What happens when you combine the bleak ’90s outlook of Pavement and Jeff Buckley with the proto-punk vigor of Television and…interestingly enough…the care-free candor of Steely Dan’s yacht rock? You end up with a timeless sense of melancholy, embodied by Austin art rock quartet Hamartia (not to be confused with the hardcore outfit of the same name), who walk the tightrope between shoegaze fragility and bold ’70s hedonism.
And while Hamartia’s noticeable influences are inseparable from their sound, the result is something decidedly unique and worth a few listens just to put your finger on it. Hamartia’s just kicked off their character arc earlier this month with a lead single all about finding the one for you as the years go on, “Stone Cold Stunner”!
There’ve been a lot of collaborative recipes for success in Austin over the years, but by far one of the most intriguing team ups in town is The Kraken Quartet & Adobo. Since forming in 2012 The Kraken Quartet has become an intense percussive and electronic beast and with the added technical expertise of Hikes/kellen/Monté guitarist-vocalist Nay Wilkins (billed in this iteration as “Adobo”), these five have landed themselves in a sea of sounds, somewhere between brooding indie, math rock, and avant garde fusion.
Adobo’s breathy falsetto and electric guitar prowess provide a perfect marinade for The Kraken Quartet’s already masterful sense of dynamic range and breakneck tempo and time signature changes, and you can hear them together across five new tracks on Backdrop out next Friday. But for today, in the midst of everything going on, have Adobo and the KQ put your mind at ease with the gorgeous “Hold My Breath”!
There’s been a “synth scene” slowly burgeoning here in town over the last few years, and although we can certainly point to Soundfounder‘s Exploded Drawing label as a major catalyst, we could never overlook the output from native Austinite Cody Wilson. Since his formative post-college days as Thelonious Krunk (and intermittent years with Grundle in the Bronx) Wilson’s retro-inspired bleeps, bloops, and natural sense of production has been heard in Sip Sip, as one half of all-analog duo Trax Rebo, briefly through a one-off stint as Battle Toad, and most notably under his own moniker, Corduroi.
Corduroi’s got a huge discography that hops between dance-y, aggressive, and chill, going back to the beginning of the past decade, so tracking his various styles, interpolations, and tastes won’t be too tricky. However you’d probably miss the fact that Wilson is an outspoken advocate for a lot of resources in the Austin music community, and though his songs tend to lack lyrics, Corduroi’s never missed a reasonable opportunity to donate proceeds from his album sales in support of local establishments.
Last week Corduroi dropped Wind Your Spring, a collection of twenty previously-unheard songs from the past five years whose disjointed yet immersive atmosphere will surely take your mind off the news for the record’s duration. Corduroi’s offering Wind Your Spring for whatever price you can afford, so show some love if you can and enjoy an intrinsically Austin title, “Cherrywood Spring”!
As we’ve all learned from these past couple of weeks, breaking out of time-tested routines and formulas can be sometimes a necessity. Take native Austinite Jackie Venson, who switched from piano to guitar after a dissatisfaction with the overly competitive and formalized environment while receiving her degree at Berklee. Since then she’s taken her composition and studio production skills and re-created herself as one of Austin’s most talented solo acts.
Last year Venson’s sophomore album Joy helped earn her Best Guitarist at Austin Music Awards, proving a milestone as the first African American woman to do so in the program’s multi-decade history. Now Venson’s rolling with the momentum and trying out some new stuff on her next project, Vintage Machine, out in September. You can expect even more explorations into the electronic realm alongside Venson’s signature guitar virtuosity, as heard on Vintage Machine‘s recently released lead single, one that finds Venson in a higher vocal register than we’re accustomed to. And while Jackie Venson might not have been a Prince protégé, we have a feeling she’ll be giving Miss Monae a run for her money in a matter of time. Hear for yourself on “Make Me Feel”!
San Francisco’s historically been a hub for exciting musical innovation, a that legacy lives on with Monophonics.
Going back to the beginning of the last decade, this quartet has put some serious weight on the classic soul style while taking the best heady elements of psychedelia to even out. They’ve captured both the Cold War uncertainty and Civil Rights Movement optimism of the ’60s into their psych-soul style, and with the release of the third full-length, It’s Only Us, last week Monophonics has once again ingrained a sense of unity and perseverance in reflection of the modern era. It’s Only Us is officially available for everyone, and although this track has an almost alarmist title, we guarantee it’ll take your mind off the news: “Run For Your Life”!