Strange Lot 2.24.20

Studio 1A Sessions

Strange Lot 2.24.20

Posted by on Feb 26, 2020

Photo by Michael Minasi/KUTX

Austin newcomers Strange Lot blend hazy garage sounds into their Western-sun-scorched take on psych rock. After 5 years of success, then-duo Dominic Mena (guitar, vocals) and Tim Lormor (drums) made the journey to Austin from their founding city of Phoenix in 2019. As Austinites they were joined by Luis Valerio on bass and by December, they had signed with Mas Music Records in anticipation of their February 2020 release Mindstate

Join Strange Lot in celebration of their album release at Hotel Vegas on February 29th.

– Lydia Fortuna, KUTX Intern

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Host: Taylor Wallace

Audio Engineer: Jake Perlman

Producer: Deidre Gott

Cameras: Julia Reihs, Michael Minasi, Steven Gonzalez

Editors: Steven Gonzalez, Michael Minasi

Tame Impala – “The Slow Rush”

Album Reviews

Tame Impala – “The Slow Rush”

Posted by on Feb 24, 2020

Photo taken at Austin City Limits 2019 by Gabriel C. Pérez/KUTX

Tame Impala – The Slow Rush (Interscope/Fiction)

Rarely has music been this anticipated. Currents, the Tame Impala album that made Australian Kevin Parker the world’s most famous bedroom auteur, was released nearly five years ago. A mid-career milestone, Currents was the culmination of everything Parker had been working towards – a cyclone of reverb, keys, guitars and oft-kilter club beats throbbing under Parker’s soaring falsetto. Songs like “Let It Happen”, “Eventually” and especially,  “’ Cause I’m a Man” were distinct, memorable, even a bit visionary. Tame Impala’s second album, Lonerism, had already paved the road for a cult audience. Currents made it an expressway. Some collaborations, and lots of touring followed, but as time wore on, there was nothing from Parker but radio silence.

Finally, in the spring of last year, two new “teaser tracks” showed up. The first, “Patience”, hinted at an exciting new direction – it was visceral, less disembodied, and by Parker’s standards, felt almost unfinished. It’s not on the album.

The second single, “Borderline”, a thumping Tame Impala confection, deals with an awakening of sorts. After releasing the single (and performing both new songs on Saturday Night Live), Parker continued to fuss with it. The album version is denser, the vocals barely claw their way to the surface. It’s also the album’s strongest track.

The Slow Rush, which finally saw the light of day on February 17, has evidence of Parker’s obsessive mitts all over it. Fastidious doesn’t begin to cover his work habits. Writing, producing and playing every instrument, the album sounds gorgeous and expansive.

Yet, after five years in which a lot of things happened (including Parker getting married and narrowly escaping a wildfire), Rush could hardly be called a departure. It seems to pick up right where Currents left off. There are some interesting experiments – the mechanized opening track, a long suite called “Posthumous Forgiveness”, which serves as an open letter to his father. Yet neither are entirely successful. Despite the regret of “Tomorrow’s Dust”, endearingly sad-sack songs “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” or the brooding “Elephant” are absent. There’s a brighter aura among the album’s standouts – the loopy “Lost in Yesterday”, “Instant Destiny” ‘s Spector-ish pop, and the playful, pulsing “It Might Be Time”, (which manages to stay just steps ahead of Supertramp puffery).

His lyrics can veer toward platitudes, but they’re mostly about his now 33-year-old self. Other times they’re simply unintelligible. Parker is not prone to grand statements; his music is about mood. And his craft is undeniable. Parker toiled over every inch of this recording. It’s all there, the echo-laden mystery, the lush psychedelics, the same cheesy pop art cover. Yet chunks of The Low Rush pass by in a wash. It all seems all very familiar, and following the strength of his last two releases, lacking as much meat on its bones.

Parker is such a prodigious talent, it could be time for him to set sail into uncharted waters. We’ve seen what he can do in five years. Imagine the record he could knock out in two weeks.

– Jeff McCord, KUTX Music Editor

3.75

Listen to The Slow Rush here.

Hey Cowboy – “Get In My Fanny Pack and Let’s Go”

Album Reviews

Hey Cowboy – “Get In My Fanny Pack and Let’s Go”

Posted by on Feb 24, 2020

Photo by Katie Reese

Hey Cowboy – Get In My Fanny Pack and Let’s Go (self-released)

Hey Cowboy! embraces the synth in synth-pop. There’s no guitar in the Austin-based trio, made up of Gaby Rodriguez on drums, Sydney Harding-Sloan on synths and Micah Vargas on bass. Instead, they craft dream-like landscapes reliant on lush synths and ethereal harmonies. Hey Cowboy! balances the melancholy and playful. Look no further than the title of their new album — Get in my Fanny Pack and Let’s Go — for a taste of the band’s whimsical spirit.

The album kicks off with a reimagining of the 1970 Lee Hazlewood song that’s the band’s namesake. With captivating harmonies, the trio delivers the opening “Heyyy cowboy” with a coy wink. The western motif gets another moment in the sun on “Detective Farmer Brown” with a warbly chant of “cowboy” that gives way to an insistent drum beat punctuated by shouts. On “Hello, Mr. Nasty,” lively chants of bubblegum kisses cascade between lilting ahh’s and almost punk-like shrieks.

The trio writes simple, repetitive hooks that create dizzying earworms. On “Feelin’ For,” the lyrics bleed together like a sacred spell — the words themselves may not matter much; it’s the intonation that gives them meaning. And Harding-Sloan’s vocals seem tailor-made for their atmospherics. On the standout track, “Cherry Jerry Citrus” (released on last year’s EP), her voice floats above the rhythms and rippling liquid synths. Distant half-spoken harmonies round out the trance-like effect.

Songs do tend to wander. Hey Cowboy! seems fond of switching the script within the same track, like the intensifying drum beats that kick in halfway through “Try……….die”, until washing away. “Don’t Even Know” starts off with the focus on vocals, but chirping synth notes and drums gradually build to create an otherworldly daze.

The album loses momentum in the second half — selections like “Queen Cactus” meander. But for an album that experiments with an eclectic synth sound and covers everything from ominous ‘70s sci-fi movie soundtracks to sunshiny psych, it’s a cohesive piece of work right down to its careful blending of tracks. Assuming you’re game for a journey in the titular fanny pack, Hey Cowboy! isn’t too concerned with a hasty ride into the sunset. There’s too much else worth exploring on the way there.

– Annie Lyons, KUTX Intern

3.75

Buy and listen to Get In My Fanny Pack and Let’s Go here.

Terry Allen – “Just Like Moby Dick”

Album Reviews

Terry Allen – “Just Like Moby Dick”

Posted by on Feb 24, 2020

Photo by Julia Reihs/KUTX

Terry Allen – Just Like Moby Dick (Paradise of Bachelors)

He follows his artistic muse wherever it takes him. Terry Allen is far better known as a visual artist and sculptor than a musician, but it’s cause for celebration when he returns to his music.

Arriving in Texas in the mid-seventies, everyone in the know seemed to have a copy of Allen’s debut, Juarez, even though it’s initial release had been limited to 1000 copies. Most Texas music milestones made perfect sense to me, completely congruous with the culture. Juarez was something else entirely. Who begins their recording career with a weird, violent and sex-filled concept album about four people making their way to Mexico? The follow-up, Lubbock (On Everything), Allen’s 1979 paean to a hometown he had long deserted, was equally unexpected. It blew away every preconceived notion of this dusty, conservative college town. Full of droll humor and outsized characters viewed through an artist’s prism, his songs were heartfelt and sardonic. the album would become one of the state’s most revered recordings. “I don’t wear no Stetson,” he proclaimed in “Amarillo Highway” (his only song to be widely covered), “But I’m willing to bet, son / That I’m as big a Texan as you are.”

Allen has never quite topped Lubbock. His few recordings sprinkled over the decades have stuck to the blueprint, though, mining his peculiar bent for observation. (1999’s bitterly funny Salivation is a personal favorite).

Just Like Moby Dick is Allen’s first set of new songs since 2013’s Bottom of the World, and reunites the mainstays of his Panhandle Mystery Band with newcomers like vocalist Shannon McNally and co-producer Charlie Sexton.

Now 76, Allen’s narrative style of singing can sink to a low whisper. Moby Dick is a collaborative venture – McNally backs up his vocals throughout and sings two songs on her own, one of them written by Allen’s multitalented wife Jo Harvey. The troika of the Panhandle Mystery Band – drummer Davis McClarty, steel guitarist Lloyd Maines and the wondrous Richard Bowden on violin – sound potent as ever. Sexton’s production makes it all sparkle.

But it’s Allen’s lyrical gifts that keep us coming back. Moby Dick begins with a trio of his finest songs in years. Houdini’s rueful denial of spiritualists figures in the opener (“Even though / he wanted it to be true”). “Abandonitis” compares abandonment to a disease the “doctor can’t cut away”, and suggests the suffering is universal. “Your folks are dead / or maybe just drunks”. “Get in line,” he intones.

Better yet, the poignant “Death of the Last Stripper”: “She had a boy / With some guy from Fresno,” it begins. ‘Where he is now / None of us know / She had a number / On some paper in her purse / That was the number / We tried first / But nobody answered / Every time we tried / We’re the only ones in the world / Even know she died.”

Beyond that, Moby Dick runs the gamut, with gems (and a couple of misses) peppered throughout. “American Childhood” somehow rolls teenage horniness and the “endless fucking” wars of Vietnam and Afghanistan in one suite of songs. There’s a tale about a circus rolling into the “City of the Vampires”, a somber shanty called “Pirate Jenny”, and the closer, “Sailin’ on Through”, which has the feel of a career coda.

There’s little tying the songs to the album’s jokey title, which is probably the point. Allen’s work can range from the tautness of Hemmingway or Carver all the way to the absurd and mawkish. They’re nothing like Melville’s tome, especially in their brevity. For someone who bestows his musical gifts way too infrequently, you’re always left wanting more.

– Jeff McCord, KUTX Music Editor

4

Buy and listen to Just Like Moby Dick here.

A. Sinclair 2.19.20

Studio 1A Sessions

A. Sinclair 2.19.20

Posted by on Feb 24, 2020

Photo courtesy of A. Sinclair

A. Sinclair, songwriting moniker of frontman Aaron Sinclair, has spent years as an Austin garage rock staple. Their 2020 EP In the Middle of the Night was released on February 14th. Though his songwriting still remains true to his experiences, his lyrics have begun to reflect the recent changes in his life; the track titled “A Hundred Million Thousand” refers to how Sinclair describes his love for his two young daughters. Listen to that track and “Weeds” live in Studio 1A below.

You can see A. Sinclair live at Waterloo Records on Thursday the 20th and at Hole in the Wall on February 28th.

– Lydia Fortuna, KUTX Intern

Host: Laurie Gallardo

Audio Engineer: Jake Perlman

Producer: Deidre Gott

Cameras: Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, Patricia Lim, José Daniel Moreno, Steven Gonzalez

Editor: Julia Reihs