ACL FEST TURNS 15
As usual, October was dominated by the Austin City Limits Music Festival. The 15th annual event sprawled across Zilker Park for the month’s first two weekends, with headliners Kendrick Lamar, Radiohead and Mumford & Sons helping to draw huge crowds every day. Great weather greeted festgoers all six days, but the final Sunday was something special, as hometown hero Willie Nelson made a rare ACL Fest appearance.
BEST LIVE SHOWS
Oct. 12: “Austin City Limits” Hall of Fame Ceremony at ACL Live. It’s not part of the festival, but the seminal TV show’s big annual event was moved this year to a date right after the Fest. Inductions of Bonnie Raitt, Kris Kristofferson and B.B. King drew an all-star cast including Willie Nelson, Mavis Staples, Rodney Crowell, Gary Clark Jr. and Taj Mahal, but it was Bonnie herself who gave the night its most memorable musical moments. — P.B.
Oct. 22: Taylor Swift at Circuit of the Americas. The haters gonna hate, hate, hate, but that didn’t stop Taylor Swift from pulling record crowds at COTA. An estimated 80,000 people attended her performance on the Saturday night of this year’s Formula One event. She packed a good selection of current hits and old faves into a tightly structured set that clocked in at about 80 minutes. The most amazing part? She somehow managed to make the massive event feel like a intimate party with her closest friends. — D.S.S.
BEST NEW RECORDS
Eric Johnson, “EJ.” Long renowned for his electric guitar prowess, Johnson turned toward a much more intimate means of expression on this 13-track mix of vocal and instrumental tunes that spotlight his acoustic guitar and piano playing. — P.B.
Brownout presents “Brown Sabbath, Vol. 2”. With blistering horn blasts, searing guitar licks and an onslaught of polyrhythmic percussion, Brown Sabbath, the Black Sabbath tribute project from border funk outfit Brownout is back for a second go-round. This time the band digs into Sabbath’s mid-’70s era and includes “some of the more epic Sabbath stuff from ‘Masters of Reality.’” — D.S.S.
- More October local releases: Our weekly “Austin360 On The Record” roundups
BEST NEW SONGS
“January 9” by Nina Diaz. Technically, Nina Diaz is from San Antonio, not Austin, and technically, this song was released as a single this summer. But the Girl in a Coma lead singer’s debut solo album “The Beat is Dead” dropped this month, and the haunting chorus in this real life ghost story, that recounts Diaz’ struggle to become sober after over a decade of drug and alcohol addiction is perfectly suited to the season. — D.S.S.
Croy & the Boys, “Hey Come Back.” We’ll have more in November on this up-and-coming country band, which released its first album over the weekend with a release party at Hotel Vegas. The title track to that record, produced by Adrian Quesada, is like a grand summation of everything they do well: leader Corey Baum’s passionate singing, creatively left-of-center arrangement, and a songwriting structure that throws out the rulebook in favor of simply chasing the emotion at the heart of the matter. — P.B.
AUSTIN360 ARTIST OF THE MONTH
Keeper. Downtempo and brooding, the new release from Austin’s synth soul trio has the ominous atmosphere of a fractured fairy tale. It’s a turbulent dreamscape where imminent heartbreak lurks in the shadows as slow moving chords linger over sparse beats. It’s an emotionally weighty release, a lost innocence tale, a lyrical meditation on separation and letting go. It’s also the strongest work yet from one of the most promising acts on Austin’s blossoming electronic music scene. — D.S.S.