Rather than the Benjamins benefiting Austin's low-cost mental health care provider for musicians, the SIMS Foundation, to the tune of well over $2 million since 1993, Broadcasts remains all about the dominoes – the almighty segue. Two discs, one contemporary and the other featuring exclusive tracks from the KGSR archives, divvy 39 songs into 147.41 minutes, most solo acoustic and many paired with the perfect rejoinder. Beginning where else, at the SRV of a new generation – Gary Clark Jr. – Vol. 20 chases the young bluesman's haunted "Bright Lights" with UK roots gurus Gomez, a now 15-year-old best-kept secret in Americana pop. Tipping into an artist at the left hand of Bob Schneider, who appears in similar fashion toward the top of the second disc, Mississippi minstrel Charlie Mars puts on his own spooky solo rendition of the best song on his 2012 LP Blackberry Light, "How I Roll." James Mercer without the rest of the Shins somewhat breaks the spell because he's recorded live, but not really, since his "Simple Song" titles what Charlie Mars just accomplished. South Austin's Ben Kweller, sounding uncannily Roger McGuinn/Tom Petty, then clears the bases with live rock-up "Jealous Girl." English balladeers Keane, as far removed from ATX as Atlantis, deliver a corporate radio raspberry – the channel changer – but thankfully, such land mines are few and far between, as in the Kate Bush contortions from the truly awful Selah Sue. Otherwise, new discoveries in line with local songsmithery are plenty and pleasing (Ben Howard), balancing out new acts that evaporate into air without leaving any impression at all (the Head & the Heart, Walk the Moon). More soul's needed to accompany Michael Kiwanuka's folk-blues Traci Chapman equivalent, "I'm Getting Ready," but there's no sleeping on straight-up hits – Fitz & the Tantrums doing Hall & Oates' blue-eyed soul for a new generation ("Don't Gotta Work It Out"); Fun.'s evil earwig "We Are Young" – and secondary hits: Foster the People's "Don't Stop (Color on the Walls)." In the end, segues rule the roost, like an unplugged Death Cab for Cutie ("Crooked Teeth") into a beautifully stripped Spoon ("Don't You Evah"), not to mention Ingrid Michaelson proving a long-lost sister to Shawn Colvin ("All Fall Down"). This year's feminine wiles prove particularly strong: Aimee Mann, Norah Jones, and Sara(h)s Bareilles and McLachlan, the former roots-wired à la Delaney & Bonnie and the latter operatically stunning on "Adia." Lucinda Williams keeps the wheels on "Changed the Locks," but just barely. Then there's the testicular contingent, expertly framed by Ryan Adams on disc two: Ray LaMontagne ("Jolene"), Lyle Lovett ("My Baby Don't Tolerate"), and the vocal tightrope walk of the real-life Crazy Heart, Kris Kristofferson. Another key one-two punch: righteously raspy Ryan Bingham ("Depression") and Steve Earle ("Tennessee Blues") at collection's end. KGSR Broadcasts Vol. 20 encore: Ryan Adams doing his best Jerry Jeff Walker/(Todd Snider?) on "KGSR Rainy Day Talkin' Blues."
Copyright © 2017 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.