Austin360 On the Record: Singles spotlight, Erica Michelle EP, more
Austin360 On the Record is a weekly roundup of new, recent and upcoming releases by local and Austin-associated recording artists.
Erica Michelle, “Cry About It” EP. The debut studio recording from this native Austinite was produced by renowned local musician Ray Prim and features contributions from guitarists Daniel David and Jordan Matthew Young, bassist Adam Prado, drummer Hollywood Cole and a three-piece horn section. Michelle says the songs are based on “memories like leaving the nest to bad lovers to sleep paralysis to politics.” Musically, she strikes a soulful pop groove with a rich alto voice full of character and personality. Here’s the title track:
Melinda Joy, “Beautiful Illusions.” A bassist and singer-songwriter who moved to Austin from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, Joy made her first album in 15 years at Tomorrow Studios with engineer Jason Mabry and a band that included guitarist Michael Walker, percussionists Mich Schreiber and Wiley Koepp, and multi-instrumentalist JT Martin. Here’s a video for the title track that she submitted to NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest:
Typically we include full-length albums and EPs in Austin360 On the Record, but because many artists have been releasing individual songs during the pandemic, we’re adding a baker’s-dozen recent local singles this week. For more, check out American-Statesman writer Deborah Sengupta Stith’s recent "Juneteenth soundtrack“ roundup at austin360.com.
Christelle Bofale, “Miles.” Following an impressive 2019 debut EP, Bofale returns with an evocative song that she wrote while still in high school. “For me, ‘Miles’ is an ode to the unknown and to the connections we make along the way,” she says.
Folk Uke, “Small One.” Cathy Guthrie and Amy Nelson frequently mix off-color humor and barbed sociopolitical commentary in their songs. This one, clearly directed at the current resident of the White House, is no exception.
Marcia Ball, “George Floyd Say My Name.”Protest songs arose quickly after Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police in late May. Grammy-winning Austin pianist Ball wrote this short but poignant ode that concludes, “Say it now, I didn’t die in vain.”
Israel Nash, “Trouble (I Can’t Breathe).” The Dripping Springs psychedelic folk-rocker also addressed Floyd’s death and the ensuing protests with a five-minute song he posted to Bandcamp in mid-June. “I question the greater system and institutions that have created these disadvantages and prejudices,” Nash wrote. “It is a heavy time, but not one to be sidelined and silent.”Trouble by ISRAEL NASH
Ley Line, “Ciranda.” Adapted from a Brazilian folk tune, Ley Line’s latest single seeks to inspire. “The song merges this traditional song with our original poetry and speaks to the power of the ocean to unify us despite distance, to hold our fears in the shape of the vast unknown, and to offer us solace in difficult times,” they note on their Bandcamp page.Ciranda by Ley Line
Amy Annelle, “Distance Lullaby (Stay Away, Stay Alive)”/“Thirteen.” The singer-songwriter whose version of Townes Van Zandt’s “Buckskin Stallion Blues” was featured in the Oscar-nominated film “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” says she wrote the A-side of this single “to soothe a raw, scared soul. The first few days of Austin's shelter-in-place order due to the coronavirus were unfathomable. The streets fell silent. Nobody knew what was to come, and we still don't. This song is for all of us, all over the world. We are in it for the long haul.” The B-side is a cover of Big Star’s classic “Thirteen.” Annelle recorded the tracks at home with ace Austin producers Brian Beattie and Craig Ross. Here’s “Distance Lullaby”:
Texicana Mamas, “Cocina de Amor (Kitchen of Love).” The trio of Tish Hinojosa, Patricia Vonne and Stephanie Urbina Jones serves up this joyous bilingual celebration of making meals with the family in pandemic times. It’s the first single from an upcoming Texicana Mamas album.
Altamesa, “Interstate”/”Yellow Sky.” Released on 7-inch vinyl in mid-June via Bandcamp but also available on digital platforms, this twofer both builds upon the band’s indie-Western musical foundation and expands on it. The A-side’s fast-driving tempo pushes Altamesa to a new level of intensity; “Yellow Sky” is more languid, with an alluring minor-key melody and spoken-sung lyrics. Here’s the video for “Interstate”:
Andrea Magee, “Be One.” The second single this year from the member of Beat Root Revival and Ulla follows up on the bright pop charms of “Floating Heart,” which premiered on austin360.com last month. Both tracks are planned for inclusion on Magee’s upcoming debut solo album.
Motenko, “Silhouette.” Led by keyboardist-singer Micah Motenko, this quartet that had a popular Wednesday residency at Stay Gold before the pandemic excels at a vein of Americana music that combines elements of jazz, pop and soul. “Silhouette” is an early single from an upcoming EP.
Patterson Barrett, “Who’s Left to Keep the World Turning?” Living with the coronavirus pandemic inspired longtime Austin roots musician Barrett to write this folk-rock number, for which he created a homemade video with his son, Emerson.
Bruce Smith, “I Can’t Breathe.” This five-minute solo acoustic track from the leader of the Bruce Smith Band is a Dylan-esque folk song that documents and contextualizes recent events revolving around the George Floyd protests.I CAN'T BREATHE by The Bruce Smith Band
Belle Sounds, “Love Will Change.” The acclaimed indie-pop act has been releasing a single each month during 2020. The latest is this rhythmic number that highlights the vocal blend of guitarist Noelle Hampton and keyboardist Emily Shirley.
JULY 3: Willie Nelson, “First Rose of Spring” (Legacy)
JULY 10: Ray Wylie Hubbard, “Co-starring” (Big Machine)
JULY 10: Greyhounds, “Primates” (Nine Mile)
JULY 17: David Ramirez, “My Love Is a Hurricane” (Sweetworld/Thirty Tigers)
JULY 24: Seela, “Cool”
JULY 31: Margaret Chavez, “Into an Atmosphere” (We Know Better)
AUG. 28: Wood & Wire, “No Matter Where It Goes From Here” (Blue Corn)
SEPT. 4: Jackie Venson, “Vintage Machine”
SEPT. 25: Band of Heathens, “Stranger”