rock

Tommy Taylor: “Ghost Town”

Here in Austin, we like to make a big fuss over our Central Texas music icons, erecting statues and renaming streets in their honor. So while the respective likeness and namesake of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Willie Nelson have become local landmarks, in reality, our city limits have several legends just hiding in plain sight.

Like Tommy Taylor, whose deft drumming on Christopher Cross’ ’79 debut undeniably helped make it the timeless classic it is today. But that’s just scratching the surface; on top of a longtime spot in Eric Johnson’s band, Taylor’s played with the likes of SRV, Charlie Sexton, Jerry Jeff Walker, Shawn Colvin, Ray Benson and many more over what must be an incredibly fulfilling career. Turns out though that Tommy Taylor wasn’t too keen on just letting those records speak for themselves, since after several years of encouragement, he recently put his voice front and center of his own tunes.

Created in collaboration with fellow legend and multi-Grammy winner Michael Omartian, Across the Stars came out last September. Between Omartian’s top notch production techniques and Taylor’s well-seasoned sense of songwriting (fleshed out characters and all), Across the Stars is an astronomical entry for this pair of yacht rock royals. So don’t expect any tumbleweeds or crickets when the silence comes at the end of this nine-song journey, because even early pieces like the album opener “Ghost Town” just sound plain great. Since we’re guessing there’s a galaxy’s worth of other material under Taylor’s belt, here’s hoping Across the Stars won’t be a standalone in Tommy’s discography.

Ghost Funk Orchestra: “To The Moon!”

Last Fall when we shared our KUTX staff picks for Levitation Fest, I got a chance to gush about one of all-time favorite contemporary projects, Ghost Funk Orchestra. That slick, spectral sound clearly continues to haunt me, because I’ve got yet another chance to gawk at Ghost Funk Orchestra today.

For those who haven’t already been possessed, Ghost Funk Orchestra is the brainchild of NYC multi-instrumentalist/composer/arranger Seth Applebaum. Alongside Applebaum’s outstanding studio crew, Ghost Funk Orchestra raises a whole array of retro sounds back from their original decades-old resting places – exotica, psychedelia, jazz, surf rock – you name it. Well, just like the Apollo program, not long after the last LP, GFO’s already gearing up for their next mission – their fifth full-length, A Trip to the Moon, out February 23rd.

Inspired by the space age arrangements of Quincy Jones and Eddie Palmieri, this fifteen-stage instrumental, interstellar exploration may just rival George Méliès’ groundbreaking 1902 short of the same name in terms of outlandish style. The record’s lead single and title track of sorts, “To The Moon!” almost puts Tower of Power to shame with stereo-spanning, brilliantly-mixed brass that orbits Applebaum’s mission controlling, garage-style guitar. In other words, it doesn’t sound quite like Ghost Funk Orchestra’s completely ditched their dusty sheets for spiffy new spacesuits – and we love to hear it. Between its opening mosaic of authentic NASA transmissions and its descending reverse guitar solo that cues re-entry to our normal lives, we’re expecting A Trip to the Moon to hail in a new generation of “lost cosmonauts” with a one-of-a-kind astral listening experience.

ISTA: “Do What Feels Right”

Down here in the South we like to brag that “everything’s bigger in Texas”. And while that’s true for a lot of things, up in NYC they consistently keep their collectives nice and large.So it’s worth bringing up Brooklyn’s ISTA, who solidified their lineup as a seven-piece in early 2020 and have since sewn together the threads between psych, rock, funk, and punk. With each new single, ISTA’s world of whimsy Big Apple earworms have only dug deeper, and with the recent release of their eponymous full-length, they’ve been effortlessly amalgamated into an idiosyncratic introduction. This baker’s dozen of driving pedal-heavy, vocal-harmony heaven is an absolute hoot from front to back, but if you want to mainline a hedonistic sense of freedom, mid-workweek, well, just “Do What Feels Right”. Like a just-unearthed lost tape from Laugh-In‘s counterculture vault, the visuals for “Do What Feels Right” perfectly complement the track’s fluid and frenetic dedication to the love of fun. And based on that alone, we’ve got a good feeling that ISTA’s the type to keep any party going and push it right into its prime

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Avara: “BABY BLUE BEAMER”

It’s Native American Heritage month, but hopefully we’re all hip to the fact that an “American Indian” is not the same thing as an Indian-American. That’s important because today we’re shining the spotlight on Avara Ellorie, best known by her mononym Avara.

Born in New York City and raised in Atlanta, Avara’s pilgrimage from one musical metropolis to another has led to her latest home base here in Austin. And it’s here that her journey as a songwriter and producer – one that began with a Taylor Swift record back in grade school – has really begun making impressions on listeners. With her Indian heritage front and center to her lyrical identity, Avara avoids any obvious Eastern instrumental influences in her arrangements, instead absorbing the best of modern Western R&B to create an accessible, lush brand of soundscapes – somewhere between Alina Baraz, Ariana Grande, and The Weeknd.

And 2023’s proven awfully auspicious for Avara, considering she’s dropped a handful of singles (whose aesthetic alternates between all caps and strictly lowercase) ahead of her debut EP – out next February. And today, just in time for the weekend, we received that inaugural EP’s final lead single “BABY BLUE BEAMER” – a rock-oriented R&B banger that lets off the gas pedal to coast through nearly three minutes of breathy falsetto, hypnotic vocal effects, glued-to-the-pavement percussion, and tire-screeching guitar – all for a cinematic getaway chase of pensive sensuality.

Kenton Mackay: “Royalty Free”

You wouldn’t download a car would you? Heck yeah I would! That’s right, at least for my generation, internet piracy was a moral middle ground. Sure Lars Ulrich didn’t get the extra million he was hoping for, but in an era before streaming services became ubiquitous, the high seas were a great place for millennials to develop their musical tastes. And that’s more or less the origin story for Austin’s Kenton Mackay, who despite an upbringing smack dab in the middle of nowhere, was able to grab a guitar, put his ISP to work, and inundate himself in the likes of Nirvana, Radiohead, and Beck.

Once that baseline was under his belt, Mackay moved to our fair city limits and quickly caught onto mainstays like The Black Angels and Broncho, launching his own fuzz rock songwriting career not too long afterwards. Fast forward to this year, when Mackay and his backing band The Sensors have been working on their debut EP In Good Taste, an indie alt-pop-rock endeavor mix and mastered by the legendary Erik Wofford and set for release next Spring.

Mackay and the Sensors find a grunge-pop sweet spot on In Good Taste‘s second lead single “Royalty Free”, which finds Kenton’s robust baritone sarcastically begging for funds and recognition – almost a wink and nod to his early not-so-legal musical exposure. But that doesn’t mean you can’t support Kenton Mackay when he plays midnight next Saturday at Hotel Vegas for a single release show following Born Twins at 10 and Flags at 11. And at just under three minutes, who needs Limewire when you can just cue up “Royalty Free” on your favorite streamer, smash that “repeat” button, and let the numbers speak for themselves?

Walkabouts: “Sinner”

When you’re surrounded by skyscrapers 24/7, it doesn’t take long to forget; here in Texas…we’ve got plenty of dry, cinematic wilderness. But for those of us who simply can’t squeeze in a road trip in every weekend? Our next best bet for a cinematic desert escape is some good ol’ fashioned Central Texas psychedelia.

That said, don’t let the genre label limit what to expect from Walkabouts, because true to their name, this Austin quartet doesn’t stick to just one corner. No, they chart an incredible amount of middle ground between dream pop and desert rock for live sets and albums blessed by psychedelic stream of consciousness. On top of that, this calculated hippie hermitage has already set a purposeful pace instead of ambling around like so many up-and-comer groups; in just over a year Walkabouts have evolved from playing frontman Sam Shaffer’s solo record Valley of the Living Water into the theatric four-man affair who just released their debut LP Bloomin’ Ocotillo last Tuesday.

Like lush lips on an arid shrub, wrapped up in the very fabric of the universe itself but never taking itself too seriously, Bloomin’ Ocotillo is a half-hour sonic journey, no doubt. But if you’re a psychonaut like me who loves the nuances of a live performance, drop out with Walkabouts 8:15PM tonight at Far Out Lounge in between CLTTR at 7 and Audio Sex Drive at 9:30. And especially if Election Day’s got you out of sorts, get in touch with your inner grunge with Western-ready wind gusts and the heavy-as-hell fuzz bluster that is “Sinner”.

Restos: “Time”

If you remember Western Youth, then you’re familiar with Graham Weber. And if you know Graham Weber, you know he lays down great work wherever he may wander. A decade and a half into his solo discography, Weber launched Western Youth right here in Austin in the late twenty-teens and spearheaded their solo eponymous full-length. However, on the other side of the pandemic, that iteration of the Central Texas sextet’s since ridden off into the sunset. But save for one straggler, the cavalcade continues with their spiritual successor Restos in 2023. With Weber overseeing but not monopolizing this well-seasoned five-piece’s style, Restos retain much of the Americana-rock aura that defined their predecessor, albeit with a bit more of a modern kick. This Friday Restos drop their debut LP Ain’t Dead Yet and celebrate with a release show 11PM that same evening at Continental Club alongside opener Jaimee Harris at 10PM and closers The Irons half past midnight. As you’ll soon find out from the live performance, the tunes on Ain’t Dead Yet defy any potential decline in quality from Weber and his posse. Instead Restos channel the energy of an armadillo, bear, bison, gator, rooster all kickin’ in the barn together, pushing their primitive musical instincts to the limit and leaving the rest behind. So before Restos rear into their Thursday night residency at C-Boy’s each week from 6:30-8:30PM, take a little “Time” to appreciate Graham and the boys’ incredible progress over a handful of years in just under five minutes with one of the record’s latest early looks.

Walker Lukens: “Man & Wife”

As a commemoration of factory personnel, harsh conditions, and tumultuous union strikes, Labor Day often loses its meaning for all the folks just enjoying a Monday off. But a century-plus later, we can still take a moment to appreciate some less-industrial aspects of life that often get taken for granted. For example keeping up a clean, appealing appearance usually takes a continued concerted effort, and once those looks help you land a partner for life, the work doesn’t stop; it’s a real labor of love to keep a marriage going strong past the initial honeymoon phase. Keep those in mind as we commend all the hard work Walker Lukens has done over the years. He’s elevated himself from mere multi-instrumentalist/singer-songwriter to a monolithic must-have producer-for-hire here in Austin, not to mention a concept-driven creator who’s helped mastermind the Song Confessional podcast and the vast Texas Wild collaboration. Still, seems like Walker’s got an undying hunger (and somehow enough time) to make great tunes on his own accord. On that note, this Friday Walker Lukens finally unleashes his fourth full-length Accessible Beauty, self-produced and recorded at Lukens’ Paradise Lunch recording studio. He’ll be taking these eight mellow originals on the road for a week-long East Coast tour in October ahead of three Central Texas shows in mid-December, including “The Last Walt” December 15th at The Paramount as part of KUTX’s 10th Birthday Concert Series. But even though the locals will have to wait a while to catch the new Walker live, Lukens was kind enough to toss us some early access to Accessible Beauty with the LP’s latest and final lead single. A spiritual sequel-of-sorts to this April’s “The One Who Loves You”, “Man & Wife” keeps the affection flowing with shimmering synths, vocal harmonies that weep with reverb, and a hard-rocking hook that gives this multi-coupling of sounds some tasteful dynamic range. So consider celebrating Labor Day with a spell of spontaneous romantic gestures that’ll reaffirm the work you’re willing to put into a relationship (be it currently in existence or a dream for the future). And even if you’re single by choice and plan on keeping it that way, the soft, mature sensuality of “Man & Wife” will make your inner beauty feel sexier and more readily available then it’s ever been on a Monday.

CLUB COMA: “Collage”

If you’re a fan of Boyfrndz, Stiletto Feels, and Ume, chances are you’ll love CLUB COMA. Featuring seasoned veterans from all three, this Austin supergroup-of-sorts builds bops that hop around retro French flourishes, all things rock n roll, and experimental pop. An early recording of that killer combo piqued the interest of Spoon’s Jim Eno, who eventually decided to apply his Midas touch production to CC’s self-titled debut album, and boy is it a beaut.

Released just last weekend, this eponymous eight-track explores a ton of sonic territory, and showcases some incredibly inventive songwriting that’ll lock you in for the not-so-long haul. Safe to say, the seven originals are the star of the show, but we can’t overlook the ingenuity of the clever James Gang interpolation “Collage” that kicks of CLUB COMA‘s final act.

So before you catch CLUB COMA 10:45PM this Thursday at Hotel Vegas alongside openers Megafauna at 10PM and closers The Well at 11:30PM, de-fumigate that weekend brain fog with a hyper-modern jolt of James Gang that may eventually eclipse the ’69 original with its ambitious and auspicious acoustics.

Barb: “Someone Like June”

Hearing a fresh artist find their footing is a real joy. And with the recent launch of her mononymous project Barb Austin singer-guitarist Barbara Klavin’s been havin’ us gabbin’ over each new single. Sure, there are some obvious sonic similarities between January’s “Liar” and March’s “Don’t Call”, but spinning last September’s “Small Talk” back-to-back with last month’s posse cut “it’s alright” will tip you off to Barb’s palatial range and impressive progression over a pretty short period of time.

Since Barb’s already put the hook in us, we can’t complain about her coasting away from surf-inspired stuff and settling into more of an indie-alt space. Because in just a few weeks, that space finally gains a name – Vintage Love. This maiden EP arrives September 1st, right after SXSW 2024’s early entry deadline and about two months ahead of its final deadline for submissions, plus a release show at the Mohawk on Saturday the 2nd with Retro Cowgirl and Deer Fellow. We’ve got our fingers crossed that Vintage Love earns Barb the hometown recognition she so earnestly deserves, and our hopes high that the release reaps Klavin a whole new class of fans from far beyond the Austin City Limits.

So as we champion for Barb’s art to reach different places, you can get acquainted with Barb’s rad new sounds on Vintage Love‘s latest – “Someone Like June”. On this one, Barb and her backing two-piece stick with the songwriting formula of slick lead guitar licks, buoyant bass, and dexterous drums but amends it with sharp instrumental stabs and a half-time breakdown that gives “Someone Like June” some powerful variety. All that said? The undeniable star of the show is still Klavin’s distinctive dynamo pipes.

Grimson: “Round Trip Ticket”

The vast majority of songwriters are…just…wellsong writers. That is, their ability to convey emotion or tell a story is strictly restricted to lyric and melody. So while we won’t detract from those who navigate that task masterfully, we also gotta pay dues to the multidisciplinary folks who single-handedly offer a “fuller” package. Take Aiden Berglund for example. A quick glimpse at the artwork for his dispersed discography tips you off to a well-calculated aesthetic, maybe even more so than the song titles themselves. And that’s because Berglund independently helms each aspect of his Berlin-based project Grimson, from the words and music all the way to a distinctive visual style full of woolly things, crowns of kings, and ominously ethereal scenery. And although an artist designing their own graphics in an era when access to photoshop and its derivatives comes at the click of a button isn’t nearly as impressive as it was pre-millennium…it’s this next part that blows our mind; when Berglund launched Grimson in the spring of 2021, he began bringing that growing cast of characters to life through animation, thereby establishing a multi-media brand, not just a musical one. Comparing the level of care and dedication required for that type of craft with the, simple, patronymic approach to his handle (literally as his father Grim’s next of kin) can be funny at first, but that’s when you actually start grasping Grimson’s strongest asset – his music. Grimson’s moving indie rock originals engulf the raw emotions of Elliott Smith and chronicle a gradual maturation of Berglund’s passions from late teens through early twenties – all recorded in the humble confines of a bedroom. After soaking up his ten existing singles, there’s certain to be no soot clogging up Grimson’s debut full-length Climbing Up The Chimney, out Friday, September 1st. Also, huge kudos to Berglund for his willingness to pass the animation tablet off to Yana Pan on Climbing Up The Chimney‘s latest lead look and listen, “Round Trip Ticket”. In doing so, Grimson’s melancholy universe opens up even further, fitting for a track whose the expansive orchestral arrangement orbits Berglund’s bittersweet singing. So even though this beautiful new tune is already paired with visuals, we wouldn’t be surprised if “Round Trip Ticket” popped up in a film/TV/commercial soundtrack sometime soon.

ROXY ROCA: “The Nomad”

Here in the Live Music Capital of the World, we’re blessed to have an abundance of different genres, but truth be told, at the end of the day, rock is God in Austin, Texas. And while Austin does attract a vast rolodex of rockers, the city limits can also surprisingly shape previously non-rock sounds. Like, look at ROXY ROCA. When ROXY ROCA first got started a little over a decade back, they placed themselves predominantly in the funk-soul-R&B box. But by the time they teamed up with Chris “Frenchie” Smith to produce their sophomore LP A Better Way, the quartet not only acquiesced but fully embraced a harder-rocking repertoire. In any event, these rough riffers have continued to put on one hell of a show, even in the thralls of COVID. Well, this Fall, ROXY ROCA returns with their third full-length Greasy. On this record ROXY ROCA’s steady wheels of change are slicked with both the straight-up rock of 2018’s A Better Way and the retro-soul of 2015’s Ain’t Nothin’ Fancy. By blending classic rock with roots R&B, ROXY ROCA creates an oily middle ground that oozes over generations of different styles. Today, following up this April’s “Yazoo Queen”, the four-piece unfurls Greasy‘s sophomore lead single, “The Nomad”. Lathered up in blues rock testosterone with guttural vocals, rugged guitar, piercing percussion and bottom-dwelling bass work that keeps the whole thing together, “The Nomad” will keep meanderin’ around your mind well after your first listen.

Walker Lukens: “The One Who Loves You”

If you weren’t already well aware, we here at KUTX love Walker Lukens; we shined our Artist of the Month spotlight on this perfectionist performer back in January 2015, right when Walker Lukens and (his backing band) The Side Arms released their Jim Eno-produced single “Every Night”, a tune that now totes more than two million streams on Spotify. Since then Walker’s sort of mimicked the mysterious monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey, touching down to intrigue the masses and revolutionize listener experiences, but only when the moment is just right.

That’s not to say that Walker hasn’t kept busy since 2019’s ADULT, his final pre-pandemic piece of output. On top of dropping two more full-lengths and an EP, Lukens has been helping to interpolate flirty little secrets as one of the two masterminds behind The Song Confessional podcast. Walker’s also been graciously offering up his production prowess and fine-tuned formulas as a noble service for his fellow Texas creatives.

But as seductive as Walker’s sonic sorcery is in-studio, if you’ve seen him play live, you know how whetting it is to witness the carefully-crafted studio magic replicated almost identically onstage, expertly-cut a capella loops and all. So imagine our excitement this morning when Lukens announced his fourth studio full-length Accessible Beauty for release in August alongside plans for a promotional tour.

That welcome news arrived alongside Accessible Beauty‘s lead single, “The One Who Loves You”, a re-introduction to Walker’s retro-pop tastes. Between invigorating reverse guitar, sexy synth squelches, and processed vocals that soar through a torrid chorus, “The One Who Loves You” boasts an enormous sense of space that easily towers over most of Tame Impala’s less-intense installations. Wish you could express your feelings as fiery as Walker does? Just forward this one to whomever you carry a torch for and get ready for romance.

SUSU: “Mine”

SXSW Music is the talk of town all this week, and of course we’ve got a handful of live performances for your consideration. Starting off today with another set of four all-caps letters, SUSU. Since the mid-2010’s, jiggish Gemini singers Liza Colby and Kia Warren have guided SUSU through New York City’s steamy indie rock-and-soul scene. The quintet clawed their way onto streaming platforms with 2019’s Panther City EP and follow it up this spring with a new baker’s dozen of outrageously catchy originals on Call Susie.

Sure, SUSU’s in town for SXSW, but between their camaraderie alongside KUTX favorites Sweet Spirit, they’re certainly no stranger to the Live Music Capital of the World. As of this publication, SUSU’s already about halfway through their slew of gigs, having already wrapped up two back-to-back shows on Friday, Saturday’s Hoss Sauce House Party, and a set early this afternoon at Empire Control Room. But fortunately for USUS, SUSU is still going full speed ahead.

SUSU’s spree continues 8:45PM tonight at Hole in the Wall and return to the Hotel Vegas Patio at 10:45PM. SUSU rings in 5 o’clock right for the Paste Magazine Showcase presented by Ilegal Mezcal on Wednesday before closing out their Spring Break 5:30PM Thursday at Antone’s. There are plenty of free-with-RSVP options to see SUSU, so find a day and time that works for you and claim it as “Mine” – which is also the title of Call Susie‘s latest spark-plug of a lead single.

The Runaway Grooms: “Mister Ford”

In the late ’60s and early ’70s, jam bands were all the rage. But now, in an era where song durations hinge on short attention spans or knowledge that shorter tunes simply hit bigger streaming numbers faster, jam bands are actually pretty polarizing. Even more recent innovators like Mars Volta or Godspeed You! Black Emperor have struggled to stay accessible because of lengthy runtimes. We’re so far removed from the long-form improvisation that jazz and rock normalized half a century back, that when a contemporary group can keep on jamming and pack it in on wax, they’ve got a serious leg up.

Take for instance Central Colorado quintet The Runaway Grooms. Sure, TRG’s 2020 debut Tied to the Sun simmers down with a 13-minute epic, but “Tales of Ernest” is really an outlier of their studio output. Instead The Runaway Grooms prove the power of brevity when laying down tracks. In doing so, The Runaway Grooms are able to evoke classic jam acts like The Allman Brothers or The Grateful Dead without sinking into the long song gimmick (looking at you, Phish). That ability to relegate the extended stuff to concerts is no doubt informed by seven national tours, but you don’t need to check their list of stops to experience This Road.

Tomorrow, on the heels of a statewide CO tour, The Runaway Grooms release their third album, This Road. This Road winds over eclectic retro blends in the ilk of Steely Dan and Yes across five originals. And with no genre stoplights in earshot, The Runaway Grooms navigate This Road by opening up the throttle, hitting hard left turns, and at times, coming to an abrupt stop, all while charting a cohesive musical pilgrimage. So if This Road is already giving you wanderlust jitters, rip into the record early with a single that that sounds like Jethro Tull and War had a funky-prog love child in the year between Aqualung and The World Is a Ghetto: “Mister Ford”.

Sam Pace and the Gilded Grit: “The Light”

Happy New Year! I spent the last bit of December collecting some truly outstanding new music that I’m eager to introduce to y’all…starting today with Austin’s Sam Pace and the Gilded Grit. One glance at Pace’s striking eyes, vicious visage, and black wide-brimmed hat is all it takes to imagine him as a rugged 19th-century, mixed-morality dime novel protagonist, but really he’s more of a contemporary Southern soul-rock scarecrow.

But don’t be intimidated by appearances! Anchored by his bewitching baritone and stinging six-string techniques, Sam Pace and the Gilded Grit have stayed strong across Austin and beyond for just over a decade now. They’ve got four phenomenal full-lengths out and on streaming for you to peruse through, though the big news for the Gilded Grit in the New Year is a single release show, 10PM this Friday at Saxon Pub.

However, Friday’s all the way at the end of the week, and I know folks are trying to hit the ground running in 2023 (myself included). That’s why, in keeping pace with the passing of a year, Sam and the Gilded Grit have gifted us an early piece of inspiration. Its message essentially champions resilience and courage when faced by darkness, and between production by Chris “Frenchie” Smith, a guitar solo that’d make Jack White’s jaw drop, and an airtight arrangement, “The Light” extends well past “carpe diem”, and instead begs you to “carpe annum” over the next twelve months.

Grrrl Toy: “Bite!”

The way some people talk about solo singer-songwriters…seems like there’s a lot of complicated discourse around the whole “one-person act” aspect. We sometimes idolize (and frankly fetishize) unescorted performances by the likes of Norah Jones or Billie Eilish, but honestly, even with those examples I respect the hell out of a songwriter who recognizes the potential of a full-group.

Among those? San Antonio singer-guitarist Rhyma Castillo. Following lineages of Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin, Joan Jett, PJ Harvey, and even Tina Turner, Castillo launched her classic-rock-meets-grunge project Grrrl Toy as a solo endeavor back in July. But despite the caliber of Castillo’s standalone talents, the potential to expand was just too good to pass up. Now, mere months later, Grrrl Toy records and performs as a fizzing feminist five-piece, and dang do those additional four players make a difference for the final product.

Following their first two singles, the quintet’s been working on their debut EP Merry Lane for release next Summer. And today Grrrl Toy’s graciously given us an early listen to what’s sure to be one of Merry Lane‘s finest incisors. At just over four minutes, “Bite!” is a slow burn that starts off real sweet, real soft. But between crunching guitar, sharp percussion fills, and a half-time bridge just before a big Blackhearts-style vocal-driven finish, you won’t want “Bite!” to release its grip, even after breaking the skin.

July Talk: “Human Side”

You’ve heard of Christmas in July…but July Talk in December? No, your calendar’s not having an existential crisis. But if you want new music at home and live in person, today we’ve got a recommendation and premiere all packed into one.

Chances are, you’ve never experienced anything quite like July Talk. For the past decade this spectacle of a Toronto sextet has electrified crowds with a relatively unconventional lineup in the indie rock realm; two fronting vocalists, bewitchingly balanced bass and guitar, and most recently the addition of a second drummer. Their 2012 eponymous debut proved right away that July Talk’s raucous chemistry isn’t constricted to the stage, and their full-length formulas have only become more and more refined at a pace of about one record every four years.

But true to their name, July Talk’s identity is an ongoing conversation. While the band’s back-and-forth fury is certainly still there, themes of rebirth, renewed strength, and voicing dissent dominate their fourth LP, Remember Never Before. This masterfully-inventive eleven-track drops January 20th, and July Talk wraps up a week-long U.S. tomorrow night in Dallas. Tonight at 9PM July Talk takes the stage at Antone’s along with Austinites Darkbird for an 18+ show. So if you want to rock out with these ACL Fest veterans, you can squad up to Antone’s OR let it all out on Remember Never Before‘s latest! Buckle up, ’cause from its sparse first downbeat all the way to its cacophonic final chord, “Human Side” is a helluva sendoff to 2022.

Surf Curse: “Self Portrait”

Reno, Nevada…not typically a place thought of as a hub for water-sports. And maybe that’s the point; between the desert flora and the arid atmosphere, it’s almost as if someone laid a pox on “The Biggest Little City in the World” for aquatic fanatics. A Surf Curse, if you will. For nearly a full decade, Surf Curse has been tearing up waves of indie rock, pop, punk, and psych. Developmentally, the once-duo has recently doubled into a quartet, expanding their coast of cross-genre grains and performance capabilities. Those new additions have culminated in Surf Curse’s fourth full-length Magic Hour, recorded at the one-and-only Electric Lady Studios. Surf Curse has already caught a steady current of streams for Magic Hour and now, after wrapping up the European leg of their latest tour, they’re bringing the sorcery down to Austin. Surf Curse performs both tonight and tomorrow night (sold out) at The Mohawk, but if it’s just not in the cards for you, fire up the surreal nightmare-fuel within “Self Portrait“‘s music video.

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.