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. Stay tuned for themes and details.
- 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. (You’ll be able to get tickets at the end of January.)
- Thur., Feb. 22: KUTX 5th Birthday Concert Series: Blitzen Trapper at Antone’s
- Coming soon, online: A roundup of our 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!
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.
The Black Angels at KUTX Live at the Four Seasons 2017/ Gabriel Perez
Thanks to everyone who participated in our inaugural Listener’s Choice Music Poll! We’ve tallied the votes to find your favorites and read through the write-ins to get some new music on our radar for 2018. Now, without further ado here are KUTX listener’s favorite Austin artist or band and favorite Austin song.
2017 was year that seemed more like three, full of senseless violence, apocalyptic weather and an inane 24 hour news cycle. Yet, somehow, good music was still made, and we can all be thankful for that. So we lift a glass to some of the most memorable songs of 2017. Here’s a sampling of seventeen favorites picked by our staff. Still want more? Really? We aim to please. Find the top five picks from each of our staff members by following the links below.
Happy holidays from all of us at KUTX! Thanks for listening!
– Jeff McCord, Music Director, KUTX
- A Giant Dog – “Bendover” – Sweet Spirit’s evil twin does it again. The shape and momentum of this punk rock crusher are congruent with its naughty nature. Slow, randy builds peppered with quick flashes of lustful intensity that eventually….explode. – Taylor Wallace, Host Th 8p-11p, Sat 2p-6p
- alt-J – “In Cold Blood” – Very dark and so catchy it’s just addictive. – John Aielli, Host Eklektikos M-Th 6a-9a
- Black Pistol Fire – “Lost Cause” – More noise than 2 dudes should be able to make on their own. A big step forward for the Canadian Austinites that are criminally underrated. Criminally I tell ya! – Matt Reilly, Program Director
- Broken Social Scene – “Hug of Thunder” – So much going on…intriguing lyrics…exhilarating crescendos…Feist’s superb vocals intermingled with the cool sonics of the instrumentation…then there’s the harmonies and the curious coda. My favorite song of the year. – Susan Castle, Host M-F 9a-12p
- David Ramirez – “Watching from a Distance” – A very thoughtful and beautiful song, beautifully sung. – John Aielli, Host Eklektikos
- Gurf Morlix – “Deeper Down” – Austin’s Gurf Morlix is perhaps best known as producer for the likes of Lucinda, Slaid Cleaves, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Robert Earl Keen and countless others, but all the while he has been releasing strong solo albums. This song this is from “The Soul And The Heal” but any song on it could have made my year-end list. – Jody Denberg, Host M-Th 5p-8p, Fri 12p-4p
- Jake Lloyd – “Str8ge Frute” – Austin’s own came with a record that has caught steam and showed that he is a true crooner. As we impatiently wait for his much anticipated self-titled album this record is steady holding strong as a favorite of The Breaks. – Aaron “Fresh” Knight, Host The Breaks
- Jidenna – “Bambi” – Sounds like a nursery rhyme set to a rattling hip-hop beat. In other words, insanely catchy. – Art Levy, Host Sun 10a-2p
- Juana Molina – “Cosoco” – The Argentinian singer wrote a super cool loopy song that is basically about how secrets can screw up a relationship. – Deidre Gott, Live Music Producer
- Leti Garza – “Mis Ojos Sobre Ti” – Austin singer Leticia Rodriguez Garza spars playfully with Grupo Fantasma percussionist and singer José Galeano on this Latin Rock track from her new album El Unico Para Mi. – Michael Crockett, Host Horizontes
- Matthew Logan Vasquez – “Same” – With a string arrangement straight out of “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” and what sounds like the amen corner of The Raelettes threading throughout the song, I can’t get enough of this sweet stuff. Vasquez puts his prodigious lungs to good use. And I swear there’s a wonky Moog synth! – Rick McNulty, Host Left Of The Dial & Uptown Saturday Night
- Shabazz Palaces ft. Thaddillac – “Shine a Light” – Thanks to my older sister I was turned on to Digable Planets as a wee lad. I’m thankful that now as an adult I can hear fresh material from Ishmael Butler every couple of years. Although Shabazz Palaces has generally withheld from sample-heavy beats, they picked a good one in Dee Dee Sharp’s “I Really Love You” as the main loop in “Shine a Light.” – Ryan Wen, Host Fri 11p-3a
- Sneaks – “Look Like That” – There’s nothing to it, really – bass, drum machine, vocals, no chorus, no real hook. Yet this became a song you could not stop playing. Clocking in at 3:15, it’s easily twice as long as most of the DC songwriter’s recordings. Hypnotic doesn’t begin to describe it. – Jeff McCord, Music Director, Host Friday 6-9am
- 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, but Spoon could just recycle all their old songs from here on out and I’d keep paying my hard-earned money for them. So the answer is: no, duh, you don’t, never. – Jacquie Fuller, Assistant Program Director
- Thievery Corporation ft. Raquel Jones – “Letter to the Editor” – A political song that slinks as it stirs. – Susan Castle, Host M-F 9a-12p
- Ty Richards – “Going Out For a Cigarette” – This local-yet-intergalactic modern day Steve Miller kills it with laid back vocals on this one. – Jack Anderson, Host M-W 8p-11p, Sat 6a-10a
- Walker Lukens – “Don’t Wanna Be Lonely” – I love a song with cool sounds and a good hook, and this song is filled to the brim with both. Plus, I feel the lyrics without understanding them, which I always like. – Elizabeth McQueen, Host Sat 10a-2p
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.