SATALiGHTS: “Sirenas”

If you’ve kept a close pulse on the local circuit the past half decade, you’ve probably already got SATALiGHTS on your radar. But even if you haven’t, the title of their 2017 debut Post-Bedroom Rock ought to tip you off to their genre preferences, at least historically. We say that because although this multi-national quartet’s orbited around post-punk, shoegaze, and alt-rock, SATALiGHTS have recently changed course.

See, ahead of their upcoming third full-length Veluga, SATALiGHTS kicks off the scuffed converses of shoegaze and shuffles into some slick electro-cumbia botas on the LP’s lead single, “Sirenas”. An outlandish piece of nautical mysticism and cultura mexicana, this locally-sourced siren song leans on the earnest reverence and playful pageantry of Dia de los Muertos for an eccentric reflection on the inevitability of death.

So before Veluga breaches on November 7th, try and count all the locations you recognize in “Sirenas”‘ music video and keep up with the nameless narco’s almost-aimless gyrations as you follow along (trust us, it’s easy enough). It’s a minimalist visual journey for sure, but it does an amazing job of complementing the hypnotic simplicity of “Sirenas”‘ Latin sonics. All in all, with this new south-of-the-border direction, we sure wouldn’t mind riding shotgun with SATALiGHTS all summer long…to the mercado, the chatarrería…or just a for a quick dip in the kiddie pool.

El Combo Oscuro: “Despegue”

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…

What’s next as pandemic-era housing assistance winds down

Several bills are aimed at building more homes, but what about Texas renters, many reeling from the end of assistance programs? State lawmakers are being urged to take action on housing affordability, or more precisely, the lack thereof.

What’s an education savings program? Critics say it’s just another spin on school vouchers. Sergio Martínez-Beltrán of the Texas Newsroom previews Senate committee hearings on the measure.

Is there really such a thing as “too low” when it comes to unemployment rates? The Standard’s Sean Saldana explains.

And remembering El Rey de la Cumbia, Fito Olivares.

Texas’ top musical moments of the year

From the highlights to the blue notes, what happened in the world of Texas music in 2022. A Texas country music legend says goodbye to the road that goes on forever; our conversation with Robert Earl Keene. Also a renaissance for one of the best know Texas artists of all time: the impact of Beyonce’s 7th album, an homage to house and disco music. And Adrian Quesada turns up the volume on a rediscovered musical genre with his Boleros Psicodélicos. A lonestar-studded review of the year, today on the Texas Standard:

Superfónicos: “Primera Luz”

You’ve heard a ton about our Holiday Sing-Along over the past couple weeks, and today we’ve got good news for both Grinches and Gingerbread Architects alike. To the former, you won’t be hearing those promos after this weekend. To the latter, we’ve got an early stocking stuffer for you.

That’s because shortly after the tree lighting, KUTX favorite Superfónicos‘ll be serenading us with their idiosyncratic blend of world music. This one-of-a-kind Latin-fusion octet is no stranger to Studio 1A, nor Austin Music Minute, nor Song of the Day. Which shows you how just how spectacular and accessible this first-rate eight-piece still is, even almost a decade down the line.

We’re not entirely sure how the stars aligned so dang well for Superfónicos’ latest single, but given the title and their post-lighting performance tomorrow night, the cosmos are clearly on their side. Between tantalizing auxiliary percussion, a free-flowing psychedelic structure, and harmonies that herald radiance, Superfónicos’ almost-unbelievable eight-part cohesion is illuminated throughout “Primera Luz”, AKA “First Light”. Pop “Primera Luz” into your favorite playlist, and catch Superfónicos in person tomorrow night or for “Cumbia NYE” at Far Out Lounge along with Grupo Fantasma.

Taco Beats

What goes better with tacos than with a little Screwmbia? That’s cumbia chopped and screwed. We’ll talk with los mero meros de screwmbia, including Principe Q (Corpus Christi DJ, chef, and nephew of Selena, yes that Selena) and Gracie Chavez (co-founder of Houston’s Bombón collective) to understand how the music genre took off. We’ll also take a deep dive into creating taco beats with music producer Adrian Graniel who helped IDENTITY Productions create their own taco beats that go perfect with tacos al pastor and a bien sazonada carne asada.

Combo Lulo: “Escuchen A Mama” (feat. Alba Ponce de León)

With the abundance of side projects, solo releases, and other one-off endeavors in this era of home studios and virtual collaborations, the term “supergroup” can get used a little overzealously. But considering the quantity of members from high-profile groups like Charles Bradley‘s Extraordinaires, Antibalas, the Easy Star Allstars, and the Skatalites, the phrase seems fitting for Big Apple ensemble Combo Lulo.

Between their collective talents, stage-filling arrangements, and intercontinental, Afro-Latin-Caribbean style, Combo Lulo’s set an incredibly high standard for fellow world music groups, thereby living up to the band’s namesake excellence. This Saturday the eight-to-fifteen-piece releases their surreal nine-song debut, Neotropic Dream, and today you can jointly celebrate Cinco de Mayo and Mother’s Day with a Spanish-language matriarchal message, featuring fellow New Yorker Alba Ponce de León, “Escuchen A Mama”!