New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
What we’re spending time with
By Kahron Spearman, Kevin Curtin, Rachel Rascoe, Doug Freeman, Tim Stegall, and Greg Stitt, Fri., May 8, 2020
Los Coast, "Elvis Presley Blues"
Apple, iTunes, Spotify
Birthed at world famous Arlyn Studios just south of the Colorado, Los Coast's first foray into country music preceded the Austin psych-soul troupe leaving on tour last year. A cover of Americana heroine Gillian Welch's "Elvis Presley Blues," the locals' brand new single also features homegrown folk quartet Ley Line. It's a dense track with 11 players taking part, including a folk orchestra.
Frontman Trey Privott cites a deep personal connection to the track and its inspiration.
"It's one of my favorite songs of all time based on the lyrics," says the singer of the song, whose reinterpretation by Los Coast bears little resemblance to the original. "I thought it'd be interesting to make it into a soul song since it was about Elvis and his complicated relationship with the Black community. Growing up, my mom never really let me listen to Elvis because she thought he'd hijacked his vibe from the Black rockers at the time."
Privott deep-dived the so-called King after taking a position at Waterloo Records and scouring the Memphis native's deep catalog. Upon discovery of Welch's heartfelt track from her third album Time (the Revelator) in 2001, he fell prey to the spell she cast in ruminating over Presley's art and death. Following Los Coast's debut last year on roots-rock stalwarts New West Records with Samsara (a "vast and varied outing" opined this pub), he calls the group's cover more of an "experimental one-off."
"We're always trying to find this new sound we can work with, and live in," he says. "I think that we actually enjoy folkier music. It was more of a challenge to see if we could live in that world. I'd like to think that one day we'll make a full album like this, but for this particular song, it was more of a challenge to see if we could connect on this level." – Kahron Spearman
For the complete Q&A with Trey Privott, visit austinchronicle.com/daily.
SXSW Artist Sets & Playlist
Maintaining focus on musical discovery, South by Southwest reps their roster from the conference/festival that never happened with a hearty YouTube playlist. "Keep Up with SXSW Showcasing Artists" streams over 200 recent live performances and stripped-down sets from 2020 invitees. Tubist Theon Cross scaling up a mountainous groove with his quintet on a British Music Embassy livestream notches a highlight, as does the gentle, highly articulate lullaby rock of Seattle's Ings, who as captured on Audiotree reminds us of the unsigned talent everyone happens upon annually in these parts during March. SXSW's "Walking the Cow" Spotify playlist also features smartly selected tracks from choice Texans. – Kevin Curtin
Austin Texas Musicians' Night Shift
Earlier this year, nonprofit Austin Texas Musicians began gathering weekly at Beerland for friendly advocacy chatter. Founded in 2019, the group hopes to help artists stay informed and stand up for themselves in civic spheres. The effort moves online with a new Wednesday talk show hosted by president and founder Nakia Reynoso, whose guest selects prove impressively pertinent to musicians' current livelihood. Running down a roster of relevant city leaders, the April 29 episode featured Council Member Kathie Tovo, Music Commission Chair Rick Carney, and Workforce Solutions Capital Area CEO Tamara Atkinson. Host Reynoso even pressed Carney on their differing views of the much-chattered-about Live Music Fund. Find all episodes so far, with selected clips, on the Austin Texas Musicians Facebook page. – Rachel Rascoe
Queens of Country
Few artists have proved more supportive of their peers' livestream efforts than banjo, fiddle, and guitar slinger Beth Chrisman. The local songwriter launched her Cabin Fever Tunes listings of folk oriented shows shortly after lockdown and now runs a weekly tribute show with varying friends covering the Queens of Country, and raising money for new charities every Wednesday. Past shows took on Hazel Dickens and Emmylou Harris, with Lucinda Williams (5/13) and Wanda Jackson (5/20) on tap next. Chrisman draws upon a cadre of songwriters that spans the globe, including familiar stalwarts (Brennen Leigh), rising country stars (Martha Spencer), and Armadillo World Headquarters legends (Bill Kirchen). – Doug Freeman
Billy F. Gibbons "Missin' Yo' Kissin'"
Filmed Nov. 11, 2018, at San Antonio's Aztec Theater on the ZZ Top kingpin's Big Bad Blues solo tour, the newly unearthed video for "Missin' Yo' Kissin'" soundtracks a hard John Lee Hooker shuffle that feels oddly cogent in pandemic world. The visuals, meanwhile, remind us how much this Texan misses sweaty rock & roll. The guitarist's thick chords and economical leads come backed by GNR/Velvet Revolver mega drummer Matt Sorum, journeyman guitarist Austin Hanks, and guitar tech Elwood Francis evoking harp god Little Walter. Think of the song as a heavier, meatier ZZ Top, with Gibbons barking lyrics penned by his wife Gilligan Stillwater. It sounds like a plea from a lover estranged by quarantine. – Tim Stegall
The Sagebrush Show
Denis O'Donnell's new South Austin club Sagebrush aimed for an opening this spring, earmarking the latest endeavor from the masterminds behind the White Horse and Hard Luck Lounge. Those plans on hold indefinitely, he instead soft-launched the venue with the surreal Sagebrush Show, inviting artists to his makeshift stage for masked conversations and a few tunes. The familiar chats veer hilariously toward Between Two Ferns territory, while stripped down acoustic offerings make the entire affair an appropriately absurdist Tonight Show for the times. Among the initial guests: Doug Strahan, Selena Rosenbaum, Ryan Sambol, Blake Van Buren, and Croy & the Boys frontispiece Corey Baum, dishing new songs from quarantine LP The Covid Tapes. – Doug Freeman
Jeff Hortillosa: War Monkey
"He looks just like a human, but he's fuckin' pink!" says the confounded tribesman, inspecting the white missionary who's floated up to their remote civilization in a kayak. "War Monkey," a 30-minute comedic short accompanying Whiskey Shivers guitarist/singer Jeff "Horti" Hortillosa's new single "Jesus Christ," plays out like a lost Cheech & Chong movie laced with potent social commentary. The first-gen Filipino American plays a villager who's received orders from the tribal chief to execute the pig-man. The islanders' use of modern American vernacular, contrasted by the silent Caucasian, drives home a strong point and copious yuks. – Kevin Curtin
Paul Cauthen: Road Noise
Rocking country crooner Paul Cauthen teamed up with 805 Beer for an impressively produced mini-doc following the onetime local across Texas. The 20-minute video proves surprisingly revealing, with the Tyler titan rhapsodizing about his upbringing and career at a moment when he's on the brink of breakout behind last year's sophomore album Room 41. Cauthen catalyzes a new breed of Texas songwriters with his rollicking Big Velvet Revue and outsized swagger to match booming vocals, but the visuals capture the man's genuine humility behind the bravado. A slew of impressive live performances from Antone's and other Lone Star venues seal the deal. – Doug Freeman
Nearly a century of music pedigree among them, drummer Lisa Cameron (Suspirians), Houston-based guitarist Tom Carter (Charalambides), and Norse-raised bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (Young Mothers) remain an experimental supergroup. First non-subscription-based offering from the trio, Tau Ceti follows five increasingly indelible compositions, all but opener "Chronosphere" exceeding 10 minutes, through a wondrous voyage of improvised avant-jazz ("SETI") and scorching psychedelia ("Daath"). Closer "Traveling Spaceways" indulges in the freak-out groundwork laid by Sun Ra over 50 years ago. Available on digital and cassette from local experimental jazz purveyors Astral Spirits, featuring artwork from the inimitable Jaime Zuverza to boot. – Greg Stitt
Social Distance Vol. 1 Compilation
Among myriad gems unearthed for last Friday's Bandcamp profit share, a charmingly experimental compilation of all-ATX artists emerged under an image of Daniel Johnston's frog in a face mask. Corey Anderson of wiry punks Exercise organized the grab-bag as End of Times Records, polling locals for new songs recorded during quarantine. Jared Leibowich (Zoltars) and Dan LeVine (Ghetto Ghouls), who play together in the Infinites, add fuzzy, spaced-out efforts to the haul. The Hermits distill woozy pop on "Mind the Gap" and numerous pseudonyms emerge from the cohabitating players. Under the name Silk, standout rock slice "Silver Button" includes members of Chronophage. – Rachel Rascoe