Lower Dens 2.21.20

Studio 1A Sessions

Lower Dens 2.21.20

Posted by on Mar 3, 2020
Photo by Michael Minasi/KUTX

Lower Dens might allude to the hyper-competitiveness of our society with the title of their latest record, The Competition — but the Baltimore pop trio favors collaboration and self-acceptance. Texas native Jana Hunter, who leads the band, first started releasing solo material in the mid-2000s before forming Lower Dens. The reason for the change? “It’s more fun to play with other people,” he laughed during the band’s Studio 1A interview. Guitarist Peter Tran and drummer Nate Nelson round out the trio and allow for lush intricacies on The Competition.

Following Hunter’s self-discovery in transitioning gender, the record grapples with mental health and acceptance, all cloaked in a shimmering indie pop sound. These ideas have defined much of Lower Den’s discography throughout the group’s existence, but there’s a new urgency behind the music driven by a deep desire to experience genuine connections. The Competition, released last fall, comes after a break of over four years since Lower Dens’ last record. The hiatus came partly out of necessity due to the personal experiences that inform the album’s themes, but also saw the band trying out a new production style with recording in a home studio.

Now on the front end of a one month U.S. tour, Lower Dens performed in Studio 1A ahead of a show at Barracuda that night.

— Annie Lyons, KUTX Intern

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Host: Jody Denberg

Audio Engineers: Aly Carlisle-Steinberg, Jake Perlman

Producer: Deidre Gott

Cameras: Gabriel C. Pérez, Michael Minasi, Faith Castle, Steven Gonzalez

Editor: Gabriel C. Pérez


Rich Harney: A Musical Memorial 2.26.20

Studio 1A Sessions

Rich Harney: A Musical Memorial 2.26.20

Posted by on Mar 2, 2020
Photo courtesy of Brenda Ladd

Saxophonist Alex Coke cherished a long and illustrious friendship with Austin jazz pianist and composer Rich Harney, who recently died of a heart attack in early January. The pair collaborated for over 45 years from when they first met in a communal house on Nueces Street in the 1970s. With nothing but a thin door between their rooms, Coke always heard when Harney began his early morning practicing, and the two soon recognized kindred musical spirits in each other. They made a number of records together, played countless gigs and started groups like the Worthy Constituents.

Coke honored Harney’s memory with a musical memorial held at the Elephant Room on Sunday, March 1 organized by fellow Austin musician Michael Mordecai. The concert featured a slew of Harney’s friends and colleagues, including pianist Andy Wehl, bassist Daniel Durham and drummer Daniel Dufour. Some musicians traveled across the continent to join the celebration, which took place during Harney’s usual set time at the venue. The night’s performances drew from the abundance of original material that Harney penned during his life.

Ahead of the Sunday night show, Coke and pianist Peggy Stern visited Studio 1A where they played three Harney originals, with Coke on saxophone and flutes.

— Annie Lyons, KUTX Intern

WEBSITE

Host: John Aielli
Audio Engineer: Cliff Hargrove
Producer: Deidre Gott
Star Parks

Artist of the Month

Star Parks

Posted by on Mar 1, 2020
Photo by Michael Minasi/KUTX

The Star Parks of today might be larger in scope than the solo project launched by songwriter Andy Bianculli in 2016. But they’re cut from the same cloth. His full-bodied pop examines themes of alienation and disappointment in alternately melancholy or jaunty terms. Now a veritable mini orchestra, the Austin-based band recently released their sophomore album, The New Sounds of Late Capitalism, on Valentine’s Day. The album’s eleven tracks possess a clear disaffection with the expansive arrangements disguising often cynical lyrics. There’s a distinct 1960s inspiration; the production embraces a dated Martin Denny exotica, and the first 15 seconds of opener “Palm Sunday” feature lingering, pensive ahh’s and chimes that immediately call Pet Sounds to mind.

You can hear a lot of influences, from Brian Wilson to Kevin Parker of Tame Impala, but Bianculli has more unique ambitions in mind. Framing their music, with help from producer Danny Reisch, in a lush pop cinemascope, Bianculli’s songs are about capturing rarified moments of inspiration, even if, in his words, they “inevitably lead to disappointment.” The New Sounds of Late Capitalism dives into this concept with substantial lyrics of ennui and heartbreak adding yet another layer to the already textured sound.

Recently back home from a one month tour of the Midwest, Star Parks is celebrating The New Sounds of Late Capitalism with an album release show on Friday, March 6 at Barracuda with The Deer and Berkshire Hounds.

In the meantime, get acquainted with Star Parks by checking out their performance of “Oh Boredom (Shmaltz City, USA)” from their recent Studio 1A Session. You can find the whole session with interview here.

Star Parks’ full lineup consists of Andy Bianculli, Nathaniel Klugman, Sam Pankey, Andy Beaudoin, Sam Howden, Derek Phelps, Wayne Myers and Carolyn Trowbridge. 

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Host: Taylor Wallace
Audio Engineer: Cliff Hargrove, Oscar Martinez
Producer: Deidre Gott
Cameras: Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, Michael Minasi, José Daniel Moreno, Steven Gonzalez
Editor: Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon
The Artisan String Quartet 2.20.20

Studio 1A Sessions

The Artisan String Quartet 2.20.20

Posted by on Feb 21, 2020
Photo courtesy of the Artisan String Quartet

For the final show of its 39th season, the Austin-based Artisan String Quartet will present works that seldom fall on modern ears. During the upcoming concert “On Wenlock Edge,” the group will perform the rare Ralph Vaughan Williams song cycle of the same name in its original 1911 version, as well as a lesser-known quartet from Czech composer Antonín Dvořák. The Williams composition draws inspiration from the lyrical poetry of A. E. Houseman, covering themes of bitter disappointments and eventual growth.

The Artisan String Quartet celebrates a storied history. In the past decade alone, the group has contributed to the film score for a documentary about renowned Metropolitan Opera singer Barbara Conrad Smith and made their Carnegie Hall debut. Now the quartet is entering a new stage of existence with the recent addition of violinist Patrice Calixte, following the retirement of previous member Richard Kilmer. Calixte joins violinist Caleb Hans Polashek, violist Bruce Williams and cellist Douglas Harvey.

“On Wenlock Edge” will take place on Friday, Feb. 28 and Saturday, Feb. 29 at First Presbyterian Church. Two fellow Austin Chamber Ensemble musicians, pianist Martha Mortensen Ahern and tenor Jeffery Jones-Ragona, will join the quartet for the performance. In Studio 1A, the Artisan String Quartet previewed the first movement of Dvořák’s Quartet Op. 51 in anticipation of the shows. Find tickets and more information about “On Wenlock Edge” here

— Annie Lyons, KUTX Intern

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Host: John Aielli
Audio Engineer: Jake Perlman
Producer: Deidre Gott

 

North Mississippi Allstars 2.7.20

Studio 1A Sessions

North Mississippi Allstars 2.7.20

Posted by on Feb 10, 2020
Photo by Michael Minasi/KUTX

Blues powerhouse North Mississippi Allstars comes full circle on their latest record, Up and Rolling, released last fall. The album sees brother duo Luther and Cody Dickinson reflect on decades of history — and with 24 years, ten albums and three Grammy nominations under their belt, there’s a lot of history to talk about. In many ways, Up and Rolling marks a homecoming for the brothers; the pair recorded the album back home in Mississippi at The Zebra Ranch, the studio established by their late father, legendary producer Jim Dickinson. Inspired by a re-discovered roll of film taken in 1996 that spotlights the music community of their rural childhood, the record is a love letter written to the landscape of their youth with modern touches. The Allstars blend the hill country blues of the ’90s with their version of current Mississippi music, infused with psychedelic flavor. Up and Rolling also represents a renewal of the community and collaborative spirit of their youth, with features including Mavis Staples and Jason Isbell. Ahead of a two night lineup at Antone’s on Feb. 7 and 8, the Allstars dropped by Studio 1A to perform some new jams. They were joined by Jesse Williams on bass.

— Annie Lyons, KUTX Intern

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | TWITTER


Host: Jody Denberg
Audio Engineer: Cliff Hargrove, Jake Perlman
Producer: Deidre Gott
Cameras: Julia Reihs, Michael Minasi, Jose Moreno, Patricia Lim, Steven Gonzalez, Faith Castle