Austin360 On The Record is a weekly roundup of new, recent and upcoming releases by local and Austin-associated recording artists.
OUT THIS WEEK
Fastball, “The Help Machine” (33-⅓). The resurgence of the longtime Austin trio, which features songwriters Tony Scalzo and Miles Zuniga plus drummer Joey Shuffield, continues with this follow-up to 2017’s acclaimed “Step Into Light.” Always dependable for catchy pop hooks, Scalzo serves up four more here, most notably “The Girl You Pretended to Me,” a roots-rock gem that needs just two minutes and 18 seconds plus a guitar cameo from Charlie Sexton to make an immediate mark. But it’s the contributions of Miles Zuniga, who wrote seven of this album’s 11 tracks, that take “The Help Machine” to a different level, reaching into fascinating territory that’s new for the band. “Redeemed” is a flat-out gospel number, like a pop trio working Mavis Staples’ turf, and the closing “Never Say Never” sways with a lightly tropical vibe. The band worked with ace producer Steve Berlin at Austin’s Treefort Studios; intriguingly, though, two of Zuniga’s tunes were tracked primarily in Marfa. The title track, the only song on the record longer than four minutes, casts a hypnotic spell, with keyboard sounds much more central than guitars and subtle rhythms weaving a heartbeat groove to hold it all together. If that’s not the best song on “The Help Machine,” then it’s the other Marfa track, “Friend or Foe,” which unfolds gradually from a melodic bass intro (likely by Bruce Hughes) into a shimmering swirl of sounds that lifts this band high above and beyond its power-pop origins. Release show Oct. 19 at Saxon Pub, in-store Oct. 25 at Waterloo Records. Here’s the official video for the title track:
Beat Root Revival, “Up” (Surfdog). From Ireland and England respectively, Andrea Magee and Ben Jones moved to Austin a few years ago and have been omnipresent in the local clubs when not on frequent tours opening for Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson. Live, they’re a whirlwind of sound and spirit, Jones’ acoustic guitar weaving in and around Magee’s bodhran drumbeats. That energy comes through on “Up,” which puts their instantly appealing vocal harmonies out front. Working with Paul Leary, the Butthole Surfers guitarist whose diverse production credits include albums for Sublime With Rome and Daniel Johnston, Beat Root Revival serves up a 10-song set of mostly original material, plus an intriguing meld of two 1960s anthems of social consciousness, Thunderclap Newman’s “Something in the Air” with Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth.” Release show Oct. 18 at 04 Center. Here’s the official video for the title track:
Larry Seaman, “Resurrectionist.” For four decades, a welcome constant in Austin music has been that Seaman will always have quality new songs at the ready. Frontman for proto-new-wavers Standing Waves circa 1980, he’s fronted various bands since then (Last Straw, Violet Crown, Seaman’s Quartet), some leaning more toward edgy rock, others more acoustic in nature. “Resurrectionist” covers the full run between those bases, bound together by consistently brilliant songwriting. “Long Slow Fade” and “Coming Around” are emotionally powerful, guitar-driven panoramas that anchor the middle of the record, while “Things Shouldn’t Be This Way” and the closing “Spring Comes” connect with a lighter touch. A revealing cover of Lou Reed’s “Venus in Furs” is the lone non-original here, but the most welcome inclusion is “Only Memories,” an instantly memorable pop gem written with Standing Waves bandmate Bruce Henderson that dates back to 1982 but somehow had never seen the light of day before this. Release show Oct. 20 at Saxon Pub. Here’s the opening track, “Gravedigger”:
Jeremy Nail, “Ghost of Love.” The third album in four years from the West Texas-raised singer-songwriter, our Austin360 Artist of the Month in May 2016, finds Nail continuing to seek out beauty that lurks in quieter, darker places both musically and lyrically. Working with producer Pat Manske, Nail brought in a cast that includes singer Betty Soo, keyboardist Bukka Allen, guitarist Jeremy Menking and bassist Greg White for these nine subtly engaging tracks. Release show Oct. 23 at Townsend. Here’s the track “Clarksville”:
Copa Kings, “Vol. 2.” The second album from the throwback swing-jazz outfit led by singer Billy Murphy and pianist/arranger Rob Greenfield was recorded at Austin’s renowned Arlyn Studios. Release show Oct. 18 at Highball. Here’s the opening track, a cover of Jerry Reed's“Smokey & the Bandit” movie classic “Eastbound and Down”:
Libby Koch, “Redemption 10: Live at Blue Rock.” The country-folk singer-songwriter revisits her debut album to celebrate its 10th anniversary by playing it in sequence in front of a live audience at Blue Rock Artist Ranch & Studio in Wimberley. Playing Oct. 17 at Liberty Tree Tavern in Elgin.
Jenifer Jackson, “Paths.” The latest from the local singer-songwriter and guitarist features nine songs recorded in Nashville with noted producer Brad Jones and a backing cast that included Wilco's Pat Sansone. Release show Oct. 19 at Saxon Pub. Here’s the opening track, “Things I Meant to Tell You”:
OCT. 25: Zack Walther Band, “The Westerner.”
OCT. 29: White Denim, “In Person” (live album).
OCT. 31: Not in the Face, “Phase.”
NOV. 1: Deer, “Do No Harm” (Keeled Scales), release show Oct. 18 at Antone’s.
NOV. 1: Christine Smith, “Meet Me on the Far Side of a Star” (Foxy Loxy).
NOV. 8: Shelley King, “Kick Up Your Heels,” playing Nov. 2 at Continental Club.
NOV. 8: JM Stevens, “Invisible Lines,” release show Nov. 8 at Continental Club.
NOV. 11: Andrew Duplantis, “Ghost Stories.”
NOV. 29: Various artists, “The Next Waltz, Vol. 2.”
DEC. 13: Cowboy Diplomacy, “Burn Down the Road.”
JANUARY 2020: Jonathan Terrell, "Westward."
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