Austin Music: What We're Listening to This Week
El Combo Oscuro, KVN, and Mike & the Moonpies are some of our favorite local sounds this week
By Doug Freeman, Derek Udensi, Raoul Hernandez, Christina Garcia, Rachel Rascoe, and Alejandra Ramirez, Fri., Aug. 20, 2021
Mike & the Moonpies' One to Grow On
The notoriously hard-traveling Moonpies prepare to hit the road again with a cranked collection that runs back to their bar band roots. One to Grown On, the band's eighth platter, rocks out with expected steel-forged country anthems, but also showcases some of Mike Harmeier's sharpest writing.
Ostensibly revolving around a single character, the LP's everyman hangs his hat on making ends meet and things work. Opener "Paycheck to Paycheck" kicks out of the gate, before "Hour on the Hour" offers up "another hit about a heartbreak," and "Growing Pains" burns down the highway with a touch of Allman Brothers' Southern rock scuffing up their Texas boots.
The core quintet holds as one of the tightest around, huffing impeccable Nineties country gas cut with just enough diesel to roar (the racing rollover of "Rainy Day" and swanky growl "The Vein"), but the band also gets a shot from Shooter Jennings' targeting synthesizers on "Whose Side You're On" and the barstool bingeing memories of "Social Drinkers."
"Burn Out" likewise recruits the Quaker City Night Hawks for a guitar sprawl, closing the cycle with a head-spinning jam and trying to regain footing when the world's kicked you down. Rolling into year 15, the Moonpies continue to run like a well-oiled machine, ready to turn over the odometer for the next run. – Doug Freeman
Netherfriends and Jedi512 Cook Up Beef
Inexhaustible producer Netherfriends whips up an assortment of beats for Jedi512 on their joint LP, Beef. The 13-dish project features a hearty helping of witty food and cooking metaphors inspired by the Austin rapper's long held love for the craft. This intriguing 37-minute project, birthed out of a dinner between the two artists, represents Netherfriends' first collaborative album since returning to Austin after the pandemic ruined his plans for a 50-state tour last year. – Derek Udensi
El Combo Oscuro's Que Sonido Tan Rico EP
Electrifying cumbia, salsa, y merengue in Austin juggernaut El Tule for 15 years, shredding bandleader John Dell teams up with key sorcerer Mauro Lopez in fivepiece offshoot El Combo Oscuro. March's debut single "Calavera" danced a Wurlitzer swirl, razor-wire guitar, and skeleton percussion. Now drops the four-song Que Sonido Tan Rico, two Spanish vocals paired with dos instrumentals. Dell's lotería delivery animates like Día de los Muertos, but the wordless title track jacks the RPMs into a possession tempo, its mescaline chocolate sweetening a warped, loopy track, while "La Perla" amps up a flourishing, twirling high-stepper until smoothing out into a midsummer tempo, cool and refreshing. – Raoul Hernandez
Sailor Poon's First Album
KVN Looks for Love "High & Low"
"Is it too much to call ourselves Austin's New All-Girl Pop Supergroup?" inquired an email from KVN (pronounced "Kevin") ahead of their debut. To the all-too-logical cohesion of three of Austin's most consistent pop practitioners – Dossey's Sarah Dossey, Primo the Alien's Laura Lee Bishop, and Lady Heartwing's Mariclaire Glaeser (formerly of Shy Beast) – I quickly responded, "No, it is not!" Out Friday, "High & Low" presents a deliciously dramatic "pilgrimage of love," merging the trio's nostalgia for Nineties R&B girl group gloss with 21st century nü-disco sheen. After a twinkly slow build, when the tag-team chorus hits, it's an undeniable dopamine rush. – Rachel Rascoe
Abram Shook's Velvet Teeth
Celestial guitar bubbles up and brims like the crest of an ocean wave on "Mean It," the opener from Abram Shook's Velvet Teeth. Recalling the beatnik's sunny home state of California, his fifth album swells with warm, bright psychedelic fixtures as moonlight iridescent keyboards anchor along the lush coast. Crisp snares snap and electronics plume in luxe grooves "No, Not Carolina" and "Lucky," while funk shuffles on fever dream instrumental "In the Lobby on Acid." No room for surprise, the LP echoes easy-listening Love at Low Speed (2017) and Sixties-spattered Landscape Dream (2015) with jazz leanings as each song unfurls with breezy pop comfort. – Alejandra Ramirez