What We’re Listening to This Week

Angela Strehli, Quentin Arispe, and an improvisation supergroup

Angela Strehli

Ace of Blues (Antone’s/New West)

Yeah, it's been awhile. Seventeen years, to be exact, since blues belter Angela Strehli's last studio album, Blue Highway, in 2005. It doesn't seem too long ago that she was an integral member of the thriving and internationally renowned Austin blues scene centered around Antone's Nightclub. In fact, Strehli was voted Best Female Vocalist five times in the early years of this publication's Austin Music Awards and was later voted into the Texas Music Hall of Fame in 1993. Around this time, she relocated to California, where she has continued her career. This new release is particularly noteworthy because it relaunches Antone's Records (read more here), the label that released her first album, Soul Shake, in 1987 and the much-heralded Dreams Come True with Strehli, Lou Ann Barton, and Marcia Ball in 1990. Ace of Blues confirms the Lubbock native hasn't lost her touch as she offers a cavalcade of favorites from artists that have been most influential to her. With a voice that's burnished nicely over the years, Strehli puts some genuine emotional depth into this array of perhaps too familiar chestnuts from mentors like Bobby "Blue" Bland, Muddy Waters, Elmore James, Jimmy Reed, O.V. Wright, Chuck Berry, Little Milton, and Dorothy Love Coates. She caps off the set with the lone original, "SRV," a truly heartfelt ode to her dear departed friend Stevie Ray Vaughan. The music here serves as satisfying comfort food for blues lovers and clearly attests to the fact that Angela Strehli can still deliver the goods … C.O.D.  – Jay Trachtenberg

Lisa Cameron/Jonathan Horne/Ingebrigt Håker Flaten/Joshua Thomson

Place Is the Space (Personal Archives)

In rock, so-called supergroups often disappoint, tied together more by gimmick than chemistry. In improvised music, the amalgamation of veterans from different creative spaces usually makes some kind of magic. Experimental and psychedelic percussionist Lisa Cameron (ST37/Suspirians/her own projects), guitarist Jonathan Horne (Young Mothers/Plutonium Farmers/a dozen others), and saxophonist Joshua Thomson (Atlas Maior) all captain boundary-pushing Austin-based groups, while bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten called ATX home for years before the pandemic relocated him back to his native Norway. Together for a single day in January 2021, the longtime friends and collaborators baked and served a half-dozen reactions to the world's predicament for Place Is the Space. While everybody practices various disciplines, free jazz is the order of the day here, stretching the form out until it nearly breaks. From the mutant blues of "Juju Window" to the ambient psychosis of "Lapa" and the controlled chaos of "Welding an Inverted Flap," the collaboration conjures its own sonic world. Nodding to tradition, Place Is the Space diligently follows its own ragged path.
– Michael Toland

Quentin Arispe


That faint, distant thumping you hear? It's Frank Ocean's abandoned drum kit still tumbling down the stairs. Whereas lowering the volume knob typically only helps the influence of Ocean's percussion-free intimacy echo louder among acolytes, Quentin Arispe reaches beyond. When the Austin-based Corpus Christi native close-mics their spidery guitar lines and heart-bled vocals, it's not about trendy production aesthetics. Arispe gathers negative space with rare intention, crafting Barefoot into a sonic statement about absence – an EP of folk-soul so spectral you can see right through to the ghosts haunting its creation. Indeed, the release comes dedicated to recently deceased collaborator Daniel Sahad of Nané, and Arispe frames each song with snatches of behind-the-scenes audio that emphasize their struggle for a proper artistic response. ("I've never listened to an album that talks about making it … during it," plays one voicemail.) When, on the track "For Daniel," they sing, "I know that heaven now is where you go" – the lyric resounds, because Arispe's skyward sonics follow.
– Julian Towers

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