Ethan Azarian: “Hawaii”

Us Austinites love to brag about living in the “Live Music Capital of the World”. But that moniker’s not just a matter of venue multiplicity; no, there’s something about our city limits that not only creates a gravitational pull, but also dips newcomers right into a fast-acting melting pot.Case in point? Ethan Azarian, a Vermont-raised singer-songwriter-painter who moved down here in the late ’80s shortly before founding a quickly-beloved local institution, The Orange Mothers. Well, outside of the Mothers, Azarian’s also an accomplished solo folk/pop artist, and on top of raising Blue Cow Studios from the ground up and more recently spearheading the Songwriter’s Happy Hour at Hole in the Wall, two decades after the release of his solo introduction Captain of the Town, Ethan’s still going strong.As a matter of fact, just in time for this big freeze, Ethan Azarian’s offering up a much-welcomed change of scenery with his latest full-length Hawaii. Featuring not just the album artwork of Ethan’s son Francis but some really tasteful piano and organ as well, Hawaii is a gorgeous, sans-percussion folk family affair. And you can see the father-son chemistry live at a free show 7PM this Saturday at the Cactus Cafe with fellow Hawaii contributors Lindsey Verrill, Jeff Johnston, and special guest Amy Annelle. By then we’ll have warmed up just enough to want to get out, thanks in no small part to Hawaii‘s title track. Despite its beautifully-barren, wintry arrangement, the lyrics that carry “Hawaii” paint a transportive tropical portrait of volcanos, green waters, and enveloping island voices.

Daily Worker: “Irish Goodbye”

Austin area indie-rock/guitar-pop connoisseurs ought to be well acquainted with the legendary experimental outfit Cotton Mather. The core members of Cotton Mather have kept each other company for a little over two decades, albeit non-consecutive ones. And yet you might still be unfamiliar with Cotton Mather co-founder Harold Whit Williams’ solo endeavor, Daily Worker.

To call this prize-winning author-poet-guitarist prolific is putting it mildly; in less than half a decade Daily Worker has put out more than a dozen full-lengths, including the Shelter In Tapes lo-fi four-track series. Each new addition is an absolute jackpot of jangle pop chock-full of moving ruminations, a trend set to continue with Autofiction.

Autofiction drops February 3rd, but Daily Worker’s already released the LP’s first two tracks as a 45, with a full band release show 6:30pm this Friday at Love Wheel Records. Visually, its A-Side (which doubles as Autofiction‘s album opener) brings a bit of ’60s psychedelia to the cemetery. And despite its title, “Irish Goodbye” gushes Eastern energy with sitar-inspired lead guitar riffs that’d have George Harrison sticking around for more.

Hovvdy: “True Love”

For five years the Austin scene has been treated to an infectious chemistry between Charlie Martin and Will Taylor, better known as Hovvdy. Pronounced like the ubiquitous southern greeting, these Studio 1A and My KUTX veterans continue to cruise in a more mature direction than their super lo-fi salad days, but retain the pop-rock charm that won us over with 2016’s Taster.

Today Hovvdy greets us for the first time out of quarantine with news of a twelve-track LP, True Love, out this Fall. True Love drops October 1st and you can get the first glimpses with the album’s just-released title track and music video!

fruit collective: “walk”

Though the restrictions of COVID-19 are cautiously lifting, certain social distancing implementations have proved fruitful for some. For example, before everyone got used to living behind their laptop and collaborating remotely, it wouldn’t have been all that easy to put together a trio whose members live in different metropolitan cities, but that’s exactly what happened with fruit collective.

The Chicago-Austin-Boston three-piece bears seeds of indie, pop, and R&B for their lo-fi harvest, transplanting the berries of the late Mac Miller and contemporary KUTX favorites like Clairo and Anderson .Paak into fruit collective’s fresh sound. We all know Friday is market day, so stock up on fruit collective for the weekend with the group’s gorgeous debut single, “walk”!

Scott Ballew: “Talking to Mountains”

As is the case with many creatives, sometimes you just wanna cross the wires and try something out of your comfort zone. That’s how things went for native Austinite Scott Ballew, who, after directing a documentary on Texas legend Terry Allen amidst a lengthy SoCal-based filmmaking stint, hunkered down in a house in Lockhart to record his debut LP of acoustic originals.

Talking to Mountains captures the charm of solitude with its cinematic lo-fi and emphasis on conversation with Texas nature, best seen in the album opener’s music video and heard most-explicitly on the record’s title track, “Talking to Mountains”!

Tele Novella: “Never” [Social Distancing Pop-Up]

The lo-fi psych scene has only been on the up-and-up as time goes by, but when it comes to Austin, nobody does it better than Tele Novella. The retro-Western-pop leather of this duo (and our September 2016 Artist of the Month) has always been a treat, and just last month they shared their first release in six years – the ten-track LP Merlyn Belle.

There’s a trickling of tranquility throughout the record but as is the case with many studio albums, its intimacy pales in comparison to a close-knit live performance. Thankfully for all us Tele Novella mega-fans, Jason and Natalie allowed the KUTX Multimedia Team to stop by their house in Lockhart for a two-song set, including one of Merlyn Belle’s very best, “Never”!