austin music

Texas Textbooks: “Hemisfair ’68”

It’s officially syllabus day for our 2021 Spring Membership Drive so get ready to receive some rustic, surreal reading material! I’m talking about Austin duo Texas Textbooks, whose love of the Lone Star State is anchored by their outspoken political beliefs, both of which lend themselves to the band’s signature sound: “twangcore”. The twangcore twosome got started in 2017 and dropped their debut LP Pecos and Matamoros a couple summers back, writing the foreword to Texas Textbooks’ latest chapter.

Recorded over the past year as the duo’s slacker country style evolved, BIRDS has already proven an achievement in psych-folk artistry, not to mention aural ornithology with its satisfying production choices and flock of eclectic tones and timbres, guaranteed to give you some just-north-of-the-border nostalgia as sonic sightseer with originals like “Hemisfair ’68”!

Leti Garza: “Derecho De Nacimiento”

Multilingual Austin songwriter Leti Garza has spent a good portion of her artistry bridging gaps, whether it’s Texas folk to Latin jazz, independence to motherhood, and even just English to Spanish. This Studio 1A veteran left us wanting more with her eclectic 2017 knockout El Unico Para Mi, and only a couple weeks back the singer-songwriter finally delivered with her EP Borderland.

Released right around the same time she dropped by for her My KUTX session, the five originals on Borderland round out at just over four minutes, providing a seamless, bilingual, genre-spanning experience perfect for worldly reflection or simply a quick siesta. Either way, Borderland‘s arrived in time for Spring, giving you plenty of room to find some solid additions to your upcoming summer playlist with heat on tracks like “Derecho De Nacimiento”!

Shakey Graves: “Unlucky Skin”

With the arrival of folks like Elon Musk and Joe Rogan, there’s no doubting that Austin’s changed. But one of the Live Music Capital’s biggest mainstays continues to help shape Austin culture with his folksy arrangements and sweaty live performances. I’m talking about Alejandro Rose-Garcia, better known to the world as Shakey Graves, who’s escalated his fame well past the local realm (though he does have his own official day here) and become a defining Texas troubadour for younger generations.

Graves self-released his debut LP Roll the Bones a whopping ten years back and to commemorate the journey since then, today he’s released Roll the Bones X, a tenth year anniversary full restoration-remaster along with a second disc that digs up and dusts off some of Shakey’s greatest rarities. Roll the Bones X dropped this morning and Shakey Graves plays a sold out show tonight at Nutty Brown Amphitheater, so give Roll the Bones X a spin when you can, starting a layer up on the aural epidermis with “Unlucky Skin”!

Jade Bird: “Headstart” (Social Distancing Pop-Up)

For those of you who’ve tracked English songwriter Jade Bird, you’ll know that she’s only gotten better over time. And without taking too much credit, it seems like the singer-guitarist has leveled up once again since her move from London to Austin.

Bird’s in good company with the proverbial ‘bees’ this Spring, given her upcoming (sold out) performance 6:30pm this Saturday at The Long Center along with Nikki Lane and Sir Woman and having heard her two new singles released last year, we can tell that her sophomore LP’s gonna be nothing short of soaring. Jade Bird was kind enough to let Michael Minasi of KUTX’s Multimedia Team drop by to snag a socially-distanced two-song set, kickin’ off with the appropriately-titled “Headstart”!

Lady Heartwing: “Afterglow”

Transformations are rarely one-and-done; at least in the musical realm, artists who shift axes tend to molt over long periods of evolution. Just ask Austin’s Mariclaire Glaeser, who after pivoting from her eponymous MCG to Shy Beast, has taken yet another artistic turn, one that retains the synth pop sensibilities you’d expect from Glaeser, albeit with a persona turned up to eleven.
Glaeser recently premiered her conceptual, color-saturated, anime-influenced alter ego Lady Heartwing, giving Sasha Fierce and Ziggy Stardust a run for their money with Glaeser’s intergalactic sorcery. Lady Heartwing’s teamed up with Austin producer Taylor J. Webb to produce a slew of singles this year, (prefacing a full-length produced by Spoon’s Jim Eno for 2022) including a take on the autonomous night lights in our lives, “Afterglow”!

Destin Shimer: “Cult Vult”

As is the case with countless musicians over the past century, singer-guitarist Destin Shimer began learning music to play during church. After a bucolic upbringing on farm in Southern Minnesota, Shimer’s family relocated to Shreveport, Louisiana but as soon as Shimer graduated high school, they headed North in search of a progressive atmosphere and any open-mic available, eventually landing in Columbus, Ohio – where they forged their first recordings – before settling down here in Austin.

With the release of their eponymous EP mid-February Destin Shimer’s proven a force to be reckoned with, thanks to their vigorous vocals, intoxicating arrangements, and almost-cavalier song titles, perhaps most distinctly on Destin Shimer’s penultimate original, “cult vult”!

The Reopening

On March 10th the Texas governor re-opened the state. Now businesses can operate at 100% capacity. He also lifted the statewide mask mandate. We talked to musicians, venue owners & staff about how they plan to navigate the reopening.

In this episode you’ll hear from:

Cody Cowan: Executive Director of the Red River Cultural District
Stephen Sternschein: the managing partner of Heard Presents which operates Empire Control Room,
James Moody: founder of the Austin music venue Mohawk ,
Kate Holley:  illustrator and also manager and bartender at Cheer-Up Charlies,
Clayton England: musician and also bartender at the Far out Lounge
Mama Duke  : singer songwriter and voice over actor
Lili Hickman: musician and visual artist

We have a survey and we’d love to hear what you think! Go ahead! Take the survey here! 

Find out more about Mama Duke
Check out Mama Duke as the voice of Hip-Hop Hippo
Find out more about Lili Hickman’s art and her band Flora and Fawna.
Check out Clayton England’s music

Listen to the music by Austin Artists featured in this episode:

Miss Miranda: “Daniel”

In a world of constant motion, it can be get tricky trying not to get caught up in the rhythm of things when you just want to breath in melody and chords. Thankfully we’ve got artists like Baltimore-born songwriter Miranda Haney who bare it all lyrically but keep their arrangements sparse enough to let listeners soak it all up. After settling here in Austin, Haney subtly shared a collection of quarantine demos, Under My Nose, last September and is now repackaging her blend of finger-picked guitar, storytelling, and folk-infused phrasing under the moniker Miss Miranda.

With its delicate vocal delivery and meditative strumming, Haney’s debut single under the new handle, “Daniel”, is as much a sincere show of force for Miss Miranda as it is a graceful first step.

Major Major Major: “Snow Day”

Back in the first half of the 2010s, it was pretty much a given to see indie garage rockers Major Major Major billed on show posters around town…at least once a week. But as is the case with many maturing musicians, Austin’s favorite two-piece with a three-part name decided to put the duo on the back burner in pursuit of separate projects. That was all the way back in 2016.

Now, a hefty half decade later, these Studio 1A veterans have released two tracks recorded right around the same time the band went on hiatus. And though these songs are old-for-them/new-to-us, they both sound fresh enough to have been penned within the past few months. Especially with the icy, inclement weather of  February, “Snow Day” sounds right at home in 2021, or, to quote lyricist Adrian Haynes, “this sh*t is good sh*t”!

Sun June: “Everything I Had” (KUTX Social Distancing Pop-Up)

Our March 2021 Artist of the Month started dabbling in what they’ve dubbed “regret pop” right around this same time of year in 2018 with their debut single “Young”. Fast forward to 2021, where Sun June‘s decidedly become wiser and more mature in their songwriting over time, culminating most recently with the quintet’s sophomore album, Somewhere.

At just shy of a dozen originals, Somewhere makes for a solid contribution both to the Austin music experience on the whole and to the still-dawning discography for this five-piece. You definitely won’t regret letting Somewhere transport you from whatever monotonies Tuesday may hold, but in case you need an extra-sensory shove to get you there, sink into Sun June’s three-song social distancing set, which includes Somewhere standout “Everything I Had”!

Betty Benedeadly: “Down the Gorge”

If you’ve listened to Austin trio Sheverb, then you’ve already heard some of the talent that co-founder Betty Benedeadly keeps in her saddlebags. Well today Benedeadly invites you to embark on an aural adventure with her solo debut, From the Mesa, three instrumentals tracked in Taos, New Mexico that boast the same braggadocio and psychedelic panache of an Ennio Morricone score.

From the Mesa‘s compact compositions provide both a well-packaged cinematic experience and an instant ticket to the meditative solitude one can only find in the desert, perhaps best imbued on the EP ender, “Down the Gorge”!

Geoff Bradford: “Texas Psychedelic”

When it comes to chasing your musical aspirations, you can never be too settled down to drop your dreams. That clearly rings true for New York-born singer-multi-instrumentalist Geoff Bradford, who, after sating his international wanderlust, starting a family in Pennsylvania, and having his kids grow up, moved down to Austin. Bradford began performing on bass for a couple local outfits but soon a long-burning desire to write his own songs overtook him, eventually leading to his five-song debut EP, Texas Psychedelic, released in mid-February.

Faithful to its name, Texas Psychedelic totes the pop idiosyncrasies of the Lone Star State while dipping listeners into acid-soaked aesthetics, perhaps best heard on the album’s yacht-rock-adjacent title track!

One Year Later

We talked to people from across the spectrum of the Austin music ecosystem around the 1-year anniversary of the cancellation of SXSW. In this episode, you’ll hear how they’ve coped, pivoted, evolved, gained new perspectives and dealt with trauma during the last 12 months.

You’ll hear from singer, songwriter and guitar player Jackie Venson, songwriter, producer and activist Mobley, Stephanie Bergara who fronts the band Bidi Bidi Banda, Maggie Lea co-owner of Cheer-Up Charlies, musician and founder of Austin Texas Musicians Nakia, singer, songwriter and podcaster Walker Lukens,  live-event coordinator, screenwriter and co-founder of The Amplified Sound Coalition, Jeannette Gregor, executive director of the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, Reenie Collins, and executive director of Austin Texas Musicians, Pat Buchta.

We have a survey and we’d love to hear what you think! Go ahead! Take the survey here! 

Pause/Play Season 2 Episode 1

Links:

Listen to Jackie Venson’s music

Check out Mobley’s new record “Young and Dying in the Occident Supreme”

Listen to Nakia’s new single “It’s Never Too Late.”

The Amplified Sound Coalition

Austin Texas Musicians

The Health Alliance for Austin Musicians

 

 

 

 

Graham Wilkinson: “Rainbow”

It’s been a whopping five years since Austin songwriter Graham Wilkinson‘s last album, #BecauseOfYou. But instead of letting talent slip away in that half decade out of the studio, Wilkinson’s expanded on his own abilities, taken the rough arrangements and polished them into nearly a dozen fully-fleshed out tracks.

The result is Cuts So Deep, released today and marking a major milestone for Wilkinson’s musicianship. Wilkinson commemorates Cuts So Deep at 8pm tonight via Facebook livestream and performs in-person for a socially-distanced album release show Saturday afternoon at Far Out Lounge. Needless to say the horizon’s looking pretty bright for Wilkinson right now, so let his radiance guide you into the weekend with one of Cuts So Deep‘s strongest singles (and one of several music videos), “Rainbow”!

Zach Person: “Can’t Stop Running”

Just one year after appearing on American Idol (and earning high praise from Keith Urban and Jennifer Lopez), Houston-born songwriter Zach Person made the move to Austin, but in those short four years he’s become a must-hear contributor to the Live Music Capital. Person’s chord skills, both on the six-string and with his voice box, are already bold beyond belief, but we have a feeling this is just the beginning for this budding artist, who’s effortlessly able to navigate between all the alcoves of rock, from indie to blues.

Person shared his self-titled EP last year and follows it up with his eponymous full-length in just under a month. Zach Person drops on April 2nd, coinciding with a socially-distanced release show at Empire Control Room so the momentum’s only going to mount until then. Fortunately for us, Person’s got plenty of goodies to tide us over in the meantime, most recently with the BlackDenim Sessions music video for Zach’s latest track, “Can’t Stop Running”!

Dorio: “Robot Friends”

For many musicians natural, acoustic, and/or analog is the sole way to go. But Austin songwriter-producer Chad Doriocourt couldn’t feel more at home in a room filled with electronic instruments, all with somewhat pre-programmed minds of their own.

Last year Doriocourt made his studio debut under the abbreviated mononym Dorio with Yesterday The Sky Was Blue, and today, almost exactly one year later, his sophomore installation under the abbreviated mononym is finally out! The four tracks on Dorio’s Robot Friends work together like cogs, giving the EP a nice sense of pacing, but there’s no denying that the standout single is the indie-psych-pop album opener and (near) title track, “Robot Friends”!

J Halp: “I Can’t Live Without You”

In the “before times” of live music, it was pretty hard to miss common collaborators across various groups. And perhaps the most “traded” player of all (at least in recent years) has been drummer Josh Halpern. Stellar percussion skills aside, this Native Austinite is also quite the competent composer, as evidenced by his solo project J Halp.

J Halp made his debut last June with his first single, revealing more of Halpern’s vocal abilities that’d been historically masked by frontmen, not to mention an impressive sense of compactness, arrangement, and production across July’s Ahlen EP. On Valentine’s Day J Halp continued his saga of solo songwriting with a new standalone single, one that cradles between psychedelia, breakbeats, and lighthearted pop, “I Can’t Live Without You”!

Mobley: “Dreams of Empire”

If you’ve kept KUTX company the past half decade then you’re well acquainted with Mobley. We named Mobley our Artist of the Month back in April 2018 and since then this multi-instrumentalist/producer has only seemed to get better and better at his craft.

Mobley’s outspoken political stances have kept up alongside the evolution of his songwriting, heard most recently on his new EP, Young & Dying in the Occident SupremeYoung & Dying dropped last Friday and Mobley kicks off his Devil in a Daydream virtual tour tomorrow. So enjoy Mobley in the comfort of your home when you can, and sift through the six cylinders on Young & Dying to find some new tunes for your playlists, like my personal favorite, “Dreams of Empire”.

ricface: “Silhouettes” (feat. RuDi Devino)

Born in San Antonio and raised on a mix of ’70s folk and ’80s synth-rock, Austin multi-instrumentalist/vocalist/producer Eric Wendt has kicked off 2021 with the advent of his solo project, ricface. Wendt’s style connects the dots between Phoenix, Toro Y Moi, and Tame Impala, culminating in a driving, psychedelic experience that lasts only as long as it needs to without overstaying its welcome.

ricface just dropped his sophomore single a couple days ago, but we can’t overlook the daring original released last month, featuring rapper RuDi Devino and a music video to top it all off for ricface’s debut, “Silhouettes”!

Sunscreen: “Call Off Your Goons”

The name Miles Kelley might not trigger any memories right away, but if you connect the dots, Miles is at the helm of The Hermits and was, even earlier, the eponymous frontman of Milezo. This kooky character’s kept a consistent creative output over the years, and though you can’t find too much from his alt-psych-rock project, Sunscreen, as of yet, we guarantee it’ll radiate with you.

The already-scruffy Kelley gets extra fuzzy on Sunscreen’s latest single, “Call Off Your Goons”, whose mellow mood gives Mac DeMarco a run for his money.