New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
What we’re playing
By Doug Freeman, Greg Stitt, Derek Udensi, Kahron Spearman, Kevin Curtin, Rachel Rascoe, Raoul Hernandez, and Tim Stegall, Fri., July 17, 2020
Ray Wylie Hubbard
Co-Starring (Big Machine)
This album will win Ray Wylie Hubbard a Grammy.
The Wimberley outlaw poet's run since 2001's Eternal and Lowdown unloads one of the best career resurgence discographies of anyone anywhere, and his ninth album of the past two decades serves as capstone. As the title states, Co-Starring recruits fellow travelers influenced by and influential to the troubadour, and the result both hones and broadens Hubbard's unique brand of gritty blues and wrong-side-of-the-tracks rock.
Opener and lead single "Bad Trick" slings classic Ray Wylie euphemisms of low-down wisdom, and punches with all-star backing from Joe Walsh, Ringo Starr, Don Was, and Chris Robinson. Aaron Lee Tasjan likewise burns his psychedelic guitar across "Rock Gods" and Tennessee rockers the Cadillac Three hit overdrive in scorching "Fast Left Hand."
The pairings with female artists offer the album's best material, matching the showrunner's weathered growl to softer edges. Pam Tillis' harmony on the laid back, resonator-licked homage "Mississippi John Hurt" and the cutting country twang duet from Paula Nelson and Elizabeth Cook on "Drink Till I See Double" stir the heart of Co-Starring. Likewise, rising Nashville sisters Larkin Poe smoke the husk of "Rattlesnake Shakin' Woman" as Ashley McBryde drawls out alongside Jeff Plankenhorn's slide and mandolin for "Outlaw Blood."
Hubbard spins his familiar narratives of outsiders and renegades, but the new voices rejuvenate the tropes beyond the glory days. And the closing coupling of the beautiful, Peter Rowen-picked "Hummingbird" and meditative cello reimagining "The Messenger," with Tillis and Ronnie Dunn adding vocals, set the true star here on a different path. Most tellingly is the subtle change in the final line of "The Messenger," turning the chorus close from the 1994 original "I'm not looking for sex" to older, wiser, "I just want to see what's next."
"All the rock gods are dead or dying," he laments on "Rock Gods," but Ray Wylie Hubbard walks amongst us. – Doug Freeman
Monday 20-Saturday 25
Driven into an online pivot, the New Media Art & Sound Summit turns this lemon of a 2020 into lemonade by doubling last year's three-day, in-person gathering into a six-evening sprawl of experimental audiovisual works. Curated by local counterculture arts org Church of the Friendly Ghost, over 20 performance groups stack the event, taking place nightly 6-9pm with moderated Q&As appearing after select sessions. The list of collaborators is vast and varied, each offering their own knack for sound innovation and exploration in celebrating or eschewing music traditions in a pre-taped, couch-ready affair. Streaming links, schedules, and donation info at nmassfest.org/schedule. – Greg Stitt
Joe Barksdale: R&B(eats)
Joe Barksdale enjoyed a football career where coaches entrusted him with blocking 300-plus-pound behemoths, yet the former third-round NFL draft pick can't be contained. The Detroit native moved to Austin last year with aspirations to pursue music full time after retiring from football. The 31-year-old lets his mind flow freely on R&B(eats), an instrumental effort taking listeners into a realm previously untouched by the singer-songwriter. Barksdale's usual offerings lean more toward soul-infused R&B anchored by the electric guitar, but this 43-minute whale of an EP contains self-produced beats primarily constructed with a drum machine. The finished product leans toward hip-hop, cooked with fun ingredients like keyboards befit for mass and a crack at ASMR. – Derek Udensi
CP Loony: American Rebel
Apple Music, Spotify
Arriving on the heels of The Rebel Tape, conscious-trap rapper CP Loony elevates the production, songwriting, and melodics in the latest installment of his "rebel" series. Covering a wide swath of topics, including race, relationships, and ethics in gangsterism, the Austin-bred MC speaks simultaneously aspirational and street level. He never puts on airs, recognizing his struggles throughout American Rebel, and instead obsesses over his own improvement and self-acceptance. "Is you satisfied with the person in the mirror/ Is you trying to gain the world but lose your soul?" – Kahron Spearman
Cha'keeta B Dares You to "Pull Up"
Cha'keeta Banita (Lauren Riggins) dares a man to slide through for a vehicular rendezvous in her new music video for "Pull Up." The single comes from Lover's Lane, a raunchy three-song EP released on Valentine's Day and dripping with seductive sauce. R&B newcomer Kiki Ambrose provides a simple yet catchy hook amid the Austin rapper's admittedly freaky desires. CB indulges in some humor as the video ends with her sleeping through various invitations to turn wishes into reality. Views for "Pull Up" sit at 38,000 after two weeks. Nearly that many Spotify streams makes it Cha'keeta's most successful song to date. – Derek Udensi
Blue Jean Queen
"Nobody ever listens to me and nobody takes me seriously," sings Rockyanne Bullwinkle (real name) on her self-titled bow as Blue Jean Queen. An extraordinary vocal talent in Austin's underground rock/pop scene, the compact belter with an outsize stage presence fronted local Nine Mile Records-signed power soul combo the Reputations until they abruptly went dark last September. She also exists as a busy session vocalist. Still, the titular single – ostensibly about the hardships of being a blue-collar diva – takes her in an unfamiliar direction, reminiscent of late-Eighties Madonna, with her lording over a saucy and sparse bed of drum machine and keyboard. – Kevin Curtin
Alexalone Confronts Demo(n)s
After a three-year new music hiatus brought on by touring with acts like Hovvdy and Lomelda, local artist Alex Peterson flips on the faucet. The vast, consistently intense outlet of Alexalone offers two new tapes, one benefiting the National Bail Fund Network and the other fundraising for G.L.I.T.S. They're demos in the best sense: cavernous, unpredictable, discovery-oriented. The first volume glides through faint dispatches from another planet, prismatic instrumental serenity, and raucous noise fueled by the multi-instrumentalist's space-shaping guitar. Both collections continue the soloist's dance with shoegaze and drone, which incorporate lengthy, improvised meditations from recent livestreams. Try "Electric Sickness" on Demo(n)s v2. – Rachel Rascoe
Wood & Wire, "Pigs"
Previewing No Matter Where It Goes From Here, due out August 28 on Blue Corn Music, Wood & Wire recruited Bad Livers master banjoist Danny Barnes to draw the art for the lead single/video. "Pigs don't fly, we all gonna die, and you can't take your money to the grave," reckons the Grammy-nominated local fourpiece, cutting a classic bluegrass holler with sharp commentary on our culture and the ways "false prophets on the TV screen" divide us. Barnes' animated sketches provide jittery visuals both anxious and charming. – Doug Freeman
Bright Light Social Hour, "Enough"
Addictive Krautrocker from last year's third LP Jude Vol. I, "Lie to Me" subtly steered Bright Light Social Hour away from the locals' space rock origins into a more digital paradigm. Now, new single "Enough" could almost be heard as an Austin equivalent to Tame Impala. Spearheading the band's Aug. 28 follow-up, Jude Vol. II, the advance teaser and its attendant space orgy clip pivots long-player four away from the tribute to bassist Jackie O'Brien's brother Alex Jude that the last album proffered with affecting liquidity. O'Brien emailed last week: "While Jude Vol. I focused on the pain and confusion around my brother's descent into severe bipolar and eventual suicide, Vol. II is a celebration of the profound joy and growth on the other side of that loss." – Raoul Hernandez
Starving Wolves: True Fire
Long-ass journey for the debut album from Starving Wolves, David Rodriguez's post-Krum Bums hardcore band. For one thing, NYC street-punk superstars the Casualties drafted him to replace founding vocalist Jorge Herrera in 2017. That, in turn, delayed finding True Fire a label, but a DIY release only further inflames ace cuts like "Four Walls" and "Bleeding Heart." Dealing out unadulterated, raw emotion, the same brutal punk metal that made his previous band the Krum Bums' name returns complete with guitarists Josh Langford and Kevin Nguyen's melodic curlicues and Rodriguez's tonsil-demolishing vocals. "This was what got me out of the hell I'd created," Rodriguez said last Sunday. "Y'know, the demons that say you have no business living anymore? I hope people that feel lost and hopeless will hear this and find strength to carry on and live the life they deeply want." – Tim Stegall