New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
What we’re listening to
By Raoul Hernandez, Morgan-Taylor Thomas, Doug Freeman, Derek Udensi, and Michael Toland, Fri., July 9, 2021
One-2-One Bar, Monday 12
"On the last Friday in February, one week before the city of Austin canceled South by Southwest in the face of COVID-19, Victor-Andres Cruz stepped onto the ramshackle stage at East Austin outpost Sahara Lounge draped in a shawl and peering through round-rimmed glasses. 'Welcome to the imaginary world of Nemegata,' he intoned mysteriously. That introduction to the Colombian power trio nods to both the magical realism of fellow countryman Gabriel García Márquez and a dream of new realities."
So ventured the Chronicle last July upon release of the Austin group's full-length debut, Hycha Wy, a scorched-earth platter of folkloric South American poetry en español set to sulfuric indie rock. "Like Grupo Fantasma offshoot Brownout before them, the now homegrown trio cracks a whiplash tabula rasa rock," gushed our album review. "Planet Latinx retains no discernible indie signature other than its mother tongue, but even within that distinction, Victor-Andres Cruz, César Valencia, and Fabian Rincón slash a singular crop circle."
When Austin music finally sat up in its coffin this May, Nemegata lit off some of that Gabriel García Márquez at another lounge on the opposite side of town from the Sahara, the Far Out Lounge. One over-enthusiastic Chronicler of local live music freaked, writing, "Lemme tell you this, though: When [Nemegata] began to glow phosphorus – that Colombian voodoo of theirs – I turns to the wife and sez, 'Live music is alive and well in Austin, Texas.'" The six weeks since then – laid waste by High on Fire, blues-doused by Scott H. Biram, sold out by the Black Pumas – prove the point.
Amongst those highlights, Nemegata's residency at roomy South Lamar box office One-2-One Bar burns red-hot and bilingual. Cruz dabbles on keyboards, wields his axe, and hypnotizes himself, Spanish speakers, and post-punks alike in a fiery stream-of-consciousness fusion of guitar spasms and lyrical incantations. Rincón initiates tribal rhythms from the drum riser, while Valencia thrums jungle beats, hits the high harmony notes, and faces off on congas with Cruz. On that raised stage, the unassuming threepiece invokes the epic as if they headlined Lollapalooza Bogotá.
"It is a cry for identity. To reality," emailed Cruz last fall about the haunting video for Hycha Wy hook "El Rompecabezas," and that applies to the group's larger vision and execution. "With it, we empower ourselves, we close the gaps, we remove the mask, and we manage to understand in more depth what we really are in order to learn from the Earth, love and respect it, and know that our ancestors are always there, advising us, guiding us, taking care of us."
At One-2-One, the whole cauldron boils over weekly.
"Let me tell you, that room sounds really good and it makes us sound really good," reported Cruz a week after the aforementioned Far Out Lounge siege. "Like face-melting good, LOL. We play at 9:30pm." – Raoul Hernandez
Lilith Fund Benefit: Little Mazarn, Lola Tried, Van Mary
Hotel Vegas, Friday 9
Women's rights continuously find a spot on the bus to hell, as Hotel Vegas and Women That Rock remind us with their Lilith Fund benefit. Formed in 2001, the nonprofit reigns as the oldest abortion fund in Texas, providing financial and emotional support to the central and southern regions. For $10, tranquility, kickass guitar, and women (duh) reign at the Eastside pandemic pillar. Peaceful psychedelic pulses by Little Mazarn kick off as the calm before the storm of Lola Tried, who packs a blazing millennial rock nostalgia. Finishing with the complex simplicity of Van Mary, this bona fide women's night rates a 10/10. – Morgan-Taylor Thomas
Matthew Logan Vasquez Birthday Bash
Hotel Vegas, Saturday 10
MLV gets by with a little help from his friends. In addition to fronting Delta Spirit, the versatile troubadour linchpins supergroup interests Middle Brother and Glorietta, as well as maintaining a solo career since returning to his native Austin in 2014. Many of those friends gather to ring in his birthday, including gritty ballader David Ramirez and Sir Woman/Wild Child frontwoman Kelsey Wilson. Magic Rockers of Texas spew their shambling psych nuggets, while Israel Nash rolls heavy Hill Country meditations from this year's Topaz, and the Suffers' Kam Franklin adds her explosive soulful groove. Expect special guests and plenty of collaborations. – Doug Freeman
Josh T. Pearson, Leslie Sisson
3ten ACL Live, Thursday 15
When his brief but influential North Texas band Lift to Experience imploded in the early 2000s, Josh T. Pearson disappeared. He resurfaced a decade later with Last of the Country Gentlemen, a raw pietà of despair and guilt twisting into his moaning, sinewy tenor. In Austin, the enigmatic balladeer continues to emerge with a Will Oldham-esque mystique, bending his wry humor and provocative sincerity into honky-tonk-inflected rompers and country ballads off 2018's The Straight Hits! that, in a live setting, hinge between the harrowing and ecstatic. Leslie Sisson opens by leaning into her country side, a naturally Texan contrast to her rocking Moving Panoramas. – Doug Freeman
Vintage Jay's "Al Pacino" Video
Northside Austin rapper Vintage Jay flawlessly blends street lingo with floating poetic melodies, producing latest hit "Al Pacino." Never straying from his smooth, enticing flow, the Mexican American MC details the never-ending cycle of chaos in the hood. "N****s gossip like bitches, but that ain't new to me/ I'm from the block where our angels turn to devils, homie," the singer strikes. The pairing YouTube video shot by Eye 93 Productions lets rhyme take charge, staying simple with day and night parking lot meetups overlapped with flashing police lights foreshadowing Jay's hardcore words. Like Michael Corleone, Jay found his hustle. – Morgan-Taylor Thomas
Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, SoundCloud, YouTube
Houstonian-turned-Austin dweller Jøxx patiently plots his course as the release of debut project Løve+More looms. The wail-happy crooner's newest single, "Counterfeit," continues a trend of turning a young life riddled with distrustful allies at every corner into emo-skewed rap. "All that lover shit/ Turned out to be counterfeit/ Circle got way smaller when I saw who was surrounding it," details his hook with a delectable melody over a melancholy guitar layered under simple yet hard 808s and snares. All of it begs for impeccably synchronized gyrations performed with ironic glee. The amount of time taken to gradually find his sound proves itself with each new release. "Counterfeit" feels like a much more natural track than January's "Mariah (Freestyle)" thanks to a refined sing-rap style and relatively sparse beat not pulled from the Nick Mira playbook of instrumentals. As stated in our "21 Austin Rappers to Know in '21" cover story two weeks ago, this artist owns a skyscraper ceiling. – Derek Udensi
DotdotDotdotDotdot: From Russia With Drugs
Melting Kanye's flow with Lil Wayne's wit, DotdotDotdotDotdot's authentic wordplay on From Russia With Drugs claims a refreshing take on the essence of music: storytelling. At 15:44, D's second album slides from one head-nodding tune to the next, broken up by spoken banter from guests Alesia Lani and Pro Zay. Seamlessly bouncing from romantic Spanish guitar loop on "Thursdays" and "Warning" to a dramatic piano prelude on "FPS," DotdotDotdotDotdot generates a captivating, every-man-for-himself montage of songs. As he states, "Forward only, never backward." – Morgan-Taylor Thomas
Hoody Rap, "Billy Batts"
Chucky "The Bapital Bity Briminal" Conway and "disgruntled emcee" Feddi Brosevelt each deliver a verse on "Billy Batts." The fresh track serves as a prelude to the duo's debut studio album, currently in the works. Conway revels in grime with lines asserting he authored his stories by way of experiential learning in the trenches. Brosevelt warns possible opponents that going up against the Eastside tandem will result in a series of losses before briefly discussing how his hustling ways in the Nineties began. "Took the block back/ I was always kinda good at rap/ Jugged the fuck out the block/ Was always kinda good to trap," states the Culture Shocked Radio runner. No hook on this song, just potent bars before fading out with the single's menacing bassline. – Derek Udensi
Two Player: Power Plant
Had it come out in 1995, Power Plant, the second album from Full Service brothers Tim and Dave Kepner as Two Player, would've released on a major label, probably A&M right alongside Paw, Lustre, and Soundgarden. Mobilized by sinewy riffs that filter guitar pop through early Seventies proto-metal and heavy drums too frisky to lumber, the music pays explicit fealty to the heyday of alternative rock circa 1995, when innovation had run its course and the genre sat in the hands of craftspersons galvanized by the previous five years. Indeed, Two Player's version works in a way many of its 21st century peers' attempts don't. Guitarist Tim, aka "Bonesaw," proves himself a worthy heir to the flannel-shirted axe people in times of yore, while drummer Dave's ("Hoag") pinched singing deftly targets that midpoint between angst and cheer. Although so many contemporary homage-payers get the form right but wave away the feel, the Kepners giddily and expertly play these songs as if grunge still rules college rock radio. That's likely because these dozen songs manifested 20 years ago – before the sibs activated Full Service and when memories of teenage head-nodding still gleamed. Grooving rockers "Ballpoint Pen," "Launchpad," and "Happy as a Snail," which would have lit up 120 Minutes a quarter century ago, sound like extensions of an era rather than evocations. Power Plant may reek of mid-Nineties alt-rock, but it's a heady scent. – Michael Toland
Kydd Jones' White-hot June Tracks
Audiomack, Bandcamp, SoundCloud
There's little Kydd Jones can't do. The East Austin luminary raps with nimbleness, dishes out threads of melodic goodies, designs Onyx D'Or-themed clothing, and produces from time to time. His consistent musical output – he now intends to release a new track every Monday – gifted four new, differently tailored vibes last month. Smooth "TV On" touches on a desire to provide loved ones with an opportunity for success after experiencing poverty as a youth. "Elon Musk," a co-lead track with Tank Washington featuring Bryson Brown, contains production by local figure Butcher Bear. "Native Tongue," produced by Haris Qureshi, sees two of Austin hip-hop's most respected figures connect as technical rhymer Y2 professes adoration for a woman's way with words before delivering a trademark verse. The R&B-influenced "Crispy Sprite," produced by DW, will induce constant rewinds with its therapeutic saxophone, soothing piano, and slick bars. Jones used Deborah Roberts as inspiration when creating the artwork for "Crispy Sprite." – Derek Udensi