San Antonio music

Tone Royal: “Nick at Nite”

If you’ve attended your fair share of hip-hop shows, this has happened to you at least once. You discover a new rapper, fall in love with their music, and seize an opportunity to see them live. But right after they take the stage, they inexplicably start cupping the mic, distorting their once-intelligible lyrics into gobbledygook. It can really put a damper on things, even when they’re clearly giving it their all. So when you watch a seasoned emcee prove their worth as a “mic controller” in what could’ve quickly become a garbled cacophony, it’s refreshing as hell.

Considering Ray Villareal’s various public-facing side hustles – as an esteemed stadium sports announcer (for NCAA, UT, and beyond), frequent Double Toasted Bites podcast contributor, or as an outspoken pal determined to buy a round of Buds for the whole bar – it makes sense that Tone Royal treats microphones with a lot of technical understanding and respect. Tomorrow night, the San Antonio-raised, Austin-based vocalist assumes the headlining throne for Empire Control Room’s all-ages “Slow Roasted” 4/20 showcase, preceded by openers MCs Unknown, Shrt_lyf, Daddy Nat, and ZC3, all alongside DJ Buck Rodgers.

This morning Tone Royal sparked up the anticipation with his first single since last August’s “I Hate You”. While the straight-laced often associate 3AM with the witching hour, lonely partakers of the herbal persuasion can relate to the red-eyed reflections and retro re-runs that reside shortly before the day’s first 4:20. Somewhere between a modern torch song and a blunt-rolling bop, Nick at Nite picks up where Passion Pit and Timmy Trumpet left off with a fresh interpolation of Mary O’Hara’s “Óró Mo Bháidín” baking under hazy sax in the background. Tone Royal’s trademark laid back swagger (on both the studio and live version of “Nick at Nite”) has us begging for a full-band full-length follow-up to 2018’s Late some time in the near future, but until then, we’re just fine with putting the remote in the freezer and letting the dial collect dust.

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.

Garrett T. Capps & NASA Country: “People Are Beautiful”

Steve Miller Band. Jamiroquai. Kacey Musgraves. They’ve all written songs called “Space Cowboy”. And considering the continued popularity of those tunes, it’s safe to say that “space cowboy” is no longer a derogatory term for a shameless stoner. No, it’s something musicians want to wear on their sleeve. Which brings us to Garrett T. Capps & NASA Country.

Garrett T. Capps has been going strong since 2016 and only recently enlisted NASA Country as his backing band. And although “Houston” might’ve been the historic first word transmitted back to Earth from the moon, NASA Country has no plans of relocating their musical mission control center from San Antonio. These unapologetic psychonauts are set to launch their mind-bending style of cosmic country on October 21st with their group debut, People Are Beautiful. This eight-track constellation bridges the brightest bits of retro-synth, jangly two-step, swamp blues, and NASA Country’s beloved “krautrock fiesta” sound. In true celestial fashion, People Are Beautiful‘s two lead singles are the LP’s bookends, the album opener and closer, like the meeting of Elder Bowman and Starchild at the climax of 2001: A Space Odyssey. No shame in starting at the end, right? So lift off with People Are Beautiful‘s title track in T-minus 5…4…3…2…