New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
What we’re listening to
By Raoul Hernandez, Rachel Rascoe, Greg Stitt, Doug Freeman, Kevin Curtin, Alejandra Ramirez, and Tim Stegall, Fri., Sept. 4, 2020
Greg Vanderpool: Sub Raton
Touch the needle down to Sub Raton and a lonesome West Texas sound emerges. Archival Neil Young releases come to mind – contemporary unearthing of prehistoric manna – and perhaps something more twisting in the wind (Skip Spence). Blowing in after the haunted folk-blues of 2017's Pilot, Greg Vanderpool's latest Lone Star star map casts another spell from the Milton Mapes/Monahans driver whose "The Only Sound That Matters" found a patron in Robert Plant on the Zeppelin crier's Austin-kissed 2010 album Band of Joy.
"I have been wanting to make a record like this for a while now," expands the longtime local on his website. "Quiet, country heartbreak – like a whisper from start to finish. In the spirit of Townes Van Zandt, Harvest Moon (Neil Young), The Caution Horses (Cowboy Junkies), etc., some of my all-time favorite records are sleepy, warm, and ideal for isolated low-light listening."
Sub Raton meditates on a natural world, in which our emotional bipolarity plugs into the environment in the absence of that which makes our hearts beat faster. "Lay My Head Down, Kansas" ("She's moving on from my name"), "Alpine Approximately" ("Somewhere in the middle of Heaven and Earth/ We carved a story for a time"), "Making My Way" ("I'm counting the stars for you"), and "Ozona" ("I can't stop believing/ That I don't dwell somewhere in your mind") come to life in blue pedal steel (Phil McJunkins), Harvest harp (Jim Fredley), and mandolin and accordion (Jon-Michael Rogers). All of it captured in their author's hushed, flatlands voice, particularly the solo, acoustic, glowing embers of "Borrowed Time (Neil Young in the 70s)."
"Yes, very much a breakup record," affirms Vanderpool. "With a bit of a spiritual detour in the middle, but I had been wanting to make this type of album for a while, so having my heart shattered turned out to be the fuel I needed to write these songs."
Only 100 vinyl copies circulate, "with a Cracker Jack-style surprise factor, as each lyric sheet includes a signed, hand-drawn landscape pencil sketch from various locales around the American Southwest where these songs dwell." – Raoul Hernandez
Sun Radio's Super Suntastic Fantasy Palooza Fest
www.sunradio.com, Fri. 4, 6pm – Mon. 7, 12mid
"What's your dream festival lineup, dead or alive?" asks Sun Radio this Labor Day weekend. Dripping Springs' solar-powered frequency (100.1 FM Austin) packs 78 hours of concert tapings for their annual fundraiser, with a wild poster boasting iconic sets of yesteryear by the Rolling Stones, Prince, Selena, Neko Case, Kacey Musgraves, and too many more. Archival audio splits across four virtual stages for country, rock, psychedelic, and local content. Donations support the Sun Radio Foundation, which launched a fund to cover Central Texas musicians' energy bills following COVID-19. – Rachel Rascoe
Katherine de Rosset: The Tower
Having previously released two brooding and sensational synth treatises under the Pat Moon alias, Austin-based soundcrafter Kate Davis sheds the stage name and waxes anew as Katherine de Rosset. Name change reflecting the artist's personal growth over the last two years rather than a departure from New Age-informed ruminations, The Tower exhibits an introspective avant-pop warmth, Davis' high-octave vocals cavorting in an artful ballet recalling Kate Bush and Happy Rhodes. Best enjoyed as a piece and through headphones, emollient highlights include "The Eclipse" and "Sacred," the latter enjoying Julian Neel-shot visual accompaniment streamable on YouTube. – Greg Stitt
Ryan Sambol: Rail Sing
The first offering from Ryan Sambol since 2015's Now Ritual collects a string of tunes recorded between 2014-18 and provides a welcome update from the always compelling former frontman of the Strange Boys and briefly lived Living Grateful. His languid nasal pinch plays like Dylan meandering through Phil Elverum's patient musings, with the lo-fi recordings befitting the songs' wry but determined emphasis on the struggle and worth of creating art. "Are you stronger than the strongest thing that makes you weak?" moans Sambol as reaffirmation amid artistic doubt that sets up Gillian Welch strummer "Everything Is Free." – Doug Freeman
KindKeith Picks Up the Phone
Apple Music, Bandcamp, Spotify
iPhone ringtone stimulating brain sensors, Keith Galloway's first collection Phone renders playful, blissed-out layers of genre-bending psychedelic soul. Opener "Summer" invokes long, nostalgic days late in the season. "The summer may never end," sings the Ft. Worth-raised UT-Austin student, who began releasing material as KindKeith last year. His inspirational playlist leads with Nick Hakim and Unknown Mortal Orchestra – modern leads of integrating psych rock with R&B. Jazz drumming and Galloway's own cushioned keyboards hit the mark on this EP, bolstered by the singer's knack for classically lovesick lines. Upbeat duet "Talk" with Alisya Rae stands out. – Rachel Rascoe
The Deli Teams Up for Amparo
Bandcamp, SoundCloud, Spotify
United by Los Angeles hip-hop authority Cold Busted Records, three bespoke purveyors of boom bap convened in Madrid to collaborate. Local beatmaker David Pryor, aka the Deli, promises jazz-influenced subtleties like recent Vibes 3. Vermont lo-fi expressionist Es-K joins, alongside Californian Jansport J. (The latter previously worked with local artist Mélat.) Fluid compositions provide a travelogue of the trio's experiences abroad. By night, they bunkered in a makeshift studio with even more collaborators. Amparo soundtracks a walk through a mellow metropolis, sprinkled with background chuckles ("GinTonic"), clinking tableware ("Caña"), and plenty of conversations about artistic creation. – Rachel Rascoe
Sheverb: Bombay Beach
A beach resort in decay, where Southern Californians once water-skied and the Salton Sea now spits out fish skeletons, Bombay Beach's abandoned structures from the Fifties and Sixties offer further evidence of decomposition. Conceptual artists have used the near-ghost town as a kitschy canvas, like the drive-in theatre lined with broken-down vehicles. Austin instrumentalists Sheverb journeyed to the seaside community in February, outfitted an old barn with studio gear, and stayed for a month recording Once Upon a Time in Bombay Beach. By contrast to the quintet's 2018 debut, Chapter One, which drew heavily on spaghetti Western soundtracks, the new nine-track effort, a huge musical leap, adds a wash of bubbles to their psychedelic cinematic twang. "House on Fire" cuts distinctive melodies in the dual distorted guitars of Betty Benedeadly and Braden Guess, while "March Into Dust" catches wind on James Ruthless Mescall's trumpet. Surfy and dusty, this felicitous reflection spins where the desert meets the sea. – Kevin Curtin
Black Pistol Fire, "Hope in Hell"
Amazon, Spotify, YouTube
Creeping and staggering, Kevin McKeown's lead guitar scrapes like an inebriated stumble out the bar on Black Pistol Fire's new single "Hope in Hell." The song comes in two versions as a preview to their upcoming album with co-producer Jacob Sciba (Gary Clark Jr.) and mixer Vance Powell (White Stripes, Chris Stapleton). "Part of it, the internal battle everyone experiences, and another part, the struggle you go through as a band," announced the Austin duo, whose McKeown cries in solemn resignation, "You can have it all, but how much do you wanna lose?" While the single version channels the untamed strain of 2017's Deadbeat Graffiti, cranking roots blues and garage grime through hot amplifiers, the acoustic "homemade" version echoes spaghetti Western reverb with a southern drawl. – Alejandra Ramirez
US Weekly: Peace Network
First output since an eponymous May 2017 platter we reviewed as replete with "jagged, needling guitar lines, and Chris Nordahl's vocals swinging between despondent droning to hoarse shouting," the locals quietly ended their tenure as a Red River staple the following year when bassist Ryan Curtis moved away. A temporary end to performing didn't keep the original quartet from entering Estuary Studios later that year and into the next to record Peace Network, an eight-track trot in just over 25 minutes, cutting post-punk aggression with bursts of melody and New Wave synth. A name-your-price download assures all proceeds will be donated to Mutual Aid Collective ATX. – Greg Stitt
Buenos Diaz, "Stuck"
Nick Diaz spends the pandemic dishing apt singles like "The World Is Closed." The Austin singer-guitarist's fourth COVID-era offering, "Stuck" lights a fuse of swaggering garage rock with a theremin lead hovering over it like a UFO landing. "Stuck! These times are tough, losing my mind while taking a bus/ Stuck! Without a job/ This government check's taking too damn long," sings the frequent Alejandro Escovedo axeman. Throw it on your late-summer road trip mix. – Kevin Curtin
Big Cedar Fever virtual album release
Facebook, YouTube, Friday, 8pm
Though hard missing a honky-tonk, Big Cedar Fever invites you to a DIY dance floor for debut LP Tumbleweeds. Georgia Parker on jazz-box guitar, Ian Lee manning fiddle, and Nick Lochman thumping upright bass, the ATX trio captured 2019 Ameripolitan Award honors for Best Western Swing. The new album leans into easy, jazzy elements more than before. The sighing "Looking Over My Shoulder" and title track cast daydreaming spells, while the stringers trade lead vocals and layer harmonies. A touch of Uncle Walt's Band meets early Hot Club of Cowtown to color Tumbleweeds. – Doug Freeman
Jesse Dayton: Gulf Coast Sessions
Whether he wants to write and direct a horror film (2013's Zombex) or pinch-hit on lead guitar for L.A. punk stalwarts X while Billy Zoom battles cancer, Jesse Dayton's not merely a millennial outpost of outlaw country. He's spent lockdown recording the Gulf Coast Sessions EP to honor indigenous musics from Texas' Golden Triangle area that reared him. Recording in an "old house in South Austin," Dayton played guitar, bass, drums, and piano on these six originals, imbuing them with the ramshackle charm of a Beaumont house party. Beth Chrisman cameos on fiddle, Bradley Jaye Williams guests on accordion. Swamp pop ("Lo-Fi Lover"), ZZ Top-meets-Slim Harpo boogie ("Beaumonster Boogie"), and zydeco ("Carencro Girl," "Mardi Gras Shake") find Dayton conjuring a mood requiring a frosty Abita in your hand. – Tim Stegall