KUTX turns five this year, and we’re celebrating all year long (because we’re that guy) with special features on-air and online, fun events, and concerts – some of which we’re still cooking up, and some of which might become annual traditions.
Sat., Jan. 6 & Sun., Jan. 7: Kick off our yearlong celebration with a musical trip down memory lane! From 6 A.M. to 6 P.M. each day, you’ll hear songs from artists that reflect and capture the past 5 years at KUTX. Mon., Jan. 15: On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we’ll spotlight black artists and their contribution to rock-and-roll (and by “contribution,” we of course mean, INVENTION OF IT.) Jan. 22-26: Midday host Susan Castle will celebrate a special week of “Ocho Loco”, with opportunities to win very cool things. This week Susan will be giving away tickets to see Bon Iver, Trevor Noah, Dan Auerbach, and St. Vincent. Plus, one lucky listener will get the chance to play guest DJ for a future episode of “Ocho Loco”. Play along and check for our daily “Ocho Loco” topics on our Facebook page. Thur., Feb. 15: Think you know more about music than us? Come out and prove it! The Cactus Cafe will host a Music Trivia Night where teams of listeners can take on a team of KUTX hosts and staffers. Supported by AFS Cinema. GET TIX HERE Thur., Feb. 22: KUTX 5th Birthday Concert Series: Blitzen Trapper at Antone’s Fri., Mar. 23: KUTX 5th Birthday Concert Series: Broken Social Scene at Stubb’s (on sale Friday 2/2 @ 10 a.m.)
- Fri., Jun. 15: A screening of “High Fidelity” on Bass Concert Hall’s big screen, followed by a live conversation and audience Q&A with John Cusack, regarding his career and the making of the film.
Tue., July 31: KUTX 5th Birthday Concert Series: Beach House at ACL Live
- Sat., August 25: KUTX 5th Birthday Concert Series: Jason Isbell at Bass Concert Hall
- ICYMI: My KUTX producer Art Levy selects his favorite My KUTX guest DJ sessions from the last five years.
- Coming soon, on-air: Our favorite in-studio performances of the last five years.
- Coming soon, IRL: more concerts and fun events. Stay tuned!
And all of this is, of course, in addition to the stuff we usually do, like KUTX Live at The Four Seasons, KUTX Live at The Paramount, our spring and fall concert series at Mueller, and all the features and music you find on KUTX every day.
Wait. Only Five?
If it feels like we’ve been around for decades (or that some of our hosts have), you’re partially right. KUT (90.5) was launched by The University of Texas in 1958, and for decades, served Austin listeners with news and great music. But KUT wanted to provide Austin with 24-hours of news and information, which required launching a second station for music.
In January 2013, KUTX was born at 98.9 on the FM dial (or, we guess you could say, reborn.) In the years to follow, we’d develop our own identity: one that honors its musical roots on KUT, but embraces an even wider array of sounds and artists, with a strong commitment to Austin’s dynamic music scene. (Scroll down for a list of KUTX milestones from the last five years.)
Here’s a list of what KUTX listeners and members have made possible since our launch in 2013:
- Approximately 1200 music performances in Studio 1A, from legends like Allen Toussaint, Patty Griffin, and Lyle Lovett to emerging artists like The War on Drugs, Father John Misty, and Alt-J.
- Events in the community, from our annual KUTX Live at The Four Seasons benefits during ACL Fest and SXSW, to our biannual, family-friendly music series at Mueller Lake Park.
- Specialty shows on the air, like Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child (indie music for indie kids), My KUTX, the Old School Dance Party, Left of the Dial, Horizontes, Uptown Saturday Night (which carries the torch of Twine Time), and The Breaks.
- Support of Austin music, via the playlist, live events where artists are paid fairly, features like our Artist of the Month initiative and the Austin Music Minute,
- The launch of our podcast, This Song, which has profiled over 100 artists from Austin and around the world about the songs that transformed them.
- In 2017, a celebration of Eklektikos host John Aielli’s fifty years on the air.
- The launch of the KUTX Street Team in 2015, which built on the base of our longtime volunteers and expanded our reach at events in Austin.
- A rebranding in 2017, where KUTX got a brand new look, independent from KUT, and launched our first-ever billboard campaign.
- Doubled listenership since KUTX’s launch (with recent months showing our strongest ratings ever.)
- A bigger staff! We welcomed hosts Elizabeth McQueen, Paul Carrubba, Confucius Jones, and Fresh Knight, as well as Live Music Producer Deidre Gott and Assistant Program Director Jacquie Fuller. Some KUTX interns – Taylor Wallace, Jack Anderson, and Ryan Wen – became staffers you now hear on air regularly. We also said goodbye to friends who moved on to new adventures, including John Parsons, Trina Quinn, Audrey Morton, Haley Howle, Tyler Pratt, and Katie Bradley.
- Your stories and support also helped KUTX through a difficult time: when we lost Twine Time host Paul Ray in 2016.
Thank you for your ears and support over these last five years. We hope to see you in 2018!
Holiday music is ubiquitous. Our turkey dinners have barely had time to digest before we start hearing it everywhere. These days, it seems you can’t buy groceries or a giant television without your ears being assaulted by the forced cheer of Mariah Carey or the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Hey – let it be known that we’ve got nothing against either – but here at KUTX, we strive to bring you a holiday mix that’s more in line with what you normally hear on our airwaves.
Prefer to spend the holidays with the likes of The Shins, XTC, The Pretenders, Willie Nelson, Heartless Bastards, Aimee Mann, and Johnny Cash? Then spend the holidays with KUTX. Beginning December 22nd at 6 A.M., KUTX will go wall-to-wall holiday music, without the cheese (unless it’s, you know, ironic cheese. We like that flavor.) And we’ll keep at until midnight on December 25th.
It’s our way of saying Happy Holidays! (And it also might be our way of getting a few days off work.)
photo by Mengwen Cao
We shared our favorite songs of 2017 and now we want to hear from you! Cast your vote for your favorite Austin band or artist and favorite Austin song in the form below. When you do, you’ll be entered to win a $100 gift card from Waterloo Records. Voting is open now and runs through noon on Wednesday, December 13.
It is with extremely heavy hearts that we must announce the passing of Austin music icon Margaret Moser. Moser was instrumental in making the Austin music scene what it is today, and her influence will continue to reverberate throughout the city for generations to come. The following article was originally published by NPR Music on June 22nd, 2017.
** Please find Jody Denberg’s 2014 interview with Margaret Moser in the player at the bottom of this post.
June 18 was the beginning of a weeklong Open House at Tex Pop, the South Texas Museum of Popular Culture — a storefront wedged between a head shop and convenience store in an aging strip center at the corner of Margaret and Mulberry in San Antonio. Inside, in the largest of three rooms, museum founder and director Margaret Moser is seeing her first visitor of the day, Kathy Valentine. In an adjacent room, Moser’s mother Phyllis Stegall and a niece greet arrivals as they wait their turns. The mood is somber, which on any other day could be attributed to it being a Sunday morning, except that everyone here knows Moser is living on borrowed time. The one exception to the caliginous vibe is the day’s person of interest and honor — she’s smiling, laughing, holding hands, hugging, listening to and telling stories. Having the time of her life.
While Moser was an aspiring, wiseass music writer and budding provocateur in her early twenties, Kathy Valentine — best known as a founding member of The Go-Gos and presently leading The Bluebonnets — remembers herself as a sixteen-year-old guitar-playing wannabe. Moser had recruited Valentine to join the all-female Geranium Cabbages, an offshoot of the satire project Sons of Uranium Savages. Both had been smitten with Suzi Quatro, the assertive female rocker from Detroit who’d become big in England. Valentine says she made it through two practices with the Cabbages before peeling away to start Austin’s first punk band, The Violators. “We wanted a real band,” Valentine says, looking over and smiling affectionately at Moser. “[Geranium Cabbages] wanted to have fun.” Margaret beams, listening.
Next is Chris Gray, culture editor of the Houston Press weekly, who has driven two hundred miles from Houston with his wife Lauren and baby boy Oliver. Moser discovered Gray when he was a nineteen-year-old student writing for the Daily Texan newspaper at the University of Texas. “He had so much attitude, ” Margaret remembers. “I said, ‘If you’re going to write this s*** for free, come work for us at the Chronicle.'” He did.
Valentine and Gray are familiars to Moser, their presence at this living good-bye not all that surprising. The three Mexican-American teenagers joining Moser on the couch, not so much. “These are the Tiarra Girls,” Margaret says, introducing the sisters Tori, Sophia and Tiffany Balitierra.
Debbra Baltierra and her husband Hector Baltierra knew all about Margaret. “She contacted the band from out of the blue,” Debbra Baltierra, their mother and manager, tells me. “She reached out to the girls, liked their Facebook page, and really encouraged them. The girls were like, ‘Tell us about her!’ They were super surprised. She’d contact them regularly to see what they were doing. Last year, she showed up at a gig here in San Antonio at Market Square. She got up on stage and said, ‘This is what you need to be listening to! These girls are going to be the next big thing!’ She wanted to share the band with the rest of the world.”
One of the best parts of this Sunday open house, Moser would later say, was being able to introduce Kathy Valentine to the Tiarra Girls. They’re going to make some music together.
Margaret Moser’s gran adios comes as no surprise to anyone. In 2014, she retired from the Austin Chronicle after thirty-three years of writing about music for the publication, and from her gig founding and running the Austin Music Awards, the Austin-focused event that kicks off the music portion of South By Southwest. She moved back to her hometown of San Antonio. Moser’s diagnosis of stage IV colon cancer in February 2013 had everything to do with it. But she did not go home to die; after marrying longtime companion Steve Chaney, she went home to take what she had learned in Austin and put it to work in San Antonio. She founded the South Texas Museum of Popular Culture, the aforementioned “Tex Pop,” modeled after the South Austin Museum of Popular Culture in Austin, where Moser had first gotten the bug for historic preservation.
To that end Moser, who has been memorialized in stone (with the Margaret Moser Plaza on West Third Street in downtown Austin, not too far from South By Southwest headquarters) was going to show San Antonio how to recognize and show off its own musical riches, just as she had done in Austin for more than 40 years. It has not been an easy task, despite San Antonio’s musical history being, arguably, far richer and more diverse than Austin’s. Consider Robert Johnson’s and Lydia Mendoza’s recordings in the ’30s, Sir Douglas Quintet, Big Bill Lister, honky-tonk mainstay Johnny Bush, Adolph Hofner and his Tex-Czech sound, the indelible Selena, Sunny and the Sunliners, Steve Earle, Rudy and The Reno Bops, The Royal Jesters, Girl In A Coma, Piñata Protest scenes like the sixties-era Swing Time teen television show, the Teen Canteen music venue, Chicano soul groups from the ’50s and ’60s, the psychedelic Tex-Mex accordionist Esteban Jordan, the Sex Pistols’ appearance at Randy’s Rodeo, pop hitmaker Christopher Cross.
Austin learned to honor and champion music and music people on Moser’s watch, culminating with the official embrace of the slogan Live Music Capital of the World in 1991. Musicians in San Antonio are still considered blue-collar, just a cut above gang members and ex-cons. The city’s various music tribes are scattered, disorganized and, until Tex Pop came along, long lacked a physical space that recognized their contributions. There was a reason why the local response to that “Keep Austin Weird” slogan was “Keep San Antonio Lame.”
Austin’s music community has been going through a rough patch with singer-songwriter Jimmy LaFave’s very public passing, managing to ward off the ravages of malignant sarcoma to come out and sing “Good Night, Irene” one last time along with the rest of the cast at his tribute show at the Paramount Theater. He died two days later on May 21, the same day producer and all-star sideman George Reiff passed away from complications due to Stage IV lung cancer that had spread to his liver, bone marrow, and brain.
Two weeks after those deaths, Moser ended treatment for her terminal disease and publicly announced she had gone into hospice, letting friends know that now would be a good time to come see her.
And so they did. Close to two hundred friends drove eighty miles from Austin for that Sunday Open House.
Getting laid wasn’t the goal
Margaret Moser was a brash nineteen-year-old when she hit Austin in 1973. She had embraced the groupie life, revealed to her both in a cover story in Rolling Stone magazine she picked up at the North Star Mall and in the subsequent book Groupies and Other Girls: A Rolling Stone Special Report by Jerry Hopkins, John Burks, and Baron Wolman. Her first conquest, as such, had been in 1970 in San Antonio, with one of the members of Blue Cheer, after breaking up with her boyfriend. Moser slept with other rockers in Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Antonio too, learning firsthand that getting backstage, riding in limos and partying in hotel suites was maybe even more rock ‘n’ roll than the bands that played the music. She was good at it. She dressed provocatively and she had good ears.
But getting laid wasn’t the goal. Nor was being a writer or an interpreter. She just wanted to be where the action was. “I wanted to be part of the crowd,” she said near the end of her Open House week. “I wanted to hang out in the Armadillo Beer Garden like everybody else, and sit around and drink beer and talk about Marcia Ball, see Willie Nelson walk through. That was kind of the dream.
“I wanted to be part of that group. I wanted to be in this life. I wanted to see what they were seeing, in the way they were seeing it. It didn’t necessarily mean I wanted to be the singer, the guitarist, or the center of attention. I just wanted to know where that came from, where that power came from, where that passion came from.
“For me, it came from words and the way they blended into music in my head. It’s so powerful. And as a girl, I couldn’t talk about it to anybody. Guys could talk about this stuff.”
Moser fit right in as the hell-raising fan girl, cooling in the clubs until last call, following bands of all persuasions – The Skunks, Standing Waves, and other punk bands at Raul’s, the Fabulous Thunderbirds and Little Stevie Vaughan at Antone’s and the Rome Inn, watching and hearing her close friend Lucinda Williams grow into a serious singer-songwriter at the Austin Outhouse, emmajoe’s, and the Cactus Café.
In 1976, she scored a gig as office manager and cleanup woman at the Austin Sun alternative bi-weekly and immediately started feeding gossip she’d overheard to columnist Bill Bentley for his “Backstage” column. Her inside dope was so good that she wound up taking over the column.
She scored her first byline offering to interview Randy California of the band Spirit, which she did while he bathed in his Driskill Hotel room bathtub. “I was naked except for my notebook and pen,” Moser later wrote. She got the story.
This was around the same time Margaret appeared on my radar. We’d both became regulars at Antone’s, the storied blues club on Sixth Street started by Clifford Antone. One afternoon, working her way down the block from Antone’s with Bill Bentley and Sterling Morrison — Bentley’s bandmate and a former member of the Velvet Underground — and their friend Marvin Williams, they walked into Benny’s Tavern, the last “Men’s Only” beer bar on Sixth. Margaret was just as loud and loaded as anyone. They ordered their beers and, after a pregnant pause, Margaret told the silver-haired barkeep she’d have one, too. Her voice wasn’t loud or obnoxious, just confident; she was such an open, unnerving presence that the bartender did not hesitate to serve her. After downing her first glass, she ordered another and was served promptly. It’s unknown whether or not Margaret knew Benny’s was, as the sign outside read, a Men’s Only beer hole at the time. She did know she was thirsty, and saw the cool little scene inside Benny’s through friends she knew from Antone’s and OK Records next door, and invited herself in, and became part of the scene in a matter of minutes. By doing so, she’d broken the gender line of the last “Men’s Only” bar on Sixth.
Meanwhile, the Austin Sun folded and most of the staff headed west to California in 1978. Moser stayed. When the Austin Chronicle stepped into the void and started publishing in 1981, there was no question who the gossip columnist would be.
The Texas Blondes
Moser had her own posse, The Texas Blondes, so-named by John Cale, her paramour whenever he was touring through and maybe even her one true rock ‘n’ roll love. The Texas Blondes showed up at all the happening gigs at the Armadillo, Club Foot, Raul’s, and Liberty Lunch in Austin, and backstage in venues on the West and East coasts, moving as a pack. One Texas Blonde — a perpendicularly red-headed teenaged pixie named Dayna Blackwell, who lived with Moser and her first husband Ken Hoge for a stretch — took James Osterberg, Jr., aka Iggy Pop, home to New Orleans to live with her parents for a couple of months.
Moser learned what the performing end of the business was like as the leader of the Jam and Jelly Girls dancers, who performed lewd and raunchy routines alongside Dino Lee & His White Trash Revue, Austin’s show band of the eighties. But writing was becoming her thing. She took on the subject of groupies seriously, networking and developing personal friendships with Pamela Des Barres of Hollywood’s GTOs and the raunch-blues singer Candye Kane, among others, sitting on panels and discussions, and examining the lifestyle in print. She mused in a Chronicle article that groupies were “the unsung Florence Nightingales of rock & roll, substituting backstage blowjobs and the risk of clap for a gracious bedside manner.” It wasn’t all limos and laminates, she admitted, “But it beat Saturday nights on Sixth Street.”
For all the sexual innuendo — and actual sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll — the hang was, really, all about the hang; being around music people, showing off Austin to out-of-towners on tour, making sure all needs and wants were met and fulfilled. It was a form of hospitality Austin already had a reputation for, going back to the Armadillo World Headquarters in the early ’70s. Margaret just made it more fun.
Beginning in the mid-’90s, Moser started writing Austin’s music history in the Chronicle and in her memoirs. Her scholarship was impressive, especially on Austin’s psychedelic, blues, and punk histories. She uncovered new information about the origin of a thirtieth, unrecorded Robert Johnson song “Fishin.'”
Along the way Moser matured into a mother hen, encouraging and mentoring new musicians and new music people freshly arrived from somewhere else, schooling them in the local ways, making sure they understood Austin was where you came to express yourself and not hold back. As the lunch lady who delivered pizza to the kids enrolled in Michelle Murphy’s Natural Ear music camp, she always offered a few words of wisdom and listened with a sympathetic ear.
Not done dancing
That Sunday Open House at Tex Pop turned out to be the start of a very busy week. Margaret was doing pretty much what she’s always done, delegating tasks to her sizeable posse, giving three assistants — her husband Steve Chaney, BFF E.A. Srere, and Jennifer Milbauer — plenty of advice how to juggle her schedule, slotting people in, weighing tribes and personal likes and dislikes, making for the perfect eight-day-long going away party.
New wave stalwarts The Standing Waves serenaded her with an acoustic set. So did country music songwriter and performer Monte Warden, who was first championed by Moser when he was fifteen years old. Jon Dee Graham and his son William Harries Graham played some songs, and Jon Dee drew a Bear as Hellcat sketch for her. Susan Antone of Antone’s Nightclub dropped by with singer-pianist Marcia Ball and radio personality Jody Denberg. Punks, new wavers, Texas Blondes and Jam and Jelly Girls, New Sincerity-ites, hard rockers, roots rockers, disc jockeys, writers, publishers, blues hounds, Tex-Mexers, pop stars, people you never heard of, people who’d just met Margaret all came by. Margaret was part of all their worlds.
Music has been on her mind and in her head more than ever. Her computer screensaver displays these lines written by Ray Wylie Hubbard: “The days in which my gratitude exceeds my expectations are really good days.” The first time she saw those words, she wrote a column about it.
“This has been the most ungodly experience,” Moser said as her Open House week wound down. “I’ve been given what is almost like this cruel luxury, this incredible gift to say good-bye, say farewell, to say thank you. Most people will never get the chance to do something like this. It’s not slipping into darkness. This is dancing in the light… at night, especially. People say, ‘It must be so hard at night.’ No!
“Things lighten up, like I’m on a mountaintop. I can see all around. I can see Clifford’s there. I can see Paul Ray’s there. I see our friends. I see our relatives. I see people I know I’m not related to, everybody. It’s out there. There is something out there. And whether it’s just a brief frisson of energy that lasts no more than a second, when we go, I truly believe there’s something that we go through that then allows for continuation of energy in this universe which keeps bringing us all back.”
She’s not done dancing. The exhibit she curated on Robert Johnson in Texas is traveling from San Antonio to Austin, opening at Antone’s Night Club on July 1. “It may go to Mississippi next,” she said. “I’m told it’s far more comprehensive than the exhibit that’s up in Clarksville.” She’s booked a hotel in Austin for more visits with friends before and after the Robert Johnson exhibit opens. Music will be played. Margaret Moser will make damn sure of that.
Copyright 2017 NPR.
Feature photo: Margaret Moser, repping The Talking Heads and Raul’s in Austin, Texas. (Ken Hoge)
We’ve just about reached the halfway point on 2017, so it seems like a good time to pause and recognize some of the great tracks that have come out so far this year. We asked KUTX staffers for their five favorite songs of 2017 so far – here’s what they had to say. (Top image: Music Director Jeff McCord’s desk, which is a dream if you love music, but a nightmare if you hate mail.)
Jeff McCord, Music Director and Host
“… five favorites in no particular order.”
The War On Drugs / “Thinking Of A Place” – Wasn’t sure this Philly band was going to make it after defections and a major label deal, but they’re finally back, and in top form with another quiet storm. Meditative, with otherworldly guitar work and a sound that never grows old.
Kendrick Lamar / “FEEL” – I feel like a chip on my shoulders/i feel like I’m losing’ my patience/I feel like my thoughts in the basement/I feel like you’re miseducated/feel like I don’t wanna be bothered/I feel like you may be the problem/I feel like it ain’t no tomorrow.
Courtney Barnett / “How To Boil An Egg” – The master of the mundane returns. Barnett resurrects and modernizes and quickly records an old song for her singles club that sounds as crafted and rocks as hard as any released so far this year.
Leopold and His Fiction / “If You Gotta Go (Go Now)” – A joyous romp on an obscure Dylan tune that makes me smile every time I hear it.
Gabriel Garzon-Montano / “Crawl” – Inverted funk a la Shuggie Otis and, for me at least, THE earworm of 2017 so far.
Jody Denberg, Host
5. Gurf Morlix / “Deeper Down” – A noted producer and guitarist, Morlix’s CD The Soul And The Heal takes his songwriting game up another notch, exemplified by this composition and others just as worthy.
4. Prince / “Deliverance” – Even from the great beyond, Prince delivers. Even if legalities removed the song and the EP from the marketplace, it still sounds on target.
3. This Is The Kit / “Moonshine Freeze” – Mysterious and beguiling, mellow but with a groove, I know nothing more about this artist than she is Britain’s Kate Stables. I think I’ll just let the mystery be.
2. Robyn Hitchcock / “I Want To Tell You About What I Want” – 20 or so solo albums in, Robyn delivers an amazing disc with this single as its centerpiece. Sincere and sarcastic simultaneously, it’s quintessential Hitchcock.
1. Sweet Spirit / “The Power” – An anthem from Austin’s most charismatic band. One that should be bad, nationwide and eternal.
Susan Castle, Host
” … alphabetically.”
Cherry Glazerr / “Told You I’d Be with the Guys”
Grizzly Bear / “Mourning Sound”
This is The Kit / “Moonlight Freeze”
Savoy Motel / “Sorry People”
Thievery Corporation ft. Raquel Jones / “Letter to the Editor”
Jay Trachtenberg, Host
” … in no particular order.”
Mathew Logan Vasquez / “Same” – Who would have expected strings and a vocal chorus from this hard-rocking Austinite who fronts Delta Spirit? Can we expect a new direction?
Little Sims / “Picture Perfect” – This young lady from London throws down a fresh, confident, new sound for the UK hip hop scene.
Sleaford Mods / “BHS” – A pair of working class blokes from Nottingham, England rail against the powers-that-be while riding a stripped-down, incessant electro-beat.
Nikki Lane / “Jackpot” – South Carolina-raised, Nashville-based songstress rolls a seven with this rollicking country rock gem.
Tinariwen / “Sastanaqqam” – Some of us can’t seem to get enough of the hypnotic, entrancing desert groove from these Taureg musicians of northern Mali.
Elizabeth McQueen, Host & Producer of This Song
Sweet Spirit / “The Power” – This song out-anthem’s “We Will Rock You” and sends me into fits of giddy fist in the air empoweredness at every listen. Long Live Sweet Spirit!
Mobley / “Tell Me” – Mobley is making some of the best music in Austin and this song makes want to cry on the dance floor (always a good sign), while the video for the song just makes me straight-up cry.
Ty Richards / “Going out for a Cigarette” – I find myself dissecting this pop gem every time I listen to it. The sounds are cool, the lyrics get me, and there’s a special something about it that is super compelling. But what exactly is it?!? I still haven’t figured it out, which means I get to listen to it on repeat again! YAY!
Benjamin Booker ft. Mavis Staples / “Witness” – I love Benjamin Booker and I love Mavis Staples and I love this song. It makes me want to be more than a witness to events. I makes me want to be an active participant.
Gorillaz / “We Got the Power” – It’s no secret that I’m a fan of all things Damon Albarn, and the new Gorillaz record Humanz is no exception. This track in particular makes me feel hopeful and grateful every time I hear it. I have dreams of arranging it for a choir — I’m hoping that will happen soon.
Art Levy, Host and Producer
5. Jidenna / “Bambi” – Like if Sam Cooke grew up on DJ Screw/Houston rap.
4. Mac DeMarco / “My Old Man” – Indie’s reigning clown prince is a lot deeper than he lets on. The drum-machine-on-downers vibe fits him well.
3. Broken Social Scene / “Hug Of Thunder” – I love that Feist has gotten weirder and weirder across her career. Her heady voice makes this atmospheric, minimalist track soar.
2. Juana Molina / “Cosoco” – Like folk music made by machines, somehow ancient and futuristic at the same time.
1. Big Thief / “Mythological Beauty” – Beautiful, of course, and maybe a little bit mythological. Even though it’s specifically about singer Adrienne Lenker’s life, it feels older, something reverberating through time.
Rick McNulty, Host
Naked Giants / “Ya Ya” – By a landslide, the best rawk song I’ve heard all year. Chunking power chords, screaming guitars, and a chorus that hollers, “Whoaaaaa, ya-ya-ya-ya hey!” What more do you need?
Childish Gambino / “Have Some Love” – I miss the glory days of P-Funk and this tune is a perfect throwback. I don’t care if it’s a pastiche or a rip-off (even down to the cover art); all I know is that this is the best Funkadelic record George Clinton never made.
Matthew Logan Vasquez / “Same” – Goes to show that a little bit of polish can elevate good material to great. Strings, background singers, and a terrific hook turn this into a monster.
Spoon / “Hot Thoughts” – There seems to be a lot of Prince in the DNA of this song. It’s sensual with traces of funk and features addictive descending harmonies throughout. This one’s going on every mixed tape I make this year.
Thundercat / “Show You The Way” – If there’s such a thing as post-yacht rock, this is it. Inviting Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins to lay down smoky ‘70s vocals is a stroke of genius. Put this on repeat for those days at the pool.
Michael Crockett, host of Horizontes, Music of Latin America
Emicida w/Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra (Brazil/Japan) / “Olho Pro Ceu” – Backed by the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, who played SXSW this year, Brazilian rapper Emicida performs his own unique version of “Sukiaki” a song from Japan that was an international hit in the early sixties. I had a 45 rpm single of this song when I was a kid and I love this new “ska” version.
Campo w/Gustavo Santaolalla (Uruguay/Argentina) / “Tambor del Cosmos” – Campo is a side project of Bajofondo co-founder Juan Campodónico from Uruguay. The other co-founder, Guastavo Santaolalla, from Argentina, joins the band to sing this “cosmic” electro-cumbia called “Universal Drum.”
Gepe (Chile) / “Hablar de Ti” – Chile is a country with a strong folk music tradition but it also has some of the best pop music in Latin America. Daniel Riveros, aka Gepe, always has a bit a of both on his albums, but it’s this sweet romantic pop homage to a woman, “Speaking of You,” that I’m humming this summer.
Residente w/Soko (Puerto Rico/France) / “Desencuentro” – Puerto Rican rapper Residente, formerly the lyricist for the duo, Calle 13, has traveled the world and made a movie for his self-titled debut album. And in a departure from his usual social commentary, he sings a bi-lingual romantic duet on the album with French singer, Soko, about two potential lovers failure to connect. The video is a must-see.
Dayme Arocena (Cuba) / “Mambo Na’ Ma’” – Cuban mambo meets New Orleans brass as young Cuban jazz singer, Dayme Arocena, scats her way through the brass cacophony returning often to the simple refrain, “It’s just Mambo.” Yeah, but it also swings.
Matt Reilly, Program Director
The Black Angels / “Currency”– Just when I think that the Black Angels have made their best album, they put out another one that surpasses previous efforts. This track off of Death Song was the first song I heard from the record. That groove mixed with the basic, timeless message of how what you own ends up owning you, works well in these ultra-capitalist times.
Ty Richards / “Shoulda Coulda Woulda” – The first time I heard this, I thought ‘eh’. But then about an hour later, I was humming the melody. This is a total ear worm. I believe the technical term is “grower.” This is a great song and it’s my fault that it took me 5 listens to reach that conclusion.
Juana Molina / “Cosoco” – I’ve been a fan for several years of this Argentinian and she continues to impress. This song is modern, layered and rewarding with repeated listens.
Cherry Glazerr / “Told You I’d Be With The Guys” – I’m a riff guy. This is a great riff and the unhinged quality to this song makes it a little dangerous. Which is nice.
Naked Giants / “Ya Ya” – Did I mention I’m a riff guy? This is so loud and brash and dumb; things I want in my face-melting rock songs. And I don’t mean dumb as in stupid, it’s just not deep, but why does it need to be? I’d say roll down the windows and crank it but it’s summer here in Austin and you really shouldn’t do that. You might die.
Jacquie Fuller, Assistant Program Director
Sweet Spirit / “The Power” – Let’s pretend Gary Glitter never existed, and this was the original Jock Jam. If that were true, jocks wouldn’t even exist. School would be ruled by the heavy-eyelinered stoner girls on the fringes of the schoolyard. Also, I’d lose my virginity a lot sooner.
Broken Social Scene / “Hug of Thunder” – Feist returns to her original stomping grounds with the Canadian supergroup and the result is downright atmospheric. This song feels weightless and heavy at the same time. It’s a fluffy cloud that could kick your ass if it wanted to.
Spoon / “Do I Have To Talk You Into It?” – Okay, so yes, this is sort of “The Beast and Dragon Adored” funked-up a bit, and I want you to know that Spoon could just recycle all their old songs from here on out and I’d keep paying my hard-earned money for them. As the title implies, there’s a whole lot of itches in need of scratching on Hot Thoughts, and every time Britt Daniel lets loose one of those frustrated-emu-in-heat moans, I reach for my wallet.
The xx / “On Hold” – If you thought The xx was the sonic equivalent of Lunesta, you should give the band another chance, via this dancey number. Bonus: It’s fortified with Hall & Oates!
Slowdive / “Sugar for the Pill” – SHHHHH. STOP TALKING. DON’T TALK TO ME WHEN THIS SONG IS PLAYING. Oh, forget it – I’ll just start it over.