Incident on Barton Springs Road

Armadillo World Headquarters

Incident on Barton Springs Road

Posted by on Aug 3, 2020
photos and artwork courtesy of Austin Museum of Popular Culture

Bruce Springsteen rolls into Austin for a stop at the Armadillo World Headquarters in March of 1974

(Learn about all of our plans for the 50th anniversary of Armadillo World Headquarters HERE)

by Bill Harwell

Even in the early seventies, a lot of people wanted to move to Austin. So I was feeling pretty lucky to have been offered a job at KRMH-FM (Karma Radio), an eclectic, free-form ‘progressive rock’ station, in the summer of 1973.

1972 – Interior shot of the south wall. Burton Wilson/Austin Museum of Popular Culture

At Karma, we could, and did, play pretty much what we wanted – with some guidance. While the station’s business office and production studios were on West 10th Street just off of Lamar, their on-air studio was at the transmitter site in a pasture near Niederwald, some twenty miles south of town in Hays County. We’d all go to the office for production duties and meetings, then make the drive out to the remote facility for our air shifts. Somehow, it worked. We’d even get musical guests to trek out to the studio for performances and interviews. It’s hard to believe now, but Michael Rutherford of Genesis spent an hour on the air with me prior to their show at a converted National Guard armory on Barton Springs Road known as Armadillo World Headquarters.

 

A scene from Highland Mall’s opening day. CREDIT AUSTIN HISTORY CENTER

The Armadillo had opened in August 1970 and was already legendary among local music fans. Featuring a pleasant outdoor beer garden that served Texas comfort food, and a 1,500 person capacity music venue with folding metal chairs, AWHQ was just the place for beers after your softball game, a relaxing spot for state workers and hippies to mingle over lunch, and a go-to destination for music lovers of all tastes. It was a true community center. Austin was a very different place then, of course. The population was under 300,000, and pre-home computers and cell phones, a ‘tech industry’ was almost beyond imagining. Highland Mall was the main shopping destination, Mopac Expressway was still a construction project, and rent was cheap. (Our two-story apartment in Barton Hills cost $165 a month.)

 

Released on November 5, 1973 by Columbia Records

Bruce Springsteen was in a different place then, too. In the spring of 1974, things were not going that well for the up-and-coming artist. After the major label hype surrounding his debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., and some modest acclaim, Bruce’s second effort, The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle, had been released in November 1973 to little notice. John Hammond and Clive Davis, the legendary figures at Columbia Records responsible for the signing and early promotion of the young artist, had left the company. No one left on the staff seemed to be taken with the eclectic collection of long, wandering songs that made up the record. Springsteen openly complained in one interview of a lack of support while on tour: a visit to a record store in a city where the band was playing found no copies of the new album on the shelves. And in February, Bruce had made the tough decision to fire Vini “Mad Dog” Lopez, his drummer on the first two releases. Ernest Carter, a local Asbury Park musician and friend of pianist David Sancious was quickly brought on board, and the group headed south for scheduled tour dates.

Most of the DJs at KRMH were leaning pretty heavily on The Wild & the Innocent and getting a good response. We’d also scored a copy of “The Fever”, a bluesy unreleased track from that album’s sessions that, rumor had it, Bruce’s manager, Mike Appel, had leaked to some influential stations to tweak the folks at Columbia.

 

Original artwork for Bruce Springsteen at the Armadillo World Headquarters by Jim Franklin/Austin Museum of Popular Culture

Following poorly-received gigs in Nashville and Atlanta, Springsteen and his band were coming off of a successful four-night stand at Liberty Hall in Houston when they rolled into Austin and the Armadillo World Headquarters for a weekend of shows on March 14, 15 and 16. The scheduled opening act, Alvin Crow, recalled in the March 16, 2012 issue of The Austin Chronicle that AWHQ owner Eddie Wilson was so unsure of how the new-to-Texas Springsteen would draw that he suggested to Appel a cover charge of $1. Bruce was even convinced to come by the Karma studios for an interview, and played a few of his favorite tracks from our library: stuff like Major Lance, Martha and the Vandellas, and anything produced by Phil Spector.

Against that backdrop, you’d expect Springsteen to hit the stage with a bang, trying to win over the uninitiated. Instead, the six-piece band (augmented by a female violinist) opened with the atmospheric street-poetry of “New York City Serenade,” a ten-minute, mostly acoustic album cut that opened with a dazzling David Sancious piano solo that was more Gershwin than rock ‘n roll. We were all transfixed. By the time Clarence Clemons played his first sax fill, there was an ovation. And when it was all over, the audience was on its feet, cheering wildly. Never looking back, Bruce strapped on his 12-string Fender, launched into The Crystals’ “And Then She Kissed Me” and an unforgettable night was underway. Cuts from his first two albums like “Growin’ Up”, “It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City”, “Spirit in the Night”, and “Sandy” would be interspersed with bar-band staples such as “Let the Four Winds Blow”, “634-5789” and “A Quarter to Three”.

 

 

Bruce Springsteen at the Armadillo World Headquarters by Mike Harr/Austin Museum of Popular Culture

The on-stage enthusiasm and energy was so palpable that you couldn’t help but wonder how long the group could keep it up, much less night after night. “Rosalita”, a track that we’d been playing a lot on the radio, was the set closer, as I remember it. And when I noticed the group of out-of-place clean-cut looking student types in front of me singing along with every word, I knew that Bruce was going to make it.

Speaking in 2012 to The Austin Chronicle, Waterloo Records owner John Kunz recalled people rushing mid-show to the club’s phone booths, urging friends to get to the Armadillo to see what was taking place. Folks who’d been enjoying a plate of nachos outside in the beer garden, hearing the crowd reaction from inside the club, decided to join in as well. The next day, I phoned a former roommate in Dallas telling him that he had to go catch the band’s shows at a club on Lemmon Avenue called Gertie’s, their next stop on their tour. He did, but the crowd was very disappointing; he thought that there were fewer than fifty people there on a Monday night. Even so, he reported a performance just as compelling as what we saw here in Austin.

 

Bruce would return to Austin and the Armadillo for two more two-night stands that year: one in June and another in November. By that time, Carter and Sancious had left the group and were replaced by Max Weinberg and Roy Bittan. The November shows were memorable for the encore of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, complete with Clarence Clemons in a Santa Claus hat and Christmas lights twinkling on the PA stacks.

There was such a feeling of having witnessed something rare and special that March that no one in attendance was at all surprised by the adulation and success that would surround Springsteen in the years ahead. After leaving Texas that spring, Bruce went home to record Born to Run. It was just over two months later that Springsteen’s future manager, Jon Landau, would review a Cambridge, Massachusetts show that included the now-famous quote, “I have seen rock and roll’s future and its name is Bruce Springsteen.” But at The Armadillo for a few glorious nights in March, we all got a sneak preview.

Armadillo World Headquarters 50th Anniversary

Armadillo World Headquarters

Armadillo World Headquarters 50th Anniversary

Posted by on Jul 30, 2020

KUTX 98.9 Celebrates the Armadillo World Headquarters on the 50th Anniversary of its Founding

Armadillo World Headquarters 50th Anniversary Art from original AWHQ artists Danny Garrett and Jim Franklin

In August of 1970, a music venue opened on the corner of Barton Springs Road and South First that would go on to change the identity of Austin, culturally, politically, and artistically. For ten years, the Armadillo World Headquarters served as both a community gathering place and a nationally-recognized live music landmark. The Armadillo spotlighted everything from blues to the avant-garde and spanned the birth of cosmic country to the rise of punk rock. The ‘dillo, as it was often called, closed Dec. 31, 1980, and was replaced by a 13-story office building.

To mark the 50th anniversary of this enduring cultural icon, KUTX will spend the entire month of August highlighting music from the eclectic range of artists who performed at the Armadillo World Headquarters, along with stories from the people who made the iconic venue what it was.

A one-hour oral history, “Back Home to the Armadillo,” will air on KUTX 98.9 at 6 p.m., Aug. 15. The oral history features interviews with Willie Nelson and Armadillo World Headquarters staff Eddie Wilson, Mike Tolleson, Jim Franklin, and Michael Priest. It includes fans talking about what the Armadillo meant to them and how it shaped Austin as a music incubator and destination. The special, produced by KUTX’s Art Levy, will be available as a podcast Aug. 17, with bonus Armadillo stories released each Thursday throughout August.

Online we’ll feature in-depth stories from KUTX’s Jody Denberg, Jeff McCord and Art Levy on some of the most memorable shows and artists, including Freddie King and Bruce Springsteen. Fans can turn to KUTX’s social media channels, Facebook and Instagram, to see original concert posters and photographs from the Armadillo World Headquarters – courtesy of the Austin Museum of Popular Culture.

Subscribe to KUTX’s Armadillo World Headquarters podcast on Spotify, Google, or Apple.


KUTX’s month-long celebration of 50 years of the Armadillo World Headquarters is made possible with support from Silicon Labs.

Jay Wile

Artist of the Month

Jay Wile

Posted by on Jul 30, 2020
All photos courtesy of Dev Ciné

Tune into KUTX Saturday, August 8 at 10:30a for KUTX at Home with Jay Wile and KUTX host Fresh


KUTX Artist of the Month: Jay Wile

Better Times album artwork by Jay Wile

By Aaron “Fresh” Knight

Within Austin’s fast-growing urban music scene, it can be easy to overlook an artist. Yet sometimes one jumps right out at you. For months I heard the rumblings about Jay Wile, a soothing R&B singer originally from San Antonio. At first, Wile pulls you in with a smooth voice similar to Frank Ocean, but then his heartfelt lyrics captivate you and have you longing for love. Bouncing around between San Antonio, Austin, and Los Angeles, Wile has captivated listeners and helped push his R&B further to the forefront of the Austin music scene, a scene that can struggle at times to shine a light on urban music. Wile’s newest release, Better Times, is a short, yet sweet and smooth set of songs that give everything the R&B of today and yesteryear has to offer.

 


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I spoke briefly with Jay about his new release, staying motivated as the world spirals into chaos, his inspirations, and more.

Fresh: With everything going on in the world, how are you staying motivated to keep creating?

Jay: During this time, I’m challenging myself to find balance. I’m learning to lean into the moments of creativity and listen to my body when it needs rest. For the project, I made the majority of Better Times in March and April. Leading up to the release, this past month I took time off to read and reset. I’m always looking for a healthy balance so that I can create freely while also giving that energy the space to form.

Fresh: Can you talk a little about the inspiration behind Better Times?

Jay: When quarantine began, I was making 2 or 3 beat ideas a day at one point. Although everything was crazy, making music is what kept me cool. What originally started as practice on production and arranging blossomed into a folder full of ideas. I ended up collaborating with some of my friends to polish the records and added a few more.
When I began writing, I knew immediately the project would be a time capsule for me. With Covid 19 really shaking up all of my original plans for the year, this project was really a moment for me to document how I was feeling and what I was hearing during this time.

Fresh: Starting out in the San Antonio music scene, what would you say is the main difference between there and working as a musician in Austin?

Jay: The communities of San Antonio and here are very similar. I’ve met a lot of my friends and connections over the past couple of years that interact heavily in both scenes. Getting out of my hometown and into a new city of fresh faces and experiences probably helped with my growth during these last couple years. But ultimately, bridging relationships in both SA and Austin has transformed my idea of what I consider Home to be – The communities we are a part of and the people we care about are our home.

Fresh: I know you’ve worked with some big names in the music industry as far as songwriting. Do you have plans to, or are you currently collaborating with other artists, either locally or beyond?

Jay: I’ve had some really amazing experiences in some of my pre-covid travel. Some of my journeys to Toronto or NY are really interesting stories that I wouldn’t even believe were true. But I really enjoy the network of creatives I’ve joined here locally. Some of my favorite producers are my friends. I can be everywhere with my sound sometimes and I’m picky about what I like, but I know the people I work with are patient and they know how to fit the right pieces into the art. Stefon Osae and JaRon Marshall (aka Almond Milk – producers of “Real Bad”) have been a duo I immediately connected with since I’ve moved here. We’ve made so many tracks together at this point. Billy Blunt (who produced “Anyway”) is a newer connection I made this year, we only have one track, “Anyway”, off of the EP, but he’s one of my favorite instrumentalists in the city. And I’ve got a lot more collaborations with a few local artists coming very soon!

Jake Lloyd

Artist of the Month

Jake Lloyd

Posted by on Jul 27, 2020
photo by Luis Perales/KUTX

Meet the July 2020 KUTX Artist of the Month: Jake Lloyd

As an alternative R&B artist in Austin, Jake Lloyd has experienced the struggle to be seen and heard in the city’s music scene. Since the protests following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Lloyd has recognized the power of his voice as a black musician in Austin, and plans to use his platform to make positive changes for musicians of color, striving for a more equitable environment for musicians to come.

Produced by: Julia Reihs
Additional footage by: Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon,
Jake Lloyd Featured songs: “Crossroading” and “Daily Interlude” by Jake Lloyd


For a little over a decade now, Jake Lloyd has been crafting music, rocking stages, and releasing stellar projects with multiple bands. Yet he still hasn’t cracked the code of breaking through in this industry. Some would say the chip on Jake’s shoulder overshadows him, Jake would say he’s simply passionate about the music he’s creating. Rightfully so. Jake and his music partner in crime, Danny Saldivar aka DSII Productions, have created some of the greatest sounds to come out of Austin in the last few years. Jake Lloyd has had quite a run with his releases, from his debut, Jake Lloyd LP, to his sophomore release, MoonLit Mornings, and the latest three-song EP, Lloyd Pack. The new EP perfectly captures the artistry of Jake Lloyd – not all R&B, not all Soul, not entirely Rock, or Country, he’s just Jake.    Aaron “Fresh” Knight 

 

KUTX ARTIST OF THE MONTH: JAKE LLOYD
July 2020

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KUTX host Fresh chats with Jake about the new music, the current times we are in, and everything going on with Black artists in Austin speaking up and demanding change, and possibly stepping outside of his comfort zone.

 

image courtesy of the artist

Fresh: With everything from a global pandemic to civil unrest how have you managed to stay focused on music?

Jake: Well, music is my life. Aside from my kids and my girl, well my family in general, music is the most important thing to me. I literally love it, so I’m always finding things to get inspired by. I take pieces with me of everything I hear on a daily basis. From a show-tune, to the random track playing on a paper towel commercial, I hear it all. Not only hear it but feel it.

Fresh: How did the Lloyd Pack EP come about?

Jake: The Lloyd Pack EP started with the first song, “Crossroading”. The track was originally made to be on 2019’s MoonLit Mornings, but I had second thoughts about its functionality with the rest of the album, so we pulled it. Unsure what to do with it, and also knowing it had to be put out delicately, we set “Crossroading” on the back-burner. “The Pass” was probably the first song we recorded after MM came out, and that’s when I think I turned to Danny and said: “I know what we gone do”. I saw the stories I was telling on both “Crossroading” & “The Pass”. and decided to connect them. That’s where “Smoke & Mirrors” comes in – the bridge that connects both songs to each other.

 

Fresh: Your music contains quite a bit of storytelling seemingly inspired by Bonnie & Clyde, or a desperado lifestyle. Is that done on purpose or does it just come out like that?

Jake: It’s partly purposeful but it’s also accidental. Being a big movie enthusiast, I’m drawn to the stories of the outlaw, the bad guy, the loner, and usually, they can’t keep companionships. When they do, it’s toxic. The toxic relationships speak to me for some reason. I’m fascinated by telling the sad story. I’m not cynical (all the time) but my stories kind of take that shape at times, maybe from some underlying subconscious notion.

 

image courtesy of the artist

Fresh: With the climate now being bucking the system, as a Black artist in Austin, what has your particular experience in the scene been like, and what do you feel needs to change?

Jake: My experience has been: I’ve had the term “urban” thrown at me more times than I can count. I’ve told people I make music and it was already assumed I rapped. I have been overlooked for radio spins, for only one reason that makes sense to me – nervous Austin. I have found myself looking up to non-black artists around here that I don’t necessarily think are better than me, but further than me, so at times I have felt like a “boy” on the Austin music scene. Trying to show gate-keepers I got it and you don’t need to be scared of my hip-hop background. Going out of my way to show my genre-crossing ability, I mean literally bending over backwards to show my range. ‘Cause why? Austin. What needs to change is first, the level of respect for all artistic expression in this town needs raising. The town was built on blues and rock and that’s awesome, I’m a fan, but don’t throw out the diamonds because you’re looking for a ruby.

 

Fresh: Lastly, You work very closely with Danny Saldivar aka DSII, but do you see yourself working with other producers?

Jake: Danny is my brother. 9 out of 10 times if you see a song come out by Jake Lloyd it’s gone have parentheses and say “prod. By DSII” next to it. Dude gets me, and I get him, my brother for real. Wouldn’t be here without him. We both work with other artists and producers, but home is home. I have worked with Nate Coop who’s from San Antonio, now in LA. I love Cham, 04 Hippie, who’s helped me a lot with harmonies and phrasing. The Grammy Award winning Jon Deas who has been a friend and mentor for a while, we have a couple songs together. I mean I’m just a student of the game. Danny and I have created a sound together and that was on purpose, but I have a lot of producer friends around town and around the state. So hey, let’s work!

Features

Posted by on Jul 24, 2020

We’re a little more than halfway through a very rough year, and we can all be thankful for that. Despite a complete shutdown of live music and touring, many artists have gone ahead with their plans to release new music. It’s been a blessing at a time when few others have surfaced. It’s hard to think of the words “best” and “2020” in the same sentence, but here are some highlights that have stuck with us here at KUTX, in this year like no other.

–Jeff McCord


Amy Chambless – Cactus Cafe, Assistant Manager

Khruangbin & Leon Bridges – “Texas Sun”
This mash-up isn’t something I saw coming, but it really works! You can feel the Texas sun beating off the road. Khruangbin takes you on a wandering, psychedelic road trip while Bridges’ soulful vocals ground you firmly in the Lone Star state.

US Girls – “4 American Dollars”
Using disco and pop to address the financial disparity in the US, musician Meghan Remy nails it, saying “we’re on the same boat but different seats.” The song was released just prior to the current financial crisis caused by COVID, and resonates even more so now.

Israel Nash – “Canyonheart”
Nash captures the sound of the surrounding Texas Hill Country where he resides and records. This could as easily be a love song to his environment as it could be to a person. Either way, it is wonderful to hear his continuing flow up uplifting music.


Art Levy – Producer, Host

Nick Hakim – “Qadir”
“Qadir” is an ode to Nick Hakim’s late friend, and in the personal you can find the universal. Hakim tries to sing Qadir back to life, hanging all over the beat as if he’s unwilling to let him go. The music swirls without resolution, showing how pain and death are psychedelic, life-altering experiences.

Little Simz – “one life, might live”
Little Simz barely needs any music around her to grab your attention. On ‘one life, might live,’ the British rapper focuses her flow like she’s sharpening a knife. The beat finally kicks in nearly halfway through, kicking off the parade of the chorus: “I got one life and I might just live it.”

Ultraísta – “Tin King”
There are definite Radiohead fingerprints here, thanks to band members Nigel Godrich (Radiohead’s longtime producer) and Joey Waronker (Atoms For Peace). Laura Bettinson is the catalyst, bringing a weird freshness from her time in the experimental pop group Micachu & the Shapes. This is the kind of electronic song where the human touch is indispensable, with Bettinson’s voice sounding like a hall of mirrors while Godrich and Waronker goad her on.


Deidre Gott – Live Music Producer

Drint – “Make Your Body Say”
One of the last Studio 1A sessions we had in the before times, as R&B/Pop artist Drint released his debut EP Don’t Save Me in late February. The 24-year-old Austin artist has this rich, deep voice that you can feel resonating in your chest. The whole EP sounds fresh and nostalgic at the same time.

Christelle Bofale – “Miles”

Released in February from the Austin singer/songwriter, “Miles” is part Mazzy Star, part Tracey Chapman, and part Alana Davis (note to self: dig out Blame it On Me). Starting with a simple voice and guitar combo, the chorus winds around a subtle sprinkle of harmonies, bass, and keys. Do yourself a favor and don’t just listen once, as this is a grower and you’ll find yourself humming parts weeks later.

Jay Wile – “Walzem”
A standout at The Breaks’ annual Love Lockdown, Jay Wile brought the crowd. Some drove in from Waco to see him play. It was my first time, and I was already low key pissed at myself for missing his two EPs from the previous year (check out “Who’s Loving’ U?”) In early June, the San Antonio native dropped this surprise single to raise money for the family of a young man severely injured by APD during the protests. Expect the six song EP Better Times on July 24 (and listen to it gosh darn it.)


Jack Anderson – Song of the Day Producer

Young T & Bugsey – “Don’t Rush” (feat. Headie One)
Since the mid-twenty-teens, this Nottingham duo’s been perking my ears up with their Caribbean-inspired beats and lackadaisically gritty rhymes. They dropped their debut LP Plead The 5th back in March, an appropriate quarantine soundtrack with their fusion of UK grime, R&B, dancehall, and reggaeton. “Rush” has been in my personal rotation since its release, and has merited more than a few revisits thanks to remixes featuring Busta Rhymes and DaBaby.

Run The Jewels – “yankee and the brave (ep. 4)”
I remember being disappointed when “Ooh La La” came out ahead of RTJ4. DJ Premier is my favorite hip-hop producer, thanks to his outstanding work with Gang Starr and his knack for sampling vocal bits from tracks he’s produced in the past. But dang was I let down when I instantly recognized Greg Nice’s less-than-stellar (okay, let’s just say “corny”) verse from 1994’s “DWYCK” repeated over one of Primo’s least impressive beats. When “yankee” came out as the follow-up, all was forgiven; I was in love with Run the Jewels’ sound all over again. This track recalls the more menacing, nightmarish film score samples employed by predecessors like N.W.A. and Public Enemy, while toeing the line between socially conscious and just plain abrasive (as per usual).

Anderson .Paak – “Lockdown”
It almost seems unfair to label Anderson as…well…anything. His quick climb to fame has been far from unwarranted, with an aura encapsulating his ever-improving skills as a singer, rapper, drummer, guitarist, producer, and lyricist. This new one provided a much-needed commentary amidst quarantine and unrest, and I hope to hear more from Paak soon.


Jay Trachtenberg – Host

Anderson.Paak – “Lockdown”
Up-to-the-minute lyrics and commentary that couldn’t be more relevant, riding an understated beat that at first seems to belie, but ultimately compliments the urgency of the message.  Be sure to check out the powerful video.

Stephen Malkmus – “Xain Man”
I almost had an acid flashback the first time I heard this tripped-out tune that captures the lysergic vibes of ‘60s San Francisco. Malkmus has always seemed to embrace this aspect of his home state’s musical legacy. And he even name checks Miles Davis.

Brownout – “Brownie”
Austin’s champions of Latin funk lay down a heavy, mostly instrumental, horn-driven groove that urges you to get up and dance.  It’s a good way to shake off those stay-at-home COVID blues.


Jeff McCord – Music Editor, Host

Gabriel Garzon-Montano – “Someone”
He’s only recorded a handful of songs over the years, but this Brooklyn-born son of French-Columbian parents has a knack for bare, stop/start funk that stutter-steps its way into your subconscious. In “Someone”, the narrator’s lover has moved on. He hasn’t. In halting fashion, Garzon-Montano pleads.

“I needed you.”
“I don’t know what to do.”
“Oh.”

Anderson.Paak – “Lockdown”
With jazz-like phrasing, Paak captures the Zeitgeist. Like Donald Glover’s “This Is America”, you need the bleak video imagery to fully complement this slow-burn on bigotry, strife, and the sad malaise of the pandemic. Plus, the video includes a great mid-song acapella breakdown from Jay Rock, strangely absent from the streaming version.

Little Simz – “one life, might live”
This actress/rapper is the best of the new breed of UK talent; her poetic flow is a rhythm section all to itself. Drop 6 is one of the best releases of the year, and this is the standout track. (They’re plenty of runners-up, though. Check “you should call mum”) Despite, or maybe because of being made in lockdown isolation, “one life” brims with optimism and braggadocio. Accompanied by little more than a jumpy bassline and some metallic plate percussion, Simz sounds out. “Damn sure innit, every ting vivid.”


Jody Denberg – Host

Bob Dylan – “I Contain Multitudes”
The master returns, with Austin’s Charlie Sexton in tow once again.
It’s the combination of the lyrics AND the music that make this the stand out on Rough And Rowdy Ways.
Shadows and light abound here…

Nick Hakim – “Qadir”
This NY-based singer/songwriter’s second album, “Will This Make Me Good,” contains this elegy to a fallen friend that is gorgeous and haunting. Its sense of loss resonates even deeper during our current times.

X – “Strange Life”
It’s great to have the band’s classic line-up (John Doe, Exene, Billy Zoom, DJ Bonebrake) back on record after 35 years; their new “Alphabetland” stands with their best. It was also great to talk with Austinite Doe on the day of the album’s release for “KUTX At Home” to get insight into the project. Strange days indeed.


Laurie Gallardo – Host

Brendan Benson – “Good To Be Alive”
From one of my favorite albums of the year, just on the heels of fantastic work done as a vocalist/songwriter for another fave, The Raconteurs. Brendan Benson’s seventh solo studio album Dear Life was unleashed into the universe after a very gradual birth, slowly making its way into the world when Benson penned one of his LP’s first tracks “Half A Boy (And Half A Man)” in 2017. Though busy working as a producer or collaborator on other artists’ projects, Benson’s own songs just kept coming out. There was no stopping that genuine melodic rock/pop joy rising to the surface, and “Good To Be Alive” encapsulates the album’s entire mood so well.

Chicano Batman – “Color My Life”
East L.A. outfit Chicano Batman is all about the American experience. And for this El Paso lady, “Color My Life” feels like that summer groove you’re playing as you cruise behind the wheel – or cruise on your skateboard, or…on that damn lowrider bike (check the band’s video for this song – which also nails the mood, bathed in Southern California twilight). It is, indeed, the “lucid dream” vocalist Bardo Martinez references in this hazy-daisy funk/soul jam soaked in gold rays. Another winner on the band’s fourth LP, Invisible People.

Lianne La Havas – “Bittersweet”
UK-based artist Lianne La Havas’ third LP, is her first since 2015’s Blood and also her first self-produced. And from this album, one she considers to be her most “pure expression” to date, is its first single “Bittersweet.” Not exactly sure what it is about the track – perhaps it’s the low-key, sultry beginning, building into a rising vocal fire – but La Havas has her finger on the pulse of something distinctly Marvin Gaye-esque on this gorgeous piece. The lyrics are inspired by a real-life conversation, in which La Havas was at her wits’ end, expressing a desire for distance and time to think – to identify what needs to happen. Swoon-inducing and heart-melting.


Matt Munoz – Cactus Cafe, Manager

Anderson.Paak- “Lockdown”
A great song meeting a very important moment in time, powerfully well-crafted.

Evan Felker & Carrie Rodriguez – “Whiskey in your Water”
Effortless songwriting and performance. Great hooks galore.

Chicano Batman- “color my life”
Funky funky funky and funky!! Did I mention they put the fun in Funky?