austin

Russel Taine Jr. Releases “Blue Jean Baby” Single

 

If you think mezcal and some brick weed make for a pretty fine summer evening, then Russel Taine Jr. might have a new anthem for you to add into your rotation. The band is back with another song for quarantine summer, this time with the rocking, radio-ready cut “Blue Jean Baby”.

Russel Taine Jr. features Aaron Winston (lyrics/guitar/vocals), Justin Winslow (bass), Brittany Long (keys) and Cory Fica (drums). As the band members continued to record through stay-at-home orders, the longing for summers past crept up in mind. “July 4th fireworks - and a dance and a drink down at the White Horse...a love song for a Texas summer without COVID.” It can be migraine-inducing to reach far enough backward for memories of a carefree August, but the sparkling guitar of “Blue Jean Baby” instantly conjures images of sun-soaked sands and glistening waters.

Right from the jump, Winston’s vocals are situated apart from the instrumental, mixed to give them just enough separation to stand out, especially in the verses. His voice sits somewhere to the left of Jack Johnson - just a little more verve, but still free and easy enough to coast this song through. It’s a smile-inducing melody that’s easy enough to pick up and hold onto, with a smashing singalong chorus.

With many country music acts forced to reckon with the pandemic and protests and alter their release plans, or scrap them altogether (except you, Kenny Chesney), Summer 2020 radio has been drier than usual. We have plenty of indie and alternative-tinged tunes to take away the pain, but when the setting just calls for good times, not too many have been willing to answer this year. Thankfully, Russel Taine Jr. decided to keep recording and releasing at their own pace. This might not be the summer they wanted, but who says they can’t pretend?

- Mike Floeck 

   

Bill Callahan Releases New Album Gold Record

 

“Hello, I’m Johnny Cash” is as startling to read here as it is to hear on the opening of Bill Callahan’s Gold Record. Sparse guitar riffs and faint trumpet notes guide the listener through the Tejano lullaby “Pigeons.” Calahan’s description of the romantic saga is as elusive as his voice:

“Deep in the heart of Texas, life and love go sleepily on,” Callahan writes on his Bandcamp page. “From the wheel of his long white limousine, a man witnesses scenes from many lives. Musically commencing with Cash and rambling to Cohen suggests that whether the wedding rice explodes in your belly or you end up married to the whole wide world, there’s a place for you on this Earth.”

For the past seven weeks, Drag City has released a different single from the album, offering a preview and pre-order for the September release. Callahan offers Gold Record in multiple formats including cassette, compact disc, vinyl and digital. The current releases are as dense as a novel, allowing the listener to pick up on different insights of the characters with each listen.

It’s hard to know how many personal anecdotes Callahan includes with his work, as fictional characters take the place of himself. “Let’s Move to the Country” describes a blossoming relationship, the character leaving traveling behind to settle down and start a family. This may provide a link from Callahan’s characters into his personal life, as he married Hanly Banks in 2014 and became a father, and took a significant break in recording.

The seven released tracks are held together with a cohesive sound, forcing the listener to observe the lyrics. In an interview with Texas Monthly earlier this year, Callahan cited Willie Nelson as an influence for visual storytelling. Though Callahan was describing a line from his previous release Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest, the material on Gold Record feels connected to the writing style of Nelson’s Red Headed Stranger.

Follow the release of Callahan’s Gold Recordhere: https://billcallahan.bandcamp.com/album/gold-record

 

-Andrew Blanton

 

 

   

Psychedelic Disco Cowgirl Kitty Coen releases "Dark Soul"

 New artist Kitty Coen is keeping Austin Weird with the release of her latest single “Dark Soul”. This "psychedelic disco cowgirl" will captivate you with her haunting voice but hold you with the catchy disco beat. 

Cowboy, psychedelic, alt-rock, disco and high fashion are just a few ways to describe the vibe of local artist Kitty Coen. Sound familiar? Although she is new to the scene, Kitty Coen fits right into the Austin motif. She was set to perform at SXSW 2020 but has gifted us with this single and video to help heal our cancelled and broken hearts. 

 

Fire up the big screen, cuddle up to the new kitten and buy a disco ball because her new song and video for "Dark Soul" will take you on a trip. This video is a journey into the altered mind of the artist. The beginning is reminiscent of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas followed by a western night on 4th street. Truly a video not to be missed. 

 

With the upbeat tone and hallucinogenic visuals, do not overlook the strong feminist lyrics. What feels like a sexy party song is actually about being a desirable independent woman. She knows that men want her, but what she wants is a man who is not so clingy! 

 

Once the world opens up, Coen will be a sight to see live. With this being the second song she has streaming, Austin has a lot to look forward to.  

 

Magz Baillio

 

 

   

Trace of Lime knows how to entertain in their new music video "Creature of Habit"

 

Do you remember when The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and No Doubt were on the radio? When music videos were full of bright colors, weird angles, and sometimes flannel? Trace of Lime has achieved a nostalgia usually only brought on by watching a 90s hits playlist on Youtube. From the first second the video "Creature of Habit" started  till the last, I was drawn in to both old memories and admiration for the new music this amazing city is harboring. It's bands and music like this that made me want to start writing about them, and Trace of Like has only anchored the hope I've held for what Austin bands can bring us all.

 

These guys are fun, energetic, creative in every video from "Business" with a unique twist on the fable of "The Three Little Pigs"  to the out right blatancy of color in "Creature of Habit". There's always an obvious yet fun statement being made with every video they seem to do. "Creature of Habit" is "about dealing with things inevitably changing around you" the band says. A topic all too familiar today with Austinites dealing with Covid and our evolving city.

 

The video was written and directed by Jordan Karam, Trace of Limes lead Vocalist, who you see submerged in a solid world changing around him in the video. Dusana Risovic directed the video after hashing out the details with the band. "We wanted something visual to move the story, and chose red and blue because of their dynamic differences." In my personal opinion, this was an absolutely brilliant way to convey the message and keep up the pattern of fun play the band seems so good at doing.

 

Currently Trace of Lime are not playing any live shows, which has me screaming louder into the Universe to "PLEASE GIVE US LIVE SHOWS BACK!!!!!" It is an absolute travesty that a band so good as these guys, has to be quarantined away, fearfully until 2021. They are however, planning to finish work on their current album and have already started planning out the next fun video for us all to enjoy. Until then, check out "Creature of Habit" on YouTube, follow the guys on the social places @traceoflime, and keep your fingers crossed that we all get to see these guys play live again soon.


 

-Michael Lee

   

Mike Flanigin Releases Live Album "West Texas Blues"

 

West Texas Bluesis a live studio album born out of organist, Mike Flanigin, and guitarist Sue Foley’s Texas Blues Party. Streamed live on Facebook, the hour-long program focused on regional history and included interviews with blues legends C.C. Adcock, Angela Strehli and Derek O’Brien.

“That’s almost what jump started the album in a sense.” Flanigin said. “We were just hesitant to do any sort of live stream thing, but we got so bored that we decided to do it, and our angle on it was we wanted to have a theme for the show.”

West Texas Blueswas recorded in a four-hour session at Fire Station Studios in San Marcos with Chris Layton on drums and engineer Chris Bell, who worked with Foley on The Ice Queen and Flanigin’s debut The Drifter.

Mike Flanigin and Sue Foley’s West Texas Blues

“As much as I labored over The Drifteralbum, which took me three years to make, and I had a lot of different types of genres, and people, and guests, this was the exact opposite.” Flanigin said. “This was ‘Let’s go in and let’s do what we do,’ and we play the blues. That’s what we’ve been doing our whole lives.”

The gritty-slow title track on the album by Lightnin’ Hopkins delivers a solid example of the phrasing that gives Austin blues guitar its sound.

“I just love the imagery of it,” Flanigin said, “because when you go to West Texas it’s so vast and the sound of that song is just like that.”

For the past four months, pulling open the red-and-white striped doors at C-Boy’s Heart and Soul on a Saturday night has felt like a distant memory. Flanigin’s crowded weekly residency with Jimmie Vaughan in the shadows of the tallest Capitol in the nation has been on indefinite hiatus as Coronavirus mandates leave night clubs in limbo.

“To me the C-Boy’s gig was kind of our equivalent in Austin to Preservation Hall Jazz Band in New Orleans,” Flanigin said. “Tourists would go, and if you wanted to kind of know what the early styles were of New Orleans music you would go see Preservation.”

Flanigan traces the Austin style back to Bill Campbell, and to the opening of Antone’s as a home for blues artists. Jimmie Vaughan performed nightly with the Fabulous Thunderbirds alongside Muddy Waters, Eddie Taylor, Hubert Sumlin and Lazy Lester at the club. As Vaughan built upon his experiences, local guitarists followed suit and created a unique style for the region that’s played around the world today.

“Jimmie is ground zero for the Austin sound,” Flanigin said. “His phrasing and what he did was copied by everybody who saw it. That was the template.”

When Foley arrived in 1990 from Vancouver, Canada, she immediately performed on stage with Albert Collins, and recorded her debut album Young Girl Bluesfor the Antone’s label. Foley later worked with Derek O’Brien on Lazy Lester’s All Over You,which features the song “If You Think I’ve Lost You.” An updated version shines on West Texas Blues,twenty-two years after the release of Lester’s album. Foley’s melodic solo captures the essence of the county, blues and Cajun melting pot that inspired Lester’s sound.

“He was hugely influenced by country music,” Flanigin said. “I sat with Lazy Lester in the Antone’s office on Guadalupe and he sat with an acoustic guitar and played every hardcore country blues song you could ever imagine... George Jones, Merle Haggard, he loved all that. When you listen to his blues songs, they’re like country songs. The words tell a story.”

Flanigan was touring with Jimmie Vaughan and Buddy Guy as the Coronavirus outbreak shut down the nation. The outlook is especially uncertain in the blues community, as the few living legends that created the genre will have to take additional precautions when venues re-open.

“I wonder in my mind, ‘Are some of these people going to retire and never come back?’” Flanigin said. “We might get a vaccine tomorrow. We all may be back in two months and all this may sound ridiculous, but these thoughts do cross my mind.”

West Texas Blues focuses on material from Juke Boy Bonner, The Nightcaps, Guitar Gable and others to preserve the history of the Texas sound.

“I want people to know there is a real history to Ausin blues, and it’s complicated, and it’s a rich history, and it’s a wonderful history,” Flanigin said. “Everything we do, everything we’ve ever done, has been a celebration in honoring these people.”

-Andrew Blanton