Meanswell is a bit of a new name on the Austin music scene but its roots go back the electric indie-rock outfit The Gents. Specifically their third studio EP, The Means: Part II, in the fall of 2016. After that recording, the group took a step back from gigging to refocus their sound. The result is a few singles of harder hitting rock ‘n’ roll with dueling electric guitars and tighter harmonies. Meanswell stopped by the studio to get out the word for their FREE WEEK show at The Mohawk on Saturday, February 6. Get a sneak preview of the new music from their visit to Studio 1A!
1/6 @ Mohawk
Ever wondered what Radiohead’s Thom Yorke might sound like singing atmospheric folk ballads? Austin’s Taft Mashburn aims to find out along with the help of bassist, Sam Pankey, and percussionist, Josh Halpern. Together, the trio crafts beautiful acoustic soundscapes for Taft’s distinctive vocal style. Instead of sliding in between or sitting on top of the melody Taft inextricably weaves his voice into the grooves of a song making it an integral instrument in the composition. Taft released its most recent album TDNP last June and recently returned from a West coast tour. The band plays a FREE WEEK show on Saturday, January 6 at The Swan Dive. Scroll down to hear Taft’s recent performance for John Aielli in Studio 1A!
1/6 @ Swan Dive
2/2 @ Sahara Lounge
The fourth album Offerings, the most ominous and sonically dramatic record from Typhoon, opens with this line: “Listen — of all the things that you are about to lose, this will be the most painful.” And for the next 70 minutes, bandleader, singer, guitarist and songwriter Kyle Morton weaves a tale of a man losing his memory and with it, his identity. Kyle says that he’s “preoccupied with memory, losing memory, and trying to recapture memory.” He told me in an email that for this album, the band’s first since 2013, that he wanted to explore “the dual theme of (1) what it means to be a person stripped of all memory and (2) what happens to a world that loses all sense of history (read: modern America). In a nutshell, neither outlook is good, though hope is offered here in small doses.”
The album is divided into four parts: “Floodplains,” “Flood,” “Reckoning,” and “Afterparty.” Each is a representation of the mental state of the main character realizing something is wrong, then experiencing the stress and strife that ensues, and accepting before yielding to the final horrifying fate. The tale parallels the state of our times — an age of endless information and a loss of meaning. “There’s no future, there’s no lighthouse on the lake,” Kyle Morton sings. “You’re just rambling through endless corridors — a mouse lost in a maze.”
Had this album come out even a dozen years ago, many of us might have spent the coming year dissecting and poring over the density and meaning buried in this record. The irony here is that coming off a year where there was an absolute avalanche of new music — which for me made 2017 a difficult time to dive deep into any one record — this album, stocked with literary references and political parallels, may become the victim of its own subject. Kyle raises this question early on, on the second song called “Rorschach”: “We have all the information now, but what does it mean?”
I hope that Offerings doesn’t become a casualty of its own tale. This album of brilliant storytelling, clocking in at almost 2300 words, is worth dissecting and poring over. Unlike previous music from Typhoon, where roughly a dozen musicians normally includes big and uplifting brass, this one is more guitar-centric, with dark string arrangements. After listening to it, I texted my All Songs Considered co-host Robin Hilton the following: “good lord this Typhoon album is brilliant … haven’t cried listening to a record since [Sufjan Stevens’] Carrie And Lowell.” Offerings is truly a wise and ruminative record.
Over the course of several albums, Austin’s Tinnarose has become a mainstay on the local music scene with their distinctive take on psych-folk. After a roller coaster ride of emotions due to overwhelming pressure, the band went through a line-up change, moving forward as a trio and getting back on track with 2016’s release, My Pleasure Has Returned. There is a deeply rooted love for ‘70s rock and folk sounds with trippy psych vibes on their follow-up, but they weren’t content to merely pay tribute to their influences. They instead focused on evolving their own aesthetic to create something evocative and stirring. Take a listen to their recent visit to Studio 1A before their free week show.
– Laurie Gallardo, KUTX Host
Jake Lloyd’s music defies easy description. It’s hip-hop, it’s R&B, it’s rock ‘n’ roll and a little bit of everything in between. Whatever you call it, it’s a shining example of the new school of Austin urban music that’s seen a handful of fresh, talented voices hit their stride in the past couple of years. Jake Lloyd brought his genre-bending sound to Studio 1A for an end of the year session with KUTX’s Saturday night hip-hop program, The Breaks. Scroll down to listen to the session and watch Lloyd’s performance of “Strange Frute“!