austin music

Baby the Band: “Not Forever”

You never want to spread your style thin by dabbling with too many different sounds, especially when you’re starting out. We’re not saying you should oversimplify things when those bits of inspiration hit. If you can successfully finesse ’em in there without derailing your stylistic strengths, then more power to you. But a little consistency early on can do wonders for an artist’s reliability down the road.

That said, we really love what we’ve been hearing from Austin’s Baby the Band. Not to be confused with fellow Texas musicians Babythe band. Considering core member Norrie Swofford, a veteran of Nolan Potter’s Nightmare Band who’s currently behind synth and keys for Dayglow, it makes sense that Baby the Band sort of sits in the middle; they scour off some of Dayglow’s pristine pop polish and reel in a bit of that absolute Nolan Potter madness. Baby the Band’s mellow wheelhouse of ethereal psych-pop-rock crafts with consistent timbres and mixing techniques, which made them a dream come true when they first appeared on streaming right after lockdown.

Far from a blemish on their legacy, Baby the Band gave us the new two-parter “Stain” / “Not Forever” just a couple weeks back. The former’s just as good as the latter, and the seamless flow between the two proves the pieces’ companionship. But we gotta give special credit to “Not Forever” for its execution of brevity without cutting the jam too short, wailing hard on a near-two-minute-long sax solo and never letting the energy drag. Either way, both’ll sound nifty if you’re trippin’! And both are aural euphoria at the press of “play”.

Caelin: “Will I Ever Love Again”

Love at first sight has ignited countless fairy tales, both modern and classic. But as common as those instantaneous head-over-heels plunges are in day-to-day life, statistically speaking, “happy endings” are a lot less likely. And breakups sure do suck…but that’s why breakup songs go so hard, regardless of your relationship status.

This is where we call in Caelin, an Austin singer-songwriter who categorizes their sound as “dreamy emo country”, which, while accurate, excludes the elements of folk, R&B, indie Americana, and pop we heard on her debut record save me from me that dropped last May. This year, Caelin’s coming hot off some caught feelings…well…more like getting over an intense infatuation. And she’s set to expand on that timeless “loved and lost” outlook over the course of her sophomore EP Strangers In Love, out sometime around late Spring or early Summer.

For Strangers In Love, Caelin enlisted the production talent of KUTX favorite Walker Lukens as well as the Big Apple’s Ben Coleman to help this poignant post-mortem panoply of past memories and soul searching really pop. This morning Caelin released Strangers In Love‘s introduction, “Will I Ever Love Again”, ahead of a show 9PM tonight at Mohawk alongside Madison Baker, Barb, and a DJ set from Vonne. Just in time for the flurry of Valentine’s Day drivel that always floods the first half of February, this Lukens-produced lead single captures the enduring, existential pain of occupied thoughts over the one who got away for a wholly pensive effect…all without sounding pouty or puerile. Between an ethereal arrangement, lyrics that scour emotional scars, and one hell of a vocal performance, “Will I Ever Love Again” might bury you alive in heartbreak. So remember. The magic may be momentary. But the music and its empathic abilities last forever.

The Lonesome Heroes: “Placebo Sun”

It’s nifty how different sorts of sporty recreation mingle with specific subgenres of music; think surf, skate punk, or yacht rock. But since you can also just longboard down the access road, sippin’ Ocean Spray to some classic Fleetwood Mac without a care in the world, the rules clearly aren’t hard and fast. What’s most important is the meditation in motion, a flow state inspired by the movement of the music itself.

So even though roller skating may be most closely associated to disco (at least historically speaking), there’s an Austin outfit putting those trucks on a whole new set of wheels. That’s The Lonesome Heroes, who’ve endured the rinks of the local live scene (and far beyond) for nearly twenty years now, weaving between the best parts of indie, country, and Americana. Most recently, this veteran quintet scored another milestone with their sixth LP Seasons Change, which has already racked up some impressive streaming numbers in the short time since its November release.

And in line with frontman Rich Russell’s decision to open up the record’s writing process to a few Austin friends, these hometown heroes are lookin’ a little less lonesome in the album opener “Placebo Sun”‘s new music video…as a matter of fact they rounded up a whole roller posse to kick off their boots and strap on some skates! To fully soak up the authentic cosmic Americana radiance of “Placebo Sun”, you’ll have to keep The Lonesome Heroes company 10PM tonight at Hotel Vegas ahead of Alien Eyelid at 10:45, Shinglers at 11:30, and Automatic Weekend half past midnight, no paddling, skiing or interstellar travel required…maybe just a show-stealing, shot-bombing pooch.

Leila Sunier: “All I Choose”

Just like the three wise monkeys, it can be enticing to turn a blind eye rather than than process a harsh reality. So even though switching on tunnel vision is probably your best bet when passing a bad roadside accident, it’s a lot tougher to avert your gaze from a “dumpster fire” at large. Because what you choose to observe directly affects both your wisdom and skepticism.

At least that’s the vibe we get from singer-songwriter-guitarist-producer Leila Sunier, who moved down here from her native New York not too long after dropping her 2020 sophomore Where Everything Is Perfect. A big fan of filled-out arrangements and compressor-contradicting dynamics, Sunier’s indie-pop-folk-alt-rock concoction has caught plenty of attention, including that of At the Drive-In producer Alex Newport and Austin’s own Ghostland Observatory, for whom she opened up last June.

Now that those flavors have ripened within Austin’s “blueberry in the tomato soup”, Leila Sunier’s set to hit high marks for self-reflection and social commentary on Too Big For Right Now, out this July. Ahead of a gig 10:30PM this Friday at Captain Quackenbush’s (with openers Taylor Kron at 8:30 and Howdy Cherry at 9:30), last weekend Leila shared the latest in a panoply of delicate-yet-purposeful folk forays off Too Big For Right Now, “All I Choose”. So if you typically try to cram multiple shows into the start of your weekend, maybe just stick with the obvious choice this time around. For right now, though, feast on the meditative roadside visuals of “All I Choose”, whose minimalist eggshell sonics swell into something much bigger than expected without becoming bombastic. It’s beautiful. It’s brilliant. And it’s a sure sign that Sunier will keep on soaring upward.

Muchacho Sanchez: “First Mind”

Thanks to a nationwide renaissance, Chicano Soul’s been getting a lot of recent praise for its bridging of Mexican and American, of Spanish and English, in a way that blurs national and ethnic boundaries. And if we’re talking about musical movements in the same ilk, right down to its name, Tejano has to be be towards the top of that list.Of course, to authentically contribute to that sound, an artist has to have substantial experience on both sides of the border. Which brings us to Muchacho Sanchez. Sanchez split his early days between the L.A. metro and the majestic ranchos of Durango before spending a chunk of his twenties traveling across the country, soaking up every inspiring sight and unique sound in the process. Well, even though Sanchez settled down in Austin back in 2012, that nomadic drive is still alive and well in Muchacho’s music, as heard and seen in the backdrop of a trío of YouTube demos.This morning we received the debut studio single from Muchacho Sanchez, one that proves this young troubadour’s already shaping up to be a rad hombre. Recorded and produced by Charley Crockett/Sentimental Family Band collaborator Billy Horton, “First Mind” is a passionate primer paso empowered by Sanchez’ pure soul and road-wise experience. So if you’re craving some quality Tex-Mex but only have time for a quick two-step, turns Muchacho’s volume up to the max and let loose, because “First Mind” absolutely hits the spot in three minutes flat.

Shakey Graves & Jess Williamson: “True Love Will Find You In The End” (Live at Longhorn Cavern)

When it comes to natural landmarks, Texas is absolutely teeming with them. From meteor craters and sinkholes to canyons, rivers, forests, mountain ranges, lakes, and caverns, our vast landscape offers a ton of variety to make up for those long car rides. And none of that Earth-born beauty could be conserved as well as it has been without the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation, who just celebrated the centennial of Texas State Parks last year.

If you missed it, TPWF recently teamed up with KUTX favorite Walker Lukens to produce Texas Wild, a collection of iconic Texas tunes performed by some of the Lone Star’s finest to commemorate that hundred-year legacy of astonishing state parks. That eleven-track vinyl packs a wallop on its own, no doubt, but because everything’s bigger when you’re here, the Texas Wild team just had to make some extra hay for this salute.

So, alongside the KUTX Multimedia Crew, Walker, The Bright Light Social Hour, Shakey Graves, and Jess Williamson took a field trip out to Longhorn Cavern State Park in Burnet to bask in the ancestral acoustics and primal reverb that only an eon-old limestone cave can provide. Their chamber-filling rendition of Daniel Johnston’s “True Love Will Find You In The End” can haunt any home stereo, but to fully immerse yourself in this one-of-a-kind space, you gotta check out the video. Because like witnessing all-star set of stalagmites suddenly come to life, with outward reverence for their surroundings and instruments at the ready, it’s a visual treat that plants you into a truly magical habitat, one you won’t want to leave when the music’s over.

Urban Heat: “Sanitizer”

After naming them as our July 2022 Artist of the Month, we here at KUTX have gotten an awful lot of opportunities to gush about the Austin synth-goth gargantua that is Urban Heat. With a blacked-out sense of fashion and all the industrial analogue toys a bitter boy could want, Urban Heat instantly evokes an impossibly-slick sense of 1980s nihilism, perfectly primed for our pandemic era and an entire dejected generation. Of course, there’s still a ton of synth-pop beauty in the bass-and-beat-driven bleakness, as heard throughout Urban Heat’s 2022 album Wellness and the handful of singles they’ve shared since.

So, sure, the Wellness stalwart “Have You Ever” has climbed past millions of streams, but that success hasn’t slowed Urban Heat’s ascension to The Tower, out this summer. If we’d just heard this next record’s first lead single, “Like This”, we’d honestly expect much of the same from Wellness. Turns out though, that Wellness was just the foundation for The Tower, as made clear by the full-length’s second preview, “Sanitizer”.

Far from a sterile sound, “Sanitizer” oozes infectious electro elements like drastically-saturated bass tones, scalpel-sharp drums, and pitch wheel synth sirens that’ll elevate your heartbeat with what’s easily Urban Heat’s most aggressive original to date. Clearly, there’s no musical malpractice when it comes to these goth doctors…but the same can’t be said for the trio’s trauma team characters in the music video for “Sanitizer”. It’s gross. It’s hilarious. It’ll tear your heart right out. And you’d better believe Urban Heat turns the O.R. into a dance floor for their lucky pair of patients (dancers Larissa Dali and Quentin Arispe). So between Urban Heat kickoff of a tour in support of Twin Tribes tonight in Pomona and their return to Texas in early February, remember: a play of “Sanitizer” a day keeps bad music away.

Alma Jette: “Demons”

When an artist spends precious set time talking about a song’s inspiration, they’re sometimes met with the demand of “less talk, more rock”. Which is pretty unfair, because when your tunes are left up to interpretation, setting the stage for your lyrics is just as important as contextualizing an ajar journal entry.

So we gotta applaud the admirable candor of Mary Bryce, who, on top of keeping her Substack regularly updated, is also quite the accomplished poet, painter, and singer-songwriter, best known in the latter category among locals as a member of long-gone Austin outfit SMiiLE. Like the best of us, Mary seized the start of the pandemic to begin working on a new creative outlet – Alma Jette (alongside a solo album recorded straight to tape) before re-locating to Los Angeles with her then-partner/SMiiLE frontman Jake Miles. But that brief period between the LP’s affectionate origins and the present hasn’t been without tumult; just last year, Bryce’s long-term relationship with Miles ended shortly after the pair’s L.A. home burned down.

Fortunately, those circumstances haven’t left too sour a taste in Bryce’s mouth. At least not enough to scrap the whole project. Instead, like a phoenix, those ten intimate snapshots have taken on more, wiser nuance with Alma Jette’s debut full-length, I Found A Reason, out late April. And since Bryce now splits her time between LA and ATX, it’s definitely worth catching Alma Jette in town for a single release this Friday ’round midnight at Sagebrush after openers Sammy G at 9PM, Other Vessels at 10PM, and Harry & Emmy at 11PM. That single – “Demons” – cuts straight to the chase of its title in its first handful of seconds before an enchanting orchestral arrangement pushes emotions to the top. It’s almost like a just-discovered Joni Mitchell folk rock single at a thematic midpoint between Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour and Star-Crossed. Just don’t blame Bryce when the waterworks start flowing…

The new season of Song Confessional starts Feb 7th!

The new season of the Song Confessional podcast arrives on Feb 7th! Walker Lukens and Zac Catanzaro travel around the world collecting anonymous confessions from everyday people and then give them to songwriters and bands who turn them into new original songs. This season features new songs from artists like Golden Dawn Arkestra, Woodbelly, Buffalo Hunt, Pigeon John, and more !

Breadcouch: “WAIT” (feat. Ben Buck)

We’re struggling to find the exact quote, so maybe we just imagined it, but we’re pretty sure Notorious B.I.G. said something along the lines of, “Ready to Die was 10% skill and 90% the chronic”, alluding to his lauded lyricism. And while we don’t advocate for substance use as a sole source of inspiration, we do appreciate how much a quick smoke session can convince a lyricist to get comfortable and let the beat play as long as it needs. Because when an un-rushed set of free-association bars have spent enough time in the oven, they often come out hotter and fresher than your run-of-the-mill one-take freestyle.

That brings us to Austin’s Breadcouch, who’s been baking his eccentric brand of alternative hip-hop/R&B since 2020. The multi-genre fusion of Breadcouch’s boundary-less beats really lends itself to the versatility of his vocals, which switch between rapping and singing for evenly-toasted slices of bedroom soul-pop, electronica, trap, boom bap, and even indie rock, all from the same, surprisingly-cohesive loaf. And although you could sample a few brief crumbs from Breadcouch’s expansive catalogue and label his style as “wordy” or “busy”, we respect the grains of brevity that Breadcouch brings to his hooks.

Case in point: a new tune featuring fellow Austin rapper-producer Ben Buck, “WAIT”. They’ll both be performing at Hole in the Wall tonight for the Speaker Bump Social, so smoke ’em if you got ’em, and let the hazy wordplay, sativa-scented samples, blunt-ready bass, and doja-derived drums of “WAIT” whisk you through this showery Wednesday.

King Warbler: “Lifestyle”

If you’ve been keeping tally of unique local releases just over the past month, you already know 2024’s shaping up to be a big year. And King Warbler is definitely among that elite subset of Austin specimens who always perk our ears up within the first couple notes of their distinct calls.

With chief songwriter/vocalist/piano-keyboardist Jack Van Norman ever steering the formation forward, the five-player flock recently took another interesting turn in the long migration from 2016’s Rosanky. A half decade removed from the distortion-heavy 2018 EP Wake Up Blonde, King Warbler’s maintains that elevated production level on their upcoming sophomore full-length, Texas Sky, albeit with an extra element of ’70s sass showing up to the party.

Texas Sky touches down this Friday, followed by an LP release show 9:30PM this Saturday at Captain Quackenbush’s Soundscape alongside Abram Shook at 8:30 and Batty Jr. at 10:30. And based on the pair of lead singles that got shared a couple weeks back, Texas Sky is looking like a horizon-filling collection of sounds. Such as the blue-eyed “Lifestyle”, which circles the docks of early yacht rock on feathers of Allen Toussaint and Elton John with a little crest of Leon Russell on top. With a drum shuffle we think Bernard Purdie’d approve of, jazz-adjacent piano chords that give off Steely feels, beautifully-busy, scale-spanning bass licks, some tasteful electric guitar soaring past every once in a while, and impressive vocal intervals to boot, “Lifestyle” is a graceful, mature, and warmly-welcomed addition to Love Austin Music Month.

2024: Year of the Austin Breakthrough?

Confucius and Fresh kick this week off by weighing the odds of an Austin hip-hop/R&B artist breaking out into the national mainstream before tackling the latest from everyone’s favorite controversy-maker – Lil Nas X. Get all that, Hip-Hop Facts, an Unpopular Opinion about hip-hop’s hatred of Drake, and Confucius Reads the News in this edition.

West 22nd: “Sleeping Alone”

In the midst of this drizzly, nippy, and overall kind of crummy weather, we can’t really fault anyone maximizing their time under the covers. And on behalf of the bounty of additional body heat, everyone with a significant other, a temporary cuffing acquaintance, or just a fuzzy friend willing to curl up really ought to feel thankful. Because the alternative is feeling extra frigid right about now. Fortunately for those battling Old Man Winter solo, there’s a new homegrown anthem that’ll warm any bitter spirits right on up.

It comes from Austin indie rock quintet West 22nd, the five friends who only crept up onto streaming services last August with their debut EP All the Way Home. Despite their recent shared confrontations with adulthood and the less-than-picture-perfect realities of relationships that come with it, West 22nd still maintains an undeniably youthful energy in their originals – not necessarily what we’d call wise, but certainly not puerile either.

And they’ve hit the ground running in the new year, having played not too far from their namesake last weekend at The Ballroom and performing again this Friday at Mohawk Outdoors alongside Sounds by Moonbby and Polo Perks opening for Skaiwater. So while West 22nd’s English counterparts may scoff at us Texans shivering from a brief week of freezing, we’d like to think that fellow chilly mammals Arctic Monkeys may not have anything bad to say about “Sleeping Alone”, released last Friday. Emblematic of that iconic early-millennium indie rock renaissance, “Sleeping Alone” sticks it to The Strokes with a nuanced arrangement and considerably less reliance on studio magic. So if you find yourself tossing and turning, maybe missing that special someone, crank “Sleeping Alone” all the way up, delete that has-been from your contacts, and maybe even plan on meeting someone new this Friday at the Mohawk.

francene rouelle: “love wasn’t enough”

When we prioritize praise, obviously the actual performer gets preferential treatment. So when listening to a final product, it can sometimes be easy to overlook the impact of a producer with a calculated vision, especially when they’re still in their salad days.

That brings us to Austin-based, Cambodian-born producer Wil Brookhart, best known by his creative handle waverly. On top of his idiosyncratic trap/pop/R&B sound, and helping catapult his bestie promqueen to local legend status last year, waverly’s also got a brand new retinue – his newly launched label mHart – which caters to Asian-American artists alongside a near-dozen-person all-minority/women team. That’s right; it turns out promqueen was just the initial proof of concept, because ahead of her anticipated sophomore szn two, she’s now joined by the second exciting addition to mHart’s already-promising, all-lowercase roster – francene rouelle.

Still in her early twenties and humbled by an agrarian upbringing, this first generation Filipina’s skipped past any nepotistic child TV star chapter (looking at you, Ariana Grande and Sabrina Carpenter) and straight into the auspicious arena of Asian Pop. And with backing from waverly’s cutesy-yet-sophisticated style of beats, francene rouelle hyper-effeminate fashion and coquettishly-confident vocals altogether gloss a strategically-girly image. In other words, while Ariana Grande grasps at straws, peddling too many versions of the same tired tune, a new Pop/R&B princess begins to seize the throne. So get ready to bend the knee when rouelle’s debut EP finally a fairytale drops April 19th, and charm your weekend with that record’s opening fable, “love wasn’t enough”.

The Melos: “I Don’t Wanna Be”

We love a good family band, but even with greats like CCR, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the The Allman Brothers, breaking past biological boundaries has its own proven benefits. So although songwriter Brandon Borrego obviously holds a shatterproof tie to his brother Louis, we gotta give them credit for letting some “outside” voices in on their tunes.

And that’s on behalf of The Melos (“the mellows”), which began as the handle for Brandon’s Austin-based output. That was, until Spring 2022, when the Borrego brothers linked up with bassist Jacob Moore and drummer Dante Muñoz in a classic case of SXSW kismet. Sparks flew, bonds grew, and the new iteration of The Melos soon started building on top of the existing framework from the Borregos’ initial batch of originals. As heard on a pair of back-to-back tracks (released last July and August, respectively) The Melos maintain the Borregos’ fraternal formula of Eddie Money-meets-Bruce Springsteen with a modern pop twist, for – true to their name – some undeniably laidback indie rock.

That dulcet saga continues today with The Melos’ first single of the year and a show 11PM tonight at Swan Dive with openers Bovine at 10PM and closers Tealwaves at midnight. You’ll recognize some familiar threads on “I Don’t Wanna Be” – chiefly Brandon’s grizzled, straight-from-the-heart vocals and cinematic chord progressions that perfectly capture the working class strife of your average Joe. But thanks to some striking snare fills, moody guitar tones, unrestricted bass riffs, and a tastefully-brief bridge section that quickly cools things off before cranking ’em all the way back up, the only thing missing from “I Don’t Wanna Be” is a full stadium’s-worth of applause after the final chord. Sure as hell sounds like a stereo-spanning family affair to us, and an incredibly infectious one at that, and we can’t wait to hear what the boys crank out next.

Creekbed Carter Hogan: “If I Was”

In the past half decade, we’ve witnessed some surprisingly progressive turns in the historically conservative field of folk and country music; be it Orville Peck eclipsing his contemporaries in the mainstream, a Tracy Chapman cover dominating charts, Kacey Musgraves’ ongoing expansion of the genre’s inclusiveness, or Lil Nas X making people debate what even constitutes a country tune. It’s beyond refreshing to watch these tides shift, and thankfully for us Austinites, it’s not just a national trend.

So while we can certainly point to Pelvis Wrestley’s Benjamin Violet as a force for the androgynous queer cowboy visual aesthetic, when it comes to clear-cut alt-country and folk music, we gotta give kudos to Creekbed Carter Hogan. See, in the short time since Hogan shared their debut 2021 Good St Riddance, we’ve seen huge leaps not just in terms of musical maturity, but indeed through major milestones like legally changing their name, having their uterus removed, and publishing their first book. And through this transition, CCH has created a powerful advantage that makes him stand out in the crowded world of Americana-country-folk, and that’s his unique vocal register, much higher than the majority of men but not necessarily feminine in character.

Well, following up last Spring’s Split EP, Creekbed Carter Hogan is taking things to the next level with their eponymous sophomore full-length Creekbed Carter, out March 22nd. Style-wise it maintains the same blunt, clever, and intrinsically queer twist on roots music we’ve come to adore. But strictly speaking to audio quality, it’s a huge step up from the CCH’s relatively lo-fi discography thus far, with glistening sonics that’ll fill a stereo just as well as it could the Grande Ole Opry. Based on what we’ve heard so far, we’re even willing to wager that Creekbed Carter could challenge Golden Hour when it comes to the finest mixes in acoustic music. So as these Texas temps slowly creep up, crawl into the Creekbed with Hogan for a single release show 8PM this Saturday at Radio/East alongside Large Brush Collection, Kind Keith, and Leila Sunier. Until then, show Hogan some love in the streambed by giving a spin to the record’s first offering, “If I Was”. Because at five-and-a-half minutes, bordered by the prettiest instrumental string arrangement we’ve heard all year (which includes Pelvis Wrestley’s Zach Wiggs on pedal steel and Little Mazarn’s Lindsey Verrill on bass), and joined by Large Brush Collection’s Nora Predey and Grabiela Torres in its climax, “If I Was” marks a melancholy beginning for trans folk’s next generation.

Ethan Azarian: “Hawaii”

Us Austinites love to brag about living in the “Live Music Capital of the World”. But that moniker’s not just a matter of venue multiplicity; no, there’s something about our city limits that not only creates a gravitational pull, but also dips newcomers right into a fast-acting melting pot.Case in point? Ethan Azarian, a Vermont-raised singer-songwriter-painter who moved down here in the late ’80s shortly before founding a quickly-beloved local institution, The Orange Mothers. Well, outside of the Mothers, Azarian’s also an accomplished solo folk/pop artist, and on top of raising Blue Cow Studios from the ground up and more recently spearheading the Songwriter’s Happy Hour at Hole in the Wall, two decades after the release of his solo introduction Captain of the Town, Ethan’s still going strong.As a matter of fact, just in time for this big freeze, Ethan Azarian’s offering up a much-welcomed change of scenery with his latest full-length Hawaii. Featuring not just the album artwork of Ethan’s son Francis but some really tasteful piano and organ as well, Hawaii is a gorgeous, sans-percussion folk family affair. And you can see the father-son chemistry live at a free show 7PM this Saturday at the Cactus Cafe with fellow Hawaii contributors Lindsey Verrill, Jeff Johnston, and special guest Amy Annelle. By then we’ll have warmed up just enough to want to get out, thanks in no small part to Hawaii‘s title track. Despite its beautifully-barren, wintry arrangement, the lyrics that carry “Hawaii” paint a transportive tropical portrait of volcanos, green waters, and enveloping island voices.

Retr0grade: “No Hook, No Name” (feat. BoomBaptist)

From Scott Storch to Mike Dean, The Alchemist to Murda Beatz, and far too many more examples to list here, it’s clear that having a white producer doesn’t negate the impact of a strong black voice in hip-hop. Here in Austin we can point to Song of the Day favorite RuDi Devino, who’s spread his butter-smooth bars over Ruler Why’s beats in SubKulture Patriots, Bronze Whale’s backing tracks in 5-D, and the P. Sugz/Potion productions of CAPYAC.

But aside from a few solo installments, one of RuDi’s biggest roles recently has been as the vocal half of synth-and-sample-driven duo Retr0grade. True to their handle, Retr0grade isn’t strictly stuck in the old school; instead it’s more of an ever-moving, modern hearkening back to some iconic hip-hop heyday sounds. And when it comes to that combo of classic and contemporary, of synthesized and sampled, of instrumental and vocal, those who’ve stayed in the loop on local productions know damn well that BoomBaptist is a comparable curator.

Well, just in time for this chilly MLK Day, Retr0grade groove grower Tommy Fuego just laid down some much-appreciated heat with the piping-hot sample chops and hypnotic drum programming we’ve come to love from him. For the first verse of “No Hook, No Name” RuDi tackles the offense, defies Nazi flags, and ultimately aces the interview with a Common-evocative cadence before BoomBaptist blesses the second half with his own tabernacle of lyrical boasts. It might not be the most societally-minded song you’ll hear today, but we’d like to think Dr. King would agree that this brief, bangin’ snapshot of racial harmony rips heartily.

King Air: “Power Ballads”

On this second New Music Friday of 2024, we just gotta give a bow to some Austin pop rock royalty. We’re talkin’ about husband-and-wife songwriter-producers Joy and Bill Baldwin, best known by their collaboration King Air. After securing a legacy in marriage and parenthood, the Baldwins – both veterans of the ’90s local live scene – finally sat down and held court in what would become the pair’s kingdom – songwriting.

As with any parents in need of some quality quiet time, King Air initially crafts most of their tunes on the acoustic front. That said, over the past dozen years and four EPs they’ve churned out some really impressive guitar-vocal-and-drum-driven indie rock that incorporates the most appeasing breezes of ’80s college jangle, ’90s alternative, and turn-of-the-millennium post-punk-revival.

Well, next Friday King Air’s decreed to bless us peasants with their debut full-length, Natural High. We’ve already caught some of Natural High‘s buzz and fuzz from two lead singles released last year, both of which benefit from an ongoing relationship with Nada Surf/Moving Panoramas collaborator Louie Lino. So while we don’t know what’ll happen to the grid during next week’s big freeze, us subjects can at least expect a modicum of harmony under King Air’s two rulers based on the LP’s final lead single, “Power Ballads”. Electricity and cold weather aside, “Power Ballads” charges and warms with a hit-inspired hearth that evokes heavyweights without sounding derivative.

Futon Blonde: “Goodbye, Goodbye”

An obvious understatement, but music’s taken some huge leaps in the past century-plus of sound recording. So while the simple lyrical structures and repetitive chord progressions of pioneers like Robert Johnson or Lead Belly may seem laughably basic to some nowadays, that’s only because we’ve become spoiled by one integral element – the groove. In the modern era, ranging from pop to hip-hop, rock, and beyond, lyrics and chords alone don’t cut it; you gotta put the hook in listeners with an infectious groove. And although one could argue that indie rock is one of the least groovy genres, the mere presence of a groove separates the best from the rest.

For examples of such right here in Austin, we can fall back on Futon Blonde. Initially framed around songwriter Janson Sommers, Futon Blonde’s since gone on to quadruple their groove capacity thanks to fellow songwriter-vocalists Mark Webb (lead guitar) and Ben ‘Beng’ Goodman (bass), not to mention drummer Steve Zamora. Now in their tenth year of the affair, Futon Blonde’s cushioned their groove-dominant formulas around funk, alternative, and psych rock over tours, EPs, and one full-length. And as they kick off a second decade together, the Futon’s converting once again – this time with streaks of 2010s R&B.

Bouncy bass lines, soulful vocals, smooth six-string, and a plethora of pulsating percussion choices permeate throughout Futon Blonde’s next EP Multiplier. It’s certainly a departure from last Spring’s Something That We’ve All Experienced Together Before, and even more so from 2019’s Uppercut, but based on the latest batch of tunes (mixed by Loma/Cross Record collaborator Dan Duszynski), we sure as hell aren’t complaining. So especially since it’s that time of year everyone turns a new leaf, instead of succumbing to couch lock, catch Futon Blonde 8PM tonight at Hotel Vegas for a single release show with openers Hex Boyfriend at 7PM. The new single in question? “Goodbye, Goodbye”, which, as you might’ve guessed from its title, was inspired by the end of a relationship. On top of some tasteful drum programming steaming up the background, sensual rhythm guitar cutting through like a butter knife, baby-makin’ bass, plus the usual gusto of luscious lead guitar and grounded percussion, Webb crushes vocals on this expansive original of his. In other words “Goodbye, Goodbye” bids farewell to that old fling and says “hello” to this new era of groove for Futon Blonde.