FT5: New Austin Music Icons
As we are well into the year 2009, it’s time we take a good look at what makes the Austin music scene work so well. We’d like to say that it’s us, but we know that a whole lot more goes into the scene than the many writers and fans in the city limits. Instead, we turn your eyes to those Icons, those heralded heroes of our town; the ones that make it all run so smoothly. Be it a musician or producer, these are our favorite Austin Icons. We also excluded those who made Austin music famous, and then left the town for not-so-better waters. Yea, I am looking at you Britt Daniel! Why did you leave us? Just for that, you aren’t an Austin Icon; these next five characters are! Not only that, but these aren’t your grandparents Austin Icons. This isn’t Stevie Ray playing guitar, nor is this the Janis playing at Threadgills; these are your new Icons, paving the way for the new artists and the new scene! Follow the jump for our top 5 new Austin music icons.
Now, a lot of the Icons on the following list are predominantly musicians, but a lot of them wouldn’t have gotten as nearly as far as they have were it not for the man behind the mixing boards over at Cacophony Records. Erik has had his hands on some of our favorite local Austin artists of the past such as Octopus Project, Will Sheff and Shearwater, to name but a few. Then there’s his present stage of greatness, which includes working with up-and-comers The Great Nostalgic and Frantic Clam, both bands we love. Let’s face it, if you are going to make an amazing album right here in the heart of Texas, then you need to be making it with Erik and his friends; otherwise, it’s likely to be ten times less awesome than it would had Mr. Wofford put his touch to it. -NL
The Black Angels are one of the hardest working bands in town so picking their unbeatable lead singer Alex Maas for our list was an easy choice. As far as band’s go, they get no more Austin than these guys. They live on the east side. They’ve played ACL. They’ve played Fun Fun Fun Fest. They’ve of course done SXSW. Hell, this band even started their own damn festival last year (Psych Fest) and had the balls to book it the weekend before SXSW. You’ll also find Alex involved in all kinds of side projects when The Black Angels aren’t recording or on tour. The national press has started to jump on board a bit, but The Black Angels and Alex Maas will always be our hometown product. Take a walk around downtown or stop into a bar on the east side any given weekend and you’ll see Mr. Maas in that famous hat he wears drinking with the locals. “Dude isn’t that the lead singer of The Black Angels?” – RR
Who hasn’t been to a concert/party and seen Yvonne Lambert of Octopus Project in one of her fancy dresses and trademark 50s style hair do? I think you’d be hard pressed to find an Austin music scenester who answers no to that question. Besides just being a highly recognizable celebrity, Yvonne and her band mates are another one of those hard working Austin bands who are starting to make a name for themselves in the national media. In Austin though, Octopus Project have been a household name for the last several years and have grown to icon status in our town. Yvonne Lambert should be a role model for all aspiring young women who play music in and out of Austin. She’s also one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet (check out this video of her playing at a local school). -RR
You all know Trail of the Dead, and more than likely you’ve danced the night away on the floors at Beauty Bar. What do these things have in common? Well, the man behind both is more than likely wandering around the grounds in his huge giant glasses taking in the local scene. Back in the day, pre-hipsters, Jason used to spin hip-hop at Whiskey Bar, just going to show you that no matter how hard you bang your drums, the hip-hop inside you never dies. Regardless, Jason’s been keeping it real in Austin as far back as we can remember, and we thank him for every little bit of time he spent to make the music in Austin better. -NL
With Britt Daniel ditching us for Portland, Spoon drummer Jim Eno was our obvious choice for Austin’s #1 new music icon. Eno and Daniel have become Austin’s version of Lennon/McCartney or Tweedy/Farrar(Uncle Tupelo) if a Beatles comparison is too bold for you. With the spotlight always on the leading man, Eno is a guy who usually doesn’t get enough credit as being an integral member of his band and this town. Many casual fans don’t realize that most Spoon albums are recorded in Eno’s studio space, Public Hi-Fi, and the drummer has co-produced every album since Girls Can Tell. Don’t get me wrong, A Series of Sneaks & Telephono were decent albums, but wouldn’t you agree that Girls Can Tell was the first superb Spoon release? Britt writes the songs, Eno makes them sound great. Outside of Spoon, Eno has also worked with locals like Zykos & Those Peabodys to really hone in their sound. You can find Eno around town at most major musical events just bein’ a badass. -RR
So where is Will Sheff or Munaf Rayani? You tell us. Who should have made this list that we forgot about?