New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
What we’re playing
By Raoul Hernandez, Kevin Curtin, Kahron Spearman, Rachel Rascoe, Tim Stegall, and Doug Freeman, Fri., July 10, 2020
Primates (Nine Mile Records)
Any lead-off track better give as good as the album itself, so Primates coming out swinging on what sounds like a Sly & the Family Stone cover sets the Greyhounds' fifth formal full-length swiftly afoot. Co-composed with onetime T-Bird & the Breaks leader Tim Crane (soon aka Jank Sinatra), "Tune In" grooves like a breakthrough anthem for Austin duo Anthony Farrell and Andrew Trube, its airy and ambient soul wafting weightlessly on the former's electric piano as it cushions his yearning vocal and the rhythmic swell from the latter monkey man's guitar. Deeply rhythm and dues (paid), Primates suddenly clambers to the top of your Black Pumas RIYL, even though 2020 marks Farrell & Trube gigging together 20 years.
Accumulator in 2014 jammed a notion and motion once called Horde, then Bonnaroo, and drove the pair to help nucleus JJ Grey & Mofro for years. Change of Pace two years later smoothed out the bumps, soothed out the rock. Cheyenne Valley Drive (2018) then motored its sublime ride to Memphis per its storied sponsor Argent Records, "WMD" (weapons of mass destruction) dropping the locals' first instance of compositional transcendence.
Overseen by cottage industry Steve Berlin of Los Lobos, who produced albums for both Grupo Fantasma and Brownout, Primates bumps and sways with contributions from ATX drum constant John Speice, harmonies by Jazz Mills and Georgia Bramhall, and orange-colored vinyl courtesy of homies Nine Mile Records. In that vein and as with Crane on "Tune In," collaboration produces dopamine. Penned by Dante Schwebel of Hacienda and Spanish Gold, second song "Stay Tonight" amplifies a blooming sound, in which Farrell's comfort moan expands as big as the summer sky.
Afterward, "People in the Park," written with Berlin, street hops like no less than Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band.
Moments of gospel ascension on the multilayered title track, tracing mankind from the trees to its current predicament on this "rock in space" ("Where do we go from here?"), stretch out on the flipside. "Long Goodbye" lilts sweeter than a hammock and "Omon'i" induces pure desert trance. All three push Primates across the finish line like triple crown Greyhounds. – Raoul Hernandez
(20 Buck Spin)
The Pyramid of Skulls that Skeleton stacked with their 2018 7-inch, wherein the local hardcore punks transformed into a metallic cult, has grown into a mountain of fleshless craniums – with a few ripped-out spinal cords tossed in for good measure. The Austinites' first LP, an oeuvre of brutal battles and desecrated rites issued by Pittsburgh heavy tastemakers 20 Buck Spin, piles terror, darkness, evisceration.
"I'm not afraid to dieeee!" Victor Ziolkowski spews as if he's being run over by a tank on one of the album's most epic cuts, "War."
The 11-track bloodbath spans the sub sets, slamming death metal meatiness, but with more chord movement from guitarist David Ziolkowski, whose right hand becomes a fan blade on the 32nd-note riffing of "Taste of Blood." The ominous quality of drummer/singer sibling Victor Ziolkowski's full-throated roar tilts black metal in ominousness – so much that "Toad" resembles corpse-painted Motörhead. Thrash, a genre at the center of a punk/metal Venn diagram, factors significantly behind chugging rhythms, though Skeleton's penchant for vintage European crust like Amebix and Anti Cimex makes the self-titled bow a notably darker crossover.
Slow, distorted bass bombs by Cody Combs feed an eye-of-the-storm breakdown on moody closer "Catacombs" before snapping the mayhem back with a relentless double kick beat. Such war drumming from Victor Ziolkowski remains the disc's cornerstone. Exceptional metal bashers can resemble machines, but there's a decidedly human feel to the bandleader's blast and crash, a violent conductor guiding the homegrown trio's crescendoing compositions. Musically astute and artistically laser focused, Skeleton manages totally wretched tastefulness. – Kevin Curtin
Los Coast ft. Gary Clark Jr.
Apple Music, Spotify
Rising Austin outfit Los Coast tackles a bear in covering Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come." Assisted by Gary Clark Jr., the psych-soul troupe puts a "moving and powerful spin on the 1964 Cooke classic," according to the blues guitar great. Los Coast frontman Trey Privott told Spin: "We'd come to a place where rather than writing a song, we wanted to pay tribute to the greats who'd come before us. In my mind, he is one of the best singers in history, and I'd been singing his tunes since I was 16." What's more, proceeds benefit local crisis fund DAWA (Diversity Awareness and Wellness in Action), founded by Riders Against the Storm. The organization is described as a "safety net" for people of color (musicians, artists, social workers, teachers, healing practitioners, and service industry workers) experiencing short-term life crises. – Kahron Spearman
Quentin Arispe's Flood of Babylon
Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal
After venturing electro-R&B and lacquered empowerment pop, local singer-songwriter Quentin Arispe grasps a stormy, haunting trio of confessional tracks on EP Flood of Babylon. An individualized direction follows the Corpus Christi native's past work with celebrated hometown producer El Dusty's Americano Label. Arispe's piercing, agile vocals elevate choral echo and electronic beats on "Three Love Three." Vulnerable spoken word portions and indie rock finale "Land of Numb" prove the artist thrives in grainy, emotionally raw surroundings. The queer activist spoke at a rally against police shootings in May, documented by local photographer Rahim Fortune in a great series for Rolling Stone. – Rachel Rascoe
Jay Wile's "Honest"
On Jay Wile's 2018 debut Blue Patio, romantic confession "Honest" caught the crooner at his most mellow, heartfelt, and melodic. Before letting new material into his R&B-influenced pop universe, previewed in June single "Walzem," he offers a video for "Honest." Wrote the singer, who's been compared to Frank Ocean: "It was the song that jump-started my career, [so] it's only right that I release [a video] before this next chapter unfolds." Director Fallon Christian splits between scenes of the musician's candlelit strumming and a couple wandering an idyllic garden. Embrace and heartbreak coexist in a series of flashbacks as Wile's lyrics tangle: "I keep falling out of love with the girl that I love." – Rachel Rascoe
First Rose of Spring (Legacy)
The LPs that Austin's cowboy bard has cut with producer Buddy Cannon since 2008 ride high in the saddle of a stampeding catalog. And yet, First Rose of Spring, Willie Nelson's 70th solo studio album, taps a zeitgeist the world needs right now. Why else would he cut Billy Joe Shaver's "We Are the Cowboys," with its icon-shattering verse: "Cowboys are average American people/ Texicans and Mexicans and Black men and Jews/ They love this old world and don't want to lose it/ They're counting on me and they're counting on you." Nothing ambiguous there. Themes of aging (Charles Aznavour's "Yesterday When I Was Young") and mortality ("Stealing Home" and the title track) that dominated recent Nelson/Cannon records like Last Man Standing still prevail, though more in how he keeps running three years shy of 90. The key's in the pre-LP single, Toby Keith's "Don't Let the Old Man In," which advises, "Get up and outside/ And don't let the old man in." – Tim Stegall
Mr. Pink Records
Jonas Wilson's Mr. Pink Records continues to dole out a series of top local singles, most recently dropping Urban Heat's quivering synthwave "Running Out of Time" to follow-up April's "World on Fire." Other recent cuts include a 7-inch of Altamesa's dark and driving "Interstate" b/w "Yellow Sky," and the Lovely Sparrows' poetic indie-pop cassingle of the luscious, sax-swerving "Fortune Tellers and Strange Dogs" b/w "The Land." The imprint also offers up a custom cassingle for Mike St. Clair's gorgeously haunting new track as Pocket Sounds, "The Way Home," allowing fans to choose their own B-side. – Doug Freeman
Heartless Bastards' "Revolution"
The Heartless Bastards' hiatus breaks after five years with extraordinary new single "Revolution." As clarion bandleader Erika Wennerstrom annotates, the revolution is one of the mind and heart, and the track thrums energy that builds to revelation. Opening contemplative, her low-tuned drawl skitters down the street like Rodriguez or Gil Scott-Heron before the drone of Lauren Gurgiolo's guitar sparks the full sextet into a fevered Sonic Youth noise-scape. The song roars with urgency, pain, hope, frustration, and defiance, trying to rise above the endless clatter of distraction to push a personal peace toward universal healing. – Doug Freeman
Tameca Jones' Explosive Pop Smash "IDK"
Austin standout Tameca Jones claims to be something of a "SoCo mascot," although she also admits it opened doors. She's just in search of more and has located it by committing to a 180-degree turn with the explosive pop/rock/trap-influenced "IDK." "I've always loved pop music," she says. "I think the first taste of that was 'Good Boy,' but that was a track already made that I wrote to. ["IDK"] was done from scratch. I got tired of being 'The Queen of Soul.'" Produced by Nick Clark and Andrew Schindler, the song represents the further definition of her vocal talent: "I'm using my voice differently. I'm trying to use it as an instrument. I was painting with broad strokes before. Now, I want more detail." – Kahron Spearman