Otis Wilkins: “Kamakura”

There are a lot of ways to pay tribute to one’s pedigree, but few are quite as charming as keeping a family nickname alive. And in an odd sort of role reversal of Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, Austin singer-guitarist Taylor Wilkins re-appropriated his father’s college moniker “Otis” for a pet dog before adopting the handle himself. Wilkins’ has since enjoyed success as the eponymous frontman of indie-shoegaze four-piece Otis the Destroyer, and more recently with his alt-rock endeavor Otis Wilkins.

Otis Wilkins reaches into a retro-stratosphere of soundscapes relatively untouched by the Destroyer, with an emphasis on ’60s-’70s pop and rock. The project launched in 2018 with the Strangest Place EP and caught national attention with two singles the following year (“Shaker #42” and KUTX/NPR Music favorite “Joni Mitchell Was Punk”). Otis’ last offering was 2020’s “Charlene”, but after two years of pensive pandemic patience, Wilkins is finally back with more. Jack White/Widespread Panic producer Brett Orrison helped shape a new slew of singles for 2022, a sequence that starts today with “Kamakura”. Inspired by the burial place of legendary filmmaker Akira Kurosawa as well as the tone and narrative pacing of his iconic films, the marching band-style snare drum cadence, ethereal vocal reverb, cutting guitar solo, and heavenly synth pads of “Kamakura” all add up to a ghostly but reverent experience that transcends into immortality.