Clearly, based on the name of our site, we’re always down to represent Austin, and while I feel like releases were down in the city this year, there was tons of great stuff to be devoured. Rather than rank and file our friends; we’re just here to uplift the scene, and maybe remind you of some Texas music that might have (it shouldn’t!) slipped under your radar. Black Pumas got the deserved love, but there’s tons bubbling beneath the surface. I mostly broke it into labels, as they’re the heart and soul of this city. Comes with a fancy playlist.
This weekend is filled with a ridiculous amount of good shows to catch and seems to be slated to remind you why it is you choose to live in The Live Music Capitol of The World. With an extra day to your weekend, there’s really no excuse not to get out and see some quality local and touring acts. Here are my picks for the next three nights for a killer time out for the holiday weekend.
Trickster Blues hasn’t even been out a year, and Shane Renfro and RF Shannon are already prepping for another release later this summer. Our first listen to the new stuff below seems to have some slight changes, though revolving around elements that have always been there. For one, the spacier side of folk seems to only bubble up ever so often; this is a much more direct folk number. I think peeling that away, ever so slightly, puts a more distinctive pull on Renfro’s voice, getting the listener to really fall for the track. The new effort is titled Rain on Dust, and should be out in August via local label Keeled Scales.
Y’all! We are straight up one month away from another ACL Festival! I know you’re all stoked to see Paul McCartney and Arctic Monkeys and Childish Gambino and The National, but what would ACL be without a little love for some great bands making sweet tunes right here in our city? You know we here at the ATH love to keep it local, so you can bet your bums this is a post dedicated to getting yourself to Zilker Park early every day and showing up for that band you saw at Cheer Up’s a few months back. Or if you’re less versed in the local scene (how?) now’s the time for you to figure out that there’s some solid bands here (duh). Wanna be that knowledgeable guy/girl that gets to brag to your friends from out of town about what a great choice you’ve made to move to the Live Music Capitol of the World? Click through the jump to get a preview of your (possibly) new favorite Austin bands.
It’s a fairly busy Wednesday night over in Austin city limits…the likes of Half Waif, Vagabon and Kenny Chesney, but why not go local? There’s a great release show for RF Shannon happening over at Cheer Up Charlies this evening. The group just released Trickster Blues, which in my opinion has some of the best songs they’ve crafted, but you have to get there early as there are other perennial ATH faves taking the stage. Diamond Center always puts on an enjoyable set, and Jesse Woods is bound to bring his balladry to the Cheer Ups stage. Doors open at 9, and the place will fill up quick, so be there early!
While our early insight into RF Shannon‘s Trickster Blues has offered glimpses of smoky Texas folk, the songwriter clearly is making a bold statement with his latest single. Driven by a powerful piano backbone, guitar chords shoot off into the distance while Shannon croons with his baritone touch, all the while sucking listeners into this broad expanse. Sure, those little psychedelic flourishes pop up, even in just momentary guitar blips, but this is possibly the most pronounced pop version of the project we’ll get; it’s like someone from Texas decided to take a crack at topping Grizzly Bear…and it’s pretty damn near close. Look for the new LP on May 4th via Cosmic Dreamer.
I like the pace Shane Renfro is working at with RF Shannon, but I like it even more that he’s crafting these beautiful tunes with such consistency. After last year’s Jaguar Place, he’s back with Trickster Blues, his latest LP. Our first listen has the band harboring that far out Texas cosmic vibe, though still circling around classic folk balladry. The power of the guitar stretching out into horizon while the quiet piano steadies the tune, waiting for the cascading distortion to shoot off. Honestly, this might be one of the best tunes the band has written; the new LP drops on May 4th via Cosmic Dreamer Music.
RF Shannon, or the project of Shane Renfro, has always been about expansive desert psych americana. Since the origin of the project back in 2013 with the recording of their first demo, Renfro and company have been doing this quite well. With two EPs under their belt, RF Shannon looks to try their hand here at a full length release. The result is, to put it mildly, epic.Jaguar Palace is a record to put on as a soundtrack for traversing a sun bleached desert. be that literal or figurative.
At six songs in length, you may take a look at the track listing and think that you’ve merely encountered an EP, but each song is meticulous and sprawling– a kite let out on its string to a great height, but still tethered to your hand at the ground. Our journey begins with title track, “Jaguar Palace,” which is a perfect introduction to the album. Delicate flute sounds and graceful piano fill your ears with wistful musings for almost two minutes before the guitar, percussion and vocals burst in. This well orchestrated build-up makes the full entrance of the sound huge when it comes along and lets you know you may want to take this album sitting down. Renfro’s vocals are layered and hazy, like a breeze that is gentle in one moment but almost knocks you down the next. Later on, he is accompanied by some female backing vocals that fully flesh out theforce and provide even more texture to the mix. Even one song in, you already know you’ve merely hit the tip of the iceberg in terms of whats in store.
To pick one track out of this collection feels somewhat wrong, as it truly is an album you’re meant to listen to from start to finish, putting ‘single culture’ to shame. For the sake of the length of this review, I’m going to hone in on the heart of the album, “Tell My Horse” and “Had a Revelation.” These back to back numbers show the band hitting their stride with poise and finesse. “Tell My Horse” is a story of wandering alone, whispering tales of your wearisome travels to your animal companion. This is the sort of solitude that is welcomed on Jaguar Palace, embraced even, as the number picks up a nice bit of jam on its way out that carries into the next song. “Had a Revelation” is the shortest track on the record and it’s the song you should play your friends in order to hook them in. Renfro commands the song with his vocals, asking you probing questions: “Do you change with the seasons? Do you cling to the past?” Acoustic guitar carries the track, while slide guitar sneaks in and out, floating over the bouncy percussion.
What’s superbly impressive about the tracks that RF Shannon have delivered here is that while they’re long and sprawling, you don’t notice. On the contrary, each number is careful and poised, akin to the chapters of an epic novel. They serve as gems of their own, but lace together with their counterparts.Jaguar Palacetakes a bit of time to really sink into, but after a few go-rounds of the steady waves of reverb drenched guitar washing over you, you’re fully immersed. If you let RF Shannon, they will hypnotize you into wading in deep and baptize you with their desert psych masterpiece. Get washed clean.
Oh man, I am getting too excited for the upcoming full length album from Austin’s RF Shannon. They shared the title track from their upcoming release yesterday, and it beautiful, other-worldly trip into sun bleached psychedelia that the band does so well. It opens slowly with flute sounds and tinkering piano sounds, like a sleepy day begins, but then suddenly it picks up as the sun always seem to arrive and turn the sky rose before you realize it. Hazy vocals and steady percussion move the song along, accompanied by twangy guitars.Just when you think the song can’t get any more devastatingly beautiful, some female vocals join Shane Renfro, and you’re simply smitten in the psych-desert-blues glory of the song. Take a listen below.
Have you preordered Jaguar Palace yet? It’s out March 31st. Get on it.
Austin’s own RF Shannon have announced their debut full-length record at long last! The desert blues outfit have signed to Cosmic Dreamers and released a brand new single for your enjoyment. The single, which you should jam below, is called “Had a Revelation” and it’s every bit as mystical psych rock as you’d expect from the band. The whole thing sounds as though it’s coming to you through a layer of thick smoke; the guitars squall slowly and epically, while the vocals are drenched in reverb. It’s a solid track with a particularly gripping build that will pull you away from whatever other menial task you’re doing and make you focus on the song at hand.
Jaguar Palace will be out March 31st via Cosmic Dreamer. Get stoked!