Rival Waves: “Time’s Up”

When you’re in the high seas, you’re at the mercy of rogue waves. When you’re in Texas during the summertime, you’re at the mercy of heatwaves. But if you’d prefer to get thrashed around and work up a sweat without ever facing the sun or leaving port, here in Austin we’ve got Rival Waves.

Starting with their 2018 debut full-length Transducer, this quintet’s ebbed and flowed through all kinds of rocky channels, ranging from alternative and indie to grunge and punk. Sure, the tides of mainstream music have shifted, and we’re at least a couple decades removed from most of those genres’ commercial heydays, but that hasn’t stopped Rival Waves from making a big splash in the local scene and beyond; just check out their respectable streaming numbers between last August’s A Meaningless Chaos and late April’s NAMI EP alone.

Well, ahead of a single release show 8PM next Friday, June 21st at The Courtyard ATX, Rival Waves has a foreboding message to any remaining naysayers: “Time’s Up”. Like the training montage soundtrack that escalates to a final climactic battle, Rival Waves crash against high octane punk and melodic alternative with an almost operatic song structure and chord sequence on “Time’s Up”. But in terms of Rival Waves’ still-cresting career? They’re not stopping the clock any time soon.

Big Bill: “Emotions”

If you’ve kept posted on Austin quartet Big Bill, you know they’re in somewhat of a post-pivot position. Yeah, after years of establishing their space in the oddball-deadpan-art-punk sector, Big Bill pulled off a risky switch to more of a ’90s-style indie rock sound with their Summer 2022 full-length Public Freakout Compilation. And while we’d never go so far as to call our bbs in B.B. “inoffensive”, the exploration of indie does add a sense of mass accessibility to Big Bill’s idiosyncratic, off-kilter aural antics and intoxicating melodies.

So given their ongoing path in that same direction, we’re already drooling over Big Bill’s upcoming third LP Strawberry Seed. See, in carving out a more “mature” niche in indie rock, Strawberry Seed actually seeks to emulate the childhood nostalgia of a kindergarten art project – less the acceptance of anxiety in adulthood and more the abstract incipience of early, blissfully unaware expression. In that pursuit of fuzzy warmth, Big Bill’s included backup singers, acoustic guitar, synthesizers, and piano to their traditionally straightforward punk arrangements.

We won’t be able to harvest the fruits of Strawberry Seed until it hits streaming June 14th, the same day Big Bill plays a free in-store performance 5PM at Waterloo Records. But if you want to get an early taste, Big Bill’s set to share some samples 9PM tonight at The Mohawk as part of a big bill that also includes Tied Up and Gustaf. And if you want to blow your mind with how much Big Bill’s sound has evolved, fire up “Emotions” – which is decidedly less like Suicide and more akin to The Black Keys trying to out-weird The Minutemen. It’ll leave you feeling a way for sure.

Broken Gold: “Bad Days” (feat. Alejandro Escovedo)

Punk is a young person’s game, no doubt. Because while the counterculture spirit, tattoos, and tinnitus stay ’til death, even punk rock pioneers eventually mellow out towards “refined tastes” once they get comfortable on the other side of the hill.

Case in point: Ian MacDougall of The Riverboat Gamblers fame, who first broadened his genre horizons with Broken Gold alongside fellow Gambler Patrick Lillard over a decade and a half back. The offshoot’s initial indie punk prospects shined on their 2011 debut LP Recovery Journal, and have only departed further from the signature RG sound since, most notably on last March’s Live at Paint by Numbers. Well after waiting long enough, Broken Gold’s finally giving us another full-length entry into their studio discography.

Wild Eyes (out May 3rd) strikes gold with mixing from Modest Mouse/White Stripes engineer Stuart Sikes and mastering from twenty-one-time Grammy winner Howie Weinberg, not to mention one hell of a guest appearance. We’re talking about “Bad Days“, a look back to when Riverboat Gamblers were operating full tilt on tour, almost like a generations-later continuation of Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Sedated”. It dropped last Friday and features vocals from KUTX favorite Alejandro Escovedo, who could certainly lean on his formative days with The Nuns for similar inspiration. So as Broken Gold shifts the fuzz pedal into overdrive for SXSW, catch ’em 10:15PM tomorrow night at Valhalla for the Chicken Ranch Records Party and 5:45PM on Sunday at Empire Control Room for Smartpunk House. They’ll both be good nights for sure.

Scott H. Biram: “No Man’s Land”

Once you hit your third or fourth full-length, you’re established. By album seven or eight you’re a heavyweight. But when your discography reaches its teens, the list of contemporaries to compare to starts running thin…and that’s the position Scott H. Biram is about to enter.

With a catalogue reaching back to the turn of the millennium, this Austin singer-guitarist has officially been in the game for a quarter century, and two decades removed from a pivotal brush with death. Biram’s is the type of music that could really only stem from Texas, with a gratuitous amount of southern grit ingrained in his exploration of blues, punk rock, and beyond. And his streaming numbers are certainly nothing to scoff at.

Recently, rockin’ the Fu Manchu mustache, gold tooth, and all, Scott’s gotten caught up in recapturing the lo-fi charm of his earlier installations, a wager he’ll make good on with his thirteenth full-length The One & Only Scott H. Biram, out March 29th. Based on the record’s first three singles (including this morning’s No Man’s Land) we definitely feel greeted back to that grizzled territory like a musty junkyard mutt crawling back inside a rusty jalopy frame. The shitkickers will love it, but that doesn’t neglect the uncouth sophistication of these new, idiosyncratic compositions. Rock on, Scott. Rock on.

Coral samples in Galveston could be key to keeping the species alive

On the eve of early voting, Alexandra Samuels of Texas Monthly and Mark Jones of the Baker Institute at Rice University share a closer look at some of the big contests Texas voters will see on their primary ballots.

We’ll hear about what happened when reporters for the Houston Chronicle began mapping where tickets are being issued to people experiencing homelessness there.

Amid mounting threats from climate change, scientists at Moody Gardens in Galveston are caring for 150 coral fragments from five species to keep them alive.

Anyone up for barbecue – for breakfast? BBQ journalist Daniel Vaughn has some prime tips.

Frogmouth: “Not Listening”

Especially in their respective genre’s salad days, too many garage rockers and punks alike have inadvertently honored the unofficial “live fast die young” creed. But in recent times, some of the elder statesmen seem to only be having more fun as they’ve matured. And we’re not just talking about Iggy Pop. No, for the sake of this argument, and without trying to come off as ageist, let’s look at those who were young punks themselves back in the ’80s.

Folks like the four veteran rockers behind Frogmouth. They may be well-seasoned players of the local scene and beyond, but Frogmouth itself as an institution is hardly out of the tadpole phase. That hasn’t stopped these rowdy polliwogs from padding out a middle ground between classic acts like Velvet Underground and The Replacements and fresher threads to Rancid and The Strokes, all for an amphibious ecosystem of grungy, power-alt-garage-indie-punk rock that never takes itself too seriously.

Frogmouth’s spent much of 2023 ribbiting singles out onto streaming, all ahead of their debut EP Humor Me, which finally drops this weekend. The quartet headlines an all-ages release show Saturday night at The Mohawk starting 8PM with openers Space Cushion, Dropped Out, and Ne’er-Do-Well. So if you’re feelin’ froggy, hop on out there. If you’re more of a home toad, you can at least defy titles by cranking “Not Listening” up to 11, because this near-four-minute dynamic leap across retro power temperaments will activate your inner angsty teen in the best, catchiest way possible.

Nuclear Tourism: “Dad Brains”

So hot right now! …poolside music videos that is. But also, yeah…patrolling the U.S. south this time of year almost makes you wish for a nuclear winter. So with mutually assured destruction still a bit too close for comfort, nuclear tourism seems like the next best thing. Yet we’re not predicting a windfall of Trinity testsite visitors post-Oppenheimer. No, we’re actually talking about Athens, Georgia garage punk rock quartet Nuclear Tourism. These dastardly slackers got started a half decade back with their debut album Scraping By and ever since, when they’re not getting stoned as a bone, bombing hills, or slurping up greasy slices, the four-piece is going full-power in their practice space, shredding through raw reflections of dissent and affection. And as Nuclear Tourism basks in the fallout of their eponymous sophomore record that dropped in February, they also cool off in a newly-issued music video for “Dad Brains”. Bridging timeless embodiments of angst and contextualizing The Graduate for the next generation of unmotivated miscreants, Nuclear Tourism channels Dustin Hoffman’s iconic despondency in the only way they know how; by slappin’ the “plastics” out of those patronizing paternal synapses and instead bonding over Marlboros, beers, and cannonballs. Making apathy look as flashy as it does nasty, “Dad Brains” begs for a drink-a-long lobotomy…just wait ’til you get home from work before diving in and putting ’em down.

CIVIC: “Born in the Heat”

We’ve gotten drenched by several “South By Soaking Wet”s in the past, but rest assured, despite gloomy weather, there’s a lot going on. And any precipitation aside, CIVIC sure as hell is in that mix. Founded in 2017, this Melbourne quintet has continued to follow old school punk rock’s first rules: 1) Don’t overthink it, 2) just have fun, and 3) play what gets the people going. And while we suspect CIVIC’s circle pits are a prime place to get bloody and bruised, the band’s pandemic-era full-lengths have found the five-piece broadening their scope to more inclusive, higher-fidelity, and controllable elements of rock, albeit all high-octane.

That said CIVIC‘s already begun bringing the low-light grit of the “Aussie music experience” to our city limits. They wrapped up the first quarter of a dozen shows yesterday afternoon at Hole in the Wall and just hopped off stage at Mohawk for Flood-Fest a few minutes ago. They’ll be back at Hotel Vegas today at 2PM for Levitation Party before a 5PM set at South By San Jose. Tomorrow’s options are 12:15PM at Chess Club, 2:15PM at Australia House/Lucille Patio, and 5PM in the Waterloo Records parking lot. CIVIC’s final Hotel Vegas appearance is Saturday at 2PM, before Do512’s “The Big One” 6PM at Far Out Lounge and 11PM at Valhalla.

With that many gigs (both official and unofficial) at that many venues, you won’t need to be Taken By Force to see CIVIC in person. So why not brave the elements to throw elbows with some of Australia’s finest? Because as much as us Texans like to poke fun at those who complain about the sun, these Melbourne badasses were “Born in the Heat”. Catch the fire while it’s close by…

Trunk: “Chili’s 45th and Lamar”

Depending on the general reception of a sitting administration, President’s Day often presents the creative community with opportunities to shed some sociopolitical discourse. Today, that’s not quite the case. Instead we’re yielding the podium to a group whose last two albums were Trunk’s America and north american practice space. Yes, we’re talking about Trunk.

Look at their song titles or listen to their lyrics and you can tell right away that these five fellas are mainly just goofin’ around. But following Austin’s rich history of sarcastic hardcore punk acts like The Dicks, Big Boys and MDC, Trunk is actually really fun to listen to and honesty incredible live. Given, they only made their first public live performance last Fall at Infinite Hellscape Fest, but that set showed how much Trunk’s sound has matured since their 2017 debut GONE AREA. And although the lyrics and subject matter are about the same level of juvenility (unsurprising considering how old some of these songs are), we’re certainly not complaining about Trunk’s laissez-faire approach to songwriting, which channels the care-free eclecticism of Meat Puppets or The Minutemen.

On that note, today Trunk unfurled their latest studio offering, Buzzkill. Buzzkill is easily Trunk’s best record yet, both in terms of content and sonic fidelity. This cabinet of crazies is best enjoyed uninterrupted front-to-back, so we’ll get you started with Buzzkill‘s album opener that pays tribute to the Commander in Chief of chain restaurants, “Chili’s 45th and Lamar”.

The Blowies: “Bye Bye Polar Bears”

Longtime morning listeners can attest that the late great John Aielli was incredibly keen on his almanac commemorations, especially Halloween and Valentine’s Day. But the class act John was, he always kept it kosher on the actual calendar day, saving the delightful disdain of his Anti-Valentine’s playlist for February 15th. So in the time since he left us, it’s not surprising that former producers of John’s (including myself and my colleague Taylor) and other “Aeillians” like to jump the gun and get a little smarmy on Hallmark’s favorite holiday.

In that scornful spirit, For Spite presents “Singles Only” 6PM tonight at The Far Out Lounge, hosted by KUTX’s own Taylor Wallace. For just $10 you’ll get a lot more than a bouquet or a box of chocolate – four sets of hand-picked Austin acts back-to-back, each packed with a brand new offering. The evening kicks off with a Kiki Machine music video premiere and continues with three kick-ass single releases from Die Mart, Exotic Fruits, and today’s feature, The Blowies.

Comprised of Sharks in the Deep End ex-pats Tucker Jameson and Samuel Thompson, this hardcore duo dropped their uncouth debut The Blowies back in 2020. Their already-cynical take on societal commentary has flourished from their of-kilter confidence at start of the pandemic era into the breakneck tongue-in-cheek typhoon we now know as The Blowies. A new gale of high-octane punk touches down later this year on an as-of-yet-untitled sophomore full-length, one that brought The Blowies back to Public Hi-Fi Studio, this time with producer-engineer-extraordinaire Max Lorenzen. And when The Blowies hit the stage at 8PM tonight, join them in chanting an irreverent anthem that almost seems to celebrate the pessimism surrounding climate change by bidding farewell to our arctic ursine neighbors, “Bye Bye Polar Bears”!

Rad Gnar: “Buddha”

When you name your band after two monosyllabic slang words, you know it’s gonna be good. Case in point: Rad Gnar, whose members overlap with those of Basketball Shorts, Big Bill, and Breaklights with more than a decade of live show experience. Rad Gnar reels in the space between indie and punk and keeps their brand of rock as high octane as possible with every given opportunity. Rad Gnar’s style of music is best enjoyed in a live setting, where electricity reciprocates onstage and into the crowd. Fortunately for us, Rad Gnar’s got a couple of non-South By South West gigs over the coming days. You won’t need a badge or wristband to see them this Sunday at Volstead Lounge nor next Thursday at Hole in the Wall, where they’ll be tearing into their new EP Dead Strings. At three tracks totaling just over ten minutes, Dead Strings is a well-packaged quick listen, perfect for your lunch break, commute, or just whenever you need to spaz out to some lively rock. So find your own personal favorite from this concise collection, but Song of the Day recommends the shortest, sweetest, and arguably most salivating song, “Buddha”!

Pleasure Venom: “Severed Ties”

As the nation marks one year since a high-profile socio-political event,Love Austin Music Month continues with theAustin Music Foundation’s Artist Development Program and one of our city’s most politically outspoken punk bands Pleasure Venom. Fronted by fierce vocalist and unapologetic lyricist Audrey Campbell, Pleasure Venom’s been seeping its way into all the sub-genres of punk rock since their 2016 debut EP Hunt, and landed the group a supporting spot on tour with ’90s rock icons Garbage.

Unfortunately Pleasure Venom’s had to pull their free week shows due to COVID-19, but with an abundance of societal fodder at her disposal, Campbell sure as hell hasn’t stopped writing. ATX Gen Next: Adventures in Person features two new singles from Pleasure Venom(including the pace-shifting”Severed Ties”) that’ll assure you of their dynamic durability and take-no-guff discourse more than a half decade since their start.

OKAMOTOS: “Band Music”

When a group’s been dubbed the Japanese analogue to golden-era Red Hot Chili Peppers, expectations are pretty high. And yet Tokyo-based four-piece OKAMOTO’s manages to live up to that hype and well beyond with a raucous, irreverent brand of punk-funk-rock that gives Freaky Styley a run for its money.

In the same vein as the Ramones, the members of this audacious quartet have adopted each other as informal family members, with a bond that’s gone above and beyond into their ninth LP, KNO WHEREKNO WHERE is an epic, seventeen-song experience best enjoyed in its entirety, but if you can’t clock out to rock out quite yet, you can still hop aboard OKAMOTO’s locomotive energy with “Band Music”!

The Consequentialists: “Puzzle”

When it comes to philosophy in punk music, raw always wins the luck of the draw. Take, for example, Austin outfit The Consequentialists, who knocked out the pre-production for their debut EP under the primitive restrictions of an iPhone’s built in microphone and the entry-level limits of Garage Band, over-dubbing only what they needed to pack a punch after the fact.

The resulting self-titled record is an unfettered offering of aggressive energy, putting The Consequentialists high up on our list of artists we can’t wait to see live. And with The Consequentialists finishing at a compact fifteen minutes, you definitely have the time to pilfer through its five tracks, starting with the album opener, “Puzzle”!

Texas Standard: October 22, 2020

Across the Lone Star State, Texans expected to be tuning in tonight for political fireworks show, but what about policies? We’ll set the stage for a final debate. Plus, Texans looking for unemployment benefits will soon have to once again prove they’re looking for work, but what constitutes a work search in the eyes of Texas officials? We’ll take a closer look. And in Collin county, it’s the academy versus free speech as a professors’ tweet roils a college campus. And a freeze frame on a music scene almost forgotten from 40 years back. Plus, fake news for real? A warning about a rising force in local news that has experts advising don’t believe everything you read. Those stories and so much more today on the Texas Standard:

Armadillo Bonus: Punk Rock and New Wave

Join KUTX as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the historic Armadillo World Headquarters, the music venue that helped put Austin on the musical map. In this bonus episode, hear how the Armadillo became the unlikely home for punk rock and new wave in Austin: Joe Ely blows away the Clash. The Ramones put their bodies on the line. The Runaways inspire an Austin musician to form one of the most popular bands of all time. Hardcore punk gets a Texas flavor. And the Armadillo crowd won’t let the Police leave until they play their entire set–again.

Texas Standard: February 20, 2018

86 cents of every dollar donated to state-level campaigns in Texas went to Republicans. We’ll do the numbers. And it’s here: early voting is underway for the Texas primaries. We’ll explore the rules behind where you can cast a ballot and why. And a city on the Texas coast is making plans to become the first new cruise ship port-of-call in about half a century. We’ll talk with the mayor leading the effort. Plus, a big U-S company is changing the way they do healthcare and it’s turning some heads. It may surprise you which company it is. And we’ll also hear from the filmmakers behind a new movie about an event that thrust one Texas city into the national spotlight a few decades ago. Those stories and a whole lot more today on the Texas Standard:

V&B: A Band Called Death

Before Bad Brains, the Sex Pistols and the Ramones, there was Death. Formed in 1971 by three teenage brothers in Detroit, Michigan, the African-American group is widely acknowledged as being one of the first punk bands. After years of struggling with canceled contracts, increasing debts, inner family tragedy, and a controversial name that barred them from future success, Death sold off their instruments and disbanded; their recordings lying dormant in an attic for decades.

After years of silence, Death’s moment finally arrived following unexpected demand from rabid internet fans and record collectors, which ushered renowned appreciation and a swarm of national media attention that has now secured their place in the annals of rock history. A captivating documentary in the vein of Searching For Sugar Man, A Band Called Death is equal parts electrifying rockumentary and epic family chronicle.
Listen back as KUT’s Rebecca McInroy hosts the musicians from the band, for an evening of vibrant conversation and great live music with Death!