The Austin Chronicle

New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week

What we’re listening to

By Raoul Hernandez, Derek Udensi, Doug Freeman, Rachel Rascoe, Kevin Curtin, Tim Stegall, and Greg Stitt, September 18, 2020, Music

The Bright Light Social Hour

Jude Vol. II (Supermassive)

"Indie dance and bluesy electric jam tracks dripping with white funk, think MGMT for Southern hippies – the euphoria and segues."

So wrote late Chronicle Music godmother Margaret Moser in a 2011 cover story about the Bright Light Social Hour on the occasion of the Austin quartet's debut full-length. A lifetime later, all that still applies on the group's fourth discographical landmark, Jude Vol. II, which closes the circle on the first installment in 2019. "To me, the record is a celebration of the profound joy on the other side of terrible loss, in this case the loss of my brother/our manager," bassist Jack O'Brien wrote about the new vinyl platter.

Add to that list departing TBLSH drummer Joseph Mirasole, 13-year beatkeeper.

Eight tracks in 27 minutes, compared to last year's seven-track, 28-minute entry, Jude Vol. II begins with that beat already in progress on "You Got My Feel." O'Brien, Mirasole, guitarist Curtis Roush, and synth rider Edward Braillif illuminate said percussive nexus at every step. We got the beat, beat rodeo, and let's not forget meaty, beaty, big, and bouncy: Choose your musical time signature and beat yer booty.

Dreamy electro-psych explorer of thermodynamic guitars and intergalactic thrust, the opener envisions still-original band core O'Brien and Roush facing each other on chairs playing their guitars, the former bubbling a natural spring of low-end while the latter flows lead psych lines like the Pedernales river. Their tidal pull, tributary to a larger body of sound, expansive and languid, ebbs and grows a perpetual rhythm. Most rock bands work up, map out, and jam over chord changes. TBLSH rides a natural selection of sonic inevitability.

SoCal beach-pop existentialism, initial single "Enough" glints Braillif's synthetic flashes off a mirror-ball of bass, drums, and guitar pulsating the romantic quandary of the title. Disc sleeper "Mexico City Blues" strobes two basses and double synth in one of the boys' best ever motivationals. Side B proves exploratory: drum 'n' bass workout "Ouroboros '20"; O'Brien's solo bedroom conversation with the dearly departed, "Aegean Mirror"; and Nineties Brit rocker "Revolution Tom."

Whereas the precursor's highs ("Lie to Me," "My Boy") borderline soared higher, today Jude Vol. I spins akin to an extended play. Jude Vol. II, meanwhile, satisfies like a full-length. Together, they're whole. – Raoul Hernandez

Pecan Street Wired, Saturday 19 & Sunday 20

One visual yours truly will miss from 2020: cruising (crawling?) down I-35 and seeing Dirty Sixth (Street) jam-packed with artisanal booths, artisanal booth consumers, artisans, and music artists on multiple stages. In other words, witnessing the art sit-in that remains Austin's annual Pecan Street Festival. If Downtown parking and crowds even then weren't your (SXSW canvas shopping) bag, the annual local ritual pivots to Pecan Fest Wired. Split into conceptual sections online – musician art, multidisciplinary master classes, sister city art exchange, visual art/animation, and children's engagement – the ambitious programming offers an abundance of free options. Featured artwork includes paintings from Jonathan "Chaka" Mahone, Mike Melinoe, Oliver Rajamani, Bobby Whitlock, and even ... Daniel Johnston(!), while seminars with local luminaries come highlighted by Texas Tornados drum dynamo Ernie Durawa and star producer Stuart Sullivan. Music livestreams stack Lonesome Heroes (1pm), Jazz Daddies (3), Big Cedar Fever (5), and Bubble Puppy (7) on Saturday, and Sofia Mock (1), Croy & the Boys (3), Oscar Ornelas (5), and MC2 & the S.O.U.L. (7) for Sunday. Shop safe! – Raoul Hernandez

Wiardon: X on My Back (Deluxe)

Apple Music, Spotify

Philadelphia rapper Lil Uzi Vert achieved massive commercial success with March's Eternal Atake. Its various iterations brought back a wave in hip-hop of releasing deluxe albums, which can mean one new song or 10 fresh gems tacked onto a previous release. In the case of East Austin's William Liardon, a two-month gap results in an entirely new tape. The teenage rapper/producer, still just 17, debuts 12 joints full of trap menace demonstrating a concentrated transition to the mic. X on My Back 2.0 also features darker instrumental melodies displacing the rambunctious beats mainly used on the original. Wiardon claims to never lack in regard to pocket rockets, but his most lethal weapon remains in the studio. – Derek Udensi

Rone NFN, "Be Careful"

Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube

Rap collectives often fail to properly highlight all members. Sometimes said members simply lack talent or serve a behind-the-scenes purpose. Rone NFN (Tyrone Meredith) bucks that trend as he reminds locals that NFN Entertainment possesses a one-two combo in him and rising star Quin NFN. "Be Careful" finds the young Austin rhymer employing a style reminiscent of Chicago rappers Lil Durk and Polo G. The track appears on streaming services three months after the release of its YouTube video, which in turn ends a nine-month drought of new content. On the track, a somber Rone admits that he looks to his mother for uplifting when downtrodden, but warns that he reaches new levels after consuming new toxins.  – Derek Udensi

James McMurtry: Blasted From the Past


When music fans come from out of town, topping the list of gigs to experience in the live music capital is James McMurtry on Wednesdays at the Continental Club. The hard, gritty, and always truth-saying songwriter held down the residency for over two decades and now steps up to support the institution with proceeds from his new live digital EP. The five-song set from 2006 hits deep, kicking off with the exceptional "Rachel's Song" and closing on the roaring cover of Jon Dee Graham's "Laredo." Blasted From the Past is McMurtry rolling at his fiercest, electric best, bantering with the familiar crowd and reminding just how extraordinary his weekly sets are. – Doug Freeman

Diana Burgess: You Run


Austin's Diana Burgess began playing cello with local symphonic rockers Mother Falcon at 17. Her first-ever solo project, You Run, conjures orchestra folk for one, recorded entirely under her own instrumental prowess while obtaining a degree in cello performance. Thick, bouncy plucks and hums, plus tenor guitar and banjo, round out the very warm, very solemn debut LP helmed by her primary instrument. On the title track, the singer's sweet harmonies swoop over somber, combative sentiments: "Your voice slaps cold/ Against my cheek/ And I clench my fist/ Ready to swing/ But I see that you're too weak." Bob Boilen picked the July track on All Songs Considered for NPR.– Rachel Rascoe

Sun June Visualizes "Singing"


The self-styled "regret pop" of Sun June eases into these late days of summer with the first taste of their sophomore album. The local quintet's 2018 debut, Years, swooned dreamy indie, and an expected 2021 follow-up from the Keeled Scales and Run for Cover imprints follows suit, a translucent haze rising like heat from the asphalt in the lingering soak of Laura Colwell's vocals. "Singing" lazes in the Texas sunshine, endless highways, and restless evenings of urban ennui running through a video directed by Colwell and bandmate Stephen Salisbury. – Doug Freeman

New Druids, "LA's on Fire (Again)"


California's aflame: millions of acres torched, skies eerily orange, air tainted with smoke. Even outer Los Angeles County's burning. Astonishingly, that's not the impetus of "LA's on Fire (Again)," the debut single by Austin's New Druids. Drummer Josh Blue, bassist Michael Childs, and Holy Wave singer/multi-instrumentalist Kyle Hagar instead recount a countercultural blaze. "They ain't never met a boy like me before," Hagar gently flexes, portraying Angeleno boys with messed-up hair and girl painters. Bouncy tape-melt guitar pop with alluring chord progressions, the track thrives on the pingpong effect of an ultradistinct verse and chorus. – Kevin Curtin

Worm Suicide "Ain't Dead Yet"


COVID-19 be damned. Perhaps primo offense-core warriors Worm Suicide can't play every night as they did in The Olden Days, but they've hardly been inactive. Promoting March LP Blacking Out, the local punks drop this third of a planned quartet of videos, matching their cover of Phil Owen and Chris Gates' ZZ Top-esque grinder for their 1997 Choreboy project with some cocaine cowboys green-screen visuals. The Worms also custom wrote and recorded with Matt Bowker from Shithouse Howlers on a new bluegrass-ish tune, "Ass to Mouth," for the clip's intro/outro. "We wrote a song to debut a video – who does that?" quips singer Pablo Flores. With cameos from various band friends, "Ain't Dead Yet" is a fun, rowdy, transgressive expanse in a 4:40 run time. – Tim Stegall

Bill Converse Twofer


There's no bad place to test the waters of Bill Converse's acid techno abstractions. Catching the ear of the Dark Entries imprint led to a 2016 debut reissue, and two further full-lengths plus a series of multilabel 12-inch singles solidified the Detroit transplant's status as a forebear of Texas electronic music to come (revisit "Roll With It," Music, Oct. 20, 2017). The modular maven now circles back for Life/Time on Obsolete Future, the Glasgow-based Austin-expat cassette label that released Converse's debut under the WWC alias. Anchored by the 20-minute "Blood of the Ocean" leading off the B-side, the new nine-track release runs the gamut of techno dark and ambient, with drone and industrial throbbing throughout its 70-minute duration. Also released last month, Converse's experimental techno collaboration Cokehead dropped its debut 12-inch. A duo with Jonathan Valdez of Cheer Up Charlies' Nite School mainstays Berkeley & Jonathan, the two-track slab uses the oft-memed "Hello, I'm Shelley Duvall" sound bite as a building point for each 14-minute side. – Greg Stitt

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