austin

"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

 

 

 

 

   

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

 

 

 

   

Kydd Jones Drops New Single “Goblin”

 Austin’s own song-writer, producer and MC, Randell “Kydd” Jones, is making history with new hip-hop, neo-protest song “Goblin”. While most musicians are scratching their heads in response to the screeching halt of live music, Jones pushes forward and refuses to let anything slow the progression of Black music in Austin.

Jones starts “Goblin” off by asking, "Yall want to be civil or want civil war?" Written and recorded as a form of therapy after attending a civil rights protest, the track directly addresses the unjust killing of George Floyd in the first verse. The self-produced beat carried by it's soothing vocal pads and throw-back shuffle groove, is a perfect landscape for the MC’s stark rhymes.

 

Kydd Jones started rapping with his brother (Tank Washington) as a teen, going on to perform at clubs like Victory Grill, a historical Black Music Bar/Venue in East Austin, while still attending high school. “Sometimes when I was younger, it felt like a struggle just to make people outside the hiphop community […] care about what we were doing,” remembers Jones. More recently, the MC performed as part of the first all-Black artist line-up of Austin’s Blues On The Green, aptly renamed to “Blues On The Screen” due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

 

In the current dystopian state of Austin, “Goblin” is the introspective, fever dream anthem we didn’t know we needed in 2020. “It was just an organic experience of recording the track and releasing it immediately the next morning without any kind of real rollout,” says Jones, concerning the streamlined production of “Goblin”. Regarding goals for the rest of the year, Jones states “My plan is honestly just to take care of my family and make music that inspires me.”


 

- Chris Lopez

 

   

Greyhounds Release "Primates"

The Greyhounds’ July release “Primates” delivers an expansive, neo-soul sound drenched in 1970s disco and African Jazz. Recorded at songwriter and guitarist Andrew Trube’s East Austin studio, the material has embraced a new purpose in the wake of Coronavirus culture and a halt to live performing. 

Trube and keyboardist Anthony Farrell worked with Los Lobos’ multi-instrumentalist and producer Steve Berlin to take a chance on co-writing material and experience a different creative process than seen on their previous albums.

“It’s definitely our heaviest record,” Trube said. “It’s the one we let go the most on. Steve was able to take us and help lift us up sonically, musically... A lot of this album was about letting go and being open to ideas.”

Due to uncertainty in the music industry, many artists have postponed release dates for material that would typically coincide with record store signings and promotional tours. When the Greyhounds were faced with the cancelation of East Coast and European dates, they decided to go ahead with the release in solidarity with the artistic community.

“If anything people need music and art to reflect on,” Trube said. “It’s made us kind of reflect and look at things that take that energy that we would use, which is a big piece of energy like touring, and be able to focus on some other things.”

Trube has seen the longest break in his career since his first performance at 14 years old. The unexpected break has lended time to songwriting and rehearsal for the material on “Primates”, which marks the 20th anniversary of the Greyhounds conception. “It’s pretty fascinating to navigate this time right now, especially as an artist. It's kind of had the rug pulled out from under us,” Trube said.

“Everybody’s figuring out a way to keep moving forward, and I think a big renaissance is going to come out of this.” Trube found an outlet for creativity through producing live streams at Bud’s Recording Services, a historic motorcycle shop that was converted into a studio and mixed-use development space for themselves and fellow artists.

“There’s just nowhere else to perform or get your music out, you have to do it all online,” Trube said, “but you have to keep it fresh and keep new things happening.”

While venues and artists have coexisted in creating an experience for concert goers, the equipment needed to produce an atmosphere and professional sound for live streams is something many groups do not have access to. Trube added multiple cameras to their studio and quickly learned how to produce live online content for their Youtube channel Bud’s Records.

“It’s really made us look at every aspect of our performance, from making the right sounds, to what it looks like, because it’s the only way for us to reach out to our fans,” Trube said. “It’s been a real weird transition for everybody.”

Over the past two months, Bud’s Recording Services has hosted live streams for Tameca Jones, The Marshall Hood Band and The Last Jimenez, with future dates scheduled for fellow artists and non-profit organizations. Trube has seen some weather the storm by applying for unemployment assistance and finding work with restaurant delivery services.

“Everybody’s trying to find a Band Aid to be able to help the hemorrhaging a little bit,” Trube said. “The flame is still lit, you know, there’s still hope. People are going to need entertainment when we come out of this, more than ever people are going to need that energy.”

 

- Andrew Blanton

   

Subcommander Drops New Single “Hacksawteeth”

 Local D.I.Y. songwriter Marcos Rocha [A.K.A. subcommander] dropped a new single earlier this month via their North Loop apartment studio. The barely-there vocal style attests to their environment, being quarantined in a room with parchment paper walls. Though a lot of musicians are adjusting to working remotely, subcommander’s process hasn’t changed much. “All of my work has been made with really limited resources. It just so happens now that the resource I’m lacking is human contact”. Despite the current state of music in Austin, subcommander brings us a mini-symphony in “Hacksawteeth”.


The track starts with a funeral march style piano/string arrangement, then comfortably transitions into a warm, lounge vibe. The light fingerpicking on the nylon strings sound like Rocha’s sitting in the room with you. “Don't take the beaten path if it beats you to death” they whisper in the last line of the verses. Rocha is open about the feelings that went into creating the track, stating “One of my biggest fears is living a life that isn’t worth living, out of fear that I can’t have what I really want.” They added, “Meanwhile life is grinding away at you like a hacksaw & you’re expected to rise to whatever you’re handed using any tools you’ve got.” Rocha is well known in the Austin music community for their unabashed, guerilla marketing and no-frills approach.

 

In “Hacksawteeth”, subcommander took inspiration from fear, anxiety, false promises, Disney movie ‘Tangled’ and their cat Michael Caine. Rocha explains, “There is a horse named Maximus that has a whole personality and story arc. When the hero, Flynn, gets taken to jail near the end of the movie, I thought “Oh, obviously Maximus is just gonna go pay his bail” & that idea was really funny to me. That’s how I got the first line of the song ‘spent the night in jail / my cat paid bail.’ In a broader sense I feel like the song is about feeling helpless.” 

 

The subcommander discography is packed with a healthy dose of lo-fi, trip-pop tunes & more recently, an emotionally charged split album with Lizzie Page entitled ‘The Mud/Goodwill’ via local net-label Digital Hotdogs. Rocha plans on releasing an EP with their power-pop band Luvweb by the end of the year. Until then, you can purchase and stream “Hacksawteeth” on all major music streaming sites. Make sure to follow their Instagram and Facebook accounts to stay tuned in.


-Chris Lopez