By Eric McKeefer
Local Music Journalist
One month into to 2019 and we’re already seeing so much new music from artists around the country like Ty Segall, Night Beats, Dent May, Cherry Glazerr, Vampire Weekend… and the list goes on. A couple of posthumous releases came out as well, including one from blues singer R.L. Burnside and another from Austin’s own Townes Van Zandt.
Texas is not a state to be left behind. With the flood of new music coming out every week, I’ve put together a playlist of new singles by local artists, some of which have already announced full albums to follow coming later this year.
Disclaimer: This playlist is just a taste of what’s to come and by no means will it include all of the new music so far in 2019 from Texas based artists. To keep it concise, the playlist is limited to local indie, rock and pop bands that released singles in January. I will only cover the first five songs in this article, but there are many great songs here and I encourage everyone to check out the full Spotify playlist. The playlist is public, so feel free add any tracks that you think are really great and meet these criteria.
Alrighty, first on the list is the single version of This Land by Austin songwriter and blues guitarist Gary Clark Jr. Released Jan. 10 on Warner Brothers Records, “This Land” is a personalized first hand look at the racism and prejudice that is still active the United States, and it comes with its own music video and mini video loop on Spotify. The video shows Clark in a Southern gothic style mansion playing guitar over black children standing on the Confederate flag in a field. Breaking away from the throwback soul feel of his last album The Story of Sonny Boy Slim, “This Land” has rap-like phrasing over the verse, coupled with his well-known sustained guitar licks singing throughout the track. Currently, three singles have been released and the full album This Land will be out Feb. 22. Be sure to catch Clark’s ACL Live taping in Austin, Tuesday, March 5.
Following their EP Missing Something, released late September last year, The Bright Light Social Hour’s new single “Lie To Me (Große Lüge)” came out on Jan. 4. On Feb. 1, TBLSH gave us their third album Jude Vol. 1 that offers seven driving psyche-flavored rock songs. Although this set only clocks in at 30 minutes, I really can’t complain with the short turn around and the production on these last two releases. Additionally, the cover of Missing Something can be seen in the top left corner of Jude Vol. 1 album art. At this point we can only speculate at what this could mean. Could it be the start of a series? Short albums connected by sound and artwork? Possibly a Jude Vol. 2? One can only hope.
Released shortly after their 2018 album Performance, Austin based rock band White Denim dropped two more technically complex and melodically intoxicating tracks, “Shanalala” and “NY Money,” that are not too far from their last album, but if you dig them already then you know what to expect. For the newcomers, I can only say to think riff-rock backed by tight, dynamic drums with quick vocal runs between the dancing guitar/key melodies, but really it’s much more. The synth and keys on both tracks are as juicy as ever and meld beautifully with the guitar tones. I only included “NY Money” in the playlist, as it is my favorite of the two, and it’s almost three times as long. My only reservation about this track is wishing the acoustic guitar riff behind the chorus was more pronounced… like with horns, upfront and in your face to really drive that line home.
On to the next! From the indie-pop and self identified avant-garde quintet that was just nominated for The Chronicle’s ‘best new band category,’ SMiiLE, we have two singles—“Mystical Experience” and “Someone Who Can Do Both.” SMiiLE is hitting 2019 hard with two single unveiled on the 13th of each month through July. Together these singles will complete their second full length album. “Mystical Experience” is a new sound for this group with gentle acoustic strumming, well-tailored percussion and a sizable improvement in production. I will be looking forward to their upcoming releases.
Wax Dream, a garage-psyche group from Houston, dropped their new single “Guilt Trip” on Jan. 25. It features an excellent three minute jam outro with play between the guitar and keys in the classic garage jam fashion. Wax Dream has been stamping out new songs for the past year including a four song self-titled EP that is seriously worth a dive.
There are many more and the list keeps growing! Please take a peep and feel free to leave a comment, let me know what you think. You can view the full Spotify playlist here. Oh yeah, and add a few of your favorite tracks if you’re feeling it.
Featured image by Eric McKeefer.