Song of the Day

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April 20, 2023

El Combo Oscuro: “Despegue”

By: Jack Anderson

For nearly a full century now, Cumbia’s infectious rhythms have crept out further (both North and South) from its breeding grounds in Colombia. That intercontinental dissemination has led to a plethora of subgenres, and thanks to Texas’ relatively close proximity to Central and South America, some those tendrils (most notably ’60s-style Peruvian psychedelic cumbia or “chicha“) have found new roots here in the Lone Star State. Even here, a several hour drive from the US-Mexico border, we’re blessed to have some prolific cumbia acts call Austin their home. While groups like Grupo Fantasma, Superfónicos, and Money Chicha already found their footing before the turn of 2020, there’s also an exceptional outfit that emerged out of the darkness of our pandemic era. Austin six-piece El Combo Oscuro dropped their debut single “Calavera” right around one year after COVID-19 led to the abrupt cancellation of SXSW (where we usually get an influx of awesome international cumbia acts). Since then they’ve released two EPs (2021’s Que Sonido Tan Rico and 2022’s aptly-titled Cumbia Capital), racked up two Austin Music Awards nominations for “Best Latin Act”, and brought the heat to gatherings like Utopiafest, Levitation, and Chicha Summit. But as quickly as El Combo Oscuro’s come up, like 99% of Austin artists, they could always benefit from a little extra shine. On that note, they’ve recently been inducted into the Austin Music Foundation’s Artist Development Program – Class of 2023/ADP6 alongside KUTX favorites Jake Lloyd, S.L. Houser, and Grace Sorensen. By collaborating with The Bubble recording studio and in-house producer Chris “Frenchie” Smith, ADP helps propel some of Austin’s most talented-yet-overlooked musicians closer to the stratosphere of wider awareness and higher streaming numbers. Today, ahead of live performances next Friday at Arts Mission Oak Cliff in Dallas and next Sunday for Austin psych fest at Far Out Lounge, El Combo Oscuro offers up a first-class seat on a non-stop cumbia flight piloted by ADP. So buckle up for some frenetic Latin turbulence and get ready to take off towards cumbia’s critical altitude with “Despegue”. And to appease some passengers, we’ll go ahead and leave the “no smoking” sign switched off…

Episodes

June 19, 2024

Daniel Fears: “Home” (Live from the Draylon Mason Music Studio)

Happy Juneteenth! While it’s now a national holiday, it’s always been a celebration here in Texas, where historically Black hubs like Houston were notified of the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil War’s end later than the rest of the states. And it’s Houston that gave us our July 2021 Artist of the Month Daniel Fears. […]

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June 18, 2024

Luke Smith: “Jimmy”

We’re right at Pride Month’s midpoint, so just as a refresher: no matter how you identify, be proud of yourself! At the same time, it’s worth acknowledging our place in a progressive city, a quarter century into the 21st, because not every Queer person’s been blessed with those privileges; more often than not, it’s a […]

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June 17, 2024

Alexi 8bit: “You Don’t Have to Be Alone Anymore”

In the world of singers, acting cutesy doesn’t necessarily negate sophistication. Like, we’ve seen a lot of success in going north of mere infantile novelty and co-opting that puppy love naivety in a way that’s accessible to all age groups. And while we can point to a major movement of such with jazz-pop hits from […]

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June 14, 2024

Molecular Steve: “Wolfman”

Depending on who you ask – a coworker, a friend, or a family member – they’ll all have slightly different takes on your “character” based on previous interactions and observations. But what about those parts of our identities that never reach the surface? Those personality traits that stay buried deep within us? Well, we won’t […]

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June 12, 2024

The Wild Kindness: “No One Belongs Here More Than You”

Random acts of kindness: we can’t recommend ’em enough. Because it’s those little gestures you catch in the wild that help us make new connections (no matter how brief or passing), break past malaise and monotony, and recognize the world as a more compassionate place. And new connections are also a key component to what […]

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June 11, 2024

Mark Hallman: “Bright Star”

When you’ve spent decades making great records for other people, you’ve got all the tools to do it on your own, right? Yeah, although producers often get relegated to a “man behind the curtain” position for other artists’ critical success, at the end of the day they’re some of the strongest shapers of sound. Take […]

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June 10, 2024

Holy Roller Baby: “Speaking In Tongues”

Since its advent at the turn of the millennium, the term “swag” has lent itself to plenty of manufactured personalities. We don’t hear “swag” much anymore, which is fine by us, since swagger ought to come naturally; it shouldn’t be too sophisticated. You take one look at multi-instrumentalist Jared Mullins, who (in the best way […]

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June 7, 2024

Daily Worker: “Street Cred”

Ah, Friday afternoon. A beautiful time to be a daily worker, at least in an era where weekends are the norm. And not just because of the standardized two days off. No, there’s also new music from Austin outfit Daily Worker. The trio typically conjures a non-centrist, counter-capitalist aesthetic, down to their choice of band […]

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