Lion Heights: “Cool & Easy”

Here in the Lone Star State, the authentic “tropical” experience is pretty much limited to South Padre Island, about a six-hour drive from our city limits. But despite Austin’s central location, when it comes to less land-locked sounds (chiefly reggae), we’re actually pretty lucky to have strong local institutions; The Flamingo Cantina’s remained a major draw for fans of the genre since 1991, Austin Reggae Fest since 1994, and in terms of adjacent interests, we also have a relatively lenient (okay, decriminalized) herbal culture compared to our more conservative county neighbors. So it’s not a big shock that reggae acts like Lion Heights claim Austin as their creative den, especially considering their incorporation of “outlaw” (a term typically associated with Texas country rebels like Willie and Waylon) into an otherwise-idiosyncratic Caribbean style. A decade back Lion Heights crawled out as a cub with their debut EP Survival of the Richest, but really roared with higher production value and a vast cast of collaborators on 2021’s Blank Check Riddim. And with the release of the extensive 46-minute False Reality this past April, Lion Heights has clearly worked their way up the food chain to become one of Austin’s finest reggae ensembles. But what’s the point of making it to the top if you’re just gonna ride recent accomplishments? On that note, Lion Heights dropped their eight-track Not Done Fighting Riddim last Friday, a feature-filled pride that showcases Lutan Fyah, Chuck Fenda, Alan Moe Monsarrat, and more. Sure there are some explicit sensi-bilities with opening titles like “Herbsman” and “Love Marijuana”, but by and large this new record (true to its title) champions fist-in-the-air civil disobedience and resilience in our modern era of working class oppression. And fun fact: Lion Heights shakes off their regular crepuscular schedule for an afternoon show 3PM this Sunday at The Far Out Lounge ahead of a regional Texas-Florida tour later this month. Even if the triple digits in the forecast convince you to stay home, you can still counter our painfully noticeable lack of coastal breezes with a tune that instills a chill you just can’t kill, “Cool & Easy”. From its introductory timbale fill and guitar skank to its final full-band chord, “Cool & Easy” (featuring duo Roots Revealers) is like a coconut cocktail you can take anywhere with you; to work, to your home stereo, and of course…if you’re willin’…to the beach.

This Song: Jonathan Meiburg of Shearwater // Cross Record

Shearwater’s Jonathan Meiburg grew up listening to his parent’s classical music and white bread pop. Then he heard Vic Chesnutt. In this episode of “This Song” you can hear how  Chesnutt’s “Big Huge Valley”  helped him realize there was a whole world of music bubbling beneath the mainstream. Plus, he makes the case that  Nina Simone is the “best popular musician of the 20th century, and maybe the 21st century too.”

Then Emily Cross of the KUTX Artist of the Month Cross Record  describes the effect Imogen Heap’s“Hide and Seek” had on her while her partner, Dan Duszynski, explains how King Tubby expanded his ideas of what music could be.

Listen to Shearwater’s Studio 1A performance

Listen to Cross Record’s Studio 1A performance

Listen to Cross Record’s MyKUTX guest DJ set

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Listen to the songs featured in Episode 28 of “This Song”.