We are a little past due for Five On Friday, the monthly series that brings you five tracks from the Austin music scene hand-curated by yours truly. This is episode 2: and I have to say, the live music capital of the world is delivering some amazing music this year. Let's dig in, shall we?
Here is the 2019 playlist so far:
"Daily Interlude" by Jake Lloyd
Jake Lloyd's Daily Interlude is one of those tunes that raises you up whenever you play it. It fits perfectly in the morning, it renews you midday, it let's you know things are all right after all is done, and gets you psyched for what's coming next. I can't stop listening to this song. Jake has taken the advice given to so many musicians but rarely heeded - leave them wanting more. The song clocks in at 2 and half minutes like a motown hit of days past. It's compact but very well arranged - each verse and chorus sets up a different set of tonal colors. The difference between the first and second verses is a great example, verse 1 sets the tone with the throttling organ padding the grooving bass and drums and Jake's solo vocal setting the scene while verse two drops the bass and brings in a falsetto vocal line in a call and answer that you can't help but sing along. Take a listen and I think you'll find it in your heavy rotation very soon.
"Transparency" by Night Glitter
Night Glitter's Transparency is a reverb soaked distant dream of a song. The synth arpeggio and treble splash of e-drums is at once reminiscent of Kraftwerk while the guitar deeply nestled below the french language vocal has a new romantic / new age feeling. You can hear hints of so much of Night Glitter's influences. In this song, as in most of dream pop, it is a question of colors, a wash of tones and space, what might be the musical equivalent of impressionistic art. We hear that in the bass at back in the mix, roughly defined, the occasional guitar part coming just to edge of our awareness. The voice is the star of Transparency, it's sense of other enriched by hearing a french lyric from a band in Austin, Texas. The vocal at times has been given pre-delay or reverse reverb and creates the sense that it comes as an echo from our past. Transparency is an other worldly sound but one that is intriguing and seductive.
"Accident Prone" by The Sour Notes
This is the first cover on the Five on Friday playlist. When a band like The Sour Notes records a cover, and this song comes from an album of covers, we get two treats - 1) a new realization of a song that hopefully brings some new insight and 2) the question of what drew them to this particular song, what history is behind that particular choice? Just like you or I, they have a relationship with the songs they've listened to and I always wonder what that song means or has done for them in their life? "Accident Prone" is a song by 90s punk underground heroes Jawbreaker. Having lived through that moment in time, my impression of the song is that the lyrics are particularly strong and lucid. What The Sour Notes have brought to this song is a clear platform for the lyrics, a place to lay them out bare. The forward placement of the acoustic guitar reinforces the intimacy of the confession and tragedy that bleeds through the vocal. If you've never heard the original you can enjoy Accident Prone by the Sour Notes as its' own statement. If you have heard the original you can discover its blurred parts pulled from the distorted angry energy and brought into the light with clarity and precision.
"Monday / Sunday" by Shy Beast
I love a lot about Shy Beast. A few things in particular though, Mariclaire's voice, the guitar playing, and their arrangement skill. Mariclaire's voice is a vacation from so much of modern female vocal performance. I often feel like "The Heartless Bastards" basically broke the mold for vibrato and delivery in the female voice. It's iconic, it's soulful but man, If I never go to another club and hear that vibrato shake and delivery style again I wouldn't be terribly sorry. So when I hear a full, beautiful female voice with technique, range and a unique character I get giddy. Yeah, that's how happy I get, I travel back in time to 1735 and ask Hiddlesworth Piggleston - "what is this feeling?", he answers, "Why that's giddiness, my boy.". There is a bit of "Monday / Sunday" that brings me to "Lovefool" by the Cardigans but also "Invinceable Summer" by KD Lang. The motown "four on the floor" beat drives us through the chorus with Mariclaire's vocal floating on top eventually giving way to a great pop-guitar solo with tasty note choices that dissolve into a drop chorus build through the end of the song. It's a gentle rollercoaster of emotion and energy which the band understates perfectly beneath the vocal. "Monday / Sunday" is catchy while also being breezy - it's everything you want for a summer song. This is my vote.
"Cool Evil"Otis The Destroyer
The guitar in Cool Evil is just that, Cool Evil. After a face-melting intro the groove backs off to bass and drums, a page right out of 1990s grunge. A high thin vocal slices through the chorused guitar and murky foundation all the while building tension and foreboding. Then, there it is, the best monstrously sickening guitar riff I've heard in quite some time at 1:11. It's a perfect thrashing moment of devastation. Otis The Destroyer leads us through another verse eventually into a surprising instrumental finale that feels victorious, epic, and huge. The visual that comes to me when I listen to this song is one of a time traveling anti-hero being spit out into various moments in time and then suddenly being sucked back through time to yet another destination with ferocious speed. That's not far off from the listening experience - OTD is shuttles you through a host of styles and dynamics with might and speed and it's a really fun ride.