southern rock

Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors: “Suffering”

The very nature of Americana is rooted in traditional music. But it also lies at the crossroads between folk, country, and rock. So if an Americana act decides to veer into new lanes, the choices are limited and somewhat predictable. And yet it’s still such a joy to hear an artist explore new sonic territory, no matter how established they may be.

Having said that, we’re happy to hear that Nashville’s Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors will be joining us in our neck of the woods later this week. That’s right, on the heels of their ninth full-length Strangers No More, the Americana connoisseurs kick off a month-long national tour right here in town. The Find Your People Tour fires off 7:30PM this Thursday at the Scoot Inn, and our newfound neighbors will be stopping by Central Texas again for the Kerrville Folk Festival late next month.

And since Austin is such a hard left turn from Holcomb et. al’s Nasvhille stomping ground, the band gave us an early listen to their latest shifting of gears. On “Suffering”, the grit is real, and the rock is Southern. It captures the rudest elements of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet, and Marshall Tucker band, albeit with that one-of-a-kind Holcomb character. Safe to say that if Southern rock is your bag, “Suffering” is so good it hurts.

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.

Evan Charles: “Low Road Runnin'”

With our ever-expanding skyline, congested traffic, and high urban density, living within Austin’s city limits can almost trick us into forgetting we’re in Texas. But a short drive out can quickly remind us of our immediate rustic surroundings – hill country, deserts, forests, lakes, caves, and more. So even in big metropolitan hubs like ours, the vastness and variety of the Lone Star State unsurprisingly inspires an abundance of nature-loving folk, cosmic Americana, and southern rock acts.

A quick glance at Austin outfit Altamaesa’s discography – The Long Ride Home (2016) and Idol Frontier (2019) – instantly tips you off to that specific sense of Southern wanderlust and bucolic storytelling. And maybe it’s that same spirit of adventure, coupled with his induction into Project ATX6’s Season Six lineup, that’s led fronting guitarist-vocalist Evan Charles to temporarily excuse himself from his chair at Altamesa’s high table and explore new opportunities as a solo artist.

In this endeavor, Evan Charles emerges as a reinvigorated raconteur, eager to lean into the timeless power of natural narratives with his upcoming debut album Between Two Worlds. Featuring titles like “Ask the Dust”, “Heavy Rains Back Home”, and “Horizon Line”, Between Two Worlds brings twelve trail tunes, countryside ballads, idyllic interludes, and miscellaneous ruminations into Mr. Pink Records’ Bastrop recording studio, with the full polished collection arriving later this summer. Evan Charles celebrates early with two local performances; a single release show 10PM this Friday at Hole in the Wall and again 8:30PM this Saturday at Continental Club for the Mr. Pink Showcase. If you can’t saddle up to either of those shows, open up the throttle with Evan on BTW‘s latest lead single, the briskly-whisked ranch-ready Americana yarn “Low Road Runnin'”. At just over three minutes, this fast-travelin’ track is a must-play for all types of settings: in your dust-rustlin’ truck, underneath those big and bright Texas stars, or just at home brewing your favorite morning roast.

Nick Dittmeier & the Sawdusters: “I Suppose”

Major sonic shifts from artists with a well-established sound can be pretty polarizing. But think about all the albums that’ve become iconic simply due to how different they were from their predecessors. Among many others, there’s Bob Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home, Trans by Neil Young, Alabama Shakes’ Sound & Color and A Sailor’s Guide to Earth from Sturgill Simpson. And though they haven’t quite reached the status of those legends as of yet, Nick Dittmeier & the Sawdusters are already dead set against typecasting their own style.

So far this Southern Indiana trio has found success with a consistent alt-country/roots-rock sound, especially on 2018’s All Damn Day and 2019’s Companion. Once COVID came around, though, Dittmeier & the Sawdusters confronted the draconian rigidness of country formulas and challenged themselves to innovate those stylistic preferences for modern, mature audiences. After sweeping the floor of their first phase shavings, Nick Dittmeier & the Sawdusters added synths, loopers, and drum machines to their workbench and started cutting their third full-length, Heavy Denim. The title refers to the unofficial “uniform” of Americana, and by doing so, the hard left turn of Heavy Denim is executed with self-aware grace. Heavy Denim drops next Friday and the band’s on a national tour lasting through September. So while there’s a lot of commotion about being patriotic on the Fourth of July in a post-Roe America, the Sawdusters can at least celebrate independence from the genre constraints that’ve pigeonholed so many more Americans. That said, Nick Dittmeier & the Sawdusters have treated us to one extra piece of fireworks from Heavy Denim, the previously-unseen music video for “I Suppose“!

Black Pistol Fire: “Look Alive”

Though Austin’s never quite been corralled into any singular sound in the past couple decades, you’d probably expect a fair amount of Southern rock from the Lone Star State’s capital. That’s where Black Pistol Fire comes in. Kevin McKeown and Eric Owen’s lifelong friendship began in a North Toronto kindergarten class and graduated into a musical partnership by the time they were in high school. But despite their non-native status to Texas, their name alone seems like a litmus test to detect Southern drawls, (depending on whether or not you pronounce the handle’s final word as “Fah-er” rather than “Figh-er”) and as such, the duo’s felt right at home here in Austin for the band’s now decade-long tenure.

These fivetime Studio 1A veterans (and three-time My KUTX guest DJs) and their raucous Southern-punk concoction have been a KUTX favorite from the get-go, so much that we named them our May 2016 Artist of the Month. Black Pistol Fire was conspicuously quiet after the release of their 2017 record Deadbeat Graffiti, only returning to stoke their eponymous flames with a string of singles beginning in 2019, ultimately culminating in this year’s Look Alive. You’ll want to Look Alive this evening for Black Pistol Fire’s headliner spot at Emo’s along with Emily Wolfe and Shooks, but even if you can’t make it in person, you can tear into the weekend with the album’s fierce title track!