Seven Lone Star-Launched Recommendations at Weekend Two of ACL Fest 2022

Sources of Texas Heat from the Chron Music team

J Soulja (Photo by Jana Birchum)

Teezo Touchdown

Friday, 3:30pm, T-Mobile stage

"Don't worry ur early," reads Teezo Touchdown's Spotify bio, atop a mention of his Instagram handle. The Beaumont, Texas, act cuts a somewhat enigmatic figure, as he wears a frightening abundance of nails in his hair and traverses sounds at a clip to shame almost every "multigenre" upstart. An early 2019 track titled "100 Drums" – in which he raps over the instrumental of Panic! at the Disco's famed "I Write Sins Not Tragedies" – first put mainstream eyes on him. Touchdown notably featured on Tyler, the Creator's Grammy-winning album Call Me if You Get Lost last year with "Run It Up." That placement marked the beginning of a serious co-sign, as the Californian Creator not only closed the first weekend of ACL Fest 2021 by playing their collaboration, but also brought the stylish Texan on his nationwide CMIYGL tour.
– Derek Udensi

Jake Lloyd (Photo by Jake Rabin)

Jake Lloyd

Saturday, noon, T-Mobile stage

There's no singular way to describe Jake Lloyd's sound, a true fusion of R&B, rock, soul, and hip-hop. The dynamic Round Rock native follows the 2021 trail of his musical partner Deezie Brown, other half of high-impact duo Geto Gala, in making his ACL Fest debut. Last year, single "Cold Summer" marked Lloyd's biggest to date, streamingwise and sonically. The track finds him pining for a jagged love as he strangely, yet understandably, proclaims that he'll go as far as eating "all the charms out the lucky" and "all the turf out the rugby." Latest "Sweat" urges for some stress relief, beginning with an R&B sound over a funky beat before segueing into a brief rap verse, where he even tells the DJ to "run it back like [Cowboys hall-of-famer] Tony Dorsett." – Derek Udensi

J Soulja

Saturday, noon, Tito's stage

J Soulja's giving hands extend into multiple corners of Austin's scene, as detailed in a January Chronicle cover story on efforts "to progress his personal rap career while attempting to carve out opportunities for his peers in a music hub still lacking a solid hip-hop infrastructure." The Pflugerville MC rhymes with grit and hunger – with 2021's More Than Nothin' representing his most fine-tuned project yet thanks to potent rapping on tracks like Texas-freeze-influenced "Roof." Yet his newest, "Under the Sun," sees the artist reach a new wordplay pocket as opening heavy bars interweave the guidance of his late son and the light of his newborn daughter. The 4Life4Ever Entertainment founder's willingness to share the spotlight as a promoter rivals his exploits as an MC: His Pre-Roll showcase celebrated a year of open mics/networking last month, while his Smoke Out series returned as an official showcase at South by Southwest 2022.
– Derek Udensi

Good Looks (Photo by Lissyelle Laricchia)

Good Looks

Saturday, 1pm, Tito's stage

Empathy is hard to come by nowadays, but Good Looks makes it look easy. "All my friends from high school, they all bought motorcycles/ Joined up with a bike gang, supported Donald Trump," deadpans Tyler Jordan to open the title track of April's Bummer Year. Still, the Austin singer is quick to lend a warm embrace: "I don't think they're evil, even when they're awful." While the hometown band's debut bears an emotive truth like a cold plunge bath – tackling the heavier subjects of green-greed capitalism in "21" or bootstrap influencer culture in "Vision Boards" – love unspools with doe-eyed charm in opener "Almost Automatic." With salt-of-the-earth sensibility and Tom Petty American simplicity, Bummer Year reads like a love letter to the daily doldrums that shape out the in-betweens of life's illuminating moments. Texas twang strolls in "First Crossing," sloppy chords churn like a locomotive in "Walker Lake," and resonant folk evokes an empty cathedral hall in "Balmorhea." – Alejandra Ramirez

Pleasure Venom

Sunday, 11:45am, Barton Springs stage

Churning. Wicked. Turbulent. The next tropical storm forming in the Gulf? No, try Pleasure Venom. Just as fierce and potentially more rage-filled, the Austin experimental garage punks inject shouty spontaneity with rapid-fire guitar riffs to deliver their boisterous take on Eighties post-punk via a golden, spike-riddled platter. Catapulted into chaos by the bansheelike squeals and screeches of vocalist Audrey Campbell, March single "Severed Ties" showcases the quartet at its most polished, while the band's self-titled 2018 EP offers a vivid glimpse of their rowdy essence. Tearing into each track with ferocity, the members of Pleasure Venom prove themselves technically adept, never faltering even as Campbell softens her screams to reflect on sex, love, and resentment. Not only can the group rock recordings like a Texas hurricane, but they've got the track record – like a May opening slot for Bikini Kill – to prove it.
– Kriss Conklin

Joshua Ray Walker

Sunday, 1:15pm, BMI stage

It's easy to thread Joshua Ray Walker's first three albums as a triptych through a wild night at a divey local honky-tonk, each getting progressively wilder and fueled with more confidence. 2019 debut Wish You Were Here strikes poignant and stripped down, 2020's Glad You Made It fills out with a bar-band sound, and last year's See You Next Time cuts between deep country drawls and the horn-blasted soul swagger of "Sexy After Dark." Across all three, though, the draw remains the Dallas native's powerful twang-bleeding vocals and the pull of his sharp, simply spoken songwriting. Walker positions at the top of a new breed of country artists emerging from Texas, like Paul Cauthen and Vincent Neil Emerson, that can immaculately tread traditional sounds and still surprise with a more adventurous and rocking style: a big voice with something new to say. – Doug Freeman

Urban Heat (Photo by Ismael Quintanilla III)

Urban Heat

Sunday, 3pm, BMI stage

Urban Heat appears to be under the false apprehension that they're a post-punk band. Look only at their monochromatic cover art, or perhaps the Bandcamp bio boasting of an "unrelenting industrial gothic pulse," and you might make the same mistake – writing off the Austin threepiece as the sort of humorless Joy Division wannabes everyone dodges at crazy Eighties-themed parties. But, you shrug and decide to take a chance on their EP. Upon pushing play you're immediately hit over the head, not with an "unrelenting industrial gothic pulse," mind you, but a Flashdance drum machine pattern straight out of "SHE'SSS A MANIACCCC." "Thank God," you exclaim out loud. Urban Heat is, very deliberately, goofy as hell – each bright, toe-tapping keyboard riff riding the thin line between cool and corny. Add in vocalist Jonathan Horstmann's voguish baritone (think Brendon Urie channeling Bauhaus) and you've got yourself a very special Halloween episode of Jane Fonda's Workout. – Julian Towers

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ACL Fest 2022, Teezo Touchdown, J Soulja, Jake Lloyd, Good Looks, Pleasure Venom, Joshua Ray Walker, Urban Heat

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