The Deer, “Tempest & Rapture.” Initially assembled as a backing crew for sweet-toned singer Grace Park — their initial gigs had her name out front — this foursome featuring multi-instrumentalist Jesse Dalton, guitarist/producer Michael McLeod and drummer/keyboardist Alan Ecker is making music that stands out starkly amid the crowded Austin indie landscape. It’s telling that band’s attempts at self-definition involve mishmash phrases such as “psych-folk surf-dream,” given that their collaborative family tree overlaps with the progressive bluegrass of MilkDrive, the electronica spells of Bayonne and the film soundscapes of Richard Linklater. “Tempest & Rapture” doubles down on their impressive 2014 album “On the Essence of the Indomitable,” marrying melodic-pop instincts to inventive arrangements and rhythms. The resulting songs go down easy even when the music is complicated. With 17 tracks that add up to nearly an hour, there’s a lot to explore here, and it’s consistently refreshing. Release show Saturday, May 14, at the Parish; also playing Sunday, May 15, at Farmgrass Fest in Niederwald. Check out the band’s video for the album track “Static” above.
John Evans, “Polyester” (Splice). A tall Texan with a distinctive voice and a wide smile, Evans moved to Austin a few years ago after establishing himself as one of Houston’s top Americana rockers over the previous decade. He steps out on this solo effort that follows his recent collaboration with Jesse Dayton and Mike Stinson in El Trio Grande and his guitarist role with Emily Bell, who contributes harmonies here. Evans’ character-rich singing unifies a batch of songs that range from down and dirty blues-rock (“Dust Bowl,” the title track) to sweeping, steel-spiked country (“Grandma’s Chair,” “Good Life”) to immediately infectious pop (“Pretty,” “Instant Society”). Release show Friday, May 13, at Continental Club; in-store Thursday, May 19, at Waterloo Records. Here’s “Polyester”:[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/254829510" params="visual=true&color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false" width="100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]
A. Sinclair, “Get Out of the City” (Dangerbird). Centered on the songs of namesake Aaron Sinclair, this quintet leads off with cinematic flair on the title track, which gives voice to grander ambitions. The band hits a harder-edged, punk-fueled vein early on before shifting gears with the acoustic-based “Everything We Need”; they shine brightest when striking a balance somewhere between, as on the soaring chorus of “I’m on an Ocean.” Release show Saturday, May 14, at ABGB. Here’s the track “Liars in the State of New York”:[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/240527488" params="visual=true&color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false" width="100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]
Rob Baird, “Wrong Side of the River” (Hard Luck). A Memphis native who moved to Austin to work the Texas country roadhouse circuit, Baird issued two albums with Nashville label Carnival before hooking up with Austin producer Brian Douglas Phillips for this rootsy set of tunes deeply infused with blues. Release show May 20 at Threadgill’s. Here’s a thematic trilogy video of the songs “Ain’t Nobody Got a Hold on Me,” “Wrong Side of the River” and “Horses”:[youtube=]
Aaron Einhouse, “It Ain’t Pretty (Vision). Einhouse also has worked the state’s roadhouses hard, but he’s a native Austinite. The title track was co-written with Hal Ketchum, which provides some idea of Einhouse’s aim for a sound and style that, like Ketchum’s, is rooted in Texas but reaches for a broader country audience. Playing May 28 at Rebels Saloon. Here’s an “About the Album” video:[youtube=]
Star Parks, “Don’t Dwell” (Paper Trail). Nine-song debut of the psych-folk-tinged indie band led by Andy Bianculli. Playing May 21 at Stay Gold. Here’s the piano-driven track “Loose Ends”:
Migrant Kids, “Primordial Soup” EP (Pure Joy). This one’s just four songs, but the trio of Miguel Ojeda, John Zakoor and Bryan O’Flynn have tapped into an enchanting mix of dance-oriented contemporary pop and old-school new wave. The seven-minute closer “Religion” is an indulgent jammy overstep, but the title track and “Beaten” are sweet reveries, and the single “Thread” (video below) is one of the best songs to come out of Austin so far this year, as we noted upon its early release in February. Release show Friday, May 13, at Cheer Up Charlie’s; also playing May 25 at 3Ten.[youtube=]
MAY 20: Black Pistol Fire, “Don’t Wake the Riot” (Modern Outsider), release show May 20 at Emo’s.
MAY 26: Please Please Me, “Volume 2” EP, release show May 26 at Empire.
MAY 27: Boyfrndz, “Impulse” (Brutal Panda), release show May 27 at Sidewinder.
MAY 27: Megafauna, “Welcome Home.”
MAY: Cotton Mather, “Songs From the I Ching,” first in a series of vinyl releases collecting 64 digital tracks.
JUNE 1: Capyac, “Headlunge,” release show May 27 at Scoot Inn.
JUNE 5: Kidlat Punch, “If Only We Could Hear Them” (We’re Trying).
JUNE 10: Shawn Colvin & Steve Earle, “Colvin & Earle” (Fantasy).
JUNE 10: Charlie Faye & the Fayettes, self-titled, release show May 6 at Strange Brew.
JUNE: Jack Ingram, “Midnight Motel” (Rounder).
JULY 15: Nightowls, “Royal Sessions” EP, release show July 15 at Scoot Inn.