When my husband told me the new Tim Heidecker (Tim and Eric, Office Hours) album had been released and that it heavily featured the artist Weyes Blood (“ways-blood” he called her), my immediate thought was, “that’s interesting. What’s that story?” Had it been Phoebe Bridgers, I wouldn’t have batted an eye. Heidecker and Natalie Mering (who uses the Weyes Blood moniker) are deeply talented musicians, but I still couldn’t stop wondering, “who put these two in the same room?”
The answer is Drew Erickson, an LA-based producer, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist who played keys on Weyes Blood’s 2019 album Titanic Rising. Heidecker tells us the full story in the interview, so I won’t spoil it here, but it essentially comes down to connected session musicians in LA know how to hustle and wrangle. In this case, that included the D’Addario brothers of the Lemon Twigs and Warpaint drummer Stella Mozgawa. After just a few days in the studio, Fear of Death was born. True to Heidecker’s sound blending 70’s rock, singer-songwriter and jam band elements, Mering’s harmonies add a transcendent texture that fills-out a space you might have never known existed.
The lyrics of Fear of Death, in broad strokes, wrestle with the consequences of middle age, but like any broad-scoped introspection, some things deviate slightly to better understand the whole.The song “Little Lamb,” for instance, is a metaphor for being an artist trying to move onto new endeavors completely separate from what they originally got famous for doing, but being told by their fans to basically stay in their lane. This is certainly an album that necessitates a careful ear. –Taylor Wallace, KUTX Morning Host
NPR LIVE SESSIONS/KUTX – Raul Malo of the Mavericks
Over the course of decades, The Mavericks have accomplished a great deal musically and been duly rewarded with Grammys, CMA Awards, gold and platinum records and more. But one thing the group hadn’t done before now is record an album entirely in Spanish. En Español rectifies that in transcendent fashion.
And make no mistake, The Mavericks is a band – one that just celebrated it’s 30th Anniversary (after reuniting in 2012 after a brief hiatus). The Mavericks are characterized by their effortless blending of genres gathered under the country and western banner – but there is no doubt their leader Raul Malo is the magnet that draws you into their blend, with his peerless voice a timeless, emotive instrument.
So it was more than a treat when – ahead of his recent Austin City Limits season 46 taping (premiering November 21 on PBS) – Raul Malo sat down by a fireplace in a room filled with vinyl records, casually planted his flip-flopped feet on the floor, picked up a nylon-stringed guitar, and serenaded KUTX with these two amazing songs from En Español – “Mujer” and “Recuerdos”.
A first generation Cuban-American, Malo’s new songs “aim to make the world a little smaller’ and remind us that “music can break down walls.” The titles – which translate as “Woman” and “Memories” respectively – equally affect those who do and don’t speak Spanish, as Malo’s tender singing bypasses the head for the heart. Listeners agree as En Español debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Latin Pop Album Charts – but Raul and The Mavericks are always at the top of the charts in our musical heart.
Musician: Raul Malo; vocals, guitar
Cameras; Michael Minasi; Edit: Michael Minasi; Audio Mix/Master: Jake Perlman; Words: Jody Denberg; Producer: Deidre Gott
Shot at W Austin September 23, 2020
photo by Alexa Viscius
In the wake of a global pandemic, many creatives have had their livelihoods put on pause. For many, this has meant broken hearts, major career disruptions, and varying degrees of disintegrating mental health. Others have found peace and grounding. Chicago trio Dehd fits squarely in the second camp. After a year and some change of constant touring, hustling, and “doing the damned thing,” the forced pause has afforded them the time and ability to breathe, recharge, and thrive in their new normal. Singer and bassist Emily Kempf has been active and on the move in one band or another creative outlet for over a decade, unused to sitting still. COVID has granted her the opportunity to reconnect with herself without the distractions that come with constantly being on the move.
After pushing back the release of their latest album Flower of Devotion several months, the album is out in the world and a true gift for all of us. Kempf shares her refreshing view of making that choice and what the last seven or so months have been like for her and her bandmates. Also refreshing is her discussing the egoless approach the trio takes with songwriting and recording. This was such a fun, captivating interview, and I’m excited to finally share it. Enjoy!
Get more from Emily Kempf and Taylor Wallace by watching the full interview.
Photo by Phillipe Lebruman
Laurie Gallardo and Kate Stables of This Is The Kit talk about touring with The National, celebrating our differences, and her latest album Off Off On.
Being enamored with the style of This Is The Kit, I often consider two things that attracted me to the music, though admittedly my main reference points tend to be Moonshine Freeze (2017) and Bashed Out (2015), the latter of which was recommended to me as a fan favorite.
First, there’s the poetry of the song arrangement, never stifled by any sort of typical song structure and moving with this lucid flow that falls in quite naturally, from each delicate tread to every voluminous swell, curiously shaped into a most refined tumult. Secondly, and what initially drew me in, is the actual poetry itself – the ballet of gorgeous language telling every story. Kit commandeer Kate Stables is a remarkable songwriter of immeasurable talent, with an extraordinary sensitivity to unspoken moods or emotions, those buried so deeply that eventually they have no choice but to rise back up and haunt, like so many ghosts.
And now, make way for the magic of This Is The Kit’s newest release, Off Off On (Rough Trade). Recently, I had the pleasure of chatting with Kate about working with producer Josh Kaufman (Bob Weir, The National, Hiss Golden Messenger, Craig Finn), working on her own music while on tour as an ensemble performer with The National, and some convo about yours truly’s personal picks from the LP, “Started Again,” “Shinbone Soap” (“…knowing better but still sinking”), “This Is What You Did” and most apropos for reasons you’ll hear us get into, “No Such Thing” (“We all move at different speeds”).
YOUTUBE/KUTX – Kate Stables and Laurie Gallardo full interview
HOST: LAURIE GALLARDO
PRODUCER: DEIDRE GOTT
AUDIO MASTER: JAKE PERLMAN
‘Shore’ Album Art
Robin Pecknold and Jody Denberg talk about how Richard Swift, a near death experience, and Brian Wilson influenced Shore, the new album from Fleet Foxes.
YOUTUBE/KUTX – Robin Pecknold and Jody Denberg
Since their debut EP in 2006 (!), Fleet Foxes has created songs with unique sonic landscapes that build upon and eclipse the work of other harmony-driven folk-rock groups. The group’s visionary, songwriter Robin Pecknold, has taken a great leap forward with Fleet Foxes fourth full-length Shore by building upon their formidable catalogue and making a leap forward in sound and emotion.
Inspired by his musical heroes and joined by guests including Daniel Rossen of Grizzly Bear, Hamilton Leithauser, Kevin Morby and a sampled Brian Wilson, Pecknold has come up with something “bright and hopeful” in the midst of uncertainty and personal anxiety.
Recorded in New York, Los Angeles and France before and during the pandemic, “Shore” takes its title from a harrowing incident:
“The title came kind of came to me,” Pecknold remembered. “I had a surfing accident where I snapped my leash and I was kind of caught in this big set of waves and then I was pretty far out to sea and you know if you snap your you know you’ve lost your life preserver and you’re just swimming to safety, and I think I started hyperventilating, and I that was kind of the closest I’ve come to feeling like maybe I was going to die, and the feeling of relief I had when I did make it back to shore…I think that that kind of that feeling really stuck with me because you know, that sense of – and this is something we’ve experienced all year – just, you know, appreciating life.”
Appreciation and gratitude also play into Pecknold’s writing on Shore – the death of his musical comrade Richard Swift and Fleet Foxes ability to regroup after Pecknold’s five-year musical absence as he worked on a degree at Columbia University in his newfound home of New York.
And yes, Fleet Foxes reconvened after 2017’s Crack Up album, but circumstance led to him being the only member of the group present on this latest album. In 2021 he plans to co-write with the other band members for the first time, and hopefully play live again when the time is right. In the meanwhile there’s a 16-mm road movie that accompanies each song on Shore. Watch below or attend a drive-in screening October 19
ABOUT THE FILM: Shore is a road-movie depicting Northwest American landscapes and the people and animals that inhabit them. Kersti Jan Werdal is an artist working in film, photography, installation, and collage.