Artists of the Month: Year In Review

Every month we turn the spotlight on a new release from a Texas artist with a series of weekly features that give you a sneak peek at the new music and some insight into the artist behind it. Here’s a look back at our 2016 Artists of the Month.

January: Harvest Thieves

harvest thieves

Austin’s Harvest Thieves may look like your run-of-the-mill honky-tonkers but don’t let the pearl snaps and cowboy hats fool you. Beneath the plaid is a thoroughly poised and polished country band with a sound honed through years of regular gigs at the now defunct Holy Mountain. The club’s closure also signaled the departure of founding member James Taylor but not an end to the music. Harvest Thieves’ new album Rival, out January 8th, continues the thoughtful lyrics and rich storytelling with a bit of that outlaw country swagger that has become their signature. Harvest Thieves are Cory Reinisch on vocals and guitar,Dustin Meyer on bass, Annah Fisette on keys, Coby Tate on guitar and Wes Cargal on drums. Stay tuned for special features on the Harvest Thieves throughout the month of January.

Watch a performance here 

February: Cross Record

Cross Record

Stark and haunting, Cross Record’s new album Wabi-Sabi seems the product of dark and foreboding backwoods instead of a 18-acre patch of land in sunny Dripping Springs. But that’s where it was made. Visual artist turned singer/songwriter Emily Cross and her husband, engineer/musician Dan Duszynski, were all settled in Chicago. But Emily, fed up with the weather and high crime, wanted a change, so the couple traded the familiar for the something completely new – wide open spaces, and the freedom to work without distractions. Yet their music doesn’t seem of a particular place or time. While the songs seem skeletal, Cross Record uses dynamics, silence, and sudden swells of excitement to build dramatic tension. Wabi-Sabi is an intimate work, and while the couple admits some trepidation at taking this personal new music, which they refer to as ‘not exactly fist-pumping’, out on the road, there’s little doubt they have captured something unique.

March: White Denim

Steve Terebecki of White Denim

Life is full of surprises, but this one came as a real shock. Guitarist/vocalist James Petralli’s relationship with drummer Josh Block predates even the 2006 beginnings of their band White Denim, and Austin Jenkins has been the band’s second guitarist since 2010. Petralli decided to make solo album last year under the name Bop English, in part because both Block and Jenkins were out on the road backing up a new artist by the name of Leon Bridges. Bridges’ career accelerated rapidly, and when Petralli turned his thoughts toward a new White Denim album, he got the word: Block and Jenkins weren’t coming back. So after ten years and six albums, the locked-tight rhythm section that fueled the band’s hyperkinetic kitchen-sink fusion was no more. Back to the drawing board. Assembling a new lineup, Petralli and bassist Steve Terebecki premiered White Denim 2.0 at a series of small venues last month to much acclaim, and their new album Stiff (out March 25th) sounds like the the band has barely skipped a beat.

Watch a performance here 

April: Dana Falconberry

Dana Falconberry

Though she’s only been here a little more than a decade, it seems as though Dana Falconberry has always been among us. Rarely does a new talent emerge so fully realized. Falconberry came to Austin by way of her home state Michigan and college in Arkansas, and she has never been a casual observer of the world around her. Emotive and musically rich, her music celebrates her surroundings. On her new album, From The Forest Came The Fire (out April 1st), she’s gotten more collaborative. Medicine Bow, her musical partners for the past four years, gets equal billing here. She’s not only taken their influence, but her background in classical music and ballet, to bring to life a set of songs intentionally written in solitary natural settings. All of this contributes to Falconberry’s magic, and she taking her new material and her band on the road this summer to tour – where else? – the country’s National Parks.

Watch a performance here

May: Black Pistol Fire

X Games Austin 2014

Black Pistol Fire, the incendiary guitar-drum duo of Kevin McKeown on guitar/lead vocals and Eric Owen on drums, splits its time between hometown Toronto and their new adopted home of Austin. After extensive touring with the likes of Gary Clark Jr., they’re back with a new album.

Don’t Wake The Riot, their fourth, evolved from songs written over the course of the past year, each designed to push the duo into new directions. Using inspirations as diverse as Alabama Shakes, Dr. Dre and Bobby Bland, BPF has expanded its sonic palette  without sacrificing the band’s hair-raising electricity. With new instruments in the mix, will the live shows evolve as well?

Watch a performance here 

June: The Echocentrics


Few have shown the ability to juggle multiple musical projects over the years like Adrian Quesada. The in-demand musician and producer has perennially overbooked himself, so much so that several years back, he needed to step away from the punishing road schedule of the band he co-founded with his Laredo bandmates, Grupo Fantasma. Yet his plate remains full – he started and toured with the supergroup Spanish Gold, and his band Brownout is busier than ever. And in 2011, he launched a new project – Echocentrics, essentially a vehicle for the songs Adrian is constantly writing and recording in his rare down time. Quesada mixes in everything from his fertile imagination to concoct this global psychedelia, and hand picks his favorite singers to be his collaborators. For Echo Hotel, the band’s latest release, Alex Maas (Black Angels), Natalia Clavier (Thievery Corporation), James Petralli (White Denim) and Bill Callahan all show up to help the cause.

Watch a performance here

July: My Jerusalem

My Jerusalem

Jeff Klein, whose muscular and taut songs power Austin’s My Jerusalem, might seem an unlikely candidate for Boston’s Berklee School of Music. He’s not into fusion or jazz, or even stretching out. Yet before he moved to Austin and released his first album (2000’s), that’s where he was.  In a way it makes sense – though My Jerusalem’s sound is brooding post-punk, Klein’s song structure has always been dead on, and he’s surrounded himself over the years with smart, intuitive players that have helped make the band consistently one of Austin’s best. It’s been four long years since their last album, but is finally here; dwelling, emotive with burning new songs, and a sound that remains hard to pin down. They’ve already received raves from publications as diverse at Mojo and Kerrang!, and the band is gearing up once again to take things on the road.

Watch a performance here 

August: Ruby & The Reckless

Ruby and the Reckless
Ruby Jane Smith took Austin music by storm the day she came to town almost a decade ago. In September of 2007 at the age of 12, Smith’s family made the move to Austin and that very same night she joined country music legend Dale Watson on stage at Austin’s historic Continental Club. Crowned the youngest fiddler player invited to play Grand Ole Opry, Smith’s list of accolades is astounding – boasting a steady stream of awards from the title of Mississippi State Fiddle Champion at age 10 to the Black Fret Grant her band received last year. She’s toured as lead violinist for artists like Willie Nelson, Lady Gaga, Local Natives and performed alongside acts like Sheryl Crow & ZZ Top. 

After producing music on her own for the last 4 years, Smith now takes center stage in the five-piece folk pop group Ruby & The Reckless. The band’s debut album In My Head – recorded in Austin’s own Bubble Studio (Gary Clark Jr., Santana, Dandy Warhols) – is set to be released in September. Haunting lullabies accompanied by the country’s best in violin performance, tracks “In My Head” and “Rainbow,” speak volumes to the group’s ability to redefine modern indie rock.

Watch a performance here

September: Tele Novella

Tele Novella

Austin’s Tele Novella say they take their inspiration from bands like the Velvet Underground, but their pop music is infused with a bit more spooky melodrama. Vocalist Natalie Gordon, who fronted the California outfit Agent Ribbons, slurs her words with narcotic charm, and she’s backed in shadowy hues by a band that includes a couple of members of the former Austin groupVoxtrot, Tele Novella got their start in 2014, and caught a break when a song of theirs was featured in the ABC series ‘Pretty Little Liars’. Since then they’ve been touring, and when home in Austin, working with local producer Danny Reisch on their debut album, due out 9/23.

Watch a performance here

October: Nina Diaz


The new release from San Antonio’s Nina Diaz marks a couple of milestones for the singer and front woman of Girl In A Coma. It’s her first solo release away from her longtime bandmates, and marks the beginning of a new chapter in her life. Diaz, who recently announced her longtime drug and alcohol problem,referring to herself as a ‘functioning addict’, has found inspiration in coming clean. Instead of getting preachy, the catharsis has freed her to explore new thoughts and sounds.  “I shed a lot of different layers of skin during this process,” she explains. Freed from the stylistic constraints of a power trio, Diaz delves inward, expanding both musically and lyrically, exploring a variety of styles, all performed with her trademark passion and a forthright intensity.

Watch a performance here 

November: Third Root

THIRD ROOT is a hip-hop trio made up of MexicanStepGrandfather,
Easy Lee (of MoJoe)
, and the world renowned DJ Chicken George. Easy Lee (Charles Peters) is a poet/MC and educator, and Mexican StepGrandfather (Marco Cervantes) is a producer, MC, and Ph.D. who teaches courses which incorporate Hip Hop at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Third Root released their third album, Libertad, in October. The project is a powerful body of work that reflects the times we’re living in. Libertad is produced entirely by Texas music icon Adrian Quesada (Grupo Fantasma, Brownout) and was recorded in Austin, TX at his Level One Sound Studio.