Indie Pop

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.

Resin: “I Think I Love You”

Creatives can find inspiration pretty much anywhere; naturally in the world of art, but also through the process of nurturing, be that in helping others brush up on their talents, or simply in bringing a piece flora to fruition. Well, just a stone’s throw away from Austin out in Round Rock, high school art teacher Kristi Holthouser and plant producer Mae Sanchez have been reaping what started off as a mere seed of friendship a decade back with their passion project Resin.

True to their handle, Resin’s jam sessions secrete a viscous mix of styles composited from Sanchez and Holthouser’s individual experiences with a myriad of players and producers in Central Texas and on the West Coast. And although stirring things up in the same room is always preferable, the duo didn’t have that convenience at the top of COVID, leading Resin to reference a previous in-person blueprint before building on it one remotely inserted stem at a time.

The finished product “I Think I Love You”, is a damn good piece of alt-psych daytime disco, whose infectious indie pop repetitions remind us of what Guts might sound like if they’d had enough of someone’s guff and slowed down to tell ’em off. With Sanchez on hypnotic six-string, Holthouser holding down the haunting main melody, and the pair sharing beatmaking and lyrical duties, we think “ITILY” and its retro-meets-modern aura has staying power throughout the summer and well beyond.

Generationals: “Strangers”

As streaming numbers become one of the defining metrics for success, you see a lot of young up-and-comers try to cover their bases by cranking out singles. Longer-standing, well-established acts, however, know that the “quality over quantity” builds stronger staying power.

Just look at NOLA-born indie-garage-pop duo Generationals, who first got started in 2008. With a decade and a half of experience and plenty of fans across the globe, they’re getting pretty close to reaching their namesake in terms of lifespan and impact. The pair’s fared well with a production technique of remotely collaborating – shaping songs one file share at a time – so in 2021 when Generationals went to track a new EP in Athens, Georgia straight to tape, it was already a trepidatious process. They listened back, weren’t thrilled with the results, and wisely went back to the drawing board.

The result is Generationals’ sixth full-length, Heatherhead, out this Friday. The LP’s a real case study in looking inward, defining what makes a certain brand of music great, and taking care to make sure the end product is far beyond listener expectations. In a final effort to familiarize us with Heatherhead before it drops, Generationals graciously introduces us to “Strangers”. From its initial ear-perking staccato guitar and hazy vibrato synth, straight to its driving daytime disco bass line and breezy, effects-tanned falsetto vocals, “Strangers” tosses chillwave into a caipirinha that’ll serve up the spirit of flirty summer fun all year-round – even when they stop by The Mohawk on September 8th.

Madison Baker: “U-Shaped Dent”

As we’ve come to expect in the Live Music Capital of the World, this past weekend once again treated us to a bevy of release shows. But among the many, one you might’ve missed came on behalf of Madison Baker, who, alongside our September 2019 Artist of the Month Flora & Fawna, Glasshealer, and Clover the Girl, scorched the Swan Dive stage on Friday night.

The occasion? Madison Baker’s latest single “U-Shaped Dent”, breaking a nearly two-year period of no releases. In contrast to the Beyoncé-esque trap and R&B drum programming that helped define Baker’s 2021 EP Boundary, “U-Shaped Dent” is a real endeavor into alt-pop; it sounds like Imogen Heap and Robyn hive-minded their vocal techniques into a relaxed-tempo Flight Facilities track. And although the single’s promotional photos find Madison rummaging through a junkyard, rest assured “U-Shaped Dent” salvages the crisp, clean production and feathery falsetto we’ve been missing since Boundary.

Madison Baker’s next listed gigs include an appearance at Planet K next Friday, March 10th and BLK Vinyl on Wednesday, March 15th, which ought to help you put a dent into your annual live show quota.

Half Dream: “Roses”

With the autumnal onset of dreary, drippy weather here in Central Texas, this past weekend was kind of a wash for live events; at KUTX, we ended up postponing our final Rock the Park performance of 2022 a full week. But if you’re not as easily deterred by the elements, you might’ve made your way out to ABGB this weekend for a free show featuring Mean Jolene and Austin quartet Half Dream.

Masterminded by chief vocalist Paige Renee Berry, Half Dream’s been hammering down a hazy brand of indie pop rock for about half a decade. True to their name, Half Dream’s lucid instrumentation sounds like an original score to a fevered hallucination, one you won’t want to wake up from right away. The reason Half Dream was hunkering down at ABGB? The group’s latest single, “Roses”.

“Roses” fell last Friday, and Half Dream opens up for Shooks’ residency at Hotel Vegas 10PM tomorrow night. Myself? I’ll probably show support from home with fuzzy slippers on and a hot chocolate steaming. So if you’re like me and want some synesthesia for your senses without ever leaving the cave, get a whiff of languid rhythms, jangly guitar, and of course, Half Dream’s signature harmonies, with “Roses”.

Luna Luna: “Call Me Up” (ACL Fest Pop-Up)

We’re on Day Two of featuring our Austin City Limits pop-up performances, and given the recent shift in seasons (plus a gorgeous full moon casting joy across Zilker during Weekend One), we’d be remiss if we didn’t listen back to Luna Luna. Following up their third full-length Flower Moon (and a steadily growing brand of tantalizing visuals), the Austin-via-Dallas indie-pop project made their official ACL Fest premiere by ringing in the afternoon rays during Sunday One on the Barton Springs stage.

Shortly afterwards they managed to squeeze all five live players into KUTX’s backstage pop-up space, where they treated us to comfy rendition of one of Flower Moon‘s centerpieces, “Call Me Up“. Take a look back to the mesh sesh in the video below and celebrate democracy alongside Luna Luna via livestream on November 8th for the #iVoted virtual festival.

Lena Luca: “Rosebuds”

With the exception of so-called “industry plants”, it’s pretty rare for a superstar to hit their biggest stride during their first project. Think about Kenny Rogers with The First Edition, Danny Elfman with Oingo Boingo, or even Beyoncé with Destiny’s Child. Lena Luca had a classical background in oboe performance and music education before relocating to Austin in 2015 and becoming a centerpiece vocalist for art-funk outfit Bourgeois Mystics. That only lasted about a year before Luca jumped ship and launched a new project, a darkpop band in the vain of ’90s industrial post-grunge rock called Elevaded. Well, turns out even that wasn’t enough to scratch Luca’s creative itch.

Right around the start of the pandemic, they re-emerged under their current moniker, introducing Austin to an unapologetically-queer producer-singer-synthesist solo sensation. Disco, funk, R&B, indie, dance, and pop have all been up for grabs in Lena Luca’s upbeat, melody-anchored formulas since 2020, with a 4-track EP on the way. So if you’re checking out Remi Wolf this Sunday at Stubb’s, be sure to stick around ’til after 10 for an official after show performance by Lena Luca. If not, enjoy Lena Luca’s official selection from this year’s Austin Music Video Festival that accompanies one of L.L.’s most rousing bass grooves to date, an expertly-executed disco-funk phenom that gives Dua Lipa a run for her money, “Rosebuds”.

Glassreel: “Compromise”

If you dig Belle and Sebastian’s brand of indie pop along with Mazzy Star’s style of alternative rock and have ever wondered what a lovechild of the two might sound like…let us introduce you to Glassreel. This Winnipeg project began as a duo between core songwriters Kelly Beaton and Trevor Graumann before rounding out a rhythm section with Ken Phillips and Andrew Workman. Since Glassreel started sharing singles as a quartet in 2019, they’ve refined a crystalline mix of calm-yet-confident vocals, delightful dynamics, and transportive soundscapes.

Next Friday the four-piece unleashes their debut full-length Lustre, an eight-track that coats Glassreel’s existing sound with sheens of Aimee Mann, Phillip Glass, Pixies, Fiona Apple, The New Pornographers, and even Fleetwood Mac. To help match the quality to those legends, Lustre was mastered by Grammy nominee Philip Shaw Bova, who’s engineered the likes of Father John Misty and Angel Olsen. Between Bova’s assistance and the band’s natural maturation, Lustre‘s final lead single, “Compromise” carries McVie-esque keys and tasteful brass chords for an arrangement that proves how far Glassreel’s come in the past three years alone.

Chancy: “Angels, Darlings”

I suspect that when many people of my generation hear the word “Chancy” out loud, they probably think of that egg loving Pokémon rather than the adjective. And while that demographic tends to have strong feelings about the “original 151”, collectors of indie-pop-rock ought to add Chancy to their musical Pokédex. This Dallas quintet only became Chancy after they found out their first band name “Lovely” was taken several times over. And whatever risk-taking they’ve done since 2019 has clearly paid off, considering they’ve played five festivals in the past two years alone.

This morning Chancy unleashed their latest single and music video, “Angels, Darlings”. It’s a daring addition to Chancy’s rapidly expanding discography, whose upbeat disco drums drive while the rest of the group explores pure pop, subtle psychedelia, and incandescent harmonies that’ll carry you all the way to Monday.

The Beaches: “Orpheus”

Like the Jan Brady of national holidays, Labor Day is an oft-overlooked middle child between the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving. So, quick bit of “birthday” trivia; although it’s American-manufactured, some historians believe Labor Day may have been inspired by Toronto’s worker-centric parades held in 1882. Which means we ought to recognize our neighbors to the North and celebrate with some continental solidarity. However, if you got screwed out of the long weekend for whatever reason, you can find a instant escape with The Beaches.

Their namesake canonically pays tribute to a shared neighborhood, but it also evokes the quartet’s willingness to bury college plans in the sand and fully invest themselves in their music. Nowadays, in light of more than 50 million stream on Spotify alone, three JUNO Awards, and fanship from Elton John, it’s damn near impossible to cast doubt on that decade-old decision. Lately, however, inspired by the likes of Austin’s own Dayglow, The Beaches have seemed to heed changing tides and begun testing deeper waters of indie pop after years in the rock sandbar. This questionable shift comes right after the full-length merge of The Beaches last two EPs and a U.S. tour kicking off next month, but as we’ve learned before, it’s best to trust The Beaches’ intuition. Considering the pulsing, Phoenix-esque, indie pop masterpiece “Orpheus” that just came out? Give ’em all the resources in the world for them to do whatever the hell they want.

Sneaky Peaches and the Fuzz: “Footsteps”

When your debut single harvests one-and-a-half million streams on Spotify, you must be doing something right. Take for example Austin trio Sneaky Peaches and the Fuzz, whose hook-driven drupes have catapulted them into international indie pop recognition. These surreptitious freestones are all still college-age, but clearly each member’s got a lot of talent within their creative pits. Sneaky Peaches and the Fuzz have four shows coming up this month, Thursday, April 28th at Far Out Lounge, Sunday the 24th at the Red Poppy Festival in Georgetown, Easter Sunday at Spiderhouse, Friday the 15th at Hudson’s in Dripping Springs, and this Saturday at Planet Rock. So just like the Kim family in Parasite, make the most out of Sneaky Peaches and the Fuzz as they continue to leave their indie pop imprint with standalone singles like “Footsteps”!

Dayglow: “Medicine” (KUTX Pop-Up)

With the sun out and about and temperatures hitting nearly triple digits this week, it might not be a bad idea to just simmer in the sweat and embrace the Dayglow. Austin multi-instrumentalist Sloan Struble blew us away in 2019 with Dayglow‘s debut album, Fuzzybrain, and invited us to get a little more intimate with his indie pop project even more recently through his sophomore LP, Harmony House.

Dayglow plays this Friday at Stubb’s but if you’re still iffy on going out, the Studio 1A veteran was kind enough to let our multi-media team stop by for a four-song video set, featuring two tracks from Fuzzybrain and Harmony House. Either way, you’re going to want a Dayglow-prescribed dose of “Medicine”…

Foxtales: “Oceans of Time”

For the past few years Austin multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Fox has built up a repertoire of indie pop under the handle Foxtales. And though he already totes a robust coat of colors, Foxtales ventures even further into the realm of chillwave with a more synth-reliant sound on his upcoming fourth record, Perfect Landing.

Perfect Landing touches down on September 17th, and the next day promises a full five-piece release show performance at Swan Dive that you won’t want to miss. For today though, you can ride the tide out of the weekend and ease back into the 9-to-5 mindset with the EP’s just-released, brilliantly-mellow single (and music video), “Oceans of Time“!

Slomo Drags: “Pepsi Cola Addict”

Big news from Austin’s Slomo Drags this morning; the indie-glam-pop-rock group just announced their new EP, Twin Absorber. The record is co-produced by Danny Reisch (whose work has helped elevate the likes of fellow Studio 1A veterans Shearwater, Bright Light Social Hour, Tele Novella, and Erika Wennerstrom) and Quiet Company contributor Matt Parmenter, so you know Twin Absorber‘s gonna come out of its womb in optimal shape.

Twin Absorber drops next Spring, and today you can indulge in life’s more saccharine, caffeinated substances for an extra sparkly start to your weekend with the album’s bubbly lead single, “Pepsi Cola Addict”!

School of X: “Race For Caress”

Like hundreds of other international musicians, rising Copenhagen-based producer-drummer Rasmus Littauer was eager to showcase his music during SXSW 2020…but you know what happened. So instead of putting his debut album as School of X, Armlock, on display in the Live Music Capital, the pandemic allowed Littauer to tap deep into his own psyche and begin shaping School of X’s sophomore curriculum.

Aptly-titled Dancing Through the Void, School of X’s new LP totes an even more refined sound than its predecessor and further proves Littauer’s competence as a principal of indie pop. Dancing Through the Void drops September 24th, and with classes back in session any day now (at least here in the states) it’s best to check the syllabus early with School of X’s latest single, “Race For Caress”!

Danilo: “All I Want”

Born in Brazil but transplanted into the Live Music Capital early on, singer Danilo Riggs was stunned and won over by Western music, eating up ’80s pop icons like Prince and Michael Jackson before graduating to Jeff Buckley. Going mononymously by Danilo, Riggs has fused the traditional Latin music of his youth with the modern electricity of genre giants like The Weeknd and Bruno Mars for an intoxicating intercontinental sound.

On July 16th Danilo drops his debut EP All I Want, five falsetto-spiced appetizers that give us a taste of Danilo’s dynamics, structured out shower thoughts, and detailed dreams. Danilo performs Saturday July 17th at Far Out Lounge along with our November 2017 Artist of the Month Kalu and the Electric Joint and August 2015 Artist of the Month David Ramirez, so you’re guaranteed some good company in mid-July. Til then you can tide yourself over with the ’60s-psych-tinged title track, “All I Want”!

Boyish: “Your Best Friend”

First meeting at Berklee College of Music over a collaborative demo, singer India Shore and guitarist Claire Altendahl began exploring realms of alt-country as The Blue and released Carnation in 2018. But despite considerable acclaim over The Blue’s debut, the duo opted for a do-over after graduating the following year and rebranded themselves Boyish.

Boyish charmed us last Valentine’s Day with Garden Spider, championing the two’s inherently queer identities over an enthralling lo-fi blend of dream pop and indie. And next Friday the Brooklynites share We’re all gonna die, but here’s my contribution, a half-8-track that serves up a realistic coming-of-age aesthetic, balanced between the optimism of youth and pessimism after painful adult experiences, perhaps heard best on the EP’s lead single, “Your Best Friend”.

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”!

Indoor Creature: “American Dream” [PREMIERE]

Almost a full year after COVID-19 shut us all into quarantine, we’ve all become somewhat of adjusted to a largely-interior lifestyle. But if there’s one Austin group that’s sure to stave off cabin fever (even in the name alone), it’s Indoor Creature. What started off as a duo in 2015 has evolved into a slick six-piece, whose jazz-inspired indie-pop sound has continued to expand with each passing season.

Indoor Creature is set to share their third full-length, Living in Darkness, in May, and after a long first month of hefty politics, the band’s re-aligning their prospects for 2021 with the album’s infectiously chill lead single, “American Dream”!

Julietta: “Not Today”

It feels like just yesterday that then-New Yorker Julietta was being hailed in the indie pop-ulace for her 2018 debut album Smooth Sailing. But now that she’s well acclimated to a new coast out in L.A., this singer’s spirits are ascending even further with each bold new single.

Julietta’s set to share six new tracks within the next month, forming a cube of indie-pop audacity with her upcoming EP, LevitateLevitate reaches its optimal altitude on February 5th, and get her listeners’ heads pointed skyward, today Julietta dropped the record’s infectious first offering, “Not Today”!