Top Austin Albums Of 2015

Best ATX 2015It’s that time of year when we all throw arbitrary numbers at you, trying to convince you that our tastes are the best. But, I’m going to try taking a slightly different approach this year, giving you just a list of great Austin records that came out this year, but with no numbers or anything. These are just the LPs that connected with me in some way or another throughout 2015. There’s no particular order, just a bunch of records you should probably own. Also, I added some helpful BUY links for you to take you right to where you can get the goods. Just take my word for it and go buy those things.

Sweet TalkDouble Perfect

Stephen Svacina takes on our mundane world, turns it into catchy pop punk, and leaves it memorable. Recommended for those who like high energy tunes that you’ll remember for the rest of your times.  BUY

ReservationsTaking Time

‘To be honest.’ some records hit all the right notes, and hit home. The full length debut by Jana Horn and Reservations is just that. Well-crafted, sincere. A joy of orchestrated indie folk.  BUY

Lochness MobstersWar Tuna

Immediate disclaimer. I helped put this record out. These boys take on the modern Austin cliche of garage-psych and turn it into a sweaty party that’s been proven to rile up audiences, then flip the world upside down by breaking into Beastie Boys. Too good.  BUY

VideoThe Entertainers

Snarling rock n’ roll, no holds barred. I mean come on, you can’t discard the fact that Third Man Records had a hand in getting these tracks out. People are taking notice.  BUY

The Zoltarss/t

Jared is another of Austin’s artists that probably doesn’t get nearly the amount of credit that he deserves, crafting some of the best guitar pop. Pop songs like the one’s on this album aren’t written every day, and when they are, they last in your memory forever. BUY

Stiletto FeelsThe Big Fist

Geoff Earle makes good on his promise to get everyone grooving, while still supplying enough grit to make it important. One of the most diverse in sound to come out of the city; you’re bouncing to electronic elements before guitars jump in to guarantee that this is more than just a programmed, laptop affair.  BUY

Grape St.Wallpaper

Another batch of hooks. Another batch of songs from Curtis O’Mara. If you know me, you know I’ll never get tired of listening to his work. Some guys just get you.  BUY

Spray PaintDopers

I have to apologize to Spray Paint, as this is the only record of theirs that’s going to make it onto my list this year. Maybe people are tired of these guys, but how can you look away when they’re just continuing to release solid album after solid album. It should say a lot that even when they’re so prolific, they never seem to leave you with a track that you can throwaway.  BUY

Single Lashs/t

Lurking beneath the belly of Austin’s rock n’ roll scene is a slowly blossoming shoegaze/indiepop scene. There’s this dense coat of atmosphere coating the album, making it perfect for those who seek darkness reinforced by standard pop structures. BUY


If I were still into making mixed CDs for people, “Babylon” would be one of the opening moments; it’s perfect in both it’s simplicity and its construction. One of the few electronic Austin acts that really matter.  BUY

XetasThe Redeemer

How do you take the tenacity and fuel of a great live band, then capture it on tape? Well, Xetas did it, and you’ll be remiss for skipping over the record.  BUY


A few years ago everyone was raging about The Men. That was fair, but if you’re looking for solid rock n’ roll, I hate to tell you that Institute does it better. Catharsis is one of those albums that seems timeless from the moment you press play; it sounds familiar, yet the songs brim with attitude and execution that you’re not going to find in many scenes.  BUY

Good FieldFuture Me

Indie rock is only sustainable when it’s executed perfectly. These guys nailed it on this go round, giving us the “Business.” Smells like Spoon, sounds like awesome.  BUY

Abram Shook Landscape Dream

Guys. Abram Shook. How many times do we have to tell you. ABRAM SHOOK! Another perfect collection of songs.  BUY

Blasting Alternative Rock from Varvara

varYou know we’re always keeping our eyes on the scene in Finland, and Varvara is one of the band’s overseas making some waves with their new effort on the way. This time around, they’ve released this cracking rocker, akin to some classic college rock sounds. Maybe it’s just me, but the more I listen to this song, the more I feel they owe a debt to Robert Pollard, though I will say that the group have definitely upped the production quality on their offering. Stay tuned to the track for the soft breakdown lurking in the middle. They’ll be releasing Death Defying Tricks in January via Haminian Sounds.

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New Sleepercar EP Is Out

jimmyRecently, I caught Antemasque at FFF Fest. Despite the endless talent musically, the songs just didn’t really appeal to me; they didn’t have any accessibility or focus. But, that’s why Jim Ward has always been the unheralded mastermind that made At the Drive In work. You can hear his songwriting talents in his Sleepercar project, though the sound is admittedly a slight bit more Western. Still, there’s soul to this song, featured on his new Breathe and Count EP.  There’s hints of Beck in Ward’s vocals on this round, but I love how the song opens slowly, then erupts a little bit later on down the line…sort of like a journey with Jim. If you’re in Austin, he plays at the Mohawk Wednesday night to celebrate the new EP.

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Don’t Miss This Sea Pinks Video

seapinkysSure, we hit up this dreamy new song from Sea Pinks a few weeks ago, but we wanted to remind you of its greatness by way of this video the band just released over the holiday break. It’s interesting, as the band is playing behind some psychedelic washes on the wall, which seems to be a little different than the feel of the track. But, it’s still a solid performance video, hopefully hipping folks to the band’s sound prior to the release of their new record, Soft Days, which hits January 8th via CF Records.



We’re Back, So Is Yndi Halda

yndiAfter a brief little hiatus, we’re trying to play catch up with some of the tunes that came out last week. This one immediately caught my attention, seeing as Yndi Halda hasn’t released an album for some eight years. Well, like us, they’re back with something new, and I love the understated approach taken on this tune. Everything seems equal here, even the vocals seem to sit right inside the main mix of this tune. Still, the band employ a post rock approach, building and building towards a crescendo that never quite comes. encouraging listeners to keep coming back for more. Definitely excited to see what comes our way when the new LP is unleashed in March.

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Dreamy Ethereal Track From Keiandra

keiandra-press-image-2It’s a gray day here in the ATX, which makes me prone to listen to the kind of hazy dream-like tracks that Newcastle artist Keiandra is putting out. This new track, taken from her debut EP Empty Places, which is due out early next year, is a crescendoing sequence of layered vocals and minimalist instrumentation which creates this elegant and mystical sound to “Wanted.” Each sound melts into the next, generating a multi-faceted aspect to the song that reminds me of other alt-folk female artists like Daughter bring to the table. Take a listen below and get a little lost in the song.

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Fresh Tune from Wovoka Gentle

wovokaThe music of Wovoka Gentle seems to draw on various influences, which has made it difficult to pigeonhole. There’s obviously elements of folk music, yet there’s some strange touches to like the vocal spoken just beneath the main mix, adding a deeper element to this single. Also, there’s even a slight giggle when William takes over, which is both endearing but also enlightening, as the group’s not seeking to release the “perfect” final cut. The trio release their Wovoka Gentle [Blue] EP this Friday, so should you be inclined to see some people doing things a bit different, take the journey with them.

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Two New Wild Nothing Tracks?!?!

Credit_Daniel_McMahon2The boys are back! I’m beyond excited to announce that Wild Nothing have a new album on the way called Life of Pause, which is due out shortly via Captured Tracks. After their spectacular previous release, Nocturne, it seems that this band is still moving upwards and onwards with their sound; these two new tracks still showcase that lush dream pop, but with more hints of synths laced into the sound. While I like both of the new tunes, I think the second track, “TV Queen” strikes closer along the lines of what we’ve heard before from the band.  Take a listen to the tracks below and rejoice that there is yet more new music to come from Wild Nothing.


Your Last Chance to Listen to the Brainstems

braOkay. Not really, but I’ve already posted about the Brainstems multiple times in the last few months, so I promise that I won’t do it again…at least until 2016. Their latest single has a different feel than some of the other tracks, though clearly in the same vein with other garage-y contemporaries. I like the way the vocals are recorded; it seems like this track is built perfectly for a live version where the audience is bouncing and screaming at the top of their lungs…or at least that’s how I imagine it. Don’t forget that their debut No Place Else comes out this Friday via Bad Diet HQ.

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Strange Faces Define Lo-Fi

EtHnj8W61v9AxZlCMRp86rwX31srFVD9FknMV2nISeg41jmojnFJp5wrepwdILzoEb342PBrqzsbIbf0ZDIdmUFiXvQXbB4pHfXLjW-BpAMlTs0equBkQ0PjyCd5oNScQAs the weather gets colder and we near the end of year, I always struggle to discover new music when we begin focusing on best of lists.  Chicago based band Strange Faces has woken me from my new music slumber today with this awesome new track called “I Saw Your Face”.  This is a song that truly defines what it means to be in the lo-fi pop genre.  Think The Men if they washed out everything about their sound and got a bit more poppy.

Stonerism is due out on December 11th via Autumn Tone Records.

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