New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
What we’re playing
By Doug Freeman, Kevin Curtin, Rachel Rascoe, Kahron Spearman, Derek Udensi, Greg Stitt, and Raoul Hernandez, Fri., May 22, 2020
Reckless Kelly: American Jackpot/American Girls
Reckless Kelly hadn't intended on making a double album when they began recording their 11th studio LP last year at Arlyn Studios, but Willy Braun booked more studio time than the guitar-scorching roots rockers needed. The resulting double shot of American Jackpot/American Girls pulls on the two main threads of Austin's Braun Brothers and their songwriting over the past quarter century: contradictions of American identity and the complexity of relationships.
"I've had this idea to make a record about America for a long time, and it's gone through a lot of different phases," says Willy Braun, holed up at the family homestead in Idaho, with the rest of the band in Austin. "I didn't want it to be too political or too 'God bless America,' but at the end of the day, I wanted it to be American stories. There's a song about Grandpa, about Jackie Robinson, a song about riding mules out of the Grand Canyon."
Like a Western-rooted Drive-By Truckers or Red Dirt Springsteen, Reckless Kelly explores that sense of America with a brazen embrace of both pride and critique, hard truths reckoned with head-on but with stubborn and enduring independence.
"A lot of people will see the album cover and assume it's going to be 10 songs about Trump, but I think I exercised great restraint in that," laughs Braun. "We don't want to alienate anybody, but at the same time I'm going to speak my mind. So there are songs that dive a little bit into that end of the pool, but for the most part, it's just American stories."
With their Paramount Theatre release show and subsequent tour on hold indefinitely, Braun plays weekly shows online. Music From the Mountains streams live on Reckless Kelly's social media channels every Sunday. – Doug Freeman
Abhi the Nomad's "Long Nights"
A knock at the door signals the arrival of a mysterious package. Abhi the Nomad pops it open to discover a new Xbox game: Abhi vs. the Universe. "Nice graphics," he says, right before becoming one with the game, which imprisons him until he earns enough experience points. The Austin rapper and serious gamer employs said Black Mirror-style scenario to introduce his new project. The game's first objective targets a hot new track, so he picks up his guitar, MIDI keys, and microphone and lays down the bangin' "Long Nights," with a guest verse from Khary. That earns 350 XP. – Kevin Curtin
Brother Sports' Mala EP
A smattering of singles, always accompanied by band member Ishaq Fahim's vivid designs, established Brother Sports as a jittery local garage presence of the past few years. The quintet's first EP, Mala injects a dreamy, guitar-led wash of reverb with hyper urgency. The result is ultrapotent rock dopamine topped with nonchalant vocal sneer. It's named for a title track the group reveals as one of their first songwriting efforts, appropriate for a release that summarizes each of Brother Sports' stylistic interests in five compact tracks. Driving rhythms ("Distractions") emulate the Strokes, while "2069" dances toward a psychedelically interested approximation of the Growlers. Through phases in focus, the vibe is decidedly upbeat. – Rachel Rascoe
Mobley's "Nobody's Favourite"
According to ATX pop maven Mobley, new single "Nobody's Favourite" documents the "internal monologue of a scumbag." The multihyphenate's character spends most of the track swaying between "utter egomania and abject self-loathing. He's losing it, spiraling as the song goes on." Mixed by Spoon's Jim Eno, the singer-songwriter takes on a sonically beefier tone on a track born from rough recordings created during what was supposed to be a relaxing post-tour trip to Thailand. He wrote the bulk of upcoming album Young & Dying in the Occident Supreme on a remote island with a $100 knockoff Telecaster purchased in Bangkok. The muscular track comes accentuated with thoughtful lyrics and a booming signature hook. – Kahron Spearman
Magna Carda EP & Podcast
Three-time recipients of the Austin Music Award for Best Hip-Hop/Rap kicked off May with the release of Coffee Table Talk Vol. Two. The six-song sequel to 2017's first EP volume matches the chill vibe found throughout Magna Carda's catalogue. Megz Kelli (Megan Tillman) strings together words with the confident swagger of a poet intimately relaying thoughts before a dimly lit crowd, potently weaving between production by Dougie Do (Chris Beale), stopping only to add a stab of her own on guitar. The versatile Austin duo recently started a podcast on SoundCloud. The hosts of 2 Legit Radio shed light on artists they admire, discuss current events, and help listeners with tips on creating music. – Derek Udensi
Chris Polcyn, "Breathe"
Austin-based Holodeck Records introduces Californian Chris Polcyn with his glowing debut single, "Breathe." Written on older digital hardware, the producer infuses essences of premillennial electronica, New Age, acid house, and dub. It's a calming affair, downtempo atmospherics seated in synth melodies and a sturdy bassline. "When I first heard Polcyn's music, I was immediately drawn in by his jazz-informed proficiency with chord voices and melodic arrangements," offers Dylan Cameron, Holodeck's resident mix-and-master stalwart. "I love the way he contextualizes modern synth production into the paradigm of classic house and dance music." – Kahron Spearman
Bridge Farmers/Cheap Wave Live
Recorded February 2018, ATX acid metal trio Bridge Farmers presents the name-your-price Live at the Electric Church, a 35-minute set recorded by C.R.O.W. Electric engineers-in-residence Remy David and Tyler Speicher. Kicking off with 2016 single "Frater Achad," the remaining four tracks originate on that year's eponymous psych-doom platter, burning it all down with a 12-minute "Pyramids of Montauk." Marking one of the last nights of pre-pandemic Red River routine with Live From Before, peppy nerd punk trio Cheap Wave dispenses a 40-minute event recorded March 12 at Mohawk, its $5 price tag going toward nonprofit RRCD. The bulk of the album's material, "Burn the Tyrants" and "Oh Yeah" among the highlights, is exclusive to this release, and proves an excellent primer to a rising talent. – Greg Stitt
Mike & the Moonpies feat. Johnny Bush
Recorded at Abbey Road Studios with the London Symphony Orchestra, Mike & the Moonpies' 2019 stunner, Cheap Silver & Solid Country Gold, bucked the homegrown honky-tonk hardcores into a whole new talent bracket. That's where they intersect with Johnny Bush, Lone Star classic country influence on no less than Willie Nelson. Bandleader Mike Harmeier wrote "Say It Simply" for third album Mockingbird, and during a song swap with Bush revealed to the veteran crooner he'd written it in his clean, broad, Southwestern style. The latter reciprocated by eventually cutting his own vocal for the Moonpies song, which still silver-lines roadhouses from here to Patrick Swayze on the heavenly glide of pedal steel player Zach Moulton. Tune into Harmeier's Live From the Prairie Rose Saturdays, 8pm on Facebook for acoustic performances, vintage videos, interviews, and a raffle. – Raoul Hernandez
Wednesdays Live From Wonderland
Judging by their weekly live show on Facebook, few domiciles seem more magically suited to ride out a pandemic than Carolyn Wonderland and A. Whitney Brown's compound on the outskirts of Austin. While the blues queen breaks from her tour with John Mayall, she hosts the Wednesday stream to showcase old favorites and new tunes recently recorded with Dave Alvin for a planned 2020 LP. Her husband, comedian and SNL alum Brown, meanwhile beguiles with endless stories and his lessons on how to make a proper plate of Texas beans. Hint: The secret's in the soaking. – Doug Freeman
PBS Unlocks Austin City Limits Episodes
Watched everything good on Netflix? Tired of your friend's poorly produced live-streams? PBS throws you a bone. They've added 40-plus episodes of Austin City Limits to their app and website, most pulling from the latest three seasons. First things first: Watch John Prine's magical 2018 performance. Then enjoy captures of Herbie Hancock, St. Vincent, Billie Eilish, H.E.R., and Janelle Monáe. B.B. King (1982) counts as free classic, while Tom Waits turning the stage into an ashtray (1978) is available to PBS donors. – Kevin Curtin