Photo by Gregg Roth
As the War On Drugs and Phosphorescent have lately proved, there’s an interesting intersection between twang and ambient atmosphere. Lilly Hiatt–daughter of famed songwriter/guitarist John Hiatt–debuted with Let Down in 2013, a record that wore its Nashville influences on its sleeves. Over the past few years, though, Music City has developed a garage-punk underbelly that hints at some of the darkness behind the rhinestones. Hiatt looked to tap into this feeling by working with Adam Landry, a producer who’s brought out the roughness in Deer Tick, Diamond Rugs, and T. Hardy Morris. “Get This Right”–taken from Hiatt’s new album, Royal Blue–matches Hiatt’s hardscrabble songwriting with subtle synthesizer touches that ratchet up the drama.
A combination of inside jokes, liberal politics, and jangly pop make upstarts Dick Diver stick out from many of their Australian counterparts. Taking their name from an F. Scott Fitzgerald character, they coined the term “dolewave” as a tongue-in-cheek unifier for Australia’s rock resurgence–the joke being that it’s next-to-impossible to unite all the disparate sounds of a country as large as theirs. The band members have also taken to satirizing conservatism in concert, wearing costumes and performing skits to ensure their audience isn’t “too comfy.” But the truth is their music is comfy, mixing R.E.M.’s catchiness with their own low-key sincerity. It’s a combination that earned them a nod from The Guardian for “Best Australian Album” in 2013.
Melbourne, Florida, the band’s third album, will be their first with a wide release in the States. Some of the lo-fi leanings are ironed out, but there’s still something scrappy about Dick Diver’s sound. “Waste The Alphabet” marries the band’s harmonies to an ever-shifting hook that’s over far too quick–but that just leaves more time to listen again and again.
After becoming a mother, Nashville’s Jessie Baylin shied away from making music, but creativity being creativity, inspiration exploded out of her without any notice. She sat down with longtime producer and songwriter Richard Swift–who’s worked with the Black Keys, the Shins, and Foxygen–and the pair wrote five songs in four hours. Baylin sought this same speed in the studio, and just nine days of recording led to a new album called Dark Place, out April 7. “Creepers (Young Love)” starts the record with a bang, matching Baylin’s smoky voice with a buzzing riff and a little bit of Southern California magic. “There is always someone you have a strange and dangerous attraction to,” Baylin says about the song, and sure enough, there’s plenty of darkness to match the sentiment.
Photo by Davis Hawk
Tim Regan first gained notice with Oh No Oh My, an Austin indie-pop group that turned heads back in 2006. Since then, he’s veered stylistically, from the more psychedelic Antenna Shoes and Snowglobe to scoring a handful of documentaries. Now he returns with Texas Never Whispers, a band that takes its name from a Pavement song but owes its pop-rock roots to groups like Wilco and the Jayhawks. Their self-titled debut swings between country inflections and piano-led ballads; “Midnight Companion” sits halfway between these poles while still delivering a few wry one-liners. Download the song below and catch Texas Never Whispers’ album release show Saturday night at the Mohawk, starting at 9 p.m. on the inside stage.
Photo by Ted Barron
For album number sixteen, Terraplane, Texas folk legend Steve Earle set out to make a blues record. “It’s an intimidating thing to do if you come from [Texas],” Earle told KUTX’s Jay Trachtenberg recently, alluding to infamous Texas bluesmen like Lightnin’ Hopkins, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Mance Lipscomb. But Earle is nothing if not reverent towards his forbears. In 2009, he released an album-length ode to his personal mentor, Townes Van Zandt, and he’s quick to tip his hat to his influences when he’s personally lauded for his own songwriting.
As much as the blues are about instrumental virtuosity, Earle explicitly states that he was drawn to the genre for the songs themselves: Robert Johnson’s metaphysical ruminations, or Howlin’ Wolf’s juke-joint explosions. Earle himself is not the best guitar player, but he has a feel for atmosphere that a shredding blues solo can’t touch. In our Studio 1A, Earle stripped down several Terraplane songs to their acoustic core. On “King Of The Blues,” he revels in the dark side inherent in so much of the blues tradition.