As the coronavirus pandemic drags on with spikes in local case loads and no end in sight, Austin’s musicians and music businesses remain without their primary source of revenue. One of the best ways to support local artists during this difficult time is to buy their stuff. In this series, we highlight cool gear from Austin musicians and music businesses. Think of it as a virtual merch table and spend freely.
Superfónicos. Before the coronavirus pandemic upended our lives, the eight-piece Colombian funk and Caribe soul outfit had grand plans to drop its debut album this spring. The project is temporarily stalled, but last month, the band dropped the first single from the record, "El Adios." Produced by Jim Eno (Spoon), the song is an emotional examination of the immigrant experience inspired by a conversation between bassist Nico Sanchez and his father, a Colombian immigrant, about the events that forced him to leave his homeland.
"It is unbelievable how terribly this administration has handled the migrant crisis at the U.S./Mexico border with the child separations and detention centers. Casting immigrants as criminals, people to be feared. It makes our work as musicians, putting the human element in the story, that much more important," Sanchez said about the song.
Drop by the group’s Bandcamp page to download the single ($3), and while you’re there, pick up a unisex T-shirt or ladies tank top featuring the band’s vibrant El Sol logo ($22 each). You can also pick up the band’s 2019 7" vinyl release "Cumbéalo / Tropidelico" ($10) and a T-shirt featuring a "Cumbéalo" eagle logo. ($22). superfonicos.bandcamp.com
Shearwater. Over the past few months, multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Meiburg has compiled two hours of "slow (but interesting) instrumental music for thinking, working, dreaming, resting, meditating and generally trying not to go insane," he said.
The collection, dubbed "Quarantine Music I-IV," unfolds in four movements and includes a piece "meant to evoke a small creature living on the seafloor of Jupiter's ice-covered moon" and a "deceptively warm and friendly meditation on the United States' slide into fascism," Meiburg said. You can download the digital album ($15) on Shearwater’s Bandcamp page, where you also can pick up other music from the band, including "Shearwater plays Bowie's Berlin Trilogy" ($15 per album, or $40 for the whole thing) recorded live with Shearwater and friends in New York City in 2018. There’s also a commemorative tote bag from the event ($10) and letter pyramid logo tees ($12). shearwater.bandcamp.com
Mélat. Let’s face it: 2020 is essentially one long bad hair day. Slide over to dreamy R&B singer Mélat’s site to scoop a Konjo cap ($25). Named after the soul breakout’s first song to ever use words in Amharic, the language of Ethiopia, konjo means "beautiful" in her native tongue. "I believe it speaks to the beauty of humanity," she said.
While you’re on her site, check out the lovely shirts left over from her "After All" tour that feature a delicate floral motif. ($30-$36) and cute keychains that look like old-fashioned barrel keys ($8). beholdmelat.com
Music business spotlight: Sahara Lounge. With a large patio out back, the eastside hideaway was one of the few music venues in town that attempted to reopen when restrictions were eased last month. Now, like all bars, the club is shuttered again. Snag one of their desert-themed tees ($28-$31) and dream of simpler days when you could dish up servings of homemade African cuisine and move and groove to the hypnotic polyrhythms of Ibrahim Aminou’s ensemble every Saturday night. atxtshirts.com/product/sahara-lounge-t-shirt