You could be forgiven if you thought Edie Brickell & New Bohemians broke up not long after their sudden platinum-selling rise 30 years ago, but that was never really the case. They did go in different directions: Brickell married Paul Simon and moved to New York, while other members spent much of the 1990s in Seattle before returning to Texas. New Bohemians records were rare; 2006’s “Stranger Things” was their first studio album in 16 years.
But they always regrouped every now and again for a show or a special project. And now there’s a full-on creative revival happening with the band, which arose in Dallas in the 1980s but currently has several members living in the Austin area. “Rocket,” released last fall on Verve Forecast, showcases a group that’s still finding a golden sweet spot between jazz/jam-based improv and pure pop instincts.
Recorded at Austin’s Arlyn Studios with producer Kyle Crusham, who’s now playing in the group along with local keyboardist Matt Hubbard, the album could be the first in an extended renaissance. The five musicians who formed the band in high school are all still playing together today: Brickell, guitarist Kenny Withrow, bassist Brad Houser, drummer Brandon Aly and percussionist John Bush.
In an interview last fall before the band embarked on a monthlong national tour, they spoke about their lifelong bonds. “We’ve developed a sense of humor together, when you laugh at stuff that’s only funny to you,” Brickell says, between recollections of old stories and in-jokes that proved the point.
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Aly, who now teaches middle-school and high school music classes in Blanco, says those bonds carry over into the songs as well. “All that history we’ve shared together, it’s the same way when we have a conversation musically,” he says.
“Rocket” came about “by accident,” says Brickell, explaining that she had a solo record ready to go before Withrow and Crusham bonded in a 2017 session at Arlyn that ultimately led to full-on New Bohemians recordings for the first time in more than a decade. Withrow says they’re now thinking of putting out several records in the next few years.
“I can’t say we even were looking for that originally,” he says. “But so many things have made this happen. Our kids all are close to being graduated or almost out of the house. Life has just brought us to this moment." (11:10 p.m. March 13, St. David’s Historic Sanctuary; March 16, SX San Jose at Hotel San Jose)
Chills. The New Zealand band, whose history dates to 1980, influenced many contemporary acts with its proto-indie-pop sound. Leader Martin Phillips is also the focus of a documentary screening at the SXSW Film Festival: “The Chills: The Triumph & Tragedy of Martin Phillips.” (1 a.m. March 12, Barracuda Backyard; 8:45 p.m. March 14, Hotel Vegas Patio; 1 a.m. March 16, Beerland; March 17, Palm Door on Sixth, time TBA)
Drivin’ N’ Cryin’. Still drivin’ after all these years, singer-songwriter Kevn Kinney’s Southern-rock band that’s so much more than a Southern-rock band is well beyond its 1990s major-label heyday but still puts on terrific live shows featuring both older classics and newer tunes that demand attention. (Noon March 15, Lucy’s Fried Chicken; midnight March 15, Continental Club)
Steve Earle & the Dukes. Blurring the line between country and rock since his Grammy-nominated 1986 debut “Guitar Town,” Earle visits SXSW this year with a special project that’ll be near and dear to fans of Texas songcraft: “Guy,” due out March 29 on New West, is a tribute to the late Guy Clark. (11 p.m. March 15, Mohawk outdoor)
Rembrandts. We’ve all heard one song by the Los Angeles duo of Danny Wilde and Phil Solem a million times: Yes, the “Friends” TV theme “I’ll Be There for You” is theirs. They’d hit the charts before that, though, with the modest early-1990s singles “Just the Way It Is, Baby” and “Johnny Have You Seen Her.” They haven’t put out a studio album in 18 years, but that drought is set to end this summer with the release of “Via Satellite” on the Blue Elan label. (10 p.m. March 15, Lamberts)
Graham Coxon. SXSW is no stranger to solo visits from members of British alt-rockers Blur: Frontman Damon Albarn received the fest’s prestigious Grulke Prize for Career Act in 2014. Coxon, Blur’s lead guitarist and a secondary vocalist, has released eight solo albums woven around the band’s on-again, off-again status across the past two decades. (11 p.m. March 15, Central Presbyterian Church)
Laura Jane Grace. Fronting the accomplished Florida punk band Against Me since 1997, Grace released an album of more singer-songwriter-oriented material on Bloodshot Records last year. An outspoken activist who came out as transgender in 2012, she’s also speaking for a SXSW featured session at 2 p.m. March 14 at the Austin Convention Center. (9 p.m. March 15, Central Presbyterian Church)
Versus. Formed almost 30 years ago, this New York band helped to develop the modern indie-rock aesthetic with a slew of albums and EPs in the 1990s before going on a 10-year hiatus in 2000. It’s now been another nine years since their 2010 Merge Records comeback effort “On the Ones and Threes,” but a new release is apparently in the works. (1 a.m. March 14, Mohawk indoor)
Swervedriver. The English alt-rock group co-founded in 1989 by Adam Franklin and Jimmy Hartdridge had been on hold for the better part of two decades before resurfacing with 2015’s “I Wasn’t Born to Lose You.” The reunion seems to have stuck: Another record, “Future Ruins,” came out in January. (12:45 a.m. March 15, Barracuda Backyard)
Sixteen Deluxe. A quarter-century since their arrival on the Austin indie/psych-rock scene, singer Carrie Clark and her bandmates have been active again after a decade-long absence from 2000 to 2010. A seven-inch issued in 2015 is set to be followed by releases of both new and archived material. (10:45 p.m. March 16, Belmont)