Artists of the Month: Year In Review 2018

Artist of the Month

Artists of the Month: Year In Review 2018

Posted by on Dec 18, 2018

Every month we turn the spotlight on a new release from a Texas artist with a series of weekly features that give you a sneak peek at the new music and some insight into the artist behind it. Here’s a look back at our 2018 Artists of the Month.



January: Good Field

The band might be dismissing their first two albums as ‘shoddy home recordings’, but that doesn’t really do them justice –  “Business” was a big KUTX favorite. Yet there’s no doubt Good Field’s third album, Surface Tension, is a step up. Hatched in West Texas desert enclaves on weed-fueled late night sessions, the band brought the sessions home and began polishing. Justin Douglas was the primary engineer, but Spoon’s Jim Eno mixed a song, and White Denim’s James Petrali guests as well. Overall, guitarist/vocalist Paul Price steps up with newfound clarity and the rest of the band falls in right behind; these are assured pop gems that haven’t lost the feel of their rugged landscape origins. Good Field will host a KUTX after hours on January 10th. Surface Tension will be released February 1st.


February: Mélat

Melat’s powerful voice immediately commands attention. She was born in Austin and is a graduate of Cedar Park High School, but her upbringing was far from typical. Her parents, both immigrants of Ethiopia, had to flee their home country in the dead of night. Influenced by her cultural upbringing (her parents still speak their native language, Amharic) and her father’s love of American R&B, Melat has found a voice and style all her own, and her talent has gained her more and more attention. Her new album Move Me II: The Present, is an intimate and fully realized collection of soulful R&B.


March: Erika Wennerstrom

There’s something somewhat frightening, yet utterly liberating when leaving the confines of a successful band to venture solo — especially a band whose latest record was called “effortlessly brilliant” by critics. But, such is the case with Erika Wennerstrom who is taking a break from her Austin-based rock band, Heartless Bastards, to deliver her solo debut, Sweet Unknown. “It was a really freeing experience,” reveals the singer/songwriter/guitarist. “I found my strength in my vulnerability as an artist, and really, just as a person. It kind of forced me to allow myself to be a little more exposed and stand on my own two feet. It’s easy to feel comfortable in a band, but it’s scary to do it as just yourself. I feel like I’ve grown a lot creatively and personally.” Fans can also rest assured that what they’ve grown to love about Wennerstrom’s music is still front-and-center. Her trademark vocals that NPR so aptly calls “warm yet gritty, throaty yet sweet, gigantic, yet intimate” are that… times 10. Erika Wennerstrom releases her debut solo album Sweet Unknown on Friday, March 23.


April: Mobley

He’s relentless, both in his pursuit of perfection and in his determination to entertain. Mobley, a singer, producer and multi-instrumentalist, has been part of the Austin scene for years, but his incessant touring has often kept his one-man show in other locales. Mobley makes soaring and soulful pop music, as he’s honed his craft, his profile has soared. These days, he’s writing music for HBO, Fox, NBC, and touring with many big name acts. He scrapped two entire albums before getting the right mix on his new release, Fresh Lies, Volume 1, out 4/27. Catch Mobley live on KUTX After Hours on Thursday, April 26th.

 


May: Marmalakes

While longtime friends Chase Weinacht and Josh Halpern have been making music in Austin as Marmalakes for nearly a decade, it’s been five years since they have released any new recordings. Beginning in 2010, the pair defined their energetic crafted pop sound over a series of four EP’s, but the last appeared in 2013. Since then the pair has been busy with other projects – songwriter Weinacht with his other band the Hermits, and Halpern drumming for everyone from Palo Duro to Shearwater. Throughout the years, though, Weinacht kept writing, and finally, the pair re-entered the studio last year to record their debut full-length album. Please Don’t Stop is their most accomplished work to date, and the album will be released May 11th. The pair are already on tour but return to Austin to celebrate the album release with a KUTX After hours performance on Monday, May 7th. They will also reveal their inspirations as they take over the airwaves for MY KUTX Saturday, May 12th.


June: Golden Dawn Arkestra

Even among all the unique bands in Austin, the dozen or so members of the Golden Dawn Arkestra are standouts. Their name and flamboyant costumes evoke a continuation of the cosmic Sun Ra legacy. They’re that, but much more; part P-Funk, world beat, jam band, and not above the occasional psych rock freakout. Little wonder their fans blindly follow the band’s hypno-grooves from gig to gig. Their new release, Children of the Sun, produced by Austin’s Erik Wofford (Black Angels, Explosions in the Sky), delivers an expanding sonic palette but no hint of an increased focus. Rock, soul, jazz, funk… this is the sound of a band fleeing easy categorization. In other words, the perfect reflection of their hometown.

 


July: Night Glitter

Taking the influences from every corner of her life and turning them into a distinct musical style is something Loulou Ghelichkhani (Thievery Corporation) does with ease, all en français. In this iteration, her and partner John Michael Schoepf (The Happen-Ins) are putting a slacker rock twist on dream pop. Their inspiration this time? Keeping things quiet enough after the kids’ bedtime, though these fuzzy guitars and Middle Eastern-esque synths are anything but sleepy. Night Glitter stopped by Studio 1A before taking their new EP, Hangin’ On A Dream, on the road with shows at Waterloo Records and The Continental Club.

 


August: Mamahawk

Synth-driven pop probably isn’t the first type of music that comes to mind when you think of Austin. Historically, we’re a guitar town with a rich garage and blues rock tradition going back decades. So when MAMAHAWK released their synth-laden self-titled debut album in 2015 it definitely caught our attention. Now, a few years on, the Austin three-piece consisting of  James Reed, Adam Littman, and Brennan Howell return to their keyboards and drum machines for a new album. That doesn’t mean they’ve left the guitars at home, like their earlier work, MAMAHAWK leans on their considerable songwriting chops to create complex arrangements consisting of both electronic and acoustic instruments. Simple rhythms, guitar licks, and the occasional horn blossom into layers of synthesizers that can bounce from pop to funk to dance music over the course of a single track. Take a peek at their music video for “Lioness” below to get a taste.


September: Risky Motion

The first thing you notice is the sense of abandon, the ways disparate genres fall into each other with grace. It may have taken a personal crisis to drive David Roseboom, creator of Austin’s Risky Motion, to commit to making music, but commit he did. Moving to Austin’s infamous Pearl Street Coop, Roseboom went to work, spending untold hours in the studio finding his musical voice. The result, the soon to be released Wide Open album is part pop, funk, techno, psychedelia, rock – in other words, Risky Motion.


October: Carson McHone

Years before Rolling Stone was praising Carson McHone’s rule-breaking roots music, the Austin, Texas native played weeknights in local bars like The White Horse, keeping dancers dancing and drinkers drinking. With her 21st birthday still in the distance, McHone entertained late-night crowds bearing witness to the good times and bad decisions that fill a busy bar. It was a rare, raw education. She pumped her music full of details from an early adulthood spent in the company of the heartbroken and high-toleranced. In 2015, McHone released Goodluck Man which earned her a cover story in The Austin Chronicle as well as the support of local icons like Ray Wylie Hubbard, who said she “writes songs like her life depends on it.” Then she hit the road, touring the U.S. (and beyond) with acts like Shakey Graves, Gary Clark, Jr., and Joe Pug. Her writing style widened and her music evolved.

Dark, driving and evocative, 2018’s Carousel captures this period of remarkable growth, shining a light not only on McHone’s honky-tonk roots, but on her development as a modern, alt-country storyteller. It features newly written songs and updated versions of tracks that first appeared on Goodluck Man, pushing traditional sounds and themes into a modern context.

 


November: Zettajoule

Austin’s Zettajoule have done a lot of growing since their last release in 2015, which, in this case, means shrinking, paring down from a full band to a stellar synth-pop duo. It’s that shrinkage, however, that seems to have truly allowed Meggan Carney and Matt Sheffer to grow. Their latest EP Always Looking Up sees the duo taking their sound and presence up several levels, sounding like pros who have been releasing gold records for a decade. The 6-song EP was recorded and mixed totally on an iPhone before having it mastered at Matt Parmenter’s Ice Cream Studios (Quiet Company, Slomo Drags). The duo each take the lead on two of these tracks, lending the album a luster of the latest in clean, cool synth-pop that can sometimes wax a little new wave.


 

Brandy Zdan 12.13.18

From The Vault

Brandy Zdan 12.13.18

Posted by on Dec 14, 2018

Brandy Zdan likes being the boss. When she has a vision, she wants to be the one calling the shots. She knows how she wants a song to sound and has been making music long enough to know how to properly execute things to ensure the final product is what she had envisioned. Brandy Zdan also is not afraid to be vulnerable and knows no one can put out a good album by themselves. She comes into the writing and recording process with everything planned out but also lets things come naturally. This dichotomy is what’s at the heart of her sophomore solo album, “Secretear”. Zdan has been performing since she was 15 and spent nearly a decade making gothic-folk music as one half of the Juno Award-nominated Twilight Hotel in her native Canada. When she moved to the States, landing in Austin, she joined the all-girl Americana outfit, The Trishas, where she acted as lead guitarist and utility player (lap steel, accordion), before moving on to a solo career. Each album she made with both acts was produced by someone else, but none of those people were Teddy Morgan.

The singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist put her trust into Teddy Morgan to produce her first solo album and decided to work with him again on her second — a gesture that is foreign territory for the well-seasoned musician with nearly 10 records under her belt. These two have a special bond — Zdan considers Morgan a brother at this point — and that connection is one of the things that made the creation of Secretear so special. The other is her husband, Aaron Haynes. The couple met just six months before she began the recording process, yet Haynes contributed immensely to the album, including inspiring the songs “I Want Your Trouble” and “Be The One.” For Secretear, the songs took Zdan on a journey of self-discovery as she navigated the worlds of past relationships and her relationship with Haynes, while simultaneously strengthening the love she has for herself, creating a collection of unconventional love songs that rock.

 

You can catch Zdan playing some of her new songs live at Stay Gold tonight as part of her supporting tour.

 

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Broadcast Credits:
Host: Laurie Gallardo
Producer: Deidre Gott
Broadcast Engineer: Cliff Hargrove

JD McPherson 12.12.18

From The Vault

JD McPherson 12.12.18

Posted by on Dec 13, 2018

Photo by Gabriel C. Pérez


JD McPherson’s anticipated debut Christmas album, SOCKS, is out today on New West Records. The record features ten original songs plus the first ever physical release of the track, “Twinkle (Little Christmas Lights).” The album was recorded during the warm spring months of 2018 at Alex The Great in Nashville, TN and produced by McPherson (vocals, guitar) and his band — comprised of Ray Jacildo (keys), Jimmy Sutton (upright bass), Jason Smay (drums) and Doug Corcoran (saxophone, guitar, keys). Also featured on the record are special guests Lucie Silvas, as a duet vocalist on “Claus Vs. Claus,” and The Giardinaires on “Socks,” “Holly, Carol, Candy & Joy,” and “Santa’s Got A Mean Machine.”

Of the recording, McPherson shares, “Over the past few months, I’ve told a few friends and interested parties that we’re releasing an album soon, and that it’s a Christmas album. You can immediately see the disappointment or bemusement on their faces. Then I have to explain to them how incredibly proud I am of it, and how I rate it as an actual album, as opposed to some kind of stop-gap or cash-grab. It’s eleven original songs. I think it’s some of my very best lyrical work. The band played beautifully. It was the most fun we’ve ever had in a studio together. After hearing the final mix, we marveled, and none of us can stop listening to it. First and foremost, it’s a rock and roll record (fans of our first record are going to flip out) and one that I believe at least a few people will listen to in the summertime, when they get a jones for feeling good. Scout’s honor.”

In support of the release, the band will embark on “SOCKS: A Rock ’n Roll Christmas Tour” including a show in Austin at Scoot Inn tonight!

 

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Broadcast Credits:
Host: Jay Trachtenberg
Producer: Deidre Gott
Broadcast Engineer: Cliff Hargrove, Jake Perlman
Camera: Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, Hannah Edelman, Salvador Castro
Edit: Gabriel C. Pérez



Glorietta 12.12.18

From The Vault

Glorietta 12.12.18

Posted by on Dec 13, 2018

Photo by Gabriel C. Pérez


Glorietta was founded on friendship, tequila… and Craigslist. After Grammy-nominated artist Adrian Quesada (Brown Out, Black Pumas) scored a 1975 Fender Super Reverb amp that Matthew Logan Vasquez (Delta Spirit, Middle Brother) posted online for $700, the two decided to meet up, as Vasquez tells it, for a “grown-ass man hang” at Antone’s to catch a set by Texas raconteur David Ramirez. After the show, the three of them had such a good time that Vasquez promised himself not to let the best drunken idea of the night — recording a stream-of-conscious record with buddies — to disappear with his tequila buzz. To round out the crew, Vasquez recruited Seattle solo-artist Noah Gundersen, Austin artists Kelsey Wilson (Wild Child), songwriter Jason Robert Blum and Vasquez’s long-time pal Nathaniel Rateliff, who agreed to pop in along with backing musicians Patrick Meese and Luke Mossman.

The collection of strangers and acquaintances didn’t know what to expect, and frankly a few of them almost didn’t show up. Ramirez nearly balked under the weight of “possibly the worst hangover of my life.” Gundersen was in the middle of a break-up induced “meltdown.” Wilson, worried she might not fit in with the guitar-playing boys, needed a nudge, too. But once the kindred strangers unpacked the gear and poured the tequila, hangovers, heartaches and insecurities faded. Vasquez — their connection to each other — served as maestro of the vibe. And in their make shift studio in a remote mountain town in New Mexico, their Tequila soaked jam sessions birthed Glorietta’s self titled album full of rocking, heartbreaking and introspective songs.

Glorietta are touring to promote their album and you can catch them tonight at Waterloo Records store at 6:30. They’ll also be playing December 14th at Scoot Inn with The Texas Gentlemen so be sure to go out and experience their drunken magic! (Tequila not included)

 

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Broadcast Credits:
Host: Laurie Gallardo
Producer: Deidre Gott
Broadcast Engineer: Cliff Hargrove

Kurt Vile 12.6.18

From The Vault

Kurt Vile 12.6.18

Posted by on Dec 6, 2018

Photo by Gabriel C. Pérez


Travel can inspire in surprising ways: Kurt Vile discovered as much making his first record in three years, the eclectic and electrifying Bottle It In, which he recorded at various studios around the country over two very busy years, during sessions that usually punctuated the ends of long tours or family road trips. Every song, whether it’s a concise and catchy pop composition or a sprawling guitar epic, becomes a journey unto itself, taking unexpected detours, circuitous melodic avenues, or open-highway solos. If Vile has become something of a rock guitar god—a mantle he would dismiss out of humility but also out of a desire to keep getting better, to continue absorbing new music, new sounds, new ideas—it’s due to his precise, witty playing style, which turns every riff and rhythm into points on a map and takes the scenic route from one to the next. Using past albums as points of departure, Bottle It In heads off in new directions, pushing at the edges of the map into unexplored territory: Here be monster jams.

Born in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania in 1980, Vile was already recording himself at home by age 14, shortly after his bluegrass-loving father purchased him a banjo to encourage his youthful creativity. By age 17, he was self-releasing cassettes of his home recordings, which in the earliest days were strongly influenced by the raw slacker pop of the Drag City roster. He formed The War On Drugs with his close friend Adam Granduciel in 2005 but later left to work on his solo career. After several albums on various indie labels, Vile would continue to find increasing success with each new album. His 2013 album, Walkin’ on a Pretty Daze, broke through bigger than anything before it, taking Vile’s blurry-eyed musings and signature songwriting style to a worldwide audience. He would continue frequent collaborations, working with a multitude of special guests on his own records as well as co-creating albums with Steve Gunn and Courtney Barnett.

Kurt is going to be playing at Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater tonight at 8PM with Jessica Pratt opening. Tickets are still available and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the ACLU so be sure to go out and experience Kurt’s eclectic new album.

 

WEBSITE||FACEBOOK||TWITTER||INSTAGRAM


Broadcast Credits:
Host: Laurie Gallardo
Producer: Deidre Gott
Broadcast Engineers: Cliff Hargrove, Jake Perlman