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 2019 Artists of the Month.
January: Shy Beast
Austin five-piece Shy Beast is serving up indie-dream-pop to die for. This tight-knit group evolved organically, with deep connections to one another and to the local music scene. Heading up the act is Marieclaire (MC) Glaeser; taking the mantle of chief songwriter, singer, and keyboardist. She is the creative heart of the group and a real force to be reckoned with; tracks abound with her lovely vocal acrobatics. David Tenczar (guitar, backing vocals, synth), Andrew Bennett (lead guitar, synth, backing vocals), Jay Cesak (bass), and Drew Silverman (drums) all collaborated in different iterations before joining MC in Shy Beast.
Austin, TX experimental musician Roger Sellers, AKA Bayonne, is somewhat of an outlier in the local scene. In a city filled with pearl snaps, guitar licks, and love songs (not that there’s anything wrong with those things!), Bayonne creates cavernous ambient soundscapes. Don’t be mistaken though, this isn’t the meditative music of Brian Eno. On his record, Drastic Measures, Sellers merged his increasingly classic pop inspired sensibilities with a production approach closely focused on looping, layering, and overdubbing. “Even if you hear something simple like clapping or finger snaps, it’s probably layered 10 or 20 times,” he says. “I just like to stack and layer everything to get these big sounds, and create a really wide sonic space within the songs.”
March: Moving Panoramas
After an extended detour playing with several bands in Brooklyn, Moving Panoramas chief songwriter Leslie Sisson decided to pack up her instruments and make the move back to her native Texas. Despite the drastic change in scenery, Sisson wasted no time in pulling together a trio and releasing the first Moving Panoramas LP in 2015. The album featured Sisson’s, distinctively sweet, shimmering vocals layered over delicately composed atmospheric dream pop. A seriously heady combination that put the album on several local and national ‘Best Of’ lists. Not a bad way to celebrate your homecoming
April: The Well
The Well is deep. The Well is dark. The Well is a freaking awesome psych metal band! This Austin-based trio draws from a maelstrom of musical influences, filling buckets full of psychedelia, hard rock, metal and punk. Sure, it may be distorted to all hell but that doesn’t mean there’s not a ton of melodic elements and intriguing chord progressions in the mix.
May: The Bishops
For many of us, music and family go hand in hand. It can help shape great family moments like birthdays, holidays like Christmas or Thanksgiving, even family reunions. For some, that musical connection goes deeper than a family BBQ. The Osmonds, the Jacksons, The Gap Band, and plenty of other family bands have harnessed their shared love of music to create some incredibly memorable songs. Now you can add Austin, TX based family The Bishops to that list. By combining soul, jazz, and hip hop along with a host of other musical influences the bother sister duo create a sound all their own. Cara and Troy Bishop who make up the group mix the silky vocals of Cara with the nonchalant smooth raps of Troy that resembles 90’s Hip Hop group Digable Planets. The duo’s newly released single, “Truffle Trap” showcases the duo’s simplistic yet intricate style of Troy delivering smooth rhymes over futuristic instrumentals, as Cara’s silky, sultry voice shines through on the hook.
June: Los Coast
When the multi-instrumentalist nephew of David Letterman’s former Late Night guitarist decides to front his own band, you know it’s gonna be good. Trey Privott formed Austin combo Los Coast four years ago and now that they’re playing as a quintet, they’ve become a local mainstay of psych-pop gospel-funk soul-filled fun. Privott’s slick Sam Cooke-esque vocals may be at the helm of Los Coast, but their genre-fusing energy is thanks in no small part to co-founder and arranger John Courtney, who cites just as much influence from jazz as from Jerry Garcia. You might not be able to slap an evergreen label on their sound, but the five-piece will certainly get your heart rate up and set your booty for “shake” in no time.
July: Black Pumas
A chance connection between busker-turned-Austinite Eric Burton and producer/guitarist Adrian Quesada (Brownout, Grupo Fantasma) in early 2017 led to the creation of Black Pumas, a combination of vintage soul, folk rock, and hip-hop production styles. They rose quickly in the Austin scene, gaining a residency at C-Boy’s where they honed their live act with a full band, eventually winning Best New Band and Song of the Year for “Black Moon Rising” at the 2019 Austin Music Awards with only three released tracks to their name.
There’s a lot of wide open spaces in the east/west extremes of our state, which explains why so many of Texas musicians leave their music with a lot of breathing room. Shane Renfro, the songwriter and vocalist behind Austin’s RF Shannon, grew up in the small piney woods town of Grapeland, and he’s never left its insular ambiance behind. He calls his music ‘not country enough for Americana, too country for indie, too mellow for psych’, yet all these elements come into play on the band’s expansive new album, Rain On Dust.
September: Flora & Fawna
The music of new Austin duo Flora & Fawna summons a deep city groove – rhythmically incessant, icy cool and modern. You can almost hear it echoing through nighttime concrete canyons. Yet there’s also something warm and soulful about the way songwriters and multi-instrumentalist songwriters Lili Hickman and Mason Ables blend their voices into one. Both native Austinites, the two met by chance at the Spider House. Ables was playing in a soul band, Hickman, daughter of Austin songwriter Sara Hickman, was playing folk music and looking for other musicians to round out her sound. After hearing Hickman’s folk-inspired songs, Ables suggested teaming up, fleshing out the songs with his beats and electronic production work. The rest is history.
October: Ley Line
Like many a generation of folk musicians before them, Ley Line got started at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, when duo Kate Robberson and Emilie Basez met twin sisters Madeleine and Lydia Froncek back in 2013. Their name, which refers to alignments between world historical monuments, in this case finds a line between Austin and Brazil. The band’s latest single, “Oxum”, the latest to be released from their early 2020 album We Saw Blue, refers to the Afro-Brazilian deity of freshwater, and celebrates the beauty of the waterfalls and forests of Alto Paraiso. Their organic world-pop weaves cultures and languages, conjures a strange mystical atmosphere, and a longing for a world rapidly disappearing from view. After making the rounds of a few festivals, Ley Line headed back to town set for their hometown Austin City Limits Festival debut.
Two drummers meet at a baseball game. This sounds like the start of a joke, but this is how Charlie Martin and Will Taylor, two musicians with ambitions beyond their respective bands, came together to form Hovvdy. From the beginning it was eerie how well the pair collaborated. They dubbed their mysterious music “pillow core”, and their quiet, in-snyc harmonies framed their quiet and minimalist music, as they combined their song fragments into a compelling whole. Hovvdy soon developed a following and began touring well beyond the Austin city limits. For their third album, Heavy Lifter, the duo brought in producer and multi-instrumentalist Ben Littlejohn to fill out their sound, and dial up some of their tempos. Stripped of their fog, the songs find a warm nostalgia, and the rhythms lift up their music to make it even more immediate.