What We're Listening to Right Now

Beats by Balto!, Hayes Carol, Kiko Villamizar, Ley Line, and Colin Clark

What We're Listening to Right Now

Bryan Murray & Jon Lundbom’s Beats By Balto! V.2

Normally creating avant-leaning jazz in the Austin-based Big Five Chord, guitarist Jon Lundbom and saxophonist Bryan Murray sail weirder, groovier waters with their free jazztronica duo Beats by Balto! Murray, aka Balto!, deconstructs Lundbom songs with electronic manipulations and grooving beats, then hands them back to the axeman to recompose new music over the top. For V.2, the pair invites their compadres, including BFC bassist Moppa Elliott, Desertion Trio guitar wizard Nick Millevoi, and NYC sax god Jon Irabagon, to join in the mind-bending fun. "Truck Gun" layers harmonized saxophones, dueling solos, and deep grunge riffs over a skittering beat, while "Beat Like This" roils under electronically manipulated bass and sax skronk. "Hot Shit" lets the horns soar unimpeded, but processes the rest of the instruments to muddle easy identification for an acid flashback of hard bop proportions. Vanguard track "Battalions," originally found on the Big Five Chord album Liverevil, evolves into a fully loaded monster stuffed with guitar effects, unabashed sax wails, filtered bass grooves, and incongruously mellow trombone fills from guest Sam Kulik. If this is fusion, it's fusion from a planet on which an alien spacecraft crash landed, getting their chaotic chocolate debris in the original denizens' peaceful peanut butter. To make this mesmerizing mishmash even better, the artists donate proceeds to the Jazz Foundation of America's COVID-19 Relief Fund. – Michael Toland


Hayes Carll’s You Get It All

Two decades since debut Flowers & Liquor, Hayes Carll has become Texas' most consistently great songwriter. LP seven rolls easy and honest, Carll making his craft seem effortless as he spins both clever ("Nice Things," "She'll Come Back to Me") and devastatingly tender ("Help Me Remember," "If It Was Up to Me"). Centerpiece Brandy Clark duet "In the Mean Time" reels relationship reality while "Different Boats" kicks with a Ray Wylie blues to the Southern boogie of "To Keep From Being Found" and the deep exclamation of "The Way I Love You." Carll continues to write the world unparalleled with poignant empathy and sly wisdom. – Doug Freeman


Kiko Villamizar’s “Todo el Mundo”

A battle cry for unethically separated families and an allegiance to migration, Kiko Villamizar's "Todo el Mundo" demands recognition of both past and future. Miami born, but Colombian coffee farm raised, the Casa de la Cultura founder masterfully fuses his intimate cultural influences with his world travels, establishing his own unique Colombian folk recipe. A collection of South American sounds, the title track for his forthcoming third album possesses driving forces of Indigenous gaita flutes and somnifacient maraca masking the thematic sorrow with quick notes, ultimately joined by rich bongo percussion, salsa-esque chords strummed on modern electric guitar, and the psychedelic intuitiveness of Villamizar's voice. – Morgan-Taylor Thomas

Jake Lloyd’s “Cold Summer”

Multifaceted R&B singer/slick rhymer Jake Lloyd offers smooth vocals on the upbeat offering "Cold Summer" as he predicts a chilly summer will ensue due to a breakup. Though the vibey single contains a seductive hook, Lloyd's pen perhaps shines brightest while explaining his frosty web. "If I had one more chance/ One more trance/ One more dance/ It would be emergency like ambulance/ But I don't want to fall victim to circumstance," the member of hip-hop duo Geto Gala relatably raps. – Derek Udensi

Ley Line sends “Postcards”

At first listen the four women of Ley Line may seem soft-sung, but their tranquil maturity and perfectly balanced multilingual sound produce a more boisterous punch than most folk-influenced crews ever create – "Postcards" standing as the perfect example. The easy plucks of ukulele stimulate the cascading beat while finger snaps silently storm listeners' ears, advancing the leading clear motif of unbreakable friendships and solidified community support during a never-ending return to post-pandemic life. The refrain of French finesse assails its "c'est la vie" thesis while following bridges soothe doubts and heal worries. "It's the little things, a single string, that leads me back to you." – Morgan-Taylor Thomas

Colin Clark’s here and there

The personnel on Colin Clark's Here and There is astonishingly A-list: David Pulkingham as the guitarist/bandleader/producer, Glenn Fukunaga on bass (check his upright solo on "Worldview"), Carrie Rodriguez fiddling, Michael Longoria drumming, Bob Hoffnar delivering pedal steel, and Michael Ramos squeezing accordion unto Spanish-language cuts like "Mi Hijo" – resulting in a deeply rooted sound. No surprise, since the true-blue, music-lovin' townie's prior effort From Austin, With Love stacked only local covers including cuts by Storyville and Damnations. Now the deep-voiced troubadour has something to say with plainly phrased, feet-on-the-ground country/roots ponderings about white privilege, drinking problems, and musical daydreams. Release show Saturday at One-2-One. – Kevin Curtin

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