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.
Since the inception of this site back in the 00s, Abram Shook has been a constant feature on these Internet pages…either as a solo artists or one of his various projects like Feverbones or Great Nostalgic. Next week, he’ll be releasing his new LP, the Neon Machine, and while it definitely has his imprint, I think a lot of folks will be surprised by the sounds. For me, the synth pulse, albeit in a smooth fashion, was an unexpected twist; it’s interesting how some of those notes match the rhythm of Abram’s vocal delivery. Speaking of his vocals, there’s this velvety soulfulness that it far more pronounced than anything he’s done; I think the “with your time” line is the only time when I was like “yeah, this sounds like Abram, 100%.” It’s a really impressive shift into new territory, and I can see this getting some Neon Indian comparisons for those with careful ears. The new LP is out August 16th via Western Vinyl. He’ll be out on the road through October with White Denim, mostly through East Coast/Midwest; check some of those dates HERE.
As you know, we’re big Abram Shook fans; he even let us put out an LP by his Feverbones project, so when he’s crafting new tunes, our heads turn right away. I think those longtime fans will immediately notice that this record is a bit of a new twist for Abram; it sounds and looks like a pop record, albeit one spun through the lens of Shook. His soft vocal delivery seems to highlight the song’s natural rhythm, while synth stabs build in a toe-tapping groove beneath the whole mix; it’s all crafted under Abram’s typical attention to detail, with every note throughout being purposeful. The Neon Machine will be available on August 16th via Western Vinyl.
We’ve known Abram Shook for a really long time, since the beginning of this little site, actually. We’ve watched him grow, worked with he and his project Feverbones to release their LP, and now we seeing him grow again. The last few months he’s teased us with images that border on space-alien or maybe even disco; we knew something was coming, and now we finally get to hear it! In the first 40 seconds he offers up this sort of tinkering pop ambiance, but just after that, the song really drops in and there’s a funkier element to what Shook is working with in the song. That funk has always existed, especially if you’ve been fortunate enough to watch him play live, but it’s way out in the open here, then smoothed and polished for the chorus. We hear he might have a new album on the horizon, but for now, we just get this single!
Free Week is great. The concept of having people fill venues so bartenders and stage crews have a little cash in their pockets is totally a get-behind theme. Now, my epic level of cynicism that creeps in from time to time means that I will give the evil eye to anyone mad about one-in-one-out at a venue. These bands are playing all over town, all year long and sometimes opening for a touring band you would think is too expensive to go see. #value Let’s go, Austin, spend that twelve bucks.
My Free Week rant is over. Let’s get on to some notables and photos. A. Sinclair is a constant fave for rock and or roll. Abram Shook lends credibility to any music catalog. That performance had two-thirds of Feverbones; they are wicked excited for the new record, naturally so are we. Tres Oui‘s invisible bass player had a killer set (#sarcasm). Space-sparse of Soft Healer was a reset. I got to see The Infinites at Beerland as a full band. I do miss a little of the DIY nature of looping to fill sounds, but the layered gazy post punk sounded really rad with guitars filling the room. Fave thing of the time I spent Red Rivering.
Peep the gallery. I spent time taking photos of friends and the people that make Free Week go. I even used a flash. Crazy right?
I love y’all.
This is a tough list, as there’s a bevy of great music within the confines of our fair city. We’ve even had our hand in putting out some great releases this year…though I can’t include them as I fear the wrath of nepotism.
Plus, it’s nice to see what everyone else is up to around these parts.
We haven’t heard from Abram Shook since 2015, but the good news for Austin, and everywhere, is that he’s back with the brand new Love at Low Speed. The batch of songs on this album is said to be of a more personal nature, which inevitably will hit home for listeners. I love how this song opens with Shook and guitar, and little else. It seems to fit the song, creating an immediate intimacy that captures the audience, before the track is built up by further accompaniment. It’s a slow-paced adventure filled by Abram’s continued sonic exploration as he seeks to reach musical perfection. My two cents? You’re close pal, so so close. New album will be out on June 16th via Western Vinyl.
I decided for the next evening of Free Week silliness, I would start at The Mohawk and make my way to Sidewinder. Free Week venues where met with capacity attendance and lines waiting for one-in-one-out to give access.
So, I will say this here – HEY AUSTIN, SPEND $5-10 AND YOU CAN DO THIS EVERY NIGHT OF THE WEEK!
Bands I caught this time around – A. Sinclair, Ben Ballinger, Sweet Spirit, Abram Shook, Stiletto Heels, Knifight, Orthy and Sounds Del Mar. Click through for shens.
There’s still some Free Week activities for you over at Barracuda this week, which you should attend, but the main stretch of Free Week is over. I had a pretty solid time, bouncing all down Red River, catching over 60 great Austin bands (and a few from out of town). It’s a really special time for the Austin music community and its fan, so I’m going to leave you with some notes, as well as some highlights and things you should look forward to in 2016. Read more
It’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 Talk – Double 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
Reservations – Taking 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 Mobsters – War 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
Video – The 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 Zoltars – s/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 Feels – The 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 Paint – Dopers
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 Lash – s/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
BOAN – Mentiras
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
Xetas – The 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
Institute – Catharsis
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 Field – Future 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