Austin360 On The Record: The Sword, Erika Wennerstrom, more

OUT THIS WEEK

The Sword, “Used Future” (Razor & Tie). Austin’s most prominent metal band continues to push against the boundaries and stereotypes of the genre. After enlisting Grupo Fantasma’s Adrian Quesada to produce 2015’s “High Country,” they traveled to Portland, Ore., to work with noted indie-rock producer Tucker Martine (Decemberists, My Morning Jacket, etc.) on “Used Future.” It’s getting harder and harder to classify the Sword simply as metal, and that’s a good thing, as Austin’s best musical acts historically have been those that crossed boundaries and transcended genres. This is still heavy stuff: Guitarists John D. Cronise and Kyle Shutt explore minor-key progressions with crunching chords and stinging leads, while drummer Santiago Vela and bassist Bryan Richie push forward with propulsive rhythms. But moments in songs such as “Sea of Green” and “Come and Gone” reach into melodic realms beyond the metal universe, drawing upon psychedelia, classic rock, folk and other influences. Richie’s also a key contributor here on synthesizer, broadening the scope of many tracks, especially instrumental interludes such as “Nocturne” and “Intermezzo.” Ultimately, attempts to pin down the Sword are perhaps addressed by the title of a standout track on the record: “Don’t Get Too Comfortable.” Release show March 21 at Mohawk outdoor. Here’s the track “Twilight Sunrise”:

Erika Wennerstrom, “Sweet Unknown” (Partisan). Though she’s recording for the first time under her own name away from the Heartless Bastards band identity she’s been associated with for more than a decade (dating back to the group’s Ohio origins), Wennerstrom isn’t necessarily reinventing herself here. There’s a pretty clear line from Heartless Bastards’ five albums to “Sweet Unknown,” though these songs are perhaps more adaptable to multiple forms. We caught her earlier this year playing solo acoustic at 3Ten, but last week at the Luck Reunion, she had a full backing crew behind her, presenting her new material more similarly to how it sounds on the album. “Extraordinary Love,” the first single, is the standout, a thundering six-minute tour de force that gradually builds with swirls of psychedelic guitars and soaring vocals. Key contributors including guitarist Lauren Gurgiolo, known for her work with Okkervil River, and My Morning Jacket drummer Patrick Hallahan. After a busy SXSW, Wennerstrom takes these songs on the road this week, spending much of the spring on tour with Drive-By Truckers and Josh T. Pearson. Here’s the track “Extraordinary Love”:

Johnny Chops & the Razors, self-titled. The second release from this rootsy outfit shows a different musical side of Johnny “Chops” Richardson, known for his work as bassist with the Randy Rogers Band. “Believer” is down-and-dirty blues-based rock ’n’ roll, while “Taking a Chance on Me” incorporates R&B and gospel influences. Release show March 24 at Saxon Pub. Here’s the video for “Taking a Chance on Me”:

Guy Forsyth & the Hot Nut Riveters, self-titled. The veteran Austin acoustic musician who rose to prominence in the 1990s with the Asylum Street Spankers presents the latest from another of his various iterations, the old-timey Hot Nut Riveters. Release show March 24 at Cactus Cafe. Here’s a live version of the track “300 Miles”:

COMING SOON

  • MARCH 30: Holy Wave, “Adult Fear” (Reverb Appreciation Society).
  • APRIL 6: Lagoons, “Escape” EP.
  • APRIL 12: Sideshow Tragedy, “The View From Nowhere” (Hand Drawn).
  • APRIL 13: Wood & Wire, “North of Despair” (Blue Corn).
  • APRIL 13: Greyhounds, “Cheyenne Valley Drive,” release show April 13 at Continental Club.
  • APRIL 13: Josh T. Pearson, “The Straight Hits!” (Mute).
  • APRIL 14: Andy Macintyre, “Melomania” EP, release show April 14 at Antone’s.
  • APRIL 20: Marcia Ball, “Shine Bright” (Alligator), in-store April 24 at Waterloo Records.
  • APRIL 20: Ty Richards, “Welcome to Flat Earth.”
  • APRIL 20: Arkansas Dave, self-titled (Big Indie).
  • APRIL 27: Mobley, “Fresh Lies, Vol. 1.”
  • MAY 4: Shakey Graves, “Can’t Wake Up” (Dualtone).
  • MAY 4: Jeff Plankenhorn, title TBA.
  • MAY 18: Kelly Willis, “Back Being Blue” (Thirty Tigers).
  • MAY 25: Patricia Vonne, “Top of the Mountain,” release show May 26 at Continental Club.

RELATED: Check out more recent local releases in our Austin360 On The Record archives


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