Austin360 On The Record: Israel Nash, Leti Garza, singles spotlight, more
Austin360 On The Record is a weekly roundup of new, recent and upcoming releases by local and Austin-associated recording artists.
Israel Nash, “Topaz.” Want to double the chances of your album turning out really good, and also getting noticed? Just enlist Adrian Quesada, the producer and Black Pumas co-founder who’s helped many fellow Austin artists create their best work in recent years. This time it’s Dripping Springs resident Nash, whose star has been rising through the four albums he made since since moving there from New York nearly a decade ago.
Nash pushed out half of “Topaz” last spring in an effort to provide uplifting music during the early days of the pandemic. But he’d always envisioned it as just half of an album, and now the full 10-song release is here. One of the newly added tracks is “Sutherland Springs,” which Nash initially released in 2017 to benefit the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, shortly after a church shooting in that South Texas town. (Nash says he wrote it “to cope with my feelings and perspective on the horror as it weighed heavy on me.”) Other new tracks are more personal, including the love song “Stay,” which doubles down on Nash’s emotional vocals with buoyant bursts of horns. On Friday, March 26, Nash presents a virtual livestreamed mini-festival, “From the Hills With Love,” at 7 p.m. via his Facebook page and YouTube channel; guests include David Ramirez, Matthew Logan Vasquez and Grace Pettis. Here’s the video for the track “Southern Coasts”:
Armadillo Paradox, “Out of Gas in Oil Country.” The debut from bluegrasser Sol Chase and deadpan singer Jared Huskey, who previously worked in hip-hop circles, offers up 10 left-of-center Americana tunes. Recorded with producer Charles Godfrey, the album features contributions from mandolinist Kym Warner and fiddlers Eric Dickerson and Kimberly Zielnicki, among others (including a horn section). Chase and Huskey describe the album as “a satirical vignette of a culture blinded by its own purview,” a sentiment that’s clear enough from the bitter tune “Austin” and its pointed chorus: “If only I could love Austin as much as the landlords want me to.” Here’s the opening track, “Your Eyes Are Like Stars”:
Leti Garza, “Borderland” EP. Following her acclaimed 2017 album “El Unico Para Mi," Garza offers these five songs as a fundraiser for Global Response Management, which helps provide water and sanitation to those at the Texas/Mexico border. Garza drew inspiration from a demonstration she attended in December 2018 in the West Texas town of Tornillo, where citizens had gathered to protest treatment of immigrant children detained there. “Borderland” mixes songs sung in English and Spanish. The EP features contributions from renowned Austin musicians Michael Ramos on accordion and David Pulkingham on guitar. Here’s the title track:
Vapor Caves, “Dreams”/“Either Way” (Austin Boogie Crew). The duo of Yadira Brown and Andrew Thaggard, who first made waves with their 2019 debut “Feel Yourself,” return with a pair of tracks they describe as “bumping, love-centered funk jams.” Local rising star Jackie Venson guests on “Dreams.” The Bandcamp version includes isolated instrumental and a cappella takes of each song.
Jade Bird, “Open Up the Heavens” (Glass). A British singer-songwriter who recently moved to Austin, Bird recorded her upcoming album in Nashville with ace producer Dave Cobb. This is a gutsy, guitar-centered track that was released in February.
Quiet Company, “The Warning.” The longtime local rockers haven’t released a full-length album since 2015, preferring EPs and singles in recent years. This three-minute quick-hit jam, released in early March, is instantly engaging.
Ray Prim, “Papa Smurf.” Austin’s self-described “singer-soulwriter” has a new album coming later this spring, and this early single suggests he may be digging deeper into funk grooves this time around.
Jeff Plankenhorn, “Wait.” The Austin guitarist and singer-songwriter laid down fingerstyle and lap slide parts on this exquisite version of the Beatles’ mid-period dark-pop tune, released earlier this month.
Inks Lake, “Know the Voltage.” Mid-’80s Austin punk veteran Jason Asnes (Vertibeads, Nice Strong Arm) spent a couple of decades in New York, playing with Swans and others, before recently returning home. This track from his new four-piece band overlays industrial noise atop what’s essentially a catchy pop tune beneath.
Intercom Heights, “On My Mind”/“Do You Know How You Feel.” An adventurous indie trio featuring Josie Fluri, Meg Bernhard and former Hammerbox guitarist Harris Thurmond, Intercom Heights was just starting to get a foothold with live shows before the pandemic. They’ve continued recording over the past year, and this double-side single marks their first release. Here’s the A-side:
Emily Shirley, “High Road.” We found this Belle Sounds keyboardist’s recent solo outing “Everyday Heroes” to be one of the most inspirational Austin singles released during the pandemic. “High Road,” released in February, is a melodically radiant pop tune with a similarly uplifting message about finding the best path forward.
Erica Michelle, “Six Hours.” The native Austinite’s soulful, slow-groove new single was co-produced by Ray Prim, who also handled her 2020 debut EP “Cry About It.” She’s a confident singer, one worth keeping an eye on as the city emerges from the pandemic.
Walter Daniels, “Marie” (Chicken Ranch). Harmonica player/singer Daniels and his band, the Del Valle Trustees, recorded this dark Townes Van Zandt number in conjunction with a recent Townes reissue after making their debut last year with a cover of circa-1980 Austin punk band the Ideals’ “Big Bad Texas Millionaire.”
Matt Castillo, “Leaving Brownsville Tonight.” An Austin native who was raised in the Rio Grande Valley, Castillo serves up solid Texas country twang on this tune from his upcoming third album, “How the River Flows.”
Jon Funnell, “Late Night.” Relative newcomer Funnell, who released this track in late January, describes it as “a ’70s disco roller-rink style pop song.” Here’s a lyric video that was filmed, naturally, at a roller rink:
APRIL 1: Dylan Blackthorn, "Small Flames"
APRIL 2: Zach Person, self-titled (Blackdenim)
APRIL 2: Joe Barksdale, “Omari”
APRIL 2: Shakey Graves, “Roll the Bones X” 10th-anniversary reissue edition (Dualtone)
APRIL 2: Brian Donohoe, “Soundtracks for Trying Times”
APRIL 9: Balmorhea, “The Wind” (Deutsche Grammophon)
APRIL 16: Amigo the Devil, “Born Against”
APRIL 16: Sasha & the Valentines, "So You Think You Found Love?” (Ooof)
APRIL 23: Danny Golden, “Changes” EP
MAY 22: Ray Prim, “When It’s All Said and Done”
JULY 30: Nobody’s Girl, self-titled (Lucky Hound)