Austin360 On The Record: Wayne Sutton, Tee Double, Asleep at the Wheel, more
Austin360 On The Record is a weekly roundup of new, recent and upcoming releases by local and Austin-associated recording artists.
Wayne Sutton, “Blue Worm.” Best-known as powerhouse singer Patrice Pike’s right-hand man in the rootsy outfit Sister 7 — as well as Pike & Sutton, their recent duo project — Sutton takes the spotlight himself on this 11-song set that emphasizes his sharp songwriting alongside highly skilled and deeply soulful guitar work.
Recorded with producer Bill Palmer at a historic church in the Big Bend gateway town of Terlingua last summer, “Blue Worm” merges elements of folk balladry, country-Western storytelling and bluesy intensity. Sutton had written just two new tunes over the past decade until he joined a friend’s songwriting group just before the pandemic began, leading to an album’s worth of fresh material.
He chose Terlingua because he wanted that intimate West Texas landscape to infiltrate the album, and he got it. Sutton explained in a recent Facebook post about the recording sessions that their routine was to “get up in the morning and jump in the Rio Grande to wash off the dust and cool off. Then back to the church to hang out with the birds who lived in the rafters. We tried to deal with them the best we could. They stopped many takes, but they were determined to be on the record. The wind would pick up in the early evenings and there’s some of that too. But we chose to not record in a sterile environment, and I wouldn’t change a thing.” Here’s the track “Whiplash”:
Tee Double, “Local Transplant.” Longtime local hip-hop mainstay Terrany Johnson is nothing if not prolific: “Local Transplant” is his 35th album, but it’s his first in a couple years. The pause had less to do with the pandemic than with a kidney and pancreas transplant he underwent, a procedure that gave him the rare distinction of having his Type 1 diabetes go into remission after decades with the more severe type of that autoimmune disease.
The album’s 11 tracks pair classic hip-hop vocal rhythms to arrangements that pull in elements of jazz, pop, soul and electronica. Here’s the opening track, “Get Your Cans Ready”:
Asleep at the Wheel, “Better Times” EP (Bismeaux). The pandemic was harder on Asleep at the Wheel than most bands. Leader Ray Benson contracted COVID-19 in March 2020 and recovered, but the yearlong halt to the Western swing kingpins' usually busy touring schedule hit right as the band had big plans for celebrating its 50th anniversary.
This three-song EP puts a cap on that era, leading off with Benson’s title track about pining for a return to normalcy. “Tired of being lonely and yearning to breathe free,” Benson sings. “Remember the rhythm, remember the rhyme, we’ll be together again in better times.” Fiddler Katie Shore takes the vocal lead on a rollicking rendition of “All I’m Asking” by Austin’s Band of Heathens before the band takes an old-time romp through the early-1920s standard “Columbus Stockade Blues.”
Well, that was fast:3-day passes for both weekends of ACL Fest are sold out
The EP marks the first recorded appearance by new Wheel member Flavio Pasquetto, who took over on pedal steel after Eddie Rivers retired in 2019. Playing Saturday, May 29, at Gruene Hall. Here’s a recent live version of “Columbus Stockade Blues”:
Jamestown Revival, “Fireside With Louis L’Amour” EP. Subtitled “A collection of songs inspired by tales from the American West,” the latest from the indie-folk duo of Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance draws inspiration from 20th-century author L’amour’s classic Western stories. A news release accompanying the EP notes that Clay and Chance’s aim was “to distill ‘The Collected Short Stories of Louis L’Amour, Volume 1: Frontier Stories’ from 30-page adventures down to three-and-a-half-minute songs.” The arrangements are spare, largely just vocal harmonies floating atop gently picked acoustic guitars. It’s a fitting follow-up to the similarly styled November 2020 EP “A Field Guide to Loneliness” as the duo prepares a full-length album due this fall. Here’s the video for the more fully-fleshed-out closing track, “Prospector’s Blues”:
Ben Brown, “Sayonara Sorrow” (Shire). A member of indie bands No Show Ponies (formed in Pennsylvania before Brown moved to Austin) and local group the Savage Poor, Brown steps out with his first solo album on this 10-track set. As a singer, Brown sometimes feels like a voice out of time, with a richly dramatic tone that would have fit well among ’80s romantic new-wave acts. “Sayonara Sorrow” is eclectic, incorporating elements of styles ranging from Americana to doo-wop to synth pop, but the production touches of drummer Mick Flowers and engineer Jared Wenkman give the album a cohesive sound. Another key contributor is Shinyribs bassist Jeff Brown, Ben’s brother and Savage Poor bandmate. Here’s the lyric video for the opening track, “Get Lost”:
Dale Watson, “The Memphians” (BFD/Audium Nashville). The title reminds that Watson shifted his home base to Memphis a few years ago after a generation as an old-school country mainstay in Austin, but he still keeps a foot in the door here with frequent local gigs. “The Memphians” is his first-ever all-instrumental album, an intriguing move for an artist whose signature has long been his smooth honky-tonker croon. Recorded at Watson’s Memphis studio, the album draws upon soul, blues, rock & roll, jazz and other traditional American forms, as well as country. Watson wrote six of the 10 tracks himself, collaborating with guitarist Mario Monterosso on the other four. Playing Monday, May 31, at Continental Club. Here’s the track “Dalynn Grace”:
JUNE 4: Primo the Alien, “Heart on the Run” EP (Spaceflight)
JUNE 15: Magna Carda, “To the Good People”
JULY 9: Flatlanders, “Treasure of Love” (Thirty Tigers)
JULY 9: Pat Byrne, “Into the Light”
JULY 9: Giovanni Carnuccio III, “A Matter of Time”
JULY 17: Christine Renner, “Heartbreaker” EP
JULY 23: Robert Harrison, “Watching the Kid Come Back”
JULY 30: Nobody’s Girl, self-titled (Lucky Hound)
AUG. 13: Jade Bird, “Different Kinds of Light” (Glassnote)
AUG. 27: Shinyribs, “Late Night TV Gold”
AUG. 27: Bob Schneider, “In a Room Full of Blood With a Sleeping Tiger”
AUG. 27: Altin Sencalar, “Reconnected” (Next Level)
AUG. 27: Suzanne Santo, “Yard Sale”