New Music from Munch Munch

You haven’t heard of Munch Munch?  Yea, neither had I until a few days ago when I stumbled upon them by accident, searching the nets.  I come across this incredible sound; to me, it seemed to hint at a bunch of white Britons doing their best to emulate TV on the Radio.  It had that same similar shifting in time signatures, if only for brief moments, driving rhythms, and darkly operatic voices that just soar.  So I checked out their album, which may not be out in the States yet, and Double Visions really does deliver through and through.  It’s wonderful when you stumble upon something such as this, so I thought I’d return the favor to our good readers.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/09-Wolfmans-Wife-1.mp3]

Download: Munch Munch – Wolfman’s Wife [MP3]

FT5: Indie Rock African Americans

This is a serious subject, and one I don’t plan to take very lightly.  As I’ve attended several shows recently, even small local ones, I began to look at the racial dynamic in the Austin music scene.  Oddly, one giant sore thumb sticks out: the lack of African-American attendees at these shows.   This is probably the same way in every city across the land, and I tend to think it’s quite unfortunate.  I’m not here to debate how to solve the problem, if you deem this a problem, but rather to honor my Top Five African-American participants in the realm of indie rock.   This is just my opinion, but I immediately banned the guy from Bloc Party because he put out two bad records and continues to make bad electronica music.
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New Tunes from Twin Shadow

twin-shadowThe story goes that George Lewis Jr. had been struggling with writer’s block until he began to wonder the streets of Berlin.  It seems at this point he came to the decision to record some sublime electro-pop tunes that will soon be released by Grizzly Bear‘s Chris Taylor’s Terrible Records.  He’s got some 7 inches coming your way in the Spring, and based on this track, you’re going to love Twin Shadow.  It recalls a touch of TV on the Radio for me, but hey, that’s just me.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/Twin-Shadow-Yellow-Balloon.mp3]

Download: Twin Shadow – Yellow Balloon [MP3]

Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson – Summer of Fear

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Rating: ★★★ · ·

Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson burst onto the scene a few years ago with the support of the New York hierarchy.  Now, as he releases his second album, Summer of Fear, which is his first for Saddle Creek, he goes and grabs Kyp Malone of TV on the Radio to aid in production duties.  Would having such a producer ultimately effect the aesthetics of our new favorite troubador?  How would Malone put his own touches on the record, or would he?

Upon first listen all the way through, you can immediately tell the difference between Summer of Fear and Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson.  Sure, there are ecclectic touches, no doubt influenced by the presence of Malone, but there is a certain sesnse of urgency lacking in these songs.  “Shake a Shot” opens the album without making that statement you expected, although you can still feel the passion in the lyrics.

“Always an Anchor” is the second song, and it happens to be one of the more powerful song on the record. You can hear the struggle of daily life in the guttural power behind MBAR‘s vocals, which is precisely what made his first effort so powerful.  This time around, it’s a bit more sparse than you would otherwise want, or rather, expect.  If you listen to it closely, you can almost hear the “Wolf Like Me” guitar chug in the background.

What does seem more pronounced on this album, or perhaps clearer due to the clarity of the voice is the clarity of the lyrical content.  We all know by now about MBAR‘s struggles, but it’s how he spins those around to churn out great tunes which is admirable.  Not only that, but he sings about the despair of humanity, but in doing so, he seems to sing it with such conviction and understanding that you can’t really be worried about it any longer.  It’s as if he has come to accept it more as fact, and the listener should too.

Listening to this album, you will find your songs that you like, and you’ll find flourishes of things un-MBAR, such as the various string elements, seen in songs like “Hard Row,”  that occasionally seem out of place mid-song.  Still, the more songs this guy churns out, you feel as if the better off we all are, as Summer of Fear, though hindered by various elements, demonstrates the songwriting capabilities of Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson; we should all be grateful for such an emerging voice.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/03-The-Sound-1.mp3]

Download: Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson – The Sound [MP3]

Rain Machine – Rain Machine

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Rating: ★ · · · ·

We all know and love TV on the Radio, right?  So it seems only natural when one of the band’s most integral members, guitarist/vocalist Kyp Malone (recording as Rain Machine), steps out and releases a solo record we should take notice, right? Well, you would be about half right.

The first half of Rain Machine’s self-titled debut (released this week on Anti-) is good, maybe even better than good. The songs are the polar opposite of what would be released as a TV on the Radio track. They lack the density and the sense of paranoia that the band has finely crafted over the years. Malone, as Rain Machine, writes songs with room for the listener to breathe. The tracks almost seem like skeletons of TVOTR songs, waiting for Dave Sitek to fill them in.  Standout tracks include ‘Give Blood’, ‘Smiling Black Faces’ and ‘Driftwood Heart’ which easily rival anything Malone’s main band have ever released.  Seriously, these songs are that good.

But after track six, ‘Hold You Holly’, something happened to the album. It appears that Malone, for lack of a better word, stopped giving a fuck (Sorry, Ma! If you need proof I’ll let you listen. The expletive is warranted.).  The last six tracks make up for 35 minutes of the albums one hour running time, and boy are they painful.  The seventh track, ‘Desperate Bitch’ could’ve easily had four minutes shaved off it’s almost nine minute life span. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the lengths of the tracks that get my goat, it’s the lack of respect for my time.  Author Kurt Vonnegut believed, and I’m paraphrasing here, that you should make your writing (here, songs) easy for your audience to ingest, because you are asking a lot for them to pay attention to you.  If you are going to write a 1,000 page book or 9+ minute song you makes sure fill with as much meat as possible (TWSS!). Malone has a blatant disregard for this listener’s time.

The last half of this album is pure, self-indulgent jack-assery.  Sorry, Kyp, I don’t mean to rain on your slow, boring parade. You are not Curtis Mayfield, you do not have the fortitude for an extended, meandering jam.  I used to have a theory that every song was someone’s favorite song.  For the million of people that love U2’s ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’ there was always one that loved ‘Lemon’. But Kyp Malone disproved this theory. It is impossible for anyone to like the last six songs on this album, let alone having them be someone’s favorite song (It’s a fact, I did extensive research.)

A five to six song EP or a couple of singles would have easily brought three to four stars, but as a full length, those first six songs just aren’t strong enough to carry the bloated dead weight of the rest of the album.

FT50: Albums of the ’00s

0828top5coverWhat?   You still listen to THAT album?  That record is so 2004!  Well, that’s okay, because we really like that one too, which is why we decided to come up with a list of our favorite albums of the last decade (2000-2009).  Sure, these might not be YOUR favorite records, or the most critically acclaimed, but we sat down and really thought out every record from the past ten years that we keep coming back to in our collections.  You’re likely to disagree with some of these, and we won’t tell you we’re absolutely right we just know that these happen to be OUR favorites.  If you think we totally blew it here, feel free to tell us so, but be nice, as our egos are kind of fragile.  Follow the jump for more.

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Iran – Dissolver

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Rating: ★★★★ ·

It has been seven years since the last release from Iran, which makes the forthcoming record Dissolver one of the more curious and anticipated albums of 2009. Especially after the song “Buddy” was found all over blogs in October of 2008, we heard the new direction that the sound was heading in — Hi-fi(ve) and thank-you for doing so boys. Fresh off of living in Norway for two years to make a successful documentary about the black metal movement, “Until the Light Takes Us,” Aaron Aites returns with an album that touches on many musical templates. Pop, soul, doo-wop, folk and of course- the NOISE can all be found on this outing. Helping bring the sounds to life are Kyp Malone (TV on the Radio), Peter Hoffman (The Mendoza Line) and Aaron Romanello (Grand Mal).

The first thing that catches your ear from the get-go is that this wasn’t recorded in a bedroom, on a 4-track recorder like the first self-titled album and the second called The Moon Boys. It is a natural progression for a band with more resources, a bigger pocket book, and everyone in it being more established. Where The Moon Boys built upon being a tinge poppier and more restrained than the mega-experimental freak-outs of its predecessor, Dissolver aborts the pit stops and emerges with its fundamentals in tact, boldly new and refreshing.

The album was recorded at Gigantic Studios with Malone’s bandmate of TVOTR Dave Sitek putting his thumbprints all over the sound of the album. With concise and controlled fuzz always being the trademark on his own albums, Sitek’s sound meshes perfectly with the sound initially made by Aites during his gritty, 4-track days. While listening to these beautiful harmonies accompanied by larger than life doubled voices, it’s hard not to notice the TVOTR bleed over. Songs like “Buddy” and “Can I Feel What” are prime examples of Malone’s contributions of high, ball-grabbing harmonies and tasty fuzzed out guitar playing. “I Already Know You’re Wrong” is a Beach Boys inspired number ala’ “Sloop John B” that carries a great surf groove with a similar vocal rhythm and again, great harmonies.

Then there’s the experimental noise of “Baby Let’s Get High Together One Last Time” with its Pavement infused undertones. The sassy wordplay and erratic guitar lines have a familiarity about them that bring back memories of mid 90’s slacker rock. The song ends in a wall of sound of electronic bleeps and glitches which segues into “Digital Clock and Phone.” Not leaving their roots far behind, Iran shows they still like to make a little noise. This will take you old fans back to “The Music Plays Itself” from their first album. Enjoy!

Btw-do yourself a favor and buy this album, though rumor has it that it may not be released until February 17th, because chances are, you will never get to see them play live. They are renowned for not going near stages very frequently with their only show being scheduled for March 6th at the Mercury Lounge in New York.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/02-buddy.mp3]

Download: Iran – Buddy [MP3]

Frantic Clam – Anatomica EP

Rating: ★★★★ ·

This is the second EP from new Austin band Frantic Clam, and this one easily demonstrates that the horizon could be endless. Anatomica screams of a young band progressing, moving beyond their influences in order to discover their own sound.

Opening stomper “We Own the Night” still maintains the roots rock remedy of their first album, but the increased focus on the vocals show the band pushing beyond the boundaries they faced on their previous effort. But, they don’t just rest with their old styling, as they push forward into “Korean Beauty Queen.” Many will see a TV on the Radio vocal similarity, but there is more beneath the vocals. Slick guitars seem to cut through the song, creating space for the rest of the band to fill out the sound with various elements.

Then you encounter a song like “Indiana,” which goes in a completely different direction than the earlier tracks on the EP. It’s a mellow number that shows a band who knows when to hold back, bringing in the listener closer. The chorus gets a little muddy in the middle, but each verse really is able to stand on its own as a perfect piece of modern pop. The title track “Anatomica” is unlike any song on this short collection. It’s a bit like early Kings of Leon, emotionally, but it has it’s own attitude-an attitude altogether Frantic Clam. Throw in a sing-along element, and you have an inspiring song.

Lyrically, you can tell that the band has fallen upon hard times, which is unfortunate, as we wish that upon no one, but perhaps this has led to the focus of this new EP. One thing for sure, is that this band is set upon leaving themselves with varying directions to pursue. You can tell by listening to this effort, along with their last, that they are not eager to be pigeonholed, which is refreshing in and of itself. Congratulations to the band for another positive step forward.

Stop by the Beauty Bar this Wednesday, January 14th, to get your hands on this new EP. Not to mention a slew of other shows they have lined up for your listening pleasure.

Free 4AD Digital Sampler

Uk record label, 4AD, are yet another record label getting in on the year end digital sampler fun.  The label is full of great acts like Mountain Goats, Department of Eagles, TV on the Radio and a whole lot more, so you’re sure to enjoy this one.  Head to the 4AD website to download the 12 song sampler now.  Here’s one of our favorites from Department of Eagles called “No One Does it Like You”.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/noonedoesit.mp3]

Download: Department of Eagles – No One Does it Like You [MP3]

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