[GUEST POST] Texas Tunes
To this native Jersey girl, Texas was always the Wild Wild West (1. because I'm terrible at geography and 2. because I don't really understand cowboys). Moving to Austin without ever having been off the east coast, states-wise, wouldn't be the most obvious choice for the remotely sane. Fortunately for me, because I'm a crazy person as much as I am a music lover, I've gotta say, I'm so glad I packed my bags and I've never felt more at home.
My job brought me down here and I'm fortunate enough to work at a venue that's constantly hosting up-and-coming local acts that run the genre-gamut. However, working for a venue can also be extremely disenchanting and desensitizing, as you might imagine. It's like being the host of a dinner party - you spend the night noticing all the things that are going wrong and worrying about whether or not people are having fun that you couldn't possibly enjoy the festivities.
.. Whoa. Dark turn.
Anyway, needless to say, I'm extremely grateful for the few bands that have been able to pry me away from my phone long enough to stop working and just enjoy the music.
I was going to highlight just one act, but I figure since SXSW is just around the corner, I'd write up a handful you should try to catch if you're in town and not waiting in line for BIG NAME ARTIST at BIG BRAND'S PARTY.
List-en up if you will.
1) The Suffers
While they aren't technically from Austin (because they're actually from Houston), this 10 person group fronted by vocal powerhouse on the rise Kam Franklin is no stranger to the Austin scene or our stage. After their set at the venue during Austin Free Week, I ran over to Kam at the merch table, gushed about how I was officially obsessed with her (I was a little drunk) and proceeded to buy their 7" even though I unforgivably don't have a record player.
Basically, Beyoncé's not the only superstar to emerge from H-town. You're seriously going to be blown away by Kam's singing chops and the energizing rocksteady grooves by the band that can fill any space with soul. Plus Awesome Points for giving everyone equal parts when it comes to decision and money making. That's a lot of math.
2) Mother Merey and the Black Dirt.
On an otherwise slow night, the three piece band comprised of Mother Merey Kimbrough, Eric Witthans and Kevin Allen kept spirits and tempo up with their gritty country-folk tunes and wicked banter.
Mother Merey's washboard raps and buttery vocals, Eric's guitar and bass drum and Kevin's harmonica riffs transport you to a back-porch cookout on a summer night. Not to mention, their subtle harmonies reminiscent of the late and great Civil Wars are on point!
For a band that's only been around for a little over a year, the dapper 5 members of aviateur are super tight and work the crowd like veteran rockstars. "Come. The fuck. Closer!" lead singer Alex exclaimed, and so we did!
They're Muse meets Air meets the cool kids in town you're afraid to approach. You're going to dig their Brit-rock inspired indietronica/electrorock and you're going to love watching them play it. Watch out for their EP come mid-February!
4) Riders Against the Storm
RAS is adorable. I know, I know - you don't really hear people throwing around the word "adorable" when it comes to hip-hop... BUT when you see the married MCs, Chaka and Tiger Lily, on stage, you can feel the love they share for their music almost as much as the love they share for each other (Adorable.). Speaking of their music, it's awesome. Their sound is gritty yet polished, hard hitting yet smooth, primal yet contemporary. I'm a little obsessed with them too.
The husband and wife duo have opened up for huge national acts like K*NAAN, Raekwon, Wu-Tang Clan, Talib Kweli and ?uestlove among many others, but they still manage to keep grounded by their Austin roots and largely remain one the town's most treasured gems.
Okay, maybe I'm a little biased because the first two friends I ever made in Austin rock some killer bass and fiddle in this band, but even if they were strangers, I'd still include them (probably).
Jericho mixes funky, jazzy, jam-band spontaneity with the mainstream sensibility of structure and a sweet hook. Each of the 6 members are masters at their respective instruments and if you do get to catch them live, grab a stiff drink and settle into the rock & roll talent show that is Jericho.
Unfortunately, they're incognito at the moment as they go through a rebuilding phase, but make sure you're on the lookout! They'll be hitting up all the usual watering holes come SX.
I really could/should go on and on about the amazing talent Austin harbors, talent that is relatively (and unjustly) unknown, but for now, check out a few tracks from any of these artists. After that, you'd be crazy not to consider a little relocating of your own.