On The Record: Stephen Doster, Flesh Lights, Soulphonics
OUT THIS WEEK
Stephen Doster, “Arizona” (Atticus). From a regular gig at Z’Tejas and other appearances around town to his frequent studio work with a variety of local and national musicians, Stephen Doster is a constant presence in the Austin music scene, so much so that it’s easy to take him for granted. “Arizona,” his first solo album in 18 years, testifies to why we shouldn’t: A 10-song collection of exquisitely crafted classic guitar-and-keyboards pop, it’s one of the best records our city has produced this year. Doster’s accorded respect in the community is evident in the top-shelf supporting cast: Bassist George Reiff, keyboardist Kevin Lovejoy, drummer Dony Wynn and cellist Brian Standefer anchor the band, with accents on various tracks from horn players Elias Haslanger and Ephraim Owens, as well as pianist Floyd Domino and pedal steel player Marty Muse. On the opening triptych of “Arizona” (embedded below), “River From a Dream” and “Your Simple Mind,” Doster bypasses too-obvious major-chord territory in favor of more sophisticated melodic twists and turns that connect instantly yet reward repeated listens. He makes a wonderful topical turn on “Pistol Pete,” a tribute to basketball legend Pete Maravich that bounces along with a soulful ease reflecting Maravich’s smooth-as-silk ball-handling skills. The romantic ballads “I Found You” and “Baby There’s No One Like You” don’t measure up to the rest of the material, partly because Doster’s low-key vocal style downplays emotional drama. But his plaintive delivery fits beautifully on “Throwing the Ball,” a rumination of the small moments in life that stand out in the long arc — “like throwing the ball, back and forth out in the yard.” Doster is spending November on tour in the U.K.; after a December break, he’ll be back on his home turf in the new year.
Flesh Lights, “Free Yourself” (12XU). It’s full-steam-ahead for this local power-punk/pop trio in the follow-up to their 2012 debut LP “Muscle Pop.” Check out the track “Just About Due” below. Release show Nov. 4 at Hotel Vegas.
Soulphonics, “Heart Full of Soulphonics” (Scratched). The follow-up to the band’s “Dynamic Sounds” debut features a slightly different lineup on straightforward pop-rock songs driven by jangling guitars that reflect frontman Glen Worley’s roots in the 1980s Austin scene. Release show Nov. 5 at Carousel Lounge, in-store Nov. 15 at Antone’s Records.
Jonathan Fox Band, “20 Something Runaway,” second album from the local roots-rocker and his backing crew. Release show Nov. 6 at One-2-One Bar.
NOV. 11: …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, “IX” (Superball).
NOV. 11: Young Tongue, “Death Rattle” (Punctum/Raw Paw).
NOV. 11: Moonlight Towers, “Heartbeat Overdrive” (Chicken Ranch), in-store Nov. 12 at Waterloo Records.
NOV. 16: Bluebonnets, “Play Loud,” release show Nov. 15 at Continental Club, in-store Nov. 16 at Antone’s Records.
NOV. 18: Danny Malone, “SpeedDreamer,” release show Nov. 14 at Cheer Up Charlie’s.
NOV. 20: Scott Zuniga, “Language of Ghosts.”
NOVEMBER: Timberos Del Norte, self-titled.
DEC. 2: Willie Nelson & Sister Bobbie, “December Day (Willie’s Stash, Vol. 1),” Legacy.
DEC. 4: These Mad Dogs of Glory, “Isle au Haut,” release show Dec. 5 at the Mohawk.
JANUARY 2015: T-Bird & the Breaks, “Harmonizm.”
JANUARY 2015: James McMurtry, title TBA.
FEB. 10, 2015: Robert Earl Keen, “Happy Prisoner” (Dualtone), playing Dec. 19 at ACL Live.
Are you an Austin-area act with a new record coming out? Let us know at email@example.com.