Tomorrow, KUTX takes over the ABGB for WinterJam 2017, an afternoon of free live music to help cure your winter blues. This year, we’re spotlighting the diversity of our local music scene with three pretty different artists: old school country crooner James Hand; ’60s psych-poppers Tele Novella; and Central Texas hip-hop crew Third Root.
Last year, Third Root injected much-needed activism into the scene with its standout album Libertad. At the time, I noted how community-oriented the outfit is, and it’s reflected in the music. On “Third Root Radio,” MCs Easy and MexStep lay down their mission statement: this isn’t East or West Coast rap; this is Third Coast, built around producer Adrian Quesada’s Texas-sized funk sound. Listen to a Studio 1A version of the song below and join us tomorrow.
–Art Levy // host, Sunday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., producer My KUTX
The Mammoths are fresh to the Austin scene, but rock to a familiar tune. Melting blues and psych-rock together into a guitar-lickin’, face-meltin’ pool, the Mammoths sound a bit like the Black Keys on an acid microdose. They’ve recently taken their early-Zeppelin stage energy on the road supporting their debut EP Golden Spell.
“Capture You” doesn’t hit you square in the face with blues rock, but rather kisses you on the cheek, making your ears perk and your eyes squint with piqued curiosity. Just when it sounds like the guitars might take-off with a psych-rock mind of their own, bass drum kicks and slow, syncopated drum fills keep everything grounded. Slow-moving and slow-boiling, “Capture You” is arguably the blues-iest tune on the EP, taking its time, and reveling in every second, sometimes sounding like it’s avoiding the song’s end in order to stew in the moment.
“Capture You” appears on Golden Spell EP, out now.
Matt Sweeney is one of those musicians who constantly pops up in really interesting places. I think I first found out about him through his guitar playing on Johnny Cash’s last two American recordings, but the first time I heard him was with Billy Corgan’s short-lived supergroup Zwan. More recently, Sweeney has turned his “Guitar Moves” web series into one of my favorite ways to kill ten minutes. Each episode, he spotlights a different guitar player; the usual luminaries like Billy Gibbons and Keith Richards get covered, but he also shows how younger artists like St. Vincent, Kurt Vile, and Ruban Nielson of Unknown Mortal Orchestra are pushing guitar-playing into new directions.
Arguably, the same could be said for Sweeney’s own playing, which really came into fruition with his ’90s band Chavez. The New York four-piece were true students of rock-and-roll, but their albums had a mad-scientist-glee to them. Long before genre-blurring became the norm, Chavez melded pop-rock with metal, punk with experimental.
Chavez has largely been inactive since 2006, but late last year, they dropped “The Bully Boys” out of thin air (it’s part of a three-song EP called Cockfighters that was officially released last Friday). True to form, the song is dizzying. It puts serpentine riffs on top of a shape-shifting beat, calling to mind both the Who and label mates Guided By Voices. Swagger is an elusive thing in rock-and-roll, but Chavez proves it still has a few tricks up its sleeve.
“The Bully Boys” appears on Cockfighters EP, out now via Matador.
–Art Levy // host, Sunday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m, producer, My KUTX
Glasgow alt-rockers Yakima have tinkered around with their minimal line up since their formation four years ago. In 2014 John Houston (guitar, vocals) and Neil McArthur (bass) released their 2-song self-titled debut. After the addition of guitarist/vocalist Stuart McArthur and drummer Kay McLaren, Yakima fleshed out their sound with their second and third EPs over the next two years.
Now performing as a trio, Yakima is returning to their two-song release roots with their upcoming double A-side, Medicine For Family Entertainment, out on March 17th. “Wabi Sabi”, which will appear along with “Gut Milk”, is a bold addition to Yakima’s already strong catalog.
–Jack Anderson (Host 8-11pm Monday – Wednesday, 6-10am Saturday)
Photo by Caleb Theimer
Whether he’s recording with his bands Milton Mapes, Monahans, or under his own name, Austin’s Greg Vanderpool favors sparse arrangements that roll in like a Texas thunderstorm. You might be able to see it coming, but it still sneaks up on you with power and grace. That’s the case with “To Violet,” a track from his upcoming second solo album, Pilot. Like a lot of his work, it finds common ground between the skeletal darkness of Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska and Brian Eno’s ambient beauty. Heard one way, the song is a landscape portrait of Austin’s fitful recent history, but the refrain zooms out, putting “To Violet” in a completely different context. “Has the whole world lost its mind?” Vanderpool wearily asks over and over. For better or worse, it’s a question that’s both incredibly timely and as old as time.
“To Violet” appears on Pilot, out April 6.
–Art Levy // host, Sunday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., producer, My KUTX