a folk feel to the traditional eighties dance mixes. The drums, throughout the album, are extremely crisp, accenting every beat perfectly.  There isn’t a bad moment from the rhythm section on this album.

Every song on this compilation has something redeemable, and I always listen to this album from the first song to the last. Here are some of my personal favorites:

That Way: This is probably the song I dance to the most in my bedroom all year long. The guitar work is very clean, encouraging you to swing your arms about your body in glee. And the percussion work on this song is ridiculous – every time the kick-drum comes in, I’m taken aback.

Draining the Pool for You: This song is all about seeing through that person you’ve pined after for years, and you come to realize they’re a little less special than you thought. The chorus alone makes this song worth every listen.

The House that Jack Kerouac Built: This song has strings in the background to accompany the bands. For me its a very dark song, which I kind of think is the point, as the lyrics ask “to keep me away from her.” This is what Joy Division could sound like if they were mixed differently.

Streets of Your Town: If you wanted a cheesy song to sing along to at your wedding, I think this is the one for you. It sounds a lot like The Church, which is another great Australian band. Every few words, female vocals come into the background, creating melodious moments of magic. I think this is one of their most popular songs.

There are many more songs on this album worthy of mention, but I don’t want to take up all that space. It’s sad that McLennan passed away because this writing partnership gave the world some of the better moments in music history. If you’ve passed them up, start here.  It will get you acquainted with one of indie-rock’s best kept secrets.