Those of you who know me probably know I write whole album
reviews over at Austin Sound. Well, two albums I took
home to review in the past couple weeks have stood out as
particularly impressive (if a little underwhelming at times,
in the case of Loose Leaves). Letís discuss:
Listenlisten - Hymns From Rhodesia
I love you
but recently some of the most exciting new "Austin music"
has been outsourced to
namely to Listenlistenís new album Hymns From Rhodesia.
The interplay of different textures on the album is on par
with seasoned professionals, and the constant sway between
studio-sheen and backroom live recordings is surprisingly
smooth. The result is an album that immediately feels
human and relatable, but is dressed up in all the right
Let me just say this: Thereís banjo. A lot of Banjo.
And its all good. Of course, thatís one piece
of the instrumentation masterpiece. Most songs begin
with simple acoustic guitar, banjo or piano, and slowly draw
in a host of both traditional and more novelty (you know,
like violins and stuff) instruments. And leading this
brigade are the haunting layered vocals, calling indecently
from somewhere offstage (think Man Man done right).
The general effect is a drawn out, more acoustic version of
something like Austinís the Lovely Sparrows. Which is
to say the album is entirely wonderful in every way, and
that you should listen to it if you know whatís best for
- Safe Home, Safe Home In Port!:
Loose Leaves - Loose Leaves
Basically, I love alt-country music. Lately its been
pretty Uncle Tupelo heavy at my house. But I DESPISE
radio-pop country music. It gives me a headache.
It makes me abuse ibuprofen. It makes me hate the
sound of guitars. And I want to die.
The two styles tend to get grouped together, but are more or
less nothing alike. But the self titled from Loose
Leaves somehow finds a way to straddle my both musical true
love and arch-nemesis. Hereís how:
Starting with the good, some songs the album caters to
everything an alt-country enthusiast (me) wants to see in an
album. Songs like Long Shot tend a little more
towards rock music, with their electric guitar solos and
what-have-you, but with a subtle, true to the genre, motif.
Though the lyrics arenít astounding (theyíre about girls,
again, true to the genre), the better half of the album
follows the same formula, quite effectively.
Unfortunately, its songs that seem ripe for the radioís
pickiní that drag down the good feeling. Overblown
guitar buildups (on Perfect Disguise, for example)
seem to catapult the album away from its roots, or at least
what I hope are its roots. It sounds contrived and
boring - you know the sound Iím talking about.
But then suddenly, itís back to the loveable strains of
alt-rock, masterfully rocking out and cooling it down with
organs, you know, all the things I absolutely love. In
the end, this album both fuels my insatiable desire for new
alt-country music, and stirs up some of those negative
emotions I was talking about. If Loose Leaves can
capitalize on the good section, well, Iím sure Iíll
be back ranting on and on about the next big Austin
Leaves - Long Shot:
John Michael Cassetta keeps his own blog, Big
Diction, and writes for the local website Austin
Sound. Comments, complaints, and solicitations
may be directed
- John Michael
otherwise expressly stated, all text in this blog and any
related pages, including the blog's archives, is licensed by
John Laird under a
Creative Commons License.