What We're Listening to This Week

A cross-border collaboration, Good Looks, Adrian Quesada, Skloss, and Letting Up Despite Great Faults

What We're Listening to This Week

MXTX: A Cross-Border Exchange With Graham Reynolds

The latest project from Austin's Golden Hornet composer's lab is a whole damn vibe, crossing Nortec Collective glitchy flavor with Thievery Corporation groove and atmosphere while bringing a small army of collaborators from both sides of the Texas-Mexico border into the fun. Conceived as a response to the nationalist furor of former President Donald Trump, GH main guy Graham Reynolds convened three co- curators (including Orión García of Austin's Peligrosa DJ collective) and solicited a sample library from more than 40 collaborators, with results that are sprawling, challenging, and satisfying from one moment to the next. Café Tacvba co-founder Rubén Albarrán and Ramón "Bostitch" Amezcua (of Nortec Collective lineage) throw us a disco road trip banger with "Mundo en Extinción," Austin's Jane Claire uses sullen Portishead piano stabs as exclamation points on "I Wish You Joy," and on "Colmena" Reynolds has an accordion dancing next to pulsing horns and rhythm tracks. It's a mix that shouldn't work half as well as it does, which is pretty much the essence of the whole album.  – Chad Swiatecki

Good Looks Rings in Bummer Year

Tiny attic loft show. Vibes are sorta hipster-elitist affectation, but you go. Creak your way to the top of the stairs and you're in disbelief: four baseball-capped regular guys squatted in a semicircle, quivering through each verse of "Free Fallin'" like it was a Big Thief song. Were these dudes raised in an isolated commune with only one Mellencamp CD to share? Maybe. A better explanation for Good Looks' indie-intimate twist on heartland anthem-rock is they're characters from Nebraska who have escaped into flesh and kidnapped the touring guitarist for Bleachers. Jutting out from the rhythm section's tight, rustic shuffle, Jake Ames' arena-ready lead playing is immediately ear-catching – he's equally adept at throttling skyward surges and watery jam-band ripples – but you stick around for songwriter Tyler Jordan's yearning, wearied croon. In the communal glow of his bandmate's humble interplay, Jordan's ground-level narratives of working-class desperation can grasp toward universal significance free from, y'know, hipster-elitist affectation.  – Julian Towers

Adrian Quesada Feat. iLe “Mentiras Con Cariño”

Both categories featuring the Black Pumas during last Sunday's telecast went to the Foo Fighters, yet the real exultation for Austin's rhythm & soul rockers remains nabbing Grammy nominations three years running for an eponymous debut LP that dropped June 21, 2019. Now, founder/production engine Adrian Quesada follows up on June 3 with Boleros Psicodélicos for ATO Records, also home to his day band. The collaborations co-star Gaby Moreno, Marc Ribot & Money Mark, Mexico City's Girl Ultra, Bulgarian vox Hristina Milenova Pencheva (aka Tita), and more. "Mentiras Con Cariño" teased the project behind a come-hither bolero by Puerto Rican singer iLe, as OG as a telenovela. – Raoul Hernandez

Letting Up Despite Great Faults’ IV

Dream-pop is a loaded term – the implied twee aspects function as much as a warning to the skeptical as an enticement to the faithful. But damned if IV, the fourth full-length album by Letting Up Despite Great Faults, doesn't fit the mold. Songwriter Mike Lee seems to pipe his creations in from a pocket universe accessed only during sleep, his gorgeous melodies and wispy singing wrapped in otherworldly shimmer. As substantial as a sunrise, yet as psychedelic as a waking dream, "New Ground," "She Spins," and "Corners Pressed" deserve to be hits even outside of the R.E.M. cycle.  – Michael Toland

Jonny Jukebox’s “Dialect”

Packed with nostalgic video game ephemera, the cover of Jonny Jukebox's latest channels the anxiety of waiting by the phone – appropriate for a song about communications gone wrong and right. Threading the artist's trademark lovesick outlook from past singles like "Betterthandrugs," new "Dialect" immediately sparkles with very Y2K R&B seduction, cushioned by a booming beat. The Texas native's velvety voice commits to melodic ooohs and retro-romantic pleas to the "only one could ever make my knees weak." A light trap touch, produced by Denzel Stone and mastered by Jukebox's onstage DJ FAXD, evolves with glamorous power guitar riffs and a spoken outro on self-actualization. "Dialect" previews upcoming sophomore LP u > everything else.  – Rachel Rascoe

Skloss’ Voices Travel Through This

Swirling in black hole cosmos, "Plugged Into Jupiter" dials in warped delay and misty, ethereal atmospherics on Voices Travel Through This. Formed as the husband-wife duo between guitarist Sandy Carson (Iglomat) and drummer Karen Skloss (Moving Panoramas, Black Forest Fire), Skloss indulges in their harshest and gentlest impulses all at once on their debut two-song EP. In opener "Plugged Into Jupiter" a crystalline hush of eerie guitar plucks offers respite only for a second before slamming into a sludge metal barrage. Grinding feedback churns into noise implosion on "Upper Attic," as disorienting howls and lyrics work into the fray.  – Alejandra Ramirez

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More New, Local Music We’re Listening to
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