What We’re Listening to This Week

New, local platters from Brazos, Fuvk, Discreet, and Eric Hisaw Band


Grab Hold of What Floats (Sudden)

Much has been made of Voxtrot's reunion, but there's another member of the Tonewheel Collective – a loose group of Austin-based indie songwriters in the mid-to-late 2000s that included Voxtrot's Ramesh Srivastava and Jared Van Fleet – who's quietly made his return. Martin Crane released two delightful LPs as Brazos, 2009's Phosphorescent Blues and 2013's Saltwater, then packed his bags for Brooklyn and never looked back. In the early stages of the pandemic, he experienced an unexpected burst of inspiration. "I started to wake up in the middle of the night with songs in my head," relays Crane via email. "I'd just lay in bed and write them down on my phone's notes app without an instrument." Grab Hold of What Floats is a poignant record of love and loss, far more stark and existential than Brazos' early work (think Sufjan Stevens' Illinois to Carrie & Lowell). The extra space allows Crane's slipstream narratives to really sink in, especially when he stretches syllables, like with the word "hold" in the title track, as if searching for the right nook or cranny for his words. In "The Shining," he describes the blinking of fireflies outside his window as "Morse code of the sky," sending a "message that is undying." If you close your eyes, you can almost see it.  – Austin Powell


goodnight, moon (Z Tapes)

The art of the two-minute song is difficult: locating the sweet spot between unnecessarily shortening or elongating, leaving listeners wanting more. For guidance, look to Fuvk's 11-minute goodnight, moon, a master class on how to pack a full exploration of longing, heartbreak, and hope into six very brief, very beautiful songs. Preceded by March full-length split death, the EP arrives as the second project of the year for singer-songwriter/guitarist Shirley Zhu, who has quietly released her poignant bedroom-pop as Fuvk since 2016. Like a fruity drink with a bitter finish, goodnight, moon's greatest strength arises in the dissonance Zhu creates between bright layers of sweet-sounding guitar work and lyrics that paint vignettes of pleasure denied and painful goodbyes. Take standout track "Someone Else," which bemoans post-breakup psychological torment over airy acoustic chords: "The winter air keeps me inside in more ways than one/ I got a tattoo just to show you that I'm having fun." Drug-fueled yearning ("I was high, missing you") meets hopeful perseverance ("Strike a balance, pushing through") on the project's closing title track, reminding freezing listeners that winter won't last forever.  – Genevieve Wood


This Is Mine (Convulse)

There's no escaping Discreet's blast radius. Featuring members of Skeleton and Total Abuse, the debut by this Austin hardcore supergroup will leave most listeners battered, bruised, and nursing significant head trauma. But don't take their skuzz-whittle assault personally. Any lacerative harm accrued by Discreet's combination of feedback squeals and stomp-clomp brutalism is simply collateral damage from its true conflict – the sound of one band declaring war on itself. Upholding a depressive punk tradition that began with the second side of Black Flag's Damaged and continued through the Nineties with misanthropes EyeHateGod and Austin's own Cherubs, the tracks on This Is Mine carry themes even heavier than their scrape-metal sonics, thoughtfully matching sound to form. Lyrics unblinkingly confront cycles of drug addiction, everyday violence, and negatively sublimated childhood trauma (delivered with phlegm-flinging intensity that brings to mind Circle Jerks' Keith Morris falling off his surfboard into a tidal wave of black tar sludge). Against the verbiage, the band plays up the "Bug in a Jar" claustrophobia of their sound – grinding through expertly repetitive stab-rock riffs that simulate an entire strung-out day in the space of a single looping measure.  – Julian Towers

Eric Hisaw Band

Can't Stop Time (Flak)

"It's a dark time, living in the USA," Texas roadhouse bard Eric Hisaw proclaims in the opening salvo to Can't Stop Time, his first long-player since 2018's Street Lamp. Those eight words lay it all out: This is a long, sober look at 2022's American dystopia – especially as it hits Austin – set to dryly recorded roots twang and thunder, punk in spirit but with a Buck Owens heart. The key track? Jaundiced stroll "What They Got," bemoaning avaricious tech millionaires, condo-cluttered skylines, neighborhoods choked with Airbnbs, and the closing of schools and the bars "where we used to drink and learn." But it does so over gently arpeggiated Sunny & the Sunliners chords, rather than bash & crash screaming. This is protest music with a beaten and bruised heart and a Fender Telecaster, expressing hope through gritted teeth.
– Tim Stegall

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More New, Local Music We’re Listening to
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Rachel Rascoe, Oct. 27, 2023

What We're Listening to This Week
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Christeene, the Bad Lovers, and Churchwood in this week's worthwhile listens

Genevieve Wood, Dec. 16, 2022

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