Author: Adam Wood

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Nominee sparks warmth when we need it most

I don’t know when or how it happened, but the live music experience has changed. The warmth that used to fill venues, a tangible energy that bubbled and blossomed in the bonds made between strangers, has been replaced by a prickly and sticky heat that exerts itself in the form of cranky elbows to the ribs and an unspoken agreement not to interact with those around you (unless they have a doobie you’re trying to sneak a puff of). Maybe it’s just that we are the first generation that values the video—the tangible evidence of attendance—more than the experience itself, and this means audiences are never fully present, their experience mediated and dampened by the screen held in front of their first. I fear that this loss of this vitality is symptomatic of a larger (and unnerving) societal trend of people growing apart from one another, too invested in hollow interactions mediated by a vacuous internet to interact and engage with other humans in the real world. It is depressing to think that the venues where I grew up (in both literal and figurative senses) and which hold my fondest memories might one day be obsolete, replaced by videos and virtual reality, but I would prefer that than to see the state of live music continue its current trajectory and end up void of all meaning.

Or so I thought.

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Chynna Rogers gives Austin rappers the chance to shine

For a city whose reputation and self-image is built on its identity as the mecca for live music, one would expect Austin’s musical output to be through the roof and that the city’s musicians would be leading artists in every genre. Unfortunately, this is not entirely the case. Though there is no dearth of talented musicians in Austin, Texas, those artists who have hit the truly big-time can be counted on one hand (depending on your criteria—Willie Nelson and Spoon are probably the only inarguable names on the list) and, like the city itself, tend to pride themselves on their weirdness, their refusal to fit into existing notions and norms of music.

Given the massive popularity of hip-hop music in modern culture, it is perhaps (at first glance) no surprise then that the hip-hop community and scene in Austin is not thriving. It’s just like Austin to shun the genre that is dominating popular culture, to stand by their strange strains of psychedelia and celestial pop-funk. That said, to consider hip-hop a genre without room for “weirdness” is a massive disservice to the music and to those artists creating that music, just like excluding an entire aspect to the music industry and culture is a disservice to that community. There are, of course, some very talented rap and hip-hop artists here in Austin— they just need our attention and our support. With The Bishops leading the charge, there are some name emerging from Austin’s hip-hop community with a promising buzz to them: Clee and Ronnie Lott are two of those names. This Thursday, November 16th at Empire Control Room, Vinyl List is going to see what the buzz is all about, as these two musicians have been given the opportunity to open up for Chynna Rogers, who has the notable distinction of being the “first lady” of the A$AP Mob. We invite you to join us in discovering and supporting some of Austin’s best-kept treasures.

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Wonderbitch resurrects the 1980s in fun, luxurious style

If any readers regularly follow On Vinyl’s Vinyl List, it will already be blindingly obvious that my own passion for music stems from and resides somewhere in the capability to create entire worlds for an audience to imagine, to inhabit and (ideally) to learn from. These worlds can be based in mood, shepherding listeners and eliciting particular emotions, or they can be based in thought and wonder, transporting listeners to a place that feels almost-physical. The best music, I would argue, is that which combines the somatic and the spiritual, carefully constructing a soundscape and a corporeal experience that appeals to both.

With their upcoming LP Oceansoft, Wonderbitch have committed mind and soul to creating this all-encompassing musical experience for their listeners through a modern reimagining of 1980s new wave synth-pop that they affectionately deem “new yacht rock.” The transportive nature of their music is both physical and temporal, their shiny blend of new whisking listeners away to “an alternate dimension 1980s where money doesn’t matter and nature is taking over civilization,” and what an adventure it is. 

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Weekly Staff Picks: Austin’s 10 best autumn artists

Autumn is a beautiful time of year, a season that encourages both introspection and a deep appreciation of the people who surround us. Perhaps it is the changing colors that resonates within us to think about our own self and the changes we too must undergo; perhaps the mounting cold simply encourages us to cherish the warmth we find within one another. Or maybe it’s just a reflexive need to find someone with whom we can cuddle up with and be physically and emotionally cozy.

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OV Recommends: Huggy & The Feel Goodz

There exists a perplexing tendency to romanticize the music of past generations and lament the “downfall” and gradual erosion of music over time. It is the critical equivalent of the age-old “grass is always greener” adage, a wistful longing for a return to the “golden generation” of music. The reality, however, is that music does not regress —it only progresses. Music is by its very nature dynamic, constantly transforming and adapting to explore new ideas and to revisit old ideas in innovative ways. Our culture is not a vacuum; today’s music is both an homage to and progression of that which came before it. There does not exist any “golden age” of music, nor of any genre; the golden age of music is the entire history and the complete body of music that has been created throughout human history.

This revelation came to me induced by a conversation with Austin’s very own Huggy & The Feel Goodz, a seven-piece soul outfit dedicating themselves to replenishing the world with much-needed good vibes through their unique brand of “New R&B.” With the release of their brand-new EP, Chapter One, the Feel Goodz expand upon the soulful standards set by genre-defining pioneers like Marvin Gaye and D’Angelo and imbue them with their own fresh attitude and desire to connect to new and modern audiences. We had the chance to ask Huggy himself and musical director Ari Burns a few questions that arose out of repeated listens to the Chapter One EP. We think that their answers will enrich your own listening experience, as they did ours; as such, this piece begins with an interview delving into the creative minds behind the EP’s concoction before we explore the music itself.

Weekly Staff Picks: 10 local bands that need to get back together!

One of the most exciting things about coming to Austin from another part of the country has been the opportunity to discover and explore an entirely new music scene and all the subcultures it entails. It is nearly impossible to imagine a better place to allow one’s music tastes to breathe and branch out— Austin truly is a mecca for live music. For someone whose tastes and true musical love lies somewhere in the avant-garde explorations of the new wave and post-punk of the eighties and the pop-punk energy of third-wave ska in the nineties, being a late arrival to the local music scene has had one major downside: so many of the fantastic bands that graced Austin’s stages are now defunct, with members exploring new projects or new paths to traverse in life. This playlist acts as a commemoration to these wonderful artists that worked so tirelessly to build Austin’s legacy for live music, and as a “Hail Mary” that hopes it might inspire even one of these groups to reassemble for a new community of music lovers. 

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Balmorhea guides us through their sonic universe

As a firm believer in the power of music, I love to see and hear the ways in which people derive meaning from music. The experience is different for everyone: from minute details (eyes open or closed; the way in which people attach themselves to particular instrumental tendrils) to overarching patterns of interaction, music influences both physical affect and mental emotion. Evidence of this is abundant in our experienced world: athletes use music to center and motivate themselves as part of pre-game rituals, while parents’ lullabies soothe and settle children at bed-time. This is where so much of the beauty of music lies: in its ability to be a visceral tool, capable of interacting with both the mind and the body in deep, profound ways.

While this capability is inherent to all music, there are artists who realize and intentionally expand upon that visceral potential so that their music resonates intimately within their audience. Their music creates a world of its own, transporting listeners to a headspace that feels as if it manifests itself both physically and emotionally. Austin’s post-rock ensemble Balmorhea has spent the last decade flirting with this potency, and with the release of their new LP Clear Language they invite their listeners to a fully-fledged universe of the band’s own dreamy devise.

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On the third Day (for Night) the Jesus Lizard rose again

The turn of the 21st century signaled immense change, to the point that the modern world would be barely recognizable to someone transported directly from 1999. Though fears of the world ending from the Y2K bug proved unfounded, for a small group of music fanatics the world may as well have ended, for in 1999 The Jesus Lizard split up.

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Kids In a New Groove mentor, empower foster children through music

Co-written by Sam Votaw

For children living in foster care, consistency can be a virtually foreign concept. Often the victims of unfathomable abuse and neglect, these individuals then begin to seek security and belonging within a system where repeated home transfers—and the ensuing revolving door of friendly faces without ample enough time to make an impact—are unfortunately the norm.