LA music

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…

Poolside: “Each Night”

With a solar eclipse behind us and highs in the lower 70s for today, sure does seem like ACL Fest Weekend 2 ushered in the actual start of Fall here in Texas. But that’s no problem, because whatever the weather, Poolside is always in season.

These Los Angeles “daytime disco” godfathers have been keeping us cool for a little over a decade now, thanks to their idiosyncratic slowing of classic dance sounds into a breezy, undeniably modern, oft-emulated blend. As hard as it’ll ever be to top their 2012 breakout Pacific Standard Time, Poolside’s done an impressive job of keeping tides of nu-disco, synthpop, chillwave, and lounge flowing for consistent vibes without letting their creative waters stagnate.

As a matter of fact, Poolside’s been keeping pace with a lap lane of new singles this whole year ahead of their next LP Blame It All On Love, out this Friday. As this Bengal tiger of a banger ten-piece reveals itself, we’ve figured out that Poolside’s still got plenty of tricks in their trunks on top of their well-established formulas. Case in point, instead of a characteristic cruise-ready cannonball, Poolside showed off a bit more of a downbeat breaststroke when they stopped by the KUTX tent last Saturday on Blame It All On Love‘s lead single “Each Night”. For a record all about romance, “Each Night”‘s placement in the record’s third act is a much-appreciated breather to keep things from getting too hot and heavy.

Sasha Ortiz: “On Your Side”

Back in 2013 the documentary 20 Feet from Stardom shed light on the often overlooked lives of backup singers. And since there’s strength in numbers when hitting harmonies alongside a fellow vocalist or two, it can still be easy for some to discount individual talent. So while there’ll always be perks to performing in a chorus, huge kudos to those who take their rightful place in the center stage spotlight.

Folks like native South Austinite (and T Bird and the Breaks original member) Sasha Ortiz, who spent the decade between 20 Feet and now in New York supporting soul royalty like Charles Bradley, Sharon Jones, and Lee Fields, not to mention The Kills, Carla Morrison and more. These days Ortiz calls L.A. her home, and it’s in that city of angels that Sasha’s finally ascended from must-have backup to main attraction.

Last Friday Sasha Ortiz unleashed her top-tier first solo installation Superblue, a four-track, dance-driven foray into cutting-edge R&B-soul. Superblue‘s sensual and exotic sound was realized with the help of rising producer-multi-instrumentalist Reef Boii and J Dilla/Blood Orange mastering engineer Dave Cooley, who together turned the album into an outstanding introduction for this not-so-newcomer. At just under seventeen minutes, there’s no real good reason to pass up Superblue, at least if you’ve been tracking the fascinating evolution of soul-R&B in the digital age. So start it off right with the EP opener “On Your Side”, whose UK-inspired liquid bass line, floating synth chords, and uncomplicated drum patterns pad a bed of forget-me-nots for Sasha Ortiz’s dynamic falsetto, all of which send this future superstar straight into the hyper-periwinkle stratosphere.

Radiator King: “Hammer & Nails”

The number of different ways in which musicians were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic almost rivals the amount of virus variants we ended up uncovering. But broadly put, by April 2020, music makers faced a three-prong fork in the road: 1) reluctantly shelve their passion until an “all clear” eventually arrived, 2) maximize the sudden bevy of free time and continue to write new material, or, by far most commonly, 3) slow down along with the rest of the society, re-evaluate what makes your music unique, and let the uncertainty of those early times better inform the future path of your project.

Boston-to-NYC-to-LA singer-guitarist Adam Silvestri went with option three for his punk/blues endeavor Radiator King. Which makes sense since the momentum of Radiator King really picked up with the addition of Violent Femmes/Dresden Dolls drummer Brian Viglione and Alexander Burke before the release of the 2017 LP A Hollow Triumph After All. That title, alongside August 2020’s Unborn Ghosts both proved poignant in the new context of the quarantined turn of the 2020s. And with the exception of the following August’s Live at EastWest Studios, the court of Radiator King’s been awfully quiet.

Fortunately, as the world adjusts to a “post-pandemic” mindset, these royal heaters still tote the tools to tear the roof off their practice space. And even better, more synergic songwriting has begun flowing through the trio in this bold new iteration. Their latest single “Hammer & Nails” hones in on a hodgepodge of heavy-hitters like late-’90s era Bob Dylan, Nick Cave, and Tom Waits, albeit with Silvestri, Viglione, and Burke’s signature flairs; robust vocals, calculated, full-force percussion work, and straight up ripping Hammond B3, respectively. Its largely monochromatic music video with extreme close up camera work right in the grill of vintage equipment provides a moody juxtaposition against archival overlays including classic psychedelic eyeballs, nuclear weapons tests, and silent film footage, almost like a film noir version of an acid test.

Pearl & The Oysters: “Evening Sun” (Live at Scholz Garten)

We’ve got just one more SXSW 2023 recap track for y’all, and it’s a real gem in a clam. It comes courtesy of the Gainesville-cradled jazz-space-pop project Pearl & The Oysters. Multi-instrumentalist-songwriters Juliette Pearl Davis and Joachim Polack are at the core of this classic kitsch-imbued bivalve, who now perform live as a five-piece. The migration of Davis and Polack’s musical mollusk to Los Angeles at the start of the pandemic seems to have introduced an extra breezy element to Pearl & The Oysters’ daytime disco-adjacency, which we’ll hear more of on their upcoming full-length Coast 2 Coast, out April 21st.

That of course means that Pearl & The Oysters are about to shell up and clamp their gear shut for a month-long North American tour, including a gig here in Austin at The Mohawk in late May. For our live broadcast, Pearl & The Oysters perused some of the new stuff off Coast 2 Coast, 2021’s Flowerland, 2018’s Canned Music, and even their 2017 eponymous debut. And despite the fact that their Scholz Garten set last Saturday wasn’t too long after dawn, the midpoint prize from Flowerland, “Evening Sun”, glistened with the morning crowd, sure to shimmer through plenty more memories and horizons.

Christina Galisatus: “Candlelight”

Without a cursory glance at the classical glossary, the term “chamber” might be a bit off-putting. No, it’s not music to be tortured to, nor the ambiance you’d hear in a musty dungeon. Instead, when we talk about “chamber music“, we’re really referring to palatial arrangements and efficient approaches that rely more on cooperation between players relative to their performance space, basically allowing a room’s acoustics to take on a character of its own. As a genre modifier, jazz and folk are perhaps the most analogous modern styles you could revolve into the chamber, thanks to their emphases on solo ability and roots in large hall venues. So in an era where we can digitally replicate reverb across thousands of different room designs with the click of a button, it’s heartwarming to hear artists continue to employ this centuries-old technique.

Among those with technical respect for their sonic surroundings? Los Angeles pianist-composer Christina Galisatus. Galisatus spent her adolescence internationally touring with a symphony orchestra playing French horn, but by the time she started college, she’d fully returned to her childhood love of the ivories. Stanford degree now on the mantle, Christina Galisatus is eager to share her own variety of evocative, jazz-folk vibrations.

This Friday Christina Galisatus gifts us her debut full-length Without Night, an amazing encapsulation of chamber-adjacent live concert magic. At sixteen tunes (a baker’s dozen of originals plus two interludes and a reprise), each harmonic reflection is a remarkable moment of nuance, only made possible through an interaction between Galisatus, her backing sextet, and their acoustic environment. Without Night also marks Galisatus’ first foray into formally writing lyrics, an experience that lends itself to the LP’s sense of rumination and resonance. But before Without Night hits wax this weekend, Christina’s lit a wick that illuminates the album’s dulcet discipline and dynamic range. The ensemble’s synchronicity both with each other and their shared space glows throughout “Candlelight”, like a torch-in-sconce that taper off the walls, floor, and ceiling into an almost amorphous luminescence.

WhooKilledKenny: “Teach Her the Game”

Our Saturday night specialty program The Breaks does a great job of highlighting hip-hop from the heart of Texas. But with an increasing number of émigrés ditching the Lone Star State for greener pastures out West and elsewhere, The Breaks simply can’t catch everything. Because of that, today we’re spinnin’ some new stuff from native Austinite WhooKilledKenny, who currently calls Los Angeles home.

As a die-hard South Park fanatic, it’s hard not to react, “you know…they; they’re…they’re bastards…” when you see that handle. So when you hear the militant discipline within this mid-twenties vocalist (and learn that his namesake actually stems from a potential lawsuit on behalf of Kenny G), you can tell WKK’s flow is no joke. Following up his 2021 debut No Refunds, WhooKilledKenny coasted in halfway through October with his sophomore five-track Strictly Business. Sonically it’s a far cry from EPMD’s ’88 debut, but its consistent themes and production style provide for a similar, seminal experience.

Hot off Strictly Business, WhooKilledKenny has been popping up on Spotify advertisements around Austin, almost as a sort of homecoming. If you want to show some love for a fellow Austin native (wherever you may be), toss a like onto one of Strictly Business‘ centerpieces (and music videos), the R&B-rap winner “Teach Her the Game”!

Max Fite: “Night Owl”

Beginning with his 2016 debut LP Shake It on Down, Los Angeles singer-guitarist Max Fite has been magnifying in on a mighty fine line of hard rock. This magnum force has already toured alongside legends likes of Puddle of Mudd, Johnny Thunders, Social Distortion’s Mike Ness, Blondie’s Clem Burke, and oh yeah, even Sex Pistols’ Glen Matlock. Fite’s singles just seem to keep getting meatier and meatier, fitting for an artist whose upcoming LP is entitled Night Owl. This nocturnal beast features Queens of the Stone Age drummer Joe Castillo and Eagles of Death Metal bassist Dave Catching, making for the meanest parliament of owls you’ve ever heard. So keep your ears peeled for Night Owl in the near future, and open up the throttle like a blazing red ’65 Skylark tearing ass across the desert on the record’s title track, whose magnifique music video just touched down below.

Rogê: “Pra Vida”

I’ve been taking Portuguese on Duolingo for the past year and am this close to earning my Legendary Purple Owl. So naturally I’ve been trying to show off that comprehension as much as possible. But with the exception of Michael Crockett’s Horizontes every Sunday from 7-9PM, we simply don’t have a ton of Brazilian music coming through the Austin Music Experience. That said, there’s a Carioca who recently made his way into the continental United States that could soon become a new personal favorite.

I’m talking about Rio de Janeiro’s Roger José Cury, better known by his stage name Rogê. Rogê spent years immersed in Rio’s nightlife refining his idiosyncratic style of Brazilian Soul and Samba Funk. That hard work soon heaved Rogê into a household name, thanks to a co-writing credit for Brazil’s 2016 Olympic Games theme music. In 2020 Rogê hit the road with fellow Carioca Seu Jorge for a U.S. tour, which ultimately got cut short due to COVID. But now that’s Rogê calls Los Angeles home, he’s begun what may be his biggest chapter yet.

Rogê’s debut American release (semi-eponymously titled Curyman) was created in deep collaboration with Budos Band guitarist/Menahan Street Band founder Thomas Brenneck, who’s lent his talents to Mark Ronson, Jay-Z, Beyoncé, and the late legends Amy Winehouse, Charles Bradley, and Sharon Jones. According to o anúncio from esta manhã, Curyman comes out February 2nd, and Rogê has two gigs with Gipsy Kings next weekend in L.A.. But with summer in full swing, Rogê’s gone ahead and handed us Curyman‘s lead single, “Pra Vida”. Perfeito na praia or just in a mid-week mental resort, “Pra Vida” channels Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 with sandy acoustic guitar and breezy group vocals for an experience that’ll have you reinvesting in the magic of life, language barriers be damned.

Jimetta Rose & The Voices of Creation: “Let The Sunshine In”

To all the Texans, Happy Belated Juneteenth! Even if you’re out of the state, we hope you got to unwind, enjoy some much-needed shade, and maybe even connect better with your local community over the weekend. When it comes to that last bit, there aren’t a whole lot of creatives that’ve gotten tight with their community quite like Los Angeles producer-arranger-singer-songwriter Jimetta Rose. Rose put out an open call for community choir members on social media and whittled down the prospects based more on their passion for growth and healing rather than sole musical ability. The result is a fervent and diverse nine-piece, The Voices of Creation. With a constituency that includes Sly Stone’s daughter (alto Novena Carmel), Jimetta Rose & The Voices of Creation quickly invites comparisons to progressive gospel, jazz, and soul groups of the ’60s and ’70s, but thanks to Rose’s visionary instincts, The Voices of Creation caters comfortably to contemporary listeners. Last Tuesday, Jimetta Rose & The Voices of Creation announced their debut album, How Good It Is, for release on August 12th. Produced by Beastie Boys/Seu Jorge cohort Mario Caldato Jr. and recorded in an East Pasadena church, How Good It Is offers six uplifting tracks of “new Black classical music” as means of formally introducing The Voices of Creation. The original gospel numbers are impeccably inspiring, but the two Sons and Daughters of Lite re-works (like “Let The Sunshine In”) really earmark the ingenuity of this deep and divine debut record.

NOT THE MAIN CHARACTERS: “bad things”

Hyperpop…despite its glittery surface-level sound, it’s decidedly not just a genre for teenage girls. But let’s be honest, it’s primarily produced for and consumed by women of younger generations, so you need to cater directly to that audience. Enter NOT THE MAIN CHARACTERS, an L.A. “girl group” that’s really not all that different from The Supremes or The Go-Gos; they write about peer pressure, insecurity, bad friends and even worse guys but it’s only the dramatic, digital-age pop sonics that separate NTMC from their analog predecessors. When you take this trio’s confidence and candor into account, it’s hard not to mistake them for pop protagonists. Their debut EP, bad things come in 3’s, leans into that superpowered mythos with sub-rattling bangers and party anthems for a new generation. NTMC dropped bad things come in 3’s last Friday, so make like Professor Utonium and witness the birth of an awesomely empowered triad with the album opener and title track, “bad things”!

BETWEEN FRIENDS: “laurel”

At the risk of sounding pessimistic, it’s not that often that siblings maintain the closeness of their childhood. But there are obviously exceptions, be they Peyton and Eli Manning, Finneas O’Connell and Billie Eilish, or L.A.’s Brandon and Savannah Hudson. The Hudsons have stayed faithful to their commitment of being best buds, a pact made easier by their creative chemistry. They’ve dubbed their partnership BETWEEN FRIENDS, and have already begun conquering endeavors in fashion, set design, abstract visuals, and of course, songwriting. BETWEEN FRIENDS’ preferences are decidedly within the realm of modern pop, but the duo’s youthful curiosity has led to experimentation with psychedelia, ’90s alt-R&B, and even mid-century easy listening. Having only recently entered their early twenties, BETWEEN FRIENDS is eager to catapult their music career and present all those amalgamated styles on their debut EP, cutie. cutie delivers nine vibrant pop tracks that your headphones won’t want to stop hugging. cutie also comes alongside its own set of MTV/Nickelodeon-inspired visuals, Cutie TV, which drops on June 10th, just two days after BETWEEN FRIENDS opens for Halsey on her Love And Power tour. cutie‘s latest single ,”laurel” pays tribute to the Hudsons’ teenage home Laurel Canyon (also an iconic 1970s music hub) with hypnotic vocal effects, jazzy synth chords, and head-bobbing digital percussion.

Traetwothree: “Stuck In My Ways” (feat. Blueface)

Everyone’s referencing “four twenty” on this Wednesday, but if you’re sick of all the pot talk, you may want to shift your focus to another set of symbolic numbers: 323. That’s the area code for South Central, Los Angeles, which is the handle inspiration and home base for rising R&B star Traetwothree. And as opposed to the 40 oz-guzzling, blunt-passing braggadocio of ’90s West Coast hip-hop, Traetwothree tries to recreate the nighttime aesthetic of South Central – somewhere between sensual, introspective, and vulnerable. His half-rapped/half-sung style is plenty confident without being egregiously arrogant, and his use of auto-tune is more of a stylistic choice rather than a pitch-correcting necessity.

So far we’ve only had singles from Traetwothree, going back to 2019’s “Natural” but next Friday he’ll be releasing his debut mixtape, Out The District. At just shy of a dozen tracks, Out The District ushers in a new era of urban R&B for the 2020s, with crystal clear production, jazz-inspired chord progressions, and Traetwothree’s liquid vocals. Each track packs an infectious groove and relatable imagery, most notably on “Stuck In My Ways”, where Traetwothree’s in-the-pocket singing is balanced out by bars from fellow Los Angeleno Blueface.

The Whitmore Sisters: “Superficial World of Love”

At just past the halfway mark forLove Austin Music Month we should recognize that not every Austinite stayed in town for their latest releases. Case in point: Austin’s Bonnie Whitmore, who after a string of successful solo albums, joined her older sibling Eleanor in Los Angeles to realize their folk project The Whitmore Sisters. And after years apart, their shared sororal energy and equal-but-opposite worldly experiences have swirled together beautifully for the pair’s debut LP Ghost Stories. Ghost Stories is out this Friday and The Whitmore Sisters hit the road for a supporting international tour at the end of the month, though they’ve already globe-trotted plenty in the emotional landscape from the sounds of “Superficial World of Love”!

Stephan Moccio: “Winter Waltz (The Music Box Version)”

Here we are at the final Song of the Day for 2021 and with just one week away until Christmas Eve, this one’s an extra sentimental seasonal pick. It comes from the mind of L.A.’s Stephan Moccio, who, outside of a successful solo career has some seriously impressive co-writing credits: “Wrecking Ball” from Miley Cyrus, the title track from Celine Dion’s A New Day Has Come, and The Weeknd’s “Earned It (Fifty Shades of Gray)”, on which he also played the pivotal piano parts. This Ontario-born Grammy-and-Oscar-nominee’s had a pretty busy year, releasing his serials Vol. 4 through Vol. 6 (all compiled together on THE ARCHIVES) alongside a breathtaking full-length, Lionheart. But with an almost unquenchable sense of ambition, Moccio’s managed to squeeze out just one more masterpiece in 2021. Less a remix and more a spiritual companion to one of his originals off last year’s Winter Poems, “Winter Waltz (The Music Box Version)” will warm you with its incandescent chords and whisk you away from any Christmastime anxiety. Song of the Day returns Monday, January 3rd.

EXES with Luke Wild: “Girl of My Dreams”

One of the trickiest parts of pop songwriting is conveying emotion in a genuine way that’s both catchy and accessible. But for L.A. duo EXES – vocalist Allie McDonald and producer Mike Derenzo – that’s their bread and butter. Thesekindred collaborators have been creeping up into the indie pop scene since 2019 and coming off the alternative sounds heard on their EP Nothing Ever Ends, EXES is eager to explore more elements of rock on their upcoming full-length, Don’t Give Up On Me Now. Don’t Give Up On Me Now is due out February 4th, 2022, right around the same time EXES hits the road for a quick national tour. The LP’s announcement coincided with the release of its debut single (and charmingly cinematic music video) last Friday, one that’s co-written by featured singer Luke Wild but is far from a traditional love song in spite of its title, “Girl of My Dreams”.

Sydney Ranée: “One Night Only”

L.A. native Sydney Ranée first started putting her pipes to work when she turned double digits, got a Bachelor’s in Music from Cornish, and now has fans across the globe. On top of being a virtuoso vocalist, some of Ranée’s more recent endeavors have included exploring the endless world of music production and dipping her toes into the fashion realm with her own custom wardrobe.

Last Friday Sydney Ranée shared another new cut off her upcoming album, a mesmerizing R&B-jazz-pop accomplishment that gives the likes of Lizzo a run for their money, “One Night Only”!

Petticoat: “Get Loose!”

At a junction of ’80s-style synth-work, millennium-era R&B, and modern electronic experimentation, L.A. producer David Halsey, better known to the world as Petticoat,  is inching closer and closer to a truly timeless sound. Which is impressive to say the least, considering he’s only in his mid-20s, but that youth has allowed Halsey to overlook some of the restraining factors of retro new wave formulas and instead extrapolate the genre’s finest nuances and appropriate them into poppy, dance floor-ready club bangers.

This morning Petticoat revealed the roadmap for his new EP, Tumbleweed, an announcement that coincided with the record’s jaw-dropping lead single and flamingo-friendly music video, “Get Loose!“, which both feature that all-too-classic Led Zeppelin “When The Levee Breaks” drum sample and are sure to help you unwind into the weekend.

Mia Doi Todd: “If I Don’t Have You”

Dating back to 1997’s The Ewe and the Eye, L.A. songwriter Mia Doi Todd has permeated an evolving world of parallels; a personality that’s sensuous but stern, curt but existential, and packing a philosophy based on her experiences that still manages universal appropriateness.

Mia Doi Todd’s been challenging the bards of antiquity with her own modern mythologies ever since, and expanded on her jazz-folk sound last week with Music Life. Pairing originals with covers of classics, Music Life breathes effortlessly with Mia Doi Todd’s airy aesthetic, especially on her acoustic rendition of Gregory Isaacs’ “If I Don’t Have You”!

Chris Pierce: “It’s Been Burning for a While”

L.A. multi-instrumentalist Chris Pierce began losing his hearing at the formative age of fifteen. But instead of hindering his progress, Pierce let it push him to new levels of awareness and musicianship. Fast forward to 2021, where Pierce’s performance passport has grown to include supporting spots for the likes of Aaron Neville, B.B. King, Seal, Al Green, Blind Boys of Alabama and more.

The latest expansion on Pierce’s folksy brand of acoustic soul came with last Friday’s American Silence LP, ten tracks of poignant political observations and reactions drawn together by Pierce’s guitar, harmonica, and vocals. It’s a powerful full-length to say the least, and has all the elements of prime-era Bob Dylan and Richie Havens, especially on “It’s Been Burning for a While”!