Austin Music: What We're Listening to This Week
Abhi the Nomad, Animals on TV, Susannah Joffe, Nané, and more recommended tunes
By Kevin Curtin, Doug Freeman, Alejandra Ramirez, Morgan-Taylor Thomas, Tim Stegall, and Clara Wang, Fri., Sept. 3, 2021
Abhi the Nomad's Abhi vs. The Universe
Intercontinental transplant and Austin resident Abhi the Nomad brings a feel-good album for a what-the-fuck time. Rife with poppy, funky production and his signature speedy spitting, Abhi vs. The Universe discusses both ever-present thoughts of mortality in the COVID-19 era and the things that make life worth living. In Abhi's case it's his new fiancé, music, and weed.
The 27-year-old son of an Indian diplomat has always had an affinity for instrumentation, and during quarantine picked up his six-string and some new piano skills, which are exhibited to full effect in each of the 13 tracks.
Abhi expounds on the ethereal nature of existence in opener "Extra Life," a theme followed up by "Good Luck." He gives a wave on one hand and a middle finger on the other in upbeat, guitar-heavy "Critical" (feat. Cards), the triple-entendre a nod to his own self-criticalness, the difficulty of being criticized, and his own critical acclaim, "I'm so critical but I'm up in the air."
"Bag" features one of my favorite productions, filled with hyped hi-hats, saw-synths, and a fun interlude that smoothly transitions to an electronic jam.
While a little scatterbrained (who wouldn't be, trapped in a condo with only instruments and video games to play with for nearly a year?), AVU is a fun listen. Even an introvert, who's established on his previous two albums how anxious he is about human interaction, needs an audience. "Screaming hallelujah good performance," he intones on "Circle. "I've been singing to myself for too long. – Clara Wang
Susannah Joffe's Heart Breaks on "Halloween"
The pain is palpable on Susannah Joffe's "Halloween," a patient, piano-pulsing indie-pop diary entry relating the feeling of someone falling out of love with you. You can almost hear the young Austin native's heart break as she lays bare the dissolution of her first queer relationship: "
Surprised you on your birthday/ Blew up balloons 'til I felt sick/ And fell asleep alone in our old bed/ I hoped that it would make you love me again/ But after that I realized you never did." Third in a succession of impressive 2021 singles, Joffe's big potential as a pop singer-songwriter continues to come into focus.– Kevin Curtin
Animals on TV Are a "Shoe In"
There's something indelibly charming in the ennui of Animals on TV's latest single and video, "Shoe In." The song drips with a distinct kind of modern twentysomething, deep-seated disillusion as the local quintet mopes around a deserted amusement park, an understated boredom dripping from frontman Rob Hogan like a millennial Morrissey. But it's all a setup to the arthouse breakout as the sad black-and-white video directed by Erin Waltz bursts into color and cathartic jagged chords. Prepping their debut LP, the band's intriguing post-punk balance of suavity and nervous energy, with shades of Arctic Monkeys or the Strokes, notches as one to watch.– Doug Freeman
Jaron Marshall and Mike Melinoe's "Lost Prophets"
A split-second snare snap rides to a soul-jazz swath of looped keys and heady flute fixtures on JaRon Marshall's newest offering, "Lost Prophets." Set to be featured on his third EP,
The Prequel, on October 1, the single also finds rapper Mike Melinoe spinning on threads of heart warm nostalgia and weary-eyed systemic inequalities. Meanwhile, the Black Pumas keyboardist flexes producer expertise as he X-Acto knife carves space for accompanied personnel: drummer Michael Longoria's in-pocket beat, bassist Chris Loveland's (aka Clunis) fluid undertow, and flutist JustKing Jones' watercolor swirled lines.– Alejandra Ramirez
Nané Feels "Seventeen" ... Again
Stripped from the interweb and reborn out of beautiful chaos, Nané's "Seventeen" hits every mark of a killer hit: strong drums, rich bass, highly contagious energy, and a groovy-ass tune worth replaying. Led by vocalist Daniel Sahad and guitarist Ian Green, the indie rock crew uses melodic serotonin to soften the imaginations of being 17 and stranded in this universe's anarchy. "It's a corner seat in the stormy weather/ Seventeen and under pressure." An essential addition to the band's Saturday night Scoot Inn set list, "Seventeen" gives you every reason to get up, party, and then some.– Morgan-Taylor Thomas
Fadi & the New Guard's Brand New Soul
New Austin label Desolate Sounds' inaugural release is the debut solo effort of Riverboat Gamblers guitarist Fadi El-Assad. In contrast to his day job's blistering post-Detroit punk assault, El-Assad gets really subtle and low-key. With a revolving cast including Gamblers drummer Ian Walling, Brand New Soul is full of morose, literate, keyboard-heavy dirges suggesting its maker is as enamored of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds as he is the MC5. Among this brace of originals chronicling death, loss, wounded romances, and redemption are Rowland S. Howard's "Shivers" and Tom Waits' "Dirt in the Ground." They fit like crushed velvet trousers.– Tim Stegall