Show Preview: Swans @ La Zona Rosa (9.14)

Date Friday, September 14th
Location La Zona Records
Doors 800 pm
Tickets $23 from Frontgate

So you’re super bummed you couldn’t get into the sold out Twin Shadow show at Mohawk? Well, one of the next best things has to be catching Swans play over at La Zona Rosa on the same night.  The Bear, the band’s most recent album, has received incredible reviews all over the Internet, and I can promise you that it’s deserved praise, and might even be a bit of an understatement; it’s an absolutely incredible piece of work.  Opening the night will be the always popular Xiu Xiu, so you can make a great night out of your music fandom after all.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/102-Swans-Mother-of-the-World.mp3]

Download:Swans – Mother of the World [MP3]

 

Contest: Twin Shadow @ Mohawk (9/14)

As promised yesterday, we’ve got a sweet contest for you Twin Shadow fans who might have missed out on getting tickets to his now sold out dual Austin dates at the Mohawk.  Here’s some deets on the contest and how to enter.

Up for grabs: One lucky winner will receive a spot on the guest list with +1 so they can take a friend.  You’ll also be sent one of the brand new 7″ singles we mentioned yesterday that feature “Run my Heart” and new track “Get What You Want”.

How to enter: Since Twin Shadow is known for his badass man hair, leave a comment about what musician has the best all time crazy hair do.  We’ll pick the best entry!

Closing time: All entries must be received by Thursday at 3pm.

To be clear, this is for the show on September 14th (Friday) and not the Saturday show.  Please remember to leave a valid email in the blank so we can get in touch with you.  Rock on.

Twin Shadow Takes Texas

It’s time ladies and germs, Twin Shadow is coming to Texas finally and Mr. Lewis Jr. with his PR team are doing some special things to get everyone excited for his Lone Star dates.  For starters, here’s a quick list of where Twin Shadow is playing and if tickets are available:

9/13 – @ Trees in Dallas ($15 @ Frontgate)

9/14 – @ Mohawk Austin (SOLD OUT)

9/15 – @ Waterloo Records in Austin (FREE) – 5:30 pm

9/15 – @ Mohawk Austin (SOLD OUT)

9/16 – @ Fitgerald’s Houston ($15 @ Stubbwire)

9/17 – @ Cine el Rey Mcallen

All shows are supported by Sub Pop band Nikki and the Dove.

Twin Shadow will also be selling a new 7″ on the road exclusive to his Texas dates and a few exclusive Lone Star state record stores.  The record single features sweet tune “Run My Heart” with new bonus track “Get What You Want” as a B-side.  Those not able to make it down to Texas can check out a stream of “Run My Heart” below and can follow this link for a handy stream of the new tune.  Stay tuned later this week for a giveaway to one of the Austin shows with a free 7″ as well.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/RunMyHeart.mp3]

Junk Culture – Wild Quiet

Rating: ★★★½ ·

When you receive a record in the mail, and notice that there’s just one man behind the project, sometimes you jump to inclusions, expecting the output to merely be the work of a man and his laptop.  Fortunately for everyone, this is not the case with Deepak Mantena and his project Junk Culture.  Sure, the new record, Wild Quiet, definitely uses some electronic flourishes, but the accompanying music makes it a stand out among many of its peers.

Immediately, there’s a discordant guitar opening on “Oregon,” before drums come crashing into your ears.  Deepak’s vocals soon join in, hanging somewhere in the middle of the mix, which allows them to be purposeful, but not the sole focus of the track.  There’s some vocals that back Mantena at parts, particularly during the chorus that make the song, and its construction remarkable; clearly this isn’t just your average one-man laptop project. Then Wild Quiet takes a more electronic driven turn on the album’s title track.  This jam features stabbing electronic beats, but a fair amount of solid percussion to accentuate the synthesized beats. When execution is done this well, it’s hard not to appreciate the actions of even the loneliest of songwriters.

In listening to the latest from Junk Culture, I think one of the elements that provides that extra bit of special is the usage of live drums.  Playing “Indian Summer,” I wanted to lump it in with bands like Twin Shadow, and it definitely has that hooky throwback groove, but the live drums give it a bit of grit…they’re not the cleanest sounding drums, but they hit hard, giving the song an added bit of emphasis that distances the record from its contemporaries. The kick drum that opens “Ceremony” even adds a darker bit of resonance from the opening line; it contrasts perfectly with the song itself, which is more of a slow burner in essence. If you need more evidence, then just take one listen to “Young Love.”  Personally, it’s the song that I’ve connected with the most on the album; there’s something about the ringing guitar sound and the way the vocals are lined up and looped back again as backing vocals.  It’s definitely a special song in my book.

Thinking about it, perhaps the reason Deepak Mantena opted for a solo career in a sense is that he wanted complete control over the music he’s creating, and we’re fortunate that his Junk Culture project is producing such unique results.  Yes, it’s possible the addition of something extra could take an album like Wild Quiet over the moon, but for now, it’s a completed work that doesn’t seem to need anything else…that is, of course, besides your listening attention.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/07-Growing-Pains.mp3]

Download: Junk Culture – Growing Pains [MP3]

 

Twin Shadow – Confess

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Big hair, high-waist jeans and new wave pop are all things that belong to the eighties, right? Wrong. These are all things that aren’t hard to find at present, but unlike the first two on that list, George Lewis Jr. brings his take on eighties new wave to the present with a sleek soulfulness that makes for a plain sexy record in Confess.

From the album title, it’s apparent that this is going to be somewhat of an intimate work, and Lewis does not disappoint on this aspect through his prominently poetic songwriting about his trials of love, or lack thereof. On “Golden Light,” the opening track, this front man seems to be modeling his music after other pop giants of the eighties and so the focus rests on his vocals. Waves of synthesizer back him up, interchanging with other electronic elements that build the drama of the music up to the chorus, where it jumps to Lewis belting. It’s an interesting start, as it definitely introduces listeners to his style, but it doesn’t make a lot of bold steps, which all seem to fall later on the album.

Things begin to really pick up from the third track, “Five Seconds,” and from here, Confess flies by in a frenzy of dance-inducing dramatic synthesizer saturated music. “Five Seconds” bursts into action with its memorable electric guitar sound dueling with Lewis’ clear tones, which confess “I don’t believe in you/you don’t believe in me,” and while we are introduced to the idea that love hasn’t come easy for the protagonist of these songs, (“I can’t get to your heart”) we are treated to a delightful track birthed from these woes. Up next is a sinister number in “Run My Heart” which features another explosive chorus from Lewis. He starts out low, and then bellows “This isn’t love,” laden with plenty of emotion and self-assurance and once again, he’ll have you trying to keep up with him through his denunciation of a love and love in general.

But, like a true confession, this album isn’t entirely devoted to bashing love; there seems to be some conflicting feelings about the subject, which can be found on “The One.” This track offers another side in which the protagonist’s love is real and devoted to one person with “something special” about them. In addition to this new dimension, the song has a groovy bass line and faster rhythm that provides for another hit. Such is the rest of the songs; they battle back and forth with how they approach the subject of love, turning into a dramatic pop toss up, but you won’t find a number that is less than interesting.

At ten tracks in length, Confess may seem like a small record at first perception, but after your first listen, it’s apparent that this is a bigger work than it seems to be. So give it a spin and soak up some new-new wave, you may just find yourself dancing right along.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/fiveseconds.mp3]

Download: Twin Shadow – Five Seconds [MP3]

Jamming New Dance Track from Birds & Batteries (+ Video)

With the heat of summer comes the need for sweaty dance parties, and I think I found another track for your summertime playlist, courtesy of Birds & Batteries.  This song comes from the group’s forthcoming LP, Stray Light, which hits the streets on August 7th. There’s hints of Twin Shadow, if you’re looking for a comparison, but you get the feeling that the songs on this record will hit a lot harder! The band just released a new video for this single as well, and you can catch that right HERE.  If you like what you’re hearing, keep an eye out, as the band hits the road here in August, with an Austin date planned for the end of the month.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/2-Let-The-Door-Swing.mp3]

Download:Birds & Batteries – Let The Door Swing [MP3]

Incredible Pop Number from Twin Shadow

This little jam’s been floating around for a day or so, and it only gets more incredible with time.  We loved the first release from Twin Shadow (the working name of George Lewis Jr.), so when Confess comes out on July 10th (4AD)  you know we’re going to snatch it right up. From my first listen, there sounds like there’s going to be a bit more of a pronounced production value on this release.  Here, you can almost place the track inside your favorite 80s movie; you’ve got to love the sharpness of the guitar.  Lewis’ vocals are top notch and captivating on this song to boot! Enjoy.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/fiveseconds.mp3]

Download: Twin Shadow – Five Seconds [MP3]

ATH @ ACL 2011 – Saturday

Friday night’s headliners meant leaving the park early and challenging my liver at a friend’s house upstairs from Zilker. That first hill is brutal. We snacked, reminisced, planned and then went our separate ways to get some sleep for Saturday. Would we get the big rain?

Head on past the break for some images from Saturday.

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Blood Orange – Coastal Grooves

Rating: ★★★ · ·

Dev Hynes changes names like most of us change pants, you know, once or twice a week.  First there was Test Icicles, then Lightspeed Champion, and now Blood Orange.  While names may come and go, Dev will always be the same, and Coastal Groove, his new record, finds him sort of running in place, albeit a more 80s influenced place.

When “Forget It” hits your speakers, those familiars won’t find too much different than the most recent Lightspeed Champion record.  But, the slightest nuance can change things; you’ll notice a more electronic beat driving the track, but Dev’s sultry voice is always front and center.  Moving right into “Sulphin Boulevard” will have you catching the essence of the entirety of Coastal Grooves.  There’s a delicateness to every musical note, breathing sexuality over electronic down-tempo tunes a la Twin Shadow.

It’d be real easy to throw lots of Prince allusions throughout this first record by Blood Orange, especially if you catch the vocal performance on “Instantly Blank,” but that’s probably selling Hynes short, as he’s always had this odd combination of indie rock and R&B; this is one of the reasons I’ve always adored his work. But, for the majority of the record this sort of feels like his attempt at mediocre bedroom pop, and that might not be his foray; if you strip him of his orchestration, he seems less dramatic, less artistic even.

One of the saving graces about Mr. Hynes is that he’s always been fairly open about his projects, willing to do pretty much anything he’s asked, just for the sake of it.  That being said, there are some successful tracks that I’ve found myself jamming to throughout the day, such as “The Complete Knock” with its steady stuttering guitar line kicking off a nice little groove throughout. “Are You Sure You’re Really Busy” seems like the track where he could take off into a different level, as the drama in his voice, wavering ever so slightly gives this track an extra step above the rest of Coastal Grooves.

For what it’s worth, this isn’t a bad record at all; I’ve heard much worse (from the Foo Fighters) this year alone. Yet, having followed Dev for quite some time now, I can’t help but be a little let down by the entire Blood Orange project.  He’s missing something here, such as his orchestration or his flare for spinning words into new melodies mid-word.  Coastal Grooves seems to lose a bit of focus, turning out the same guitar line over and over, but I’m still going to get into it over time because that’s just what Dev deserves.

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