It’s been a crazy year, and a depressing year, so perhaps we all retreated more into our record collections to seek out that fleeting joy. On my end, I spent a lot of time running/walking in the ‘burbs, so these are the records that played the most in my life…thus they are my Favorite Albums of 2020. The validity means little to anyone other than myself, but since you stop by, perhaps come by and check out my list!
And, just an FYI…there are 30 bands, and I linked back to Bandcamp pages so you can buy directly from the artists…except that one band because apparently they’re too cool…even though that album rips.
Seeing as we’re based in Austin, born and raise and what not, we feel a special affinity for our music scene, which has been hit really hard this year. But, let’s celebrate the music that came out, despite the difficulties we all faced. So, here’s our Top Releases from the ATX scene. And still staying away from numbering things, as this feels like telling one friend you like them more than your other friend…and I’m just excited all these great artists live nearby and were able to put their art into the world in this shit year.
Members of A. Sinclair, Pocket Sounds and Royal Forest with Jana Horn and a crew of others covered REM’s “Exhuming McCarthy”. Then, Annie Nirschel put together a lyric video featuring some poignant call outs to Mr. Stipe’s word choices while photos by yours truly scroll in the background. The pics were from random nights, locals, fun times, the taken for granted shows on a Tuesday night or Sunday afternoon that we all miss so much. Quick write up over at The Chron.
Everyone has been raving about Jana Horn’s new album Optimism (you’ve check it out haven’t you? It’s HERE), but we shouldn’t forget that she began this summer for us by releasing a 7″ with her other project American Friend; the band is comprised of Jana and Adam Jones (of my fave Deep Time), at least for the 7″ recording. Over the weekend they shared a really striking video directed by another ATX local, Shannon Widermeyer, and it seems fitting that we share this track with you as a reminder of the release. One of the things I love about this recording, aside from Horn’s always mesmerizing vocals, are the tones of the guitars; it’s like they’re haunting every lyrical note, heavy with their own sentiment. If you’re digging it, you should grab it HERE.
Seeing as the City of Austin is determined to ignore the struggling creativity of our city, we’re trying to do just the wee little bit we can for the five of you that read this site. So, I wanted to kind of jump in and highlight some of last week’s great Austin releases. This is all in addition to the great Mobley track we wrote about earlier in that week!
First, we’d be remiss if we didn’t encourage you to listen to Pelvis Wrestley, current holders of the best band name in Austin. Oh, and did we mentioned our label put out cassette of their debut Vortexas Vorever LP on Friday? We did very little but ride the coattails of their genius, which you can stream below!
Second, one of the acts we’ve championed for years, Jana Horn, released her new solo LP, Optimism. Pretty sure this might be one of the best releases in Austin this year, and hopefully the world finally starts to take notice of Jana’s incredible gifts.
Then there was a new single from Dylan Pacheco, which I’ve been super into over the weekend. It reminds me a tad of Elvis Depressedly in that sort of bedroom pop sense, but I’ll admit I feel like Pacheco might have better production touches on this number. His debut EP, Youthful Exuberance, will hit on October 30th.
Future Museums also had a single of his minimal electronica that was released via Holodeck Records. It’s this carefully constructed organic piece that’s probably best experienced while watching the following video accompaniment.
Earlier this year when I helped organize Slack Capital 3 (with Eric Bill/Howdy Gals), we got an early peek at new music from Jana Horn when she let us use “Time Machine” for the compilation. Now, she’s announced her debut solo LP, Optimism, and dropped another powerful tune I’d love you to enjoy. While her musicianship has always been extremely moving, this new single shows the strength of her voice alone in the world. There are some barely audible strums faintly hanging from the distance, carefully uplifting Horn’s airy vocals. She’s one of my favorite Austin songwriters, gifted in so many ways, so you’ll definitely want to check out Optimism when its released on September 18th.
For quite awhile now I’ve been touting Jana Horn (she dropped a song on Slack Capital 3 too) as one of Austin’s great voices. This past Friday, one of her projects, American Friend, released their debut single. She’s joined by Adam Jones, of Deep Time, for percussive elements, definitely building in some textures to thicken up the sound around her guitar and vocals. “His Energy Runs Backwards” might be the most traditional of the two tracks on this 7″, with the fragility of Horn’s voice carefully treading above the instrumentation; Jones jumps in the song’s latter half to join too. “Cancer City” shows the duo really moving beyond the boundaries of the genre, incorporating a squawking clarinet (courtesy of Carl Smith) to the intoxicating mixture of guitar and drums. Definitely something you should invest your time in today, if you so choose.
Every so often, I team up with our friend Eric from Big Bill to curate Slack Capital compilations. This year, we began working early in the COVID shutdown, along with new help from the supreme booking team that is Howdy Gals. We’ve dropped a few tunes already from Christelle Bofale and Sun June, but we wanted to give you one last taste before the compilation goes live tomorrow. 100% of proceeds raised will go to Austin Justice Coalition…plus, since its only available on Bandcamp, a percentage of their profits is going to NAACP!
We wanted to illustrate the compilation’s broad musical swath, so we’ve got a little hip-hop, a touch of electro-pop, and a few beautiful ballads. The 41 track compilation goes live tomorrow!
I reckon as an Austin-based site, we’ve got to rep our fabulous locals (but only the fabulous ones). Yesterday a couple of our favorite acts shared some things, and I’d like to share them with you.
Linen Closet dropped the latest single from their forthcoming LP, which will drop this week, with a celebratory show at Central Presbyterian with our friends David Israel and Marmalakes. If you’re looking for well-crafted indie rock, of the orchestrated sort, then this is the place to be.
Also, Jana Horn had a couple of releases, uploading her recent tour tape, as well as adding to a few of the tidbits from her forthcoming Optimism LP. She’s got three tunes up, but this is perhaps my favorite. I love how her voice comes in soft, but there’s a sharp twist when her voice grabs pace (like at the 35 second mark). Can’t wait to hear the entirety of the new LP.
It’s rare that you find a great Monday evening show, but tonight we have just such an event with Katie von Schleicher playing at Barracuda tonight. If you read these pages, you’ve likely heard me rave about Bleaksploitation and Shitty Hits…and even a quick write up on her latest single Glad to Be Here. She waltzes into town tonight with deserved buzz, and several albums worth of powerful songs that put her on par with the Angel Olsens and Cate Le Bons of the my world. Plus, she’s joined by our friend Jana Horn as the opening act, which means you have to show up super early to catch what we can only assume will be another striking performance by Jana. Doors open at Barracuda at 8 PM.