The Couch Album Release Party – Dec 1

There is an Austin Hype Machine, and every few months it kicks into high gear. The blogs, the radio stations, the newspapers – everyone gets in on it. And it’s the Austin Hype Machine that made capital-E Events out of the release shows for The Eastern Sea and Dana Falconberry earlier this year. It’s that same machine that is turning The Couch’s album release party tomorrow night at Holy Mountain (in the space where the Beauty Bar once was) into an Event Not to Miss.

Skeptical? 101X is sponsoring the show. And last night, KUT had them in Studio 1A. They’ve been featured by The Daily Texan, Austin Town Hall, and twice before on this very site. National outlets like MTV Hive (who has already featured The Eastern Sea and The Calm Blue Sea this year) and Spinner (which also recently featured David Thomas Jones) recently picked up the band, as well. The question remains, though: is all this hype merited?

Considering that we’ve already written about these guys twice, you can probably surmise that my answer is an emphatic Yes. Since releasing their debut record a little less than a year ago, two things have happened. One is the addition of the incredible Sara Houser. Her keyboards add depth to the arrangements, while her voice gives the group so much more flexibility in terms of melodies and overall textures. As I’ve noted before on this site, she sounds uncannily like Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond and adds a soulful element to The Couch’s gritty rock n’ roll sound.

The second change since The Couch’s debut record is the songs. The songwriting has gotten so much more confident and just plain better. The debut had a standout track in “Close to You,” which is still one of my favorites from them, but overall this new batch is head and shoulders above their first round.

Three of these songs have already been released as singles, and they all appear on the second half of the record. “Oh, Libby” and “Kaiser” sound fresh in remastered versions and are juicy rewards at the end of the record. The more recent “Ghost” is stuck right in the middle of the album, acting as this collection’s centerpiece, and it is a remarkable track. The band is tight, the arrangement’s dynamics swing rapidly and shift subtly, depending on the moment, and Houser and Taylor Wilkins’ twin lead vocals work together perfectly. At the 2:12 mark the song changes dramatically into a “Take Me Out”-inspired rock jam for the remaining minute. In just over three minutes, it showcases everything awesome about The Couch.

Scattered throughout the album, though, are other fantastic little gems. Album opener “Aphrodite,” despite a cheesy keyboard in the pre-chorus, is a catchy but rocking number that introduces The Couch’s formula (as far as they have one) of ending their songs with instrumental passages that may be only slightly related to the rest of the track. “Kick the Can” introduces Houser’s voice for the first time over an arrangement that starts off folk-y, but quickly transforms into a more rocking number.

Throughout The Couch, The Couch stay firmly in the “rock n’ roll” milieu, but manage to stay fresh and interesting. In fact, I wouldn’t categorize any of the songs as “bad,” or even “disappointing.” Everything here has something interesting going on, and the band delivers it all with swagger. This band is a force to be reckoned with on the Austin scene; be sure not to miss this show!

– Carter