A SOGGY START TO FESTIVAL SEASON
Austin was thoroughly showered in April, with the heavy rains and thunderstorms taking a toll on some events in this month’s packed calendar. The coup de grace was the cancellation of Levitation yesterday, on the eve of the three-day fest.
The 29th Old Settler’s Music Festival escaped most of the inclement weather, until more persistent precipitation finally took hold after sundown Saturday. Still, a sunny Friday and a weekend packed with high-quality roots music from the Jayhawks, Dawes, Rodney Crowell, the HillBenders and more on two stages, plus bonus intimate workshops from Sarah Jarosz, the Del McCoury Band and others, made this one of the fest’s best years.
While fans of dance music and jam bands were able to live in the moment at Euphoria Fest, heavy afternoon rain on the first day of Austin Urban Music Festival kept many Austinites away from the excellent set by ’90s R&B outfit Dru Hill. Austin Reggae Fest took an even harder hit when, for the second year in a row, the festival was forced to cancel Sunday’s show, headlined by Bunny Wailer. (Reggae Fest beneficiary Capital Area Food Bank estimates they lost $100,000, or 400,000 meals.)
BEST LIVE SHOWS
April 15: Slack Capital release party at Barracuda. The new ATX underground compilation from Austin Town Hall and Big Bill’s Eric Braden was also my favorite new album of the month, but their well-curated selection of local garage rock and punk is best experienced live. Gleefully obscene, all-female project Sailor Poon churned out unapologetic, post-riot grrrl art punk liberally littered with mean-spirited sax licks and Que Pasa?’s Liz Herrera is a beast on guitar. Basketball Shorts delivered a bevy of hilarious two minute bruisers and Annabelle Chairlegs (a late add to Levitation this weekend) stir a cauldron of simmering emotion that frequently and furiously boils over into explosive, guitar screeching psych rock. — D.S.S.
April 27: Bonnie Raitt at ACL Live. Austin loves Bonnie, and the feeling is mutual, as she made clear in a terrific two-hour show that featured songs from her new album “Dig in Deep” plus show-stopping classics such as “Angel From Montgomery” and “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” She’ll be back at the same venue on Nov. 8. — P.B.
Also: Tony Bennett at Bass Concert Hall; M83 at Stubb’s; Princess at Moontower Comedy Festival; Rhiannon Giddens ‘ACL’ taping; James Bay ‘ACL’ taping; Beach House at ACL Live; Little Green Cars at the Parish.
BEST NEW SONGS/VIDEOS
“Slow Roll” by Global 74. One of Austin’s most talented emcees of the early aughts, Global, is back in this lyrical and aspirational street cruising banger produced by Adrian Quesada with a video directed by M.O.S. of Crew 54. — D.S.S.
Michael Fracasso, “Here Come the Savages.” It appears impossible to find in the digital realm so far — nothing on Spotify, Soundcloud, Bandcamp and the like — but the title track to Fracasso’s new album might be the best song from an Austin artist I’ve heard all year. It’s worth seeking out the disc, which includes many other fine originals and covers. — P.B.
BEST NEW ALBUMS
Hayes Carll, “Lovers and Leavers.” Carll’s first album in five years refocuses on his songwriting. Check out our full feature story. — P.B.
Taylor and the Wild Now, “Tides.” A solid selection of sophisticated summery pop. — D.S.S.
Dana Falconberry & Medicine Bow, “From the Forest Came the Fire.” The first record Falconberry has released as a co-billed effort with her band. Check out our April Artist of the Month feature. — P.B.
ONE NIGHT IN APRIL
We launched a new feature this month: We visit at least six Austin music venues in a single night to get a sense of what the Live Music Capital of the World is like on a routine basis. Check out the “One Night in April” debut, along with the video recap: