Albums Of The Year: 15-1

A few days ago, we gave you part one of our albums of the year list.  Today we bring you the best of the best from a wide range of artists who brought the noise this year.  We’ve fought it out amongst our ATH writers for weeks and these are the albums that we all loved.  These 15 albums went into thunderdome and emerged victorious.  Follow the jump to see if your favorite band made the Top 15 of 2008.

Read more

TV On The Radio @ Stubbs (10/30)

Arguably one of the most innovative bands around, TV on the Radio, will be gettin’ down at Stubbs on Thursday night in Austin.  Tickets for the show can be bought for $25 from the Stubbs Front Gate Tickets site.  If you read our review of the band’s stellar 2008 album Dear Science, then you know we’re excited about this one.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/03-dancing-choose.mp3]

Download: TV on the Radio – Dancing Choose [MP3]

TV on the Radio – Dear Science,

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Does the absence of a song such as “Wolf Like Me” devalue a new venture by a popular band?  TV on the Radio poses such a question to the audience of independent music with their newest effort Dear Science,.

By opening with “Halfway Home” the band walks the thinnest of lines between new direction and tried and true talent.  The pounding song, full of handclaps, pushes forward, with an atmospheric guitar swirling in the background.  Outside of the chorus, listeners will immediately notice the more subdued approach the band has embarked upon.

Oddly, the band discards the often apparent gang-vocals approach they’ve used in their previous albums, instead choosing to focus the singing duties for one singer per song, at least for the most part. Stranger still is the lack of real instruments present; the drums sound more programmed than anything they’ve done before.  Sure, you have strings and horns, adding a strikingly subtle emotion to the entirety of the album, but no real musicianship, give or take a few songs.

Yet at the core of the album is a band that is able to perfect exactly what they want.  This album comes off more as a traditional R & B album, with a revisionist standpoint.  Of course there are a few odd songs, such as “Dancing Choose,” which is full of vocals reminiscent of Billy Joel when he was telling us that “we didn’t start the fire.”  Then you juxtapose that with a song like “Family Tree,” which some might call the most beautiful song TV on the Radio has ever written, even with its Brit-Pop leanings.

Admiration is owed to the band for their desire to go in newer, albeit, stranger directions.  They haven’t rested on their popularity; they have continued to progress with their own direction in tact.  The throbbing bass lines of “Golden Age” with its funk skeletal backbone might have pushed some listeners away, but those that used the surface value of this song as a statement on the album will surely miss out on some of the more amazing moments that come out on this record.

At the end of the day, TV on the Radio have answered the question in regards to the necessity of having a driving single to push album sales. With or without a huge hit, this is an album that shows superior growth in an entirely new direction, as the band continues to open new doors for themselves.  It’s all up to them to see where they can go.  I expect those new progressive moments to be as beautiful as the Gill-Young Wedding I attended this past weekend.

Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson – s/t

Rating: ★★★★ ·

I know I’m a little bit late with this review, since other people have already fueled the career of Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson, but I feel like I have to encourage this even more so.

Much has been said about the singer/songwriter’s difficult past, and a few touch on his TV on the Radio/Grizzly Bear connections. I want to focus on the strength of his debut self-titled album.

As a fan of music, this is exactly what you want a debut album to be. You want to see a lot of promise, and you sort of want to see a weak spot or two; a weak spot shows that there is more to be improved upon; a hopeful glance into the future.

I expected this to be sort of a folk record, dominated by acoustic guitars and gentle vocals. From the opening track, “Buriedfed,” you can tell that this is not the case. It starts off gently, as many of the songs do, but then the song picks up with percussion, and the vocals really can stand alone. His voice is somewhere along the lines of a warble, but at the same time, there is a certain assuredness in its delivery. Imagine Conor Oberst if he used to sing hardcore tunes.

There is a lot of loss going on in this album, lyrically. It’s clear that MBAR has had some rough times, and he definitely uses that for his songs. The sad thing, and I don’t know if it is a personal reference or not, but a lot of the album questions the purpose of living, which I know can only come from a person who has truly been in that position. Its got a touch of tragedy, but you want to route for the man. My own personal reference reminds me of Eliott Smith, and his way of connecting you to his life trials–MBAR does the same.

For some reason, this album is really hard to put into exact words. It feels really new, or at least the approach comes from somewhere else. The album comes across really dirty in a certain sense; there is a certain sound developed in this man’s songwriting that makes you go into the the darkness with him. Each turn the album takes allows you follow willingly, which you will.

With lines like “Fuck you, I just wanted to die,” I worry about MBAR, even if he is writing from an omniscient perspective. This man has some demons, but music fans know that this often creates some of the more powerful tunes. Hopefully he has his act cleaned up, and we can look forward to more great releases from him in the future.

Check out a new song called “Buriedfed” by Miles right here:

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/buriedfed.mp3]

Download: Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson – Buriedfed [MP3]

1 2 3