Album Review: The Stacks

Bold ambitions carry a heavy burden in the lost idealism of Lay Me Down to Rest. The Stacks' debut album flows a steady folk and Americana style in falsetto waves from vocalist and songwriter Jake Ames, hearkening back to the Kerrville roots of him and brother Lucas Ames on drums. The swing rhythms – propelled by bassist Tyler Jordan in harmony-laced "Wasted Nostalgia" and surf rock-inspired "Chicon" – drive a persistent optimism, which wears thin in "Western Expanse." Haunting and iridescent, t

Trouble in the Streets, “Can I Breathe”

From the influence of Black Lives Matter and pandemic-era tumult rises Trouble in the Streets' electronic hip-hop single "Can I Breathe," preceding a March album. Transmuting a heaviness over rampant unrest and global corruption felt by singer Nnedi Agbaroji and bassist Andy Leonard, the synthesizer soundscape sharpens the punch of Kenny Schwartz on drums. Through bold, dubstep-laced conviction, lyricism emphasizes overcoming adversity in a sharp rap verse by Agbaroji: "Your 9 to 5 turned into a daily grind/ Don't get caught by the dungeons and the dragons of your mind."  – Mars Salazar

Hi How Are You Day Connects Young Audiences With Daniel Johnston’s Work

Commemorating the birthday of late Austin musician Daniel Johnston, the fifth annual Hi How Are You Day took stage at Emo’s Sunday night.

Held by the nonprofit Hi, How Are You Project, the annual fundraiser streamlined from past long-billed Moody Theater events to host two young acts due at Coachella 2023. At the event, Dick Johnston told the Chronicle that the board of directors made the decision to move away from showcasing musicians that are notably fond of his younger brother’s work (such a

The Crack Pipes, High Heavens, Tyler Keith

The Crack Pipes have been in earnest stylistic flux since 1995, showcased in the melancholic blues of Beauty School (2005) and the glazed psychedelic/garage rock conviction of Every Night Saturday Night (2001). Last year, High Heavens duo Ernest Salaz and John Matthew Walker crafted immensely soulful soft rock prayers "Life Is a Loan Shark" and "Hundred Bullets" with producer Stuart Sikes, featuring instrumentation by members of ...Trail of Dead and Glorium. Rockabilly soloist Tyler Keith of the Neckbones visits from Mississippi, while Narrow Haunts underscore angst rock in this Free Week phantasm.  – Mars Salazar

Glitter’s Eve: Trash Disco, Glam Rock n Roll Dance Party

Pilgrimage to the "trash disco, glam rock n roll dance party" at Hotel Vegas and the Volstead Danceteria is a sacred rite, showcasing a powerhouse lineup of local punk and psychedelia to cleanse your soul with a baptismal wash of classic covers. Ferocious guitar licks howl to the tunes of the Damned (represented by Austin's Gus Baldwin & the Sketch), Black Sabbath (je'Texas), and the Sex Pistols (Chepo). Glitzy tributes to Blondie (Moving Panoramas) and Olivia Newton-John (Leslie Sisson & Sabrina Ellis) promise to pour chic vocal melodies as incantations to the year ahead, while Big Star (Rusty Dusty) and Steely Dan (Billy Glitter) shred all negative vibes with a wave of their whammy bars. David Bowie (Moonage Daydreams), Todd Rundgren (Nolan Potter), and Lynyrd Skynyrd (Jim Campo) odes round out the stellar exaltation. – Mars Salazar

Girls Rock Austin’s Festive Fest

"Empowering girls, trans and gender non-conforming youth through music, mentorship & self-care," reads the creed of local nonprofit Girls Rock Austin, who are hosting their annual Festive Fest fundraiser at Feels So Good. Celebrating 2022 landmarks like becoming the first nonprofit to partner with the Moody Center and providing over 250,000 meals to families facing food insecurity through their Operation Lunch Box program, the organization's lineup of queer artists and allies includes Peelander-Z – a Power Rangers-esque pop-rock group from the Z area of the planet Peelander. Sibling quartet We Don't Ride Llamas extends angsty rock vibes following December single "The Flies." Kady Rain brings a rainbow aesthetic to the stage, along with queer art rockers Transy Warhol and Carrie Fussell of disbanded psychedelic collective Calliope Musicals. The fest will also host Femme Boy creator Caleb De Casper as a special guest speaker on LGBTQIA rights.  – Mars Salazar

Album Review: Rickshaw Billie’s Burger Patrol

My mom doesn't like it, and yours might not either, but the savage sacrilege littering Doom Wop teaches an undeniable master class in hard-rock hedonism, marking the second full-length by knucklehead trio Rickshaw Billie's Burger Patrol. Teasing a goddamn heart attack like grease dripping down the arm from a grilled patty, veins clog with the heavy metal sludge embalming this communion of gnawing distortion. The seething howls of Leo Lydon, wrenching bass tones of Aaron Metzdorf, and Sean St. Germain's spitfire drums christen them the grimy kingpins of local scum rock.

Black Fret Rebrands As Sonic Guild

Black Fret announced a rebrand as Sonic Guild while awarding $260,000 in grants to local artists at their ninth annual ball last Saturday. Donor-nominated artists graced the stage at ACL Live at the Moody Theater with two-song sets ranging from modern rap to soft country, broken up by co-founder Matt Ott and select Black Fret members awarding the 20 local acts $10,000 to $15,000 grants. Along with the milestone of donating over $5 million in support of the creation and performance of local music

Witches Exist On the Patio

The blasphemous depravity soon to befoul the Hotel Vegas patio would make an 18th century Puritan blush – dancing, singing, laughing. They knew it all along: Witches Exist. The new fourpiece noisegaze band will rendezvous for the final 2022 installment of the free outdoor show series that the cherished venue has hosted every Thursday, 9:30pm, with preceding bands in this concert sequence being Water Damage and Castle Club. Fronted by audio production starchild Jackson Baker, Witches' late-Novemb

Urban Heat Homecoming

Like a mother beckoning her children inside from the backyard, Austin welcomes Urban Heat home battered in synth scrapes, bearing tired grins, and asking restlessly for five more minutes. The second-wave post-punk trio closes out their first national tour with Atomic Music Group. The electro-punk theatrics of TV's Daniel serve as a hearty preamble to the commanding baritone of Urban Heat bandleader Jonathan Horstmann, alongside the dark pulses of Dragon Rapid with recent single "New Dawn Fades." A worthy five more minutes indeed!  – Mars Salazar

The Hide Outs Album Release

The nostalgia cycle orbits like a needle on vinyl at Antone's Records, where mod-rock quartet the Hide Outs will be celebrating their late-September debut album, Colors & Shapes. The psychedelic surf score features tracks from 2018's She's a Mod, released as the Hungry Onions under Deep Eddy Records. Tom and Jimmy Doluisio pay tribute to old-school theme songs with "Superman" and "Secret Agent Man." A mid-Sixties influence saturates "Girl of the 13th Hour" and "This Love's Got a Hold on Me" through retro-layered vocal harmonies and guitar reverb, à la the Yardbirds and the Easybeats, on this translucent-orange Flak Records pressing.  – Mars Salazar

Album Review: Zero Percent APR

The Being Dead musical multiverse extends with alter ego side project Zero Percent APR's Higher and Higher Forever, a 44-minute tape-recorded minefield. The prelude and interlude theatrics of Cody Dosier and Juli Keller hearken to Sixties Shangri-Las melodrama warped with charming post-ironic self-awareness. The duo epitomizes music made for the joy of making music, expressed in a collage of home- and field-recorded samples washed in nostalgic tape saturation, taking prime form in "Don't Steal My Bike." Satire-laced track "Smoke Bongs" jolts synth, trap drums, and Gregorian chant to bend genre, while soliloquy skit "Who Am I?" laments ultra-relatable existential dread in stating: "Sometimes it feels like the only thing that's getting me through all of this is coming home and loading up a big fat bong, and smoking a bong all day." The album oscillates between ethereally laced vocals on "Hot Topic Philosophy" and slap-back echoes in "Kevin Curtin," an homage to our former Chronicle Music editor, alongside crushing fuzz in "Midnight" – all in all, a vibrant love letter to creation in Austin DIY.  – Mars Salazar

The Pinky Rings Play Misbehaving Fembots

Even the sharp chill that ripped through the Mohawk air couldn't spook Levitation's Saturday punk lineup into submission. First up, ultrachic fivepiece the Pinky Rings paraded gloriously in a cheeky group costume of blue-velvet Austin Powers with a quartet of sexy, gun-boob-adorned pink robots. The "Bodega Babies" teased out unrelenting garage rock tunes with killer hooks and mucho misbehavior from their self-titled debut album, with lead singer Bella Borbon strutting around the outdoor stage's splattered tie-dye visuals, like a psychedelic Jackson Pollock canvas. Fired up with riot grrrl sensibilities, "Banged Up" and "Butane Dreams" proclaimed sultry domination – the latter with an alluring declaration of "Bitch it's my way, or the highway." Or, as declared by the Pinky Rings themselves: "Tonight we will not be behaving." Yes, indeed!  – Mars Salazar

Bad Markings’ “Statistics”

Fronted by Reno Feldkamp, fourpiece Bad Markings channels the avant-garde rock of LCD Soundsystem and Black Francis to spawn a behemoth of artistic masochism with "Statistics." The debut single ruminates on the benefits of resigning yourself to mediocrity as another faceless number, offering consolation to the realization that you are the rule, rather than the exception. A sardonic message by a hopeful band in a musical mecca, or an early proclamation of Bad Markings' creative scripture? "To be a statistic could be a relief." – Mars Salazar

Album Review: The Black Angels

The lasting spiritual experience of the Black Angels continues to stroke transcendent psych-rock with 58-minute ego death Wilderness of Mirrors, their sixth scripture since forming in 2004. The fivepiece creates a didactic road map to escape beyond radical contemporary anxieties, undercut by cool reverberation. Their first in five years, the album ruminates on the human experience during times of exponential social and economic discontent where improvement seems futile, the individual feels increasingly disconnected, and a pacifying end appears nowhere in sight. The hypnotic vocals of Alex Maas bleed an eerie hymn in "The River," befitting the droning organ laced throughout the compositions. Thick fuzz distortion in "La Pared (Govt. Wall Blues)" launches an interstellar metamorphosis spun by guitarists Christian Bland and Jake Garcia, calling back to the dark tumult of 2006 originator Passover. Stephanie Bailey pushes intense percussion on "Empires Falling," a frenzied neo-psychedelia spiral of spitfire tambourine with wailing bass by Ramiro Verdooren. The soul-ache of "Suffocation" concludes with a melancholic rumination on the paralysis of self within a modern hellscape, where each breath hopefully grasps at the next moment. The art deco vinyl sleeve consecrates the group's growth: "We encourage you to rethink your preconceived notions, question authority, and create other methods for survival."  – Mars Salazar

Winona Forever, the Irons, Foam Star

Looking to get down existential without all the doom and gloom? Take an introspective trip via soft rock and synth-driven melodies with Winona Forever's new single "Butterflies," an ambient indie-pop catharsis evoking the vibe of a Joe Hisaishi soundscape. With no shortage of flair, the Vancouver quartet's discography ranges from lighthearted guitar tones reminiscent of Mac Demarco in "Keep Kool" to fast-paced distorted licks in "Shrek~Chic." Indie folk fivepiece the Irons navigate the human experience atop mellow beats and light harmonies on April's He's About to Blow album, while Foam Star's standout single "High Problems" combines their consistent lyric-driven beat style with distortion-drenched accompaniment. – Mars Salazar

Finally on Vinyl: Kathy McCarty's Classic Daniel Johnston Tribute

Dead Dog's Eyeball, Kathy McCarty's 1994 reimagining of Daniel Johnston songs, is a testament to the pure love found in friendship and music. By transforming the low-fidelity, outsider-style original tracks to soulful ballads with clean, high-quality production by Brian Beattie, the ex-Glass Eye members and close friends of Johnston brought a more complete realization to the original vision behind the songs. This collaborative effort to make the childlike, proto-alternative expressions more stylistically accessible to a wider public demonstrated McCarty's desire to ensure the unique work of the once underground Johnston "would not perish unheard by the larger world." Now in a 2LP gatefold. – Mars Salazar

New Candys, Daiistar

Strip down to your skivvies and dip into a cobalt blue New Wave. Italian fourpiece New Candys imports a mad strain of electric indie rock dripping with mod-European-style dark sunglasses and black leather – very in vogue. Their 2021 album Vyvyd drips contemporary post-punk in the same vein as Provoker and Death Bells. Fivepiece Daiistar provides a stellar local analog to the avant-garde Venetians with psychedelic shoegaze and trippy undertones teasing debut LP Velvet Reality, rumored to be released this year and previewed by a 9-minute January YouTube session. — Mars Salazar

Party Van Pours a Large Water

Party Van's debut album Large Water stokes a pure fever pitch. This 29-minute soundtrack to a new generation of Austin alt-rock wails rebellion in devotion to the thrash and sneer hailed in unholy punk scriptures. Menacing guitar riffs and arresting choruses litter the standout tracks "Flipper" and "Purple People" with the same mad vigor as Wavves and Together Pangea. The feral energy of drummer Brandon Astor and guitarist Deven Ivy is pushed to full throttle on zenith composition "Wet Meat," while bassist Gabe Poliakoff and singer/guitarist Eric Limon bring earnest fury to the aptly named "Kahuna." – Mars Salazar

Album Review: Stunts

Stunts' sophomore release is ambient catharsis, revealing a growing artistic vulnerability as Font guitarist Anthony Laurence lays bare the weight of mid-20s introversion in this atmospheric solo project. The EP feels like 22 minutes of voyeurism into an inward-drawn mind through sincere and stylistic digital production – likenable to bedroom- pop with wavy trap vocal effects. The disjointed and syncopated tones in "panoramic (like instances)" examine the relatable experience of directionless rumination with an appreciation for the beauty within the chaos. Lo-fi brain medicine "coinsup" and "neighbor" echo the soulful production of Frank Ocean's Blonde with equally personal overtones and doses of weary anxiety. – Mars Salazar

Weed Martyr, Math Judson

Who the hell are Jack and Shaun, anyway? Doesn't matter. [Editor's note: It's actually sound engineer Shaun Shawnerson and Bright Light Social Hour bassist Jack O'Brien.] They've ditched the traditional birthday party crap for a wild psychedelic serenade. Shoegaze fivepiece Bad Markings will be presenting a cellophane gift basket filled with experimental mayhem and distorted allegro earworms. The ever-evolving Acid Carousel crew forgot to bring a present, but will make up for it with Badfinger-style retro rowdiness that flows straight-up groovy. Math Judson comes bearing newspaper-wrapped bundles of lo-fi-minded alternative songcraft, and BLSH alter ego Weed Martyr smokes the birthday candles. – Mars Salazar

New Gathering MoFest Brings Austin Music and Art Culture to the Country

It’s that sweet spot in Central Texas: post SXSW and pre sweltering summer, where the weekends becken for adventure, live music resounds far and wide, and that tent in your closet begs to be used. If you’re looking for that Austin-but-not-actually-in-Austin vibe, MoFest might hit the spot.

The intimate music, camping, and art festival debuts this weekend on a 300-acre ranch outside the microscopic town of Lexington, TX – 50 miles east of the capital. MoFest’s music lineup transports a select se

Photokem Leans Into Art-Rock with “Hard Candy”

The melancholic, borderline mournful voice of Ghana-born singer Nana Acheampong bewitches "Hard Candy," the latest introspective journey from fivepiece band Photokem. The spiraling crescendo of electronic beats creates an ambient framework that lies atop violin and cello accompaniment, displaying a more experimental art-rock sound compared to the straightforward soft-rock style of their 2021 EP, Like Riding a Bike Through Mud. The single concludes with spoken-word rock poetry reminiscent of Graeme Edge's "Late Lament" that served as the finale to the Moody Blues concept album Days of Future Passed, evoking parallel tones of disjointed uncertainty and ethereal cultural rumination. — Mars Salazar
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