Mike Melinoe’s Playfully Sinister “Casper” and Four More Songs From Austin Artists
New music picks from Loveme, sayang, Shaz, and more
"Paper Cuts" features new songs and music videos from Austin artists. Listen to our playlist on the @austinchronicle Spotify.
Mike Melinoe, "Casper"
A great opening line, emblematic of Mike Melinoe's playfully tenacious themes, ushers in a slinky synth anchor: "Hey, I'm down to the do the work if you let me." The single joins further R&B and Eighties darkwave explorations on the Detroit-raised, Austin-based rapper's fifth full-length, STRCHLD, featuring Houston's Dende and M3CCA among others. Embodying the LP's sexy-sinister edge, Melinoe posted a very NSFW clip from his self-directed "Casper" music video – which later devolves with a panic attack and masked villain. True statement of self, the film credits and LP flip side list his legal name, Michael Whitsett. – Rachel Rascoe
"Unhinged, raw, and self-deprecated in prescription mania," lilts Sammi Drogosch on the crescendoing chorus to "Promise," the first of two singles released by avant-pop experimenters Loveme. The recently formed fivepiece brings decades of musical training to the post-punk project: the discordant piano work of Rae Mascardo, Ernesto Grey, and Kelly Gibson raises hairs, while classically trained jazz drummer Wade Stephens' urgent percussion resembles the anxious backbeat of an Yves Tumor track. Channeling the eerie soprano of Eartheater, Drogosch's background in opera is on full display as the group guides listeners through a somber yet artful exploration of grief and loss of innocence. – Genevieve Wood
We first caught on to singer-songwriter Rajinee Buquing, also cinematographer behind 2023 Sundance-winning short "When You Left Me on That Boulevard," for an impressive 2021 music video for "Catcall & Response." Swapping the project name to sayang, follow-up "Leftovers" leans into sassy acoustic picks and fluidly jam-packed lyrics heard at live performances as a duo. Appropriate for a rebrand, another introductory single samples a spiritual healing podcast before tenor sax accents the meditative "Leftovers." More enlightening, sayang's new bio says her guitar-focused R&B stems from watching Filipino American YouTube stars during her mid-2000s youth. – Rachel Rascoe
Shaz, "On My Mind"
Dreamy alt-pop newcomer Shaz, whose moniker is an ode to both her last name and her father's childhood nickname, shines on her first release since February debut Inside Out. The South Florida-grown, Austin-based singer-songwriter roots in her Armenian heritage, classical piano training, and love for 20th-century crooners like Nancy Sinatra. Penned with Sol y Motion/Rococo Disco percussionist Thomas Klein and boasting production from John Ho, whose résumé includes pop heavyweights Chlöe (Bailey) and Demi Lovato, the silky, bedroom-eyed jaunt is defined by a sleek guitar riff and Shaz's celestial vocals. – Elizabeth Braaten
Tele Novella, "Eggs in One Basket"
Something extremely French about "Eggs in One Basket." Whistle-worthy repeater off the Lockhart group's second Kill Rock Stars full-length, Poet's Tooth, Tele Novella's cleanup hitter homers off clockwork percussion, plucked steel, and ticktock vocalizing somewhere between Françoise Hardy and The Young Girls of Rochefort. Natalie Ribbons' high notes punctuate the picket-line cadence highlighting her fearlessly clear tenor. The tune's bobbing metronome tempo lends it a looping quality, like a clock never running down. Moreover, its aquatic elasticity keeps it in constant sway, updating Seventies/Eighties West Texas mysticism into a creekside spell. – Raoul Hernandez