Five on Friday: ATX Releases

It's time for another edition of ATX: Five On Friday, the series that brings you five tracks from the Austin music scene hand-curated by yours truly. Let's get down to business!

Here is the 2019 playlist so far:

Five Spectacular Cuts from Austin:

"Cannibals" by Socha

Socha's Musings IV cover

Socha has been making waves with a series of releases "Musings I-IV". In the latest, "Musings IV" we are treated to "Cannibals". I truly love the closeness of the vocal production - it highlights the natural beauty of her quick vibrato shake and a really fine vocal performance. The drums and guitar intro signal a hat tip to the early post-punk-pop, it comes off like Robert Smith and certainly is a cure of sorts to the fuzz-drenched hordes of psych band releases from the ATX. The chorus opens up and pulls you into the vocals "a kiss, a kiss, a kiss to rely on" which is delivered with such immediacy. Socha is releasing great pop, it's music you want to learn the lyrics to so you can sing along, its clarity and craft are refreshing.

"Dream Merchants" by Blushing

  Blushing's Dream Merchants cover

You know me, I can't help but love a good dream-pop band. Blushing though is a great dream-pop band. That magical pairing of screaming guitar feedback and delicately delivered vocals drenched in reverb. Just like in the culinary world, expert chefs create dishes that combine contrasting tastes that mingle and come to the fore - Blushing intertwines these opposite musical intentions into a very pleasing blend. The chorus of guitars, tremolo-strummed like My Bloody Valentine leads into a gentle Lush like verse only to give way to a devastating Lead and chorus. The constant tying all of this together is the lead vocal, slightly back in the mix delivered as if the memory of lover's touch on your skin in the morning. The bridge gives us an unusual vocal and drum duo baring the lyrics in clarity which have been largely obscured until that point - piquing the ear, informing what we've heard until then. I'm a fan, you will be too.

"Origami Dreams" by Christelle Bofale

Christelle Bofale Swim Team cover

I met Christelle early this year opening for SMiiLE and fell in love with her songwriting. I found her chord leading particularly beautiful that evening which I am pleased to find in her recorded works as well. In "Origami Dreams" you can hear that craft in the pacing of the changes, how she holds tonalities to build tension only to free it with a surprising switch to another tonal space. What comes across so clearly in this release is Christelle's voice. Her vocal vibrato is very pleasing, wide and slow but precisely controlled, dreamily delivered pitches from her upper register fall into her strong chest voice which gives the melody its foundation. The closing guitar solo and vocal duet soak over the sonic canvas like a marbled glaze leaving you at the edge of an entrance to a dream. Although Christelle opines "I guess we're through" in Origami Dreams, I think my love affair with this song is only just beginning.

"Perfect Getaway" by Honey Made

Honey Made's Perfect Getaway Single Cover

After recently being treated to an amazing release show at Stubbs (read the review here) from Honey Made it was a clear choice for me to feature "Perfect Getaway" on this edition of "Five on Friday". I can't say enough about the musicians in this band and this recording highlights some different elements than their live show - notably the keys and the arrangements. The strong falsetto delivery right at the top brings to mind Marvin Gaye and when you hit that pre-chorus, the guitar, the horns, and the voices - it just feels so right. Lush vocal harmonies paired with the horns are like a Steely Dan fantasy theme park for your ears. A great breakdown with a tastefully understated keyboard solo around 2:14 sets up another climatic build into some 3 piece vocal harmonies during the bridge. The final chorus vamps to the end filled with dialogues between the horns, guitar, and vocal adlibs that keep your ears guessing. Very very smooth. This a song for dancing close in dim lights.

"Like it is" by Sasha and the Valentines

Sasha and The Valentines album cover for Green

When I listen to a new music release it's a moment that is full of curiosity. Where does the artist want me to go, where do they want to take me, is it a light or a dark place, is everything known and plain to see or is there something hidden I must look for there? The Intro to "Like it is" answers that question with mystery, the lone guitar stands out plain for all to hear and yet its pattern is elusive, the modulation effects wrapping its tone suggest something more behind the curtain. Sasha and The Valentines work with that mystery throughout, exchanging which part of the curtain is raised and what is hidden and what is shown. During the verse, it's the vocal and drums, in the chorus the guitar comes back to pair with a wordless refrain. The sonic space of the song reminds me of the elephant room here in town - a long space with a gentle concrete reverb and the production matches the lyrics "it was something like a dream". That dreamy state is so evident when the lyrics give way to an "ah" on the refrain a lovely way to capture that inexpressible wonder and haze when you wake from a dream you can't quite remember but whose feelings still haunt you.

David Diers writes Rock n Roll love letters in Austin, Texas. David has won awards for his reporting, and fiction writing. You can find him on stage leading his own band, The David Diers trio or in the audience enjoying Austin music at its' best.

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