Austin360 On The Record is a weekly roundup of new, recent and upcoming releases by local and Austin-associated recording artists.
Mitch Watkins, “Clarity.” In a city notoriously rich with guitarists, Watkins always has stood out — not just because his primary realm is jazz rather than rock or blues, but also because he brings such a distinctive tone and style to his playing. An off-and-on member of Leonard Cohen’s band since the 1970s, Watkins pays tribute to his late boss and friend by bookending “Clarity” with heartachingly lovely instrumental renditions of Cohen’s “Suzanne” and “If It Be Your Will.” In between, he covers a lot of ground, from the rhythmic and angular “Northern Lights” to the playful and gently swinging “Les Jardins” to the hauntingly hypnotic soundscapes of “The Bleak Winter” and “Snowfall 4:00 A.M.” Playing Aug. 29 at Elephant Room. Here’s the track “Atonement”:
OUT THIS WEEK
Reid Umstattd, “Pockets of Clouds” EP. Singer for Austin rock band Nelo from 2002 to 2014, Umstattd steps out on his own with original material on this debut EP, after a stint last year on NBC’s “The Voice.” Recorded at Dream Studios with engineer Hoag Kepner (who also played drums on the sessions), “Pocket of Clouds” shines with clean and crisp pop-rock production and arrangements that enhance Umdstattd’s powerful vocals but keep them squarely in the spotlight. Umstattd wrote five of the six tracks on his own, co-writing “We Belong Together” in Muscle Shoals, Ala., with James LeBlanc and Reed Waddle. Release show Aug. 30 at Deep Eddy Cabaret. Here’s a recent live version of the opening track, “Shiloh Road”:
Season Ammons, “Steel Hearts.” Like Austin band Mike & the Moonpies (on whose new album she guests), New Braunfels singer-songwriter Ammons traveled to London’s Abbey Road Studios to record this album with producer David Percefull, supplementing with work at Wimberley’s Yellow Dog Studios. Branching out from the more country sounds of her first three albums, Ammons’ latest leans more toward the soulful side of Americana, with richly layered arrangements that bring out the dramatic elements inherent in her songs. Here’s a lyric video for the opening track, “Show Me Your Love”:
Matthew Squires, “Visions of America.” The local singer-songwriter’s first album since 2017’s “Tambaleo” features nine tracks of offbeat indie-folk-rock with lyrics that venture into socio-cultural observations and commentary. Release show Aug. 30 at Independence Brewing. Here’s a recent live version of the track “Perfect Eye”:
Rachel Reese, “West.” An eight-song follow-up to her 2017 EP “Siren,” Reese’s latest further establishes her as an Americana singer-songwriter with strong vocals and tasteful arrangements from producer Jesse LaFave. Reese wrote seven songs herself, but the set’s final track, “Bitter End,” stands out the most here; written with Austin’s Abra Moore (who also chimes in on backing vocals), it suggests co-writes could be fertile ground for Reese in the future. Playing Aug. 30 at El Mercado Backstage. Here’s the album’s lead single, “Dozen Roses”:
FireWalkWithMe, “The Eternal Black Rainbow.” Debut album from frontman Ricardo Mendez and a band that includes members of Schatzi, High Watt Crucifixers and Trail of Dead. Release show Aug. 29 at C-Boy’s.
SEPT. 6: Golden Dawn Arkestra, “Darkness Falls on the Edge of Time” (11A).
SEPT. 6: Terri Hendrix, “Talk to A Human” plus “Who Is Ann” EP (Wilory).
SEPT. 13: Shawn Colvin, “Steady On” 30th anniversary edition, new solo-acoustic take on her debut album.
SEPT. 13: Hot Club of Cowtown, “Wild Kingdom” (Gold Strike).
SEPT. 13: Andrew Nolte, “Climbing Uphill” EP, release show Sept. 14 at Saxon Pub.
SEPT. 20: Madi Meeks, self-titled, release show Sept. 20 at Carousel Lounge.
OCT. 18: Fastball, “The Help Machine” (33-⅓).
NOV. 8: JM Stevens, “Invisible Lines.”
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