Austin360 On The Record: Shinyribs, Curtis McMurtry, Scott H. Biram and more

OUT THIS WEEK

shinyribs2017albumcoverShinyribs, “I Got Your Medicine.” Fully expanded from the original quartet to an eight-piece juggernaut with the Tijuana Train Wreck Horns and the Shiny Soul Sisters, Kevin Russell’s Shinyribs has pushed the broad boundaries of Americana music even further out than he did during his two decades with the Gourds. Whereas his old band was closer to country at its core, the central touchstone for Shinyribs is soul, steeped deeply in the swampy roots of his native Beaumont. That transformation is especially apparent on “I Got Your Medicine,” the fourth Shinyribs record, especially when Russell tips his hat directly to dearly departed influences on a couple of tunes. Brass blasters Tiger Anaya and Mark Wilson help drive Ted Hawkins’ “I Gave Up All I Had” to a fever pitch, while Allen Toussaint’s “A Certain Girl” proves a perfect call-and-response number for singers Alice Spencer and Sally Allen. On the original songs, all those sounds have simply seeped underneath Russell’s skin, whether it’s the “Jimbo stew” of co-producer Jimbo Mathus on “Tub Gut Somp & Red-Eyed Soul,” the prototypical swamp-pop groove to “Hands on Your Hips,” or the not-as-holy-as-it-seems gospel of “The Cross Is Boss.” Drummer Keith Langford and bassist Jeff Brown’s rhythmic fluidity is a vital component throughout, as are the tone-setting keyboard fills of Winfield Cheek. It’s kind of a shame that the catchiest number on the album probably won’t get radio play thanks to the expletive-spiked chorus of “I Don’t Give a (Expletive)” but you get the feeling that Russell probably doesn’t give a (expletive). He’s having too much fun. We’ll have more on Shinyribs in next week’s American-Statesman. Release show March 3 at Antone’s. Here’s the band’s recent NPR Tiny Desk contest-submission video of the title track:

Curtis McMurtry, “The Hornet’s Nest.” Two things about McMurtry up front: Nobody in Austin is doing anything quite like his music right now, and his talent as a lyricist is well above the vast majority of young songwriters in town. The latter is no surprise, given his pedigree — Americana troubadour James and renowned novelist Larry are his father and grandfather — but Curtis has clearly found his own voice. “The Hornet’s Nest” is an adventure in mood swings, from the self-doubt of “Smooth As Thorns” to the playful yet mean-spirited “Loves Me More” to the complicated heartbreak of “Rebecca” to the resolute determination of “Shot at the Title.” His sweet tenor vocals disguise those many moods, cast against keenly sophisticated instrumental arrangements that give the songs a jazz-folk-pop cabaret feel. Mother Falcon cellist Diana Burgess and ubiquitous percussionist Mike Meadows (Hayes Carll, Willie Nelson) are among a strong supporting cast, with accents of trumpet, upright bass, pedal steel and bass clarinet filling out the colors. Release show Feb. 24 at Cactus Cafe, in-store Feb. 26 at Waterloo Records. Here’s the track “Wrong Inflection”:

Scott H. Biram, “The Bad Testament” (Bloodshot). Hardscrabble old-school bluesy rock ’n’ roll has been one-man-band Biram’s stock in trade for nearly two decades, from his early self-released records to the last half-dozen with renowned Chicago roots label Bloodshot. As usual, Biram plays almost everything on the album himself, from guitars to bass to keyboards to harmonica to drums and percussion. He has his quieter moments, such as the acoustic guitar-centered “Still Around” and “Righteous Ways.” But more often he’s kicking up dust with a rough and raucous fervor, as on the blistering “TrainWrecker” and the three instrumental bonus tracks from an EP added to the end of the disc. Playing March 15 at the Continental Club for Bloodshot’s SXSW showcase. Here’s the track “Long Old Time”:

Christina Cavazos, “Cold” EP. Just 17 and a junior at the Austin School for Performing and Visual Arts, Cavazos follows up last year’s five-song debut with a seven-song set that suggests she’s not just a future name to watch, but a captivating singer-songwriter who has already arrived. Working with producer Louie Lino plus a backing crew that includes South Austin Moonlighters rhythm section Lonnie Trevino Jr. and Phil Bass, Cavazos casts beautifully dreamy spells with her clear, high voice drifting above smartly low-key arrangements that allow the compelling melodies of her original tunes to shine. Release show March 5 at Lemon Lounge. Here’s a recent live solo acoustic version of the track “With All My Heart”:

Go Fever, self-titled. Native Australian Acey Monaro teamed with Star Parks’ Andy Bianculli and Benjamin Burdick, plus others from the local indie scene, on these 10 tracks of effervescent power-pop that fit well alongside recent records from Austin bands such as Tele Novella and Tinnarose. In-store Feb. 23 at Waterloo Records, release show Feb. 24 at Cheer Up Charlie’s. Here’s the leadoff track, “Come Undone”:

Chase Gassaway, “A Fly Can’t Bird.” A quirky collection of acoustic-based covers that ranges from the Temptations’ classic “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” to the Lumineers’ recent smash “Ho Hey” to songs by local groups Quiet Company and Alpha Rev, this eight-song set was made partly as a charity endeavor. A portion of proceeds from album sales will benefit Help One Now/Help One Classroom, which supports education efforts in Haiti and Uganda. Here’s the track “The Best,” a cover of a song by Austin band the Rocketboys:

Adam Torres, “I Came to Sing the Song” EP (Fat Possum). The four-song follow-up to last fall’s “Pearls to Swine” full-length extends upon that album’s aesthetic, showcasing Torres’ high-and-sweet vocals set against exquisite string-music backdrops. As on the album, the supporting cast includes noted local players Thor Harris (congas, vibraphone) and Aisha Burns (violin). Release show Feb. 25 at Cactus Cafe. Here’s the title track:

Rich Hopkins & Luminarios, “My Way or the Highway.” Still with strong ties to Tucson, where his bands the Sidewinders and Sand Rubies were desert-rock standard-bearers circa 1990, Hopkins now lives in Houston but also has connections to Austin: Most of “My Way of the Highway” was recorded here with co-producer Lars Goransson, and the cast features several local musicians including bassist George Reiff, guitarist Jon Sanchez and drummer Steve McCarthy. Fans of Hopkins’ Tucson bands likely will dig the muscular yet melodic rock he delivers on these 12 tracks with his Luminarios partner Lisa Novak. Release show Feb. 24 at Carousel Lounge. Here’s the track “Gaslighter”:

Billy Harvey, “Elephants in the Room.” Now based in Nashville after stretches in New York and Los Angeles, Harvey also spent many years in Austin. His latest 11-song effort features more of a dance-pop vibe than the songwriter-oriented “Dear Danger,” his 2014 album recorded largely in Austin. Playing March 16 at Palm Door on Sabine for SXSW. Here’s the leadoff track “Night Light,” featuring guest vocals from Anya Marina:

COMING SOON

  • MARCH 3: My Education, “Schiphol” (Headbump), release show March 25 at Sidewinder.
  • MARCH 3: Cilantro Boombox, “Shine,” in-store March 3 at Waterloo Records.
  • MARCH 3: Heybale, “Play Me a Cheatin’ Song: The Songs of Wayne Kemp,” release show March 5 at Continental Club.
  • MARCH 3: Knife in the Water, “Reproduction” (Keeled Scales), release show March 2 at Mohawk indoor.
  • MARCH 10: Sunny Sweeney, “Trophy” (Thirty Tigers).
  • MARCH 17: Spoon, “Hot Thoughts” (Matador), playing March 14-16 during SXSW at Eno’s (the original Emo’s).
  • MARCH 24: Ruthie Foster, “Joy Comes Back “(Blue Corn).
  • MARCH 24: Will Johnson, “Hatteras Night, A Good Luck Charm” (Undertow).
  • MARCH 24: Kiko Villamizar, “Aguas Frias” (Peligrosa).
  • MARCH 29: Lili Blessing, “Lifeline,” in-store March 29 at Waterloo Records.
  • MARCH 29: DC Bloom, “Just Another Song and Dance Man,” release show March 29 at G&S Lounge.
  • MARCH 31: Toma, “Aroma.”
  • APRIL 7: Darden Smith, “Everything,” release show April 8 at Stateside at the Paramount.
  • APRIL 7: Sweet Spirit, “St. Mojo” (Nine Mile).
  • APRIL 7: Octopus Project, “Memory Mirror” (Robot High School).
  • APRIL 19: Ulrich Ellison & Tribe, “America.”
  • APRIL 21: Emily Bell & the Talkbacks, “Kali” EP.
  • APRIL 28: Willie Nelson, “God’s Problem Child” (Legacy).
  • APRIL 28: Beth // James, “All in Life” EP.

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