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Alt Pop

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Mother Falcon Does the Big Band Thing with Grace on "Kid"

Mother Falcon is Austin’s premier big numbers band, which you likely already knew, but they’ve just released a new track whose strength comes from its efficiency and its singular elements, rather than from the amount of noise that a big group can make. A lot of the energy in the just-released single “Kid,” in fact, comes from the lone female voice doing the largest portion of the singing, which is all lightness-leaking breathy tones that kick the track off with just a few strummed chords and an egg shaker beat in accompaniment.

This being Mother Falcon, however, layers and instruments are quickly added, tossing in at some point everything from horns to chanting to some really nice background drones that waver from right in pitch to just off to completely dissonant and give the song a lovely off-kilter texture. There are moments where MF does do the Arcade Fire/Broken Social Scene pioneered “all of our giant band playing at once” thing, but the restraint they show as a group throughout the song and even in these moments, and the benefits that each piece in the group adds to the overall song in these cacophonous parts has Mother Falcon resembling those other influential big bands at their thoughtful song-engineering best.

Speaking of seminal 2000s bands, MF also seems to be channeling something that was going on at that time in North American music (and is much murkier these days), which was a sense of just wanting to get together with other weird kids and have a lighthearted, happy time. “Kid” has that same kind-of “temporary refuge from the suburbs,” sunny-day in the park flying kites and drinking stolen vodka in plastic cups with your also-loner friends kind-of feel to it. In this age of endless online outrage clashes and what seems like just a whole damn lot of divisions between people, this is a feeling that’s nice to see it not only expressed in MF’s newest work, but downright nailed.

The track sits here below for you to get your feel-goods from, and you can keep up with the MF at their Facebook here. This is music that’ll help you remember that sometimes it actually does stop raining, which even some of us Texas storm-lovers might need right now, and it precedes the full album release on 8/14.

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Single Lash Has the Chords You're Looking For

Those'd be some seriously 80s, seriously British reverbed chords we're talkin' about, and they come slinking out of popgazers Single Lash, them of the perhaps most perfect pop goth band name what has ever been, on their new eponymous album. Released this April, "Single Lash" follows up on 2014's intriguing "Soft as Glass" with 12 cacophonous tracks with one or two word titles, those sparse words more often than not being from the gloomy romantic side of the dictionary (“Bitemarks,” “Keep It,” “Drown” and “False” start the album off, just to name a few). In fact, a flavor of gothic influenced “lovely, but with death on the mind,” thorned-rose notes percolate through and from the music itself through all of the album, the sound of which comes from the art poprock side of the dark music genrescape.

“Single Lash,” and Single Lash the band itself, are well-done breaks from the idea that dreary must always be dark (or is it vice versa), with the satisfying and even at times near ecstatic prettiness of the album pairing perfectly with the goth- and general 80s-British-Music-informed melancholia of the songs here. Which, truth be told, is just the way any good pain + pleasure thing should go (I guess in a way what I’m saying is that “Single Lash” is the consensual rough sex where everyone involved leaves bruised but happy of music).

As an example of this sweet and sour sound I’m talking about, take track “False,” one of the more outwardly happy, more upbeat sounding tracks on the album. Soaking in the waves of bright, quick shoegaze that wash out of the drack (and not drowning in them, as can happen with many -gaze tracks), one can just make out the words of the song, “There’s nothing here to want/Just bitter nostalgia-/There’s nothing here that’s true.” Second track “Keep It” nails the sentiment in one line, “I am spellbound as the stars go out.“

Speaking of nostalgia, that feeling is an excellent touchstone for this music, the word coming from the combination of the Greek words for “return home” and “pain (apologies to Don Draper fans). When that word was coined, real life medical people actually thought you could die from nostalgia, and listening to Single Lash, you get the sense that the band might not find that concept too outlandish. They pine, they remember, they query the universe about why things are the way they are in most tracks. However, from the bright sounds they blend into their laments and existential requests, I also get the sense that Single Lash is less interested in the idea of despair alone, but maybe more of just a heaviness of all emotion. I get the feeling that if their members died because of grief or existential uncertainty, it would be more of a chosen and beautiful event than a perishing one.

All of that, of course, is just speculation (maybe super happy people are great at sad music? you never know), but what is nothing but sure is that “Single Lash” is a deadly gorgeous album that does not tire from track to track despite its drone-heaviness and which is both fully versed in its influences and yet has also drifted away from them to a nearby space all its own. Listen below, especially if it’s still fucking raining when you find this piece. You could do much worse for rainy day music.

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Blonde Elvis w/ TWIST @ Handlebar

Unabashed love of psychedelia so sincere they’re the 60’s in high fidelity. Blonde Elvis lay it down as it is, bouncy rhythms and reverb-soaked vocals taking you on a sight-seeing (or hearing) tour, stopping and taking in some Eno, Bowie, and Lou Reed all at once. “Slow Fall On Egypt” is a Brit-Pop, in-and-out, bite-sized bit of groovy rock n roll (bonus points for a flute solo). Topping out at just over 2 minutes, this song is catchy, poignant, and just a little coy in its delivery. One can only imagine the imagery flying through frontman’s Jesse James Laderoute head as he churned this one out. Currently on a border-crossing tour, you can catch them at home, with fellow mellow-rock act Twist, at Handlebar, Friday, May 22nd!

Taking a page from the lighter side of late 80’s alt rock, Twist flexes melody over muscle. One part Chan Marshall, one part Kim Gordon, presented delicately, but firmly. Beautifully layered guitars, light percussion, and distant, sultry vocals, “Albuquerque” is a gorgeous use of space and harmonics. The slow-burning intro, and the fantastic dynamics demand you pay attention to every chime and half-whispered syllable. The beauty and sadness of the track all combine to provide a perfect backdrop to escape whatever ails you, even if it’s only for a short time. The repeat button was abused quite viciously with this tune.

-Cody Wright

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Guantanamo Baywatch defies genre with new album

Portland’s favorite power trio Guantanamo Baywatch has made a big leap since the days of their previous album, Chest Crawl. Most notably, there is an almost complete disappearance of their trademark surf sound. On their new record, Darling…It’s Too Late, the band has made the transition so easily it’s as if this shift of direction was where they have always been headed.

The album is a myriad of varying genres and styles, sounding like a tribute to the golden age of early Rock ‘n’ Roll. There are still quite a few instrumentals here, even the occasional glimpse of their old selves as on “Raunch Stomp” or “Mr. Rebel,” but even then they’re injected with a grittiness closer to country-fried Rockabilly.

The production is bigger and cleaner, and the band sounds more confident than ever, with Jason Powell’s vocals coming to the forefront for the first time where it had previously been buried or served a secondary role to his guitars. The guitars, as always, still play an integral part to their sound as does the thunderous rhythm section, especially shining on “Beat Has Changed” with a solo not unlike something from early Ricky Nelson.

The record feels like a glimpse into the world of pop music and Rock ‘n’ Roll in America during the late 50s and early 60s. The band explores everything from Country gospel à la Don Gibson on “Boy Like Me” to R&B torch songs on “Too Late,” and the Live at The Whiskey a Go Go swing of Johnny Rivers on “Sea of Love.” In fact, it’s like the band’s history lesson ends just before the advent of the British Invasion. The album even closes with what appears to be the sound of the Fab Four on the not-so-distant horizon with “Do What Want You Want.”

While their albums and singles have always been stellar, Guantanamo Baywatch up until now has always been best experienced as a live band. But Darling…It’s Too Late is a statement, proving they can be just as potent of a force in the studio. Every second of the record feels like it was handled with care and made with a deep enthusiasm and love for music. Darling…It’s Too Late is out now on Suicide Squeeze. 

-Cody Alexander

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Michael Rault @ Silver Dollar

Shake, Rattle and Roll with Michael Rault. He is a talented, multi-instrumentalist that gives his listeners an era-blending modern take on familiar sounds from the 50’s , 60’s and 70’s. A recent Toronto transplant from his native Edmonton, Michael Rault puts his creative perspective into perspective with his latest album release “Living Daylight”. There is nothing fuzzy about his sound, he commits to claim it! A pioneer of dynamic rock n’ roll, transforming rhythms and beats with an undeniable brilliant pop vocal and heart piercing guitar riffs, every track is is a hit! So put your dancin’ shoes on, “Living Daylight” has us moving from top to bottom. The opening track ‘All Alone (On My Own)’ is captivating, shaking you up with tambourines, clapping hands and familiar charming vocal harmonies. ‘Real Love (Yeah)’ coats you with heavy guitars that peak and valley to talkative keys that beat to the oohs of “real love”. ‘Too All My Friends’ takes it down a notch with vocals that sway to romantic keys and easy-acid guitars. Michael Rault is currently on tour, see him Saturday May 23 @ the Silver Dollar before he jumps the border showcasing his sounds in the USA.

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