Courtship Ritual: “Down Low”

Song of the Day

Courtship Ritual: “Down Low”

Posted by on May 25, 2016

On its debut album, Brooklyn’s Courtship Ritual did more with less, crafting skeletal and skittering dance-pop with just a few ingredients. Monica Salazar and Jared Olmstead used bass, synth, and programmed drums in really surprising ways. The songs on Pith could be gloomy one moment and borderline euphoric the next.

The duo returns with a new single called “Down Low” that’s almost symphonic thanks to the brasher elements added to the mix. But closer listening shows Courtship Ritual still uses empty space like a third member, bouncing bass and drums off all the silence. It’s a sleeker and sharper sound, but those ingredients are still perfectly weighed and measured.

“Down Low” is out now via GODMODE.

–Art Levy

Will Courtney: “The Pain (Song For Dennis Wilson)”

Song of the Day

Will Courtney: “The Pain (Song For Dennis Wilson)”

Posted by on May 24, 2016

For all the California sunniness of the Beach Boys, there’s an undertow of darkness pulling the band. Brian Wilson’s mental health issues are a notable example, but maybe the most tragic character in the story is Dennis Wilson. His drumming was gradually replaced by session players over the course of the ’60s. He befriended Charles Manson before breaking off the relationship just before the infamous Manson Family murders. Wilson suffered from alcohol and drug abuse and ended up drowning in 1983.

But Wilson’s legacy also includes some incredible music. Even if he was marginalized as a drummer, he started writing and producing more Beach Boys material during the band’s cloudier, early ’70s period, resulting in beautifully rich songs like “Forever.” Wilson’s magnum opus was Pacific Ocean Blue, his 1977 solo debut. The moody cover shot gives you a clue to its sonic space: symphonic yet ragged, rain mixed with the sunshine.

Austin’s Will Courtney–formerly of Brothers & Sisters–wrote “The Pain” as an ode to Dennis Wilson, but it’s unromanticized and universal. Courtney taps into Wilson’s Kurt Cobain-meets-Phil Spector sound, offering a crescendo that hits like waves on a lonely beach.

“The Pain (Song For Dennis Wilson)” appears on Planning Escapes, out July 15 via Wren & Shark. See Will Courtney at the Wren & Shark launch party on June 24 at the North Door.

–Art Levy

Star Parks: “Theoretical Girls”

Song of the Day

Star Parks: “Theoretical Girls”

Posted by on May 23, 2016

After the end of his band the Preservation, Austin’s Andy Bianculli doubled-down on his love ’60s pop for his new project, Star Parks. The result is Don’t Dwell, a somewhat ironic title given the bittersweet cloud that hangs over the debut album. But the songs are lifted up by grand orchestration and sunny melodies, a perfect match for Bianculli’s lighter-than-air voice. He daydreams his way through a two-chord amble on “Theoretical Girls,” taking along a slide guitar and horns for company.

“Theoretical Girls” appears on Don’t Dwell, out now via Paper Trail Records. Star Parks perform live in our Studio 1A on Thursday, May 26 at 9 p.m., followed by a record release show at the Blackheart on Friday, May 27.

–Art Levy

My KUTX: Black Pistol Fire

Artist of the Month

My KUTX: Black Pistol Fire

Posted by on May 20, 2016

Photo by Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUTX

Black Pistol Fire is the KUTX Artist of the Month for May. Learn more here.

Kevin McKeown and Eric Owen formed Black Pistol Fire a few years ago in their hometown of Toronto, but they’ve really made a mark locally. This is one of the best live bands around town, and their new album, Don’t Wake The Riot, mixes in some new sounds. They sound a lot bigger than just guitar and drums, and on their guest DJ set, they go real big: old-school Outkast, pre-show pump-ups, and badass rock and soul. Tune in Saturday, May 21 at 6 p.m. or listen anytime in the player below.

–Art Levy

Playlist:

[intro music: Black Pistol Fire – “Storm Cussin'”]

1. The Secret Sisters – “Big River”

2. Alabama Shakes – “Always Alright”

3. Nirvana – “Lounge Act”

4. The Misfits – “Hybrid Moments”

5. The Kills – “Fried My Little Brains”

6. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Phenomena”

7. Lee Dorsey – “Get Out My Life Woman”

8. Outkast – “Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik”

9. Big Mama Thornton – “Hound Dog”

10. Jessica Lea Mayfield – “We’ve Never Lied”

11. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – “Beat The Devil’s Tattoo”

12. Bass Drum of Death – “Get Found”

13. Sonny & the Sunsets – “Too Young To Burn”

14. Bootsy Collins – “I’d Rather Be With You”

Black Pistol Fire: “Storm Cussin'” (Live In Studio 1A)

Artist of the Month

Black Pistol Fire: “Storm Cussin'” (Live In Studio 1A)

Posted by on May 20, 2016

Photo by Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUTX

Black Pistol Fire is the KUTX Artist of the Month for May. Learn more here.

Kevin McKeown and Eric Owen are grade-school buddies who made good on their youthful passion, forming Black Pistol Fire in Toronto before moving down to Austin. In their sonic world, Zeppelin goes hand-in-hand with punk, and in their hands, that makes total sense. Owen is a monster drummer, usually a half-naked swirl of hair and limbs while McKeown growls on his guitar, equal parts John Lee Hooker and Jack White. “Storm Cussin'” struts and stomps, pitched somewhere between a dive bar and an arena.

“Storm Cussin’,” recorded live in Studio 1A, also appears on Don’t Wake The Riot, out now via Modern Outsider. Catch Black Pistol Fire tonight at Emo’s, and hear Kevin and Eric’s guest DJ set on My KUTX this Saturday at 6 p.m.

–Art Levy