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The Blowies Release Pandemic-Inspired Single "CDC"

 

The CDC called...and boy, do they have an update for you.

Like many Austin-area musicians, The Blowies were sidelined by the coronavirus pandemic. Simultaneously cut out of a just-canceled South by Southwest festival andreeling from an indefinite delay for the release of an album that’s already finished, the political punk duo parted ways and headed for isolation - but not before hitting up Rock n Roll Rentals to secure enough gear to convert their respective shelters into studio spaces. From there, Sam Thompson and Tucker Jameson set out to see what would become of collaborating from afar.

When another local act began gathering the necessary ingredients for a compilation record that would spotlight Austin artists affected by the SXSW cancelation, to be titled LOST X LOST WEST,ThompsonandJamesonrespondedtothecall.TheBlowiesself-producedsomenew music in isolation with the help of their rented equipment and a ProTools free trial, and “CDC” was born - an irreverent and sassy track with just the right dash of practicality for a mask-or-be-masked world.

The Blowies have a sound one part Ramones, one part Sex Pistols, one part Joan Jett (they recently released a pitch-perfect cover of The Runaways’ “Cherry Bomb”). The energy in their music is partly manic but never unsettling - the two aim to be political when they write and to attack topics with a tepid sense of neutrality, and maybe a tinge of anarchy. The Center for Disease Control was a perfect catalyst for their energy: wildly politicized by leaders and the media alike.

To hear Jameson put it, “We...set out at the beginning of this project to have a voice that spoke to current events...We have an angle on it. And usually, it’s not your typical angle; it’s not taking...any particular side in the argument but it’s pointing out the absurdity of it all in a palatable way, in a fun way.” “CDC” takes these tropes and props them up with added humor that sears the song into memory by playing on our collective pandemic hysteria (“The CDC’s got an update for me / Cozy on up to Mr. Clean”).

Satirical analysis of current events is critical to this writing duo, so much so that they are fighting to release their delayed album “sometime before the election” so as to capitalize on cresting momentum. For a band christened by an American flag-clad blow-up doll, the high stakes could matter less, though. It’s more about the absurdity of it all.

-Mike Floeck

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Briscoe Releases New Psych-Folk Single "Sailing Away"

 

They profess inspiration from both modern Americana and Van Morrison, and Briscoe hit the bullseye on their new single, “Sailing Away”. The inspirational muses are wisely chosen, too; much of Van Morrison’s early works morphed from singer/songwriter odes drenched in the warm notes of Irish folk music to psychedelic works more in line with what the Wilson brothers were cooking up - and modern Americana, as broad a genre as it may be, has a whole branch that swings down into Texas Country Rock; the two musical stylings mesh swimmingly because the writing pushes the listener to really feel what the singer is feeling, and in turn focus less on what is being said.

“Sailing Away” beams in like an easy Galveston breeze over some finely-plucked guitar strings. The first chorus lays down the groundwork for a nicely built-up second chorus that beefs up the instrumental, while the narrator’s tone is bright and saccharine. “She told me she was leavin’,” he sings with an aching drone, a wail that tugs at your shirt from behind you as you walk away.

Whether or not he just goes back to sit on that sandy and sunny European beach, our narrator surely is going to lose the girl he wants. She’s leaving, and he’s out on the ocean of his own mind, sailing away. But is shesailing away, too? Is hereally leaving her?The back-and-forth of perspective, especially when it shifts so quickly, is engaging; it lends an endearing quality to the narrator’s story, even if he is too sun-dazed to notice he’s told the same story three times.

Briscoe is the project of Austin-based musicians Philip Lupton and Truett Heintzelman. Lupton wrote “Sailing Away” and first released performance videos on his personal YouTube channel in 2017, before partnering with Heintzelman. “Sailing Away” ups the production quality from their recent releases and points them in a clearer direction going forward for more Americana surprises.

-Mike Floeck

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The Band of Heathens Release Rousing New Single "Black Cat"

 

Quarantine failed to shoot a dose of productivity into our collective societal vein, but there are some among us who are managing to come out on the other side of the shutdown with something to show for the time spent. This month, The Band of Heathens uncage “Black Cat”, the stirring lead single previewing their seventh studio album, titled Stranger, due to be released this September.

The Heathens know a thing or two about serendipity; the three founding members shared billing at Momo’s as individual singer/songwriters and, according to bandmember Ed Jurdi, “organically” began playing together as The Good Time Supper Club. The band formed in earnest after a misprint in a local paper (and some clever guerilla marketing on behalf of ardent local fans) dubbed the group The Heathens, and the name stuck.

On “Black Cat”, The Heathens tackle serendipity of a more genealogical kind. As bandmember Gordy Quist tells it, “‘Black Cat’ is based on the true-ish legend of Augustinal Fonseca, the great-grandfather of an anonymous concertgoer.” The legend goes that Fonseca came through Ellis Island and discovered an “underground fighting ring in New York City around the turn of the last century” - and that he killed a panther in the ring after rising in the ranks. The Heathens are particularly adept at telling stories, true or otherwise, about strangers; considering the title of their forthcoming record, a special attribute of “Black Cat” is its nature as historical fiction in the very words of a stranger.

“Our friends at Song Confessional sent us the story from a ‘confession’ at the Newport Folk Festival,” Quist tells American Songwriter. The confessor claims to be Fonseca’s grandchild and that Fonseca lived to be 99 years old - and all the details unspool in the song, lovingly embellished by Quist’s pen. To helm production for the epic tale, The Heathens enlisted Portland native Tucker Martine, a former collaborator of The Decemberists and Modest Mouse.

“Black Cat” is fittingly slinky, with Quist’s mangled tenor navigating the sweeping drums in commanding sequences, framed by Jurdi’s falsetto issuing a stark reminder to the listener: “Know where you come from.” When focusing on where someone elsecame from, there is room to step back and breathe. Quist explains that the band is a “microcosm” next to their fans and that Strangeris a vehicle to demonstrate strangerhood within the music industry. If “Black Cat” is a harbinger for more lucid narrative-building from The Heathens, then we all might as well make ourselves comfortable.

-Mike Floeck

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"A Home Unfamiliar"A Collaborative Visual Album Created During Self-isolation

A Home Unfamiliar is an experimental collaboration in music and filmmaking conceived and directed by musician/multimedia artist Mobley. The project brought together 30 musicians and filmmakers from all around Austin, TX, to create a visual album over the month of April 2020. Each artist had two days to create their segment, having seen or heard only a small portion of the previous artist’s contribution. The finished product is a single collective work that explores each artist’s unique experience of profound isolation and interconnectedness. Today you can watch A Home Unfamiliar at Alamo on Demand. All proceeds will be going to Central Texas Food Bank and The Dawa Fund, an organization providing direct aid for people of color serving as artists, social workers, teachers, healing practitioners and service industry workers.

 

The list of collaborators is meant to highlight the depth of Texas’s talented and thriving music and film scene. At the helm was Mobley, whose new EP was scheduled for release in May but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Jim Eno shares his first solo work, after decades behind the kit in legendary indie act Spoon. They are joined by Shakey Graves and acclaimed composer Graham Reynolds, known for his work scoring Richard Linklater films. One of the filmmakers, Jonathan Horstmann, had to make a cross-country move and ended up creating his piece entirely from the passenger’s seat, while another, Shannon Wiedemeyer, didn’t have access to her professional gear in quarantine, so she shot hers on her childhood camcorder. See below for the full list.

 

On the idea behind A Home Unfamiliar, Mobely says "I came up with the project because, like so many, I felt bewildered and helpless in the face of the global pandemic. But I looked out and saw countless people working hard and braving incredible peril to get us all through this. The work I know best is music and filmmaking and I knew there must be a way to direct that work toward their crucial efforts. Pooling the talents of a bunch of musicians and filmmakers for a project like this seemed like a great way to raise some money for COVID-19 relief, but the radically collaborative nature of the project is also a compelling demonstration of the beauty and potential of collectivism. Virtually everyone involved has expressed how meaningful it’s been to contribute to something greater than themselves at a time like this."

Generous charitable donations were provided by Alamo Drafthouse, Franchise Charities, Karbach Brewing Co., Last Gang Records, Lyft’s LyftUp program and Ozarka® Brand Natural Spring Water. 101X, KUTX and Do512 added promotional support. All the artists donated their labor, with the goal of using their art to help those affected by the pandemic.

- Jose Escudero

Musicians

AJ Haynes (Seratones)

Alejandro Rose-Garcia (Shakey Graves) The Bright Light Social Hour

Graham Reynolds

Jackie Venson

Jim Eno (Spoon)

Kalu James (Kalu & the Electric Joint) Kelsey Wilson (Wild Child, Sir Woman)

Mama Duke

Mars Wright (Honey Son)

Mobley

Sabrina Ellis (A Giant Dog, Sweet Spirit)

TaSzlin Muerte (BLXPLTN)

Walker Lukens

Deezie Brown

Felix Pacheco (Cilantro Boombox)

 

Filmmakers

Andrew Bennett

Anne-Marie Halovanic

Ari Morales

Emily Basma

Frank Kim

Gustavo Bernal

Hannah Varnell

Helaine Bach

Jacob Weber

Jenni Kaye

Jonathan Horstmann

Sarah Jones

Shannon Wiedemeyer

Vanessa Pla

Zach Morrison

 

 

 

 

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The Cuckoos Add Some Color to Quarantine with "I'll Be Ur Tramp"

While many things in the city of Austin have been placed on hold because of the ongoing pandemic, The Cuckoo's have released a bit of hope for us all, in the form of a new video for their song "I'll Be Ur Tramp". The Cuckoo's have been a staple among band names, in the Austin live music scene for a few years now. Front man Kenneth Frost, along with his motley crew of band mates, Dave North, Eric Ross, and Cole Koenning offer up a chemistry that is impossible to ignore within the electrifying almost synth pop originality of the music they have created and released, untamed and unapologetically, into the streets and ears of both local and national fans.

 

 "I'll Be Ur Tramp" is the band's first video release for their upcoming EP "Honeymoon Phases", with no set release date, as off yet. Both song and album come after the fantastic success of "I Hate Love", the bands first self titled album. Songs like "Lady Boy" and "Why Don't You Call Me Anymore" give a funky twist on familiar inspirations from bands like The Talking Heads and Pink Floyd, while paying tribute to artists such as David Bowie.

"A funky soulmate diddy about finding a partner in crime to walk through life with," Kenneth tells me, is the feel he was going for with writing " I'll Be Ur Tramp". The video is simple yet enticing, inviting you to stay and watch the eccentric frontman dance and sing alone next an old TV flickering clips from previous Cuckoo's music videos and live performances. Frost also conceived and directed the video himself, proving he's more than just a pretty voice wielding a keytar!

 

With the success of their last album, there has been pressure to produce equally ear catching tunes and barbed hooks with new music for the band. The Cuckoo's don't seem to be letting the pressure get to them, and keep on hammering out smooth and funky acid pop hits like "I'll Be Ur Tramp". If anything is apparent, it's that this band is here to stay, and they are going to keep putting out songs and videos that make you feel good and remind us all that "it's ok to be a little sexy and dirty sometimes."

 

 

-Michael Lee

 

 

 

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