alt-rock

Wild Heaven: “What You’re Looking For”

We haven’t even hit SXSW yet, but we’re already hearing hype for some freshly-minted, must-know Austin acts. And with another new arrival this morning, our ear drums feel especially touched by an angel.

We’re talking about a four-piece whose fast ascent to their current status requires a bit of quick history. It started off a couple years back as Saturnia Pavonia, the solo outlet for Austin guitarist-singer-songwriter Laura Delarosa. Despite three lifelong multi-instrumentalists (Laura’s lead guitarist husband Josh, drummer Eleanor Lindsey, and bassist Aja Pollock) entering the mix last summer and hurling a pumped up post-punk sound into the stratosphere with their first full band foray “Control”, Delarosa and her disciples have held onto the Saturnia Pavonia handle ever since…until today.

Say hello to Wild Heaven: new name, still untamed. This beastly blessing is plain paradise for that lawless, aggressive ’90s-evocative alt-rock – a real godsend in this hyper-polished era of pristine digital production. How do we know? Well, Wild Heaven just opened up the pearly gates on this iteration’s debut single, “What You’re Looking For”, which is exactly that if you’ve been huntin’ for some recent Riot Grrrl material. Power chords straight out the gate, lyrics dishing out ex hate, and feminine adrenaline all on one plate, “What You’re Looking For” is a dish best served loudly. Catch ’em in person 10PM this Saturday at Vaquero Taquero downtown or 1PM this Sunday at Buzz Mill!

Ash and the Endings: “Victor’s Trap”

In the eons since Prometheus’ divine theft, we’ve figured out that starting a fire from anything is better than completely starting from scratch, even if it’s a step up from a random damp spot to a ring of rock. It’s true; even if your last burn didn’t leave any charcoal, the ashes of the past can still kindle in new contexts. And that’s not just Camping 101. It also rings true for a local outfit.

And that’s Ash and the Endings, founded and fronted by namesake lead singer Ashton Chase alongside four embers…er…members. Ranging from quadruple digit sessions and concerts, to acting and penning theatre, to running a floral design company, each member’s background lends itself to Ash and the Endings’ eclectic style and ability to give old experiences new beginnings. Starting off with their eponymous Summer 2022 LP, this quintet’s continued to dust off nooks of psych rock, three-part harmonies and all, across their expansive alt-rock attic.

If you want to catch Ash et al live, they’ll be celebrating Valentine’s Day 8PM next Wednesday at Far Out Lounge with openers Betty Benedeadly at 7 and closers NSFWho at 9. And although their latest studio offering doesn’t officially drop until tomorrow, the band was gracious enough to pry back the spring and let us crawl into “Victor’s Trap”. A perfect preface to Valentine’s Day, this reflection on intrinsic attractiveness, dating apps, and sex appeal in commercial music will easily infiltrate any ’90s grunge playlist. It might not be as romantic as a Victor Hugo novel, but it kicks off with a stirring bass line, that gears you up for gritty guitar, impressive vocal intervals, obliterating drums, and one heck of a long tail after a rolling cadence of a bridge. Not a fan of Ash and the Endings yet? “Victor’s Trap” might just snatch you up.

Frogmouth: “Not Listening”

Especially in their respective genre’s salad days, too many garage rockers and punks alike have inadvertently honored the unofficial “live fast die young” creed. But in recent times, some of the elder statesmen seem to only be having more fun as they’ve matured. And we’re not just talking about Iggy Pop. No, for the sake of this argument, and without trying to come off as ageist, let’s look at those who were young punks themselves back in the ’80s.

Folks like the four veteran rockers behind Frogmouth. They may be well-seasoned players of the local scene and beyond, but Frogmouth itself as an institution is hardly out of the tadpole phase. That hasn’t stopped these rowdy polliwogs from padding out a middle ground between classic acts like Velvet Underground and The Replacements and fresher threads to Rancid and The Strokes, all for an amphibious ecosystem of grungy, power-alt-garage-indie-punk rock that never takes itself too seriously.

Frogmouth’s spent much of 2023 ribbiting singles out onto streaming, all ahead of their debut EP Humor Me, which finally drops this weekend. The quartet headlines an all-ages release show Saturday night at The Mohawk starting 8PM with openers Space Cushion, Dropped Out, and Ne’er-Do-Well. So if you’re feelin’ froggy, hop on out there. If you’re more of a home toad, you can at least defy titles by cranking “Not Listening” up to 11, because this near-four-minute dynamic leap across retro power temperaments will activate your inner angsty teen in the best, catchiest way possible.

Ama: “I See You See”

In this era where dropping digitally exclusive albums is not only the most affordable option for artists but also the best strategy to reach the masses, it can be tough to justify a physical format. But for some multi-disciplinary creatives, commemorating a release in a tangible format only arrives once framed within a fuller picture; people like Austin polymath Blair Robbins. On top of being an insanely talented visual artist and passionate pro-musician activist, this singer-multi-instrumentalist poet/songwriter’s been sharing their art under the handle Ama for the past decade. As Robbins’ philosophies and aesthetic’s evolved over time, so has Ama’s sound and personnel; it started out as a quartet in 2014 but without the restriction of a fixed lineup, Blair allows Ama’s artistry to permeate whenever the inspiration strikes, a liberty that extends to their abstract paintings as well. Sonically, Ama’s caught adoration thanks to retro-alt-indie rock, as heard on their mid-2010s EPs Losing Less and Trilogy, but their magnum opus to date is decidedly the 2020 full-length Both/And, a nine-track that’s racked up tons of support on Bandcamp. Both/And never received a physical print, and that’ll still be the case at least for the foreseeable future. That said, ahead of their sophomore LP Mother, Ama commemorates the record with a zine release 10:30pm this Saturday at Captain Quackenbush’s Soundscape alongside openers Frozen Orange at 8:30 and Dwight Smith at 9:30. We’re sure this zine will gives us some more personal context on the emotionally erudite enigma that is Both/And, plus a complete package of everything Robbins’ been refining over time. So grab a copy in person, gift yourself a one-of-a-kind multimedia experience, and crack open Blair’s cranium with the Elliott Smith-meets-Alvvays-esque original “I See You See”. Because after its four-and-a-half minutes, you’ll see exactly why Blair’s a rising force to be reckoned with.

Natalie Price: “Done” (feat. Stephanie Lambring)

With the constant allure of streaming numbers, pop music trends, and viral opportunities clouding contemporary release strategies, the loudest, most heavily-promoted voices are often the most inauthentic as well. Not so for Fort Worth-born, Austin-based singer-songwriter Natalie Price, whose unabashed passion for captive melodies and confessional lyrics only grew throughout a taciturn religious upbringing, where songwriting was deemed blasphemous and remained verboten throughout a formative age. But by fostering that once-forbidden fruit, Natalie’s instilled a method of making music strictly for her own sense of solace and self-expression rather than as an expense for digital metrics and fleeting engagement.

I mean, the moment we finished Price’s 2019 EP Through the Fog, we instantly recognized Natalie’s knack for staying frank in a way that thrills and chills, basically embellishment-free. Down to how she describes her style as “Ameri-kinda” (as opposed to tossing her idiosyncratic sound straight into the overarching Americana armoire that suits so many), Natalie Price is real as hell, plain and simple. So it’s fitting that her upcoming debut full-length is an eponymously-titled one, whose new tunes have attracted an upper echelon of ATX collaborators like David Ramirez, Lang Freeman, and Jaimee Harris alongside Nashville notables like Mary Bragg and Stephanie Lambring.

At the conclusion of June, ahead of Natalie Price‘s arrival on September 29th, Lambring and Price twinned up for an attestable alt-rock aura on the album opener and lead single, “Done”. So before catching her 7:30PM this Saturday at Calmen Thread, hear Price recoup the opportunity cost of pursuing music professionally in four minutes flat. Because after absorbing this harmony-heavy, distortion-dabbling, love-tampered earworm, you might just wonder what’s been “Done” to you too.

Last Planet: “Seaglass”

In today’s inclusive landscape of listener tastes, even the tiniest traces of crossover can lead to big impact craters later on. But for that to work, an artist had best select the strongest elements from a finite geography of genres rather than overpopulate their originals with way too many styles. That “quality over quantity” formula’s been followed by far too many to list out here, but we can say for sure that the recent roster includes Last Planet. It all started in 2018 when two Guitar Center co-workers, Cort Young and Albero Berul, broke out of the showroom and began bridging gaps across continents of genre and decade. Right around the time that Last Planet released their debut EP Petrichor in 2021, this Oakland outfit had evolved into a seasoned sextet, whose new emphasis on steamy female vocals finally codified their genre-melting core underneath a defined crust of soul/R&B-meets-modern rock. Last Planet’s undying dedication to Bayside-pleasing grooves has already given us two studio singles in 2023, last month’s “Whiskey Breath“, and March’s “Picture of Us“. But as the seasons change, so does the climate of Last Planet’s latest single. “Seaglass” instantly stands out against its two harder-rocking predecessors by taking a breezy neo-psych-soul approach to this hazy, four-minute, naturally-polished seduction. It’s like what Pink Floyd would’ve sounded like if they’d decided to record “Great Gig in the Sky” with Jill Scott instead, and at the turn of the millennium. Needless to say, if you’re not a stone’s throw away from a beach like Last Planet, “Seaglass” will instantly transport you to the stoned, care-free aesthetic of an oceanside outing, be it romantic or recreational.

Tearjerk: “Show You”

As of this publication, there’s a decent chance of severe thunderstorms in today’s forecast. But if you’re the type that doesn’t mind braving the elements (or at least a chance of getting rinsed in a car-to-front-door sprint) to support your local music scene, 1) you’re a trooper that deserves commendation and 2) we’ve got one hell of a recommendation.

It comes on behalf of Austin’s Tearjerk, a passion project of guitarist-vocalist-songwriter Vanessa Jollay rooted in inconsolable indie-folk-rock and distraught dream-pop. That’s not to say that Tearjerk is a practice in sadness just for sad’s sake. Instead it’s an expression of emotional weight and hard conversations alongside the turmoil and transformations that invariably follow.

This morning Tearjerk released their six-song debut EP Face to Face, recorded by David Dalton at Driftwork Sound and featuring Jeremy Brandilek on pedal steel, Carissa Giard on drums, and Jake Stuart on bass. This melancholy collage begs to be heard all the way from top to bottom, in-person, on-streaming, and definitely on-cassette. So while the sky is crying, why not enjoy one of two back-to-back Face to Face album release shows? The first is at 4PM for an in-store at End of an Ear Records, followed by Tearjerk’s final April residency appearance 10PM this evening at Hotel Vegas with openers Specific Thing and Harry & Emmy. So if you could benefit from some solidarity on top of great music in the midst of the rainy day blues, shake off the sulk and let Tearjerk “Show You” a good time.

July Talk: “Human Side”

You’ve heard of Christmas in July…but July Talk in December? No, your calendar’s not having an existential crisis. But if you want new music at home and live in person, today we’ve got a recommendation and premiere all packed into one.

Chances are, you’ve never experienced anything quite like July Talk. For the past decade this spectacle of a Toronto sextet has electrified crowds with a relatively unconventional lineup in the indie rock realm; two fronting vocalists, bewitchingly balanced bass and guitar, and most recently the addition of a second drummer. Their 2012 eponymous debut proved right away that July Talk’s raucous chemistry isn’t constricted to the stage, and their full-length formulas have only become more and more refined at a pace of about one record every four years.

But true to their name, July Talk’s identity is an ongoing conversation. While the band’s back-and-forth fury is certainly still there, themes of rebirth, renewed strength, and voicing dissent dominate their fourth LP, Remember Never Before. This masterfully-inventive eleven-track drops January 20th, and July Talk wraps up a week-long U.S. tomorrow night in Dallas. Tonight at 9PM July Talk takes the stage at Antone’s along with Austinites Darkbird for an 18+ show. So if you want to rock out with these ACL Fest veterans, you can squad up to Antone’s OR let it all out on Remember Never Before‘s latest! Buckle up, ’cause from its sparse first downbeat all the way to its cacophonic final chord, “Human Side” is a helluva sendoff to 2022.

Dog Beach Rebels: “Company”

It’s post-election Wednesday, and after the extremely close results of our gubernatorial race, there are a lot of folks feeling their fur mussed up to say the least. But no matter who’s at the top of Texas politics, at least for right now, Austin is still the Live Music Capital first and foremost. So if you’re itchin’ for a reggae-alt-rock escape right here in the city limits…pile in, pooches; Dog Beach Rebels will be tossing us all a post-election bone this weekend!

With nearly five (human) years under their collar, Dog Beach Rebels’ breed of all-things reggae has only become more brindled. Whether it’s with ska, jam, rocksteady, psych, dub, or straight up roots, Dog Beach Rebels proudly struts it all like the multi-genre mutt they are. This Saturday they’ll be dropping their sophomore studio EP Just Enough, with a release show 9PM Friday night at Flamingo Cantina. So become DBR’s latest fan right now with the previously-unheard EP opener off Just Enough, whose steady skank and spacious arrangement will make you want to stay in close “Company”.

Ram Vela & The Easy Targets: “Worcester”

Pop-punk. Alt-rock. Whichever genre classifiers you choose, it’s ultimately rowdyism and virility that defines Ram Vela & The Easy Targets. Ram Vela & The Easy Targets got started in 2018 and quickly established a brand of melodic punk rock and athletic, adrenaline-drenched live shows. Translating the Austin four piece’s fierce power into the studio without sacrificing the charm of onstage chaos seems Herculean, but Ram Vela & The Easy Targets have pulled it off with impressive accuracy and precision.

Late last week the quartet shared their debut album, Stuck on Yesterday, and we’re positive Ram Vela & The Easy Targets won’t miss the mark when they perform Saturday, August 6th at The Ballroom. So get revved up with Ram Vela & The Easy Targets and share their love of living in our Lone Star location with one of the more energetic and explicit offerings off Stuck on Yesterday (apologies in advance to all the Bay Staters out there) – “Worcester”.

Transmission Lost: “Beating Death”

When singer-guitarist Garret Ashton moved from rural Idaho down to Houston, his bucolic creativity collided with the hustle and bustle of bayou-metropolitan tastes. As soon as those internal frequencies acclimated to the new environment, Ashton’s alt-rock endeavor Transmission Lost was born, with its first lineup finalized around 2018. Unlike the cryptic numbers stations of decades past, the sonics behind Transmission Lost are relatively easy to pinpoint – somewhere between Cage the Elephant, Yellowcard, and Linkin Park – but with only two singles to the name til now, we’ve been fine tuning our dial in hopes of hearing more. Well, today Transmission Lost’s latest signal came through loud and clear – a bold drum ‘n’ bass style alt-rocker whose sound is big enough to please a full arena and whose title seems pretty appropriate for both Día de los Muertos and Halloween – “Beating Death”!

Heartless Bastards: “Revolution” (KUTX Pop-Up)

One weekend of Austin City Limits Music Festival is already in the bag but those famous flags are still flying high, so we’ve got another week of Austin artist coverage, continuing today with Heartless Bastards. Founded in Cincinnati nearly two full decades ago, this trio has transcended the expectations of traditional rock with flairs of folk, blue, country, and indie, beginning with their 2005 debut Stairs and Elevators and heard most recently on 2021’s A Beautiful Life.

We just revisited frontwoman Erika Wennerstrom’s 2018 My KUTX session ahead of these Studio 1A veterans’ upcoming ACL performance 2:30pm this Friday at the Lady Bird Stage. So we might as well return to a pop-up performance from Wennerstrom recorded right around this same time last year, “Revolution”!