Before the band's last record release, Rise Ye Sunken Ships, Augustines had a name dispute and they had to operate under the name We Ae Augustines instead of Augustines. Now that the dispute has been settled, the band can operate under the intended moniker, what they were meant to be named all along. In addition to operating under that name, the band has released a self-titled album following up the critically acclaimed debut.
Like a lot of other people, Pete Townshend is one of my favorite vocalists. While not exactly alike Townshend, Augustine's Billy McCarthy shares something in common with The Who great. They both have a unique tone to their voice that can't be mimicked or copied. Both of those voices resonate with audiences when they're at their best. Not just because of what they're singing because of how they're singing it. It's the perfect passionate croon for rock music. Townshend is a legend and no one has come close to having that same vocal power as him. I think McCarthy has that type of potential. Initially that's what makes Augustines great, but there's far more to that link.
A lot of bands can be traced immediately back to their influences. The Gaslight Anthem are linked to Bruce Springsteen. Augustana and The Maine can be linked to Tom Petty heavily, (depending on the record.) Neon Trees are a new wave band with a dozen different links to the genre in the 80's. Augustine's can be linked to The Who. This is a good thing. I'm not saying they're clones or they're copying them. I'm just saying that you can hear the influence. You could hear it clearly on Rise Ye Sunken Ships. On the self-titled record you can hear it in every song; the vocals by McCarthy, the outstanding guitar work on the tracks where it's prevalent, and the atmospheric ambience. There are plenty of similarities, but Augustine's have their own style of writing that's original. Musically they do things that haven't been done in rock music in the past three decades. Lyrically McCarthy doesn't sing in generalities. He sings about some passionate things (see "Cruel City") and because of his voice and the way he belts things out, the first time you hear it, it's almost breathtaking.
Augustines made their second tremendous album in a row. As good as Rise Ye Sunken Ships is, their self-titled album might be better. It's a terrific listen from start to finish and it will end up being one of the most complete releases of 2014.