Photo by Sarah Cass
A lot of folk music can be downright weird, conjuring up ghosts that wander Highway 61 or the Mississippi delta. Fittingly, the Pine Hill Haints term their sound “Alabama ghost music,” and that’s a pretty accurate description. The Florence-born band has released eight albums and ten EPs since forming in 1998, developing a fervent fan base through tours through the South. Their live shows are the stuff of legend: they’ve been described as “otherworldly,” with the band never playing the same setlist twice.
Essentially, the Pine Hill Haints are a folk band with a punk rock ethos (or is it the other way around?). On September 30, they’ll release The Magik Sounds of the Pine Hill Haints, album number nine (and they’re already recording number ten). The band is attuned to old things, from vintage recording equipment to song titles like “Seven On A Pair Of Dice” and “Rattle Them Bones”–”I love the titles to folk songs a lot,” concedes frontman Jamie Barrier. “They’re heavy.”
Yet there’s a modern slyness to the Pine Hill Haints. On “Ms. Pacman,” the band weaves a Southern Gothic spell, complete with a moaning musical saw. The obsession at the center of the song is reserved for the video game, but in the Pine Hill Haints’ world, that can be just as dark as any backwoods road to perdition.
This weekend marks the second annual United We Jam, an event geared towards showing off Austin’s music scene en masse in front of Austin fans. Despite forming about half a year ago, Otis The Destroyer has become a name in the local scene, partly from their tireless work. After the dissolution of San Marcos’ the Couch last year, Taylor Wilkins and Jud Johnson quickly put together Otis. The two kept the hard-charging attack from their Couch days, but they mixed in more sonic experimentation. Their debut EP, The Dark Arts, moves between psychedelia and hard rock with ease.
You can catch Otis The Destroyer tonight at Holy Mountain as part of a United We Jam showcase that includes fellow KUTX faves Emily Wolfe and Harvest Thieves. Otis recently stopped by our Studio 1A and showed off a few new songs, and today’s song of the day comes from this live session. “Robot Hands” takes its cues from early ’60s pop, but the heavy riffs show off the band’s love of rock and roll.
Photo by Georgina Kross
Albums can often be nice snapshots for an evolving band, each song acting as a sonic and temporal signpost. That’s the case for Do What May, the Sour Notes’ fifth album and first album since 2011. The Austin group has morphed a lot over its six-year timespan, picking up new members and sounds along the way. The past three years have found the band trying out styles on various cassette- and vinyl-only releases, a some of those songs show up on Do What May. A lot of guests pop up, too, from Sara Houser of Löwin, Bailey Glover of Little Lo, and Sabrina Ellis, who trades in her dynamite Bobby Jealousy/A Giant Dog/Sweet Spirit persona for a nice harmonized turn on the album’s title track. “Do What May” seems to present the Sour Notes in microcosm: some synth-pop, psychedelia, and rock-and-roll attitude, all in a tidy, fast-moving package.
Do What May is out September 2, and the Sour Notes celebrate with a show at Cheer Up Charlie’s on September 6.
During Sylvan Esso’s recent Studio 1A performance and interview, singer Amelia Meath outlined some of the difficulties playing alongside Nick Sanborn and his computer. Coming from the mostly a cappella Mountain Man, Meath was used to doing everything herself: supplying melody, rhythm, and changing each on the turn of a dime. With Sylvan Esso, she has to work with the computer, but that’s where the real beauty of the band comes from. The duo melds the organic and synthetic like no other.
In our Studio 1A, Sylvan Esso rebuilt the songs from their fantastic self-titled debut. While Sanborn triggered the loops and beats, he also sampled Meath’s voice to add otherworldly harmonies on top of everything. Meath carried it all with her distinctive voice, alternately acrobatic and measured. On “Wolf,” that vocal subtlety juts up against the song’s pop-ready appeal, making for a fascinating listen.
Watch “Coffee” below, and download “Wolf” in the player below the video.
Philadelphia’s Man Man made their name on their crazy live shows, but focusing solely on their manic energy does a disservice to their songwriting. Frontman Honus Honus may sing like Tom Waits, but his songs betray influences as diverse as John Lennon, Dr. John, and Captain Beefheart. Last year’s On Oni Pond continued Man Man’s subtle pivot away from their experimental early days, but they still love tinkering with sounds. Dub, dance, and ’60s pop all get the Man Man treatment, with Honus Honus’ heartrending singing acting as the conductor. This is most apparent on “Head On,” easily Man Man’s catchiest song in a career of quirkiness. The band takes over the Mohawk tonight, and to get you ready, we’re offering up this spirited live take on “Head On” that Man Man laid down in our Studio 1A last year.