Band Of Heathens: “All I’m Asking”

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Band Of Heathens: “All I’m Asking”

Posted by on Dec 7, 2016

Photo by Greg Giannukos

Having multiple points-of-view has been an asset for the Austin group Band Of Heathens, which has boasted several songwriters in its lineup since first forming at the defunct Momo’s over a decade ago. “All the players in this band can write songs, arrange harmonies, come up with hooks, produce records,” says singer/guitarist Ed Jurdi via email. “In general I think having more creative fuel in an ensemble is always a good thing.”  For its upcoming fifth album, the Band Of Heathens opened its circle even wider to include Jim Vollentine, a producer and engineer known for working with White Denim, Heartless Bastards, Old 97’s and others.

For a band that started out releasing a pair of live albums, the Heathens have increasingly sounded more comfortable in the studio, so much so that Jurdi calls it the “heart and soul of the creative process.” The group’s roots-rock dynamic still underpins the songs, but on tracks like “All I’m Asking,” the sound is bigger. In fact, it reminds me of the Old 97’s shine-and-grit charm, bouncing on a bubbly arrangement. In a press release, the group mentioned a wariness about technology addiction (who isn’t worried about that these days?). While “All I’m Asking” doesn’t overtly address that, it’s still a yearning ode to direct communication, written by a band that’s been walking that walk for years.

“All I’m Asking” appears on Duende, out January 13.

–Art Levy // host, Sunday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., producer, My KUTX

Trouble In The Streets: “Pyramid Scheme” (KUTX Premiere)

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Trouble In The Streets: “Pyramid Scheme” (KUTX Premiere)

Posted by on Dec 6, 2016

Fronted by keyboardist/vocalist Nnedi Nebula Agbaroji (also of Mama K & The Shades), the Austin trio Trouble in the Streets has been showcasing its distinctive “electro tribe” sound on the live music scene since 2014. Drawing musical influence from hip-hop, electronic, R&B, and beyond, compositions by Trouble in the Streets can sometimes be equal parts Rush and Rage Against the Machine. Their live show energy and signature sound has earned them a spot performing alongside major acts like George Clinton & P-Funk, Rebirth Brass Band and Grupo Fantasma’s Grammy-Winner Beto Martinez.

Now Trouble in the Streets has taken their live performance momentum and translated it to their debut EP, Electro Tribe. The first impression from Electro Tribe – “Pyramid Scheme” – highlights Agbaroji’s Sade-like vocal performance on top of a crunchy retro-synth (almost Miami Vice-esque) chord progression that elevates into hard-hitting bass and drum arrangements (featuring Andy Leonard and Bobby Snakes, respectively). With three additional tracks, there’s no reason not to enjoy Trouble in the Streets in the comfort of your own home.

You can check out Trouble in the Streets’ Electro Tribe release show on Friday, December 9th at The North Door.

-Jack Anderson

El Tule: “Bailando El Tule”

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El Tule: “Bailando El Tule”

Posted by on Dec 5, 2016

Austin Latin music purveyors El Tule recently teamed up with Beto Martinez–guitarist extraordinaire for Grupo Fantasma and Money Chicha–at his studio Leche House. “Bailando El Tule” is the result, a theme song for a band that hardly sticks to one theme. El Tule blends cumbia, salsa, merengue, and more in its dance-centric music, and the new song is more of a slow burn, fitting the grooves together like dance steps. The simple, exhilarated “whoo!” at the end sums it up perfectly.

El Tule plays a Haiti benefit show on Saturday, December 17 at the Barracuda alongside Money Chicha, Qi Dada from Riders Against The Storm, and more.

–Art Levy // host, Sunday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., producer, My KUTX

Scenery: “Smoke & Mirrors”

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Scenery: “Smoke & Mirrors”

Posted by on Dec 2, 2016

The members of Scenery are local music veterans, previously enlisted in groups like Brazos, Pompeii, and Belaire. If there’s anything that unites those bands, it’s an emphasis on pop hooks, and Scenery follows suit. On its new single “Smoke & Mirrors,” the quintet carves its electro-pop into a sleek vehicle built from snaking guitar lines, synths, and harmonies. It’s a precise and tight song, but it still leaves room for heart-on-sleeve explosiveness.

“Smoke & Mirrors” appears on Two Stares, out January 6. Scenery plays an album release show at Cheer Up Charlie’s on Saturday, December 3.

–Art Levy // host, Sunday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., producer, My KUTX

Steph Barrak: “So Familiar”

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Steph Barrak: “So Familiar”

Posted by on Dec 1, 2016

Boston-native Steph Barrak is back with her sophomore release, this time leaning away from a mild-alt-country sound and committing to a slower, indie-pop one. Her music seems effortless, like it all flows from her lips and fingers with pure natural talent and momentum. Her upcoming EP Never Again once again employs the production expertise of Mike Davidson (St. Vincent, Regina Spektor, José González), and the same instrumental back-up from her debut album.

“So Familiar” is lofty and lovely. The vocals and instruments are delicate, encouraged to soar into the ether via fairy-like glockenspiel tones while staying grounded and simple with a balance of solid snare drum. Really, the sound in is the name. It’s that female-led, indie-pop sound that is so familiar and so good.

“So Familiar” is out now, and will also appear on Never Again, out February 3rd, via her BandCamp.

–Taylor Wallace // host, Saturday 2-6 p.m., producer, SoundCheck and Eklektikos